New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at the Super Bowl media center at the Phoenix Convention Center on February 1, 2008.
BB: Good morning. Well, we're winding down our preparations for the game and I know the players and the coaches and the entire organization, we're very excited to be participating in this game. We're looking forward to Sunday afternoon, of course recognizing the big challenge we have against a great Giants football team that's playing extremely well at this time of year – [in] the last month since we saw them. Hopefully we'll be able to put our best game out there on Sunday and perform as well as we possibly can.
(On maintaining momentum and if the team lost its focus at any point this year)
BB: We have – Some days are better than others, as you would expect when you have this long of a season. I think the players have done a great job this year all season long of coming in, trying to work hard each day, get better that day, prepare for the opponent that we're playing that week and go out there and do their best. It's not perfect, [it] doesn't always work out quite the way we want it to but they've been very consistent and tried to do their job, put the team first, work hard and pay attention to all the little things that help make them better, so give the players all the credit for that -- they deserve it.
(On the most challenging thing about the Giants and if there's anything he wishes he'd talked about this week that hadn't come up)
BB: I think everything has been covered pretty thoroughly by you guys. I give you a lot of credit for that. The Giants do everything well. It's hard to pinpoint one thing. They're a very physical team in all three phases of the game. They're physical in the kicking game, they can run the ball, they can stop the run, they can rush the passer, they're a good tackling team. The physical element of their play, their toughness, their consistency and their ability to play mistake-free football, not turning the ball over, taking advantage of those turnovers on the defensive side of the ball, not giving up easy plays. I think their consistency, their toughness and their ability to make and not give up big plays, those things make them tough to beat.
(On if the NFL's performance enhancing drug policies are sufficient)
BB: I really don't have much familiarity, other than what I get from the league, on that -- whatever they put out. I'm not involved in that at all. It's totally run by the league, that's their field of expertise, their doctors and their people, whoever they talk to, however they administer it. That's totally a league-related issue. We don't have anything to do with. We don't administer the testing. We don't have any control over the discipline or anything else. It's totally a league issue.
(On the similarities in coaching styles between he and Tom Coughlin)
BB: We both try to do what's best for our football team [and] coach the players in ways to make them better, whether that be little things, technique things, or whether it be in strategies that will attack the opponent and try to create opportunities for our players. I think in the end, as a coach you want to try and put your players in a position were they can succeed and be successful and execute what you're asking them to do. That either comes with you helping them do it better, or, if you're kind of going up against a wall, finding a way to come up with a system or a scheme that gives them a little more opportunity to do what you want them to do, to do their job and be successful. I'd say those are similarities. As it gets into specifics, that would be a game to game, a very technical conversation.
(On if he's had any contact with English Premier League coaches and what he's learned from them)
BB: Unfortunately I haven't had any, so maybe someday our paths will cross. I'd look forward to that, but haven't had any at this point.
(On New York's plans to hold a parade on Tuesday and if he has any thoughts on that)
BB: Not really. Right now our thoughts are on the game Sunday afternoon against the Giants and really that's where everything's going to be settled. I know there's a lot of talk about somebody said this, somebody said that, somebody else is doing this, some other town is doing that -- whatever it is. This game will be decided by the team that performs the best on Sunday and that's the way it should be and that's what it will come down to.
(On the success of the players he has brought into the Patriots and creating a team philosophy)
BB: I think, as with every team in the National Football League there's a lot of turnover each year. Every team brings in new players and some players are more successful than others and that's been true for us, but I think the big thing that we try to look for when Scott Pioli and I get together and talk about – with our respective scouting and coaching staffs, talk about players -- is what do we want them to do. What role do we envision them in, what spot do we see on the team that that player could perform and then try and find players that fit that criteria that can do the things that we want them to do. I think that gives them a lot better chance to succeed, as opposed to going out there and getting somebody and then saying, OK, now what are we going to do with them? Can he do this, can he do that. We try to find somebody that can specifically fill a spot or do a job in our system that is pretty well defined. Whether that be a third receiver, a fourth corner, a swing tackle, sixth linebacker, fifth running back, whatever it happens to be. We try to define those spot on our team and then find players that will fit the criteria both physically and mentally and from an experience stand point and so forth that we identify for that.
(On his relationship with Bill Parcells and if it's "complicated")
BB: That was the way it was characterized then and I've spent time with Bill [Parcells] in more recent – since then. Bill and I shared a lot of success together and I think we'll always treasure those victories and those good times. He's tremendous coach, he's done a great job, he's had a tremendous career, a Hall of Fame career and I'm sure he'll be there at some point. Unfortunately he's back in our division as a competitor and I totally respect him and his football ability both as a coach and an administrator and a talent evaluator. Now we'll be competing against each other again and I'm sure it will be very challenging.
(On if this team has gotten better towards the end of the year than it was at the beginning, when the scores were more lopsided)
BB: We've faced a lot of challenges in the second half of the season that were different from the first half of the season, both [in] the teams that we played, the style that they played us, in some cases the playing conditions and the schedule and so forth. Each week brings it's own challenges, it's own unique situation. I think our team learned from each and every practice and game that it participated in in the second half of the season, particularly in November and December and then as it's carried through into January in the playoffs. Those were all good experiences for us. I think that we took something from each one of them and hopefully that will work to make us a better, more experienced team in our final game this Sunday.
