Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Friday, September 17, 2010.
BB: We're winding down on our preparations here for the Jets. [It's our] first division game on the road this year. We always want to get off to a good start. The big division games, we always know how competitive they are [with] kind of the emotion and the rivalry there. I think it is a game that I'm sure both teams are looking forward to. There will be a lot of good players out there on the field on Sunday. I hope we go down there and play well. It's a tough place to play. It's always tough on the road.
Q: Do you have a big enough sample yet to tell how the new stadium, the winds and the currents will affect your passing game?
BB: There wasn't really a lot of wind a couple of weeks ago. There was a little bit, but not much. It doesn't look like it's going to be - the stadium is so high, it doesn't look like there is going to be a lot of wind. I think the wind currents or the patterns are usually a little bit different. The wind bounces off the top of the stadium and kind of goes the other way as the flags are blowing up on top. I doesn't look like it's a real...there's not much openness to it. It's pretty high.
Q: Not like Pittsburgh?
BB: No, no Pittsburgh is a lot more open than this stadium and some of the new ones. They're pretty high. From 12 years there, I can tell you that - well actually, 15 years there - it's always pretty windy in that area. Later in the year, I could see it being a little windier probably than what the forecast is for this week
Q: In the second game you guys played last year, how much did Darrelle Revis match up with Wes Welker? How much would that surprise you if that happened Sunday?
BB: Really, nothing would really surprise me. The Jets can handle things however they want to handle them. They have a number of good players. Whatever their strategy is, I'm sure it will be what they think is best to handle us. We'll see how that plays out. I don't know.
Q: Was Revis all on Moss that second game?
BB: Yeah, mostly.
Q: This team had trouble winning on the road last year. What makes it so difficult to win on the road?
BB: I just think the league is so competitive, there's such a fine line between winning and losing throughout the league. You see it every Sunday. That little advantage of being at home, having the crowd, the familiarity of the stadium, the turf, the situation, whatever it is, maybe that is a little bit of a home field advantage there. It doesn't take much in this league - a couple plays. A lot of games, that's what it comes down to.
Q: Last year we saw Gary Guyton play almost the entire game on the field but last game it seemed he had more of a specialized role on passing downs. Is that more suited to the kind of skills he has to be pass coverage more?
BB: No, I think we have a lot of confidence in Gary in every situation. I think that he'll play - he has played on all four downs and I think he will continue to play on all four downs. He's got good skills all the way around. He runs well. He's big. He's an instinctive player - smart guy. He has the capacity to do a number of different things. He's got some versatility. He can do a lot of different things for us.
Q: He lined up on the edge, which I don't remember seeing last year. Is that something he has kind of added to his game?
BB: He did that in college. He did some of that in college. Yeah, I think he has the flexibility to play, to some degree, inside and outside, in the guard bubble, out there in the tackle bubble, at the end of the line. He's a good coverage player, a good run player. He can handle the tight ends. [He's a] good open-field tackler. He has a good set of skills and he can do a lot of different things for us.
Q: You mentioned that you and Rex Ryan have different public styles. Why have you found your style works for you?
BB: I just think it's best if you're yourself. I think that's best for everybody.
Q: Have you ever thought about how much more entertaining it would be for us if you [had a style more like Rex Ryan's]?
BB: You're not the first guy to mention that.
Q: Your players say that they see a very different side of you. Why is it strategically better for you to be the way you are with the media in public?
BB: I just try to answer the questions that you ask. It's nothing personal. I like most of you.
Q: Jermaine Cunningham missed the entire preseason and then played in the season opener as a rookie. Can you assess what you saw out of him and where he is now?
BB: It was unfortunate. He was doing well in training camp and up into the Saints practices and then wasn't able to play in any of the preseason games so he fell a little bit behind. So the game last week was kind of like his first preseason game that everybody else played in. that's sort of what it was for him. He's got a long way to go, but I think he's making strides. He's working hard and he's improving, he's just got to make up for a lot of lost time and some game experience that he just needs to acquire from all aspects - the speed of the game, the contact, the conditioning, the recognition, and all of that. I thought he had some plays out there that were ok. There are other plays that he will learn from, and hopefully it will get better going forward.
Q: How do you think LaDainian Tomlinson looked in their first game?
