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Bill Belichick Press Conference

Head Coach Bill Belichick talks to the Press about the upcoming game against the Panthers in Charlotte on Sunday.To read a full transcript, click below.



BB: Did we have a nice bye weekend? When we give you the injury report Wednesday that will probably be the shortest one of the year. Really not much has changed other than we said at the beginning of the year one of our goals was to win the division and we have an opportunity to do that Sunday. So that's obviously a great opportunity for us, but really nothing has changed at this end. We have been working on Carolina and we continue to work on Carolina. That is our focus, that is what we need to do and we will really get heavily into the preparation today with the players, with the scouting report. We did a little bit of both last week self-improvement and Carolina, but it is all Carolina now and that is the way that it will be all week. We are looking forward to really getting into it today and it is a good opportunity for us. We should be healthy and ready to go.

Q: With what happened yesterday does it make it easier for you to talk to your team this morning and say, 'Hey look at the teams that needed to win yesterday and lost and you guys better focus because it can happen to us?

BB: It is like that every week. Again, really I don't think that anything has changed. We can go back to week one, week two, week ten, it is all the same every week. There are games every week that either it looks like one team is going to win and then miraculously the other team does or one team is heavily favored and they end up losing. We see that through the league every week so I can't imagine that that really should surprise anybody.

Q: Did Bryan [Cox] say anything on TV yesterday that made you cringe?

BB: You know I missed it. I missed our star. Was that his debut?

Q: I think he has been on before.

BB: Oh has he? No I missed it. I will have to see if I can get a tape of it, probably some insight there. Did he talk about football or was it just all of the other stuff.

Q: He had a haircut and suit?

BB: That is what TV will do to you. No I didn't see Bryan's comments.

Q: Is it different playing this game now then when it was originally scheduled? You were coming off of a loss they were coming off of a win, now they have lost 14 in a row and you guys continue to win?

BB: We have always said that what happened last week doesn't have any bearing on this week and you are right the circumstances are different in terms of what happened the previous week, but still Carolina is Carolina and we are still the Patriots. We played them in the preseason and I have a lot of respect for their football team, for the coach, the coaching staff. They have a lot of really good players and they have guys that are hard to stop on both sides of the ball and particularly on both lines of scrimmage so we prepare for them whether we had won or loss last week or whether they win or lose the previous week, really our preparations are the same and should be the same.

Q: What did you find yourself watching yesterday the Carolina game or the Jets or a little bit of both?

BB: I was here for awhile and did a little channel flipping so we saw Carolina and watched a little bit of the Jets and a little bit of Miami, saw a little bit of the Denver Oakland game at the end. It is hard to do TV scouting.

Q: Do you allow yourself to be a cheerleader a little bit at the end of some of those games?

BB: Well you know the Jet game gave us a little bit of an opportunity that we didn't have before the game where now it is strictly, from our standpoint it comes down to how we play against Carolina. Again, really all of that is out of our control, however it comes out it comes out and I am sure it will change two or three times before the pairings are setup next week anyway so the motivation for me and last night was just the fact that our opportunity is there and it just pushed me harder on Carolina and just realized even the greater importance of this game. They are all important and I thought this game was important right from the beginning, but it really it stacks up now really as the most important game of the year.

Q: When you look at the teams no teams are really dominant, I mean it seems as though any team can get knocked off at any time seems how it is rolling now with the Jets losing to Buffalo, in the AFC East there doesn't seem to be any dominance do you see that at all?

BB: Sure nobody knows better than we do how tough it is against Buffalo. We had two games against them, they were both as close as you could get, come right down to the wire and nobody has more respect for Buffalo than we do. We split with the Jets, we split with Miami every game in this division is a dogfight.

Q: You talked about the Panthers and that they have good players on both sides of the ball and people will read that in the paper and say, 'Well that is what he is supposed to say.' When you say it to your players how do you get them to understand that?

