Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Thursday, October 29, 2009.
We're just working on a lot of things this week in all phases of the game - offense, defense, special teams. Obviously, we've gotten started on Miami, but also a combination of things we need to work on generically, regardless of who we're playing and that's just kind of across the board. We need to work on everything, stay sharp and improve in every area. That's what we're doing and also, like I said, trying to get a little bit of a head start on the Dolphins. We had a good day out there yesterday, got some weather and got the opportunity to work in it. It's always a good experience for us. I'm sure at some point we'll see a day that's not perfect out there and the fact that we practiced in it and had a chance to work in it a little bit - I think that's always a good thing. It kind of sharpens practice up a little bit.
Q: You mentioned self scouting this week. Can you explain what that is and the process behind that?
BB: I would say two things, one is your own tendencies - what you're doing in certain situations by plays, blitzes, returns, by down and distance, by field position, by hash-mark, by personnel that's in the game, by the alignment, formation you lineup in - all those things. You sort of looking at what other people are seeing from you and what tendencies you have. I think every good team has tendencies. I think you can look out there at any team in football, in basketball [and] hockey, there are certain things that they do and if they're a good team they probably do them well. You look at it and say, 'There they go again, that same thing's happening again.' I don't think those tendencies are necessarily a bad thing, but I think there is a point where you want to have balance and do things to compliment it. The other thing is production, where you're actually producing. What plays - how productive are they? Maybe in certain situations - how productive is the play on first down? How productive is that play on third down? Is it the right side, the left side, man coverage, zone coverage? All those different kinds of things. So you're kind of looking at tendencies and also production. To a certain extent, maybe some that you want to build on or maybe some that you want to subtract and you just feel like it's just taking too much time and we're getting out of it, we need to put our resources into something that's more productive, so those kind of things.
Q: Do you put all the plays in a computer and it spits out your tendencies or do you go back and watch each game with the scouts?
BB: I think both. I think you can certainly get a statistical analysis pretty quickly. We can pop that out right there with how productive were we in the plays where the tight end motioned or the wide receiver motioned or we didn't motion, wherever you want to look at. More importantly it's kind of looking at all the plays, looking at all the third [and] 3-5's, the third and 6-10's, the short yardages, all the times you're in cover three, all the runs against cover three, all the passes against cover three, all the play action against cover three, all the empty plays. But actually seeing them is always a little more valuable than doing a statistical look, although that's always a good starting point and a lot times that will trigger something. A lot of those things I think we are aware of on a weekly basis. It isn't like all of a sudden this week we realized cover two is our worst coverage; that's not something that probably just hit us in last week's game, as an example. But it does statistically sometimes point out something and then you go to the film, look at it and say, 'Well yeah we had a lot of production on these plays, but it's a little misleading. They had some missed tackles. It really wasn't that good. We had some, but it wasn't because it was a great play.' And then there are other things that statistically don't look good, but you look at it and say, 'We're on the right track here. If we just made this block or we hadn't gotten that play called back with a penalty. If something hadn't happened - if this guy hadn't slipped, then we would have been productive there.' So it is a combination of those two things. There's no substitute for actually seeing the play, actually seeing the film.
Q: Is it fair to say that you are looking at it and trying to act as an opponent would looking at the film?
BB: Well, from a tendency standpoint, sure, absolutely. Defensively, is our tendency to blitz in certain situations, to play in cover one or cover five, to stunt in a certain situation? Of course, if we're seeing that then our opponents are seeing that. Again, it might be something that we might say that's where we want to be and we're OK with that. Then there also might be a feeling that it is getting too predictable, 'We really want to balance this off with something else.' It gives you a little chance to look at yourself and look in the mirror and see what you're doing, but at the same time [we're] getting ready for Miami and there are going to be certain things that you're going to want to do against Miami, whether you've shown a lot of them or haven't shown a lot of them. That's going to be part of the game plan or the attack against our next opponent. It's good to know where you are even if you decide to stay with a tendency. At least you are conscious of what it is and that's what you're doing.
Q: Looking at the defense, the new personnel and the different personnel you've used, do you feel like that side of the ball is building?
BB: Well we've been doing that. I think at this point rather than doing more it's probably doing it better. I think in seven games we've run enough plays. They haven't been all the same plays, [but] we've run enough plays over the course of those seven games and even if you go back to preseason that's 11 games total. I think we've run enough plays that we can always add one or two little wrinkles, but I don't think we're going to drastically change our system at this point. I think it's doing them better and at the same time our opponents are doing more, too. They are a lot further - look at a team like Miami where they were in week one against Atlanta and where they were last week against New Orleans. They've added a lot of plays, they've added some different looks, they've moved some personnel around, so you have more to get ready for and as the season goes on, that will be true every week. Every week you will see more schemes, more offense, more defense, more schemes in the kicking game than you do in September. As our volume increases, so does theirs and therefore the multiples increase. It really becomes exponential the number of matchups. You call one thing and it could hit against 20 different things, so if you call 20 different things then it could hit against 4,000 different things and pretty soon…It's a lot of multiples.
Q: How valuable have the last two weeks been for Brian Hoyer to get game action?
BB: It's been fine. I don't know how valuable playing time is when you are ahead 59-0. It's OK.
Q: Have you liked what you've seen so far from him?
BB: I think Brian's been consistent all the way through. We see him every day in practice. This has been a good week for him - today and tomorrow - because he'll - kind of like Denver - get to run our plays against…It's our defense, but at least it's our plays. Instead of plays off cards that some other team runs. So it's good that he's in the game. There is nothing wrong with that and in the conditions in the Tennessee game, I think that is good experience for any young player to play in those. I think the competitive situation that he was in against the Giants was probably overall, in terms of time management, game management, playing under pressure and all that kind of thing, I think that was overall probably a better experience than playing in a game when you're ahead 35-7 or 52-0 - whatever it was.