BB: I think he's looked good all year He had a good preseason and averaged, I don't know, six yards-per-carry or something close to that. He was productive last week against the Ravens. We all know that's a good defense. He's done well in the passing game, well in the running game. I think he's done a good job. He's had a couple good runs called back, but you can still see what he did and what he had an opportunity to do, he did well. I think he's looked good.
Q: So obviously you consider him a threat?
BB: No doubt. No doubt about it.
Q: Is it just the nature of the league, being almost 365 days a year of training, that where once 30 was considered the wall for running backs, now you see older guys still being able to contribute?
BB: We're living proof of that. I think if you look back through the league, you can find examples of pretty much everything. I don't know that that's....I go back to when I came into the league - there were a lot of players who worked hard; there were some who didn't. Now there are a lot of players who work hard; there are some that don't work as hard, maybe, as others. I don't think that's really a fundamental change. There are new techniques and everybody's got a new exercise or piece of equipment or new something or other, but in the end, I think it's a pretty level playing field. Guys that work hard and train hard, usually in the end perform closer to their ability than the ones that don't. I don't think there's anything that scientific about it.
Q: With that Jets running game, have they changed anything of how they want to attack teams with Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson and the loss of Thomas Jones or is it just different individuals doing it?
BB: I think they have a few things for LT that are probably kind of his thing, but for the most part, it looks like their offense. I don't see a big dramatic change in it. [Brian] Schottenheimer has been there for five, six years - whatever it is now - and you see the same repeat concepts, not necessarily the same plays, but we'll look at plays and [say], 'That's something they did in '07. That's something they did in '06,' or 'That's something they did last year against such and such a team.' I think when they get the looks that they...how they want to attack certain looks, or certain type of teams or certain schemes, then those plays will come back more into focus and when those situations don't occur, then you'll see less of them. I'd say it's still the same Jets offense with the usual modifications and adjustments and little improvements that you do from year to year or even week to week in the season.
Q: Do you feel thin at outside linebacker?
BB: We feel that we have the best team that we can right now. Whatever we feel we can do to improve it, we'll do. There are not a tremendous amount of options. There are some. We evaluate those and if there is something we feel like will help us, then we'll do it. And if not, we'll stay where we are. I think that's the best way for me to answer the question.
Q: Along those lines, have you decided on a roster move?
BB: No, but I still think we will make one here before the week is over.
Q: Did you say on Wednesday that you have to make a move? Can you not go into a game with under 53 players?
BB: It depends on the makeup of your practice squad. It's, I don't want to say a complicated rule, but it depends on the makeup of your practice squad and so forth. If your practice squad is a certain way, then you have to have 53. If it isn't, then you can have less than that. We either need to change our practice squad or change our roster up to 53, one or the other.
Q: It seems like there is a lot made about the approach of facing a rookie quarterback and trying to confuse him and throw him different looks. How much of that carries over into his second year and is that something you take into consideration?
BB: I think that's the way you approach every quarterback. Defensively, what quarterback don't you want to try to make it hard on? Whether it's Brett Favre or a rookie quarterback or somebody in between, that's what defenses do; they try to make it hard on offenses. Offenses try to make it hard on defenses. I don't think there's anything that specifically relates to what year the guy is in or what college he went to or any of that. You try to make it hard on the opponents and they try to make it hard on you. That's football.
Q: But is one of the things you do try to do with young quarterbacks make them go to their second read?
BB: I think anytime you can force a quarterback to make after-snap decisions and make multiple ones, then you're on the right track. I don't understand playing defense and going back and letting the guys do what they want to do and have a field day. I don't really think that's good defense. I can't imagine you'd want to do that against any team - young, old, anywhere in between.
Q: This rivalry is pretty intense, but is there a specific time you first realized this rivalry was something interesting?
BB: When I was with the Jets and we came up here and played the Patriots and they threw eggs and stuff at the bus coming into the stadium on Route 1. I think that was the tipoff right there. That's a rough trip there up Route 1 to the stadium.
Q: What were your thoughts when Jason Taylor signed with the Jets? I know you've had great respect over the years for him.