BB: Well just look at the film, just look at the film. The same thing was said about Buffalo too and they played pretty well against us, real well. Just look at the games. They lost two games in overtime, they played San Francisco tough twice, lost two point games to New Orleans, gave St. Louis all they could handle a week ago, had a couple of plays that would have changed that game, lost by one point to the Jets, lost by one point to Buffalo, beat Minnesota when everybody had Minnesota…they were printing Super Bowl tickets for them, they went up there and beat them in Minnesota. Yesterday they had a couple of turnovers early in the game, fell behind. It was pretty much even after that, but those early turnovers hurt them. They have been hanging there with everybody, They have real good receivers, the have got real good defensive backs, they have got good offensive linemen, good defensive linemen and they have great special teams.

Q: How much is it too that when you are playing a team like that that has had all of those near misses and it is the last game of the year and they are not going any where, that you want to screw up somebody's season?

BB: Sure. I think we saw plenty of that yesterday, sure. Cincinnati, Denver, Buffalo, sure. We have been there before. We were there last year. I don't think…and our preparation for those games whether it was Buffalo or Kansas City or whoever at the end of the year, I mean, they were opportunities, every one of them and want to make a better finish to the season then where we were at that point. I think it is just the natural competitive reaction. I know a lot of those coaches and players down in Carolina, I am sure they are frustrated, but I am sure they are going to try to take it out on us.

Q: Is that a game you don't show your team, the Carolina game yesterday because they didn't seem very inspired?

BB: Well I think again the turnovers, like most games, a couple of big turnovers will change a whole outlook on the game, but I haven't seen the regular coaches copy on the game, but yeah sure we will see it. We will watch the week before against the Rams, where they almost beat the Rams too. We all know how great the Rams are. They are two plays away from beating the Rams.

Q: In your career I am sure you have been involved with teams that don't get the message, why is this team able to focus where maybe other teams can't?

BB: Well, look you are only as good as your last game so we will see how we go from here forward. I mean we have had good short term focus and I think being 0-2 and 1-3 and sometimes when you get to that point in the season you are so…there is nothing but today, but tomorrow, but the next game you can't think any further than beyond that when you are in that kind of situation and maybe in a convoluted way that gave us that type of focus that we need this year, but I thought the team did a good job of going through some of those situations in training camp too, not the record, but there were some other things that came up in training camp and again I think you have to give a lot of credit to the players for being...for having that kind of mentality and that is really a winning mentality. That is the way it has to be.

Q: I have heard the phrase used, well all of the pieces are falling into place, can you talk about the struggle to get yourselves in position to take advantage of the opportunities?

BB: Well we have done enough the last five weeks. We have done what we could do the last five weeks and the opportunity now is to be able to take advantage of putting ourselves in that position. My high school coach had an old saying, 'It is a lot easier to get to the top than it is to stay on the top.' This is really the first time that we have legitimately really been on top in this division and without any ifs ands or buts about it so we will see if we can stay there.

Q: This team hasn't won five games in a row since 1994…

BB: You guys figure out all of the stats for us don't you?

Q: How is that they have been able to avoid a let down?

BB: We have just made enough plays to win. We have been in some real tough games. We lost a couple that could have gone either way and we have won a few here that could have gone either way.

Q: But emotionally, it doesn't seem like they have had any let downs like Chicago last year?

BB: They have been consistent, yeah, they have been pretty consistent all year. I think it says a lot about the maturity of some of the players on the team and sometimes when you go through a season like we did last year one of the first things that happens is that you go into the offseason and start to recommit yourself to not going through another season like that and I am a firm believer and I think we have all seen plenty of examples where the more you put into it the harder it is to give up and not perform at your best level. When there is a lot at stake and we put a lot of effort into the situation I think a lot of players on our team and coaches have done that, have worked hard since…we started working on this year back in January. Players started sweating in March. It has been a long grind, but when you put that much into it and the opportunity comes it's a lot harder to turn it down at that point than just showing up and the opportunity being handed to you and not paying the price to get there.

