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Patriots Replay Thu Apr 15 | 12:00 AM - 11:55 AM

Bill Belichick Press Conference

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BB: Well that was a really emotional day I think for all of us yesterday. We've given the players a little time off here they finished up some business this morning and they'll be off until Thursday when they'll be back to work out and get a little bit back into the routine, but we won't practice again until Friday. I think that they can probably use it. On the other hand, we've still got a lot of work to do and I think that there are a number of areas of our game that need to be improved and need to be addressed as well as our preparations coming up for Carolina. I think one of the things that we've done a good job of the last five weeks is really taking it day-to-day and week-to-week and I think that's the mode we need to stay in. We need to take it day-to-day and we need to do what we can do to get ready for Carolina. That's out next challenge. And that's really where most of our attention will be focused when we finish up the Miami game and then return. We didn't have any significant injuries yesterday. Antowain [Smith] had a little lower leg, but I think he's going to be okay. Everyone else came out of it as well as can be expected. I think a lot of guys stepped up yesterday. Fred Coleman recovered a fumble and took a big hit there but held onto the ball on the onside kick. Those were obviously really big plays for us. I thought we got really good play out of our backs yesterday. Obviously Antowain had a big day. I thought J.R. [Redmond] made some tough yards for us. He had a big run on third down. He had a big blitz pickup. [Patrick] Pass was most productive. Marc [Edwards] had a lot of good blocks leading Antowain in there on a number of those plays, as did Rod [Rutledge] and the offensive line. They really did a nice job. Defensively, we made enough plays to limit the points. A number of guys played well I thought on the defensive line. All of our defensive backs were involved since Miami was a four wide receiver team for quite a bit of the game. I think we used all of our defensive backs other than Je'Rod [Cherry] in coverage at one time of another in the game, particularly in the fourth quarter. We had a lot of contributions from a lot of people. It was a really emotional day and obviously a really emotional win for us. We had lost five straight to Miami, so it's good to get that monkey off our backs.

Q: How much are you personally enjoying this run?

BB: I enjoy it a little big the night of the game or the day after the game. I think by the next day, you've got to look forward to the next challenge. You'd love to be able to sit back and take it in all week, but I just can't afford to. Just can't afford to. Again, I think our success has been – and I mentioned this earlier in the year – I think the successful teams that I've been around, they've had a day-to-day approach. A day-to-day, week-to-week approach. How can we win on Sunday? By having a good practice on Wednesday. How can we do better on Sunday? By having a good practice on Thursday. You just keep chopping wood as they say. That's our best chance and I think that's everybody's best chance. Once you start putting the cart before the horse and worrying about stuff X number of weeks down the road, what happens if this happens or that happens, the best thing you can do is just focus day-to-day. We got off to a slow start and that's never anything you wan to happen, but maybe one of the residual benefits from that is that when you're in that situation, you're literally day-to-day. You're hour-to-hour. And we've been able to maintain that, especially the last five weeks. If we can keep doing that, I think that will serve us better than anything else will.

Q: This is the third time you will have prepared for Carolina. How much different will the Carolina game be than if it would have been in Week Two?

BB: Well, when we prepared for Carolina the second week of the season, we had just played them three or four weeks before that in the preseason. So we were working off of the preparation work we had done in the offseason on Carolina, then the preseason game and then the last couple of preseason games and their Minnesota game. So those games all fell pretty closely together, but now there's been quite a bit of space in between. [Chris] Weinke's obviously established himself as a quarterback. There have been some other changes in personnel one way or the other on their team and we'll have to kind of re-evaluate those and see how we match up.

Q: And your team is a different team, too.

BB: Yeah, sure. We've changed in a number of areas, too. It's similar to looking at Miami, only there's more space here than there was between the first Miami game and the second Miami game, going back to Carolina in the preseason and now playing them in two weeks. It's a big gap. It's almost like it's a different year, but it really isn't because I think there still is some significant carryover within the year although there are some significant changes as well.

Q: You've got to be happy with the way you guys played up front. It's been a while since a Patriots team has beaten Miami up front like that.