BB: I do have great [respect for him]. Jason has had a great career. He still continues to be productive. He's still a tough guy to block off the edge. He's long, he's quick and he's very experienced. He knows how to use the tools and the skills that he has and he still does a good job. He's definitely a factor there.
Q: Talking about LaDainian Tomlinson and age, when you're assessing a player, do you consider age?
BB: I think you have to look at it. It's still a relevant thing. There are some players that are 40-years-young - the Junior Seaus of the world - and there are other players who look old at 28. I think it depends on the individual player and all the factors that go into that player. I think any time a player, in general, gets over 30, I think you have to start looking at it as a year-to-year type of thing. That doesn't mean that 30 is their last year, but I think I've seen enough players after the age of 30 decline quickly, that I think you have to be aware of it. There are a lot of players who can extend that - again, the Junior Seaus of the world, the Vinny Testaverdes and those guys who were almost timeless. They went from 30 to 40 and were still pretty much at the same level, or certainly at a high level, let's put it that way. I don't think there's any set formula there, but I think you've got to start keeping an eye on it at a certain point. I think the way I look at is whether a player is closer to the beginning or closer to the end of his career, let's put it that way. Whether that is this year, next year, two years from now, three years from now, but there is a certain point where a player is closer to the end that he is to the beginning. And then if a player is closer to the beginning than the end, then you hope in that during that time there will be improvement and he will make strides physically and experience and his performance and he'll peak and continue to rise and improve as a player. But then there is some point where that is going to start to go the other way, and once that happens, I think it's pretty clear that at some point, the end is closer than the beginning. That can change and it can change quickly. I've seen guys and I can think of several examples of players that were Pro Bowl type performers one year and out of the league or close to out of the league the next, or two years later. It can go in a hurry. As the head coach [of] a football team, I think you have to be aware of that. You don't want it to happen. You don't predict that it's going to happen, but when it does happen you've got to be prepared for it.
Q: How do you notice that with a running back?
BB: I think you look at every individual player. Look at every individual - any of us; there are certain things you can measure and certain things that you have to just gauge. Again, it's a very unscientific thing. It's probably, in a way, as unscientific as trying to predict how a player is going to do when he goes from a 20-year-old college player to a 20-year-old professional player. It's hard to gauge that sometimes going the other way. What's the difference between 33 and 34 or 34 and 35, 31 and 32? It depends on the player and it depends on the circumstances that surround that player, mentally, physically. There are a lot of factors. Things change. That's the great thing about this game; it changes. It changes every week. It changes every year.
Q: When you're about to face a rival where there's maybe a little bit of bad blood, what's the difference with the players during the week leading up to the game? Is there more urgency?
BB: We play 16 games a year, so there are 16 games to be urgent for. We don't have a 162-game schedule. We play 16 games. Every one of them is a big game. They're all urgent. They're all important. You don't get any of them back. You only get 16 chances in the regular season. For us, every game is a big game. Obviously division games are a little bit bigger because of the importance of the standings and what they mean to the division, but every game is a big game. Last week was a big game. Next week will be a big game. They're all huge. Division rivals, those games are intense. Both teams know each other well. They know their schemes. They know the players. They've really played against each other, so there is a high level of competitiveness there. That high level of competitiveness is there in the other games as well. This one you just know each other a little better, that's all. You're more familiar with them. The Jets are tough. I'm sure they think we're tough. That's the way it is in this division. You play tough games in the division. It's highly competitive and the week leading up to it is an intense week. You want to try to get everything right. You know they've got all the tips on you. You think you've got all the tips on them. You want to try to balance those out and attack their weaknesses and exploit your strengths. That's the matchup every week there.
Q: How helpful is it that you guys were down there a couple weeks ago in the new stadium?
BB: It was ok. I'm glad that we did it as opposed to having not done it. I don't know what the overall value to it in the grand scheme of this is, but it was good for the specialists and all the players to get a game on the surface, the footing, just the overall surroundings. It's the little things of just being comfortable and knowing where the 40-second clock is, where the down-and-distance and the scoreboard and the timing, all of that. It's all a little bit different in every stadium, so if you've done it before...It's kind of like driving someplace you haven't been before. If you've been there once, there's a little less chance you'll get lost the second time. I think that's about what it is. It's certainly nothing that's insurmountable, but certainly it's helpful.