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Bill Belichick Press Conference

Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick talks to the press about the upcoming game agains the Raiders on Saturday.To read a full transcript, click below.



BB: We are pretty much starting up a normal week of practice today. We got a little jump yesterday because of the weekend off. So today will pretty much be like a regular Wednesday for us. We are going to go work over at BC so we can get a full length field to be able to use today for the practice, but looking to be outside the rest of the week and get things cleared up a little bit here. Oakland obviously is a real good football team. I think they are a real well-balanced team. Offensively they have a lot of weapons in the passing game and in the running game, they have a very experienced team. In fact they have a very experienced team period, but offensively they have some guys that have been around quite awhile and are very good at what they do. On the defensive side of the ball they have real good depth in the secondary. Their linebackers are fast. They have got three real good corners when they bring [Tory] James in on nickel. They are a very disruptive front. They have got guys, because of their scheme and because of the way they play can be very disruptive because the way they get up into the gaps and penetrate the line of scrimmage. Then in the kicking game they have got two real good kickers and some dangerous returners with [Terry] Kirby and [Tim] Brown and whether they choose to use [Charles] Woodson. So I think this team is very well balanced. They are well disciplined. They are very well coached. I think that Jon [Gruden] has done an excellent job with the team. He is a very difficult coach to compete against because of the number of things he gives you to look at, but yet at the same time they are very sound and disciplined in the way they execute and as efficient as they are particularly on the offensive side of the ball. We have spent some time on them and got a real close look at them and have a lot of respect for the Oakland Raiders.

Q: In your experience when you see a team on paper, but haven't played them in awhile, what the one thing, the one intangible that doesn't show up until you see them on the field?

BB: I think the biggest things will be the quickness, the speed and the physical play of the game. You can watch all of the tape you want, when you actually physically play them and see that contact sometimes it is a little bit different than what you are seeing on tape and likewise with their speed and quickness. We talked about playing the Rams earlier in the year that with the speed that they have on their team even though you watch it on film it is hard for you to simulate it because I don't think hardly any team on the league has the kind of speed that they have so we did things like moving our receivers three or four yards up on the defensive side of the line of scrimmage just to try to capture the feeling of how quickly they would be into their routes in the secondary. You try to do things like that to simulate it, but it is hard to create the same type of speed or quickness or physical play that your opponent has if you are not really familiar with them.

Q: How about toughness?

BB: I include that in physical play, yeah, exactly, the same type of thing.

Q: What is it about Gruden? What does he do offensively that 20 other coaches don't do?

BB: I think that Jon has a great background in the West Coast offense and was with San Francisco and was also with Green Bay with [Mike] Holmgren and then became the coordinator and quarterback coach when he went to Philadelphia so that is really where he kind of was on his own there. He just has such a wide array of not only plays, but shifts, motions and ways to disguise the plays and then in addition to that they really employ just about every trick in the book that an offense could use to deceive the defense. Be it cadence, no-huddle, plays that are specifically designed to attack a particular defense that maybe might only come up once or twice in a game, plays where they can pick defenders off or plays where they run a blocking combination that would only work against a certain look or a certain front that they would just be able to run that play in that situation and not come to it again. You know it would kind of be like trying to memorize the dictionary. You just can't do it. They have got so many things, there are so many different spellings and connotations and ways that they can use the same principle and it is very hard to defend because they just give you so many different looks. At the same time I think really though the trick of it is that they are very disciplined in the way that they run their routes and block their plays and handle their protections. Even though they do a multitude of things, they don't screw up much. I mean it is well executed and they know what they are doing and it is just hard to defend because it is so complex, but at the same time there is a high level of execution on it as well, starting with the quarterback, but that transcends into the offensive line and their functioning as a unit and the receivers including the tight ends and the backs in terms of their spacing on the routes and the discipline of their route running and understanding how to run a pattern against man and how to run it against zone and how to run it against blitz and those kind of things. So they are very good.

Q: How much are you concerned about [Rich] Gannon, [Tim] Brown, [Jerry] Rice, [Steve] Wisniewski, we are talking veteran players who have been through the wars?

