Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference on Saturday, December 4, 2010.
BB: Well I know we are looking forward to our game Monday night, but there are certainly a lot of big games going on here at the stadium today. I know these games are games that the kids, the players, the coaches, the schools, the families will always remember - the great days of the championship playoff games of high school football. I congratulate all those teams, schools and coaches on their participation in the game and I know it's a big day here for all these kids. In that spirit, we're heading up to the bubble, getting out of the way, letting them do their thing. We're just kind of closing out the preparations here on the Jets. We've still got a few things to catch up on, but hopefully it will all come together for us on Monday night and be ready to go.
Q: How big of a role has Jim Leonhard played in the Jets defense the first 11 games?
BB: He's a good player, but they're a good defense. They have a lot of good players. After the first game when they lost Kris Jenkins in the opener against the Ravens, they showed that they're a real good defense even without some of their key players. That's part of it - look, we're out of lockers in [our locker room]. We're putting up temporary lockers. So, unfortunately, injuries are part of the game. Every team has them and everybody has to go through them and deal with them.
Q: Do you have film on them playing without Leonhard?
BB: Well, [Brodney] Pool. I'm sure it would be Pool. Pool plays a lot of forms anyway.
Q: On a different note, Santonio Holmes was asked if he thought a rookie could cover him and he said that he wouldn't do it if he were you. Are you appreciative of his advice?
BB: We'll do what we think is best, like we always do. I'm sure he'll be a great coach someday.
Q: How often have you stuck one corner on one receiver and then did the flip-flop?
BB: We've done it. We've not done it. A lot of it depends on what you're playing, how you match up, how comfortable you are doing it. Sometimes you are, sometimes you're not.
Q: What's the disadvantage to doing it?
BB: Well it depends on what you're playing, what coverages you're playing. It's easy to match one guy up - that's the simple part of it - you just take this guy. But, now other people have to adjust to that: the safeties, the linebackers. Depending on the coverages, now everybody else has to move somewhere, too. That can be a little bit of a problem. If you do it all the time, then that's one thing. If you don't, then you have to decide how you want to match it up. Against teams that move players around a lot, finding them is a problem, too. Yeah, you can go to this player, but then how do players distribute on the other four eligible receivers or other receivers? However you want to do it.
Q: Would you probably end up with a fire drill on the snap?
BB: I don't know about that, but you just have to go through the rules of how you're going to match up on different coverages, where the deep-field players are [and] who has who. Then, again, with a team that uses a number of different receivers, like we do, like the Jets do, for example - I mean, with them, you're not even sure which guys are going to be in the game. Is it [Jerricho] Cotchery? Is it [Braylon] Edwards? Is it [Santonio] Holmes? Is it Brad Smith? So then, how do the rest of the matchups fall? I'm not saying you can't do it, [but] it's different against the Colts where, for example, their receivers basically stay in the same place the majority of the time. It's easier to match up to them. The down side of it is, you know where they're going to be, but then they know where you're going to be, too. Teams that do it, do it for reasons and they work off whatever those... Even they're trying to make it hard for you to make adjustments or they say, 'Okay, go ahead and make your adjustment and let us see what that adjustment is and then we'll deal with it.' They're both good.
Q: Does Brian Schottenheimer move players around more than most coaches, trying to get the matchups that he wants?
BB: We see a lot of that every week from just about every team. The Colts are the other end of the rainbow on that, but we see a lot of them. People shuffling players in and out, moving them around, putting them in different spots: x, z, slot and so forth. It's not uncommon for us to see that. Again, in practice, we see it from our team all the time, offensively, when we work against them in training camp and things like that. We deal with some of those same issues just against our own offense. So that's good preparation for us. There's a lot of it during the course of the year. We try to get different matchups against different receivers; try to get the receivers running the routes that the offense has the most confidence in them running. Certain guys - the quarterback has more confidence in certain players running certain routes and sometimes when you shuffle them around, you can get them to run the route that you think they're best at or where you can get the best result.
Q: Do you treat Dustin Keller as a tight end or a receiver?
BB: It depends on the call, depends on our rules.
Q: Does it depend where he lines up?
BB: Sure, sometimes that's part of it.
Q: What stood out to you in what Green Bay did to the Jets in the Packers 9-0 shutout at the Meadowlands?
BB: I think the score was deceptive in that game. There was a lot of offense in it. The ball moved. There were definitely plays there; it just didn't end up in a lot of points. I think you can see both teams making plays, moving the ball. I want to say Green Bay maybe had 15 plays over 10 yards or something like that. It wasn't just a 100 yards offense for both teams. I just think the score was a little deceptive there. There were some turnovers. The Jets were in scoring position a couple of times. They had those controversial calls there where the ball was intercepted, taken away, reviewed, not reviewed, whatever, but there were a couple of close calls there. I'd say [they were] one time in scoring range and another time, very close to it. I think there were some circumstances around the score. I don't think that was really indicative [of] no offense in the game. I think there was actually a decent amount of it.
Q: And the fake punt? Are you going to have Zoltan Mesko take off deep in your own end?
