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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Fri Oct 22 - 12:00 AM | Sun Oct 24 - 10:40 AM

Bill Belichick Press Conference

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BB: Everybody practiced. We are about as healthy as we are going to be at this point in the year. We are just trying to cram everything into two days instead of three. All of the situational stuff first, second, third down, red area, goal line, two-minute and all of that. So everything is pushed up a little bit, but at this point we have played a lot of football, if you are going to have a short week this is the week to have it.

Q: How did Willie McGinest look in practice?

BB: Good. He participated in everything and he's probable. I think he will be able to play.

Q: You had trouble getting to Jay Fiedler in the first game…

BB: Well we couldn't get to him, he scrambled and we could never make him throw and he only threw 20 passes or whatever it was so.

Q: Having Willie would help that wouldn't it?

BB: If we can get him in a passing situation right. I think as long as they are successful running the ball, they showed in the first game that they will just keep running it. That was [Lamar] Smith's best game of the year and they were very successful. They had, I don't know, almost five yards a carry. If we don't do a better job on that then I don't think the passing game will really make any difference.

Q: Is that just mistackling or effort?

BB: Well no, I don't think it was effort. We got blocked and we missed some tackles and they blocked us and Smith ran hard and they did a better job of running then we did defending it. It was no one thing. It wasn't one play or anything like that it was just more of a consistent three, four, five, six-yard play. They continued to add up, pile up. A lot of time of possessions and then we did stop them and they did a good job of punting. They had us backed up inside the five a couple of times and we muffed another one down there inside the ten.

Q: Have they had any changes on the offensive line?

BB: I think they are still trying to do basically the same things. I mean they have a good ball control attack that has opened up with [Chris] Chambers. Chambers is a guy that has really been able to get the ball down the field for them. I think he has got…a third of his catches are over 25 yards or something like that. He has made a lot of big plays and he has really stretched the field for them offensively. That is a guy that wasn't a big factor in the first game that now is one that you really have to concern yourself with.

Q: Will you do anything to emulate what San Francisco did? I think they gave up thirteen sacks in the first 12 games and then six to San Francisco? What did they do?

BB: Well San Francisco did a good job. I think one of the key factors in that game was the score. They were ahead 14-0 at the end of the first quarter and then 21-0 and then they scored again in the third quarter. So anytime you get ahead just like anybody else you have to throw every down and it is easy for them to run their pass rush game and tee off on the quarterback and all of that. You are just pass protecting every play so that usually leads to, unless you are a real good pass protecting team and you can just go back there and throw it every down, that usually leads to those type of negative plays, tipped balls, interceptions, sacks and that type of thing. San Francisco did a real good job defensively, no doubt about it, but being that far ahead in the game and Miami having to throw down after down, that caused them some problems too. I think if the score had been like it was against us 10-7, 17-10 I doubt that San Francisco would have had that much pressure on the quarterback.

Q: How different defensively are you guys from that first game against the Dolphins?

BB: You know I think considerably. We went down there and at that point of the year we were playing almost exclusively a 3-4 defense. We were pretty thin on the defensive line and our depth has increased a little bit there and in recent weeks it decreased at linebacker so we played more of a four man line the last month whereas the first month of the season it was exclusively three man line so that certainly is a change for us. Matt Stevens missed the game down there so it was Tebucky [Jones] and Lawyer [Milloy] at safety all the way and I think everybody else [Tedy] Bruschi, [Bryan] Cox, Ted Johnson all of those guys played and of course McGinest didn't play in that one.

Q: Will Chris Sullivan play this weekend?

BB: Those last couple of spots there on the active list it is just a question of depth on the defensive line relative to other positions. I think Chris has had a good week of practice and I think he is capable of playing. With our injury situation this week being pretty good, everybody really is healthy and has a chance. I think that it will probably be tougher for him to be in this week, but I think he is ready to play and I certainly wouldn't be afraid to put him in there if the situation came up, but with the health of the team this week probably not.

Q: You mentioned yesterday how the Dolphins do what they do and they don't vary from it. You guys change week to week. Why do you do that and how do you think that affects a team's trying to game plan for you?

BB: It is just our philosophy. I think our system has some breadth to it and the reason we do it that way is to try to take advantage of the talent that we have and try to put the players in position where they can be productive and at the same time try to take away things that we feel are the biggest threats on the other side of the ball. That gives you some flexibility from week to week and we have had some injury situations that we have had to manage and one week you are going up against Marvin Harrison and the next week you are going up against a different type of player and going up against bigger receivers and that type of thing and you are defending different types of threats week to week. So that is just our system and Miami has been very successful with their system for several years since Jimmy [Johnson] was down there and Dave [Wannstedt] came in there and worked with the defense last year and now Dave is the head coach. They have been very consistent with their defensive system. They have gotten the exact type of players in there that they want to play it with and they are all pretty good at it. They have good players across the board that do exactly the things that they want them to do and one of the top defenses in the league. I think it is just a contrast in philosophies and I think, as I mentioned earlier, when I was with the Giants that was pretty similar to what we did. We played in a 3-4 defense pretty much every snap of the game. We played a lot of times 80-90 percent cover two, kind of like the Dolphins do playing their switch coverage. When you have got the people that can play it there is nothing wrong with going that way.