BB: Right, veteran players that have been through the wars that have a lot of experience and a lot of experience, some of them, when I say in the system, either in the Raiders system like Wisniewski and Tim Brown that you mentioned or in the West Coast offense system like Jerry Rice. Those guys have been doing that a long time. Again, they are very experienced, they are very good at it, they know the fine points and the intricacies and they know how to take advantage of a situation that may only come up, it might come up once a game, it might come up once a year, but they see it, they are on it and they hit it and then defensively that really backs you up and you say, 'I don't know if we really want to get into this game with them, they look like they might be better at it than we are.' So you try to find something that you have a comfort level in that doesn't have too much downside.

Q: Is their version of the West Coast offense close to what San Francisco ran under Bill Walsh?

BB: I think the transition that we have seen in the West Coast offense in the last ten years has really been in the running game. I think it started when [Joe] Montana went to Kansas City and Marty [Schottenheimer] was the coach there and Marty ran his power running game, basically an I-formation running game with the West Coast passing game. Back when Walsh ran it in the '80's, I think very seldom were ever in the I-formation or ever had an I-tailback. When they did all the antennas went up defensively and you said, 'Okay here comes play-action. They are not getting in it to run they are getting in it to throw,' and that has certainly shifted through the league in the last ten years. Now there are a lot of teams that run the principles of the West Coast passing game, but combine with the I-formation type runs that are the major runs in vogue in the league right now. The marriage on that really has to come integrating the two together. How to run those runs and at the same time run the West Coast passes and disguise the looks so that you can transition from that power running game to the, I will say, splitback passing game.

Q: Does Oakland use the power running game?

BB: Absolutely, yeah. They run the ball whether it was with [Tyrone] Wheatley a couple of years ago or now with [Charlie] Garner, but the essence of their running game is more of a power running game then the splitback or parallel backs in the backfield that Bill used when he was at San Francisco.

Q: Weather is a factor this time of year, it has already affected your practice schedule, is that overrated or underrated once you get on the field, a warm weather team coming here?

BB: I think it's…well whatever the conditions are both teams have got to play with them and it is what it is and you just play through it. Sometimes the wind is a factor, sometimes the moisture is a factor, footing on the field, whatever it is both teams understand what it is and they play with it. There may be an advantage in one court or another, but in the end that evens out. I think it is hard going into a game trying to predict what situations are going to come up. I think you can try to cover your bases, but it's pretty unpredictable and a lot of times you just have to, as a team, think as one and be able to react to those situations when they occur.

Q: If things had worked out otherwise and you had to go out and play on the road this week would you be there already?

BB: I don't know I haven't even thought about it. Our schedule, since the Carolina game, was determined that we were going to be here so that is how we proceeded.

Q: During the Raiders losing streak at the end of the season, are there any generalizations you can make to us about what was going on with them offensively in that stretch when they weren't so productive?

BB: There were one or two plays in each of those games and they could have won 14 or 15 games. I think if you look at those games you really don't see much of a difference in anything. They missed a kick and got beat by a kick in the Jet game…

Q: I know they were close games, but they weren't high scoring games either, they weren't the same offensive machine that you've been describing?

BB: Yeah, but I would say the plays and what you have to defend is the same. You have got a play here or a play there that wasn't maybe executed the way they would like for it to be, but we know that last week's game against the Jets that everything is on the line, they are up and down the field, did they ever punt? You know 500 yards, so obviously that is what they are capable of doing and that's what we have to be ready for.

Q: Given your familiarity with the Jets I would think it would help you somewhat to see Oakland play against New York the last two weeks because you know what the Jets like to do, what they do well, what they don't more so than some other club you might not know as well?

BB: Right, yeah, no I know what you are saying there, I would say though the thing is defensively our scheme is different from the Jets. The Raiders do such a good job and Gruden does such a good job of attacking your scheme so when you watch them play Denver and then you watch them play Kansas City and then you watch them play Seattle, there are some common denominators there, but a lot of it is specified particularly for that game. Then they put that to sleep for awhile and go to something else to attack whatever the weakness is of the next opponent. That's part of the problem. The ground you have to defend is so wide because you see them do one thing against one team, one thing against another team and you are really guessing as to what are they going to come after you with.

