Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Monday, September 27, 2010.
BB: After looking at the tape this morning and going through it with the players this afternoon, a few big plays in the game really turned out, I think, to be a big factor. We were able to make a couple stops in the red area and finish our drives and get the ball in the end zone. Of course, the turnovers were big. We kind of offset things there with a long kickoff return, but fortunately we were able to just do a little bit more there. [In] the drive before the half, there were a couple good plays offensively, good situation football. It was good to get out of there with three [points] and neutralize the three we gave up when Buffalo had the ball there and kicked the field goal right before the half. [It's] always tough against Buffalo. That's the way it looked on film. That's the way it was yesterday. I'm sure it will be that way next time, too.
Q: On C.J. Spiller's kickoff return, what did you see from a Patriots perspective? Was it well covered?
BB: Obviously not.
Q: The reason I ask was because on the TV replays there seemed to be a few questionable blocks in the back that maybe opened it up a little.
BB: I'd say it certainly wasn't our best coverage. There were a number of things that we could have done better that I thought we could learn from. He had a lot of space and he was able to finish it off.
Q: How would you have liked to have seen that two-man situation with Kyle Arrington and Brandon Meriweather against C.J. Spiller and Lee Evans played? The one on down-and-goal that turned into the five-yard touchdown.
BB: On the slip screen there? I would have liked to see Spiller tackled after he caught it.
Q: Would you have preferred for Brandon Meriweather to go under?
BB: [There were] a couple things we could have [done]. That was a play that we really haven't seen a lot of - not down that deep, that close to the goal line. We could have coached it better. We could have played it better. Again, we can hopefully learn from it and keep that from happening again. That's the big thing.
Q: Speaking of turnovers, I think you guys went back to Brandon Tate the play after he fumbled the ball. Was that on purpose? Does that help the guy after a mistake like that?
BB: Well, it probably does, but I think it was more that that was the call that we wanted in that situation.
Q: You focus so much on playing better in the second half and then you came out in the no-huddle look. Was that to push the tempo?
BB: I thought we had a pretty good tempo the whole game. I was a little different look - something we did, but didn't do it a lot in the first half and didn't do it consecutively. It's a little different look there, but I thought our tempo was good the whole game. We had, I think, a number of plays...the majority of the time we had plenty of time at the line of scrimmage and didn't make any adjustment and the tempo was better, definitely, than what it was the previous week in New York.
Q: What's the benefit of going no-huddle? Not allowing the defense to substitute? Or getting Tom Brady a better look?
BB: Well, they don't substitute, but we don't substitute either. Whoever is out there is out there and that's the matchup. I think it just up-tempos the offense a little bit and can give the quarterback more time at the line if you want to audible, I guess. It's just a little different style of play.
Q: Is Jarrad Page fitting in pretty well?
BB: He's doing a good job. He's done a good job. That was probably the most he played - yesterday. It wasn't perfect, but he did some good things. I think he'll keep getting reps and we'll keep working and see where that takes us. But he's done a solid job for us.
Q: Are you still trying to figure out how these guys best complement each other: James Sanders, Patrick Chung, Brandon Meriweather and Jarrad Page?
BB: No, I'm just trying to win games.
Q: Who's in charge of the complement stuff?
BB: I'll give that to our chef, there - the food service guy. Let him figure out how we mix them.
Q: We've spent a lot of time in the past week talking about third-down running backs. Do you know how that role kind of started in the NFL?
BB: I'd say it was definitely with [Joe] Gibbs in Washington. He always kind of had a third-down back. He had [John] Riggins and Joe Washington, and then it was Kelvin Bryant. When we were at the Giants we had Tony Galbreath and [Dave] Meggett, but I remember there definitely in the '80s. I'm not saying there wasn't one before that, but that kind of third-down, specialty back that didn't play on first and second down was, I think, probably the late '70s to '80s when people started using nickel defenses. When I first game in the league in '75, there wasn't a lot of nickel defense. George Allen ran a little bit of it with the Redskins, but most of the time that was just a defensive back that replaced a linebacker and then they played all the same stuff. They just had a DB playing linebacker on longer-yardage situations. But then that evolved into offenses taking the tight end off the field and putting a third receiver on, or taking a back off the field and putting a third receiver on. And then that led to five defensive backs, six defensive backs. I want to say with the Giants in '81, '82, '83, we barely even probably played nickel. The last minute of the game kind of thing, but it was minimal. By the end of the '80s that was a big sub [package]. Everybody was in sub and the multiple receivers came in, you had the run-and-shoot offenses. That was like mid-80s, '86, '87, '88, Mouse Davis and Jim Jones and all them, and then you had a lot of multiple receiver sets like Joe Gibbs did at the Redskins with [Gary] Clark, [Art] Monk and [Ricky] Sanders and teams like that. It definitely evolved in that decade - the popularity of it anyway. I'm not sure when it exactly first started. That's my recollection.
Q: Is it fair to say your recent starting lineup changes are performance related, with Brandon Meriweather, Tully Banta-Cain, and Darius Butler not starting?
BB: What the starting lineup is usually a reflection of is what the personnel matchups are on that particular play. Put in whoever you want on the first play and you'll probably get a different combination of people based on who that is and who the matchups are. I mean, you saw that the whole game. Whatever the first play is, whoever matches up on that, then if they want to call them the starters, then they're the starters.
