Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Thursday, November 05, 2009.
Q: The speed sweep that Miami runs with Ricky Williams coming down the line, what does that allow them to do and why is it difficult to defend?
BB: It's not really, I think, a big thing for them because they run their regular sweep blocking. It hits a little bit quicker. If you're not wide enough then Ricky gets out there on that flat and if you get out there wide then it opens up the inside runs for Ronnie [Brown] after he fakes it. They kind of compliment those two plays and make them look the same. It's not a read. When you are defending one it's kind of hard to defend the other or you're a little lighter in one or the other. If you try to play them both equally, I'm not sure if you're good enough at either spot.
Q: Is Ronnie Brown reading that?
BB: Not on that play, no. He has other plays where he reads it, but I don't think he reads it on that play. I don't think they read that because the blocking's different. In other words, when they hand it to Ricky then everybody's running out there to try stretch and get the edge. When they fake it to him then they all block down, block back or run the counter so the blocking is totally different. So the action is the same, but it's two different plays.
Q: The speed which Ricky Williams is coming with, does it put a lot of stress on the defensive linemen?
BB: It doesn't always go way outside to the sideline. Sometimes it goes - if the guy runs up the field, he will dip it inside and still run back out there, it's got two entry points really. If they hook the edge then he just runs around the edge. If the guy on the edge runs up field, then he cuts in, but then he tried to dip back out away from the inside linebackers and stuff like that. Like a lot of running plays, there is kind of more than one option. Most plays hit at a certain point and then they cut back. You want to have a couple entry points on the play or it's all or nothing.
Q: Last year, Miami showed that they are willing to do whatever to change it up and keep the defense on its heels. Do you assume that they may do that again Sunday and how do you prepare for something that you've never seen before.
BB: With [Dan] Henning, they have new stuff every week. They have a lot of different gadget plays, different formations, different formations that run the same plays and they have a variety of gadget plays - two, three, four of them every week. Everybody gets it, so I'm sure we'll get it. What it will be? It's whatever Dan drew up on Monday and Tuesday after looking at us [and] feeling like this is something they could hit us on. And they're not all passes; they're runs, reverses or some kind of deceptive plays. But that is definitely part of their offense. They run them in every game.
Q: You haven't seen too much of Pat White, but you've seen him in college and the few plays...
BB: Yeah, that's what he did in college. He ran the West Virginia offense, basically the dive/keep series and threw the ball. He's done that with Miami, not a great number of plays on it, but he has done it and of course we saw him in preseason. And I am sure they've got other new stuff that they haven't shown with him or maybe that they have put in recently, I don't know. I'm sure there is an element of that that hasn't been unveiled yet, there's no doubt about it.
Q: After a performance like Ted Ginn's last week have you spent more time on special teams in practice?
BB: I think that each week 85 percent of our time on special teams is pretty constant. There is maybe another 15 percent that would change week to week, depending on where we feel like we want that emphasis, whether it's on punt protection or kickoff coverage or kickoff returns or fakes - whatever the point of emphasis for that particular team happens to be. So I would say 85 percent of it is going to be, but we go into the game and say we think we can block a punt this week, so we spend a little more time on our punt rushes or we're worried about their field goal rush, so we spend a little more time on our field goal protection or we're worried about their fakes then we spend a little more time on showing those extra fakes or whatever it happens to be. Their kickoff return last week - the first return - basically, the Jets got out flanked and they squeezed down too quickly and lost leverage on the ball. Nobody's going to catch Ted Ginn, this guy's as fast as anybody in the league. The second one the Jets missed four tackles; they had a shot at him. It wasn't like they didn't have an opportunity to get him. It was just split wide open, it was more of, again, poor tackling or good running, however you want to look at it. And again, a little bit of lost leverage, but the leverage wasn't as big of a problem as much as the missed tackles were. Tackling is always an emphasis for us against Miami with their backs and their receivers. And Bess is a hard guy to tackle on punts, too. He's a hard guy to tackle on punts, too. He's a different style runner, but he's very effective and quick, and Ginn's got the big time speed. We've worked on it and probably put a little more time on kickoff coverage than, I don't want to say normal, but that's the way it's been this year. First, it was [Leodis] McKelvin and Buffalo's returns. And then it was Leon Washington and the Jets returns. And then it was [Clifton] Smith and [Sammie] Stroughter last week and Tampa's returns. We've seen some of the best return teams in the league already. It was a problem then and it's a problem now.
Q: How different is it preparing for one returner versus another?
BB: It depends how different they are. I think you have to take that into consideration and just like any returner, back or receiver there are certain things that they do better than others. There are certain type of returns they run, however their coach designs them - whatever the schemes are you know they will have something that plays into his strengths. So you have a speed guy, you want to be able to get outside. If you have a guy that's more of a north-south, hard running, up-field guy you are probably going to have more returns designed like that, however you do it; whether you trap them, whether you wedge them, however you set it up. It's a combination of the player, the skill of the player and the scheme that they use to accentuate that players skill.
Q: Do you think the wedge rule has made a big difference based on what you've seen from the first eight weeks of the season?
BB: Well, I think the Tampa one was an interesting one. It's hard for me to understand why that wasn't called. You would have to talk to somebody else about why that wasn't an illegal wedge - in the return against Carolina that [Sammie] Stroughter had. Other than that, Miami doesn't...That's not really their return game. I don't think it affected them too much. Buffalo has changed a little bit of what they're doing because they were kind of a four man wedge team. The Jets did both. Has it changed it a lot? Not really because the rule is so vague...So if we're here it is a penalty, but if you're a yard in front of me it is not a penalty. It's basically the same alignment but a half of a yard makes one legal and makes another one illegal. If I were running that return it wouldn't keep me from running it, I would just back the guy up a yard that's all and that's what a lot of teams do. I don't really understand how that rule is being called. We saw it in preseason and we saw it in the Tampa/Carolina game. I think you would have to get an explanation from the league as to why that return against Carolina, why that was legal. Those three guys looked like they were shoulder to shoulder to me.
Q: Is Jerod Mayo back at his regular speed?
BB: Yeah, I think Jerod's been doing everything for quite awhile now - practice, runs, passes, blitzes, drills in practice, playing in the games. I think he looks confident, comfortable. He's running well. He's changing directions well. He's tackling well, so I think he's fine.
Q: How long has it been since you have been able to do everything on defense?
BB: Each week, we look at what the other team does, look at what our options are and try to put the best thing out there. We don't really talk about, if so and so was able to play, instead of running this we would run that. What's the point? We skip over that.
Q: The way last year went - you won 11 games and didn't make the playoffs - does that reinforce how important division games are?
BB: Sure. We always talk about how important the division games are and they are. The head-to-head and the division games, that's the first tie breaker. They're usually kind of one and the same if you are tied in the division. So yeah, no doubt about it.
Q: One of the Bruins players actually has the H1N1, are the Patriots taking any precautions with that?
BB: Special precautions? We do that anyway. There is nothing more important than the health of your team and we all know this is the time of year, whether it's that particular one or the colds that go around every year that get picked up and how they can spread pretty quickly in a team that eats together, showers together and is in the locker room together. Definitely, those are important issues all year-round, every season and this year.