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Bill Belichick Press Conference

Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick talks to the media about the upcoming game against the Chargers on Sunday.



BB: On the transactions yesterday, I think that you all saw that we released Bert Emanuel and took Tom Ashworth off of the practice squad and replaced him with Saul Patu. He played defensive end at Oregon. He was with the Jets in the preseason. I just felt like we needed another defensive linemen to work with us in practice. So that means we are one under the 53-roster limit and we may or may not fill that towards the end of the week. We will see how it goes.

The injury report, the story on Leonard Meyers is he was sick last week and lost some weight and was under the weather and all of that. Even though he is a lot better and I talked to him again this morning and he kind of feels fine, but they just feel like because of what happened last week if he were to resume activity and exercise and all of that, that he is still a little weak and that his system is a little weak and he could have a reoccurrence of it. So we are going to hold him this week and then he should almost certainly be ready to go next week unless something happens. Everybody else is coming along and getting a lot closer. With [Willie] McGinest, [J.R.] Redmond, [Matt] Stevens and [T.J.] Turner and those guys, they looked a lot better on Monday than they did last week.

San Diego is a team that has a lot of new faces starting with the offensive coordinator, with Norv [Turner]. They look very similar to the way the Redskins looked the last couple of years when he was down there in terms of their offensive system, similar types of formations, use of a lot of multiple tight end looks, things like that. Obviously it is his system and one that he has had a lot of success with. Doug [Flutie] gives him, we all know what Doug can do I can't tell you anything about Doug that you haven't already seen. [LaDainian] Tomlinson is a back that I think is very similar to Curtis Martin in style and he is a little bit of a smaller guy. He is not a big power running back, but he has got real good strength for his size. He has got real good quickness. He makes people miss in the hole and has good vision running the ball, has good cutback ability. Again some of the similar characteristics that I know you are familiar with on Curtis. Defensively some new faces there too, a couple of new corners with [Alex] Molden and [Ryan] McNeil. Of course they added [Marcellus] Wiley to the front. Those guys are having a good year, especially McNeil has got some interceptions and Wiley was slowed up a little bit early, but he looks like he is coming around. This is a real good defensive football team. San Diego has a very active front seven, of course led by Junior [Seau] and the secondary has come up with some big plays for them. [Rodney] Harrison is a real good safety. Those two guys are big hitters. They have always been real good on defense and they continue to display that in the games this year.

Q: As a rookie Tomlinson has had an immediate impact, has the offensive line also been enhanced from last year are they part of the reason his performance has been so productive?

BB: I think probably that it is a combination of things. One is they have been ahead in every game, even Cleveland. Cleveland scored with less than two minutes to go and that was the first time that they really had the lead. So they have been playing from ahead a lot which of course gives the offense and the running back a lot more opportunities to handle the ball so he has had a lot of carries, a lot of attempts. The multiple tight ends that Norv uses, he has two tight ends in the game probably over half the time. Not counting third down passing situations, but in just first and second downs, over two tight ends in half the time and that gives them a little extra blocking power there on the edge and that kind of thing. I think the offensive line is…I don't see a big dramatic difference, we didn't play them last year, but just from watching them in the offseason. It looks like it is more of an emphasis on the running game, opportunities to run the ball whereas there were several games last year that they were playing from behind early in the game and Tomlinson has done a good job with the opportunities that he has had. They haven't used him extensively in the passing game, but they hand him the ball a lot and he has good vision and has been solid with it.

Q: During the draft period did you have him on your board as the best running back or a player that you would seriously consider moving up for?

BB: Yes he was definitely one of the top players on our board and certainly the top back. Had he been there he would have been somebody that we would have given serious consideration to depending on what else was still up there. I think he is the type of guy that is probably further along in the running game, if that makes any sense, than some running backs because that's all he has done is run. He was in a running offense in college, he has had very little exposure to the passing game and he hasn't been asked to have a lot of exposure to the San Diego passing game. He missed a lot of training camp and his role is to run the ball and he runs it very well. To this point he really hasn't done a lot of other things other than to catch a dump off or a screen or something like that, either in college or professionally. He just doesn't have a lot of exposure and a lot of background in the passing game and they don't use him in the passing game. They take him out on third down and bring in [Terrell] Fletcher. So in comparison to a guy like Edgerrin James, who as a rookie and as we have seen through the years, never comes out of the game and plays in all situations. Tomlinson is more of a real, if you will, running specialist and he is good at it too. There is nothing wrong with having a guy that can run the ball, run the ball, but that is just to try to elaborate on his style and his utilization a little bit, that is the way I see.

Q: Tom Brady was obviously upset by maybe some of the things that went on in practice last week have you talked to him about those things and if they are valid, have you addressed it with the rest of the team?

