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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Thu May 23 - 02:00 PM | Tue May 28 - 11:55 AM

Bill Belichick Press Conference

Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick talks to the press about the upcoming game against the Saints on Sunday in Foxboro.To view a fulll transcript, click below.



BB: Did we have a good Thanksgiving? Yeah, I am stuffed. I gained 10 pounds that I didn't need. We were going to have a weigh-in today, but they talked me out of it. I don't know if we could afford it.

No, seriously I think that it is good for everybody to get a little break and spend some time with their families yesterday. But we have got to get back in the focus here today. We are expecting a real physical game out of New Orleans and a tough game and we need to be ready to play it that way. I talked to several players this morning and I think that this is really a key day for us in terms of regaining that focus and intensity. Not that it will be a physical practice, but it will be a physical game, that our intensity in terms of from mental standpoint the way we need to play the game. New Orleans is a physical team, so I am sure it will be that type of a game.

No changes in the Injury Report since we didn't practice yesterday. I think that based on whether those guys can work today or not will really determine whether they are Questionable or Out. So we'll just have to wait and see how that goes. We are hopeful with Ted [Johnson] and Matt Chatham. We'll see what they can do out there.

What have we got?

Q: Their linebacker, [Charlie] Clemons, has like nine sacks. Does he do a lot of blitzing?

BB: He sure does, he sure does.

Q: Who is going to be responsible for him?

BB: Well if they bring him up the middle it will be the center or the guards. You know, depending on where they blitz him and how it unfolds it will be the inside guys. On third down what they do is they make him a defensive end. So he plays opposite of Joe Johnson and they move [Darren] Howard inside with [La'Roi] Glover. So that gives them a lot of speed and athleticism outside. So he plays end kind of like…he plays a similar role to what [Bryan] Cox played for us. He plays inside in regular, then he goes to end in sub and they blitz him up the middle and sometimes they blitz him off the weak side. But he's a very active and a good pass rushing middle linebacker, which there aren't many of.

Q: Do most of those sacks come as a down lineman or a linebacker?

BB: I'd say a little of both. He gets pressure on both. You know there front four is good and they are athletic. They can get you on the run. A lot of times what happens is one guy will break free like Glover or Joe Johnson or Howard, one of those guys will break free and then somebody else will end up actually getting the sack. So they're pretty disruptive as a group and then, the guy who's the first one in there and disrupts the quarterback isn't always the one that gets the sack. A lot of times they flush him out and then somebody else runs him down. But he's in on a lot of plays and they also blitz [Keith] Mitchell and blitz [Darren] Smith a little bit. So all their linebackers really are active in the pressure game one way or another. They keep you off balance. One time it's one guy, one time it's somebody else and they try to get some bad matchups.

Q: Their sack total is down a little bit from their league-leading total last year. Are teams adjusting their passing games? They aren't getting any less pressure on the quarterback?

BB: No. Right, I agree with you. I think they are still getting real good pressure on the passer. I think teams are more conscious of it. The ball is coming out of there a little quicker. They are a little more protection oriented. Teams aren't as quick to leave their linemen singled up and have the quarterback hold the ball. Basically they are trying to either get it out of there or if it's a deeper pattern keep somebody else in to bump the ends. Keep the tight end in or do something to try to create a little more time. Teams have also rolled out on them. But the funny thing about that though is I would say that there's quite a number of their sacks have been really coverage sacks too where they do get blocked longer, the quarterback does have more time to throw, but their coverage is good and then the quarterback holds the ball and eventually gets run down. That happened to [Kurt] Warner a couple times. It happened to [Daunte] Culpepper a couple times in the Minnesota game. In fact one time where they stripped him, you know scooped it up and ran it in for a touchdown. I mean the Saints, they know what's happening too and they've done a good job of dropping more people off into coverage at times so that you don't have anybody to throw to if you keep a lot of guys in and then they eventually get there with the rush. So it's a little bit of a cat and mouse game there. But no, I wouldn't say that their rush is declined from last year. I don't see that.

Q: Does Arther Love have a chance to be in uniform this week?

BB: I think he does. Yeah, I think he does.

Q: A chance to mix into the regular offense?

