Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Monday, October 5, 2009.
BB: Well, as we all saw yesterday that game, like a lot of games in this league, came down to a handful of plays. If you make them, you have one feeling on Monday morning, and if you don't make them, you have a different feeling. I think that's probably the way the two teams feel today. Again, I'm real proud of our guys. Watching the tape, I thought we played with a lot of toughness and effort. We were able to just make a few more plays than the Ravens did yesterday. In the end, that really ended up being the difference - not by much, but just enough. [It's] time to move on to another undefeated team. We'll go through the corrections, take a look at the tape here, and talk about some of the things that came up. [We'll] try to keep improving and learn from our experiences each week. I'm sure a lot of those things will have application down the road, if not this week, at some point. So we'll just try to keep doing a good job on that.
Q: Any reaction on Ray Lewis and how critical he was of the officials?
BB: No, you would have to ask Ray what he said.
Q: Your overall feelings about roughing the passer?
BB: My job is to coach the team, that's all I'm trying to do.
Q: If you include the opening week, when every team was 0-0, this will be the fifth straight week that you play a team that's undefeated. Is that something you might address to the team?
BB: You know, we haven't really watched a tape of a team that's lost a game yet, and you can say, 'Well, this is how so and so beat them in the regular season.' We haven't been able to say that yet. But there're challenges every week. Certainly, Denver's doing a great job, giving up less than seven points, defensively. They are fast on defense, very active. [They] have a lot of good football players. They don't give up many big plays, obviously. They're not giving up many points. They turn the ball over; they're a good ball-stripping team, and ball-hawking team [with] a lot of guys in the secondary that play the ball very well. We know it will be a big challenge here for us this week, there's no question about it.
Q: You're no stranger to facing former coaches on your staff that are now head coaches elsewhere. What are your feelings this week facing Josh McDaniels' team?
BB: Oh, they're tough. I know Josh is very creative. He's got a great offensive mind, and Mike Nolan, we had a great matchup with him last year out in San Francisco. I think he's very good with the job that he's done through the years with the Ravens, Giants and San Francisco's defense. I have a lot of respect for Mike and the job that he does and certainly Josh. I know they'll be well-prepared. I know they're going to work hard. They'll look at everything and try to get every tendency, tip and advantage on us, and we'll have to try to do the same thing. In the end, it will be how the players play next Sunday. Hopefully, we'll be ready to go next Sunday. We'll need to be.
Q: One thing that Tom Brady talked about on the radio was that he knew that this officiating crew had the most calls in the past two years and the second most this year.
BB: Right, so they call them tight.
Q: How do you know that?
BB: It's not that hard to find out.
Q: Obviously, it's important enough to address to the team. Is there someone who compiles all that stuff and is that important information going into a game?
BB: I think when the officiating crew - over the last two years - has called more penalties than any other crew in the league, and then you have them, and it's not the first game of the season - I understand it's only the fourth game - and they have already called the second most penalties of any crew in the league this year. I think the writing's on the wall there, that they call them pretty tight. Maybe every game they happen to have there are just more penalties, I don't know. To basically be the top penalty-calling crew over the last three years tells me the game is going to be tight. So yeah, I did mention that to the team and they did call it tight.
Q: Is there any sense of relief that they are enforcing the rule to the extent they are?
BB: Our job is to just go out there and play, and to know the rules, and try to play with them. That's what our job is. What the officials see and what they call, that's their decision, it's not ours.
Q: How proud are you of the way that Shawn Springs has played?
BB: Well, I think when we signed Shawn, we knew that was one of his great strengths was his versatility. He'd done that in the past, played outside, played inside, played safety, and had been in different systems where he's done a variety of things: zone, man, blitz, different combination coverages, things like that. I think we knew that was the player that we were getting when we got him and he's been able to do that for us. And that isn't any big surprise, but he's done a good job of it. He works hard. He's smart. He has a good skill set. To be able to play all those positions, that's very unusual, and mentally and from a technique and understanding standpoint, he's done a good job there. That was one of the things he brought to this team when we signed him was his versatility in the secondary, and we've tried to tap in on it.
Q: Looking at Sammy's [Morris] numbers in yesterday's game they are not overwhelming. Is that game and his performance in the game a perfect case of, sometimes the numbers just don't show the impact the player had on the game?
