New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday, September 23, 2009.
BB: We acquired Prescott [Burgess] from Baltimore, yesterday. It gives us a little more depth at linebacker. He played at Michigan with a couple of our other linebackers. [He] played outside, played inside at Baltimore and also played in the kicking game, so he has versatility and it gives us a little more depth at that position. As far as Atlanta goes, this has really been an impressive team to watch. I think that Thomas Dimitroff and Mike [Smith] have done a great job in putting together this football team. They're very good at everything. I really don't see anything they don't do well. Offensively, they run the ball [and] they throw it down the field. They have big-play receivers. [Matt] Ryan's very good, very accurate, makes good decisions. They don't turn the ball over and they can really pound away at it. I think they're one of the most physical teams, offensively, in the league - certainly as physical as anyone we face, right there with Miami. Defensively, they're fast. They have a very fast front seven. They play a lot of defensive linemen, they rotate them through there. They can all run, they can all rush. The linebackers are very active and fast. They have a good secondary. The kicking game - they are an outstanding coverage team. They didn't give up any yards on punt returns last year. They haven't given them up this year - no yards on kickoff returns either to speak of. So they cover very well. They return well. They have a couple explosive returners with [Eric] Weems and [Jerious] Norwood, good specialists, good returners, good coverage teams. They're fast. They're very athletic and their very physical and tough, especially in the running game on the offensive side of the ball. Really, a good football team, well-coached, very well put together. I think Thomas and Mike have done a great great job building that team and you can see they're continuing to add to it with some of the recent acquisitions - guys they brought in this year like [Tony] Gonzalez and Brian Williams, guys like that. It seems like every time they make a move, they keep getting stronger and better. Very, very impressive team to watch and they got off to a good start these two games against Carolina and Miami. They look pretty formidable.
Q: When they brought in Tony Gonzalez, they were thinking that Matt Ryan was going to be able to use him as a safety valve. Are you seeing him as a weapon or a safety valve?
BB: He's no safety valve. They don't need any safety valves. They just wing it down there to [Michael] Jenkins and Roddy White, [Tony] Gonzalez and [Brian] Finneran. Those guys chew up a lot of yardage. It's tough because you've got to get up there and stop the running game and they do a great job of running the ball. If you get too many guys up there, then you are too light in the backend. But they are very good on third down. They convert a lot of third downs with their backs, tight ends [and] receivers. As I said, [Matt] Ryan is a very accurate quarterback. They protect well and they don't get in a lot of long-yardage situations, so they're not in a lot of third and 10's, third and 12's - stuff like that. They hand the ball off and run play action. They're in a lot of third and shorts. [Gonzalez] looks like he's always looked, when we played him here in 2000; he hasn't changed much. They get him isolated on anybody and he goes to work on them. He's tough in the red area. He's tough on third down. Again, good play-action receiver. Everybody sucks up on the running game and he's open back there against whoever they've got covering him. Corners are too small to cover him and the safeties and linebackers can't run with him. [They] can't match his quickness and his route-running ability, so he pretty much gets open against everybody, it doesn't matter who's on him. A lot of times, there are two on him and it doesn't matter either.
Q: Did you ever think about acquiring Tony Gonzalez and did you do any work on him?
BB: No. We signed Chris [Baker] and we have [Benjamin Watson]. We didn't get into that. I've never talked about it, no.
Q: Was money an issue with that?
BB: We never talked about him.
Q: Was money an internment?
BB: Well, I mean the salary cap affects every team in the league and you have to have a structure for your team and work everybody into it, but I never talked to Scott [Pioli] about Tony Gonzalez.
Q: Is Matt Ryan the biggest test for you guys?
BB: Well, Ryan's good. Look, every week's a test for us it doesn't matter who it is. Every week, it's a big test. But Ryan's good. [He's] very accurate, makes good decisions, knows where to go with the ball and can put it on the money [with] his accuracy. [He] has a lot of down throws, too. It's not like he's throwing a lot of screen passes and check down's. He can get it down the field. He puts it right on the money, very accurate, good technique player, good throwing mechanics, good ball-handling, good ball location and placement, accuracy. He knows when to fire it, knows when to put a touch on it. He's really impressive.
