New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference on Friday, December 12, 2008.
BB:We are wrapping it up here for the week. Again, a lot of preparations [and] a lot to get ready for with Oakland but it is coming along. It has been a good week for us. We have gotten a lot of good meeting time, even extra time with everybody being around the hotel. The facilities here have been good just like they were the last time. Hopefully, we will be ready to go here on Sunday. We will polish up a few things here today in the red area, third down, situational stuff. I think we are on track to be ready to go here.
Q:How is Matt Cassel doing and does he expect to be ready to go on Sunday?
BB:I think Matt is doing OK, all things considered.
Q:He is going to be ready to play Sunday?
BB:We will do our stuff after the practice and let everybody know then.
Q:Has Kevin O'Connell taken extra snaps this week?
BB:He got what he normally gets. He did a little more on Wednesday when Matt wasn't here, but otherwise he gets about the normal amount as the backup.
Q:How important is it that you guys haven't had a lot of negative runs in the running game?
BB:One of the most important things, obviously, offensively is to keep going forward. When you have negative runs, sacks and penalties then that sends you in the wrong direction. So, you want to try to eliminate as many of those plays as you can - all of them really. The negative runs… certainly it helps your overall offensive system because it gives you a chance to stay ahead on down and distance, not get into the second and ten pluses or the third and ten pluses from the negative plays. It has been a big point of emphasis, it always is. The players have done a good job. The line has done a good job of not allowing penetration and trying to keep the line of scrimmage firm so the backs can get going downhill into the line and not lose yardage. It's been good. It's been a positive for us all year.
Q:Does that go into the category that you refer to as hidden yards?
BB:Like I said, anytime the offense goes in the wrong direction it's bad. Negative runs, sacks, penalties and turnovers - those four things you want to try to avoid. If you can do that then at least you have an opportunity to head toward the goal line.
Q:Is there a sense of pride at this stage being the least penalized team in the NFL?
BB:We always try to do a good job in that area and try to get better. Right now, our focus is just getting ready for Oakland and trying to do a good job this week. But, you never want any penalties. You want to eliminate your penalties, turnovers and try to create as much good field position for your team as you can. Those are goals every week.
Q:You never like to talk about injuries and they happen to every team, but how proud are you that guys continue to step up week in and week out as you come down the stretch with this football team?
BB:Well, everybody has a job to do and you never know when your number is going to be called. You can never predict how those things are going to go. I think our team week in and week out does a pretty good job of getting ready, trying to be prepared, try to get ready to do their job and when their number is called then they step up. They have come through for the most part. That's the way it is every week and that's how it will be this week.
Q:Is this team any different than teams you've had in the past as far as showing that much depth and being able to rise up to the challenge?
BB:I think every team is its own unique team. I don't think now is the time to compare this team to any other team. Like I said, right now we just need to get ready for Oakland and that's plenty. The guys that are here need to be prepared, be ready to go and if their number is called then step in and do their job. Nobody knows how that is going to.
Q:Do you sense that Randy Moss is relishing this opportunity to face his former team?
BB:I think our team is excited about the opportunity to play the Raiders. It's a big game. We need to win. I think everybody has worked hard this week, both on and off the field: extra meeting time, extra film time and trying to get ready to go. I think everybody has done that. I have seen a lot being around the hotel, we are all there together. You see a lot of guys coming down early, staying late, coming back after dinner, watching film, doing extra stuff, getting treatment and doing whatever they can to get ready. It's December. That's what time of year it is. I think our guys are trying to respond to it. We have a big challenge. I think everybody, Randy included, is trying to get ready to go.
Q:It is a little different when you go back to a place that you have played before? You have talked about going back to Giants stadium where you coached. There is always some element of sentiment there one way or the other.
BB:I am not denying that but in the end it is going to come down to how we perform as a team against the Raiders. I think everybody knows it is an important game. They are trying to get ready for it and we all want to do our best. That includes Randy, LaMont and everybody else - guys that were with the Raiders and guys that weren't.