BB: I am not sure exactly what all the comments are that you are talking about.

Q: After the game on Sunday Tom Brady was upset about his perception of the team not practicing well which transferred to the game?

BB: Again I am not sure exactly in what context those comments were made. The thing that I would say though is that when you don't have a good offensive game, which we didn't in Miami I think it is good that players address that and certainly one way to address it is in practice. There are always things in practice that don't go perfectly, that is what practice is. You go out there on Wednesday and you are looking at a new defense and some new coverages and some things look good and some things don't. Then on Thursday things get progressively better and you look at some different situations and then you do the same thing on Friday. Then sometimes on Sunday those things fall into place and they are executed real well and then sometimes on Sunday there are unfortunately days when they don't always come together as well. There is always room to improve in practice. There is no question about that. I didn't feel that the practices last week were in any way below average or below the norm, but there were certainly a lot of things that could have been done better and for the passing game to function better there is certainly room to improve it in the passing game. Again I can't speak for Tom's comments. I wouldn't characterize it as horrendous practices, that type of thing, but we need to throw the ball better, we need to catch it better and we need to run the routes better and that is going to be a major area of emphasis for us this week.

Q: Since we last met here on Monday have you had any discussions with Terry Glenn that may have moved you in any direction? Have you seen anything?

BB: No. I don't think it is about talking about it now. We are going to go out to practice today and we will get a look at where Terry is at both from a conditioning standpoint and where his skills are after a layoff and we will just go from there. I don't think really sitting around and talking about what is going to happen or what isn't going to happen, at this point, that is not what it is about at all.

Q: His status right now is what?

BB: To go out and practice and start playing football for the first time in two months. Same as Michael Jordan's was a couple of weeks ago when he went to training camp and started playing basketball for the first time in I don't know how many years. I mean that is what you do. Before you start playing you go out there you start practicing and you start getting your game ready to play. I don't think you are going to see Jordan suit up the first game of the year or the 20th game of the year and go right out there on the floor. I think you are going to see him do what he is doing which is prepare to play. I think that is what every professional athlete does. They prepare to perform whatever the event is or sport that they are in. That is the progression, that is where we are at.

Q: As far as the roster spot goes you make that decision when you have to?

BB: Well when we have to make it would be next week when the exemption is lifted. If we want to make it before that then that would be an option that we would have to exercise if we want to do that, but we wouldn't have to make that roster spot until next week.

Q: You make the comparison to Michael Jordan, the reason I asked if you have talked with Terry is there is a proven track record with Michael Jordan where you know he will do what he needs to do to get ready, whereas the track record with Terry Glenn is that he won't do the things that he needs to do. Are you watching for different things off the field as well as on the field?

BB: The main thing I am looking for is what's on the field at this point. That is what we haven't seen. We all understand what the circumstances are, why the events have occurred the way they have and why the timeframe has been what it is, but you have to put all of that behind you. Right now we are starting at a new point in time and the only way to go forward is to go out there and start playing and see where we are at. I don't think there is any way to know where that is right now without seeing it.

Q: What is the conceivable earliest time that a highly conditioned great player coming back under these circumstances?

BB: I think they could come back and play in a game in a week. I have seen that before. LaDainian Tomlinson, how long was he in camp before he started playing, not very long. Back in the '90s when the collective bargaining agreement had very strict rules in about players not reporting to training camp, holdouts in pro football were quite common. Players couldn't be traded, well they could be traded, but the teams wouldn't trade them. They couldn't be released so if they were unhappy with their contract they sat out the whole training camp, came in the week before the first game and said I am ready to go. There were a lot of teams that had that. When I was with the Giants it seemed like we had one of those every year or two. It wasn't uncommon at all. What my experience was with a lot of those players and they were different players, but my experience with a lot of those guys was it took them awhile for them to get into playing shape. Sometimes they got hurt, sometimes they took awhile to regain the skills that we had seen them with the year before or in previous years and that is not to say that they just sat around and watched TV and ate potato chips all day. They were out running around a track or having guys to work with or hitting sleds, but there is no way to play football unless you have another 21 guys out there playing with you. You can run around a track all you want, you can do sit-ups until…and you can bench press the moon, but that is still not playing football. It is doing what you can do, but it is still not playing football. Some players came around quicker than others and some guys would hold out and they would come back and have a bad year. Maybe it was in some part related to that hold out.

Q: Has much changed in the offense since Glenn was here last?

BB: I am trying to remember…he was in training camp and so he was in the meetings for a week or however long he was here, ten days, I can't remember how long it was. That definitely helped, but he wasn't able to execute a lot of the things we are doing this year out on the field. So that is still the limiting factor. He was out of practice for a couple of days, but that was really pretty much the extent of it. I am sure that he will be able to study and learn and get the plays down and get his assignments down and all of that, but doing it at full speed with the quarterbacks, with the adjustments, with blitzes, with things that happen on the field that is another matter. I can't really predict what that timeframe will be.

