Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Friday, December 17, 2010.
BB: This finishes our string here with the NFC. It's been kind of interesting to go through that division and see all the teams play each other and then playing them. Green Bay's really an explosive football team and I've been really impressed watching them, their whole season and body of work. There's been a lot of close games, really all the games are close except for some of the blowout wins they've had. They're a very competitive football team. They've got a lot of good football players. [They're] well coached. This will be a big challenge for us Sunday night. I think we know what we're up against. Hopefully we can go out there and play well and be as competitive as I'm sure they'll be.
Q: Is there any way to compare one conference, like the NFC, to another?
BB: I think it's interesting. Well, no, we just see a sampling of it - a quarter of that league, well I mean conference. But, it's interesting. Those teams are really, I'd day primarily passing teams - certainly Chicago was. Detroit [is] a very good throwing team. Green Bay [is] a very good passing team and Minnesota - when we played them anyway - they had multiple receivers, well [Adrian] Peterson. But, it's interesting how that division, once kind of the black-and-blue I-formation division... It's sort of like Ohio State-Michigan. I remember watching that game this year. You never see the quarterback under center [and] there used to be a time when you would never see the quarterback in the shotgun. It's very much a passing division, so that's kind of been interesting. Until you really get into it, I didn't really realize how much the teams in that league really threw the ball and how well they threw it.
Q: What comes to mind when you hear the name Vince Lombardi?
BB: I'd say the championship years in the 60s, how disciplined his teams were and all the Hall of Fame players they had on his team. They had eight or nine players - whatever it was - it was a lot of guys.
Q: In your mind, did he change the game of football or was he just a great coach?
BB: You know, I don't know that I have a great knowledge of all that happened in that era. It was kind of a little bit before my time, fortunately.
Q: You're about the same age. You watched TV.
BB: Yeah, I watched TV, but I was a kid. I didn't know anything. So, I'm not sure about all the activity there in terms of strategy and so forth. I mean, I was a [Baltimore] Colts fan. I was Johnny Unitas, Weeb Ewbank, Alan Ameche, right down the line: Jim Parker, Buzz Nutter, [Jim] Mutchler. That was really, that was the team: [Don] Shula, well, Ewbank and then Shula. That was really the team that I followed most closely. I was no big Packer fan. I was a little bit of a Bears fan with [George] Halas there and my dad has some connections to their staff - Bill Wade and those guys - but I was pretty much a Colts fan.
Q: Regardless of who goes down, it seems you have the mentality of 'It's okay, we'll just plug another guy in.' How does that mentality get built?
BB: Well, I think we talk about that right from the beginning. Everybody's got a job to do and when you're called upon to do that job, everybody's expecting you and counting on you to be ready to do it, whatever that happens to be. So, whether that's a player, a coach - whoever it is - things change from game to game, from year to year and sometimes those roles change based on game plan or other situations and everybody really just needs to be ready to go. I think if you're a player that prepares well and your teammates count on you and you're there to deliver, whether that's one play or 60 plays or third-down plays or fourth-down plays or first-down plays - whatever they are - you just prepare, and when you get the opportunity, you go in there and perform to your best level. Hopefully that's good enough. But I think the players do a good job of that. I really do. I think they do a good job of preparing. They do a good job of understanding that their role might change from week to week and whatever they're asked to do - whatever it is - that they try to do what they're asked to do for the benefit of the team. Really, to have a good team, that's really what you need. You need everybody to sacrifice some personal preferences or individual goals, or however you want to look at it, in order for the team to have success. We've had a lot of that this year. Our players have sacrificed a lot for the good of the team and that's certainly helped us along the way.
Q: The players have been talking about paying attention to detail this week and building it in practice. Have you noticed the players being more focused at practice recently?
BB: We've had 90 - whatever it is - 96 practices this year, so we've had a lot of practices. There have been a lot of good ones and there have been a lot of good plays. Then at every practice, there are things that aren't the way we would want them to be as coaches or players - not the way they want them to be either. I think there's always part of that, the corrections and making adjustments and taking plays in practice and getting them fixed on film and then getting them right either the next day or in games situations. I think, really, the attention to detail really comes more from meetings and walkthroughs and film study and all the preparational things that lead up to it. And practice is really the execution, similar to a game - it's not a game, but it's the closest we can get to a game - and that's really where you go out and execute it and certainly the details and little things and fundamentals are important there, but so are the big things. So, it's kind of putting it all together and it's not the final copy, it's a dress rehearsal. The final show comes on game day. So, as long as you can correct those mistakes and get things to the point that you want them on Sunday, then that's what practice is for. I think it's the whole process. I don't think it's just practice. I think it's meetings, walkthroughs, film study, all that. I think as the season goes on, each game becomes more important because you have one fewer, so the outcome of the season is divided by, decided by six games to five, five games to four, four games to three and as you march along, each game takes on more importance because there are so few of them left. So, I think that's what we try to emphasize to the team and I think they're trying to do that. I think they understand it. We've only got three games left and each and every one of these games is going to be huge. This one's more important than the last one and that's the way it goes.
Q: Does this coaching staff have a group of assistant coaches that are willing to challenge you, as the head coach, and question game plan decisions?
BB: I think we have a good staff, absolutely. I think we have a good staff. I think these guys work hard. They work at their job. We all try to do our own part in it and then ultimately pull it together so that we can function efficiently as an entire unit. I think I ask them to do a lot. They respond to it. They work hard. I think they put the team first; they try to do what's best for the football team, not necessarily what their preference is or what's best for their individual position but they understand what the big-picture goals are [and] they make sacrifices there, too. I think they do a good job.
Q: Do you have a sense of how Devin McCourty's doing?
BB: We'll have the injury report at the end of practice. It's only a couple of hours. It's not that far away.