Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during is press conference at Gillette Stadium, on Wednesday, December 29, 2010.
BB: We're moving on to Miami today. We're going to go up in the bubble and just kind of have a longer walk-through, here. We got off to a little bit of a short week, a short start, there on Monday. As usual, Miami looks like they usually do: tough on defense, tough team to run against. They're right at the top of the league in everything, statistically, on defense. Again, the usual complements of players on offense: good running backs, good tight end, good receivers, big strong offensive line. [We've] got to be able to stop the run against these guys. [They're] playing well in the punt return game with [Davone] Bess, as usual, [and Nolan] Carroll on kickoffs. So, they're dangerous there. [They're] a good coverage team; [have] good team speed. We've had some real good battles with these guys over the last couple of years. [We] split with them the past two seasons with Coach [Tony] Sparano down there, so this will be tough. We've got to turn it around here and get ready for another division game [and] a team that we haven't played in a while now. So, we've got to re-familiarize ourselves with the Dolphins. Even though there are a lot of the same faces, things are a little different than they were a couple months ago when we went down to Miami. So, that's where we're at.
Q: Is the walk-through the beginning of an attempt to get healthier?
BB: No, it's our preparation for the Dolphins. I think we did it a couple weeks ago against somebody - I forget who it was. We'll be out this week. Whatever the conditions are, we'll be out this week and deal with them.
Q: What role have the captains played in the team's success?
BB: I think we have a good group here. The players selected four captains at the beginning of the year: Kevin [Faulk], Tom [Brady], Vince [Wilfork] and Jarod [Mayo]. Then after Kevin's injury, we talked about that as a group and thought that Alge [Crumpler] would be a good addition to the group - not that Kevin isn't still around and doesn't do a great job, but he just doesn't have the opportunity to play, so that's a little bit different there. Alge stepped in [in] his first year with the team and to have that kind of responsibility, I think [the fact] that players had that type of respect for him says a lot about him. But, I think all four of those guys have a done a good job - five including Kevin - have done a real good job this year both by example, particularly by example, but also in their overall leadership of the team. I meet with those guys on a weekly basis and they certainly provide a lot of insight and input for me in terms of helping me manage and deal with the team. So, I think they've done an excellent job.
Q: Do you meet with them individually or as a group?
BB: I meet with them as a group. I talk to them individually, but we meet as a group every week.
Q: Do you meet with them earlier in the week before you start preparation or is it later in the week?
BB: Is that an important part of the story?
Q: I just want to know if I'm ever a captain for you when I should put my time aside.
BB: Yeah, we meet on an as-needed basis and then we generally meet at the end of the week.
Q: Some teams have the captains' "C" patch that players wear, but you don't. Is there any reason to that?
BB: Yeah, I guess I must have forgotten to put them on. I guess that's another one of the new traditions in the league that I guess there's a need for. I don't know; I've seen a lot of football games. There's [been] football for a long time. There were captains and no patches and it seemed like everything was fine. I guess that's another one of our improvements with the new patches, new overtime rules and all that.
Q: What kind of mentor has Tom Brady been to other quarterbacks he's played with? How does he help them develop?
BB: I'd say the biggest thing for any quarterback is just to watch him. Just do what he does. He's relentless in his preparation, his quest for perfection. [He] tries to continue to do things better both in preparation and then mechanics, practice habits. He does pretty much everything that you would want a quarterback to do. He does extra running in practice, watches a lot of film, studies the game plan, studies the opponents, asks questions to make sure that he's got it right, [and] continues to go through the material with the quarterbacks coach on a daily basis. [He's] always trying to refine, make sure that he has a total understanding of everything that we're doing in the running game, the passing game, situational football and so forth. So, I think if you just watch him do his job, I think that's about as good an example as a player could set for another player. We have a lot of players that I would say that about, but he's certainly at the top of that class.
Q: At the end of last season, which seems like a million miles way now...
BB: At least.
Q: At the end of last season, Brady talked about how leadership was one of the areas that he needed to improve and now, three of the leaders are Pro Bowlers. Is that who you would want to be at the core of the team?
BB: I think every player on our team has an important role in the team and their attitude and their effort and performance all contribute to it. Whatever players said about that last year, you'd have to ask them about it. I don't know exactly what the players said or what they meant or whatever. Whatever they said, that's what they said.
Q: But as far as putting a team together, does it say something that three of your captains are Pro Bowlers?