BB: Yeah. I don't think the numbers always necessarily reflect what the player's contribution was; a lot of times, it's the plays. That one yard he got on fourth and one this week and last week, those might be the biggest plays of those two games, or certainly amongst the biggest, let's put it that way. So getting a yard, it's not about running 50, it's about getting one when you need one. Scoring in the red area, on the draw play, that was another big play. The Ravens are one of the best red area teams in the league down there, so to be able to get a couple of rushing touchdowns on them and score in the red area ... Had San Diego been able to do that, that game might have had a little different end to it. Those are huge plays in the game. It's not how many, it's the importance of the plays. There's no way to understate that.
Q: You guys kept running it yesterday even though you didn't have a ton of success, but one of the things it did was when you have time, possession and control like that what does it do for the offense and how much does it help the defense?
BB: The most important thing offensively is to score points, have the ball, making first downs and moving it into scoring range leads to points. So that's important. It helps your defense to spend less time on the field and I think that creates a bit of an urgency when they don't have the ball as much. Sometimes they tend to press a little bit and try to do more when they have it. We could have certainly helped ourselves on the whole total picture there defensively, if we had played better on third down. We had a lot of third-down opportunities to get off the field and the Ravens were able to convert the majority of them. Had we been able to do a better job on the defensive side of the ball, that would have been able to tilt it even further. But again - on the other hand - you only give up 14 points on defense, there's something to be said for that. We'd like it to be less. We would have liked to convert on more third downs and tackled better, and there were a lot of things we could have done better. But at the same time giving up 14 points on defense, that's not bad defense. So there are some positives and negatives there. It's good to have the ball, but it's more important to score points. If we could get a bunch of 30-yard plays instead of 10-, 3- and 4-yarders, I'd be happy with that.
Q: Sammy Morris said yesterday that when he came here one of the things that stuck that you told him was: 'You define yourself by what you're able to do.' What do you think he was able to do yesterday to further define his role?
BB: I don't know. I think that can change from week to week, game to game and by situation. But I think Sammy has proved to us over the past couple years that he's a dependable player in every phase of the game, whether it be offense, in the kicking game, running game, passing game. He's good with the ball in his hands as a runner, as a receiver and [in] blitz pickup, as a blocker, as a short-yardage runner, as a third-down back and on special teams, both as a coverage player and as a blocker in the return game. What those responsibilities and what opportunities he'll have this week against Denver, and which one of those phases, I don't know that I could sit here and tell you that right now. But over the course of the year, I'm sure that they'll come eventually from time to time, and we have a lot of confidence in him in every one of those, and he's come through for us time, time and again.
Q: Derrick Mason had six catches for 177 yards and a touchdown and after that touchdown he had one catch for 10 yards. Did you make an adjustment?
BB: We played more split safety coverage after the first drive. I don't think that was all of it, but I think that might have had something to do with it.
Q: Can you explain split safety?
BB: Where there's a safety over the top of the receivers, which gives the corners an opportunity to play down on them a little bit tighter because they are backed up, as opposed to having a middle of the field safety on the outside perimeter routes - there isn't anybody behind him.
Q: How much, if at all, did [Jared] Gaither's injury and the compensation the Ravens had to make for that affect your ability to get more pressure on Joe Flacco?
BB: I thought we had good pressure on him most of the day to tell you the truth, not all the time certainly, but we hit him plenty. I was a little surprised what they did with that. They moved [Michael] Oher over to left tackle and put [Marshal] Yanda in there at right tackle. I was surprised they moved Oher, but I'm sure they know what they were doing. I'm not questioning them; I'm just saying I didn't really see that move coming. I think we had some pressure on both sides. Derrick [Burgess] had some pressure on Yanda and Tully [Banta-Cain] had some pressure on Oher over there. Ty [Warren] rushed well yesterday, and Jarvis [Green]. So the ends, linebackers, we had different guys on them. I thought that we were able to stay after them. We didn't always get them, but we stayed after them. We got good pressure up the middle from Mike Wright, Terdell Sands on a few plays, Myron [Pryor], Jarvis, when he was in there. I thought we were gaining on them. We didn't always get there, but we were gaining on them, we did hit them a few times, but it didn't really change what we were doing to be honest with you. It wasn't like, 'OK, well, they've got this player in here, so we're going to run a lot of this instead of that.' It never really came to that. We kind of ran what we were running, but I thought the players did a good job with it.
Q: The way they moved their personnel, did they get their signals crossed and because of that there was more of an advantage for you?