Q: Did you know him while he was at Boston College? Did your paths cross?
BB: We saw him and of course coach O'Brien, Tom O'Brien, when he was coaching B.C., we talked about Matt [Ryan] a lot. When he came out, it wasn't really a factor for us in the draft, given where he was going and where we were picking. It was just not really a factor.
Q: How were Tom Brady's mechanics throwing the football on Sunday against the Jets?
BB: Tom's got good throwing mechanics. Yeah, he's got good throwing mechanics. He's worked hard on that and continues to work hard on it, all through the course of his career. I think, fundamentally, he's one of the best quarterbacks I've seen mechanically. Technique-wise, you could put him right up there with anybody.
Q: When there's pressure like that, can it change mechanics?
BB: Well, yeah. It's not like baseball, when you're standing on the mound and there's nobody within 90 feet of you. You've got guys crawling around you, hitting you and you're on the run and all that. That's the difference between baseball and football. [In baseball, you] stand on the mound, push off the rubber and put the ball within a couple inches of where you want it. Football is a little different story. Yeah, absolutely, the pass rush, that affects the mechanics of the quarterback. That's the idea. That's what you try to do on defense. But when that's not a factor, then I'd say his throwing mechanics are good.
Q: What can you do this week to counter that?
BB: Well, I mean the passing game is all about timing and execution. It's protection, it's route running and it's throwing and catching; when all those things are in sync, then you have good timing. When they're not, it's not perfect. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. You've got to have the quarterback throwing the ball when the receivers are open. Receivers have got to get open. You've got to protect for the quarterback to deliver at that time. You've got to read the coverage. You've got to get it to the right guy. So there are a lot of moving parts there. That's the difference between football and baseball. Baseball, you stand on the mound, take the ball and throw whatever you want to throw. Football, you've got guys coming at you, different guys running routes, guys covering them, the team's playing different coverages - taking away one guy, leaving somebody else open, or giving you better leverage on another position. Have him figure all that out, have him see the rush and get the ball through some obstacles on the line of scrimmage, or pressure, or whatever it is, or a lot of guys [on] back-end coverage, it doesn't always have to be pressure. It could be multiple guys in coverage taking away different routes. That's a whole lot different than standing on a mound and throwing the ball. It all ties together. There's not any one thing you can say, 'Well, we're just going to use that protection, or run that route, or that's going to solve all our problems.' The defense isn't going to sit there and stay still. They're going to give you different things to work on and pick up and you've got to be ready to handle them.
Q: Did you do any work on Prescott Burgess when he was coming out of Michigan and what was your scouting report on him them?
BB: Pretty much what it is now - versatile player. He played inside and outside and has played in the kicking game. He runs well, he's a big kid. So I think that's what he's been at Baltimore, that's what he was at Michigan, it's probably what he'll be here.
Q: Can he take anything he did with the Ravens here?
BB: Yeah. How much of it's the same? How much of it is different? Where the carry over is and isn't? That would probably be a good question to ask him in about a week, after he's had a lot of information and can really start to understand where it's the same and where it's different. I don't know that system well enough to know where there is carry over and where there isn't. I'm not really sure.
Q: [On Chris Baker]
BB: I think Chris [Baker] is doing a good job for us. Chris is solid in all phases of the game: the running game, the passing game [and] pass protection. I'm sure that over the course of time he'll get his production. He'll have his opportunities. What they are from game to game? I wouldn't want to overreact to that. Again, that's a factor of a lot of circumstances between coverages, the routes that are called, the protections, whether they blitz or don't blitz on that particular play, and what happens on it, and so forth. But I think what we've seen from Chris in the passing game, we'll see over the course of time.
Q: Is it just coincidence, the Michigan linebackers?
BB: Yeah. It wasn't planned.