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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Wed Jun 12 - 11:55 AM | Thu Jun 13 - 11:55 AM

Bill Belichick Press Conference

Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick talks to the press about the upcoming game against the Jets in New York on Sunday.To read a full transcript, click below.



BB: I think everybody has the injury report. On Kole [Ayi] it just doesn't look like that one is coming along as quickly as I hoped it would. So I think he is pretty much a long shot. With Willie [McGinest], I talked to him this morning, he is doing better. I think probably what we will do with him and Matt Chatham is not practice them too much here today and tomorrow and try to give them a little more work on Friday so hopefully we will have them more for the game and make sure that we don't set them back here during the week. Hopefully I think Ted will be able to do some things out there today. That is where we are on that.

On the Jets, it has been kind of interesting even though this is a team that we are pretty familiar with and play twice a year and all of that, going back and looking at the first game there are a number of differences between the teams from the last time we played. I think both teams have improved, but there is a different look. We have a little different look defensively in terms of our front and some of our players that played in that game aren't playing in this one and there are some players that will be playing that didn't play in the last one. Guys like Bert Emanuel and Marty Moore that showed up in the game on our side that obviously won't factor into it this time. It is kind of interesting to look at the teams and how much they have changed. The Jets have done a tremendous job defensively of creating turnovers, putting pressure on the ball and getting it to go to them in their favor. Returned them for touchdowns, they have had a couple of fumbles, a couple of interceptions, they blocked a punt against Carolina. So they are scoring on defense and special teams. Offensively [Laveraneus] Coles has really come on and has done a lot for them as a receiver. I am sure now with [Santana] Moss coming into the picture that they have got a little bit more of a deep threat to work with. They are a good solid football team. They are obviously playing well. They are on a roll. They are doing a lot of things well in all three phases of the game and that is why they are 7-3 and they are leading the division. This will be a big challenge for us down there in New York going up against a team that is playing as well as the Jets are that have as many things going for them as they do right now. We are just going to need another real strong effort to be able to hang in there with them.

Q: It is rather remarkable that they have adjusted that quickly on both sides of the ball?

BB: I think one thing that…although there are some changes with the Jets there are some obviously constants and a couple of those constants are defensively, the three linebackers [James] Farrior, Marvin Jones and Mo Lewis are really, really playing outstanding football. Those three guys are just, they are in on every play run or pass. They kind of try to funnel the ball back inside to them and those guys are just making play, after play, after play whether it is in passes, zones, blitzing, they have been extremely productive. I think all three of them are having tremendous years. They are playing as good a football individually and collectively as I have seen those guys play and I have seen them play a lot. I can't imagine any other group of linebackers in the league, I would even say individually, it would be hard to single people out ahead of those guys. They are doing a tremendous job. They are getting great pass rush out of [John] Abraham. He just looks like he continues to get better and better coming off of the edge. He shows a lot of quickness and speed and then offensively Curtis [Martin] is having as good as he has been through his first whatever it is six years or however many years he has been in the league, it looks like he is having an even better year. Their offensive line is playing well, but Curtis is doing a great job of running the ball and making positive yardage and getting them the plays they need. It is not so much the yards or the average or anything, but when they need a play Curtis gets it for them and those things are constant. So yeah, there have been some changes, but on the other hand they have got some real core veteran players Vinny [Testaverde] and Curtis and defensively they are a pretty experienced group that really know how to play and know when to do the right thing at the right time and they are doing it. They have done a very good job on special teams as well. Special teams have given them an edge almost every week they have played.

Q: What is it about Curtis that makes him so special and is he difficult to defend as opposed to maybe a straight ahead guy?

BB: Curtis certainly has his own style of running. I think even though he is not a heavy weight guy, he is not a 240 pound runner or anything like that, like a Ricky Williams or a Corey Dillon, probably pound for pound he is as strong as anybody in the league. He trains very hard so therefore he has been pretty durable through the course of his career. Curtis has great vision and they run a lot of plays that give him an opportunity to hit in different spots, draw plays, counter plays, things like that where it is not just run up in this hole behind one blocker and make your own hole if it is not there. Curtis has real good quickness, good strength for his size, great vision and he is extremely durable. He is there all of the time and he has obviously developed a good confidence and a good feel for his linemen and for the plays and he makes a lot of good decisions. He takes care of the ball he hardly ever loses it. I mean he is a quality kid, he really is and he has done it through his whole career. He is one of the few guys, well I shouldn't say one of the few, but he is certainly a guy that when I first…my first contact with him was when I worked him out at the University of Pittsburgh before the '95 draft and even from the Jets he really hasn't changed much, he is still pretty much the same guy.

