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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Tue Apr 16 - 02:00 PM | Thu Apr 18 - 11:55 AM

Bill Belichick press conference

Bill Belichick met the press at the 2001 AFC Championship press conference in Pittsburgh.



             COACH BELICHICK: Just the injury update. Antowain practiced today. He's going to continue to be probable, and he'll be out there Sunday. So that's really all the update I can give you.  

Fire away.

Q. Are you flying back to Boston tonight?

COACH BELICHICK: Yeah, I'll be back there tonight.

Q. And they are going back, too?

COACH BELICHICK: You'll have to check with them.

Q. Can you talk about your team being a team of destiny?

COACH BELICHICK: Well, I don't know about all that. We just try to go out there each week and prepare as well as we can and play hard. We are playing some really good football teams this time of year. We played Miami a couple of weeks ago, next to last game of the season, and obviously Oakland, and we're playing a team this week that has the best record in the AFC and has won 14 of their last 16. It's an outstanding football team. We are going to be just as well prepared as we can and play as hard as we can, and things have worked out for us well a few of these past few weeks, and I think it's due to the ‑‑ you have to give the players the credit. They are the ones that have gone out there and made the plays. We'll try to make it again on Sunday.

Q. What do you see as a big challenge?

COACH BELICHICK: Pittsburgh is an outstanding football team. Bill Cowher has done a great job, was in the playoffs his first six years with the Steelers, and this year they have come back stronger than ever. It's a very well balanced team. One of the first thing I did when I took a look at the team was looked at their overall stats for the year and saw that the Steelers had outgained their opponents by almost a mile, 1,700 yards or whatever it is, and most of that is rushing. So just the differential in the points, the first downs, the third down conversions, the yardage, they have just all year been dominant.

And in watching them on tape, that's what you see, you see a defense that's very aggressive that has a lot of negative plays in the running game that hits the quarterback that's on a passing game and offensively, to run the ball well. They have almost 2,000 yards rushing with their tailbacks, another 500 from Stewart and they make a lot of big plays in the passing game. Both of their receivers have had great years and they have gotten good contributions in their passing game as well. It's a very well balanced football team. It's a lot to defend. We'll, it's a lot to get ready for. We'll have our work cut out for us. They have good balance and I think that's a strength of this team.

The toughest thing to get ready for is they do so many things well. Offensive line is one of the top ones that we've seen all year.

Q. Can you talk about the progress of Greg Robinson‑Randall?

COACH BELICHICK: There's no question, that's been a big step for us. Robinson‑Randall started some games at the end of last season. This year he missed most of training camp with a leg injury. Getting him in there and getting that solidified was a big question going into training camp. That's why we signed Compton and we had Andruzzi as our guards because we knew we would be young at tackle and we wanted to have some experienced guys at least on the inside. Greg has come along well, picked up on what he did last year. Light, even though he missed training camp, was competitive early in the season. It has gotten better each week. Certainly the playing time has helped him and all of our offensive linemen to consistently stay out on the field and be out there every week, has really helped the development of our football team both with passing protection, and with Antowain working in there and getting good chemistry and getting consistency with that group.

Q. (Inaudible)?

COACH BELICHICK: Oh, Antowain will play. He worked today. We backed him off a bit earlier in the week. We know he is going to play in the game, but just didn't want to take any risk to aggravate the leg that's been just bothering him a little bit. But he'll be there.

Q. Can you talk about the progress that Brady has made?

COACH BELICHICK: Well, I think Tom ‑‑ a lot of Tom's progress came last year it. Came after he was drafted and, you know, we kept four quarterbacks last year and for most of the year, he was inactive and was the fourth quarterback, I think he ‑‑ when he got some direction on things he needed to work on, try to gain some strength, overall body strength, some throwing mechanics things and also in terms of understanding our offense and the defenses that we see in the National Football League; that he worked very hard and diligently on those things.

When he came to training camp this year he was a lot different quarterback than the guy we saw out there the previous fall. From the very first mini‑camp, passing camp, preseason practices, preseason games, all of the snaps in training camp, you know, he was very consistent and we felt like our depth at quarterback with Drew and Tom was one of the strong points as a team. I think as a team, as a coaching staff we had a lot of confidence in Tom pretty early through training camp and that has developed as we have gone through the season.

Q. Can you speak to Bill Cowher's longevity?

COACH BELICHICK: Well, you know, I think Bill is, obviously, his record speaks for itself. He's done a tremendous job here with the Steelers. I've known Bill for a long time. I knew him when he was at Cleveland and then got a little bit closer to him when he was at Kansas City and I was with the Giants, and we spent some time together in the off‑season and both of us were, you know, relatively young. We both coached or played in the kicking game ‑‑ he played, obviously didn't. We had some background on special teams and had some things in common.