Q: You mentioned how unique the Tennessee game was and that you might not see anything like it again. When you are doing the scouting and the numbers, do you throw out aberrations like that?
BB: Yeah, you have to be careful about that. These plays are good, but honestly it didn't matter one way or the other. Offensively or defensively - some of those plays were…You kind of throw away plays, and some of it was a factor of the weather, too. [In] some games you look at some of the plays that happened in that game and put them on a different field and I don't know if they would have turned out the same, but both ways. Chris Johnson's long run, I don't know if it [had been] a good field if we [would have] miss[ed] that many tackles, [or] on a flea flicker if that's the way that works. I don't know, but I think it's something to keep an eye on definitely.
Q: In looking at the film now, has anything surprised you about where you are defensively?
BB: It's been such a long process. It's been 70 practices, so I don't think anything struck us in practice 68 that was that dramatic from practice 53, but it's an evolution. It's a long season, a lot of practices, a lot of different situations. You get a new opponent every week. Things are always changing, so you try to just keep moving in the right direction and just keep improving and that encompasses a lot of things. I don't think right now is the time to be happy or sad; I think it's a time to analyze where you're at and try to make it better.
Q: What is the total number of practices? What is the range?
BB: It depends on how you play.
Q: Let's say you play until the end.
BB: I'd say roughly you are talking about 100 practices.
Q: You've had a number of tight ends come and go, but Benjamin Watson has been a constant. Is he doing anything different this year [or] taking a different approach than he has in years past?
BB: Not that I know of. Benjamin is a very conscientious guy. He is very smart, so I think he is always attentive and is looking for coaching points and a way to do things better. But he's always been like that, even in his rookie year, so I don't think that's changed. There are always little route techniques, things that you can improve on: stemming routes, setting them up, working with the quarterback from a timing standpoint, sure.
Q: You always talk about good team defense. This week DeMarcus Ware was signed by Dallas. When you're giving a guy that much money does that make you stronger in one area and weaker in another? Is that something you would consider?
BB: I can't imagine DeMarcus Ware hindering any team defense. The guy is one of the best players in the league. Just like when we had Lawrence Taylor at the Giants; that guy was a force on every play. The offense had to account for him on every play. I think he helped our team defense probably as much as any player I've ever coached. I don't know how they feel about DeMarcus Ware. They must feel pretty good about him. I mean, I would.
Q: What have you seen out of Myron Pryor?
BB: Myron's done a good job for us all the way through. He's got good strength. He's got good quickness. He runs well for his size. He's not the tallest guy; he's kind of stocky, but he has some quickness, he runs well, he plays with good balance, he's quick off the ball, he's showed up in all different situations. He's played on all downs and he's been productive against the running game and productive against the passing game, and he's made some plays in pursuit with some range and quickness. The biggest thing for Myron is just experience and technique. He was very well-coached in Kentucky, I am not saying that. It's just what Coach [Rich] Brooks did down there is a little different than the techniques we use. He was good at those things and now he's adapting to some of the things we're asking him to do and he's getting better at it on a regular…He has through the year, he's gotten better. He's rushed better, he's played better run technique, but there is still a long way to go.
Q: When you've got some of the players to come together in the secondary like they have this year, what is the process behind how those guys have to gel?
BB: I think it's a lot of little things. You gain it at every practice. We've rotated different people in there, we've worked in different combinations, so it's not always the same two guys, four guys, or five guys - whatever the defense is. But where they work with different people so it's always… whether I'm communicating with you, or somebody else or somebody else, the communication process and the overall consistency of what we're doing - that we try to build that base and get everybody on the same page, so whichever players are in there, they understand that we get a lot of different situations in practice. Certainly working against our offense, we see as many variations as you could see from multiple receiver sets, different routes, quarterback changing plays and all that kind of thing. We get a good look at that in practice and we probably see as much in practice as we see each week on the field. That helps the process, too. We still have to game plan for the team we're playing and all that, but I'm just saying we get caught in a lot of situations in practice that are difficult and the receivers that they're covering - Randy [Moss], Wes [Welker], Sam [Aiken] and other guys we've had in camp and over the course of the season have presented different match-up challenges: bigger guys, quicker guys, fast guys, guys that aren't as fast. It's been a good cross-section of players that we've had to cover, so I think that's helped, too. When we go up against guys in the game, those are players that we can relate to from practicing against.
Q: We are from Germany, so we are very interested in Sebastian Vollmer.
BB: I bet you are.
Q: What do you think about him and his progress so far?
BB: What do I think about him? I think he's big. I think he's athletic. Sebastian has worked real hard. Dante [Scarnecchia] is a great line coach. He's developed a lot of players through the course of his career. I think Sebastian has done a good job of taking that coaching and applying it. We've asked him to do some different things, both left and right tackle. It's hard enough to play one side and he's worked at both of them, so I think that's been a challenge. I think our offense is a fairly sophisticated offense. We do a number of different things in the running game and in the passing game - audible at the line and things like that, a number of things he didn't do in college. So he's smart, he's adapted to those and picked them up. Overall, his techniques are pretty decent for a young player. He still has a long way to go and he's no finished product, but he's made a lot of progress over the course of the year. He's worked hard, he's very intelligent, he has a lot of natural ability. He's big. He's athletic. He's long and he's powerful. For a long guy he can sink his hips and generate some power and explosion, which not all tall guys can. He has the ability to play big and also to play with good leverage and they're hard to find.