BB: I don't think captains are a most valuable player vote. I think, to me, it's the people that the players want to represent them on and off the field. You have a team that's made up of a lot of players. I can't talk to every single player and there're things that come up with the team that you just can't talk to every single [player] about them. So, somewhere along the line you have to have a group - or however big that group consists of - that represents the entire team in certain capacities, whatever those happen to be. Meeting with the head coach is one of them - there are a lot of other things - but, that's one of them. I think that's what it's a reflection of: who the players want to... I don't think it's a vote for who's the best player. Maybe that's the way it is in high school: you vote for who the best player is and make him the captain, but I don't think that's necessarily what... Certainly performance has a lot to do with it - or something to do with it- I shouldn't say a lot. I think it has something to do with it, but every player has a role on the team and has a significant role. Whether they have a title or not, they're still an important part of the team. I think we get good leadership and good effort from a lot of players on this team, not just the captains.
Q: Other teams pick game captains. What do you feel is the benefit of having captains throughout the whole season?
BB: We do what's best for our team. I can't really comment on what anybody else does. I'm sure they do what's best for their team. We just do what we feel like is right for our team. It's not always the same every year. That's just one of those things that there're a million different ways to do it and a lot of good ways to do it, but in the end, I really think all that is a lot of water, water under the bridge. Right now, we're just really focused on Miami, trying to get the team ready to play the Dolphins. I think that's what everyone's role is. No matter what your job is on this team - whether you're on the practice squad or whether you're a captain or whatever your role is - right now, you come in and get ready to play Miami. That's what we all do. There's not really a big separation between any of us. We each have a job to do and try to put our attention and focus to detail on that.
Q: How important is it to get a win in the regular-season finale to get momentum going into the playoffs, even with everything already clinched?
BB: I think we just approach each game for what it is and don't really worry about the standings and the records and all that. We just try to get ready to play and then go out and compete on Sunday.
Q: Have you been impressed with the contributions that Logan Mankins has made?
BB: Absolutely. Absolutely. He's been outstanding on and off the field. He brings a great attitude, work ethic, just superior toughness to the field, to our football team [and] that unit. [He's] an outstanding performer. [He's] a smart guy, doesn't make any mistakes, plays hard [in the] run, pass and every down, snap to whistle, first play to the last play. [He's] a very consistent player, always has been. He's certainly shown that this year. It doesn't matter whether it's a Friday practice or fourth quarter or first play of the game. He's very, very consistent, and good - very good.
Q: When you say all that, it makes me think, 'Why in God's name would they ever let him get away?'
BB: Well, right now, it's just everybody getting ready for Miami. There are a lot of other things we could talk about, but none of them really apply at this particular time.
Q: Everyone here is focused on the team goals, but understanding how much the individuals put in to reach those goals, do you appreciate when you get six guys that are recognized by their peers and coaches?
BB: Yeah, sure. I'm happy for those players; I think they've all had good seasons. I think we have a lot of other players on our team that have had good seasons. I appreciate what everybody does, but I think we're all here for the team goal. So, whatever other individual accolades, I think they're nice, but I think their secondary.
Q: You've had numerous players that didn't start the season with this team or were undrafted guys that have made major contributions to this team. What does that say about your scouting department?
BB: I think our personnel department does a very good job. Nick Caserio heads it up. Jon Robinson on the college end and Jason Licht on the pro end and all the scouts that work for them, I think they do an excellent job. We try to identify players that are the right players for our football team and sometimes that's a timing issue: what is in March or April and what it is in November are sometimes two different things. So, that can fluctuate. Nick and I talk about that on a regular basis, at least once a week - usually more than that. Nick and his scouts work on different things as we feel are applicable to our current, at that time, situation. But yeah, the scouts do an excellent job. But then, more importantly, the players, in the end, it's up to them. We've brought in players in the various categories that we can bring up, some players come in and they make contributions and others come in and they don't. A lot of that has to do with the player and what his performance level actually is in the situation and the opportunity that he has. Sometimes that's a lot better than others. So, I think you've got to give those players like Eric Moore, [Danny] Woodhead and guys like that, some of the undrafted guys that we've had - [Brian] Hoyer and [Dane] Fletcher, you could go right down the line - there are a lot of them. What they've done is because they've been able to take advantage of the opportunity that they've had and be productive with it. So, I think that's really where the bulk of the credit goes - to those guys that have been able to do it. We give a lot of guys opportunities and some work out and some don't. But, the ones that do, those are the guys that actually performed and achieved it.