BB: Well I wouldn't expect to see a whole lot of him, but he may. I don't know whether he's going to get his letter sweater or not. Depending on how it goes with the other guys, with the injured guys, I think there's a chance that he could see some action and it would probably be limited on special teams and offense until he gets a chance to break in and see how it goes. I'd say similar to, probably similar to what happened with [Chris] Eitzmann last year where Eitzmann played a few plays against the Colts and a few plays against whoever we played after that. Right, Detroit. You know, and just see how it goes there. I think that's a possibility, if not this week then maybe next week, but hopefully at some point. Well not hopefully because it would take you know other people really not being able to play. I think there are other players ahead of him, but in terms of his experience if he got an opportunity, if the spot opened up then I think we could use him in situationally on offense and in the kicking game. But with no game experience, preseason or obviously regular season to this point, what's going to happen in the games is a little bit of an unknown.

Q: To what extent regarding the quarterbacks do you reserve the right to change your mind, presuming both guys stay healthy?

BB: Well I'll do what's in the best interest of the football team. That's the way I've always made the decisions. I think if you look at my decisions through my career that what I am going to try to do is what I think is best for the football team. So that's the best way I could put it. I don't know what would cause me to make that decision, but if at whatever time it needs to be made I'll try to make it.

Q: So when you say, as you have said, that Tom is the starter that depends on week-to-week performance?

BB: Well no, we are not looking at it series-to-series, pass-to-pass, and week-to-week. The reason why I said that at the beginning of the week was to try to give the situation a little bit more stability. So that Tom is going to be the quarterback, if he has two incomplete passes we're not looking to move him out, move somebody else in or anything else. Tom is getting the majority of reps in practice. We expect him to start this game as he has started the last eight and we expect him to play and that's the way we go into the game.

Q: Do you have any regrets considering the firestorm this caused, the back and forth with Drew, about the way you handled the situation?

BB: Well sure, I would like for it not to have…maybe for it to be quite as volatile as it was. It certainly wasn't my desire or anticipation. What I was trying to do was put a little clarity to the situation, not cloud it up at all. I'm very respectful of Drew and what he's done for this organization and what he brings to our football team as a player and what he has consistently brought in terms of his toughness, intelligence, his work ethic, the teamwork that he brings to it and in no way, shape or form is this really a situation where Drew has lost his job. It's a situation where Tom has been playing and he started the last eight weeks and he is going to start this week and that was really the clarification that I was trying to give to the situation. There's not a comparison because Drew just hasn't had the opportunity to do what Tom has done the last eight weeks. He just hasn't been able to do it.

Q: What are your thoughts on the way those two guys have handled things this week and you mentioned one of the reasons for your decision was to give Tom better opportunity in practice, how has that played out this week?

BB: Well we will find out Sunday, we will find out Sunday. That is the only way to evaluate the…I don't think you can know the answer to that question until you see how the game is played. The only thing I can do as a coach and our staff can do is to try to get the team prepared the best way we think we can. You always look back each week and say well how could we do things a little bit better, what can we do to improve it, that has been the case the last ten weeks, it will be the case in the next six weeks of the regular season. So that is always part of it. Every week we try to analyze things we did well, things we didn't do well, things we need to improve on, how could we do them differently, how can we help the team win better and that is part of the self-evaluation that I think we have to do as a…we do have some other people that analyze us and make suggestions and I respect those opinions, but really for the most part if you don't correct your own problems internally there is nobody else to correct them. So whatever issues we have to deal with on a weekly basis as a coaching staff then we have to address those ourselves or sometimes it is in conjunction with the players or a scheme or whatever it is and try to move forward on it. So that is a big part of it.

Q: Drew seemed much less disappointed, angry, frustrated when he talked on Wednesday as compared to Tuesday, did you have any discussions with him at all, have you had a blunt man-to-man with him?

BB: Man-to-man?

Q: Zoned.

BB: Zoned, we zoned. Yeah, well Drew and I have talked a little bit, but I think that this is a situation where really that, I really think it is going to work itself out. I don't think that they way that it has been maybe necessarily portrayed is really the way it is. But I understand, I understand and there are a lot of opinions on it and I respect people who have their opinions. I am not going to sit here and try to convince anybody that what I did was right. All I am saying is that I have to make a decision in the best interest of the football team, I have to do it every week and that is what I will try to do. I know that Drew has had a great relationship with Mr. Kraft. I feel like I have a great relationship with Drew going back to '96 and I really hope that it will continue that way in the future. Sometimes you go through a situation that is a tough situation and it makes you stronger so maybe this will be an opportunity for us to do that.

Q: You mentioned Drew's relationship with Mr. Kraft, I know that all personnel decision begin and end with you, but did you talk to Robert Kraft before you made your decision?

