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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Fri Apr 16 - 12:00 AM | Sun Apr 18 - 11:59 PM

Bill Belichick Press Conference

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BB: I don't really have a lot of news. Terry [Glenn]'s leg tightened up on him a little bit in practice yesterday, so we'll list him as questionable on the injury report and see how that looks today. That's really about it, so like last Friday, whatever I can do to help you out for the weekend editions.

Q: How was the week in practice?

BB: Well, different. Being indoors, the first time we've been in there all year. We used the noise and went through that situation in practice, so I'd say it was a little bit different. I don't think you ever really want to be on the turf, especially the hard turf, but given all of the factors and preparation for the game, I thought it was the best thing for us to do. That's where it ended up. I think the week's been okay. There are always things that you're cleaning up. We've got some things today that we need to clean up from yesterday. The biggest emphasis this week really compared to normal has been the special teams. We spent more time on it, more meeting time, more time in walkthroughs, time at practice. If that pays off, then that will be worth it.

Q: Was Terry's injury related to being away for a while or is it just one of those things?

BB: I don't know. I really don't know. It happened early in practice, maybe a half-hour into practice. It tightened up and we didn't do any more. We'll see how it is today.

Q: Is Terry's situation kind of like Willie McGinest's, where you can't really plan on having him 100 percent every week?

BB: When Terry came in last week, we really just tried to work him in situationally anyway. We really didn't anticipate playing him all the way through the game and I doubt that would have been the case this week either, but it definitely isn't the case this week. How much it will be or it won't be, like last week I think it's still… Until a player gets himself fully acclimated coming back from that… It was like Richard Seymour when he came back, so we'll just have to manage that as it goes. I mean, I really don't know.

Q: So it's not a pull or a tear? It just tightened up?

BB: Whatever you want to call it.

Q: So it wasn't like he had to limp off the field.

BB: No. Right. No. It was no 911 emergency.

Q: How has Richard Seymour been?

BB: Better. He's certainly not 100 percent, but he's gotten better through the week, but it will probably be a game time decision. We'll have to see how much further it comes along in the next 48 hours. It will probably come down to a game time decision.

Q: What is McGinest's status?

BB: About the same as it's been.

Q: Will he play Sunday?

BB: It's questionable. I think it could go either way. Willie's done some work in practice, but really I think that this week's been about like the last three or four have. A couple of those games he's played, a couple of them he hasn't. I think we'll just wait and see on Sunday. I really don't know.

Q: Was last week encouraging as far as Willie goes?

BB: Yeah, sure, it was good to have him out there. Certainly he's a very talented player who can add some really positive things to our team if he is able to physically do them.

Q: Last week, the Colts were pretty successful in stopping the run while not having too much success in their first three games. How did they do much better and can you expect that again this week?

BB: The Raiders are a good offensive football team and they definitely like to run the ball. They have a power running game with [Tyrone] Wheatley in there and then when [Charlie] Garner comes in they run more toss plays and things like that to try to take advantage of Garner's abilities, so I don't know. I would just say that I think the Colts played a real physical game against them. The Raiders tried to play physical, but the Colts certainly matched it. I think their front seven did a good job. They've got a couple of new faces in there from last year, but I think those guys played a real physical running game and they tackled well. The Colts do a lot of pressuring up front, so sometimes, it could be feast or famine. You can run the ball and run right into it and get killed, then there are other times when you can hit a crease, and we got a couple of those in the first game. That toss play to Antowain [Smith] was a play that came out of there pretty clean, they were in a blitz. Kevin Faulk's touchdown run was another one where they were in a blitz they kind of ran by him and he scored from about the 10-yard line. Sometimes you can hit those things and have a big play and sometimes they can hit you and it's second-and-10 or second-and-12. I thought that they played hard, they were physical, they tackled well, but some of the pressures that they ran were definitely disruptive to the Oakland running game. Oakland wasn't really able to get any big plays in the running game against them.

Q: Do you expect them to do the same thing, since Antowain Smith was so successful last time?

BB: Well that's pretty much their style. Their style is to mix in a good amount of pressure, particularly in run situations. It seems like they'd like to try to take first-and-10, stop you in the running game and make it second-and-10 and try to move on from there. So, they mix in pressures with their linebackers, occasionally [Chad] Cota, they blitz corners every once and a while just to keep you honest. They try to put the brakes on there on first down and get the down and distance situation in their favor. Again, not all the time, but enough so that you've got to worry about it. That's pretty much their style of play and I doubt that they'll deviate much from that whether it's us, Oakland or anybody else.

Q: They seemed to be pretty conservative in the pass rush against Tom Brady last time. Do you expect them to be more aggressive this time?

