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Bill Belichick Press Conference

Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick talks to the media about the Pats' win over the Chargers on Sunday.To read a full transcript, click on the button below.



BB: Well that was quite a day in the NFL yesterday. I think 10 of the 13 games were decided by a touchdown or less and several overtime games, that was a tight one. I think that there were a lot of good things in the game, certainly I thought the quarterback showed a lot of courage and leadership in bringing the team back in the fourth quarter. I thought that we hung in there. We made some plays. Defensively we made some key stops, a big kick at the end and those were all real positives. We have been in a lot of close games and some of them we've won and some of them we haven't. So it's good to be able to make the plays that you need to make to win it that type of game, on the other hands we had a number of mistakes in the game we had some critical errors and have probably one more gone the other way we might not have come out on top on this one. I think there's certainly a balance for us. It is a great feeling of euphoria in the locker room after the game and even a little bit today, but I think and we need to measure that with still identifying the things that made the game as tight as it did and try to give ourselves a little bit more of a cushion than we had there.

Injury-wise I don't think that we had anything real serious at this point. [Richard] Seymour had little problem with his leg. It was his other leg, not the one that has been bothering him. Antwan Harris had a little problem with his ankle. We will have to see how that is, but it doesn't look like there are any major injuries at this point, but again after we saw what happened with [Joe] Andruzzi last week I think that is really the way that I should put it at this point because that is really all that I know.

Q: What about Antowain's [Smith] hand or wrist?

BB: Sometimes I am the last to know, but nothing that I am aware of that is any type of major problem. We got a lot of bumps and bruises in the game. It was a tough game and there were a lot of bumps and bruises, but I don't think that we have any major or any other major long-term things.

Q: Have you made any transactions?

BB: No we haven't made any personnel moves today.

Q: Do you anticipate making any in the next 24 hours?

BB: I think that we probably would make at least one move and maybe two in the practice squad. We have made arrangements, actually prior to the weekend, to look at a couple of players in that area, but we haven't done anything yet. I wouldn't rule it out, but we haven't done anything, but I wouldn't rule it out.

Q: What about your punting situation, will you be making a move there?

BB: The punting situation wasn't good yesterday and hasn't been good. I think we need to do something in the kicking game all the way around. I think that yesterday was the worst performance on special teams in the last year-and-a-half and we've got to do something. We can't keep giving teams the ball where we give it to them with too much field position. We hurt ourselves in terms of creating field position offensively and turnovers in the kicking game. We had a big one last week that led to three easy points and we had a big one this week that led to seven easy points and we just can't give away points like that. There's just no way we continue doing that.

Q: Will you have a punter try out tomorrow?

BB: We are going to bring Dan Hadenfeldt in for a workout. That's scheduled. We may do something else I don't know.

Q: Who messed up in the blocking on the punt?

BB: We had too much pressure coming off of the left side. They only had one guy rushing and one guy forcing and we didn't get him stopped well enough. It really shouldn't have been a problem. There really should have been almost two people on him to tell you the truth. We were aggressive to get down field and cover on [Tim] Dwight and let him go a little too soon. I don't know if we could have got it off or not, but the play certainly shouldn't have ended up in a touchdown.

Q: Were you unhappy with some of the calls you got, specifically the Otis Smith call, when you got a chance to look at them on tape?

BB: I think there were some questionable calls in the game. I think you are always going to find a couple that could go either way. I think there were some tight calls. There were a couple of things that I didn't see exactly what the call was, sometimes it is hard to tell on the coaches tape. Most of the calls were legitimate, but I think that there were a couple that were close calls and both ways. Both in our favor and in San Diego's favor. There were a couple of close plays.

Q: Which ones bother you the most? Was it the two on Otis Smith that came on third and eights?

