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Bill Belichick Press Conference

Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick talks to the press about the Pats' upcoming game on Sunday against the Colts.To view the transcript, click below.



BB: We made a couple roster moves yesterday. We released Saul Patu from the practice squad and when we moved David Nugent up from the practice squad to the 53-man roster on Monday, then that left two spots on the practice squad which we filled with Maurice Anderson who's a defensive lineman who was with us last year in training camp, was with the Jets last season and with Dan Hadenfeldt as a punter. We released Rob Holmberg yesterday. So that puts out 53-man roster limit at 52 and I think we all expect that to be filled with a punter before the end of the week one way or another. So that's the roster situation.

On the injury report, as you can see we've upgraded Drew from 'Out' to 'Doubtful'. I think there is an outside chance, and I would emphasize outside chance, that he could be the third quarterback this week, with the emphasis on outside chance. So that's why we listed him as 'Doubtful'. That certainly is not clearly the case today, but it could be that way. Everybody else is … I think we will be able to do something with the exception of Antwan Harris. He probably would do the least in that group out there today. I think everybody else should be able to do something, it's just a question of how far along they'll be today, tomorrow and then what it looks like for Sunday. But they should be out on the field one way or the other.

I think on the Colt game, the one thing that I talked to the team about this morning and I think is real important for us to understand, I think this is a potential situation this week where we played a team only a couple weeks ago that it is easy, or potentially easy for a player to get lazy in his preparations. 'Well yeah I just played against so and so a couple weeks ago, we know what they do. We'll just kind of slap it out there and figure that what we did a couple weeks ago will be good enough this week,' in terms of preparation and not do any more. I know that is definitely not the case, that's not the way to play our best football. I spoke hard to the team about that today and I think that that's particularly with younger players, with guys who haven't played. In college it is very rare for you to play the same team twice in one year. So when you get a chance to play an opponent a second time in a season, like the rookies do in the NFL, it is a new experience for them. It's one that I think a lot of times veterans can take advantage of because they understand that the match up is different and they understand that they can do some different things to gain some advantages a second time around. A lot of times a rookie will think that the game is going to go like it did the last time and it just doesn't. There are new wrinkles and there are some adjustments by the other side. So that's an area that I really tried to talk hard to the team about this morning and I think we need to do a good job there. We still haven't won a game on the road and that's our main focus this week. We need to win on the road and this is the week to do it.

Q: You talk about changes the second time around, their defense had trouble against your offense, is this an opportunity to see changes in how they play your offense?

BB: Watching the Oakland game, I thought that the Colts played well on defense. I really did. What did they give up, 13 points? Whatever it was, it wasn't much. I thought they were aggressive. They played, Oakland is a good football team, they are a real good offensive football team and I thought that the Colts played them well in the running game and they did a good job in the passing game. They didn't give up many plays. You know Oakland is going to move the ball, that is a good offensive football team with a good quarterback and a couple good running backs and good receivers and a solid offensive line. But I thought they really did a good job. They played hard against them. They tackled well. They were aggressive and you know I think that's probably the kind of defense that we're going to get on Sunday. It looks like they've taken the bye week and made some adjustments and the players played with a lot of intensity and I thought they looked real good.

Q: The defense did a good job on Edgerrin James the first time. Do you wait to see what adjustments they make or do you put yourselves in the minds of their coaches and try to figure out the adjustments you think will be coming?

BB: Well I think this is one of those situations where we have a lot of information on the Colts, as they have a lot on us. We played them, when I was at the Jets, we played them of course twice a year and Romeo [Crennel] was there and Eric [Mangini] was there and it was the same cast of characters at Indianapolis and so some of the schemes are similar. Then we played them three times in the last two years here. We haven't done the same thing every time. They don't do the same thing every time. It's a little bit of a chess match. But I don't think that either team is going to see anything that they probably haven't seen before from the other one. Maybe there might be a little fine-tuning here or there, but I don't think there is going to be anything dramatic. I don't think we are going to come out in a 7-1 diamond and I don't think they are going to have an unbalanced line and that kind of thing. I think that they're going to run their stuff and we are going to run our stuff and it is going to come down to some match ups and how certain plays hit against certain defenses and that kind of thing. I think that both teams know each other pretty well. They know each other's systems pretty well and it'll come down to the execution of the plays. I doubt that either team is going to put in a whole lot of new stuff for this game. I don't think that is the way that either one of us is going to play.