BB: Just watching the game, I didn't really see a lot of - what I thought were - mental errors in the game really on either side. There weren't a lot of plays where you just look at the play and say, 'Well, somebody really screwed that up.' It was more of a case of - like the plays they got us on, [Trevor] Pryce's sack, [Terell] Suggs' sack - we had guys to block them, they just made good plays. There were other plays where we had a good run, or we had a good pass, and they had it covered, we just got open or had a hole and hit it and vice versa. There weren't too many plays, even switching Michael [Oher] over to the other side and putting [Marshal] Yanda in there, I didn't see a lot of plays were it was like, 'Whoa, they really screwed up on this, they blew an assignment or they just cut somebody loose.' For the most part, they were blocking us and we beat them, or we were blocking them and they beat us, or vice versa, we blocked them or they blocked us. I don't think it was a big mental error game.
Q: I know how competitive you think the league is and you've mentioned that every week is a challenge. How different is the challenge this week in preparing the team, given the intimate knowledge the head coach you're facing has of what you do?
BB: Well, it's different. There're not too many games like this. You might have one or two a year, but the majority of them are different than that. I think that, yeah, Josh knows what we do. We know what their offense is, too. I think that's kind of a wash there. I'd say the big difference is he knows our personnel very well. He's coached with and against these guys on the practice field since most of them have been here. I think that's an advantage of knowledge that they have, but - again - it isn't like we haven't played Denver. We know their players, and they have some new players, and we have some new players. In the end, I think that will all even out. I think, as I said, what it will come down to is that's probably overrated, overhyped and over-talked about, and it's going to come down to the same thing we just said: who blocks, who can get open, who can cover who, who can tackle, who can break tackles, who throws accurately, who catches the ball, who drops it. That's what it's like every game and that's what it comes down to. I don't think they're going to come in and run anything we've never seen before, and I don't think we're going to run anything they've never seen before. In the end, the team that plays better on Sunday will win. The team that doesn't play as well will wish they had played better.
Q: There are some reports that Junior Seau may be joining the team again. Where does that stand?
BB: Well, I noticed he was doing some bull riding, bull stomping, or some bulls were stomping him, or whatever it was. We'll have to take a look at that workout and see how he looked doing that.
Q: Do you think his skill set, even at 40 years old, is still such that he can come back and make a contribution?
BB: I don't know. We'll have to look at that bull riding video and see what that looked like.
Q: It's not a sports job that he's applying for here, is he?
BB: Maybe the Zamboni guy. He's working on that, too, right?
Q: What's the level of communication between you and Josh McDaniels?
BB: I'd say we talk on a fairly regular basis. It's certainly not daily, but it's not once a year either. In the offseason, over the summer, training camp, we made a couple trades with him, and we talked about things.
Q: What do you think about what he's done with the team?
BB: I think they've done a great job. I think they are playing very well. I've seen, not all of them, but some of them at the end of the week, some last night and this morning, and I think they're doing a good job. They're playing good football. They don't beat themselves. It doesn't surprise me. It certainly doesn't surprise me. I have all the respect in the world for Josh, both as a coach, personnel evaluator and in general for his football knowledge and his ability to manage the game, whether it is as a coordinator or as a head coach. I think he has great insight into the game, so it doesn't surprise me. Just watching them play, they do a lot of things well, so that's reflected in their record. I didn't really see the Dallas game yesterday, just a couple bits and pieces of it, but that's another team that didn't score very many points on them that has some pretty good players on offense, we know that. They're playing good defense. They're taking advantage of their opportunities, that's how you win games in this league.
Q: Did Josh call you when he was going through some difficult issues in the offseason?
BB: I think I'll pass on that question. I think any conversations that Josh and I have on a personal nature will remain personal.
Q: Do you monitor what guys like Josh McDaniels, Scott Pioli and Eric Mangini do and how they do each week?
BB: I think in this league ... I understand there're a lot of people in the league, but there're 31 teams, and I think you know how they all do. You pick up the paper or see the scores and you kind of know how everybody did. Certainly, when you've been in the league as long as I have there are people on every team that I have coached, coached with, or [in] the front office. There's hardly any team in the league that there isn't some connection to, so you're aware of that, like all of us are, like any football fan is. But I am a lot more concerned with this team. I'm really a big fan of the Patriots. That's really my team, and that's the one that I'm the most concerned about, and that's the one I try to do the best job for. I understand everybody else has things to do and I respect that, but [I don't know] if there's anything I can do about it or really want to do about it. What I really want to do is try to help our team perform better and try to do a better job myself. That's where most of my focus and attention is. Everything that everybody else is going through, I'm sure that I've been through it or will go through it - or like I said - have already gone through that process along the way. It doesn't mean it won't come back up again, but right now my plate's full with things that I can do better and things that our team can do better, and that's really what I was to try to put my energy on.