Q: They have had three head coaches in three years and you know what the personality of the majority of that team was like are you surprised that they are able to be back in contention because change like that always causes turmoil?

BB: Right, the thing that I think is pretty consistent though is the number of veteran players they have, not that there haven't been some young guys contributing for, but you look at the offensive line all of those guys are there, they are intact. I know Randy Thomas has missed a couple of games, but [J.P.] Machado has stepped in there and done a pretty good job for him. [Kevin] Mawae is still a terrific football player, one of the top linemen in the league period, but certainly at the top of the center group. Wayne [Chrebet], Wayne is Wayne on third down. Curtis, Richie Anderson, Vinny, I mean you have got eight or nine guys there on that offense that have been doing it for three or four years and defensively you are looking at, other than the front the same secondary, the same nickel back in [Ray] Mickens, the same three linebackers. You have got seven, probably seven starters there that have started in that organization for the last three or four years, the same two kickers. So there is a lot of consistency there and those guys have been able to collectively as a group with the new system have been able to keep it moving forward.

Q: On the flipside has your change since the last time you met maybe been more dramatic?

BB: I don't know how to rate it, but I think when you look at the first game you see a lot of 3-4 defense, you see the inside linebackers playing on guards and being uncovered and all of that. Now we are playing a lot more four-man line. So there are some new faces there. We have, of course, a lot of new faces in the secondary that we have used in different combinations through the last couple of weeks. Some people on offense, Antowain [Smith] has solidified himself as the running back, of course Tom [Brady] is the quarterback and Drew [Bledsoe] played in that game. There are a number of people there that are different in this game from the last game. I don't know how you measure one against the other, but I will just say when you watch the game a lot of times when you watch a game you look at those 22 guys that are out there on the field together and maybe it is 20 or 21 are going to be there in the next game and this is one where even though if it is some of the same people they are in different spots or in some cases it is a different group.

Q: For those of us that don't see your team regularly can you tell us what Brady's impact has been, what he has done for the team?

BB: Well he has started the last nine games. Our record is 6-3 in those games. He has had his share of good plays. Like any young quarterback he has made some mistakes, but on balance we have been able to produce a decent number of points and get the ball to our top playmakers on offense.

Q: On your quarterback situation, I know you were quoted as saying, 'Brady was your starter…

BB: We are going to start this again?

Q: …for the foreseeable future." I am curious if the foreseeable future became longer as a result of Sunday's game?

BB: It is this week against the Jets. That is all we are focused on right now is the New York Jets. Tom will start the game. Hypotheticals after that don't even bring them up.

Q: In terms of things you have learned about Tom in the last nine weeks that you didn't know prior to when he was thrown into this situation?

BB: Well not a lot, not a lot. I think Tom has been very consistent all year whether it is in training camp, preseason games, offseason program. He works hard, he is very diligent and his performance has been pretty consistent all the way through. Of course the thing that you don't know with a player who hasn't played in regular season games is how they will play in regular season games. Preseason is preseason. But his performance and his demeanor and the way he goes about things hasn't changed much and Tom is a pretty consistent guy so I don't think I would have or anybody else that has been around really wouldn't have expected it to.

Q: Terry Glenn has been upgraded to probable this week?

BB: Well I expect him to do more this week than he has done in previous weeks so we will see how that goes.

Q: Is that because of what he has told you, what the doctors have told you or what you have seen?

BB: It is what we expect. We are just listing what the expectations are that is the way we do it every time we put the injury report out where we think they will be. That is where we think he will be.

Q: He has to start playing soon or else you have to start thinking about IR [Injured Reserve] right?

BB: Well the later it goes in the season the more IR becomes a possibility for any player who is not playing. We have five regular season games left and it's like getting into the later innings in a baseball game. If you need a relief pitcher to come in and get a couple of outs you have to put him in there. We will do what we need to do. The closer it gets to the end of the season the more IR is a possibility for any player that is not participating.

Q: Are Troy Brown and David Patten your starting wide receivers for the foreseeable future or will Terry Glenn be allowed to compete?

BB: I would say for the foreseeable future they would start.

Q: Have your doctors prevented Terry from practicing before?

BB: Well when you have a muscle injury you kind of have to go along and when you are ready for the next step then you take the next step. Like we have with all injured players, we go along a progression. The doctors and trainers see them on a regular basis. The trainers and the strength coach work with them as they are ready for the next step and then we move them up. It is all the same.

