Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday, December 15, 2010.
BB: We've had a couple of days to really start to work on Green Bay. As usual, they look pretty good. [They're] a real good football team. [They're] right at the top of the league defensively and in a lot of categories - most importantly, points. They do a good job of rushing the passer and covering [with] Charles Woodson, [Clay] Matthews - really outstanding players for them on the defensive side of the ball. Offensively, this is an outstanding unit. [Aaron] Rodgers has been very impressive. We really haven't had a chance to study him, haven't seen him. Last time we played them, it was a different quarterback. This guy's really come into his own and been as productive as anybody in the league. [They have] a great receiving corps [and] a real good offensive system with Coach [Mike] McCarthy. They do a real good job of using their personnel and giving you different formations and looks and of course, the quarterback makes it all go. [He's] very active with his legs as well as his arm, his accuracy and utilizing all of his weapons offensively. [They're] strong in the kicking game and a good football team. It will be a big challenge for us Sunday night. We're looking forward to it, but we have a lot of work to do. [They're] a team we don't know very well. We got a lot of things we need to digest and figure out in the next couple of days.
Q: What do you see on Clay Matthews?
BB: He's a good football player, real good football player. He's quick. He's active. [He's] got a great motor. He makes a lot of plays that it looks like he might be out of, but he has the ability to recover [with] speed, quickness and the motor. He's a hard guy to block. They use him primarily as a pass rusher but sometimes in coverage. He's fast and he runs well. He's a good pursuit player.
Q: Can you talk about the two moves you made today, putting Jonathan Wilhite on injured reserve and signing Louis Leonard?
BB: Well, Jonathan's situation just wasn't improving the way that he hoped or we hoped it would, so we had to move along there. Leonard is a guy that has a little experience in the league. Defensive lineman is a position that we're kind of short on; [we] just had five at the game last week. So, hopefully he can give us a little depth there if he can get ready to go. I don't know; we'll see how it goes.
Q: What is it that helps a team be resilient enough to withstand so many injuries?
BB: I think every team knows that whoever the 53-man roster is that you have in September, it's probably not going to be who it is at the end of the year. So, it's just part of going through an NFL season. It's a long season and there's certainly attrition to it, one way or another, that everybody has to deal with in some form - some years more than others, some years more than others. But, that's part of your depth: your roster, your practice squad, players that have been on your team that didn't make the final cut or other players that are available from within the league for one reason or another. That's part of the league. Every team has a personnel department that has to keep on top of those things and has to make roster moves, whether it's from their practice squad or somewhere else. It's something you have to be able to do. The more your players can play multiple positions and do multiple things, then that gives you some degree of depth, but ultimately, you're going to have to fill players' spots with players. So, they've got to come from somewhere. You have to try and figure out how to get the best out of those guys that are available.
Q: One of those guys that has stepped up is Kyle Arrington. What is it that has made him such a steady contributor?
BB: Kyle's a guy that works hard. He did a good job for us last year. On special teams, he led the team in tackles. He was very productive, had a good training camp. He's got good speed. He's tough; he tackles well. He's aggressive. When he's had an opportunity, he's done a good job at taking advantage of it.
Q: Is his strength one of his best attributes?
BB: Yeah, I think pound-for-pound, he's a strong player. For his size, very strong.
Q: It seems like James Sanders has been getting a lot more looks as the season has gone on. Is that the case?
BB: I think all of our players - all the safeties - have played well at different times. It hasn't always been the same group. Guys have been in and out for one reason or another, but overall, that's been a pretty consistent group. They've all been productive and we've played all of them. We've had a lot of defenses on the field where we've had three safeties out there, depending on the rest of the package, but it was having three safeties on the field. Those guys have done a good job for us.
Q: Does his status as a veteran help as far as communication goes in the secondary?
BB: That's just who James is, whether that was two years in the league or six years in the league. Definitely having experience helps, but he's a good communicator. He identifies things. He's an instinctive player [and] identifies formations and recognizes situations the way people are positioned and so forth. [He] can anticipate what our adjustments are going to be or maybe what types of plays the offense can run and get in the right position or help get our defense in a better position to defend those plays. He does a real good job of that.