Q: At the Giants was that just the head coach's philosophy at that time?

BB: No we got to a point where we had…

Q: Was it just talent?

BB: Yeah that was a big factor. I mean we had players that played certain positions very well and you didn't want to move them and you had enough players to play all of the positions. For example, we had Jim Burt at the nose guard. Well you really wouldn't want him playing any where other than that, but he was very good at playing nose. We had Lawrence Taylor and Carl Banks at outside linebacker. There was no reason to move them inside and play them in a bubble because they were so good at their position outside. We had Pepper [Johnson] and Harry Carson inside. There was no reason to play them anywhere else. We had Leonard Marshall and actually Leonard had the most flexibility in terms of position. Sometimes we would put him on the tackle, sometimes we would move him down on the guard, but that was pretty much it. That was a good front and people had a lot of trouble blocking those guys, why change it? Miami has been in the same situation. They have had speed rushing ends Trace Armstrong and Jason Taylor and they have big people inside like [Tim] Bowens and [Daryl] Gardner and they have a good middle linebacker in Zach Thomas and they don't want to put them in positions that take away from the effectiveness that they have in the current system the way it is setup. I wouldn't change it either.

Q: Can you talk about the season that Lawyer Milloy has had?

BB: Lawyer is just so consistent. He is there every week. He is there every week. He missed a few plays against Cincinnati, but he is very durable. He is a tough, hard-nosed, physical player. You know that you are going to get that out of them every single week whether it is hitting guys going across the middle, whether it is blitzing, whether it is coming up and forcing the run he is just, I think, one of the most consistent players on our team, one of the most consistent players in the league really in terms of day after day, week after week, game after game, season after season he has been a very, very consistent producer in the same type of game. Lawyer is a smart guy and he picks up things quickly which is a real advantage because again as we talked about defensively we change some things and do some different things and it is very easy for him to adjust and adapt to them. Some guys, that's hard for them, Lawyer, he can go in and out of different situations and it doesn't seem to effect him much.

Q: What is he like in the weight room?

BB: I think this past offseason was Lawyer's, in his words, his best offseason, he was here from day one. He trained hard, he rehabbed his shoulder injury, but worked very hard in the weight room in his training. He has always had good strength and good playing strength, but I think this year was probably the year that he has worked the hardest in the offseason. He really hasn't had any problems all year physically I mean other than the Cincinnati game where he missed the second half of the game there. Other than that he has been very durable as he has been his whole career. I mean he plays hard too. It is not like you can't find him hitting anybody. I mean he is in on a lot of contact.

Q: Is there something that you can point to as to why the punt coverage has been good and the kickoff coverage has not? It seems like it is the same personnel?

BB: Yeah some of it is the same. Our punt coverage has been good really all year. It has been a strong point for us I think the entire season. Now some punts are easier covering than others and I think that Kenny has come in and given us for the most part above average hang time. So when he puts the ball up there those guys are able to get down there. [Je'Rod[ Cherry and Tebucky [Jones] of course are the keys because they are the gunners and they get down and either make a lot of plays or at least force those double teams, but inside I think that Brad [Seely] has really done a good job of coaching with the inside guys and they work very well together on the left side. It is Bruschi and [Mike] Vrabel and [Roman] Phifer and those three guys really work well as a unit with Lonie Paxton and [Larry] Izzo who is behind them and then we have had a little variation on the right side it is basically Stevens, [Patrick] Pass and Matt Chatham now and they have done a good job. Those guys help each other out. They pick each other off and try to free people up and do a good job with their lanes and punt coverage is a team thing. You can't say one guy goes down and makes all of the plays because if those lanes aren't covered these returners will find them. Kickoff coverage has been a different story. We have had more changes on the kicking team. Just on the punt team, guys like Bruschi, Vrabel, Roman Phifer, Lonie Paxton, even though he is a snapper, I mean none of those guys are on the kickoff team so it is a different group of guys. We have found a lot more transition in that group, in the kicking group than we have in the punting group. Distance and hang time, those kicks are always easier to cover so I think the combination of sometimes shorter and lower kicks with breakdowns in coverage, either guys not being in the right lane or not being able to get off blocks, or we have had a couple of missed tackles. It seems like we have more mistackles in the kickoffs than we have in the punting game.

Q: You are not going to break many long runs against that defense, but you have to establish that. Do you have to train yourself to stay with the run?

