Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Monday, August 23, 2010.
BB: We're kind of out of the training camp mode. We're not quite in regular season yet, but we're definitely closer to it. A little bit of a week of preparation here for the Rams. We're still working on some Patriots stuff that it wouldn't make any difference who we're playing, we still need to work on; in some cases install and in other cases just refine and improve. So it's a little bit of a transition period. We know we have some roster decisions coming up in the near future and so that's something that we have to kind of keep an eye on. Obviously we haven't made any finalizations yet, but it's something we have to keep an eye on just like every other team does. And not just our team, but Nick [Caserio] and the personnel staff looking at other teams. There are a lot of balls in the air but that's the time of year it is. [We're] trying to get ready for a preseason game, trying to get ready for the regular season and the opener and trying to manage our roster. [There are] a lot of things going on at once there. They're all important. I think we had a good week last week in Atlanta and hopefully we can follow that up with another productive few days here and Thursday night against the Rams. They're a new team, a team that we really don't have any experience with. They have a lot of new players, a new coach since the last time we saw them and obviously a new scheme, so we're really stating all over with them. That's good though, because I think that helps the process for our players of preparation and film study and getting to know a new team, a team that we don't know and won't be practicing against. So we'll have to do a lot of the preparation that we would normally do during the regular season and in a similar type of situation. Those are some of the things that are going on here today and this week.
Q: On the Rams, they have some uncertainty at quarterback. This being a week where you might try to replicate a little bit of the regular season, do you do more game planning and paying attention to who's injured and try to scheme a little bit?
BB: No. We prepare for all the players. We don't know if they're going to play or not. There're no injury reports, so whoever is there...We'll prepare for all of them. If they play they play; if they don't they don't.
Q: So there's not going to be a Sam Bradford scheme?
BB: No, I think it's just more of an awareness of knowing which quarterback is in there and how they play, which receiver is in there, which tight end is in there, which running back is in there, and what the skills are of those players and how we would want to defend them or attack them if we're on the other side of the ball, whatever it happens to be. If they play, they play; if they don't play, they don't play, but we prepare for all of them as if they are going to play, just like we would in the regular season. Unless we absolutely knew somebody was out, we prepare for all the players that are on the roster and should be aware of whichever ones come into the game.
Q: With the Saints and the Falcons, you had seen them in practice before the game. Going into a week against someone you won't have seen, does that add a different dynamic for the young guys?
BB: Yeah, sure, and that's the start of a new process. This is the way it normally is. We go through the scouting report. We talk about the team's tendencies and what they've done in the past. We talk about their personnel. If we have a background with the team [we talk about] how they've played us or kind of what we expect they would do to a team similar to us. For example, St. Louis played Cleveland last week and defensively there are definitely some similarities, so we can watch that film and have probably a little better idea of what they might do against us than, let's say, they did the week before against Minnesota. Where there are schemes that are more comparable to ours, then we pay a little closer attention, but that's definitely part of, not just [for] the young players, but the entire team, of getting back into that mode of preparing for a game, taking the film, whether it's this year or going back to last year, and finding examples of things that we do and things that are similar to what we do and see how they plan it or what they try to do against them. That's something we haven't done a lot of the first two weeks and something we'll do more of these two weeks and that that will start the process of preparing us for the regular season.
Q: How closely do you watch the younger guys and their ability to apply the game plan this week and next week?
BB: Yeah, I think that's part of the evaluation. Yeah, that's definitely part of the evaluation. What can they take from classroom or in the past two weeks, what can they take from practice and then apply to game situations. I think we have seen a lot of good examples of that: things that we've worked on in practice that then either the same or similar thing happened in the game and how we handled that and that certainly gives you an indication of how, not only a player, but also your whole team can adapt to those changes. It's the same thing as far as making halftime adjustments or in-game adjustments. That's part of the evaluation of the preseason games. 'Ok here's what we're doing.' All right, we get into the game and we change it. 'Now here's what we're doing because that's what they're doing.' Can they process that? Can they adapt to those changes? That's part of the preseason evaluations of, again, each player, but also of your team. Sometimes as a team or as a unit, you either do it well or don't do it well and that gives you an indication as a coach as to what kind of problem that is going to be moving forward. So that's all part of it.
Q: Is the Quinn Ojinnaka trade finalized from a Patriots perspective?
BB: We're working on a couple transactions today and when we have them done you'll be the first to know.
Q: Can you talk about what you saw from Ojinnaka down at the Atlanta practices?
BB: I don't think right now is the time to comment on somebody else's players.
Q: Can you talk about Brian Simmons who you signed last week?
BB: He was coming off an injury at the end of the year last year. He probably should have been at training camp, but I think probably the injury at the end of the year held him back and our personnel people were on him, worked him out, and felt like we should bring him in and take a look at him. I think he is a guy that could potentially be a practice squad type candidate, depending on how he does. He's still just king of learning the system and getting his feet on the ground here, but he did get to play a little bit last week and hopefully this week will be better. So we'll see how it goes.
