Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday, October 14, 2009.
BB:OK, so we're spending a couple days here on Tennessee. As I said Monday and also on the conference call yesterday, this is a real good football team. They're a very experienced team, well-coached, tough, physical team. They do a great job running the ball. They do a great job defending the run. They cover kicks. [They have] good skill players, good pass rushers, a real good front, so you can see why they won a lot of games last year. They do a lot of things well. Jeff [Fisher] has done a great job down there for the 14 years he's been there. They play very consistently. They play very well, so we know this is going to be a big challenge for us this week. Chris Johnson's as good a back as we're going to face all year, as good a back as I've seen in awhile. He's really impressive, so is everybody else. They have a lot of good players – receivers, tight ends, offensive linemen, outstanding kicker, defensive front, linebackers, good safeties, so they have a lot of good players.
Q:There was a coach around here sometime back that used to say you are what your record says you are. They are 0-5, why should I believe that 0-5 is not accurate to what they are right now?
BB:Well, I'm not speaking about what their record is. I'm just saying get ready for their football team. They've got good talent, they've got good players, they play hard and that's what we have to get ready for, so that's what we're going to do.
Q:What has been the difference this year?
BB:They lost by a field goal against Pittsburgh. [Titans] got one [blocked] there. They lost by a field goal against the Texans. It's 14-9 against Indianapolis with a minute to go at half. They're playing without some of their best players. They lost a tight game against the Jets, fumbled a couple punts. A couple plays here and there like we've all seen. Everybody's been down that road before, but they're tough, they do a lot of things well. They're going to win their share of games, don't worry.
Q:Can you comment on the signing and arrival of Junior Seau, what he might be able to bring to this team and do you feel like the bull stomped the rust off of him?
BB:That was certainly an exciting play that Junior was involved in there, but it's good to have Junior back. He brings a lot of energy, experience and toughness to our team. We've been kind of talking about this for a little while, but worked it out here in the last day or two. He's here today and we're glad to have him. We'll just take it day to day. I don't know exactly how things will work this week, next week or any other week as far as game plans, utilization of our defensive personnel and so forth. I'm sure he'll contribute for us and it's good to have him.
Q:What was the impetus of bringing him back? Obviously he's in great shape, but at what point did you feel you could incorporate him into your defense?
BB:It's something we talked about for quite a while. I don't think Junior was going to be in training camp, so once that time passed then it was kind of on to the next discussion.
Q:How important is his leadership to a relatively young group of linebackers?
BB:Junior has a great approach to football. He has got a lot of energy. He has a lot of enthusiasm for the game. I don't think I have coached too many players – I'm not saying they're not passionate – but I haven't coached too many that are any more passionate than Junior is. So I think that's good for all of us. It's good for him, it's good for all the players, it's good for the coaches [and] it's good for the team. He brings a lot of positive energy and toughness, so those things are all good. I think there're a lot of guys that have that, too, on our team. It's not like we don't have anybody, but he brings it and you can always use another one and he definitely does that.
Q:How uncommon is it to see someone 40-years old still have those physical skills to play in this league?
BB:It's pretty rare. He's a pretty special guy. I think we all know that. Physically – his make-up, his instincts – he's just a football player and a real good one. He's a Hall of Fame guy and not too many of those come down the pike.
Q:We've seen this year what 40-year old Brett Favre can do, but do you think what Junior could be able to contribute is more special because of what is asked of a defensive player, especially in this system?
BB:I'm not going to make any predictions or try to rank anything. We're glad to have him. We'll get him out on the practice field today and just go from there, take it day-to-day.
Q:Is he going to play a strong side, inside?
BB:Well, Junior's a pretty versatile guy. He's played inside for us on both the strong and weak side. He's played in our sub defenses. He's actually played outside. He's a pretty versatile guy depending on the scheme and what we have called. I'm sure that he'll work at a lot of different spots like he usually does.
Q:Where do you anticipate him playing most?
BB:We'll have to wait and see.
Q:Is there a certain area where you think he can help you the most, whether it's stopping the run or improving your pass rush?
BB:I think he'll do the best he can at whatever we ask him to do.
Q:With the injuries the Titans have had in their secondary, what does that mean for your passing game?
BB:Well, I know [Cortland] Finnegan didn't play the last two weeks, but he's an outstanding player. We played against him back in '06. Seeing him through the years, great speed, quickness, good ball hawker, very good cover skills – both man and zone. He's a very instinctive player, so we certainly have to be ready for him. The two rookies – [Ryan] Mouton and [Jason] McCourty – both fast guys. They've done a good job when they've been in there, so they have pretty...Those guys have gotten some experience. They've got very experienced safeties, of course, with [Michael] Griffin and [Chris] Hope back there, a real good front. They have a couple of young guys playing back there, but I think they've held up well and they're getting better. They both can run. McCourty's a good tackler, a physical guy. Both of those guys have shown up in the kicking game, so I'm sure they have confidence in them and they should.
Q:From watching them on tape do you think they've missed Albert Haynesworth's presence?
BB:Their front's pretty good – nobody's really run the ball on them. They've knocked the passer down a lot. A guy like that of course...they're pretty good in there and it doesn't really matter who they put in there. They rotate all those guys through and they're all pretty good. They put a lot of pressure in the pocket. They put a lot of pressure on the running game. Nobody's really run the ball against them.