BB: I think that's a real good question and I think it's a real tough, I don't mean tough in terms of impossible, but I think that's one of the hard decisions you have to make weekly as a coach. When you say, 'OK, this is something we need to do and it's not really going the way we want it to go.' When to change and say this is just not the answer or whether to keep going with it and saying sooner or later we are going to get this right and we are going to be productive with it. Like for example in the San Diego game, you know we didn't run the ball really very well against the Chargers and ended up throwing a lot and really we were able to come back and win the game doing it that way. So sometimes you probably do the right thing by going away from it other times you look back and say, 'We should have given it more of a chance.' The same thing on defense, you run a couple blitzes, you don't get there, you give up a couple plays and then you say, 'OK, let's stop blitzing,' like we did against the Jets and pull back on those in the second half or do you do what you did against Atlanta, like we gave up the back play on that blitz on the early run and we felt in that game, 'Look we know we gave up a play. We need to keep coming. We are going to make more than we give up.' And those are tough game decisions. So I think I've got to answer that by saying it just depends on the game. You can't…there are sometimes when you feel you've just got to move on and then there are other times you feel like this is still the best we got. We know it's not going the way we want it to go, but we've got to hang with it and we've got to make it work.

Q:

BB: I think there's some truth to that. I do. I think there's some truth to that. I think he's a hard guy to tackle and the more tired you get on defense and the fewer people you have around the ball on defense the tougher it is to bring down a hard running back, no matter who it is. So yeah, I definitely think there is some truth to that.

Q: Do you think Buffalo, looking back on it, is an example you got away from the run a little too much? It looked like you had some success and then kind of went away from it?

BB: I think two things happened there. Number one, that success deteriorated a little bit. As we got into the second quarter and even a little bit in the third quarter there we weren't getting as good a production as we did early in the game. And Buffalo continued to crowd up closer and closer and closer to the line of scrimmage. You know if you are continuing to get good production, if you are hitting some six, seven, eight-yard gains in there and you are getting some second-and-two's and that kind of thing. Then, 'OK they are moving up, but we are still doing OK so we can hang with it. If you come up with second-and-10's, second-and-nine, second-and-seven, you feel like you've got a pretty decent play and you gain two yards because they've just got guys up there that you can't block. Then you are going to be coming out of that game at the end saying, 'Geez, look at all these guys up on the line of scrimmage. We can throw. There are some spots to throw in there. We've got to try to loosen them up a little bit,' and I think that's the point we got to in the second half. I don't think the execution in the passing game was real good and you know there was a point there in the third quarter where we got hit a lot, we got sacked and so those turned into negative plays and yeah, do I wish we had run when we got sacked? No question, you know it would have been a lot better than those results. I think in the end you saw a couple big plays in the second half down field to [David] Patten, down the field to [Jermaine] Wiggins, where there was some space to throw it if we could just hit them and I think had we hit more of them then that would have loosened them up a little bit more and then we probably should have run it more, yeah.

Q: In sticking with the run, when you see a team make an adjustment like that, do you try to adjust what you are doing at that point as far as run blocking or do you say…?

BB: It depends how your plays are set up. If you anticipate them doing that then you probably go into the game saying, 'OK when they bring this guy down here's how we are going to handle it.' Whatever you are going to do, whether you bring a receiver in and block him or whether you are going to run away from him or that type of thing. If you don't anticipate it and they bring the guy down there, then you've got to do something during the game and either say, 'Well our running game is just not going to work against this, were are going to have problems or here's the adjustments we are going to have to make.' When you've been through as many games as we have, usually any adjustment that you make is something that you've done earlier in the year at some point. So it's not a big dramatic thing, but that is basically what you are running into. But you know in the Buffalo game you could see it. Raion Hill was down there and he was on the line of scrimmage. He was within one or two yards of the line of scrimmage, in some cases closer than the linebackers were. So they were down there tight and with some stunting and doing some things inside to cause some blocking problems as well as the extra guy in there, at times it got tight. There weren't a lot of big holes.

Q: On Anthony Pleasant's season…

BB: You know he…to me, Anthony, that's been his whole career. He's always quietly had a real-good year. I remember in Cleveland he had a couple, he had a ten or eleven sack year, '94. You know nobody was ever mentioning him. There were a lot of other guys that seemed to get more attention. I don't know if it is his personality because he is a quiet, soft-spoken man, but he plays the run well. He plays the pass well. He hustles, I mean in the first Miami game he had two or three plays were he chased [Jay] Fiedler down. I don't think he sacked him, but he ran 20 or 30 yards to get him and hit him right as he was throwing the ball, that type of thing. He's a very consistent player with minimal mental mistakes. He's out there every week. He's not a guy that misses a lot of time in practice or in a game. He's tough. He's really consistent and he is having a good year. I think he's having a real good year. To me, that's the way he played when we had him with the Jets, it's the way he played when we had him with Cleveland. Now when he went to Atlanta and San Francisco, when he was outside of the great coaching that he's received here…you know he was injured, he'd miss some time and all this and that. You'd have to ask him what went wrong in those seasons. But when he's played in the system we had in Cleveland, the system we had at the Jets and the system we've had here, really those have been his most productive years and I keep reminding him of that

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