BB: I thought our offense was as physical as it had been all year. It starts with the offensive line, and our backs were physical. The tight ends, and we got some good blocking from the receivers as well, particularly on a couple of Antowain's bigger runs, the one down to the two-yard line and then the 40-yard run, he came in and hit a couple of crack blocks which provided a little bit more space for him to run. I thought the offense as a group played physically and we tried to play physically on defense too. We've got some big hits and I think caused some fumbles as opposed to fumbles where they dropped it or they mishandled the ball. Those were caused by some significant hits. It was a physical game.

Q: It's unusual to have a day off on Sunday. What will you do today? Will you watch the Jets?

BB: I'm not far enough ahead to plan for the Jets. I know that there's a dinner that … My wife made this plan a little while ago that I'm obligated to tonight, so I guess that's one thing. But what we're trying to do right now is finish up with Miami. After each game, we go through a regular procedure grading the players and doing play time and doing statistical stuff and get all that entered into the overall picture. We also re-evaluate the game and talk about the things that went well, that didn't go well, how we could improve and what we would change, as it would apply to any game that we would play in the following week. Maybe tendencies that we thought that Miami had picked up on us that they were playing that we need to counter or those type of things. And that's just a procedural thing. What's a little bit different with this game is that there is a possibility that we could play Miami again. Therefore we want to look at the game while it's fresh in our minds through that lens as well. How we matched up, what things we can do better, what things didn't go as well as we thought they would, what adjustments they made. We could anticipate that those adjustments would be forthcoming at the start of the game next time, if there is a next time, rather than later on. So we'll do that as kind of clean up work and then move on to Carolina and basically I think what the coaches will do the majority of the work here in the next couple of days here on their own rather than in structured staff meetings.

Q: So this isn't a relaxing week for you?

BB: Well look, I hadn't beaten Miami, so it's a lot more relaxing than the last three times we've played them.

Q: How beneficial is it to this team to have a week off right now heading into the playoff run?

BB: Well, that's a good question. That's a good question. I think there are some positives to it, obviously it's been a long year. We've had some tough games that we've played. I think we've tried to play them tough. Miami, the Jets, Buffalo, New Orleans, Cleveland, those have all been tough, physical games. So I think it's good to have a little bit of time off. And it's been a lot of mental preparation going through it. But on the other hand, we're playing as well now as we've played all year. In some respects, you'd like to keep that going. But the schedule is the way it is. We'll try to take advantage and use the time as efficiently as we can, both in terms of rest and in terms of extra preparation. You just try to balance the two off. I don't know, we've played a couple of teams this year that came off bye weeks and I don't know how much it helped them. It might have helped them, I don't know. We won the games, so … who knows. I don't know what the overall record of teams is this year coming off of bye weeks. My sense of it is that it isn't great.

Q: You've beaten at least two teams coming off bye weeks.

BB: I'm just saying that league-wide, I wonder what the record is of teams coming off bye weeks. My suspicion is that it isn't all that spectacular.

Q: Does it seem harder for the offense or the defense coming off of the bye week?

BB: Well, we haven't had one, so …

Q: Lawyer Milloy said that it was a slap in the face that they gave you the last bye week that is usually reserved for a team that is not expected to do well.

BB: We noticed that. But hey, every team has to play 16 games, eight home and eight away, so whenever they're scheduled, that's when we play them.

Q: Do you think that served as motivation?

BB: Maybe it's little bit in the back of everybody's mind. If that's what they think of us, maybe we can show them a little different. But in the end, you've got 16 games and you play them when they're scheduled, at home, away, at night, Monday night, Thursday night, Saturday, whenever they are. And if you've got a long week then that means you've got a short week. And if you've got a short week that means you've got a long week. In the end, it all washes out. You just have to deal with each situation as it comes up. We had a Thursday game last year, Saturday, Monday, whenever they are, you just play them. There's nothing you can do to control that.

Q: Can you try to describe how much more pleasant it is to do your job when you're winning?

