New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Friday, September 11, 2009.
BB:Well, it's been quite a while since we've played. It's one of those long weeks that will be a long week anyway, then when you take that Thursday night preseason game. Until you really think back, you'll sort of start to notice how long it's been. We need it though. We need it. We've got things that everyday are coming up that we need to keep fine-tuning and staying on top of so it's probably a good thing. But on the other hand I think everybody's ready to go out there and play, especially after last night's game. Seeing that, that kind of kicked off the season and put everybody in the frame of mind that the regular season started so we're anxious to get that underway. Another day of polishing up tomorrow on the preparations for the Bills and hopefully we'll be ready to go Monday night.
Q:With Jerod Mayo being named one of the captains, can you recall a player this early in his career having that much impact leadership-wise on a team?
BB:I mean, yeah. Certainly, there've been players in their first, second year that have had a pretty big impact on the team: Lawrence Taylor, that would be one; Keyshawn [Johnson], I wasn't there Keyshawn's first year, but in his second year he was a pretty good leader; Eric Turner, in Cleveland. A few guys like that. I'm not trying to compare them; I'm just saying guys that have been on teams that I've been on where players by the end of their first year or into their second year have been looked on as significant leaders on the team. There would be a couple there, yeah.
Q:And they were captains?
BB:I can't remember whether they were or not, but it was - I'd say - similar. I mean, Jerod's done a great job, don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to minimize that. I'm just saying I think there have been a few.
Q:What problems does the no-huddle pose?
BB:I think the biggest challenge is communication. They are used to running plays quickly, getting to the line, calling them and signaling them and not coming back to the huddle, doing it from extended formations, getting lined up and going. And defensively we're kind of used to doing it in an end of the half type of situation. But on an every-down basis it stresses your communication a little bit and recognition – making sure that you see the offense, see where they are located because they will move them around. They don't just stay in the same formation all the time, which usually in the end of the half you see a lot more of that; you see more of the same formations because fighting time they don't want to take time to switch people around. Recognition [and] communication are two of the big things and then you can't let the pace of the game and the communication challenges take away from actually playing: the technique, reads, and doing your job, you can't let all that other stuff distract you. You get so caught up on that and the ball's snapped and you don't do anything.
Q:What kind of a player is Jarvis Green?
BB:I think Jarvis is a real versatile player. We used him in a lot of different roles and situations. He's played inside, played on the guard, played outside on the tackle. [He's] been a sub-rusher for us, playing in regular situations, goal-line, playing in the kicking game on the return teams. So he's done a lot of things over the course of his career and usually pretty well. He's a dependable guy, works hard, tough, comes from a good program. [He] came in here and contributed pretty quickly so he's been consistent. I think he's one of our consistent, dependable guys - maybe sometimes a little bit like Kevin Faulk. He might not play every play in the game, but the plays that they play are good plays and some games they play more than others.
Q:For a guy [Jarvis Green] who has been around as long as he has in a reserve role, is it nice to see...
BB:I wouldn't call it that. I think he's a good football player - as I said - kind of like Kevin Faulk. He's a good football player. He plays in certain situations. What we ask him to do in those situations, he does a good job of. I think he's a solid contributor in the roles that he's been asked to perform and there have been multiple. It hasn't just been one thing, but over the course of his career it's probably been everything at one time or another and he's done a pretty solid job.
Q:You mentioned the no-huddle. Do you remember when you first saw a team did go to that?
BB:Well, when Sam Wyche was in Cincinnati, they ran all those 'Sugar Huddles' with Boomer [Esiason] and those weren't at the pace of the no-huddle. I think the no-huddle now with Buffalo is similar to the 'K-Gun' back with [Jim] Kelly when he ran it and [Alex] Van Pelt, obviously, that it was the speed of the game. It was how fast they came to the line, how quickly the ball got snapped with sometimes as much as 20 seconds left on the 40 second clock. So it was a much faster pace than - for example - the Cincinnati no huddle. The big difference here is speed and communication. Again, it's the teams that huddle at the line and don't really get back in there. You usually have time to get your communication and do what you want to do, but when they're going that fast, you've got to be ready to match the speed of the game that they're playing at. So that's challenging.
Q:You just mentioned Alex Van Pelt. Can you recall heading into a game with less of a background and less information on a coordinator heading into a game?
BB:I mean, we've played against first-time coordinators in the openers. I'd have to think about it, but I mean ... Again, I'd have to say – and I don't want to say the play calling is overrated because it's a very important job and I do think it's important. I'm not minimizing that. But at the same time, no matter what play you, as a coach, call - if your team executes it well, for the most part - you're going to be alright. And if you don't, you're probably not going to be OK. There are some plays that there are no options on, or very few options on and those are the ones that if you call them at the right time, you can put your team in a good position and give your team a little bit of an advantage, but you still have to execute the play. Then, there are some other plays that if you call them at a certain time and the defense comes out in not a good look, then you don't have a great situation and then it's a question of how you get out of that play or how you manage it. For the majority of the game, I think you ... You watch games every week. A lot of the plays you see from game to game are the same plays, you know. It's not like, 'Oh, there's a play that revolutionized the game.' It's 'that team ran the play well,' or 'the opponents didn't play it properly.' There's a lot more of that than there is 'all these great plays work.' It comes down to the players making the plays in the game. I'm not trying to minimize the play-calling, but I don't think the play-calling and the coaching is more important than the players playing and executing; I've never thought that.