Q: You mentioned the experience of Gannon, [Tom] Brady has responded to a lot of the challenges he has had to face, but were there a few defining moments that you can think of that makes you believe that he will be ready for the next level of challenges?

BB: I think overall with Tom it has just been the consistency. He is not an up and down guy, he is not an up and down player. When I think of Tom I think of the same type of quarterback in training camp that I think of in New Orleans or Saint Louis or Carolina or any of those games really. I think over the entire year the word I would put with him would be consistency. He is the same guy day-to-day. He makes the same types of decisions on the field consistently. He runs the team with the same type of tempo and mannerisms and his reads are, I mean the guy is just I think from this year he has been a very consistent player for us so more than one real high moment or one real low moment I see much more of a pretty steady performance over the last 14 games.

Q: How special is Jerry Rice in your mind?

BB: I think when you talk about the great receivers he has got to be right up there with all of them. He has been able to, more than anything, do it over the long haul. He has been consistently productive year in and year out with long balls, short balls, run after catches. I think he has got such a tremendous work ethic that I think my biggest admiration for Jerry Rice would just be his consistency of game after game, week after week, year after year, Jerry Rice is Jerry Rice. I am sure that anybody and I have never been with him on a team, but from what everybody has told me the work ethic and the standard that he sets for the team is something that you just can't put a price on and I have a lot of admiration for that type of a player.

Q: Why don't more players emulate him? You see so much talent wasted around the league.

BB: Well, I think that's a good question. You know each person has to make their own decisions in life as to what their commitment is going to be and how they are going to manage their time and manage their opportunities. Jerry is certainly a guy that loves football, is devoted to football and I think his performance reflects that. I mean he's got some talent to go with it, but he's worked hard to achieve what he has achieved too.

Q: With the guys on your defense and their offense this is really a veteran game?

BB: Sure, it really is. It really is. They're a very experienced team and to be able to do the things that they do schematically takes a lot of time and a lot of understanding and a lot of work. It's not something you just slap out there and it fits together in one or two times. I'm sure that they've practiced these things and worked on them and worked on them and know it inside out. Then when the opportunity comes, [slaps the podium] they strike.

Q: It's the same with you and your defense. Wouldn't you say?

BB: Well, yeah. Although I'd say that systematically we're a little further behind. It's only the second year and there are a lot of new faces. When you look at that system, Jon's had that in place longer and there are a lot of common…a lot of those people have been through it for multiple years, not just one. I know Jerry has been an addition this year and certainly a big one, but again he's come from a system that, that is his system. Next to Jon, he might know it, and Rich Gannon, he might know it as well as anybody.

Q: When he got cut loose last year…?

BB: Is that Jerry?

Q: There was some mention of him coming here. Was there any truth to that?

BB: I think, from my understanding, in his mind he was going to stay in the Bay area if at all possible. Which with all the things he's got going out there, I can't blame him.

Q: Going into the playoffs most teams want to stop the run. When you stop the run against the Raiders do they become a more dangerous team?

BB: No, I think they are a pretty well-balanced offense, I really do. I don't think that you can…you've just got to stop their whole offensive package. I mean they run it and they throw it. Some of the passing game is down the field and some of it is possession-type passing that really substitutes as part of the running game. So I think they can…they are disciplined enough and they are good enough that they can kill you with any of them. They can kill you running the ball. They can kill you with long passes or they can kill you with short passes. Gannon is a very good decision maker. He doesn't have many bad plays. He doesn't have many interceptions. He doesn't have many sacks and the defense doesn't get their hands on many balls either. When he has it I am sure they have a lot of confidence that it is going to be going to the right spot and rightfully so, it usually does.

Q: Looking at the Jets games, how much value can you take from them?

