Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Tuesday, October 20, 2009.
BB: It seems like we are kind of far ahead here for a Tuesday, so maybe that's a good thing. We made a couple roster moves today. You know Joey [Galloway] - [we] moved on on that one. He's had a great career. It's just one of those things; it just didn't work out. I don't think it's anybody's fault or anything that you can pinpoint, it's just one of those things that didn't work out. [It was] kind of the same thing with Mike Matthews. I thought he came in and did a good job for us. He came in late, started learning the stuff from the start of the regular season after missing training camp - being with the Giants - and we just kind of decided to move on in a little different direction. We started practicing the two P.U.P. guys. We'll wait and see how that goes. We haven't seen them do anything yet. They were just involved in the walkthrough today. We'll see how that goes. Certainly by the end of the week there's a possibility we'll add somebody in those roster spots. It could be P.U.P. players. It could be practice squad players. I don't know yet, and I'm certainly not going to commit to that until we get a chance to see how everybody does, but those are possibilities. As far as Tampa goes, this is a new team, a team that half their team is draft choices in the last five years and they've got a number of undrafted free agents. Some of them are very good - [Clifton] Smith, last year, who went to the Pro Bowl as a returner. They have a lot of young guys, very active guys, fast guys. They're fast on defense, they have a very good secondary [and] they have a good blend of experience and youth with a guy like Ronde Barber, [Agib] Talib, [Sabby] Piscitelli and kids like that in the secondary. [Barrett] Ruud's a tackling machine. He's very impressive. Offensively, [Josh] Johnson's a very athletic quarterback. That's a guy that can make plays with his arm and his feet. [They've] got a bunch of good running backs, a tight end, big receivers, pretty good offensive line - [Davin] Joseph is one of the better blockers we face this year. He's been pretty impressive. They're very good on the coverage units - [Torrie] Cox, one of the best kick cover guys in the league, gunner and covering kickoffs, excellent return game. They have a lot of good football players. They're young, they hustle, they're getting better, they're physical [and] they've already returned a couple turnovers for scores, so you have to be careful with the ball. Defensively, they're explosive to break the return game. [Sammie] Stroughter stepped in there and made a big play for them last week. He's also showed up offensively, so they've got some big play players out there. [Kellen] Winslow, of course, is a big target for them in the passing game right in the middle of the field. That kind of forces your defense to respect that aspect of the passing game maybe more so than some other weeks. And of course they have a lot of good backs and those guys make quite a few yards; they run the ball well. So that's the story on Tampa. We're pushing things up a little bit here, just trying to get a jumpstart today. We didn't practice, just went out and walked through some stuff and we'll practice tomorrow and Thursday. And hopefully by Thursday we'll pretty much have everything in so that when we go out there on Friday we're just having a little review of what we've done, rather than trying to get into a lot of new installation, new plays and stuff like that. We want to try to get that done in the next two days. We'll make the adjustment there and on Friday - and then hopefully Saturday and Sunday - we'll kind of get back on a normal body clock schedule and be ready to go Sunday night. That's our plan for the week.
Q: Was any of the maneuvering that you did in the past 24 hours in anticipation of possibly making a deal and did you come close to pulling a deal?
BB: No, really that had nothing to do with it. We just, like I said, felt like with the two players released that it was just time to move on. I know that coincides with the P.U.P. guys starting to practice. I don't know if a player, after a couple days of practice, is going to be ready to play coming off of P.U.P. I'm not really sure about that. It's a possibility, but I think that's a lot to ask. We'll see how it goes.
Q: When you lose a tight end and a receiver, does that mean you are looking to add a tight end and a receiver?
BB: We'll do what we feel like is best for our team. We've got a couple guys that are banged up on the offensive side of the ball. Again, [with] that being said, I think that in the long term everybody will be back at some point. We have a lot of guys on the practice squad that have done a good job. I know you haven't seen that and you don't see them after the preseason games are over, but there're guys that have done a good job there and I think there's a possible move up from there and, again, we have a couple of P.U.P. guys. Out of that group of players we'll figure out what does the most for us this week, where we want to be, but that will be a decision that will come at the end of the week. That's not anything that we've made now or are probably going to make in the next couple of days; we'll wait until the end of the week after we get a chance to see everybody work.
Q: Technicality-wise, does the clock officially start today on the P.U.P. guys?
Q: On releasing Michael Matthews, that pick was conditional. Were the conditions met?
BB: No, they weren't.
Q: So you still have that pick?
Q: On the Tully Banta-Cain and Eric Alexander contracts, can you explain what happened?
BB: Well we released Tully yesterday and he's resigned with us.
Q: Is there something that allows you to do something contract-wise?
BB: Well, yeah, there're a lot of things that are different and different procedures and rules that I don't even know if I understand them all. It's not a big thing.