Q: Do you find this is a distraction, 90 percent of the questions you have been asked have been about Terry Glenn?

BB: That's what I expected. What did you think that I was going to come in here and you guys would be asking about San Diego?

Q: How about your team and how about your preparation, does this get in the way?

BB: Well I haven't had a lot of players and coaches come around and ask me the questions that you were so really I haven't spent a lot of time talking to them about it. We know what we are doing. We are moving forward and until we get out on the field and start doing something there isn't really much to talk about. What are you going to talk about?

Q: What about Bert Emanuel he was acting as the emergency quarterback, who will fill that role now?

BB: I think really if it comes to that situation we are going to be in trouble and with no disrespect to Bert, I think we would have been in trouble if it had come to that the last two weeks. Brady takes most of the snaps in practice. Damon [Huard] takes the ones that Brady doesn't. Frankly we could use more plays with the quarterback than what we have out there as it is. If we could give Damon more plays we would give them to him. It is just a question of how much you can run your team down to…those others guys have got to go out there and play them too. We didn't have any plays available to give Bert. Bert didn't take any plays. He took a few snaps with the scout team, ran Miami plays or Indianapolis plays or whatever. It probably wasn't a total of five plays. So realistically if he had had to go in the game, to expect him to really be able to perform as a quarterback, other than getting the snap, would have been stretching it pretty far.

Q: Three out of the four backs that you have faced have had a lot of success down the middle. Are they getting overpowered at the nose?

BB: I don't think you can look at those games and see just one player or one play. For example Corey Dillon had a draw play that went for 40 yards that was a result of a mistackle. There weren't a lot of long runs in the Miami game. I mean there weren't 50 or 60 yard runs it was a couple of runs in the teens, but for the most part that the problem has been A) tackling and B) the lack of a proper fit by everybody on the front. In the case of the Miami game and the Jet game, those were two in particular where both backs did a real good job of when there wasn't a lot there, they found what was there and then they ran hard and they broke a couple of tackles and turned what could have been a two or three yard gain into an eight or nine yard gain or split it through there for ten or that kind of thing. It just wasn't tight enough to where we can get the runs down less than three yards, which is where they need to be. Again, you saw the games, but the Miami game there weren't a lot of plays in there where the hole was ten yards wide and any of us could have felt like we could have gained ten yards on that play. There were some tight creases, but they were creases and they are too much for us to allow. So we have to tighten those screws a little bit. I can't say it was the nose, I can't say it was the inside linebacker, I can't say it was the outside linebacker or the defensive end. In all cases it was one of them, but I think you would be hard pressed to point at just one position and say, 'Well yeah this is where they gained all of their yards.'

Q: So it seems eminently fixable it is not as if you are looking at it and saying, 'we are not going to be able to stop it?'

BB: No we are definitely not saying that. We are going to get it straightened out. We are going to get it straightened out and there are plenty of plays where there are a lot of guys playing the technique and playing with good leverage and holding the line of scrimmage, but a good running back only needs one crease. So three or four guys can be in a good spot, but if there is a little too much space and the back has good vision and finds it then…now in the Cincinnati game I think a bigger part of the problem there was the tackling. There were plenty of plays that should have gained less yardage then what Corey ended up picking up, but we went into the game knowing that he is one of the best in the league at breaking tackles and he was fresh. He ran hard and we didn't get him wrapped up as much as we needed to.

Q: That tackling that you mentioned, against the Colts everything really seemed to have sharpened up the team looked like it made a commitment against the Colts and then lost that commitment against Miami, how does that happen?

BB: I can tell you this, I don't think it was approached any differently from one week to the next, let's put it that way. It may have appeared differently to you, but I don't think it was approached any differently. Defensively the more people you get around the ball carrier the less the mistackles are going to hurt you. If you are aggressive and you have two or three guys there and we had it, well I mean I think you can see it in every game, you see a guy taking a shot at the ball carrier and he might force the guy to stop and cutback and he nails him. So the more people you have around the ball then the less that stuff is going to impact you. I think that when you don't have as many people around the ball and part of that is getting off blocks. Not only neutralizing the guy that is blocking you, but being able to then separate off of him and get to the ball that's always a defensive problem. None of those blockers want to let you go they always want to try to sustain the block and continue to block you through the play. Well everybody is going to get blocked initially, or most everybody gets blocked initially, but then it is a question of using your hands, creating separation from the blocker and then closing in on the ball carrier. We certainly need to do that a little bit quicker as well.

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