Q: But if Terry wanted to practice two weeks ago could he have?

BB: Well if he was healthy enough he could have.

Q: Given the injury rate in this league, do you view the quarterback situation as something very positive?

BB: Absolutely, absolutely. I think that is probably the strongest position on the team without question. We have good players there. We have good depth. The players have all, now they have all have an NFL track record of playing. Tom didn't have that at the beginning of the year, but he certainly has it now, Damon [Huard], Drew has it. So I think that is a real position of strength for us. I think that the team feels and I feel that whoever is in the game at quarterback that we can win with that quarterback and that is a good feeling to have. Believe me I have been on teams where you feel like whichever guy you put in you are in trouble and that is not a good feeling to have.

Q: What kind of character does this team have, do they maintain their focus after a strong performance and are you afraid that maybe the effort they gave against New Orleans may not carryover?

BB: Well I think we will find out in the next five weeks. I have had a lot of confidence in this team all the way through. We have had our backs against the wall and been in a hole a couple of times earlier in the year and been able to come out of it and we will see how we are able to perform here in the last third of the season. We have got three games on the road, we have three division games so this is it. We will know the answer to that question in due course. I have a lot of confidence in the team. I like their work ethic. I like their ability to play as a team. For the most part I think it is an unselfish team. I think those are good qualities, but we will have to establish them every week and each week it is going to be a little harder. It will be hard going down to New York and playing in their place against a team that is leading the AFC East. It won't get any tougher than that.

Q: You said on Monday when asked about Terry's interview with Bob Lobel that you would wait until you have seen it to comment on it, have you seen it yet?

BB: I still haven't seen it. I still haven't seen it and I am not going to comment on it, but regardless of whatever it is, whatever was said or wasn't said, we have got a game this week, we have practice today and that is really the most important thing to me.

Q: To expand on what you were asked about the character of this team, every coach in the league wants to get to December in the position where they can challenge for playoffs, your team is in that position is there a different style or mindset now as you get into the stretch run?

BB: I think the most important thing at this point is really to understand that anything could make a difference. Any play, any one thing, any one situation could make the difference. We have been in a lot of tight games and there have been a lot of close situations, close plays, plays where just one or two little things could make a huge difference. We have run some screen passes in the last month or so where I felt like and I am sure probably many of you when you saw the play saw the back catch the ball, saw a couple of blockers out in front of him and are thinking, 'Gee this play is going to go for, this is going to be a big play, we are going to get something out of this one,' and we gain three yards. we have really tried to work on that the last few weeks and finally last week we had a screen pass with two guys out in front of the runner and we run for a touchdown. Getting those little things straightened out, the difference between a three-yard gain and a 40 gain sometimes can just be, it is everything. It doesn't seem like much, but it is everything. Before the Buffalo game which was a windy game and we anticipated the wind. We had a play come up in practice where on the punt return our outside guys allowed the gunners to get inside and we didn't have anything in practice and we talked about it and we corrected and we said look, 'When they are punting into the wind there is nothing more important then forcing those guys to stay outside because of the short ball the returner has to come up and get it and if you keep them outside he can make a play and that is what happened in the Buffalo game. Troy came up, he handled it, he got a 30-yard return and it setup a touchdown. So little things like that, they don't seem like much, but if you get a chance to do them right at this point in the year they can make a huge difference in the game and I think that is the message that our team and our players need to understand. Every ounce of preparation, the smallest thing that they cover and get right and are able to transfer it, use it in the game, can make differences in this game and can make differences in our season. That is the point of the season that we are at right now. To try to put every single ounce of energy into preparation for the New York Jets.

Q: Is Troy Brown that type of player, here is a guy that clearly has NFL talent, but is not Randy Moss as a wide receiver, but attitude-wise?

BB: Right, no he is a different style from Randy Moss, but he does a lot of things well and that is why he has been a productive receiver for so many years. I mean the only thing that has held him back really has been the times that he hasn't been on the field. He has produced when he has played he has just missed some games. Troy has got exceptional hands. He has got a lot of confidence in his hands. He is very quick and has good upper body strength. So there are a lot of players that if they are strong enough to cover him they have trouble with his quickness, if they are quick enough to cover him they have trouble with his strength and again he knows how to play it. He is a very instinctive player.

Q: Does he do those things that you were mentioning, does he pay that kind of attention?