(On if he will approach this game against the Giants the same way he approached the regular season match-up)
BB: Each game takes on its own personality. There are some elements of that game that probably will carry a similar pattern; I think there are other elements that'll be different. I certainly hope that we can hold them to less than 35 points. I'm sure that they're hoping to hold us to less than 38. Each game is different. Some things will be the same, certainly we'll have some change ups and some variations from our first game. I'm sure they will as well and then how those match up against each other, even if we ran the exact same game plan and they ran the exact same game plan, it's just so unlikely that the plays would match up the same in the second game even if you didn't change anything. Then when you add in game plan changes and adjustments and put those multiples together, that's what makes football exciting -- It's always different.
(On Tom Brady's comment yesterday that this was the biggest game of his career and if he feels the same way)
BB: I think it's the biggest game of all of our football careers because it's the next game. It's the next game, it's the Super Bowl, it's for the championship, so I can't think of a bigger game than that. We're here and that's we're here for. We worked all year for this game and we're happy to be a participant in it. We're privileged to be in it, and of course it's a big game -- it's a huge game. It's a year's worth of work to get here.
(On what his message is to Giants fans, given his affection for that organization, and if it depends on the outcome of the game)
BB: When I was with the Giants the Giants' fans were great. They were very supportive and they still are. They're great fans. I have all the respect in the world for the Giants fans, Giants organization and their football team. I'm on the other side of the field this week, so there's no way I'm pulling for them but those were 12 great years there and I appreciate everything that happened during those 12 years with the Giants, from the organization to the players through the team through the support of the fans and the community. That being said, I've moved on. I know they still love their team and they should. I love our fans and the support we've received in New England and I'm proud to be a New England Patriot. We're going to go out there and do our best against the Giants on Sunday.
(On the officiating crew for the Super Bowl and if he's had prior experience with any of them this season)
BB: As you know, we had Mike Carey in the last game against the Giants back in December. Through the course of the season you usually have each crew at least once and sometimes twice during the season. That's generally the way it works out and in this case with it kind of being an all star crew, not the entire crew, certainly we've seen all those officials if not this year in previous years. Since we've been there eight years, we have seen a lot of these guys multiple times and they have seen us. I think the officials do a great job of trying to be professional and trying to do their job. They make mistakes just like we do, just like coaches do, just like players do and just like teams do. I think everybody is out there doing their best and the ones that are here to officiate this game are the ones that have done the best by Mike Pereira's determination, that have had the best year and done their job the best in the official's grading system. I respect that and I respect the job that NFL officials do. I am more concerned about our job and how well we play and coach and perform on Sunday and we'll let the officials do their job. If I have a question, I will throw a flag.
(On how important it is for coaches at this level to motivate their players to make plays beyond what they would otherwise make)
BB: I think as a coach you always want to have your team in a good place going into the game—both emotionally, physically and also in terms of total team preparation, so I think that's important. For this game, I think all of our players are ready to go and they should be. They've worked hard to get to this point and I know they're excited to play. I know they're looking forward to the game and I know they're looking forward to the challenge of facing the New York Giants. I think they're going to be ready to go and I don't think it'll take a whole lot to change that.
(On his relationship with Robert Kraft and what he thinks makes him such a successful owner in this league)
BB: Robert and I go back to the 1996 season when I came to the Patriots, when Coach Parcells was the head coach, and worked on the defensive side of the ball. I got to know Robert then and I think that led to, eventually, my coming back here in 2000. He's been very supportive. Of course, he gave me a number one draft choice to bring me to the Patriots from the Jets and I certainly appreciate the confidence that he showed to do that. We've had a good working relationship for eight years. I consider him a great person to work for and a good friend. I think our relationship extends both into the business and also outside the business on a personal level and it's a very good one.
(On his coaching style and how he gets players to play for him)
BB: I'll put it this way. As a coach you try to do what you feel is best for your football team and best for each individual player. That's not necessarily the same each week and it's not the same for each player and it's not the same in different situations. It varies. You have to kind of take it how it comes and in the end do what you think is best for all the parties involved. The team is always number one. Whatever that is, that's what I will do. Whatever I feel is best for our football team, that's the decision I'll make. Whether it is a game day decision, a personnel decision, a personal meeting with a player, a strategic move, a play to call or whatever. My priority is always what's best for this football team. That drives everything I do for the New England Patriots and whatever style it comes in, that could be part of it too.
*(On what else there will be to accomplish for him as a coach and for the team if they go undefeated) *
BB: Right now we are just thinking about trying to win this game and beat the Giants. That is all we are thinking about. I don't know what happens after that, we'll deal with it at that point in time. Right now, it's only on the Giants.
(On if there is any outside influence that may be affecting Tom Brady's game)
BB: No. Tom Brady is one of the most consistent, well prepared, dependable and steady players I have ever coached. No.
(On Senator Arlen Specter and Congress possibly looking into tape controversy)
BB: That's a League matter. I don't know anything about it.