BB: I think that has something to do with the situation in the game. In our first game, we were ahead and we were running the ball. There weren't a lot of obvious, definite passing situations.
Even second-and-nine, second-and-10, we could still run the ball and try to be third-and-five. It took a little bit of the edge off the pass rush, and offensively that's really the best way to do it. If you can create that kind of balance, they really can't tee off on you, because you're too much of a threat to run. I think the score dictated that a little bit. Last year when we were in Indianapolis, at the end of the game when we were behind and we had to throw, they pressured us some there. But it was a similar situation out there. We had a lead in the third quarter and it wasn't a pass, pass, pass game. It's funny, in fact I was talking to the quarterbacks about this today, it's hard when you watch Indianapolis play, even in some of their games last year, because the score and the situation of the game gets so far out of kilter that you don't think of yourself being in that situation, down by 30 like Buffalo was or like the Jets were. So some of the things that are going on in that game aren't really the way a normal game would go. It's like when we played them, we're ahead by 20 points. It's great to be in that situation, but it's hard to count on that being the case, playing a quarter and a half with a 20 point lead. You've got to take the game and see it on a level playing field because otherwise the situations just dictate too much what's going to happen. There haven't been a lot of those situations with the Colts this year, obviously the best one was in the Raider game, but that was just one game and if you see a team with three or four games in that situation then you can get a lot better idea of what the pattern's going to be.

Q: Can you explain what Ty Law's role is this year? It seems like he's been playing in the middle of the field more.

BB: It's definitely different in the sub defense. I don't think it's much different in the regular defense. Last year in the sub defense he played outside with Otis [Smith] and [Antonio] Langham played in the slot. This year, Ty's played most of the time in the slot and [Terrell] Buckley and Otis have played outside. And [Leonard] Myers has been at all three positions and sometimes with four wides on the field whether it be Leonard or Terrance Shaw, that fourth corner has matched up in those situations. But in the sub, Ty's played inside whereas last year he played outside. I think that's the biggest difference.

Q: Does that give him a chance to do some other things?

BB: Basically, we got into a situation at the beginning of the year with Langham not being here since the spring or whenever it was, we had to reconfigure the secondary in sub situations to handle the inside spot. There were a couple of different options on that. Right at the beginning of training camp, we talked to Ty, we talked to Buckley about it, we talked to Myers about it, no matter who the guy was, we needed to have someone else anyway to create depth at the position. After going through it and after talking to the players, guys like Buckley and Shaw hadn't been with us and we talked to them about their previous experiences playing inside versus playing outside. Of all the players that we had, Ty I think a) feels the most comfortable in there, and b) really wanted to play in there more than to play outside. He wasn't really set on playing outside, where I think that Terrance and Otis and Terrell all feel better playing outside, not that they haven't player in there, so overall that's kind of the way it went and Ty started there in training camp and I think it went pretty well for him in preseason games and in training camp, so there's been really no reason to make the change.

Q: Do you think he's been better back there this year?

BB: I think our third down overall defense is definitely better. We've been less consistent on the pass rush. That really hasn't come to the level that we'd like to get it to for a number of different reasons, but I think overall that the coverage is better, not perfect. In the San Diego game, when they threw a 50-yard pass on third-and-seven, that's a problem, but I'd say overall on third down conversions, we've been better and the coverage has been better, but we've still got a little way to go and I'm sure we'll get challenged by the Colts. They're a good third down team and a good passing team.

Q: What kinds of things do you look for in a special teams player?

BB: That question is really the hardest question you have as a coach when you put your team together. Each player has his own package and it's really hard to compare apples to apples. Each one's a little bit different, so when you have those kinds of personnel meetings at the end of training camp and you decide on your final roster, those are the kind of things that can go either way. I think usually what you get into is a situation where if you have a guy who is exceptional on special teams… There are really four core teams, punt, punt return, kickoff and kickoff return. Those are the four main ones. Field goal and field-goal block are usually handles by the bigger guys and so those aren't really what I would call special teams. They're not teams where a guy can really make an impact in that area of the game unless he's a specialist. So on the other four teams, if a guy's really outstanding and can be a difference maker in that phase of the game, then I don't think it really matters too much what his role is on offense and defense, because he's a difference maker in that area. So you have plenty of players in the league like that. We have a couple on our team that are difference makers and you have plenty of guys in the league that fall into that category. Then you have the next group of guys that are not at the same level as those players are on special teams, so if they're not really a difference maker on special teams, then they need to have a significant role on offense or defense. If they can't create that role, that's where they run into trouble in terms of a roster spot. So you end up releasing players who fall into that category who are not starting on offense or defense, they're not really a difference maker in the kicking game, they come into competition with a group of players who are backup offensive and defensive players who may be playing in special situations or maybe they're your third back or your fourth receiver or your second tight end or the fourth linebacker or the third safety or whatever it is, that are key defensive players that have roles in the kicking game. That's really the makeup of the team. So when you ask what I'm looking for, it's a guy who can clearly establish a role for himself. If it's a top special teams player, like a Je'Rod Cherry, then it doesn't really matter in the end what his role is on defense because he's too valuable in the kicking game, that even if he has no role on defense he's going to be a part of your team. Then there are other guys who maybe aren't on all the special teams, maybe they're only on a few of the special teams, but they're significant role players on the offensive or defensive side of the ball. A guy like Tedy Bruschi is a good example of a guy who's a significant defensive player and plays on a couple of special teams. We could put him on all the special teams, but he has too much of a role on defense for us to want to do that, so we kind of balance it out. Matt Stevens is another example of a player like that. Then you've got the younger players, guys like rookies and some of our second-year players that have potential and in a lot of cases for those players, it's hard to evaluate their special teams play as rookies because most of them haven't been in the kicking game. They were the big star players in college, they were maybe two, three, four year starters and they were using freshmen to cover kicks and that kind of thing, now they get here and they've got to get a role in that part of the game or it's going to cost you. It's a question of how well they can come along and how well they can do in their limited opportunities and what the rate of improvement looks like it's going to be. I think it starts with those guys with desire. As a coach, you have to see that those players understand that that's a role for them and they really want to be good at it, it's not just 'Well, this is something I've got to do until something better comes along.'