Q: How much does playing on artificial turf affect your team?

BB: Well I think that it is a minimal adjustment. Most of the players have played on turf before and a lot of them have played in the [RCA] Dome before. You know I think the game is a little faster. There certainly won't be the effect on the passing game and the kicking game that there was here with the wind. The wind was certainly a factor in the game. So that all gets eliminated, but that is the way it is for both teams. Other than being the usual home-field advantage that any team would have on their home field, I think that they are a fast team and they play fast on turf but I think that we'll be a little bit faster on turf as well.

Q: Is the dome and the noise factor there more of a concern for you because Tom Brady is playing there for the first time?

BB: Well sure, I think it is always harder on your offense. It's harder on the offensive line. It's harder to run the ball on the road because it's tough to get everybody off on the snap count and likewise it presents a little problem on the pass protection because if you are a little bit late on the count with the noise, then those guys get a half-second, half-step jump on the ball, and it's tough to protect. If you are in any kind of audible or communication situation, for example punt protection or even on a kickoff return where you are trying to communicate in the deep part. You, me, who is going to going to take the ball, that kind of thing. Or audibling on offense at the line of scrimmage, it's always a little bit harder to do on the road. I am not saying you can't do it, and you can do it. You need to speak louder and listen better and have more concentration, but it can be done. It's just a little bit harder. Those will all be a little bit tougher challenges for us anytime we play on the road, but especially in the dome because they can get that place rocking.

Q: I assume other than the adjustment of the punter, you will try to shore up other things on special teams?

BB: Absolutely.

Q: Are there any specific changes that we can anticipate?

BB: Hopefully we will just see a better performance. I don't think we want to go to the scrap heap and eliminate everything that we are doing. I think that we need to do the things we are doing, better. We need to obviously fine-tune them a little bit. I think that we have shown that we can do things well in different areas, but we need to do them well all the time. You know we didn't do many of them well against San Diego. We are going to cut down our offensive and defensive part of the practice a little bit today in order to devote more time to the kicking game. Again, as I told the team this morning, there's nothing more important than the kicking game. There's nothing more important than field position. You put the Colts on a short field and I don't care what kind of defense you are playing, you are going to have problems. You put any offense 90 yards away from the goal line consistently and it is hard to score a lot of points. So the game starts in the kicking game and special teams and field position will have a lot to do with it. We won't be able to overcome consistently giving them more opportunities than we create for ourselves. It's too much.

Q: Lee Johnson was also the holder on kicks, have you got that situation straightened out and how much effect will that have on Adam Vinatieri?

BB: I think it will maybe be a little bit of an adjustment depending on who our punter ends up being. It could come from the punter or, Tom and Damon [Huard] have both done it. I think that we could be comfortable with either one of them, but I think the overall best person would be the punter if he can do it because those guys just spend more time together. They get a lot more practice than a quarterback, if you are in practice whose got to do his normal offensive stuff. Yeah I just don't think you can carry a holder, with the roster limit what it is I just don't think you can afford to carry a holder on your roster. That job has got to go to somebody, it goes to one of your regular players or you get your punter to do it.

Q: Are there other possibilities in the punting situation other than Hadenfeldt? Why wait to sign him?

BB: Well I am not sure how long we are going to wait. I can't tell you that it is not going to be today or that it will be tomorrow, but we'll get it settled here soon. I mean I just don't want to say that it is going to be something and then it's not going to be that. I'll look like a moron, more than usual.

Q: You cut Hadenfeldt in training camp, technically I think twice?

BB: At least twice.

Q: What is it now that makes you think that he is going to do a better job than Johnson?

BB: He's at a totally different stage in his career. You are talking about one guy whose punted longer than anybody has ever punted in the history of football and you are talking about another guy who's just starting and who has some up-side and has a chance to develop into, I think he has a chance to develop into a solid NFL punter. Now there are still a lot of steps that need to be taken to get to that point, but that is what we like about him in the first place and we've continued to like him. Punter is one of those positions though, where you can only have one guy. When you start the season and you are getting ready to go, you want to go with who you think is the best, gives you the most security but also who you think is going to help you win in the short-term and you can't look too far down the road. But then we just got into a situation where I felt like we needed to make a change.