Q: Was Eric Moore's play in Chicago more instinctive than recognition of the play?
BB: There're a few things he definitely has to know assignment-wise, but I'd say relative to other positions, not as much. The big thing for most of those guys, really - defensive lineman - is to be able to play with good technique, with good leverage, defeat run blocks or defeat pass blocks and rush the passer. So if you can play with good technique within the framework of assignments which, again, it's not a massive assignment situation there. You have to know where to line up on certain defenses and who's the contained player and who's the cutback player and so forth, but again, on a relative scale, that's manageable. It comes down to playing good technique and reading your keys and understanding where you're supposed to be on certain plays and he did a good job of that.
Q: How do you keep a bigger picture of game management overall with the team? Is that something that's evolved during your career?
BB: I think we have a very good staff. We have a lot of experienced coaches on the staff and I delegate different responsibilities to them or communicate with them at different points in the game depending on what the situation is. I've worked with a lot of those guys for a long time: Scott [O'Brien]; Dante [Scarnecchia]; Ivan [Fears]; Billy [O'Brien] now for several years; defensively, Pepper [Johnson], we've worked together for a long time, going on a couple of decades now; Matt [Patricia]; Corwin [Brown]; all those guys. So, I think it's all part of the process. You do things over a period of time and, ultimately, there's always new people that come into the equation, but you work through those things. You count on your staff and the people to do things that you can't do. Everybody's got a job to do on Sundays. I got one, but so does everyone else. We all contribute to the final product.
Q: Has your approach changed since you were at Cleveland?
BB: Oh yeah, I've learned a lot. I've learned a lot every year. I think every year is a bit different. I think there are some similarities, certainly, but I think every year has its own unique makeup of staff, teams, situations, little emphasis points. Some things work out different from year to year. There's certainly a lot of continuity, but I think each year has its own kind of dynamics, if you will.
Q: You are 10-0 in the snow since you've been coaching the Patriots. When the weather gets nasty, the team seems to get better. I'm curious why you think that may be?
BB: Honestly, I didn't even know that. That's great. We'll get the snow-making machines out there; start firing it up. I wasn't even aware of it. Those aren't the kind of records I keep track of. Look, our team has to be ready to play in whatever the elements are every week. They practice in them. They play in them. They're the ones that are out there trying to throw, catch, kick in those conditions, tackle, block, whatever it is. We've got some good football players. Those guys prepare for not only the opponent they have to play, but also the conditions they have to play in, whether it's 90 degrees against Cincinnati or zero against Chicago. That's their job and they do a good job of it. They're the ones that deserve the credit. They're out there playing.
Q: What's the big thing that needs to be fixed with this offense?
BB: Well, I think there's always more consistency. Those last two drives at the end of the first half against the Jets, that was pretty bad. [We] couldn't score in the second half against Chicago. So, we had opportunities to do things better than we did them and we keep working to do that. The things that we've done well in the past, that's great, but that doesn't mean they're going to happen again. We have to keep working to make sure that those are done at a high level and we make the right reads and we execute the plays the way they should be against the defense that we get or the personnel that we're facing the following week and it all starts all over again. I think you always feel like there're plays that you'd like to have back. Defensively, we miss some opportunities every week to make plays or get off the field on third down or keep teams out of the endzone or stop runs or stop passes for less than what they ended up gaining. We all have to work hard as a team - players, coaches, everybody - to try to do it better than we're doing it.
Q: In what ways has Tom Brady most improved in his 11th season?
BB: Tom works hard on the little things. I think that's one thing as a coach that you really respect and admire about Tom. He's always working on the little things. It might be on one thing that could come up on one play and that one play might happen twice a season; who knows? He just continually prepares at a very high level, both the opponent and the opponent's scheme and personnel. He continues to try to have a better understanding of our offense and what options there are on certain plays, certain situations, the way a team plays it. You learn something every week or every practice or every game on that. He's always striving to get better. He does a lot of things well, but he knows there are things he can improve on and he's always working to get better at those. Sooner or later, you'll see one come up in a game that maybe hasn't come up in a month or six weeks or a year, and then he'll be able to make a play on that. I think that's a very satisfying thing for him that [he can say], 'Hey, this didn't happen when it happened a year ago or whatever and here we had a chance to get it and we got it.' You feel good about that. So, I think that's kind of what Tom Brady does. He does all the things that you expect him to do and a lot of the little things, and somewhere along the line those little things help him make a play. It might be a long way back in the history books where you find, but there's a teaching lesson in there somewhere that he picked up on.