BB: It is my decision as far as a football decision and I made it. Certainly people are aware of those decisions, but again I know that Robert and Drew have had a great relationship through the years, I think that is good, it is a strength in the organization. So I don't have any problem with that. I have had a great relationship with Drew and Mr. Kraft myself so I think those are all strengths for us, but in the end as a coach you have to do what's best for the team and that is really what I have tried to do. I hope people can respect that decision. It is not anything negative about Drew and it's not…you know it seems like every time I say something positive about Tom that is taken as a negative toward Drew or something negative about Drew is taken as a positive toward Tom and vice versa the other way around and that is not really the way it is meant to be either. When asked a question about Tom I try to answer it I am not saying anything about anybody else and that is not really what it is about. To directly answer your question, yes other people in the organization were aware of the decision and I made it.

Q: Can you clarify what you said about the way it has been portrayed is not necessarily the way it is? What exactly are you referring to?

BB: I think that there is a certain sense out there that Tom Brady has been picked to be the quarterback of the New England Patriots over Drew Bledsoe. Tom Brady has been the quarterback for the last eight weeks. I just think that Tom is ready to be the quarterback this ninth week that's all I am saying. I am not saying that it has been an equal competition and that Tom has beaten Drew out and taken his job. I have never said anything like that. I told that to Tom and I told that to Drew. I am on record with everybody as saying that. I don't know if that is really the sense about what people are talking about. I don't know what is going to happen next year, during the offseason, seven number one draft choices, re-doing contracts, we are just trying to win a football game. Does that clarify it?

Q: Can you add what your thoughts were on how Drew and Tom have handled things this week since you made your announcement and how does their relationship with each other play into that?

BB: I think that probably they would be in a better position to comment on their relationship than I would. I don't know that I would feel comfortable…I think they can speak for themselves on that and I am not saying that there is anything negative there. I don't think that is the case, but I really think that they should comment on their own personal feelings.

Q: What are your observations on how they have handled the misconception apparently about your decision and the media attention this week?

BB: I think it has been pretty much business as normal. I mean we are trying to get ready for a game, everybody has got to be ready to play, everybody has got to be ready to win, we all know that no matter who starts the game at any position, in one play it could be somebody else in there. Everybody needs to be at their best this week, we are going up against a good team. A team that had a big win last week against the Colts, a team that has played very well on the road and everybody has got to be primed and ready to play this game to their very best and that's everybody's responsibility, everybody that puts on the uniform. All three of those quarterbacks Damon [Huard], Drew and Tom I think are very professional, are very hardworking. They have a lot of pride in their job and they work at it. They don't just show up. They put a lot into it and it is important to them. That is what I have seen this week, that is what I have seen every week.

Q: Ricky Williams obviously presents a challenge, something you guys have faced a lot this year a good quarterback and a good running back, heading into the game, what is your priority?

BB: Well there is no question that the running game and Ricky are a big focus of our preparations this week. They have a very powerful running game. It is not what I would call a finesse game or a game where they really try to spread you out extraordinarily. They count on their blockers to make the blocks and to get the runner started. Ricky is a very good downhill runner. He is best when he has his shoulders parallel to the line of scrimmage and building speed and momentum into the line. He is tough to tackle, he runs with good body lean and he seems to get a little stronger as the game goes on. So that is a big challenge for us. One of the things that is important in stopping a running game defensively is your ability to play on third down because a lot of times first downs don't get made on a run or two runs, it comes down to a third down play and if you can play well defensively on third down then that keeps them from starting that running game all over again and recycling and that is really what happened to us in the Miami game. The number of attempts was high, the yardage was fairly high, the yards per carry wasn't, but they had a high number of attempts and a lot of time of possession and field position because of their third down conversions and decent success running the ball. With [Aaron] Brooks, he has shown that he can throw and he is accurate. I think he is a guy that can get hot as we saw last week against the Colts, but he is also athletic enough that if the pattern is not there he can pull it down and beat you with his feet. It is a double-edged sword. We have seen that this year from time to time with obviously [Michael] Vick and even going back to [Doug] Flutie. It is problems that we have dealt with before and we are going to have to find a way to deal with them again.

Q: Do you have to force Williams outside and congest the middle and is that more difficult with Ted Johnson being less than 100 percent?

BB: It is good to say well we will force him outside, that is a lot easier said than done because of the way the plays are designed that he runs. Most of them are inside type plays. Even the ones that start outside a lot of times cut back. Now he is fast enough that if you just pack everybody inside he can bounce out and make yards outside. It is not that he is a slow back, but I think he is better when he runs, not too far on the perimeter and is running downhill. That is the key for him is to get going downhill. So sure we want to try to do that as much as we can. It is easy to say, it is a lot harder to do I can tell you that.