BB: Well yeah that is a problem that we had last year on third down. We had a number of defensive penalties particularly in the secondary on coverage last year that led to easy third downs. Third downs that weren't conversions whether it be defensive holding or illegal contact or pass interference, not that they are the same, but a lot of that is interrelated. We had two key ones yesterday and we just can't keep doing that. We just can't keep doing that. Look here is what I tell the players, I don't officiate the games. You will never see me throw a flag out there. I don't throw them. The people that throw them have a certain guideline that they follow depending on what the interpretation of the rule is and however they interpret it, that is how we have to play it. We have to play within that framework and it changes a little bit from crew to crew. We all know that. That is part of the game too. We see that in all sports. Some games are called tighter than others, but it is our responsibility to use good judgement and use discretion and know that the further we stray from the latitude of the rules the more likely we are going to get called for it. Now this is a crew that we knew going into the game had called more penalties than any other crew in the league. We try to identify with the players basically how the crews like to call the game. We knew that this was a crew that has been involved in some heavily penalized games, whether that result was a result of them or the way the games are played, I don't know anything about that, that is not for me to comment on, but those are just the facts. We try to make them aware of it, we try to make them understand the urgency of using good judgement out there on the playing field, but third down penalties that create first downs, there are just some things that you have to eliminate and things like that, jumping offsides and false starts on offense, those are drive stoppers. Those kinds of things, a lot of those are in our control. Every once in awhile you will have a penalty that just happens. There are other times though where you can avoid them then we have to work harder to do that.

Q: Obviously the coverage teams are not doing what you need them to do right now, do you feel that you have to re-tool your special teams and if so does that take away from the ability you have to prepare other important aspects of the game?

BB: I don't really think that anything is more important than special teams. I think that special teams, week in and week out, is the heart of the game. There are either points involved on the plays directly in the field goal aspect of it or you are talking about field position. That is where the game starts and we all know that having the ball at midfield as opposed to having it on your own ten yard line, regardless of what your game plan is and everything else, that effects how the game is going to go. So that affects how the game is going to go. There is nothing more important than special teams. I think that there is no question that our coverage is not and not only coverage, but the start of where they get the ball at the end of the play, that is really what it is about, it is what the net is. Where they start on kickoff returns and where they get the ball after it is punted. How close are they to the goal line after the ball is punted. Some of that is in yardage return, some of it, you know if you kick the ball a long way and they return it a long way, if you are kicking the ball 50 yards and they are running it back ten, as opposed to kicking it 37 and then running it back nothing, you are still ahead of the game. So it is about the net. Overall I think our punt coverage this year has been pretty good. Part of the problem with coverage though is the amount of time you have to cover it and where the ball I placed, hang time and direction and so forth. That has been a lot less consistent than the coverage although there have been times when the coverage hasn't been what it needs to be either and certainly there was a protection problem yesterday. The same thing on the kickoffs. The higher you kick it, the deeper you kick it, the easier it is to cover. You still have to go down there and cover it, but it takes a little bit less pressure. So I think that what we have done is put more pressure on our coverage teams with the kicks, both on kickoffs and punts and sometimes that exposes the coverage more than it would normally be. I think it is a combination of things. The one thing I really don't see is a problem in the coaching. I think that Brad [Seely] does an excellent job on special teams. I have been around some very good special teams coaches in my career, coached it myself, I think I have seen a lot of people do it and I think that Brad does it as well as anybody does it. I definitely do not think that is the problem. I think we need to get better performances, better production or maybe better players out there on the field doing it.

Q: You and Brad like to involve players who play regularly on the team, is there a possibility that later in the game they are worn down and don't have the ability to give as much to that effort as they would otherwise because of the time they have spent on the field?

BB: I don't know. I don't know if you could single out a specific case for that one way or the other. I think that what we try to do is we try to evaluate the players through the game and we understand players that may be playing more in the kicking game than others and if that is the case then we try to keep an eye on them and monitor what their roles is so that the total number of plays doesn't get excessive, but I don't think we are asking anybody to do too much. I think that there are a lot of teams in the league that use the players similar to the way we do or in some cases maybe use their starters, some starters, more than we do, with Miami being a good example of that and Miami also having one of the best special teams in the league. I don't really think that is what it is about, but I understand what your question is, I totally understand what you are saying. I think when you have, for example, a linebacker who maybe doesn't play on third down, plays on first and second down and instead of playing them on third down you put them on one fourth down team, I don't think that is asking too much of him anymore than it is asking a linebacker to play on first, second and third down. Depending on what the roles and what the structure is for the players from week to week sometimes that changes a little bit, but let me put it this way, I don't think you are going to see too many players who are out there on first, second, third and fourth down all the time. I don't think you are going to see that, but some guys play a little more on fourth down than third down, some guys play a little more on third down then fourth down.