Q: What made you decide that you were going to stick with Johnson at the end of training camp?

BB: I thought that it would improve, which it did last year. You know the training camp this year, I went through all the punts, we've gone through all the punts from this year's training camp and preseason games and the last actually two or three years' training camp and preseason games looking for a trend and there really wasn't one. It was consistent and what happened in the 2000 season was, whatever the performance was in training camp and in the preseason games, it was a little bit different level when the regular season started. That was also true for the 1999 season, not that I was here for that, but I did go back and study those numbers too and looked at that. But I didn't think it was going to happen this year.

Q: You said you think he has a chance to be a solid punter, can you afford to put in someone who only has a chance to be a solid punter?

BB: You tell me who that is and we'll put him out there.

Q: That's your job.

BB: I mean look, if we had Dave Jennings here in his prime, that's who it would be. Dave Jennings isn't here. I mean every team in the league is going through this at some position on the roster, most teams are at some positions on their roster where you want to upgrade the performance. You go with a guy who doesn't have the experience, Matt Light. I mean Matt Light played hardly at all in preseason and he's been starting at left tackle for us in the last four games. I mean at some point if you feel good enough about him, you put him in there. If it doesn't work out then you put someone else in there, but if you don't feel good about them enough in the first place then you shouldn't put them in there. If we didn't feel good enough about Hadenfeldt to put him in there, then he won't be in there. So it is as simple as that. If we feel like he is then we will go with him and we'll have to evaluate the performance as it goes. I really don't think the performance is going to be worse than it has been.

Q: Talk about Matt Light over the last couple of weeks, he has battled some tough pass rushers and had some ups and downs?

BB: He has, he has played against some real good players going back to [John] Abraham, [Chad] Bratzke, [Jason] Taylor and then [Raylee] Johnson and they are different-style players. Actually, of all those players, Bratzke is the biggest, most physical player. The other guys are more in the 260/270 range. Bratzke is a bigger, heavier guy who also has good pass-rush technique. Each guys got a little different package. I was talking to Matt about that yesterday. He has, he's faced a lot of guys, but Bratzke is the guy who's kind of a little bit different from the rest of those guys because of his size and because of his overall power. You know I think Matt is making some progress. He's improving. I think he's done a better job in the running game, which has really helped us over there on the left side. It's given more balance to our running game than what we have had in the past and that's been good. You know, pass protection, especially on the road and on the edge out there against good speed rushers, that's challenging. Overall, I think he's held up OK. It should get better if he keeps working hard and improving, but each week there is going to be another good player out there. That's usually where teams put their best rusher and he's seen a guy out there every week, but overall at this point in the year our running production is a little bit better than it was last year and so is our pass protection overall. So, he's one of those kind of guys that if he can keep improving and keep growing, like Greg's [Robinson-Randall] been doing on the other side, that I think eventually those positions can be more consistent and be OK. But I don't think we are quite there yet.

Q: You talked about the quick turnaround, but the fact that your defense was so dominating in their first performance and your pass coverage was particularly dramatic, do they go away thinking that well they did that to us two weeks ago, let's counter with this? Do you try to stay one step ahead of them adjusting to what you did just two weeks ago?

BB: Right, I think you always have to do that. I think we definitely need to try to stay ahead of the curve. Look, I guarantee you [Peyton] Manning and [Marvin] Harrison and [Terrence] Wilkins and [Marcus] Pollard, they are not sitting out there crying about what happened two weeks ago. They've got their things, I am sure they are going to have a good game plan for us. They'll have some things that'll give us some problems and we'll have to be ready for them. I don't think that, I know the type of players they are. They're not looking back; they're going to look to have a good performance this week. I mean I expect them to play their best game this week and that is what we need to be ready for. We are probably going to need to play our best game. We'll need to play better than we played in the last game and that is probably what it is going to take to win.

Q: You had some glowing comments for Tom Brady after last game. What was the difference between the way he played in Miami and the way he played against the Chargers?