Q: The last couple of games Brady's numbers weren't where they have been, do you see people now having more of a book on him? Does he have to adjust what he is doing or do you, as coaches have to adjust what you have asked him to do because of the defenses?

BB: I would say that that is really true of our entire offense. When you look at our offensive production there aren't a lot of people that are having a lot of production, it is a relatively small number of people and I think that defenses are more conscious of those particular guys. So that is in the passing game and it is also in the running game too.

Q: Have people changed what they have done in terms of their base defense with Brady in there the last couple of weeks?

BB: At this time of the year, let me put it this way, I think at this time of year when you look at a defense you can see a number of different elements in their defense. They have several different coverages, they have several different fronts and they have several different blitzes. They have played ten games. What we are seeing is, I don't think that we are seeing something brand new that we haven't seen from that team before. It is just when they play us they are going to pick out the two or three things that they think would best stop what our attack is. So when you say new I don't mean to say, 'Well they drew something up on the board that they haven't done before and that's what they played against the Patriots.' It is more of, 'Here is what they played against the Rams, here is what they played against the Colts, here is what they play against the Vikings.' We may not see that same look. We may see a look that they used against some other team and that was true of Buffalo. It really has been true in several of the games we have seen this year where the games prior to our games were played a little differently defensively. I think because of what they were facing or what they anticipated and then we saw something that was not quite the same as what they had done in previous weeks. Not that it was new and that it was generated as a big strategic change, they were things that they had done earlier in the year, they just emphasized it more against us.

Q: Troy Brown has been in the league for nine years, an eighth round draft pick, would it be nice for a guy like that or do you think that he is a legitimate Pro Bowl candidate in terms of what he has done and can you compare him to Wayne Chrebet?

BB: As I have said before I think that is a good comparison. I think the players have a lot of similarities. The thing about Troy Brown and getting into the Pro Bowl and all of that, the thing about Troy Brown is Troy Brown does a lot of things for your football team that don't show up on the stat sheet and I think a lot of times the Pro Bowl voting is based on number of catches, number of this, number of most interceptions. A guy can lead the league in interceptions or he can have a lot of interceptions, but that is eight, nine, ten plays in the year, however many it is when he has been out there for a thousand plays. So yeah those were ten great plays or whatever it was, but there is another 990 to evaluate. I think that is one of the things about Troy, the more you are around him the more impressed you are with him that he does a lot of things that don't show up in the stats that are plays that…he is very consistent. He does a lot of little things that really help you as a football team. I think he is deserving of being recognized as one of the best players in the league at his position. Whether that puts him the top however many to be in the Pro Bowl, I am not sure, but he certainly is amongst the top players in his position because of the versatility he has in playing different positions at receiver. He plays outside. He plays inside. He returns punts. If we wanted to and if he was not being asked to do so many other things, we have seen him cover punts. We have seen him return kickoffs. He runs reverses. He cracks on sweeps. He gets in there and recovers lose balls and fumbles. He catches passes for eight yards and then squirts out for another two when you need nine and gets you a first down. Whatever those yards are in the stat sheet that extra one or two yards at that particular point in time when you need it for a first down that means everything to you. Some of the yards there on the stats, I am not saying they are meaningless, but there are some yards that mean a lot more than others and I think Troy is the kind of player that has consistently gotten us some tough and critical yards. I certainly recognize him for those and that is why I say he deserves to be in that elite group. Now how elite is elite…

Q: Pound for pound would he be one of better players in the league?

BB: Oh yeah and I think he is one of the stronger players in the league pound for pound. Again with Wayne and I think Wayne is a terrific football player, Wayne's role for the Jets is a little bit different than what Troy's is for us. I would say particularly in the kicking game, not so much offensively, but in the kicking game. Troy really adds some value to your team on special teams and when you do the Pro Bowl balloting and all of that those two usually get separated they don't get added together, but when you are putting a team together you really appreciate the contributions that he makes returning punts and…I remember playing against him too. He was tough in punt coverage. You couldn't block him. He's fast, he's quick, it was hard to get him held up at the line of scrimmage and he was fast enough to get down field and make plays.

Q: There is one play in particular that I remember from the first Tuna Bowl, Bledsoe threw an out that was almost intercepted and, do you remember that play?

BB: Right.

Q: And he wrestled it away…

BB: And broke it up, yup. He does a lot of little things that the closer you look the more you appreciate him. The runner bounces the ball outside on an inside play, bounces it outside, comes in and makes a block to spring him for an extra five or six yards that kind of thing that there aren't a lot of guys who would make that play

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