New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday, September 10, 2008.
BB: It is challenging and exciting to get back into the division this week. The Jets started out with a big win on the road in Miami. This is our first division game so we're excited about the challenge to go down to New York. It's going to be a tough game. It certainly was up here the last time we played them. We have a lot of respect for the Jets. They've certainly made a lot of changes in their team from last year. There's a lot of new faces [and] there's plenty of familiar, old ones. It is two teams that know each other pretty well and have played in a lot of tough, competitive games over the last few years and that's what we're expecting this weekend. [We've] got a lot of work to do and a lot to prepare for. We will just take it day by day here. The Jets have made quite a few changes in the off-season and it looks like a lot of the things they're trying to do, they accomplished in their first game. It's going to be tough for us to make sure we try to meet all of those challenges on Sunday.
Q: When you get a talented player on your team, do you have to gear your philosophy toward his talents, does he have to gear his talents towards your philosophy or is it a little of both?
BB: I think each case is different. I don't know that there is any set formula for that. I think you just have to, in the end, do what's best for your football team. Whether that is [to] go more towards one direction, them come more in your direction, or meet somewhere in the middle. I don't think there is a right, wrong, or specific answer to that. I think it depends on a lot of things and in the end you have to factor it all together. [You have to] decide as a coach how much you can change so that it doesn't affect your team that you already have in place and how much you need to change in order to work towards the talents of another player. I think in our case, ultimately, what we try to do is have a system that is flexible enough so we can take into account his talents and try to utilize them in the best way possible. Generally speaking, [we try to] have enough flexibility in our system [to] accommodate that.
Q: Along that line, have you seen a change in the Jets system, a change in Brett Favre or has there not been enough time to evaluate that?
BB: No. I think from what we've seen, offensively, in some respects the Jets are doing a little bit less than what they did last year. In some respects they're doing a little bit more and in some respects, I think, they are doing some of the same things. They are just doing [them] a little bit differently. I think part of that might have been an actual transition from one year to the next anyway, that is hard to tell. But, that is probably the same thing you could say about most teams. So I'd say, a little bit of everything.
Q: What is your thought process with this catastrophic injury? How do you process this and move forward?
BB: It is pretty much the same thing every week. You look at what you have available on your team [and] what your situation is. You look at who your opponent is - what they are doing and what you think you need to do to stop and attack them. Then, you go from there. That is really what every team deals with every week. Sometimes, it is in one area or another area, or it might be greater or smaller. But, in the end, that is what it comes down to.
Q: How much did bringing Matt Gutierrez back have to do with his familiarity of the offense?
BB: Well, Matt is on the practice squad so that changes the options right there. We felt like that was the best thing we could do in terms of adding a third quarterback on our roster right now.
Q: Do you feel as challenged as you ever have as a coach given the circumstances?
BB: Well, every week in this league is a big challenge. It is a challenge going up against the Jets, their team and their organization. We've played a lot of tough games against them. I know it will be a challenge this week.
Q: How will Kevin O'Connell's play change this week?
BB: He will take, as the second quarterback, a few more reps than he did last week.
Q: Other than that?
BB: I think everyone has to be ready. Every player is expected to be ready to play in the game. Whether you have one guy ahead of you or two guys ahead of you, it is still a player's job to be ready to play in those situations. That won't change. It will just be a question of how many practice opportunities you can give the quarterback. It's hard to give three quarterbacks reps. It's hard to give two [quarterbacks] reps. But, you have to give two quarterbacks some reps and the third doesn't get too many. As the second [quarterback] he will probably get a few more than he did last week.
Q: What's the most impressive part of what Kevin O'Connell has done so far?
BB: Move the team. Score points.
Q: Going back to Matt Gutierrez – he did a lot of work last year for the show team. Will he be doing that again this year?
BB: That's apart of his job. A more important part of a player's job is playing for us. But, that is not an opportunity for everybody all the time. So, when they can't do that, then we want them to do the best they can to prepare the other side of the ball for what they see and Gutierrez has done a great job of that. I don't mean to minimize that, he has done a great job of it but the real and most important thing is for him to get back, play his position and give us depth there.
Q: How much different is it for Matt Cassel, this week, that he knows he will be starting on Sunday?
BB: I think every player has to be ready to play. What a professional player does is he comes in and gets the information given to him. Then, he goes, studies it and personalizes it to his specific role on the team. Then, when it comes time on Sunday, he is ready to go in and perform whatever role, whatever job the coaches put them in there to do. Players don't control playing time. Those are coaching decisions, coaching substitutions. So whether a player goes in for one or two plays, which as we all know depending on the play could be just as important or sometimes more important than maybe the other 58 plays that occurred in that phase of the game. That play could end up being the most important play of the game. So, it is every player's responsibility to be ready to play for 60 minutes in situations he is accountable for. When he is put into that situation, we expect him to go in there and do his job. That's how he should approach it. Every single player, it doesn't make any difference who they are, what position they play, how many years they've been in the league, what school they are from or what number they wear. It doesn't make any difference. That's a player's job. The coach's job is to try to try to put the players in a position where they can be successful, control substitutions and make some decisions as it relates to game situations.
Q: Do you need to look for any signs among players, for example, them saying, 'let's go here, we have a job to do'?
BB: We all have a job to do. We are all going to try to do it.
Q: Can you talk about the continued development of Ellis Hobbs?
