Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday, December 23, 2009.
BB: OK, we're at it here today on Jacksonville. Things we've been talking about the last couple days, [they are a] big, physical team. I think that by and large at every position they're probably bigger and faster than what the average standards are in the National Football League. They play that way. They're strong. They're fast. [They're] real good in the kicking game. [They have] an explosive offense, a lot of big-play guys. The quarterback's a very mobile and active guy. I think we all know about the running backs and the tight ends. [They have] a big defensive front. [There're] a lot of challenges this week. They are a team that we haven't seen in a couple years, but we have a little history with. A lot of other things are not the same, but there is some carryover. Defensively, with Mel [Tucker] down there, he's brought a little bit of a different look to their defense with a 3-4 type element to it that they've added. It's another thing to prepare for. It's a good team. They're tough. They're consistent. They're fundamentally sound and they don't make a lot of mistakes. They make you go out there and beat them - very few penalties, not many interceptions. They make you go out there and beat them.
Q: With the holiday, what does the week of preparation look like?
BB: It will be a normal Wednesday [and] Thursday for us and kind of a normal Friday, shortened down here a bit, but we'll be here on Friday, sorry.
Q: Can you talk about the practical role you've seen Torry Holt have in that offense?
BB: I couldn't really comment on that, but he's a very good technique player. He ran a great route against Miami, the double move there on third and 15 or whatever it was. [He] split double coverage and made a big play. He's a good technique route runner and I'm sure that helped the other receivers. He's very good at attacking a defender's leverage and knows how to get open, knows how to run routes and he does it very effectively. He's got good skill, good size, good hands, quickness, gets down the field [and] still makes some big plays down the field. I think he's one of the best receivers over the last decade or so. He's still very productive. They have a nice compliment of receivers. Their tight ends are really their receivers. The receivers [get] a lot of balls and the running backs. Of course, [Maurice] Jones-Drew's got 50 catches. They spread the ball around pretty good. It's hard to just say, 'Well this is the guy they go to.' They pretty much go to everybody and they make a lot of big plays, too.
Q: Do you remember Mike Sims-Walker coming out of the draft? Was the injury really the reason why he didn't go higher?
BB: I'm sure that was part of it. It's like a lot players in the draft. Everybody who gets drafted has good talent coming out, that's why they're picked. There are a lot of guys that play in this league that don't get drafted. You can make a case for a lot of guys, just keep taking them higher because they are talented.
Q: I know you always focus on the matter at hand and Jacksonville is your focus this week, but with this week's win it could be accomplishing one of the goals you always talk about, which is win your division first? Do you talk about the fact that a win this week gets you to your first goal?
BB: Yeah, absolutely. We are aware of that, absolutely. We know what that will do this week and that's really one of our goals at the start of the season, [that] is to win our division. If we could do that this weekend, that would be an accomplishment. You win games along the way and they are important, too. But you can't really win anything you just get yourself in position and we're actually in position to do it. It doesn't matter what everybody else does; if we win on Sunday, then we've achieved one of our goals this year. We're aware of that.
Q: How are Jacksonville's two young tackles?
BB: I think they've done a good job. It's been a learning experience for them, I'm sure. They are playing with a lot of veteran players out there around them - the tight ends, the backs, the guards, the quarterback. They're both big, both pretty athletic. It's unusual to see two tackles like that on the same team, kind of book ends. I think they've gotten better. It's not perfect. They've got their good plays. They've got some that aren't as good. They're big, they're athletic. And I think [Eben] Britton's done a good job as a run blocker. It's something he's probably improved on and done well relative to college, where he didn't do as much of the power-type run blocking that Jacksonville does. He's done a good job on that. [Eugene] Monroe's an athletic guy and he's seen some good rushers over there. He's blocked them and I'm sure he's learned from some of the other plays.
Q: When you acquired Tully Banta-Cain from San Francisco, what made you confident that he would be the same player that you had previously?