BB: Well I think that when you're winning, you can at least come back and see positive results, tangible positive results. Everybody else can see them as well. I think last year, even though the record wasn't very good, I think that we saw positive results. It just didn't show up in the final score. I'm not saying it was a great year, don't characterize it like that, I'm not saying that, but I thought we did things better later in the season than we did earlier in the season and in a lot of cases it still wasn't all that good, but there was improvement and I thought the players' overall attitude and effort and continuing to prepare and really learn how to prepare and win. I thought we made progress there, but again, you didn't have the victories to show for it, so it doesn't get reinforced like it does when you're successful and you win. I think that's probably the biggest thing is just being able to put that W up on the board and reinforce that we are doing the right things and we are going to continue to do these things and if we do that, we'll continue to have success. But if you can't put that W up there, there's still always a little bit of doubt, whether it's in your team, or even as a coach. 'Should we have done something a little bit different or should we have changed this or not done that or why did we come up a little bit short?' So obviously the confidence level and the reinforcement is different. But we've tried to stick on a lot of the same principles through the last two years and I think that it's been a gradual but a steady building process.

Q: But emotionally, too, it must be less of a grind. Coming in to work every day and talking to us, which probably isn't your favorite thing to do …

BB: You guys aren't that bad. You're too down on yourselves.

Q: … But all of that must be easier.

BB: Well, sure. There's no doubt about that. Everything's better when you're winning. There's no question. Even though a lot of things are the same, the smile on everybody's face is a little bit more visible. But I think that also when you get into the situation like we've been in the last four or five weeks, every game gets a little bit bigger and a little bit more important and the ramifications of it a little bit more substantial than the previous one, and you have to deal with that too. It's what you could call pressure or the magnitude of the game or however you want to characterize it, if there's any doubt that everybody knows that as you get deeper into the schedule and you're closer to the finish line, each step of the way is a little more critical.

Q: Going back to yesterday's game, you had a dominating first half, but what happened in the second half?

BB: We weren't able to score any points in the second half, but we did move the ball some. We came up short on a couple of opportunities. On our first drive there in the third period, we got down there and ended up getting pushed out of field goal range with a couple of negative plays. Our field position in the third and fourth quarter, we were kind of driving it out of our own end and we just weren't able to finish off the drives. It was good defense by Miami and there were points on the drive where we ended up getting stopped probably as much as anything. Our game was pretty consistent throughout the game. The running, the passing, the yardage, I think that was a fairly consistent flow. The reason we scored was that we had a couple of big plays. We had good field position and then Kevin [Faulk] hit [Tom] Brady and got it down there and Antowain had a good run and then broke a long run in the second quarter which set up a score there. So I think that the turnovers and the big plays, those put us in a position to score, like it usually does.

Q: Is this as fun of a time as you've had as a coach?

BB: I think that most of the fun comes when you look back on it. When you're right in the middle of the race, you're still running it. And that's definitely where we are. There's a lot of football left to play and we've got a big game left and that game will be a very meaningful game. I think if we get a little too caught up in where we can go rather than where we are, I think we're going to miss some opportunities. And I wouldn't want that to happen. I think that all the talk about all the different scenarios and New Orleans and all of that is so far away. It's way too early to get into any of that.

Q: Do you get a sense of how the fans are gravitating to this team?

BB: Oh, no question. Absolutely. The fans have been supportive all year, but sure, you can feel the momentum build in the community, absolutely. You can definitely feel it, and it's a great feeling. I'm glad that they share that kind of excitement. Hey, we're excited, too. But on the other hand, I think it's important for us to stay focused and not get too caught up in the excitement. But there's no question that you can definitely feel it in the fans and just the general outlook around the town.

Q: When you go to other stadiums that aren't full, are you glad you're not in that atmosphere?

BB: That has a way of swinging around. I've been in this stadium when there's been 17,000 people here too. In fact, our last game when I was with the Giants in the '90 season, the last game here, it was a cold, sleeting kind of day. There couldn't have been 20,000 at that game. So those things can change. You see stadiums that are empty and then a couple of years later, something happens and there's a change and the fever catches and they're full. And sometimes it does the other way.

Q: You've won so many games in close situations. Do you just get the feeling that you'll get the big play when you need it?

