Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his postgame press conference following the team's preseason game against the New Orleans Saints at Gillette Stadium on Thursday, August 12, 2010.
BB: I think we had a real productive week this week, culminating with the game tonight. [It was a] real competitive game. It went right down to the last two-minute situation. I thought the players played hard. They fought hard for 60 minutes. It certainly wasn't perfect. We had a lot of mistakes out there, but we made some plays and there were positives, I think, in all three phases of the game: offense, defense and special teams. We had some problems in all three phases, too. We have a lot of things to work on, but I feel like we made some progress this week and [I'm] looking forward to another productive week next week down in Atlanta. We kind of put the shoe on the other foot there and go down and work with the Falcons. I thought a lot of guys played hard. [We] played a lot of young players. Those guys got a lot of playing time and some of it was early in the game against good competition. We'll take a look at the film and evaluate all that and get back to work here and keep trying to bring things together, work through our situational stuff and try to get the team coming together here in the next three preseason games.
Q: In your mind, going into tonight were there one or two things you specifically wanted to see and did you see them?
BB: I think we obviously wanted to work on our fundamentals in the first game of the year: tackling, blocking, footwork, leverage, ball handling, all the basic things and I think that's the start. If those aren't good, then it doesn't matter what you do; there's going to be a problem from then on. I thought that there were some good signs there. [We're] trying to smooth out our game operation. We all need work on that - all the coaches, the head coach, the assistant coaches, the play calling, the time clock, the tempo of the game, going from one situation to another, from first down to second and short, to third and long, to special teams play and so forth. You don't practice quite like that. You segment it a little bit, so even though we try to simulate it in practice, it's not what it is out there in a game. For the most part it was ok. There were some things that came up that we need to straighten out a little bit, but overall, those were some of the main things we wanted to get done: get our game operation and try to get our fundamentals and do the little things right so we at least have the chance to do some of the other aspects of the game.
Q: With Devin McCourty coming in and having played a lot of special teams in college, were the kind of returns he made today what you had hoped to see and did he kind of put himself into that position?
BB: We'll see. I think we have several players that are in competition in the return game. He got a couple opportunities tonight. I'm sure he'll get some later in the preseason and I'm sure other players will [too]. In the end, we'll try to put - whoever it is - somebody back there - or whether it's a group of people - that [will] be productive in the return game. That's certainly something we can improve on from last season.
Q: In the end, was this a better product since you guys shared some practices together?
BB: I don't know. There were some good things. There were some not-so-good things. I think that's probably the way it is in most preseason games. We've got a long way to go, but there were some good things. I've seen worse [like] Cincinnati in '02 or '01, whatever it was - '03. I've seen worse.
Q: I know you've been focusing on the red zone. Were you pleased with the way the team preformed tonight in keeping them out of there?
BB: Yeah, at times we did. They ran it in on us down there and so we need to do a better job on that. But again, the Saints are a good football team and it's unrealistic to think we're going to play them and them not get their punches in, too, and they did. We had our moments. We got a couple stops. We didn't get a couple and the same thing offensively. I would have liked to do a little more with that opening drive. We had good field position and a good opportunity there, but in the end we were able to get it in at times. That was good, but hopefully we can build on that.
Q: Tom Brady was under center for about 14 of the 17 snaps he was on the field for, which seems a little bit uncharacteristic of what you guys usually do. Was there an emphasis on getting balance out there with that and working more under center?
BB: Maybe it was that way today. I think you'll see him in the gun.
Q: What are your thoughts on the strides that Julian Edelman has made from his rookie year to this year?
BB: Julian is a good player. He works hard. He pays attention to little things. Julian is one of those players that when you ask him to work on something, he really puts everything into it and tries to do what the coaches ask him to do and improve. He's improved steadily since he's been here. For a guy who had never played receiver until a little over a year ago, he does a lot of things well. And he's still learning and he's still getting better and he still works hard. He made some plays again tonight with the ball in his hands.
