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Bill Belichick Press Conference

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



BB: No news on the injury report. We are just itching to play, we are ready to play. Not to be redundant, but we spent quite a bit of extra time this week on Carolina's special teams. Obviously [Steve] Smith and [Todd] Sauerbrun, but they have a lot of other good players. They have a good core group and they cover well and they are obviously a big threat on returns and they have real good specialists including [Jason] Kyle and [John] Kasay. We have continued to emphasize that and spent some extra time on it this morning and we will continue to add the extra practice time to it in practice today. I think that is pretty much where we are. It has been quite awhile since we played. I think everybody is ready to get back out there and start playing again.

Q: Can you tell after the hitting that has taken place if this there is some kind of let down? Do you have to be weary of certain things?

BB: From what I have seen I don't think it is going to be a question of hitting. I think it is just going to be execution. I think it is just how sharp we are going to be doing the timing things that we need to in all areas of the game and it is hard to gauge how that is going to be exactly in practice. We have all seen weeks in practice where you don't look that good and play okay and then other weeks you have had good weeks and don't play well. Normally I think there is a correlation between practicing and playing, but it is not exact and really I don't think we will know until Sunday, but I am sure we will know Sunday whether we have any level of sharpness or whether it looks like the first preseason game.

Q: Are you encouraged by the level of practice that you have seen?

BB: I think the effort is good, I think the concentration is pretty good. The precision on the execution hasn't been what you would like it to be on the other hand we are not in ideal conditions out there either. You are throwing in 20 mile and hour wind and kicking in 20 mile an hour wind, it is not going to look like it does in training camp when it is 85 degrees and calm. Hopefully our execution will be good during the game and that's when it needs to be, but I think our concentration and our preparation has been good. I think we know Carolina. We know their strengths and we know the things that we really need to be watching out for, but going out there and doing it on Sunday that is where the rubber meets the road.

Q: I know that Tom Brady played in Michigan, but the latest he would have played out there was November…

BB: I am sure that they practiced up there before those bowl games.

Q: I know, but from what you are able to see how has he looked throwing the ball in this kind of weather?

BB: We have been all right. I wouldn't say it is terrible, but you know you would always like for it to be a little bit better. Tom throws a tight ball so therefore the wind effects it, but his ball cuts threw it and that is important when you are playing in wind to have a tight spiral. All three of them, Damon [Huard] and Drew [Bledsoe] both throw the ball tightly and that really helps them in the windy conditions. You obviously can't get as much on it when you are throwing into it, but the key really is to keep it tight so that it doesn't flutter and take the accuracy off of the ball.

Q: How do you rate his arm strength?

BB: It is good. Yeah it's good.

Q: How has Matt Light done this year?

BB: Matt has had a decent year. He has been in and out a little bit. He missed training camp, that hurt him. He came back, kind of nursing his way through his couple of injuries, then missed a game there in the mid-season, maybe a game and a half, maybe a week and a half of practice whatever it was. Lately he has been able to stay on the field more and his continuity has been better and that has helped him, but you know he has done a decent job at a hard position to play. I don't think it has been perfect, but I think probably the best thing he has done has been in the running game. That he has done a good job of staying on blocks and being aggressive on the line of scrimmage and running the ball on the left side sometimes you have some opportunities to do that if you have an aggressive and physical presence over there. A lot of times that is where you see teams' best pass rushers and upfield guys and that type of thing. I think our running game has been probably a little better to the left than the right overall for the year and he has been a good part of that.

Q: Going back to New York Charlie [Weis] has had a lot of confidence putting young guys in, what did you see in Matt because I know in New York you started some young guys?

BB: Yeah right I started [Jason] Fabini. Fabini started as a rookie, Ryan Young started as a rookie, yeah. Well Matt has played major college football. He played in the passing attack there at Purdue where they threw the ball 50 times a game. So he had a lot of that and that is really a big step for an offensive lineman is all of the pass protection in the games and recognizing safety blitzes and linebacker blitzes and all of that kind of thing. I think coming into the league he had a relatively good background in all of that, but he is a hard-working kid, he is pretty smart and he stays focused. He has a good level of concentration, which you really need at that position where you mess up one play and a quarterback is killed, but I think that has been a good strength for him.

Q: Is it rare for a rookie to miss training camp and be able to perform at the level he has?