Q: Are Lee's [Johnson] problems correctable? Are they mechanical in nature?

BB: I don't really think that now is the time or the place to get into specific evaluations of players or their problems or their techniques. I think just from an overall performance standpoint it just needs to be better, period. It just needs to be better than it is in all phases of the kicking game. We had two kicks really blocked yesterday in one way or another, we had coverage problems, didn't return the ball well, had penalties on the returns the last two weeks so there is just really nothing that I could sit here and say doesn't need a lot of improvement and we are going to address it.

Q: With the return of Terry Glenn you seemed to use the three wide receiver set more, is that something we will see more of?

BB: We have done that before. In the Cincinnati game was another game where we played a lot of three receivers in the game. The way the game went yesterday, what we anticipated with San Diego playing us very aggressively at the line of scrimmage. They have a good front seven. They like to bring [Rodney] Harrison down and play him as an eighth defender in the box. We expected them to play a lot of defenders close to the line of scrimmage and kind of dare us to throw and basically I think that is about what they were trying to do and we felt like our best chance in this game was to come out throwing. To throw it quick, to throw it short, but also to throw it deep and to try to keep them off-balance and really that is what we tried to do through the course of the game. We tried to throw the ball consistently short, deep, inside and outside because they continue to crowd the line of scrimmage and then there were times in the second half when they started to loosen up a little bit and that's the point where we, not that we had a lot of success of success running the ball, but I think that we had enough maybe to keep them honest at certain points in the game and that is what we tried to do. I thought that Antowain had a couple of real clutch runs, made some tough yards and look, San Diego is a tough team to run against. You don't see anybody running the ball down there very often. We just felt like our best opportunity in the game would be to throw it. The three wide receivers I think helped spread them out a little bit. It has been part of our offense and I don't think there are any plans to not use it. How extensively we use it I think we will carry it over game to game.

Q: Is it fair to say that it is a better part of your offense now though with the ability that Terry showed in his first game back?

BB: Sure, Terry gave us a lot more production in the passing then whoever our third receiver would be after [David] Patten or Troy Brown whether it be a tight end or back or whoever, pick whoever you want out of that group. Terry gives us more passing production and gave us more yesterday than whoever you would put in that position.

Q: Your defense did a good job against [LaDainian] Tomlinson, but the most important play against him perhaps was the third and one with a few minutes left, in that play who made the play and how did it breakdown?

BB: I think there were a couple of key guys in the play [Willie] McGinest was one, Ted Johnson was another. Ted had the guy in motion and came over and hit the play off-tackle, got some penetration on it and then [Bryan] Cox and Lawyer [Milloy] who both were unblocked kind of fell into the hole and Tomlinson just kind of tried to put his head down and go for the sticks there and just didn't quite make it. At the point of attack it was really McGinest, [Anthony] Pleasant and Ted Johnson hit it up there. I thought Ted really played well in the running game yesterday. I thought he gave us a real solid performance and overall holding the running game to three yards a carry was, I thought, a pretty solid effort. There were certainly a couple of plays that we could have handled better, but overall I thought it was a pretty solid effort against that running attack.

Q: Could you go over what Tom did on that first offensive play of overtime where he audibled and there was the pass interference on Patten? Did he check down there on that blitz and is that something that you like about him, a young kid being able to do that in that situation?

BB: It was a situation that we talked about during the week of audibling to not just a standard play, but to a double move or an out and up and we went through the hole game, we got into overtime and the situation had never really came up. We worked on it several times in practice and Tom got a shot out there in the overtime and he recognized it and called it and hit it and I think it was pretty well executed all the way around.

Q: Did he change the blocking scheme?

BB: Yeah he changed the play so the play carried with it a certain protection, a certain route.