Q: Brandon Spikes was out there to start the game next to Jerod Mayo and then he stayed in. Was that in order to get him a little of the play calling under his belt?
BB: We felt like Spikes needed to play a little bit more than some of the other guys in that group. He's never played, so…I don't know how many snaps he got, probably 25, 30, somewhere in there. We just felt like he needed more snaps than some of the guys he was out there with in the opening group.
Q: How important is it for the young guys to make a good impression in these preseason game and do they have more at stake?
BB: I think there is a lot at stake for everybody. We're all trying to do the same thing. All the coaches and player are trying to do the same thing. We're trying to get better each week and get ready for the regular season. And we all have a long way to go. I haven't coached a game in whatever it's been - six, seven months. Practice is practice, but there's game speed, game decisions, games for everybody - players, coaches, young guys, old guys, we've all got to get back into it. I'm sure I've participated in as many preseason games as just about anybody around here, but it's still the same thing for me and everybody else. It's different than what I've been doing the last six months. I think it's important for all of us.
Q: Since you always like situational football, how beneficial was it to end the game the way you did, especially with all the young guys you had in?
BB: It was good. We had a red area situation on the Saints' drive and then we were able to get the ball in scoring range. I mean, it wasn't pretty. You usually don't get the whole length of the field on one slip screen play, but that's the way it worked out. We can learn from that. I thought Zac [Robinson], overall, handled those situations pretty well. A couple of them weren't easy. They were getting a lot of pressure on us. They had a good pass rush, a couple good rushes there and there at the end of the game. It's good. Every play is good in the preseason. Every play you can learn from - good, bad, or whatever the situation is, if it's four-minute, two-minute, it's all good. It's a chance to get out there and play and take what you've done on the practice field and put it into game situations and learn from it there.
Q: How encouraging is it at this early part of the preseason o be able to sustain a drive like that first group did there?
BB: It's always nice to have nice drives. We love to move the ball, whether it's all in one play or in a series of plays. They did the same thing to us. We had good field position on the first drive and couldn't do anything with it. Again, we had our moments. There were times when we strung some plays together and there were times when we didn't. That was true of the Saints as well. I think that's what football is. Sometimes you can get it going. Other times you play against a good team and they give you problems. That's kind of the way this game, back and forth. You've got a 24-7 lead early in the fourth quarter and then all of sudden it's 24-21. They're explosive. They can score in a hurry and I think we can, too. Or we can be methodical, just like New Orleans did. I don't know, what did they have? It seemed like about a 50-play drive on their touchdown. That's what good offenses do. They take what the defense gives you and whether they bleed you to death or get it all in one shot, that's what a good offense does.
Q: When it comes to the decision to not dress Wes Welker, is the reasoning that it's better to play it safe?
BB: I would just say that the players that didn't dress and play tonight, we just didn't feel that they were ready to play. That goes for everybody.
Q: Was it important for you guys to get out to a strong start after the way last season ended?
BB: We're not really worried about last year. It's a new year. We've had 20-some practices and this is our first preseason game so we want to go out there and take the things we did on the practice field and put them into game situations and try to do a good job of them. Whatever happened last year doesn't really matter. We're just trying to focus on this game and take what we've done and learn from it.
Q: Can you comment on Julian Edelman's play today and if you approach the offense differently now knowing more what to expect from him in his second year?
BB: I thought Julian did a good job tonight. He certainly made some good runs. He did a good job with the ball in his hands. There are still a lot of things he needs to work on. He's a young player that's still learning, but I think all our second-year players have made a big jump from last year and we can count on all of them, including Julian and everybody else, a lot more than last year because they know more, they're more confident and we're more confident, not only the coaches, but their teammates and everything else. So when situations come up, they've practiced them, they've executed them in a team setting, and so we're confident that they will be able to do that in game situations. Julian did that at times last year and he's built on that this year, as again, have all the other second-year players. Overall, as a group, those guys have made a big jump for us between last year and this year in the offseason, training camp, the spring camps, all of it.