New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday, August 13, 2008.
BB: Good morning. This is kind of our day to transition into a little bit of a regular season schedule. It is similar to a normal Wednesday for us with the game on Sunday. It is still training camp, I don't need say that but the rest of the week will be kind of a normal Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. We travel on Saturday and play on Sunday. This is a good chance for us to transition into our regular season routine from an organization and preparation standpoint. It will be similar to the routine we would have getting ready for a game. Our next two games are back to back, so we really don't have an opportunity to do that then. That is part of what we are doing here today. It will be a little bit of a normal Wednesday practice for us.
We are excited about playing Tampa Bay. I think it is a great opportunity for us for a lot of reasons. Like I mentioned yesterday, with the quality of their team, our good preseason game with them last year, the scheme they use and going down to play in warm weather will give our conditioning levels a little bit of a challenge. They are a good football team that does a lot of things well. They are well coached and have a lot of good players that know what they are doing. I think our team will get a lot out of this week from a preparation standpoint by playing against the Bucs. We are looking forward to it and we will try to get off to a good start today and be ready to go Sunday night.
Q: Is there any particular area on offense that you are trying to improve?
BB: Everything, we are working on everything. We are working on everything on special teams and everything on offense and defense.
Q: Are you encouraged with what you have seen in practice so far?
BB: On Monday and Tuesday we worked on a lot of things that were meant for total preparation for the season and some things that have come up that we need to do a better job of. There are some other things that haven't come up that we need to be sure that we are prepared for - coverages, blitzes and things like that. We are working on timing of plays that we are running, a lot of which we didn't run against Baltimore. All those things were kind of on the 'hit parade' and we will continue to work on those things about 20 percent of the time and the other 80 percent will be geared towards things that Tamp Bay does. What they do is a lot different form what we do so there are things we haven't seen from our defense in training camp. There is not just one thing; there are a lot of things. The 'hit parade' is long. There are a lot of things on it.
Q: You had the defense run a lap yesterday in practice. What was that about?
BB: It was for a mistake they made. It was a team mistake so everybody. Everybody thought about it while they ran around the field.
Q: Where did the use of a penalty lap come from? Is that something you had seen earlier in your career?
BB: I started doing it with the [New York] Giants. Then when I became a head coach, I made it more of a team thing. I would do it for one guy if it was his mistake. Sometimes we did it with the whole defensive unit. It just gives everybody a chance to think about what happened while they are running around the field. Maybe the guys who made the mistake get some advice from guys who are running that don't feel like running.
Q: Do you think the penalty lap could be counterproductive when the crowd cheers for the players when they run by? Could it be promoting the players to make more mistakes?
BB: I think the guys that are running don't care about the crowd cheering. I think they are thinking about what just happened, why they are running and maybe trying not run again. I think that cheering goes over their heads - I hope it does anyway.
Q: You were there at the finish line of the lap. What were the words you had for them?
BB: I definitely said something to them. It is not what we are looking for and the more of those things happen then the laps will keep accumulating. Could be one today, two tomorrow and four the next day. Eventually, we will get the message across.
Q: Did you ever run the penalty lap when you were with the Giants?
BB: it depended on what it was. If it was a coaching mistake then yeah. If it was something that was covered that the team should have known what to do then no. That is their responsibility.
Q: Last year at this time one of the big topics was how Adalius Thomas would adjust to this defense…
BB: And Randy Moss wasn't practicing - right? Those were the two things…
Q: Yes, one of the things. How has Adalius grown and how has he fit himself into this defense?
BB: Good, Adalius is a smart guy who works hard. He has played in multiple positions in our defense. Last year at this time he was playing inside, getting some reps outside, involved in different things in the sub defense, playing off and on the line, playing in coverage and playing as part of the pass rush. He has a lot of experience from doing different things. He has played 16 regular season games and three postseason games plus the preseason last year. He has a lot of game situations under his belt. I think he has really become one of the leaders on defense, not that he wasn't last year but more so going into his second year. Going into his second year he knows more of what he is doing as opposed to feeling like 'I have to learn this and learn that.' I am not saying he doesn't have anything to learn; we all have more to learn. He is a lot further ahead then he was last year. He has been very positive in his work ethic and with helping some of the younger linebackers like Shawn [Crable], Vince [Redd], Pierre [Woods] and those guys. It has been good, especially with Mike [Vrabel] being out there for a couple of weeks. He really stepped up and gave a lot of leadership and good work ethic to the entire unit. He has done well and we are glad to have him.
Q: Was it nice to have one of your former quarterbacks Jeff Hostetler watching his nephew [tight end Jonathan Stupar] out there and did he give any advice to the team?
BB: Yeah, Jeff had a little bit of an unusual career and a very good one at that. He had to persevere and go through a lot. He waited six and a half years before he got to play quarterback. He was playing wide receiver, played on special teams and did a lot of scout team work before he got a chance to play quarterback. It is a good lesson for all of us, players and coaches, that you don't know when those opportunities are going to come and you need to be ready to take advantage of them when they arrive. That is all you can do - prepare for them. Eventually know that you will have a chance.
When Jeff came in the '90 season, Phil [Simms] got hurt and we got off to such a great start. Pretty much all the experts wrote us off thinking without Simms we wouldn't be able to win. We ended up losing three of our last six games after starting out 10-0 to end up 13-3. So the season was 'falling apart and crumbling' and all the things we have heard before but Jeff was part of the team and part of the reason we had so much success in the playoffs by beating Chicago, San Francisco and then Buffalo in Tampa. It was a great success story for him. He went on to have a great career with the Giants and then the Raiders. I think he has a good perspective on it.
Q: There have been a number of tipped passes at the line of scrimmage so far in training camp. Is that something you can teach on defense?
BB: Yeah, I think when you are in the throwing lane and the quarterback is trying to throw, that is when you want to get your hands up so you have that awareness of not just rushing the passer but also trying to see where the quarterback is looking. If he is looking to the other side then there is not much point in getting in the throwing lane because it is not where you are. It is an awareness and timing thing that we try to make them aware of. The most important thing is to rush the passer, not to stand there and play volleyball at the net. Nether the less, when the quarterback is throwing the ball, you want to try and be in the passing lane and hit the ball or just as importantly try to make him pull the ball down and make him reload. That will give the coverage that extra split second to anticipate the throw, jump the receiver, jump in the throwing lane and sometimes make a play on the ball in the back end. It is not as realistic in camp as it is in the game because you will have the linemen cutting on offense, so we probably get a few more tipped balls in practice than we do in the game. We got a couple of big tips in the last game. Vince [Redd] got one on fourth down. Pierre [Woods] had one. Some of that ball awareness and timing from practice showed up in the last game against the Ravens.
Q: Is there a player that comes to mind in your coaching career that was very good at that? Either tipping the pass or just being disruptive and making the quarterback reload.
BB: I think Richard [Seymour] has gotten as much as anybody gets. Year in and year out, he has tipped more balls than anybody around here and more than anyone I have coached. He is tall and has long arms. He is athletic, can jump and has a good sense of timing of when to try and get in the throwing lane, when to keep rushing the quarterback and attack the blocker. He is probably as good as you are going to get at that.
Q: Quarterback Matt Gutierrez has not practiced the last couple of days. Do you expect him to be back today?
BB: Maybe, he is day to day. He is getting better. I am sure he will be back out there soon. He is a tough kid and is working very hard to try and be ready to go. I don't think it will be too long but I don't know if it will be today or not.
Q: Was he hurt against the Ravens?
BB: He got a little bruise.