Q: On his throw to Deion Branch right before the half in Chicago, is that an example of a play that takes a whole lot more in the week or weeks of preparation for a game?
BB: Well, I think it's a pretty basic play. Anytime you have a defense in a split-safety coverage, I think every quarterback in the league has either looked outside to try to throw inside or looked inside to try and throw outside. I mean, it was a good play, don't get me wrong, but I don't think we're talking about anything that changed the game of football. I think that's probably what every quarterback and every quarterback coach and every team teaches on plays like that. You're looking off one guy to throw it somewhere else and it's basically a two-on-one fast break and you try to get the ball to whichever guy you can move the defender away from. I mean, it was a good play, don't get me wrong, but I wouldn't put it down as like the greatest read in the history of football. I think that's a little bit of a stretch.
Q: How do you sense the development of Jonathan Wilhite?
BB: Well he hasn't been able to play it the last few weeks, so I can't really add too much to that.
Q: But in terms of when he was playing?
BB: He played for us his first year and the next two or what there was of this year. He's got good skills at the position and he's been productive at it. He just hasn't had a chance to play it the last weeks and, unfortunately, he won't the rest of the year.
Q: Can you talk about the offensive lineman?
BB: Well, again, I think it's been pretty solid. Again, there're always things we can do better, no doubt about that, but it's been solid. Logan [Mankins] coming back a few weeks ago at the Cleveland game and then with [Stephen Neal] not being able to finish the season, that's unfortunate for Steve, but it was timely that Logan was here at that point. And then Dan [Connolly] shifted over from left guard to right guard. We wouldn't have been able to keep that unit in tact - four of the five guys with Dan moving over anyway. Certainly, the offensive line with Rob [Gronkowski] and Alge [Crumpler] and Aaron [Hernandez] - not that they're on the offensive line - but they certainly work with the offensive line on a lot of things. And Tom and the offensive line as well and the communication on pass protection and run checks and things like that, having the continuity of all those guys together, that's definitely been a big plus. You know, Matt [Light] and Sebastian [Vollmer], they go up against top pass rushers every week out there on the edge and they don't get a lot of help. Inside those three guys - whether it's been Steve [Neal], Logan, Dan Connolly [or Dan] Koppen, whichever three of the four it's been, and [Ryan Wendell] when he's been in there at times when Dan [Connolly]'s gone back into the backfield on short yardage - they've consistently done a good job. We haven't had a lot of missed assignments. You don't see a lot of guys running through the line of scrimmage unblocked, bearing down on the quarterback. Usually we have a hat on everybody and they're picked up. Sometimes, technique-wise, we get beat but we haven't had a lot of missed assignments and I think that's really a credit to those guys individually preparing but also working together, making sure that they're all seeing the same picture and making the same reads. Dante [Scarnecchia] does a great job with that group and gets all five guys to play as one. That's really what offensive-line play is about.
Q: Tom was saying that Logan plays to the echo of the whistle. Does that sort of attitude help the team?
BB: Well, I think you always want your team to play as one, for the 10 guys to support the 11th guy and all that. That's what a unit is; it's out on the field. They're all playing together; they're supporting each other, both emotionally and from a functional standpoint, on the field. Everybody's got a job to do and we're counting on each other. Our job is to go out there and play from snap to whistle, but I know that there's stuff that goes on after the play at times and I think, as a team, you have to be able to stand up to that, not at the expense of getting penalties and personal fouls and all that, but to hold your ground and be able to play the game and not get pushed around out there - to be competitive and not get pushed around. I'm not sure if that's what you or he was referring to, but that's the way I see it.
Q: Who's the offensive line scared of more: you or Brady?
BB: You'll have to ask them that. Probably Brady.