BB: Sure, I think my confidence and the team's confidence in that area has grown. We'll get in tight games just like yesterday, I mean there were 100 big plays, but none bigger than Fred Coleman hanging on to that onside kick after he got wrecked. He was in midair holding on to the ball. Whether it's Fred Coleman or whoever making those plays, I think there is a confidence on the team and again, I think that confidence extends a little bit from the genuine feeling which is what you need to have on the team. When that player walks out there across the white line with his other 10 teammates, whichever 11 guys, they I think really have and again it's growing but they really have that sense of responsibilty that, how many other people are counting on them? And how important not only for them to perform well themselves but also to perform well for their teammates and fans and the entire team, but everybody that's involved with the team that is counting on them. That 's the obligation I feel to the team and I think that's the obligation the team feels to each other. I don't want to go in there and give them a bad plan or a bad…put them in a bad situation and look back on it and say, 'We didn't have a chance there. I screwed that up.' I feel too much of a commitment to the team, they've worked too hard. They don't deserve that. So I want to give it to them and by the same token I think they, you know in there performance to their teammates and the other guys that are counting on them: offense, defense, special teams. The big part of that performance is, 'Hey I don't want to let my buddy down.'

Q: Do your players ever say to you, 'Thanks Coach, that was a great plan?'

BB: I mean yeah, when you are winning. Sure there's … you know what when you are winning there's plenty of compliments and pats on the back for everybody. There's a lot of little things that I think…they are just more appreciated when you are winning. Instead of trying to find the one thing that came up a little bit short, you are finding the hundred things that any one of them maybe just kind of nudged you over the edge. Yeah, I think there is a lot of that. I mean myself, the assistant coaches, the players, the practice squad guys it's the same for the practice squad guys or even some of the guys that aren't active for the game, 'Boy you gave us a great look in practice' or 'That's exactly the way they do it and that really helped us get ready for the game or prepare for that situation.' I mean that was a point that I was real strong [about] with the team on Wednesday, that I thought the last time we played Miami, the first game we played them that number one, I don't think the coaching was all that great. Number two I didn't think the week of practice or the preparation was all that great either, not just for the guys playing, but for the players who were also trying to simulate what Miami did. So when we got in to the game a lot of the execution wasn't too great either. So one of the big emphasis points this week was starting Wednesday that not only do we need to go out there and perform well, but we need to go out there and show our teammates how Miami is going to do it so we can perform well. I thought that was significantly better than it was in the first game. So there's a lot of little things like that. There's just not enough credit to go around. It truly is a team effort. It's not one guy out there. This isn't tennis. This is everybody working together.

Q: Is your staff as in sync as any staff you've been on?

BB: Well, I've been on a couple of pretty good staffs. I've thought about that … I've been very fortunate. Looking back when I was on staff with Romeo [Crennel] and Al Groh and myself, we had just gone through so many years and so many practices and so many situations together that it was hand in glove. No matter how much you like the people on your staff, no matter how well they work together and all that, if you really have a good chemistry and then are able to add multiple, multiple years to that, like with Romeo, going back to 1981 and with Al going back to '89 or whatever it was, with the Giants and Cleveland and the Jets, that defensive staff was I thought about as efficient as – there's always room for improvement – but I thought we worked pretty efficiently, whether it be game day or scouting guys in the draft or whatever it was. For me, that's a good target because I can look at our staff now and say, 'This is where you want to be.'

Q: But it is progressing to that point?

BB: Yeah, I think our staff is a better working machine than it was a year ago, as you would expect any group of people, particularly a new group of people you're working with. Some of us had been together before, Charlie [Weis] and Dante [Scarnecchia], Eric [Mangini] and we added quite a few people in there last year and there's been quite a bit of carryover from last year to this year. It's definitely more efficient than it was, going through a couple of offseasons and now into the second regular season.

Q: Charlie seems to have the knack for calling the right gadget play at the right time. Has he always had that knack?

BB: Charlie's a very smart guy. He's well-prepared. Charlie takes a great deal of pride in his preparation and his attention to detail. With so many of those plays, it's not the play – well, it is the play – but it's timing. It's the right time to make not just a trick play, but any play. There's a right time to throw the ball, a right time to run it, a right time to bootleg, a right time to go deep. So you just try to play hose percentages in your favor as much as you can. I think that through his preparation and also his confidence, he's not afraid to make calls that have some risk, but calculate the risk that's involved. Timing's everything. It's just like on defense when you blitz, it's the same thing. On some blitzes, the guy comes wide open and it looks great, but had that blitz come up against a different play, you might have had a totally different result. The timing and the tempo that you call it at and having an anticipation of what's going to happen has a lot to do with it.