Then of course we competed against each other for five years when I was at Cleveland. I have a lot of respect ‑‑ for the job that Bill does. He's a hard‑nosed, tough guy, defensive‑minded, but his teams are always physical, they are always tough, they are always well prepared. You know, he's been in the League ten years here at Pittsburgh, and he's really done a tremendous job.

I looked at this team when I was at New England in '96, and we played the Steelers in New England in the playoffs, and there were ‑‑ you know, almost the entire team has changed from that team. Bettis is a guy, and Kordell came into the game, there's a few people, but overall, this is a much different people personnel wise than the one we saw in New England's in '96. And I think you have to give Bill a lot of credit for making the changes that he has and now he has a very successful team, but he's done that all the way through his career. Really, his record speaks for itself. I have tremendous respect for Bill Cowher.

Q. Inaudible?

COACH BELICHICK: In all honesty we are looking for good football players and we feel like we have picked up a number of them this year. There were a number in New England when I got there and we have tried to acquire some more both through the NFL veteran free agency and the draft.

Character is important and football is important. We are really looking for guys that like football, that want to compete and that want to do the things that you do as a team to be successful. And guys that are looking for a lot of short cuts and are not really interested in working hard and have a lot of other distractions, probably won't do real well in our system, because we are demanding of the players and expect them to put football pretty high on the priority list and I think most of our guys do that.

Q. Inaudible.

COACH BELICHICK: Well, it's great to have good veteran players, period, regardless of whether I had a long history with them or not. There's a number of them on New England. Lawyer is a good example, guys that have been in that program for a long time and that were there when I was there in '96 and we have supplemented that with people that I had background with either at Cleveland or the Jets; and we brought in some new fresh faces, Edwards and people like that, David Patten; I don't have any background with, and have come on and made great additions to our team and fit in well with everybody else. Compton is a ten‑year player that was with Detroit. We have a number of those guys and they have all meshed together pretty well.

I think we have pretty good chemistry on our team. Those guys seem to like football. They like playing football. They like each other. I like the way they mesh together on the team.

Q. Inaudible?

COACH BELICHICK: You know, I thought that ‑‑ I think if the Cleveland situation, from my point of view when I went in there, we were ‑‑ the 1990 was 3‑13 and that was in an era pre free agency, Plan B which we all know was a limited basis. In four years that team went to 11‑5, but won a playoff game, obviously lost to Pittsburgh down here in the divisional playoffs in '94. I think that team was built into a pretty good football team, and that '94 team was one of the better teams in the League. Then '95 was the move and, you know, kind of faded about halfway through the season when that occurred.

I'm proud of what we did in Cleveland. I think that that team was built well, and if I had another opportunity and I feel very fortunate to have one and for what Mr. Kraft did to bring me to New England; and what he had to give up in order for me to come there, I'm very thankful and appreciative. I felt like, you know, that that would be rewarded at some point, but those things are out of my control and if they didn't happen, they didn't happen, and I would have coached at New England in '96 or the Jets for three years, for'97 and '99, if that had not happened, I would be coaching somewhere else.

Q. Why did you decide to stay in Boston?

COACH BELICHICK: We just wanted to stay on as much of our normal schedule as possible. We normally would not travel on Friday to an away game unless maybe it was a cross‑country trip. I just think we are better off with our normal routine. We have been doing all year. I think we are pretty comfortable with it so I will try not to disrupt that.

Q. Inaudible?

COACH BELICHICK: I think it definitely has helped our team from a mental standpoint because we have ‑‑ we worked against a 3‑4 almost all the way through training camp and we had got about halfway through the season where we had some injuries at linebacker and we went more to a four‑man line. But a lot of our background from protection standpoint, blocking assignments and that kind of thing came from training camp from a 3‑4 base and I think that was good for us.

I know it was a long time ago, but football is the kind of thing that when you have a base in training camp, at other points during the year when those things pop backup, you at least have something to refer back and that can help the transition. I think it probably has helped us a little bit. The way we play the 3‑4 was more of a two‑gout style (ph)and different from Pittsburgh. There's some carryover but certainly some differences in the style of the two 3‑4 fronts.

Q. Inaudible?

COACH BELICHICK: Well, yeah, I would say it is a little bit. Your responsibilities is extended. You have a few more things to think about, to be aware of. Football is still football and you've got to get your team ready the best you can each week.

This is a huge challenge this week, but we've had several of them. We've had them every week through the year, so there are a few different things that fall into place this week, but in the end, it's still the big picture is getting your team ready to play on Sunday.

From that standpoint, it's probably 95 percent like a lot of other weeks. It's just that we are playing a really good football team and obviously only one of us can go to the next level.

Q. I imagine this is a high point in your career; what were some of the low points?

COACH BELICHICK: Well, I don't know, there have been a couple, you know. The low points?

Q. Can you talk about the transition, two years later, you are here, the unlikeliness of it all?

COACH BELICHICK: Well, we're getting pretty heavy here. (Laughter).

You know, I'll just touch on a couple of those and you can draw your own conclusions on that.