BB: Yeah that sure doesn't make it any easier on him, but he's done I think a pretty good job to be able to miss some of that time and still go out and play at a decent level. Fortunately he was there for all of the learning and the training and teaching in the walkthroughs and all of that and I think the thing that he has been able to fall back on the most is just that the fundamentals and the techniques are very similar to what he did at Purdue for really three years protecting for that offense. I think the biggest adjustment he has had to make technique-wise is in the running game because a lot of the running plays that they ran were draws and counters and things like that because they were in the shotgun so much and more of the conventional running plays are things that he's…they are actually newer for him than some of the pass protection fundamentals are and had he been at training camp he probably would be further along in those areas than what he is right now.

Q: In light of that and his background, is it somewhat surprising that he has been as productive in the running game as he has?

BB: I think it is a little bit yeah. The thing he has got is a good attitude. I mean he has got an aggressive attitude and he works hard to finish blocks and stay on blocks in the running game and that really is a big part of it. That is one of the things we liked about him in college was that he showed some ability to pass protect and some proficiency as a pass protector, but as an aggressive player he has the type of attitude that you kind of project that when he becomes a run blocker he will like that and he will be good at it and he is reasonably good at it.

Q: What are they telling you about the weather this weekend?

BB: It changes every five minutes. It sounds like it is not going to be a balmy day, but I am sure at least similar to what we have been in. It couldn't be any worse than what we have been in these last two weeks.

Q: I heard something about freezing rain?

BB: Freezing rain, yeah. It sounds like the temperature will be somewhere around freezing so if it is cold and it freezes or if it is warmer and it's raining or it stops, whatever.

Q: Is that not a factor that you worry about gameplan-wise?

BB: I think it is. I think it is something that definitely affects you. I think it is hard to really, particularly at this time of the year when those weather conditions change every six or eight hours you hear some different forecast. I have made the mistake before of talking to the team on Wednesday and Thursday about, 'Okay here is what we have to get ready for' and then by Sunday you look like a moron because the conditions are 40 degrees different from what you described them as. So I found it a lot better to wait until Friday or sometimes even Saturday when you are a lot closer and it is a little more predictable and say, 'Okay these are the situations that we think are going to occur let's talk about them. Let's talk about playing in rain, how are we going to handle that. Let's talk about wind conditions, how are we going to handle the wind. How would it effect our calls and how would it effect technique-wise some of the things that we want to do.' Going back to the first Buffalo game here was an example of that where we talked about that being a windy day. We talked about how when they were punting into the wind how we wanted to try to run a middle return figuring the ball wouldn't be kicked as far and how we wanted to try to push everybody outside, so that type of thing. But I have been wrong on that weather before and it is embarrassing to stand up in front of the team and tell them, 'Take your rain shoes, keep two hands on the ball' and all of that. Then you get to the game and it's 60 degrees, sunny and not a cloud in the sky. 'Thanks coach, really a great tip.'

Q: Where have you been wrong more home or away?

BB: Well I mean up here in the northeast it comes in and out of here in a hurry so I think probably overall the conditions are a little more predictable south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

Q: What are you guys going to do after the game are you going to fly right home or will you stay and watch the four o'clock games?

BB: No we will come back.

Q: Because it could effect what you will do?

BB: Yeah, no we will stay on our normal schedule. We will come back right after the game like we normally do and then…

Q: Find out when you land?

BB: Right, but I think the first thing we have to be ready for is the possibility of playing on Saturday and that is the soonest we would have to play and that is what we would have to be ready for first and there are too many scenarios to discuss, but that's one so if there is any chance that can happen then we have to have some type of plan for those preparations and if it is different from that then we can work backwards.

Q: Does the league give you and kind of heads up as the when you might play? I mean Baltimore is playing Monday night and they probably don't want them playing Saturday, do they make you aware of all of these things?

BB: I haven't talk to…I can't imagine that Baltimore would play any time other than Sunday. I can't imagine they would play Monday night and then have a Saturday game. Whoever Baltimore's opponent is I would imagine would play on Sunday and the other game would be on Saturday. Nobody has verified that, but I am…I would say 95 percent sure that would be the way they would do it.

Q: Is there more flu going through the locker room?

BB: I would say since early November it has passed through. I didn't get it from the locker room, I got this from my kids. They handed it off.

Q: You haven't checked in for an IV?

BB: No. Last year when I took that flu shot that was the worst one I ever had. Really it sounds worse than it is. I will be okay.

Q: It's good for radio.

BB: TV show too.

Q: Did you catch any of the bowl games?

BB: You know I didn't see it last night, I just saw Leonard Myers coming in this morning. It didn't take me too long to figure out what happened. The Colorado guys weren't quite as effervescent as they were on their last couple of regular season games and it was the Big 12 Championship. They were flying pretty high there.

Q: Who does Wesleyan play?

BB: Yeah, the toilet bowl

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