Q: How has it been having Romeo Crennel back. How has it made your job easier?

BB: Well he has really done a terrific job. Again, going back all the way to the offseason and his preparations for the team. You know Romeo is very thorough. I don't have to worry about…he has got a lot of experience we have been through so much together I don't really have to worry about anything that he does. He has a tremendous amount of experience in the league, knows our system as well as anyone and I have tremendous confidence in him both as a position coach, a guy who can develop young players and also as a coordinator and somebody who understands the overall scheme and the problems and challenges that each opponent is going to present because each one is different week to week and that part of it has been great. The way that this season has worked out for us on the coaching staff with the situation on offense it has really enabled me to contribute more time in that area and not really worry about what is going on from a coaching end on the defensive side. Not that we don't talk a lot and stay involved, I stay involved in the game, but from a daily time standpoint it has been a lot more of the offense this year than it has with the defense.

Q: Does the bye week have more significance for the rookies as opposed to the veterans?

BB: Yeah, everyday is like a new year for the rookies. I mean they have no idea, at this point I don't think any of them, where they have been the last month and where they are going the next month. I really don't. It is not their fault, but in college you play some games in November and then you take a month off and go play in some bowl game and the alumni tell you how great you are and you are 7-5 and everything is great. It is just different. It is more competitive each week. You don't have the homecoming games and all of that that you have in college and it is a longer season physically and mentally. How they handle the bye week? I don't know. You try to tell them what things they need to do and how to best use their time and how to best prepare for the situations that are coming up, but each guy has to handle it differently and learn through his own experiences, but I do think our older players, our veteran players do give these young guys direction. They spend time with them and they know that we need them. They also know how important it is for them to be focused and be on the right track, but it is hard for a rookie to go through his first NFL season. It is tough.

Q: You mentioned that Romeo has been developing the younger players, how do you go about doing that with the guys who are not playing on a regular basis when you can't give them a lot of reps in practice?

BB: I think what you have to do is prepare the player and put them in the situation and then once he gets in it it's up to him. I mean you can't go out there and play for him, but what you can do is take it and just like teaching something else, just like if you are teaching a subject in school, you teach them one thing in first grade, you teach them something else in second grade, third grade, fourth grade and you know you have your building blocks and you move right on up. So I think that is really what you try to do as a coach with a young player is you try to take them at the pace that the team is going at, but that is usually too fast for most of them so you have to take them at their pace and still have them keep up with the team. Fundamentals are important and the scheme is obviously important, but if they don't have the fundamentals down then they really won't be able to execute the scheme anyway. So it takes extra time and it takes an experience too to know what a guy can handle and what he can't and they are not all the same. You have to try to…one thing might help one player another thing might help another player. Their needs are different and their rate of progress is different and that comes through experience and it also just comes through good teaching skills.

Q: Did you have conversation with Bobby Hamilton over the weekend?

BB: Yeah, he talked to me about it, we made a statement about it, that is where it is.

Q: You mentioned that this is the first week that you have had a chance to be on top, for you is it any different in preparing now that you are on top?

BB: No.

Q: No more anxiety than usual?

BB: No, hey it is a challenge every week. You go through the same process each week, you really do. You try to find the keys that you can attack from your team and try to find the things that are most important to defend and you try to get your team in the right state of mind as best as you can for the game and each week it is a little bit different, but you are always trying to maximize that. I don't think you ever go into a week saying, 'This is not important, the next one is or the last one is more important.' I mean you just don't do it that way. You take what you have got and try to maximize it every single week and they are always different. There is always a new set of circumstances that you have to address.

Q: Over the offseason did you ever step back and look at your approach or maybe what you did last year and correct some things or maybe change some things, did you have any different approach from last year to this year?