BB: Ellis [was] a little bit behind this year in training camp. He missed a little bit of time at the beginning when he was on PUP [physically unable to perform]. But, Ellis is a well-conditioned athlete and when he started practicing, he was able to pick up a pretty heavy work-load right off the bat. He has continued to do that both on defense and in the kicking game. He's a versatile player that has a variety of skills. He's a tough kid. He's physical. He tackle's well. He's fast. He has good hands and he has some return skills. He's developing as a player, like all young players are in the passing game. The coverage's that we use, the routes and the passing game that we see in this league is a lot different than what those guys in the secondary saw in college. So, it is continuing development of covering receivers, playing against different quarterbacks, playing against different pass offenses and also working together with the people on our side of the ball, in terms of the coordination of the overall pass defense and the individual techniques. Sometimes, it is one on one out there and it's corner against the receiver. But, there're plenty of times that it's not. When it is some type of coordinated defense – combination mans, zones, or pressures. Most of the time it is team defense and [you have to] understand where your help is and how to use it. That's a process that takes quite awhile for any defensive back or any offensive skill player to really get down. There is a lot to it.
Q: What does your decision in not bringing in a veteran quarterback say about your confidence in Matt Cassel?
BB: I don't know what else it could say. That's it. He's our quarterback.
Q: You started Lewis Sanders opposite Ellis Hobbs last week. Going forward - Is that position going to be a matter of match-ups or are you hoping someone can win that spot?
BB: We will do the same thing we do every week and try to play the players, schemes and the situation we feel is best for that particular game. It might change from week to week and it might not. I think Lewis did a good job. He certainly had some experience over Deltha [O'Neil] coming in last week. Deltha, this week will be able to catch up a little bit in that area. Where that goes exactly, I am not sure. I just hope all the players will be ready to play at the positions they are responsible for. However we decide to do it and whatever we feel is best, that they will go in there and do a good job. Both of them played last week at that spot. Deltha played some over at the right corner for us [last week]. That might happen again, that might not.
Q: What kind of challenge does Brett Favre present?
BB: I think in the secondary, particularly, you can never relax. You never want to relax anywhere but Brett is the type of player that can take the ball from one side of the field and in a split second, turn around, whip it somewhere else and put it right on the money – just like he did against the Giants when he hit [Jerricho] Cotchery down the sideline for a 50 yard touchdown, where he looked off the safeties. You don't really want to guess with Brett. You've got to react to him. When he starts to do something, if you think, 'this is what he's going to do' [and] then he switches it - you are out of position and you're really in trouble. He does a good job of reading what the defense is seeing and reacting away from it. If you over react to him, it's almost the worst thing you can do because it encourages him to go back somewhere else and that's where you just left. He's very good at that. He's made a lot of plays through the course of his career. He's athletic. He can stay on his feet and buy extra time in the passing game and that puts most stress on your coverage at all levels - both at the intermediate level and the deeper level. He can scramble and run if he needs to. At times, he can be a sixth receiver and pick up first downs in those kinds of situations.
Q: I know it's only one week but how much did Kris Jenkins change the look of the front seven?
BB: Well, it's not one week. [He goes] back all the way to the Cleveland game. I think, as you watch teams play against the Jets they're consistently trying to put two guys [on him]. Two guys can't stay on Jenkins but two guys can start on him, work to somebody else and try to neutralize him. A lot of times, two guys isn't enough. They just can't handle him. So, I think we've seen Jenkins in all five of their games. Well, four. Not so much the last [preseason] game against the Eagles. But, in the other games we have seen Jenkins play, literally, a big role in there on the nose [tackle] and that puts a lot of pressure on the inside part of the running game. It pushes it outside to the ends, the outside linebackers, and the safeties that are coming down. He's been a force in there and he's been a factor in their run defense. Miami had 50 yards last week and he's a big reason, not just the plays he makes but the plays that get eliminated [inside], get pushed out to somebody else.
Q: Does it look similar to 2003 with Ted Washington's play?
BB: There are some similarities but he's not as big as Ted Washington. He plays a little different style then Ted did. But, they are big, physical nose tackles - I agree with that. But, beyond that I think their playing styles are a little bit different.
Q: Is their impact similar?
BB: I think Kris [Jenkins] is a big, powerful guy in there. He's a hard guy [to play against]. You can't move him. You just have to try to place him somewhere, where he can't affect the play. But, he's also a guy that they stunt some, penetrate with and when he gets moving in one direction, he is a hard guy to stop. He has some plays in the backfield, some negative plays where [he] penetrates and cuts off half the line of scrimmage, whichever way he's going – he cuts off the other half of it and that can be effective too.
Q: I noticed on Sunday that Mike Vrabel had the green dot on his helmet. Did you use the defensive headsets?
BB: Yeah. It's a long conversation that really is not worth getting into. Yea, he had it.
Q: Did you actually use it [defensive headset]?
BB: I am not going to get into it. I don't know how many plays we had on defense - 65 plays. Which play we did, which play we didn't, what he heard? I mean really. To some degree it was used but I would say overall, minimal.
Q: Having a significant injury like this one, making adaptations on the field and moving forward. Has this been the hardest one for you yet?
BB: I don't know. It is hard to rank them. Tom [Brady] is a great player for us - don't get me wrong. He's responsible for a lot of the success that we've had around here but at the same time, as a coach you take the hand that is dealt to you and you try to play it as best as you can. That's really what you do on a weekly basis. You don't sit around and worry about, what could have been or what [if] this or what [if] that. You look at what you have, you look at what they have, which you don't know as well, but you have to try and figure [it] out, and then you deal with that. That is really what a coach's job is. That's the way I look at it.
Q: After building your roster this off-season, you don't know how it will hold up after injury. What are your thoughts on that?
BB: I feel like when you build your roster, you build it the best that you can, given the circumstances and the restraints that you have on you, which there are always a number of those, and then you go with them. If you need to make changes, then you make the changes that you can make. I think that is the process you always go through. I don't think any team goes through the season without making some changes. I'm sure we will make some along the way, like we have in the past and I'm sure we will in the future. That is pretty much true of most teams too. That's part of the adjustment over a 16 game regular season schedule.