BB: Oh absolutely. He dots the i's and crosses the t's. He is very diligent in his preparation and knows the way that Ray Mickens plays is different than the way that Fred Thomas played last week and that is different that we were played the week before and those kind of things and we have to do things a little bit differently to try to adjust to the personnel or the scheme that they are using. Those little things are critical. Several of our runs this year Troy has really been a big factor because he has made a block on a defensive back and come in and cracked a guy or screened off a defender and so instead of it being a six or seven yard run it goes for more than that. Those are the little things that don't show up in the stats and they don't show up in the receiver rankings and all of that, but he does a lot of them. He is on our field goal block team. He does a lot of little things that help make you a good football team, just like Tedy Bruschi does. It is hard to overstate those.

Q: I know coaches and players always say that you don't look beyond the current week's game, but do you ever sit down and look at the remaining schedule for you and the other contenders have left to establish how important this particular game might be to your chance of getting into the playoffs?

BB: What do you think the answer to that is?

Q: Probably just what I said at the beginning of it.

BB: This is the only game that we can do anything about. Other than our preparation and you have to look ahead in terms of having the people on your staff do the preparation work for the next game and sometimes there are travel or logistical problems with that kind of thing, but no. This is the only game that we can do anything about and I guarantee you if we look past the Jets we will regret it.

Q: Your tight end situation, I am wondering is it the chicken or the egg situation with the lack of production are they not out in the pattern a lot, why isn't there more production there?

BB: Well we would certainly like to see more production from that position there is no question about it. It has been frustrating and I would like to see it become greater than it is. It wasn't very good in preseason. There were only four or five passes caught by the tight ends in the entire preseason or something like that, it was pretty low. Last year our tight ends caught over 50 balls collectively. Now we had a number of different players play at the position, but collectively there were over 50 balls, which is significant. This year we have just got more production from our receivers and I think part of that is them being productive and doing more with their opportunities and I think as that occurs then there is a little bit of a tendency for coaches and quarterbacks to be looking for the guys who have had the most production. Jermaine [Wiggins] has had some good plays for us in the red area. He has made some third down catches. Rod [Rutledge] has done a nice job blocking and that has certainly helped us in the running game which again is another unsung stat, but Antowain is making good yardage and somebody is blocking somebody there and Rod has been a part of that. I think they are contributing, but they are not contributing big numbers in the passing game. It would be nice to see that grow. I don't know how realistic that is that it is going to happen though.

Q: Do you have a sense that you are living on borrowed time at some point that some team is going to say 'Forget about the tight end,' and are not going to cover them?

BB: Believe me they haven't been double covering them to this point.

Q: At some point

BB: Last week we had a key third down conversion that Jermaine picked up. He has caught a couple of touchdown passes in the red area. I mean maybe they are looking for somebody else on those plays and he has got to take advantage or whoever the tight end is whether it is Rod or Jermaine, they have to take advantage of those situations to capitalize on them. On the other hand with our tackle situation being what it is we also have asked the tight ends to stay in a little bit and help on the pass rushers. Each week it seems like we have seen a real good individual pass rusher at the end position. This week it is Abraham, but you know we have seen a number of other guys through the season and sometimes we have asked them to stay in and that does take them out of the pattern.

Q: With so much attention being paid to Brady are their other factors that may be responsible for the team's resurgence that are being overlooked?

BB: I think one of the big differences between this year and last year is that we are playing better as a football team, as a unit, not any one particular player, but the function of the overall group. Our offensive line is better. That has been more cohesive. Our running game is best. I think Marc [Edwards] and Antowain have done a good job of not only working together, but Marc blocking for Antowain and the pass protection and again doing a lot of the little things there. Defensively, even though we have been a little bit in flux there between the line and the linebackers, our overall depth at those positions have enabled us to be in and out of a three or a four man front and still be relatively productive. So I think those things are all positives. We have gotten real good leadership out of a number of players on the team and then we have a lot of veteran players, a lot more than we had last year, that even though they are not necessarily standing up and giving the team speeches, but they are in their own way leaders and they certainly bring a level of experience that we didn't have a year ago. That is probably the best way I can out put it.

Q: Kole Ayi, you acquired him for an immediate need and now he is injured, once he gets healthy that need may not be there, how tough is it for a kid like that to get back into the mix once he does get healthy?