BB: Well I think the worst thing you could do against a team like the Raiders would be to take the last game or even the last two games and show it to your team and say, 'OK, this is what the Raiders are going to do fellas.' Because you are probably not going to get that. You are not going to get…even if you get those plays, you won't get them from those looks. I think what you have to try to do is prepare the team for the general way that they play the game and what the principles of the offense are—the things that they are going to rely on. How they get to them is going to be a different story. And therefore the way they attacked some of the things the Jets did are going to be different than the way they are going to attack us and vice versa. I mean the Jets…if they play them again, if they were playing them next week they could look at our film and say, 'They are not going to do some of the things that they did against the Patriots. There's no way.' I think when you see the Raiders through the course of the year, which we've had a chance to see a lot of tape on them, I think the real hard part for the coaching staff is to filter out what's really important and what we really need to work on and not try to put too much time or energy or emphasis on things that…we just think, we have to calculate and think that well they just won't be doing them against us. These are other areas that we need to spend more time addressing.

Q: Where do they rate in terms of complexity of other teams?

BB: I put them right there…I'd put Jon right there with [Mike] Shanahan and [Mike] Martz, of the teams we've played this year. Those teams, St. Louis did everything you can do offensively and they've got a great back and a great running game and tremendous skill at receiver and quarterback. And Denver has an outstanding running game and a great quarterback and guys that give them a well balance offense. Both teams do a good job of I think, I'm talking about Denver and St. Louis in addition to Oakland, do a real good job of creating a lot of different looks for the defense and giving them a lot of different things to worry about. I think the schemes are a little bit different, but I think a lot of the offensive principles are the same and they've got good players to work with. I mean look, when you watch Oakland play you are going to see, and there should be some kind of rule against this kind of [stuff], but they…first of all every personnel group in the book, you're going to get that. You've got four wide receivers, two tight ends and everything in between. They are going to shift. They are going to motion and then they are going to shift again. Sometimes they motion twice in one play. You know, motion then set down and then another guy goes in motion. And mix that in with all the different personnel combinations, running guys on and off the field and then they've got a million different plays where they are rolling out, they're running, they're reversing. They've got all kinds of different complex pass patterns where three or four guys are all clustered together and coming out different ways. They spread you out all over the place from sideline to sideline and run those kinds of plays. We've seen everybody but the quarterback go in motion. And I think we've got to defend against every formation except the nine-foot line splits. They haven't done either one of those yet. Everything else, they've done. They are going to keep giving you those kinds of problems schematically to deal with and it's just, defensively it is just not fair.

Q: Does all that movement make it tough to double team them?

BB: Yeah, you can't find them. You can't find them. I mean you could double [Steve] Wisniewski because you know where he is going to be. You can double [Lincoln] Kennedy, but Jerry Rice and…you can't. I mean they are in the backfield. They are lined up at tight end. Then they shift two times, go in motion. Rice, [Tim] Brown, [Charlie] Garner plays wide receiver. I mean they are all over the place. You know you could sit here and double them, but there are certain formations where you'd end up with nine guys on one side of the ball and two on the other side when they come out a certain way and that type of thing really slows you down.

Q: But now say given somebody like you, given all your expertise and reputation, that…?

BB: I don't love it. I think some of that stuff should be outlawed. I think you should only be allowed to shift once. I think that double shifting and…

Q: Gruden may say the same thing about you and the 4-3 or the 3-4?

BB: We don't shift.

Q: Does that pose a challenge for you?

BB: Sure, every week is a challenge.

Q: More fun in a sense?

BB: No it is not more fun, but every week is a challenge. Every week is a challenge and Oakland is a big challenge because they have great players, they have experienced players and they have a great system. They are very tough to stop and that's a huge challenge, but I'm not…I can't sit here and say I look forward to playing a team like the Raiders and coaching defense against them. That's not…it's a lot of work. They are tough.

Q: In looking at those films, what is the most bamboozled you have seen a defense against them?

BB: I think one of the most interesting games to watch was the Denver game. What Denver did was they usually put seven or eight guys right up on the line of scrimmage. I mean within a yard of the line of scrimmage. And then on the snap most of the time they dropped everybody out except the two defensive tackles, [Chester] McGlockton and [Trevor] Pryce. So they rushed two and dropped nine. That was what they did most of the time, but then every once in a while they'd get in that same look and just bring the house. You know, they'd bring all eight of them. So they were kind of in between rushing everybody or basically rushing nobody. That was an interesting way to play them, in the end though I don't think it really phased Oakland. It just, 'OK, whatever you want to do, that's what you are going to do.' But then they just go ahead and do their thing and they don't seem that perturbed by. But it's kind of a different look. You don't often see teams rushing two guys. You might see it once or twice in a game every once in a while, but I'd say Denver had to do it 15 times in that game.