Q: Can you tell us what the original play was?

BB: No.

Q: Overall what did you like best about Brady's performance?

BB: That we won. That he brought us back from ten points down in the fourth quarter. Made some key throws under pressure, made good decisions. The thing that I liked best were his decisions with the ball, I thought he was going to the right place most of the time. I thought he showed a lot of poise under pressure stepping up into the pocket. Raylee Johnson and Marcellus Wiley, they are real good edge rushers. They can really get up the field and they rush well on the defensive end spot. I think Tom did a good job of stepping up and helping out the offensive line in their pass blocking and overall I thought he threw the ball pretty accurately. He had a couple of tight throws, particularly outside, balls that were on the sideline or corner routes or those kind things and they are tough throws because it is a long way to go and there is not a lot of margin for error and he did a good job of putting those balls in spots where only we could catch them and the defenders really didn't have a good chance to make a play on the ball. He also made a couple of good plays where he was under pressure where he throw the ball away and really kept it out of harms way. There was a screen pass that Junior [Seau] had covered that was in the first quarter down here in this end zone. He had some pressure up the middle on the blitz and put it out of the back of the end zone, things like that. So I would say those three or four things would be at the top.

Q: After the botched punt, you are down ten with less than five minutes to play. Do you or another coach or a player on the sidelines, does somebody say we are not going to lose this game?

BB: I think a lot of people said that yesterday. We have kind of been talking about that all week. We talked about the fact that, last week in Miami it is 10-10 with a minute to go in the second quarter and then it is 20-10 early in the third quarter. We talked about the fact that we are not going to be ahead 30-7 or whatever it was against Indianapolis, every week. That is just not realistic in the NFL. Teams just don't have 30 point leads or 25 point leads that often. It is great to get them and it is easy to play in that position, but you expect a close game and I think that the players and the coaches on the sideline and some of the other guys on the sideline, like [Drew] Bledsoe and guys like that really did a good job of maintaining a positive attitude and not looking back at what happened, but looking more forward at what we are going to do about it. I thought that a lot of players, I couldn't single any one out, but there was a lot of feeling, I mean I felt it on the sideline, of players and coaches and everybody responding to an adverse situation. Defensively we have got to stop them, we need a turnover. Offensively we have got to get some points back we only need to do two scores, there is plenty of time, that kind of thing. It was good and it was better than it has been in some other games, I can tell you that, but it is something that the coaches and I think some of the leaders on the team have talked about over the last couple of weeks obviously something that we need to do a little bit to be more proactive on doing it.

Q: In your experience when you have a winning season or a playoff season is this one of those games that you look back 1-3 and won that game when we were down or those the kind of games where you say we might have started to turn our year around right there?

BB: I think anytime at the end of the year you could look back and find a game or two that…not that one game is really more significant than others. If it takes ten or eleven wins or whatever it is, you need everyone of those, but sometimes there is always a game or two that I think everybody, the team, fans, the media, everybody can point back to and say this was really a key win for them that year.

Q: Could this be one of those defining games?

BB: Let's talk about that at the end of the year.

Q: You said earlier that you felt that you had to throw the ball in order to beat the Chargers what allowed you to have the confidence that you would be able to do that? It turns out that you didn't really need Tom against Indianapolis…

BB: We didn't need Tom against Indianapolis?

Q: You didn't need him to throw the ball, what allowed you to think that you would be able to throw the ball against them?