BB: I think when we play the Jets, you have to be alert for things in the kicking game. They do a good job of that. They've run those kinds of plays in the past, very successfully. They have good returners. They have good coverage people. They keep you off balance with their formations and fake plays. You have to be alert for that. We have to able to defend them. If we have an opportunity to take advantage of something like that, I think we'll certainly have it available. That's just part of the game.
Q: With Myron Pryor and Mike Wright out for a little bit and the signing of Eric Moore, does he do what they do?
BB: No. He's like 260 pounds.
Q: So he's not an inside rusher? He's more of an edge?
BB: Yeah, he's more of an edge player. Well, he is an edge player. He's not an inside player. But, Mike and Myron are both doing better, so we'll see how it goes. Luckily, we had a bit of extra time this week. We'll see how it goes here, today, and over the weekend.
Q: Were you keeping an eye on Moore before his UFL experience?
BB: Sure. I thought he had a good training camp with Carolina. Our roster was - as all rosters do - undergoing some changes at that point. It didn't really work out. Then he was in the other league and then that league, their season ended, and he kind of resurfaced again.
Q: What things do you like about him?
BB: He has good size, good athletic ability. On the edge, [he] does a good job rushing the passer. He did well for Carolina. He's definitely had some production and experience in the league. He's played, so there's plenty of film on him. He's an experienced guy that's been in a lot of situations, so we'll see how it goes. I don't know. I think he'll be competitive. We'll see how it works out.
Q: Tom Brady goes into Monday with the streak of 25 consecutive home wins. Is that something you marvel at?
BB: I really haven't been paying any attention to it. I don't think it makes any difference. Someday we'll look back at stuff and talk about it, but right now, it's one game against the Jets. I think that's all anybody cares about. Not what happened last week or three years ago or two years ago or two months ago. What difference does it make?
Q: You really meant it when you said the Jets are really good, didn't you? It wasn't sarcasm?
BB: Yeah I meant what I said. Take a look at their record. A lot of other teams would like to have their record.
Q: Going back to the event here today, were you ever fortunate enough to play in a high school championship game?
BB: No, nope. Our games, the seasons ended when the season ended - there were no playoffs. You played for your league title and all that but there were no playoffs in football, kind of like the old college system, sort of.
Q: Can you imagine how these kids are feeling playing out there on the Gillette Stadium field?
BB: Oh, yeah, absolutely. I was at the Rivers-Pingree game here a couple of weeks ago for the private schools, and it was awesome. It was a great environment. I'm sure it was a big thrill for, like I said, everybody involved. It was an awesome experience. I know people at both schools and talked to a lot of them and they were very appreciative of the Krafts for letting them use the facility for that game and how much it meant to everybody involved. It was a huge game anyway, but sure, to be able to play here, it makes it even [more] special for them. We all know that, really, the backbone of our game is high school football. Without high school football, you don't have college football and you don't have professional football. I'll just say that, through the years, of all the kids that we talk to in the draft, in Indianapolis, visits and all that, whenever you ask a kid who had the most influence on them as a person and in his life, it's usually one of two people: it's either some family member - a parent or some other family member - or his high school coach. It's usually one of those two. I know how important high school coaches are to the development of young student athletes at that point in their life and how it really formulates a lot of your life lessons that you need to learn. You learn them on the football field. You get down, you learn how to get up. You learn how to compete. You learn how to mentally deal with things that aren't the most pleasant: losses or injuries or whatever setbacks you have. You learn how to deal with those things at that age and those are all things that we have to deal with later on in life. It's a great environment to participate as a team and have that camaraderie and chemistry as a group of people all trying to accomplish the same goal. It's a great venue for young kids that want to grow up and become men. It's part of the steps that some of us have been fortunate to take. But the only playoff games that I've really participated in were in college, in lacrosse, which, again, there is just something about being in a playoff game - it is just different than a regular-season game. Of course I've had the opportunity here, but not as a player. As a player, you definitely remember those games. You remember the shots that you missed. I was talking about it with Paul Rabil about it a couple of weeks ago after the Indianapolis game. We were out there on the field playing catch and one of the things he talked about was the last shot he took as a college lacrosse player in the Syracuse game. How he shot it low, and they saved it, and maybe he should have taken a different shot. Those are things... You remember those games; they're special.
Q: Do you try to create a sense of normalcy for young players before a big game like this?
BB: Every game is a big game. We have five games left. When we have 16 left, they're big games, but you have 15 after that. When you have one game left, then there're none after that. When you have five games left, there are only four left. So, each one becomes bigger. That's the way it is on consecutive weeks, if you're playing for anything. If you're out of it, then that's one thing. But if you're still in contention, which we are at this point, then each game becomes bigger and bigger because there are fewer behind it. You're down to a five-game season, then you're down to a four-game season, then down to a three-game season, or however it goes. I think you try to impress upon your whole team that - certainly the younger players - but, everybody, we all need to realize that there's a lot less games left now than there were in September, so each one means more.
Q: I know it doesn't matter to you, but externally, this is seen as an enormous game.
BB: Oh, really?
Q: Do you want them to pay attention to that or ignore it?
BB: Our job is to focus on the Jets, so that's what we're doing. Whatever it is externally, we have no control over it. It doesn't really make any difference to us. Our job is to control what we can control, which is our preparation and then our performance on Monday night. So, that's what we're focused on.