Q: You mentioned Cherry and Stevens. Who else is a difference maker?

BB: Well, I think [Larry] Izzo's one of the best special teams players in the league. That's one of the main reasons why we signed him. He hasn't played a lot of snaps on defense, but… Again, I'm not saying those guys aren't players on their respective side of the ball. But a player like Larry Izzo, he's played a lot more plays on special teams than he has on the defensive side of the ball this year. Patrick Pass is another guys who's played a lot more in the kicking game than he has on offense. We've all seen Pass make plays on offense and his role is a little bit more of a combination role than Larry's.

Q: Do three straight road games impact how you schedule your routine?

BB: Not really too much. I think everybody's aware of it and you know it's going to be a while before you get into a regular home game routine, but we try to make the home and the away game schedules as much the same as possible, other than the actual travel time. Our practice schedule's the same even on Saturday. We do the same thing up until about noon on Saturday then we either stay home and go to the hotel or we travel and we're at the hotel that night, so other than that period of travel there between Saturday and Sunday morning, everything is pretty much the same. But there are certainly the effects of traveling that you have to take into consideration too, with hydration and time change and things like that.

Q: Do you remember any other three-game road trips? It's pretty unusual.

BB: Yeah, I've had them. I can't remember any specific ones, but I know that in the course of my career where we've been home for three in a row or on the road for three in a row. That's a little bit unusual, but hey, we're going to play eight on the road and eight at home sooner or later, whenever you play them. It's not like back in the old days. When I first came into the league and the stadiums were doubled up, there were a lot of teams that played games on the road. For example, the Orioles and the Colts, the Jets and the Mets at Shea Stadium, St. Louis was another one with the Cardinals and the Cardinals where a lot of times they had three or four games early in the year on the road because of the baseball teams playing in the World Series and that kind of thing. I remember my first year with the Colts, we didn't get into the stadium until the end of October. We were in training camp at one place, then we went and practiced at a high school for a while, then we went and practiced at another high school for a while because the Orioles were in the World Series that year and it just dragged on and dragged on. Then when we did come to the stadium, the infield was all resodded, which didn't take because it was the middle of the winter anyway, so we were only practicing on about 50 yards of the actual field, because the other field was all sodded. We wore that out in about two weeks. By the end of the year, for the last seven or eight games of the season, the sod that didn't take was all chewed up. One half of the field was loose sod, the other half of the field was dirt. That's the way it was. We practiced across the street at Eastern High School. We won nine straight, went 10-4 and won the AFC East.

Q: Has Ty Law been matching up one-on-one with people as much this year?

BB: Yeah, we did that last year too. I don't care what Ty says. There were times when we did match him.

Q: Has he done it any more or less?

BB: I don't know if it's been more or less, but we…

Q: About the same?

BB: Roughly. There were times when we matched him last year and there were times when we didn't. This year there have been times when we've matched him and times when we haven't. Sometimes I think that's an advantage, other times it kind of slows the process down a little bit. You'll see a lot of times, not just with our team, but you can watch any team in the league. Teams that are matching up corners, what you'll see happen is the offense will come out of the huddle. There will be nobody on the receivers because the corners are in the huddle getting the call and then they'll have to run out to their position and they're kind of late getting lined up out there and other people are late getting on them or the guy that you're matching up with has gone out of the game for a couple of plays so now there's somebody else in there and you're trying to find the right guy and all of that, so I'm not saying that you can't do it, but sometimes it just slows it down. If you're going to match on every single play, as some teams do, they always match up the same two guys on every single play, that cuts it down for those guys, but it adds the load to the linebackers and the safeties, because they then have to make all the adjustments. When the two guys are together, then you can't play the same coverage as you can when the two guys are in opposite spots. You have to deal with those adjustments. So there are plusses and minuses of doing it both ways. We do it both ways. We do it whichever way we think gives us the better advantage. For the people that are involved, the corner's preferences are one thing, and often the linebackers and the safeties, when they have to change on every play, they'd rather not have the corners match up. It's easy for the corners to always go to the same spot and not make any adjustments at all, but that just puts it on somebody else. So you just try to balance it out.

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