BB: Let me just clear that up now. I think it's way too early to retire his number or any of that. I thought he played well in the game. I thought he brought the team back from a deficit in the fourth quarter, tied the game up and then made a couple of plays and gave us a chance to win in overtime. But we are 2-3, we haven't won a game on the road, I mean he's played a couple decent games, that's great but I think it's way too early now to put him in the Hall of Fame. Let's wait until we beat somebody on the road, win a division game on the road, have a little bit better record. I think we are a long way off from the '80 Chargers with Dan Fouts and going up and down the field, averaging 550 yards a game and all that. That's not really what we are. I don't think we are going to throw 54 times for whatever he threw it for last week. I don't think that is the way it is going to be every week. We need better balance than that. We ran the ball better against the Colts the first time we played them. I think a balanced offense is our best, really is our best thing. We had to throw it a little more in the San Diego game, but I don't really think that's us. I don't think we are going to be throwing it 50 or 60 times a game, John Jefferson, Wes Chandler, Kellen Winslow, Chuck Muncie and all those guys running around like the Chargers did.

Q: You mentioned after Sunday's game Drew Bledsoe's role during the game helping Tom Brady. He's had so much success against the Colts how can he help Brady this week and what do you remember about how Phil Simms helped Jeff Hostetler with the Giants?

BB: Well, just to answer the second question first, the Giants situation. I coached defense at the Giants, so I wasn't in the meetings with Jeff and Phil and I wasn't part of the conversations on the sideline after a series and they'd be talking about…you know I was trying to call defenses when we were out there. So what I saw, really it was at a distance. It wasn't a real good look like I would have had with Lawrence Taylor or Carl Banks or somebody like that, but I thought just even when I met with the quarterbacks that both Drew and Damon bring up some good points as we are watching tapes about little things that you can read. You see where the corner, how he is playing inside on this coverage where he normally would play outside. You know this defender is going to carry that route and that will open up something else for us here. You know bringing up little points or for example when we were watching last years games with the Colts where Drew was the quarterback and he'd say, 'Well this is the reason why I went over here because I saw this and I saw that.' Those are things that, you know you are watching the play, but to really see what the quarterback is seeing, to have him verbalize, 'This is why I threw the ball over here. This is what I saw.' Those kinds of things are invaluable for a quarterback like Tom or any quarterback because he wasn't taking the snap on that play.

Q: Does a quarterback get a book on defenders like pitchers get a book on hitters in baseball?

BB: I think that is definitely the case, but I think what you have to be careful of just like the pitchers and hitters example, is you just can't keep doing it the same every time. You know, a guy might have trouble with curve balls, but you hang one of those curves on him and he's looking for it and he knows you know and that kind of thing and you get it hit out of there. So you still have to do enough as a quarterback to keep them off balance. You might say well we think we can run by so and so and we are going to throw deep on him, but if you try to throw deep on him every play eventually he is just going to back up and you can't. You are going to have to throw in front of him to get him to come up and then throw behind him. Yeah, I do think there is a book on them, but I think you also have to do it in a way so that if it's so obvious this is what you are doing then they are just going to play that and you are not going to have what you want. So there is a fine line between keeping them honest and then I think the real key to it is when you know you've got it on a hook, then that is when you've really got to reel it in. You know, this is what we've been waiting for. We've got it set up, bam, then you nail it when you get the opportunity and that's the mark of a great quarterback or a great receiver. It's to not only do it, but to know the right time to pull the trigger and really be able to make it count.

Q: You said that Bledsoe has be upgraded to doubtful with an outside chance at being the third quarterback. How is he progressing? Ahead of schedule?

BB: There was no really specific timetable. It was just one step at a time, taking it kind of day to day and I think he has improved enough to where we can, where he could possibly, with the emphasis on possibly, have a shot to be the third quarterback, possibly this week, certainly no guarantee or anything that that would happen. I just think it's a possibility. If he is not ready, then we won't do that. He's been able to do a little bit of light work. We think that by the end of the week he'll be able to increase that a little bit more, but look I'm just listing it on Wednesday for where I think it is going to be on Sunday. I really don't know what's going to happen in the next three or four days. It certainly has a lot better chance of happening this week than it had last week, that's the only thing I can tell you. But don't hold me to it.

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