BB: Look we have confidence in Tom that was the game plan. We worked on it all week. In the Indianapolis game we used quite a few two tight end formations, maybe 15 plays or so. We didn't use that much yesterday. It was just a little bit of a different game plan, but there has never been any lack of confidence in Tom or Tom's ability to execute the passing game. The conditions in Indianapolis, once we saw what they were with the wind and that situation, throwing into it and so forth, we saw the other quarterback have some trouble making certain throws in that situation. That is part of the way the game went. Had we been behind in that game and had to throw more we would have thrown more or had the game plan been different we would have done it differently. It wasn't anything that…when Charlie [Weis] and I and the offensive staff and Dante [Scarnecchia], when we all sit down and talk about the offensive game plan there is not a lot of conversation about, 'Okay here are all of the things that we don't want Brady to do.' That is just not the way that it goes. We look at the team and say, 'Okay what can we do? We know that Junior is going to blitz up the middle a lot with San Diego, what are we going to do about that? We know that the Colts are going to run a lot of blitzes, we know that Miami is going to play a lot of deep field coverage with their safeties and the corners are going to press us every play. What are we going to?' It is not about, 'Well Brady can't do this, Brady can't do that, Brady can't do something else.' That just isn't the way it goes. We just try to attack the defense in a manner that we feel gives us the best chance to move the ball and score points and control the game. That's more of the conversation and the talk rather than, 'Boy we sure don't want Brady to throw that slant pattern.' I mean I have seen that before. For example when Michael Bishop played last year there were certain things that we said, 'Okay here are the things that we want Michael to do. We want to have a couple of bootlegs in the game. We want to spread out. We are going to put an option in. There were certain plays. I am not saying that there weren't other plays that we didn't call, but we knew that there was more of a preference towards some of those, but with Tom that is really not the case. Tom, Damon [Huard] and Drew have all from day one in training camp, whatever play has been called, whoever is in there, they ran it. It wasn't, 'Okay Drew needs to be in there for this or Damon needs to be in for that.' We just didn't do that. Now with our backs for example though, that is a little bit different. There are certain plays that are Kevin Faulk plays. There are certain plays that are a little more Antowain plays, there are certain plays that are maybe a little more for J.R. [Redmond] then they would be for Kevin or vice versa. So that is not to say that those players are in adequate it is more to say, 'Well okay here is a strength, here is a type of play that Kevin really runs well, let's run it with Kevin. Here is a type of play that Antowain runs well,' if Kevin is in there he will still run it, but it is a little bit more of a Antowain play. I think there is a difference between, say the running back personnel as compared to the quarterbacks.

Q: Do you have any plans for Drew this week?

BB: I think that Drew is just making steady progress. I think it is going to be a very gradual thing. I am not sure. The next step for Drew is for him to do some light workouts jogging, maybe light throwing, some light running, that kind of thing. Then the next step would be to increase it. Then the next step would be to maybe get up to more full speed type of workouts and then at some point contact will come in there. It is just a gradual progression and the way that you do it with a player that has an injury like he has, if everything goes good you do a little bit more tomorrow than you did today. If that goes good then you do a little bit more the next day than you did the previous day. If it doesn't, if there is a problem, if he starts to feel some discomfort or if just looking at him you would say, 'Maybe this is asking him to do too much' then you cut it back. Right now we haven't really got to the light activity part. I think that we will start to move into that a little bit this week. How light is light? I really don't know. We will just have to see. We will start light and if it is okay we will move it up a little bit. Until we start to get into that it is really hard to evaluate how it is going. He certainly feels better and he looks better just in the meetings and walking around and being out on the field and that kind of thing and once the doctors clear him to be able to do the light activity, which I am hoping will be this week, then that's where we'll start.

Q: The way things have started to play out the last couple of weeks the division is starting to get a little tight?

BB: Right it is real tight and the Indianapolis game I think is a real opportunity for us. We are a game behind three teams that are 3-2 and we are 2-3 and we have got a chance really to get even with one of those teams. We have three games on the road coming up. I think this is a key point in our season to show that we can win on the road. That we can win on the road in the division. We need to do that. If we are going to go anywhere we need to win on the road and we need to win on the road in the division. This is an opportunity for us to do it. We didn't take advantage of the one in Miami, but we need to set our sights on Indianapolis and try to make it work there.

Q: Is this a situation where if it got late into the season and Drew was still not ready that you would sit him out for the rest of the season?

BB: That is true for every player. When you get to the end of the year if there is a point in time where a player is, by the time he is healthy the season's over then at that point you put him on injured reserve and bring in somebody that is healthy. I really don't see it being at that point now, but if it ever got to that point then that's, Andy Katzenmoyer, that is the way it was with him. By the time he was able to come back from the surgery it is done. So you just put him on there

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