Q: Can you think of a time when an Oakland opponent was utterly confused by them?

BB: Well you see everybody playing them. You know it seems like everybody that plays them has to blow two or three timeouts in the course of the game by either getting misaligned or not matching up with their personnel. Again the thing that makes it hard, and I'm not giving away anything I mean Gruden knows what he is doing, but you know they've got their regular group out there. They've got [Roland] Williams. They've got Rice. They've got [Jon] Ritchie and Garner. Then here comes [Jerry] Porter and [James] Jett. So you are thinking, 'OK, that's four wide receivers.' But then they will run Brown and Rice off and just leave it at two wide receivers. So you think that they are subbing in a multiple receiver group, but then they take their two best guys off the field, you've got your sub defense in and now they are handing it to Garner right up the middle and you are looking for the…so you really just have to be on extra alert for every single situation in the game because that [stuff] goes on all the time. All the time and what it is one week, it's something else the next week. Most teams set their defense based on where the tight end is. Probably the best way to play these guys is wherever the tight end lines up, set it the other way because the guy is going to shift 90 percent of the time and force you to redo the whole defense. I mean that tight end shifting, that's like part of the snap count for them. They just do it. They probably do it 75 percent of the time and it forces you to just re-adjust your whole front seven and that's uncomfortable for a line to have to re-adjust every single time they come out. You line up over here. Ok, shift and move it over there. Then the guy shifts again and you've got to move it back over again.

Q: Do they practice like 10 hours a day?

BB: I tell you I've heard that they've had some brutal, they have some brutal pass skeleton sessions and their offensive practices are very high tempo-ed and up beat and I think they do run quite a few plays. Yeah, from what I understand. Again, I have never been with them, but…

Q: Can't you work that to your advantage?

BB: If we can find them. If we can find them.

Q: What did Miami do? What they always do and just cover them?

BB: Yeah, Miami does what they do. Miami does what they do. I thought that Oakland had…that was a great football game. It came down to the last drive and that was a great football game. Miami was playing great defense at that point in the year. We caught them early too. They were, I'd say, one of the top defenses in the NFL in that first part of the season. They really had it going, but Oakland had…I mean they gave…they give everybody problems. They really do. They give everybody problems. I think that their passing game as the year went on, as they integrated Rice and Brown and Gannon, as they all got a little more comfortable. Garner is another new guy that they really had to plug in there and that's kind of given them more in the passing game. You know when they had [Tyrone] Wheatley running the ball more it was a little bit less of the spread out game that it is with Garner. Garner is split out a lot. So I'm sure that as the season went on and early, those first 10 or 12 games, they hung up a lot of points on everybody.

Q: Is it fair to say you won't get much sleep?

BB: I mean you do what you can do. You do what you can do. You can't…there are only so many hours in the day and there are only so many defenses you can call. There are only so many ways you can go into the game and set up. I mean you can draw up 1,000 things and then not do any of them any good. You are going to have to pick out the ones that you think are most likely to be effective and then adjust from there once you get a look at it during the game. I don't think there is any question that this game is going to come down to some game adjustments. Once we see what we think they are doing then we are going to have to make some transitions during the game to try to accommodate that. And I'm sure once they see that then they'll make the next chess move, but that's I think the type of game it'll be whereas some games you play that…some games are more adjustable during the game than others. Some games they are doing what they are doing and they are going to keep doing it and if it doesn't work then they are going to try to fix it and do it again.

Q: You are going to tell all of this to the players, but you also want them to believe that they can stop them?

BB: We believe that. Look, we'll show up for the game. But I'm…this is a good offensive football team and they are well coached and they present a lot of problems. You guys want to know what they are and I'm telling you. They've got a host of them and it starts with Gruden. He's really the biggest thorn in the side because of the volume

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