BB: First of all we evaluate everything. At the end of the season we evaluate the players, we evaluate our practice schedule, our scheme, our plays, our training schedule, you know everything. We talk about all of that and some things we say are good, other things we will say are bad we need to change them, other things we say are okay they need to be modified a little bit, this could work better that could work better. You know that is just the normal process that we go through because nobody else will do it for you. You can't expect the Raiders to come in here and help us out. We figure it out ourselves or it doesn't get any better. So there definitely are modifications from last year. I think that the overall makeup of the team is a lot different this year than it was last year and so therefore there have been some changes. For example we have a lot fewer rookie and rookie free agent guys, the numbers are lower and also their contributions are lower. So last year we had a lot of times when our practice was over in terms of preparing the team for the next game we did a lot more work with the younger players who had no chance of playing, there is no way they were going to be in the game, but they needed to still continue to work. Whereas this year those players are a) there are fewer of them and b) there are more guys that are contributing to the game so that the work with them really comes more directed toward what they can do this week to help us win versus long term improvement. Again, [Tom] Brady is a good example. Fourth team quarterback last year, he wasn't playing, you want to keep working with him, but him knowing the game plan for Buffalo and Cincinnati really wasn't that significant. Whereas this year with [Richard] Seymour, [Matt] Light, Leonard Myers. You can go right down the line, Kenyatta Jones, those guys, [Arther] Love, they are not that far away from playing and they need to be ready to play. So the emphasis for them is a little bit different. Not that we are not working them as hard or not that we are spending any less time with them, but the things that we are doing with them are a little bit different. So, yeah that modification absolutely comes every year, again there are some things that are changed. We changed our practice schedule a little bit, we changed the walkthrough things you have seen that, we have done some things like that that are different. We changed our travel to the Jets. So there are some things that are changes and we feel like we are changing them for the better. Now sometimes you do that and you look back on it and say, 'Well that wasn't that great of an idea. It didn't work out like they way we hoped it would and you either change it back or find another way to do it.

Q: Can you talk about Marc Edwards and his performance this year?

BB: I think Marc has really done a good job for us from day one. He has been one of our most consistent players since the first day of training camp. His strengths I think are wide spread in that he can handle the ball well, he blocks well, he helps us in the kicking game, makes very few mental errors, he is good on blitz pickup. I think he has got a good complete game and that's really what you need in a fullback. I think the fullback position has to be, on your football team, I think that player has to be one of the most reliable players on your team offensively no matter what he has to do. He might be a receiving fullback, he might be a blocking fullback or he might be more like Edwards is, a little bit of a combination of all of them, but if you can't really depend on that player in pretty much every situation, it is really tough offensively because they have so many different jobs to do and a lot of times they are not the…they are the focal point of the play, they may not be the ball carrier or the may not be the necessarily the receiver, not that they don't do that some, but there are a whole lot of other plays where they are not the guy doing that, but they are the one that if they screw it up then you have nothing because they are right in the middle of the action again whether it be blitz pickup, lead blocking, running the route that compliments the receiver or the tight end what he is doing so you have distribution on the pattern, all of those things. It is really an important position and dependability is at the very top of that list.

Q: You now know at this point that you are in the playoffs, in a year when road teams have won more than ever in the league how significant an achievement is that and secondly you also face the possibility of having a second bye week?

BB: I am not really worried about where we are going to be in two or three weeks right now our focus is Carolina so whatever happens after that there are a lot of possibilities, we could be doing a lot of different things, but Carolina is our main focus there. Again, sure the home and away records this year through the league have been pretty balanced. You look at a team like the Jets that has won a lot of games away from home and has a losing record at home and yet they are still one of the best teams in the league. You could find that through the league week after week. So I think that just shows how competitive it is this year, really every year, but particularly this year and every single game you have to be ready to play your best football or you really shouldn't expect to win. Home, away, whatever the records are, whatever the score is at half time, whatever the score is at the end of three quarters, a lot of that doesn't really mean anything it's like what we have been talking about it is where you finish the race and there is a lot of close ones every week

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