BB: [It was] more our experience with him. I don't know what did or didn't happen out in San Francisco. I can't really comment when a player's with another team or another program. But I know what our experience with him was here and his experience with us. We brought him in, we talked about that - it was in January - and we both felt like it was something we both wanted to do, both as a team and Tully. And it's worked out well. He's done everything we've asked him to do. He's worked hard and he's had a good year.
Q: They rank last in the NFL in sacks. Have they had trouble getting to the quarterback this year?
BB: Well, they get more pressure than sacks. They have some big physical players inside and they get a lot of pass rush up the middle. I would say they are probably as good as any team we've played rushing the middle, disrupting the pocket, knocking balls down or forcing the quarterback to pull the ball down and move and find a place to throw because the pocket's collapsing on him. They have good rushers, too, with [Quentin] Groves and [Derrick] Harvey. But those inside guys - particularly [John] Henderson - do a good job pushing the pocket inside. They do a decent amount of blitzing and they pressure. And a number of those balls have come out - the quarterback sees the guy coming and gets rid of it. I think they do get pressure. I don't know what the numbers are, but they do get pressure in their own way and the inside pressure is definitely an issue.
Q: How different is this team than the one you played in the playoffs a couple years ago?
BB: They're a lot different than they were last year. They have 16 or 18 rookies, however many it is. There're a lot of them. They have a lot of new faces. Defensively, they've done a little bit with their front with Tucker being down there, adding in a little bit of a 3-4 element to their team, as well as what they usually do. Offensively, I think a lot of those younger players we've played against have improved. I mean Jones-Drew, not that he wasn't good then, but he's really good now. Marcedes Lewis, one of the best tight ends in the league, [he is a] very good receiver, real athletic guy, much improved as a blocker, So with [Ernest] Wilford in there at tight end, too, it's like they have four receivers on the field, which is real unusual. Of course the other receiver is [Mike] Sims-Walker. They've got a lot of good young players that developed and either we haven't seen or they've gotten a lot better in the last few years. The quarterback is experienced. He doesn't make many mistakes throwing the ball. He's got a good arm. [He's] accurate and takes care of the ball. He's got a couple more years under his belt, too.
Q: Is he still a threat to run, too?
BB: Oh my god, yeah. He's probably the best runner that we've seen. I'd say he's probably the best runner that we've seen this year because he can run, but he can also break tackles, cut back, avoid people and he can run over them, too. He's a tough guy to get down in the pocket and a lot of people bounce off them, or they get him and he just shrugs them off and steps up and throws. He's like a sixth receiver for them. On third down, you really have to account for him. In a lot of critical situations they've run quarterback draws for big plays, too. So they have a lot of confidence in him running the ball when they call design plays for him.
Q: Is it more difficult to block the multiple A-Gap blitz?
BB: It depends on where the quarterback is. If he's under center, it's a little different situation than when he's in the shotgun. But whenever a team blitzes, it comes down to all of your protectors being on the same page, seeing the look they give us and getting it blocked. And then the receivers, tight ends, backs - whatever guys are part of the pattern based on the protection you have called - if they have to make an adjustment making the proper one. Those inside, if the team blitzes up the middle - they did that as well, a lot of teams do it - then somebody has got to block them before they get the quarterback. Or in the shotgun, it's five yards away and that's a little different situation. You can handle it differently or you can handle it the same, depending on what your blocking rules are. Some teams keep it the same, so it's all the same. Other teams treat it differently because the shotgun's different than under center. Those are your options.
Q: When teams blitz like that does that leave the middle open for a guy like Wes Welker?
BB: It depends on what the coverage is. It depends on how they package it. It's pretty unusual that you could generically say, 'If they blitz here, then this is what the coverage is going to be behind it.' Most teams have ways to blitz people in different areas and still play the coverage they want to play, whether that's some kind of man, blitz zone, or one of their regular seven-man coverages and just change up who's rushing.