Q: Does that allow you to do a long-term extension?
BB: Yeah, again, I don't want to get into a lot of technicalities because I'm not even sure that I could accurately explain them all. It was a procedural thing and it's not a big thing.
Q: So they had the understanding that they'd be back when they were released?
BB: Well, they were released...Tully was released yesterday and he's resigned. Eric was not released yesterday, contrary to some published reports.
Q: Now that the London trip is upon you, do you have any thoughts about going there and having to bring your team there?
BB: We've certainly spent a lot of time on the logistics in trying to make sure that we're ready to do the most important thing, which is play the game and prepare for the game. That being said, I've coached in a lot of games but never one like this, so this is a new experience and one that certainly breaks up the routine a little bit. I've been to London before. It's a great city; it's a great place to visit. We're not going there to necessarily do a lot of sightseeing and all that, but it's a different venue and something that's a little bit new for, basically, all of us - either if you've been there but not during football season, not to play a game there. Wembley Stadium is very historical. I'm sure it will be something that we'll all remember. I've coached in a lot of games and to be honest with you I can't say that I can recall them [all], but I doubt this is a game that you would play in or coach in and look back in 10 years and say....I'm sure there will be a lot of memories of the whole - the trip, the game, the venue, the whole thing. Is it different? Yeah. It certainly is something we're looking forward to, but the most important thing is we're ready to play.
Q: Have you coached anywhere outside of the states or is this the farthest away?
BB: When I was in Cleveland we played a preseason game against the Patriots in Toronto, which that was a barnburner as I recall.
Q: That didn't require a passport...
BB: It didn't. It barely required a plane trip.
Q: Do you think the NFL should be spreading the gospel?
BB: Oh, I don't know. Look, that's not my...I'm just trying to coach a team; I'm not trying to solve the world's problems or tell the league how to run the league and all that. I'm just trying to coach a team. I'll leave that to...There're a lot of other people that know a lot more about that than I do.
Q: Did you go over which was the best day to go?
BB: Sure, when the schedule came out and we saw this game on the schedule we looked into it. We sent the search party out there in the spring and a little bit earlier this season to look at the different options - where to practice, the accommodations [and] all the stuff that's different about this trip. They've done a great job organizationally of preparing us for it and giving us the options. We talked to the team today about some of the things they would need to do, things that will be different, so nobody gets caught by surprise and we can be prepared for them to a degree before we actually experience it. We'll deal with those, but the organization's really handled....I don't know anything. I'm just going with what the overall plan is to put a team over there, play a game and come back.
Q: Have you talked to anybody on the teams that have been over there?
BB: I did. Obviously the biggest thing is the time change. It's the same for both teams. It's a long trip and you have to readjust. The decision, really, was to either go over early and get used to that and try to take your whole operation over there - all your meetings, film, preparation work and all that - and do it at that end, or do it at this end and then go over and try to adjust to the time change. We've selected this option. I'm sure there're other teams that have done it other ways. We felt like this was what was best for us, was to get our preparation done here and then make the move on Thursday.
Q: Is going to the Super Bowl kind of similar to this?
BB: No, I'd say it's completely different. Because in those situations, like last year when we went to California, we did all of our preparation out there. We moved the whole thing there. This is really more like an away game, like a West Coast trip. It's just a longer one. You get into international travel and that extends the before and after flight time, and going to a place that basically we've never been to before. There're hardly any games we play where we haven't been to wherever it is we're going - the city, the logistics, the stadium and so forth. Every once in a while there's a little change, but for the most part we've all done that. This is one where there's just a lot of newness. It will be fun to see what that's all about.
Q: We often hear about how difficult this offense is to learn for receivers. For a receiver like Joey Galloway, what was it?
BB: I would say it just didn't work out.
Q: Does moving up your preparation entail working more and longer hours?
BB: Normally we have Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, so this week we have basically Tuesday afternoon, Wednesday and Thursday. Then when we get out there on Friday, we'll have a short workout at Wembley, but it will be after a long flight and I don't think the quality of that workout would be what a normal Friday workout would be here. We're not really looking to put in a lot of new plays and a lot of new stuff out there. I just don't think that would be the right way to do it. So whatever we're going to do, we'll do here in the next two days, kind of like we would if we had a Saturday game. We have Wednesday, Thursday and then Friday would be the day before the game. Now we kind of have two days before the game, if that makes any sense. After Wednesday, Thursday practice, then instead of having one day before the game, we have a travel day and then another day before the game, so we're kind of having two Saturdays, if you will.
Q: Have you heard anything about the condition of the field? Any concerns there?