BB: I don't think it will be hard at all because the need for special teams players right now league wide it's there. Every week when we see the tryouts from other teams that have to be reported to the league and you see who teams are trying out you know what they are looking for. I think that, let's face it, there is not a lot out there at this point in the year. Ayi is a guy that has shown in his brief time in the league that he can cover kicks, that he is a strong competitive player, that runs well and is going to be productive in the kicking game and there is a need for that on this team. If you watch us cover kickoffs, there is a need for it I would say virtually on every team in the league. You look at the number of teams that are getting their depth wiped out one way or another whether they are either losing backup players or their backup players are being forced to step up because they lost starters. The problem for Kole is that the only thing he really has to do is to run at top 100 miles per hour speed. That is the only thing he has to do. There is no playing in a box and protecting it and moving laterally and all of that. His number one thing is to get out of the blocks and go and go as fast as he can. If you can't run fast and that is your job to run fast, then that is what's holding him back. As soon as that clears up then you have got something. The problem is at this point in the year how long can you wait for that type of an injury. We have seen how long those can take.

Q: In a classic match-up story, Matt Light and John Abraham, what about Matt going up against him again eight weeks later?

BB: I think that is a real good angle. I talked to our rookie players about it in the second Indianapolis game because we have played them pretty close. I think it was maybe three weeks apart or four weeks whatever it was. For college players or for guys in their first year in the NFL it is a new experience for them to go against the same guy twice in the same season. That is why I mentioned to them at that point I told them, 'Fellas look just because you played this guy three weeks ago, just because you blocked [Chad] Bratzke three weeks ago here in Foxboro, don't think it is going to be the same thing in Indianapolis. It isn't. Bratzke is not sitting at home eating pizza, he is figuring out how to kick your [rear] this time and that is what a good pro like Bratzke will do.' So this is the next chance we have got to go into that type of situation and it will be the same type of thing. Whatever Abraham did the last time he is going to be figuring out how to do it better this time. The challenges will be a little bit different and that is why there is a tendency sometimes for players to slack on the preparation a little bit the second time you play a team thinking that, 'Yeah I know this guy we played against him.' But it is not the same, it is never the same. It is our job to build a better mousetrap and figure out a better way to handle Abraham just like he is trying to figure out a better way to deal with us. That's the chess match on those individual match-ups across the board. On the line, the receivers, on special teams right down through it and it is a key point and it is one that I think sometimes a younger player, if he takes that for granted, going up against an experienced guy, which I am saying even a two or three year guy that has been through it before, it can be a deadly mistake if you think it is going to happen the same way it did the last time. Particularly when you go and play a team on the road which is what happened here in Indianapolis and here with the Jets between the crowd noise and how much quicker those defensive linemen can get off when they are playing at home as opposed to when they are on the road. It is a big difference.

Q: What have you looked for in an offensive linemen and what as a personnel group carried over from the Jets, what do they look for there because they have built an offensive line that is still somewhat in tact?

BB: I think similar qualities in the players. Of course Scott [Pioli] was at New York when we brought in Mawae and drafted [Jason] Fabini and Ryan Young, Randy Thomas and Kerry Jenkins and those kind of guys fit into the same category. I think the key thing you look for is traits. When you scout and offensive linemen it is hard to…it is easy to sit there and look at a guy and say, 'Well he missed that block, he missed this block and he is not playing very good. So is not very good,' Or, 'Yeah he blocked this guy or blocked that guy,' in other words what the production on the film tells you in my experience has been is usually not what they offensive linemen is. Usually I think that my best success with the offensive linemen has been looking at what we call traits or characteristics. Is the guy smart, will he work hard, is he tough, is he going to last through a 16 game season. Even if he plays bad on film that is not really the bottom line because there could be some circumstances around that that you might be able to straighten out a) technique, b) his overall physical strength, c) maybe you are going to ask him to work on a different scheme then what he is being asked to do in that particular game you are evaluating. So the most success that we have had has been is with taking guys like whether it be a Wally Williams or Orlando Brown or guys like that going back to Cleveland or the guys you mentioned with the Jets here, is find guys that have the characteristics that we are looking for at that position and then hope that they can grow into the spot, if they are not like Mike Compton, I mean there is not much growing with him, but with the younger players that hope that they can grow into the position that you want them to play.

Q: Is Scott [Pioli] especially good at sniffing those guys out?

BB: Yes Scott is very good with the linemen being a former linemen himself. I think he has a real knack for seeing those guys and again there are so many little things that go on on the offensive line that really if you do them right can make a big difference as opposed to the vertical jump and that kind of thing, how tall they are, what the vertical jump is and that type of thing. I mean a lot of that is a lot less important than whether the guy is tough, whether he is going take coaching, whether he is going to be able to improve over a period of time if he is given enough opportunity. Those are things that I think a

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