Q: After a game, in terms of defensive stats, if your defense is playing well the way you want it to, what's your idea of ratio of tackles among the defense? Generally, what positions should have the biggest numbers?
BB: I think it depends on what type of plays they're running. If they're running plays up the middle, then hopefully your corners and safeties aren't going to be making a lot of tackles. If they're throwing short passes, quick passes, I don't think your defensive linemen are going to be making a lot of tackles. If they're running a lot of outside plays, that gives your secondary more opportunities than if they're running inside plays. I mean, I think it just depends. I don't know that there is one...I mean, the guys in the middle of the field make more tackles, generally, than the guys on the perimeter. That's obvious; they've got a shot at all the plays, not just the ones that go to one side or the other. We look more at opportunities [and] how a player does. If he had eight chances, he may have made six good plays on those eight chances. If he has one chance, then that's really all you can evaluate. A lot of times if a player does his job, particularly in the passing game, if a player does his job he may not have a chance to have the ball thrown in his area and in a way, that's good.
Q: When you put Vince Wilfork out at end, is that a specific game plan in that you think they're going to run to the edge so you want one of your better players out there? What is the thought process?
BB: No, we work a lot of players at a lot of different positions here in training camp and preseason. We use them in different spots. Maybe that will be a game plan thing during the year. Maybe it won't. And it helps us with our depth. At some point, somebody may have to play more than one position. You see that occur every year. We don't know where that's going to be, where we're going to need an extra guy, or where we're going to want to have that flexibility, but now is the time where you build it. And I think also it helps the players understand the complimentary positions. I think if you're a corner and you've played safety, you have a little bit of a better understanding of some of the things a safety does. If you're a guard and you've played tackle, if you're and X and you play Z, whatever it is, I think it helps you in your overall understanding of the system and also the complimentary positions that relate to you in whatever way that is.
Q: Do you expect to practice outside today?
BB: No, we'll be inside today.
Q: Do you expect to get some guys back and be a little bit healthier?
BB: We'll see how it goes. Yeah, I think we will have a couple guys back that didn't participate last week. I'm not sure if all the guys that participated last week will participate this week. [We'll] go out there, get them warmed up, put them in some of the individual drills and see how they're doing.
Q: After two weeks of preseason games, do some guys start to separate themselves in terms of making the team and is there room to make up ground with two games left?
BB: I think our squad is a long way from being determined, but clearly after 30 practices and two preseason games, some guys are ahead of others. There's no doubt about that. I think the process is still ongoing, but again, there are a lot of decisions that go into the composition of your football team: offense, defense, special teams, versatility, durability, so forth and so on, how they fit in the different schemes, base defense, sub defenses, kicking game, all of your specialty packages, multiple tight ends, multiple receivers, multiple defensive backs and so forth. I think there are a lot of components to that and that's part of what we're evaluating. Part of it is which players have performed better but also how they have performed in units and how different guys work together and what kind of depth we have with a certain combination of players versus a different combination. There is a lot of play back and forth there. A lot of times you're evaluating a tight end against a linebacker or a running back against a safety or a receiver against a DB when you start getting into special teams and how many skill players you can carry and so forth. It's not always just within a particular position. You've got a lot of cross evaluations going on. It's no different than when you draft. It's the same type of thing. You have players in different positions that are really competing at a similar value and trying to make decisions on that.
Q: With the offensive line, a group that has pretty consistent since 2006, this year you will have some changes. Do you have confidence that if the season started today they would be ready to go and could do the job adequately?
BB: I think that's a question that every team in the league has about every position. We'll find out on opening day and in the first few weeks in the season with everybody and every team and every position, where that is.
Q: Do you watch Hard Knocks at all given that the team featured is a rival that you play within the first two weeks?
BB: I've missed it. I've missed it.
Q: Have you ever been approached about doing something like that?
BB: Have I ever been approached? I've had a lot of offers. I think anything that NFL Films does is probably worth watching. Nobody does it better than they do in terms of making things interesting, making football interesting. It seem like every show that they put on that I've ever seen, I walk away from saying, 'That's pretty good.' Or in some cases more than that [saying], 'It's great.' If NFL Films does it, I'm sure it will be good, entertaining, interesting, but I haven't seen it.
Q: What would you rank the probability that you might see it before you play them on September 19?
BB: I'm sure I'll probably see some of it, I don't know. I don't even know when it's on.
Q: Would you ever consider having the Patriots on there?
BB: Right now I'm just considering getting the team ready to play St. Louis. That's really where I'm focused.
Q: There were reports about Nick Kaczur possibility having back surgery and possibly being out for the season. Do you anticipate him being out for the season or any extended period of time?
BB: Yeah, I don't think he will be available in the immediate future, but we'll see how that goes. I'm not sure exactly how long that will or won't be.