BB: We'll be on it on Saturday. It's a grass field. We've played on plenty of grass fields before. We've played on soft ones, played on hard ones, so I think we've got shoes to fit every possible field condition that there is. I'm sure we'll take a couple of different shoes, see which ones work best, and go out there and play. I don't think it's anything we haven't experienced before.
Q: Do you know any more about Sammy Morris' condition and how comfortable would you be going into the game with only three running backs?
BB: Well we've done that before; we've gone into games with three running backs before. If that's what it is, then that's what it is. If that's what it is, then somebody else would probably have to, as an emergency, be ready to backup that position.
Q: How thankful are you, with all the logistics and everything, that you have a bye week after this game?
BB: Well, I think that's part of the whole program. I mean, the teams that do that, that's when the bye week hits. Yeah, it would be tough coming back on the back end of that trip and getting back and getting reacclimated on Sunday. That would make it a short week, so I'm glad we don't have to do that.
Q: With respect to the offensive line, the two tackles that played against Tennessee, was there a backup to those guys?
BB: Of course.
Q: Who was it?
BB: We didn't really ever get into that situation, so...
Q: What is the contingency plan for that position?
BB: Well if you have seven guys for five spots, then either one guy's got to play a lot of spots or a couple guys have got to double up or whatever it is. Dante [Scarnecchia] does a great job of training everybody to do multiple things. We go through that as early as the spring and move guys around and make them learn different positions. You never know when a situation's going to come up where somebody's going to have to do that. You never want that, but if you go into a game with seven linemen and something happens to somebody, now you're down to six and now you've got six guys for five spots. You've got to spin the wheel again there. That's part of our preparation every week, though. The alternative is to carry more linemen, and that means you've got less guys in the kicking game and less guys on offensive and defensive situational football, because those are really made up of skill players. So you have to try to find that balance between how many linemen do you need and how many more skill players does that give you. The more of one you have, the less of the other.
Q: Does Mark LeVoir coming of P.U.P. give you a little more flexibility there?
BB: Well, not until he's active, it doesn't. In practice it does; it gives us another player in practice. Whether we activate him, whether he's active for the game, again, that decision hasn't been made yet, so I don't know whether that's a factor or not.
Q: Are you confident about Sammy Morris being back this season?
BB: Sure. If the player wasn't going to be back during the season, we'd place him on IR. So if at any point, if that's the reality of what an injury is, then we place the player on injured reserve and replace him with somebody that can help us.
Q: Would you feel any different about this game if you were Tampa losing a home game?
BB: I don't know. I mean obviously, when the game is scheduled, we show up and play them. There're long weeks, there're short weeks, there're road games, there're home games. When they're on the schedule, we show up and play them. All of that is out of our control. We don't have any input on it. I don't have any say in it. We know who the teams are we're going to play at the end of the season. We don't know what the schedule is, but then when that comes out, here is the order they're in, here are the days they're on. And then as we get to the end of the year and they flex schedule us and change the schedule around again, when they schedule them, we play them. And that's really the attitude that I was brought up with and that's the way that every coach that I worked for approached it and I think that's absolutely right. That's the way I look at it. There's nothing you can do about when a game is scheduled, so whenever it is, you get ready to go out there and play it.
Q: I know you said that things just didn't work out with Joey Galloway, but when you brought him in here, what was your expectation?
BB: That it would work out. Any time you sign a player, you expect that he'll come in and be a productive player for you. He was inactive the last three games and it just didn't really work out for us, unfortunately, but sometimes that happens.
Q: Given the hostility that existed between the Patriots and the British, are you at all concerned about the tenor of things over there?
BB: I'll tell the players not to stand too close to me in case they throw something and miss it might hit them. I'm sure we'll have a lot of security with us and they'll take good care of us, but thanks for brining that up.
Q: Can you talk about Sam Aiken's contract extension and getting that wrapped up?
BB: Well, Sam was in the last year of his contract. He's done a great job for us. We brought him in here from Buffalo. He's been a big producer for us in the kicking game and the players elected him in an overwhelming fashion - it was almost unanimous, really - as their special teams captain. He's done a great job for us at receiver at different points during his career, at different positions whether it's inside or outside. So that was a player we have a lot respect for, that's done a good job for us and that we want to continue with, so I'm glad we're able to do that.
Q: How did things proceed with Adalius Thomas this week?
BB: Everything's the same for every player. They've all got the same job: come in, learn the game plan, be ready to go. Substitutions and playing time are coaches' decisions; they're not players' decisions. A player's job is to be ready to play and if he's put into the game, then to go out there and play his best. All 53 guys, it's the same for all of them.
Q: Do you expect him to be active for the Tampa Bay game?
BB: As we always do, we'll activate the players that we feel give us the best chance to win this game, whoever those players are. And that goes across the board, all 53 guys.