Q:Is the officiating kind of an unknown in the preseason because of the points of emphasis or even just rust?
BB:I think the preseason officiating is sometimes a little hard to gauge. I think that there is not a ... I don't know. I don't know if there is necessarily a set standard on that. We've seen some very heavily penalized games in the preseason this year; I mean, 20, 22, 25, 27 penalties in a game. I'm not even talking about our games. I'm just saying league-wide there have been some very, very heavily penalized games. And then there're other games in the preseason, we saw a couple - two, three, four penalties. I don't really count false starts. They're penalties, but you've got to call those. [When] a guy false starts, that's not really a penalty the officials are calling. That's the offense jumping or defense running in the neutral zone. You've got to stop the play on that. That's not really an issue; it's all the other stuff. You don't know in preseason how the officials will handle it. I think some crews – consciously or subconsciously – they call it like they see it. If there're 30 penalties, they're going to call 30 penalties. I think we all know what that does for the flow of the game. I think there are other crews that look at it, or maybe individual officials that look at it and say, 'Alright, it's preseason. We're going to call the ones we've got to call, but we're not going to call everything, we'll be here all night. And some of the guys really, in all honesty, aren't going to be playing in the regular season that are playing out here now, so do we really want to overdo it on that?' I think you probably get both ends of the ... The pendulum swings all the way on that one. So how a crew handles preseason or how they handle the regular season? I don't know if that's necessarily the same. But I do think there's a certain consistency in general with the crews and things that, if the crews stay the same, which is this season they haven't – most of the referees, at least all the ones we've seen, though I know some crews even that we haven't seen – the referee has a whole new crew. So the referee only calls basically one-seventh of the penalties, or the penalties that fall into his area. And then how the other six guys call them, that's all ... It might be the same as before, it might be different; depends on who those guys are. So long answer. I'd say short answer then would be I think that's another unknown going into the regular season.
Q:Is one of the biggest challenges of playing against a potential no-huddle getting the defensive linemen in place by the time they snap the ball?
BB:Getting everyone in place, all 11 of them. I wouldn't limit it to one group. I think everybody's got to get in the right spot and know what to do.
Q:What kind of dimension does Chris Baker add to the offense?
BB:Chris has been a very versatile guy for us. I've really been impressed with really all aspects of Chris's game since he came here. He's a smart kid. He works hard. He's tough. He's got good position versatility; he can play on the line, go in motion. We saw in the Philadelphia game that he's got good receiving ability, especially in tight situations like the red area and third down. He can pass protect. He can run block. He can do a lot of different things for us. He can really fill a lot of roles and play a lot of different spots or change his assignment, what we're asking him to do in different formations and things like that. That gives you a lot of versatility. I think he's really given us a good dimension at that position that is very helpful for our offense because one of the things about our offense is that we do some different things anyway. So to have a versatile player, particularly at that position, at the tight end position, just makes things flow a little bit smoother.
Q:All of this no huddle talk, how much of a trickledown effect is there to the kicking game and the offense? Three incomplete passes and your offense is back out there.
BB:Right. Yeah. We've talked about that and I think that's one of the things we've got to really do a good job with on the sideline is making adjustments, offensively, depending on how long we might have. It will probably have a little bit different flow to the game than it normally does and the same things defensively. You come out and sometimes after you've been through a no-huddle situation or even a two-minute drive, the players and the coaches, we're standing on the sideline and have had eight or nine plays and - in all honesty - some of them are running together. Whereas, at the normal pace, most of the time if you say, 'Hey, what happened on that play?' The player will say, 'Well, here's what happened,' and they know the play and they know the situation you're talking about and all of that. In a no-huddle, they're saying, 'On that play, what happened? Did that? Did he? Did he pass protect or did he fake and then check out? What play are you talking about, now?' They just run eight or nine plays together. So I think defensively and offensively it does put a little bit more stress on your sideline. Again, just the pace of the game, it's third down and your punt return team has got to be ready, your field goal block team has got to be ready, depending on where it is. Then, all of a sudden, you're back out there playing on a first-down call. So it can happen pretty quickly. It just means that everybody's got to be alert and they're a lot more used to it than we are because they've been doing it on a weekly basis. So we've talked about that. We've tried to practice it, but realistically we can't simulate it as well as Buffalo can. So that will be a challenge for us.