New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Friday, December 26, 2008.
BB:We are back in Buffalo mode here. Offensively, this is going to be a big challenge for us this week. Buffalo is one of the best red area and third-down defenses that we will face. They have one of the best in the league, period. So we have a lot of work to do there. Still the kicking game, especially this time of year, the conditions can be a factor. It's a little unpredictable of what they will be and also what they will be at the time we are doing whatever we are doing: kicking off into the wind, dealing with the wind, rain or snow. We will keep working on all those situations as well. I think that's helped us the last few weeks and it can easily be a factor on Sunday so we'll just have to be ready for that. Otherwise, like I said, we are back into mode now. It's a one-game season.
Q:NFL wise, you have been deferring pretty consistently on the coin toss. As you look at the season as a whole have you settled in on that for the most part or how do you feel about that rule this year?
BB:I would still call it a game-to-game decision. I don't know that it would necessarily be the same in every game, but when we have had the opportunity to do that we've done it. But I can't sit here and say it would be that way every single time.
Q:From a Patriots' perspective, how do you feel the rule has affected games, if at all?
BB:I don't think it has affected games. I think it's just that if you have a preference, then you get to execute it. If you don't, then you don't. I don't think it's that big of a deal. It is one more thing. That's all.
Q:How valuable has Mike Wright been this year?
BB:It's been good to have Mike. It's been good to have Mike this year. He missed a little bit of time in training camp, but he's gotten better as the year's gone along. He's helped us on all three downs in all three spots: nose, end and first, second and third downs. He has had some good versatility for us. Mike's worked hard. He is a strong guy, a very physical player. He plays with a lot of power so it's good when he brings that element of his game to our front. He creates some penetration and helps get some negative plays.
Q:Has he always been able to do that?
BB:He's always pretty much worked at all three spots.
Q:You said it's a one-game season. That is something you have always said even when you were 15-0 last season. Is that what serves this team as best as it can?
BB:I don't know. I think certainly each week is its own week and every week is an important week. I am not trying to get away from that. I think that is the way we approach it. Nobody can clinch anything in the second week of the season - I don't care what your record is - or in the fourth week of the season. The last three or four weeks, I think we have been in the same situation. I do think it is a little bit different. The third week is an important week - every game is a big game. We try to focus on that in the second game we are playing, whoever that is, whatever week it is that is all true. When you get to this point, there is no break here and this is it.
Q:Have you seen the team respond differently?
BB:I think each team is different. I think this team from the Seattle game, the week in San Jose was a real good week for us, last week was a real good week of practice for us. Whether that trend will continue this week, I don't know, but I think those were three good weeks, three good efforts. Not perfect, but good.
Q:This week Junior Seau compared Mike Vrabel to Karl Mecklenburg. Do you see similarties?
BB:I could see that possibly. I never coached Mecklenburg so I can't speak to much to him, specifically, and we only played him a few times, but I am not as familiar with him as Junior is. I'd say if Junior said it then it's probably pretty accurate. I will defer to Junior on that one.
Q:Daryl Johnston and Kenny Albert talked about your father's 1963 Navy team. What stood out about that team when you were 12 years old that you have taken your whole career and based a lot of your success on?
BB:I think at the time, you are 12 years old and you don't know very much. But, looking back on it, you see some things that were special and things that you might have learned there even though you didn't realize exactly what all you were seeing. That year was a pretty… with the [John F.] Kennedy assasination. The thing that really really stood out to me about that team is here we are 40-plus years later and that's still as close as any team could be as a group. They have stayed that way for a lot of different reasons, but they've really maintained that. That team is the essence and is as great of an example as a team as I have ever seen. I was young and very impressionable and it stuck with me for long time.
Q:How have you been able to pass that wisdom on to team you coach?
BB:I don't know. I think it's just something as I look back on my career, growing up that was one of the things that had a big impression on me. That Navy team. Those Navy teams from that era 1962, 1963, 1964 with [Tim] Harden, [Roger] Staubach and before that with [Joe] Bellino. Also, my high school playing, which was right after that with [Al] Laramore. He was a very team-oriented coach in high school. He was the only coach. There weren't any assistants or anything. He ran the whole thing himself so it was different but similar to some of the things I had seen at Navy. Growing up for those 5, 6, 7 years it was continually reinforced at every point: teamwork, unselfishness, working hard, getting there early, staying late, doing extra, being in shape, winning in the fourth quarter. All are cliches, but when you see enough of it and see enough success, then you start believing in it and you are a part of it. I think that definitely helped form my attitude.
Q:This group has overcome a lot of injuries and bouncing back from losses, do you see that special quality in this group that has been brought out by them as the season's gone along?
BB:I think these players work hard. They put in a lot of extra time. They do a lot of extra things and try to get better. They are overall a pretty humble group. They correct their mistakes, recognize their mistakes and try to correct them. I respect all those things.
Q:Your team is still the least penalized team in the NFL and the Buffalo Bills are the second least penalized team. When you watch their film, do they seem like a smart team to you?
BB:Absolutely. I think they are a mentally and physically tough team, well disciplined. I think they are well coached. Dick [Jauron] has done a good job there and I think their coordinators have done a good job. They are good in all three phases of the game, not just one thing. It's a collective toughness and collective intensity that they play with and they play a smart football game: penalties and situation football. Last week against Denver is a good example when they had a couple red area stops at the end of the game to win for them. They have kind of done that all the way through the year. Like all of us, they've had plays that I'm sure they would've liked to have back, but when I'm watching them play I see a smart, tough, discipline football team.
Q:Have you noticed any difference in their offense when [J.P.] Losman is in there as opposed to [Trent] Edwards?
BB:I think Losman is a little more inclined to run. I think he has a little better running ability and scrambling ability, not that they call a lot of plays for him, but I think he has more of a tendency to if it's not there pull it down and go. Edwards has more of a tendency to find someone to throw it to. Both have good arms, both are accurate. They use their receivers well. This is a team that it doesn't really matter who they throw it to: [Kirk] Chambers, the backs, the tight ends, the receiving group. Edwards impresses me with his overall grasp and understanding the game, audibles, adjustments, coverage recognition and stuff like that. I think he does a real good job, not saying Losman doesn't, but Edwards has been in there more and has done it more consistently, whether that is because he has played more or is better at it I'm not sure about all of that. I don't think their offense changes too much when either guy is in. They both can run [the offense] effectively.
Q:How much do they run their version of the Wildcat?
BB:They sprinkle it in there. Sometimes there are some games that they don't run it at all and other games they run it a handful of times. Sometimes you get it a play or two and sometimes you don't get it at all. It is a little different than Miami. You can't really count on it, but you know they have it and there is nothing that would say this week they couldn't come in there and run it 10 times or they might not run it at all. You have to prepare for it, but it is a little less certain than what you get out of Miami. Although, Miami has more different plays out of it.
Q:Is that always with Fred Jackson or do they run it with Marshawn Lynch?
BB:I think it's been all Jackson. But, I'm sure if Lynch was back there we would have to defend it the same way.
Q:Is there a rough estimate on how much they run it?
BB:I don't know, maybe 20 plays for this season - something like that. That is about once a game, but it isn't once a game. There are some games that you don't see it at all and there are other games that you see it one, two, three times. I would say they would use it in all situations too, which makes it a little bit more of a problem: first down, third down, red area. So, you don't know exactly what you are going to be in or exactly what the situation is going to be when they show up in it. So, that forces you to have to defend it on a broader base.