New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference on Monday, December 07, 2009.
BB: We talked about it yesterday, obviously, it's a disappointing loss. We'll take a look at the film here today, as we always do. We'll try to correct the mistakes and try to reinforce the things we did well, which there were some of those in the game, but ultimately it came down to a handful of plays and they made a couple more than we did yesterday. We've had that go the other way. We've just got to do a better job and that's all of us. Right now, we're 7-5. There're a couple teams behind us at 6-6. I don't think it really matters how anybody got there, whether we won seven and won five or lost five and won seven or come up somewhere in between, I don't think it really matters. That's where we are. It's a four game season and right now it's a one game season with Carolina. We'll turn our attention to them and put everything we have into this one and worry about next week next week. We've got to play better, we've got to coach better; we've just got to do a better job than we did yesterday. We've got to recommit ourselves to that and that's what we'll try to do.
Q: On the first of Brady's interceptions in the fourth quarter, it looked like the play clock was about to expire and he was trying to get the ball snapped. Did he indicate if that rushing had anything to do with how he threw the ball?
BB: No, I don't think so. I think it was just a kind of catch it and throw it quick because we were down there pretty close and [he] tried to put it out to Randy and I think we just didn't get as good of execution on the play as what we would have liked to have had. Obviously, it was close on the play clock, but I don't think it had anything to do with it. It was just getting the ball out with a little more pressure and [Vontae] Davis ended up with it and made a good play.
Q: Are you more frustrated with the pass rush or coverage?
BB: Well, team defense always goes together, so pass rush and pass coverage are totally interrelated. Yesterday we obviously didn't do a good enough job on third down and that hurt us, especially in the first half - two or three on fourth down or whatever it was. A combination of third and fourth down, that was an area that we didn't perform as well in as we needed to.
Q: What in your mind, as you sit here and sum it all up, is the most sobering thing about the loss yesterday?
BB: We had our opportunities. We just weren't able to take advantage of them. We had them numerous times.
Q: Have you detected that it's execution, or with these lost opportunities has there been a common denominator?
BB: It's such a varied set of plays and situations; I don't know how you could bring it down to one thing. We had opportunities offensively to put the game away and score more. We had opportunities defensively to close it out. We had opportunities to help ourselves in the kicking game and field position, and we didn't take advantage of them. And you can look at other games and find similar opportunities. In the Denver game, we had opportunities at the end of the game offensively. We had opportunities in the overtime defensively to get off the field and get the ball back. We had opportunities to close out the game at Indianapolis. We had opportunities to stop them. And we've won games when we've done that, too. I don't see it as one particular thing. Ultimately, it comes down to playing your best football at critical times in the game and yesterday was an example where we weren't able to do that.
Q: You had a number of different kickoff return combinations as far as the return game and you had Welker in there...
BB: Yeah, he did the last one.
Q: Is that an area where you are still trying to find that one or two guys?
BB: We certainly weren't productive on our kickoff returns yesterday. Some of it was blocking and execution and timing things, but we just didn't do a good job. Really, it's an area that we need to improve in all the way across the board. I'm not saying it's the returner - it's execution, timing, finishing blocks. I thought we were close earlier in the year and then the last three weeks it hasn't been as good as we would like for it to be. Last week we had Terrence [Wheatley] back there with Matt [Slater], he was inactive, so we had Darius [Butler]. Darius played quite a bit on defense yesterday. We just felt like, at that point in the game, Wes was our best option on that last one.
Q: Tom Brady talked about a lack of fight at times. Is that something you've seen and what do you do about that?
BB: As I said, we have to play our best football at critical times in the game, certainly at this critical time of the year. That's what we all should be - and I think will be - about, trying to do that.
Q: You talked about Darius Butler. What was your assessment of his play? I know it was a tough game for him, so how do you keep a rookie from letting that affect his psyche? All defensive backs have to have a short memory about bad plays they give up.
BB: Yeah, I think that's part of the position. Every quarterback has thrown interceptions. Every receiver has dropped balls. Every [defensive back] has had a pass completed on them or a touchdown pass. Every linebacker has missed tackles. Every lineman has missed a block. No matter how great they are, I think we can find that with everybody. I think that's part of being mentally tough and resilient, is playing through plays that don't go your way at every position. Every kicker has missed a kick. Every punter has dropped a snap. That's part of being a competitor. We all have to do that. It doesn't always go right every time for all of us.
Q: What is your assessment of how Darius Butler handled it?
BB: I think Darius is a kid that's worked hard. He comes to work every day, pays attention. He's a smart guy. We've asked him to do a number of different things and he's worked hard at those, both defensively and in the kicking game. Some things are good. Some things need to be improved, like all the rest of us.
Q: How do you balance changing schemes versus changing personnel?
BB: I think every week is kind of the same. You make the decisions you feel are best for the team, [that] give you the best chance to win this particular game. Like I said, it's a one-game season for us - Carolina, that's it. Whatever gives us the best chance, then that's what we'll do, whether that's a play, player or situation - whatever it is. I mean, we don't want to put somebody in a situation that we don't feel they can execute or they're not comfortable with or they're haven't had enough experience with, but at the same time I think you've got to do what you feel like is best, so you balance that. (On the report that Charlie Weis has expressed interest in coming back into the NFL)
BB: I wouldn't want to speak for Charlie. Right now, my focus and concentration is on Carolina. That's all I'm really thinking about.
Q: Can you talk about the decision making on fourth down, what goes into that process and what determines if you're going to go for it or kick?
BB: For the head coach, what I feel like is best for the football team at that time and in that situation, that particular game - the play we want to run, the situation in the game. There're a lot of factors; I could list 100 of them. Some more important than others at that time, but it's what you feel gives your team the best chance to win based on all the factors at that juncture. That's the way it is with every decision - fourth down, third down, second down, first down. The coaching staff, head coach, the assistant coaches, the players, everybody's doing what they think is best at that time. Sometimes it works out [and] sometimes it doesn't, but the intent it to always do what you think is best.
Q: There are new statistics out there that say going for it on fourth down is more advantageous to a team...
BB: Yeah, I don't know if those are high school, college or what the teams were. To me, the decisions are based on the game that you're in, the team you're playing, what you think you can do, what you think you can't do, and all the situations you think are specific to that game. To me, it's not based on some statistical study done on some games we weren't a part of or some other level of football or whatever it was. And I'm not being disrespectful to the statistician's and all that. I worry about our game, our team and the situation we are in. That is what motivates my decisions. Whatever the rest of that is, it is. I'm not going to tell you that it's right or wrong, but it's not a factor for me.