Q:You've had a number of rookies on both sides of the ball contribute both this year and last, are there similarities between all those rookies?
BB:I think they do work hard, similar to last year's group. I think they do work hard – football's important to them. They're here early, they stay late, they work on the field, they're attentive and I think they're getting better. They've been out there on the field consistently and when you're out there day after day, you're paying attention and you're working hard, it's hard not to improve and they've done that. They still have a long way to go, but as a group I think they're heading in the right direction. They've gone at different rates; some guys have started faster, level off and start to climb again [and] other guys started slower and they're starting to crest a little bit now. We'll see how it goes. Each week's its own challenge for all of us – coaches, players, rookies, veterans. [We need to] keep improving and keep doing a better job of what we're doing and that certainly includes them. We're not looking for anybody to level off. We want everybody to stay on that upswing, whether it's a 10-year veteran or a rookie, but especially for the young guys. There are a lot of things they need to work on and they need to keep doing that, stay with it and stay the course.
Q:You said a lot of nice things about the Titans despite the fact they are 0-5. Do you think there might be a tendency of some players to take the game a little too easily? What do you as a coach to...
BB:I would just turn on the projector. That's all I would do is just turn on the projector. I think anybody that would say that about the Titans obviously hasn't seen them play. I don't know how you could watch them on film and possibly think that unless you were sleeping while the film was rolling. I don't know how you could possibly think that.
Q:I know your focus is on the Titans this week, but I was hoping to get a few words about your trip to London. Are you looking forward to it at all?
BB:Yeah we are. Obviously, right now it's on the back burner, but when it comes it's a great opportunity for all of us to play in a new venue. When that game was scheduled in the spring it was very unique obviously, so there's anticipation there. But again, at this time it's not really something we're thinking about, but it will come in a little while. When it does come I know there's a little....That's a little extra special game on your schedule that you know you don't normally have. You have all your division games, all your other games and when you're playing on in London, put a little asterisk by that one; that one's a little bit different than the rest of them. When that comes that will be an interesting experience for us.
Q:How important for the NFL is it to expand beyond America?
BB:I don't know. You would have to talk to the people in the NFL about that. I'm just trying to coach this team. I'm trying to win a game.
Q:For you, yourself personally...
BB:For me, myself personally, my most important team is the New England Patriots and I just want us to go out and win.
Q:So it's not a distraction, really?
BB:Going to London, not a distraction?
Q:When things start to snowball during a game how difficult is it to stop it and what do you have to do to turn it around?
BB:I think when you are in games that come down to a couple plays it comes down to which teams make those plays. Honestly, most teams are in those kinds of games about every week. There might be a few that you have that aren't like that, but for the most part we've played nine games – 4 preseason games, 5 regular season game – I would say every game has pretty much came down to the last possession. We've won some of them; we've lost some of them. You look at a lot of other teams...Look at the team we played last week – it's the same thing with them. Tennessee – that's pretty much the way it is in this league: last couple possessions, last three or four minutes in the fourth quarter. If things happen a certain way at that point in time then that affects the outcome of the game. When you get to that point or the process of getting to that point [and] you make a few more plays than your opponents do, you come out on top. If they make a few more plays than you do, they come out on top. I don't think that's any big secret.
Q:Last week against the Broncos you played a lot of cover three defense. What goes into a decision like that?
BB:I don't think any defense is designed to concede deep routes. Whatever coverage you play, if they complete something you always want them to complete it in front of you, not behind you. Defenses we call in that game or any game is what we feel is the best in that situation for whatever the combination of reasons are. That's what it will be going forward. We'll call what we feel is best on offense, defense and special teams. I hope that we can go out there and execute those plays better than our opponents do.
Q:Do you anticipate seeing Vincent Fuller?
BB:Well I think we have to be ready for every player on the roster, if a player is on the active roster [and] there's always the possibility that a practice player could come up as well. We do our due diligence every week and prepare for the players that are active and the ones that can potentially be active. Which ones they want to use and how they want to use them is not in our control, but we certainly have to get ready for them. That always includes the backup quarterbacks and the other skill players and other players that we think are going to be active or are active on a weekly basis that they could put in there. We definitely have to prepare for Vince and for other players. As we all know one play could lead to a substitution, so we have to be ready for all of them.
Q:In England a lot of soccer coaches have looked to the NFL coaches for tips. Is that something NFL coaches have done to soccer coaches?
BB:I can't speak for any other coaches, but that's something I haven't had a lot of opportunity to do, no. I probably couldn't name one team in the England premier national soccer league or whatever it is –federation.
Q:Have you ever eaten fish and chips?
BB:Yeah, sure absolutely. I've been to London a couple times. It's great.
Q:At Wembley there is a pitch and in the last couple of years it cuts up and it's not conducive to the NFL. Is that something you're aware of?
BB:That is the kind of thing we'll talk about next week. Right now our focus is on the Titans. No disrespect to you guys, I know you are here trying to do your job, but we're trying to do ours. Next week we'll take into consideration all the things that are a little bit different, whether it be the venue, the field, the preparation, the time, all that stuff – absolutely. That's all part of the planning and schedule leading up to the game and those are important elements to play the game, but that's not something we're doing right this second. But it's all part of the preparation.