The situation with the Jets, I just ‑‑ at that particular point in time I just feet like I had to make a decision for the football team and the organization, either to make a commitment to the organization or to not make one. It was as simple as that, either make it or don't make it. There were a lot of uncertainties at the time, and I just could not make it so rather than re‑hash that whole press conference, I'll just cut it off there at about 30 seconds. (Laughter).

As far as the opportunities to come to New England, I again am thankful and appreciative to Mr. Kraft and the organization for having confidence in me and for doing what they had to do in order to facilitate my moving to New England's. When I left the Jets, I didn't know what was going to happen, I didn't know if I was going to be coaching in 2000 or not, and there was just ‑‑ that decision was just one that I felt like I had to make because I thought it was the right thing to do for me and for the football team, and that's ‑‑ I don't know if that's a high point or a low point, but it was a transition and obviously that was a big decision in my career.

Q. Teams are putting more pressure coaches nowadays ‑‑

COACH BELICHICK: Can I tell you ‑‑ let me just digress for a second.

I grew up in Annapolis at the Naval academy. When I was young, Navy was a real good football team. They were a perennial power, a couple Heisman Trophy winners, and after that it went south and there were a lot of losses there and I saw a lot of coaches come and go. Believe me, nobody has to tell me about pressure of coaching to win, and nobody has to tell me about coaching not winning and then leaving and losing their jobs. I is saw that firsthand when I was probably 12, 13 years old, and unfortunately I've been seeing it for the next 37 years.

You know, I know there's pressure to win now and there's some instability in coaching. I think it's always kind of been that way.

Q. In your case, your second year with the Patriots, anybody who watches this team ‑‑ can you talk about what the expectations were for you?

COACH BELICHICK: Well, feel fortunate in the New England situation because I had been with the Patriots, even though it was one year, for a year in '96 and had a relationship with Mr. Kraft and the organization. You know, I think that without speaking for him, I think that I know what he wants. And I think that he knows what I believe in. And I think there's a mesh there; that's a marriage.

So, you know I feel confident in doing the things that I want to do because I think that they are also the way he would want it done, both on and off the field, what we expect from the players, and how we expect the players to perform.

And so, I think that makes it relatively easy that there's not a philosophical clash between how we are going to do different things. Mr. Kraft has been tremendously supportive. He's given me everything that I've asked for, done everything that I've asked him to do and I've asked him to do things that I thought were important for the football team. If it doesn't have to do with winning and losing, I'm usually not going to be talking about it.

But things that affect the performance on the football field, to me they are important and he's been very supportive of those. As a coach, that's all you can ask for is an opportunity to put the things in place that you believe in, and I do think that there is a program, and I do think that we have specific beliefs and goals in the way we run the football team and that's how we are going to continue to do it and I think that hopefully that the players see where those objectives try to lead to us and why they are important. Things like the off‑season program and things like building a football team starting in March, not the end of July. And that there are a lot of steps that you have to take in order to put yourself in position to be successful at the end of the year, not just midway through it.

Q. Can you talk about the poise of Tom Brady this year?

COACH BELICHICK: Well, Tom 's been in a lot of close situations this year. I think last week's game was a tough situation because of the score, the quality of the team that we were playing, and because of the field conditions. I thought he handled himself very well, and basically, a passing attack, a lot of shotgun and reading coverages, and also, being able to deal with the elements out there.

You know, he's a guy that even though is chronologically ‑‑ his age and his experience level are low, he picks up things quickly. He's a bright guy. You know, he understands the team concept, and he understands that his job is to quarterback the team, T‑E‑A‑M. It's not about individually what we can produce, it's what collectively needs to be done; and whether that's managing the tempo of the team in a two‑minute, whether it's managing the clock, whether it's getting on somebody that is not playing well that needs a little encouragement or whatever it happens to be, it's changing a play at the line or it's a snap count or those little things that help an offense run a little more efficiently, those are things I think he's done an especially good job of this year.

We've called on him to do it a lot and we are going to expect him to do more of it because he's shown us that he has the capacity to handle it.

Q. Inaudible?

COACH BELICHICK: Our philosophy has been the same all year. We are on a short‑term focus. Our focus right now is the Pittsburgh Steelers. When we were in training camp, we thought about the next practice the next day, how to improve our football team, how to get better. When we were 0‑2 we were talking about being 1‑2. When we were 1‑2 we talked about being 2‑2 even though we ended up being 1‑3. When we were in training camp we thought about the next practice the next day, how to get better. Our attitude is to take a look at what we can control in the immediate future.

And right now the only thing we can do anything about is our preparation for the Pittsburgh Steelers. And I think we need to put all of our time and energy into that preparation, because I think right now, they are the best football team in the AFC; until somebody can knock them off, then that's where they are going to stay. So in order for us to do that, I think we have got to put everything that we have got into the game and that's what we are going to try to do

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