Q: Is there an intangible quality about trick plays? Does it help team chemistry? Does it go beyond the yards that you gain on that play?

BB: Absolutely. I think it definitely piques the interest. We run Ride 34 a thousand times. There's not that much excitement about Ride 34, even though it's a critical play to the offense. But sure, those plays change the flavor. They're a good change of pace, especially when they work. How many passes has Brady caught? How many has Kevin thrown? How many has [David] Patten thrown? So it does give them a little different thing to do, like with [Richard] Seymour on the goal line. Not that we're doing it for those reasons – we're doing it to gain some kind of an advantage – but when they get to do something different, they usually enjoy it. [Bryan] Cox catching the pass out there, stuff like that, they kid each other about it. But the play with Faulk and Brady was a play that has been in for three months. It's kind of like Adam [Vinatieri]'s pooch kick against Cleveland. That's one of those plays that we run once or twice a week for I don't know how many weeks. You kind of get to the point where the players roll their eyes like, 'We've been working on this and you're never going to call it.' They were thinking this is just a joke. But when you get the right time and the right situation you hit it and it can turn out to be a big play, kind of like Adam's kick. I think the players have confidence that if we work on that stuff, we would call it if the situation's right you just have to feel like it's the right time. If it's called at the wrong time, you can have a really bad play.

Q: Have you started to prepare for the playoffs?

BB: Sure, well we have other people in our organization looking ahead, just like in the third game of the season we have the immediate staff and the players working on that third game, but there are other people in the organization starting to work on the fourth game and some people are already starting to work on the fifth game. So now that we don't have those extra games scheduled at this point, we start putting them on future possibilities and as that comes closer or once it's determined, then we can be a lot more definitive with it. But we definitely have people in the organization that have already begun doing some scouting on the teams and there's the possibility of travel and that kind of thing, so we have people in the organization that have begun some preliminary preparation on that, yes.

Q: Nobody's done the numbers mathematically?

BB: No, not that I know of, not at this point.

Q: After today, your list will get a lot shorter.

BB: At some point, that's going to clear up. I just don't think it has yet, or at least it hasn't for me. But sure, that may clear up by tomorrow or maybe by next weekend, and we just don't …

Q: So somebody's scoreboard watching.

BB: All you can do is pick up the paper. It's there every day. You guys do it for us. And the league puts that out too. There's so much interest in it and the league puts out a lot of those scenarios, but in the situation we're in, the only thing we can do is prepare for the next game and try to win it. I've been through this like we all have. You're rooting for one team one week and the next week you're rooting against that team. That's how quickly it swings back and forth. You try not to get caught up in that. The one game I remember really rooting hard on was in '88 when I was with the Giants, we played the Jets in the last regular season game and if we had beaten the Jets, we would have won the division and had a first round bye. The Jets killed us. So we lost that game and then that night, San Francisco played the Rams. And had San Francisco won – who was heavily favored – then we still would have gotten in as a wild card. But San Francisco lost badly to the Rams and we were out of the playoffs. So that's one of those games where your whole fate hinges on it. It's like when I was with the Jets and we played Seattle in the last game of the year. We beat Seattle and Seattle stayed in the locker room for another hour and a half to watch the end of whatever the other game was that was on, Denver or somebody or other, to see whether or not they were going to be in the playoffs. And the team they were rooting for ended up losing. So they were in it in '99. I remember standing out there after the game looking at the busses saying 'Geez, they're here forever. What are they doing?' And then it was explained that there was a game in progress and those guys were not going to get on the plane until they knew what happened in the game.

Q: Your dinner tonight, is it a family thing?

BB: Yeah. It's not really my call, as most of them aren't.

Q: Is this time of year special for you?

BB: It is, and this is one of the few times where the schedule has fallen where I have a day tomorrow to do my Christmas shopping.

Q: Which mall are you going to?

BB: Well, I think I've past the shopping online and having it delivered, so maybe I'll put on the sunglasses and fake moustache. Have a good holiday and we'll see you next week. Merry Christmas.

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