Q: With Darius Butler in particular, his number of snaps took a little bit of a nosedive yesterday. Is it fair to say his change in status is performance related?
BB: I'd just say every week we try to put the team out there that we feel gives us the best chance to win and a lot of things can be factored into that.
Q: How do you think Kyle Arrington did?
BB: I thought Kyle made a number of good plays. He had a couple of good tackles. Had a nice play on the fade there to [Lee] Evans in the end zone. I thought he showed up on a few plays.
Q: Do you ever make a starting lineup change to make a point? If there's something more you want to see form an established guy, do you maybe take a guy out to make him watch the first series and let him see what he's missing?
BB: I think there are a lot of different ways to handle players and playing time. I think there are a lot of different ways to do it. That could be one of them.
Q: When you have a guy like Darius Butler who has been the starter through camp and then doesn't play much like yesterday, how do you handle the mental aspect? Do you explain to him what's going on or maybe have an assistant sit him down?
BB: The players' roles in the game change from game to game. We talk to them individually, collectively, however we do it, we talk to the player about their role in the game. Do I sit down and have a meeting with every single player on the team about his role in the game? No. Do I talk to players during the course of the week? Yes, but I don't have 50 meetings every week. But each player has a role. Each player has certain specific jobs that we feel are real important for him this particular week and that is identified early in the week. It's reinforced later in the week and heading into the game. Depending on how the game goes, that either becomes greater or sometimes lesser of a priority depending on what happened during the game. Sometimes things are different in the game than what you planed for. Sometimes they're not. There're usually some elements that carry over, but each game has its own dynamics and you have to sometimes adjust to that in the game. And everybody has to be ready to do everything; just because a player has a certain role, that doesn't mean that with an injury or equipment problem or whatever it is, that somebody else couldn't be in there and have to do it. So that's part of it, too.
Q: Do you think a player's confidence is a factor in that? Maybe you want to leave a younger player out there better or worse?
BB: I think all of us that have been in the league have had good plays and bad plays and I think any of us that remain in this league are going to continue to have them. There will be some good ones; there will be some bad ones. Part of being a professional athlete or a football player or a coach, is being able to play through those things. It's not perfect. There will be some good days. There will be some days and some plays that won't be as good, but you've got to learn from the mistakes, make the corrections, make it better and move on. That's true for everybody: our team, their team, players, coaches. Nobody goes out there and plays a perfect game. Nobody goes out there and doesn't have some problems. You've got to fix them; you've got move on.
Q: There was a report today that George Blanda passed away. Can you talk a little bit about his impact?
BB: He played a long time. He played a long time. [He had] a great career as a quarterback and as a kicker. It kind of seemed like when it was over then he had some of his best years, once he got into his late 30s and 40s. I remember watching him as a kid in those old AFL games - the ones that came on at 4:00 after the NFL games came on at one. That's a loss for the game. That's a loss for the game.
Q: Did you ever have a chance to meet him?
BB: no, I don't remember meeting George.
Q: It seems like you've used a lot of nickel defense this year. A lot must be personnel related, but what are some of the advantages of that? More speed maybe on the field?
BB: I think usually a nickel defense is a function of either down-and-distance or offensive personnel. When they put that third receiver on the field, then if you don't bring another defensive back on, then either you're putting one of your safeties on him or you're limited as to what coverages you can play. There're not too many times you want to put a linebacker on him, at least not in man coverage. You could play zone coverage. It just forces a little tougher matchup in man-to-man coverage. If you have another defensive back in there it gives you more options; you've five-on-three instead of four-on-three, just from a receivers standpoint.
Q: Can nickel ever give you and advantage in the run game, to have more speed on the field?
BB: I mean, what are you going to do with them? We could put Wes Welker out there at nose guard and we'd be a lot faster team, but I mean I don't think that's really what you want. If you want to be fast, we can put Welker, and [Julian] Edelman and [Randy] Moss out there and put them on the defensive line and we'd be fast, but you've got to match up against the offense. Do you want to be fast out there? Yeah, but you've got to match up against the offense.
Q: After three weeks, are you satisfied with where the defense is?
BB: I think we can improve everywhere as a team: offense, defense, special teams, coaching, our overall team communication, our execution. I think everything can be better. That's certainly one thing we saw today watching the film. There is plenty of room for improvement. It was a good win, a division win, but I don't think it was our best game. I don't think it was a perfect game. We've got a long way to go, but we're doing a lot of good things. We've just got to try to work harder, be more consistent, and do more of them. And that's in every phase of the game: run, pass, kick, return, you name it.
Q: What's you're feeling on when in the season you know what you have. Is there a general timeframe you can pinpoint where you really know what you have?
BB: I think everybody knows a lot more now than we knew three weeks ago, about our team and everybody else's. That will continue to evolve and team will continue to change over the course of the season. The changes will be smaller: injuries, development of younger players, and maybe declining players. There's a transition there that goes through the entire season. It's never the same. You keep evaluating your team, but we know more about our team than we did heading into Cincinnati. I'm sure we'll know more about it in three or four weeks than we know now.
Q: What is Fred Taylor's prognosis? He left the game and didn't return.
BB: The answer to that is we'll put him on the injury report Wednesday when we know. It's the day after the game. It's the same thing you say about everybody the day after the game. They come in, take a look at them, get treatment, get treatment again tomorrow, and see what they can do on Wednesday. If they can practice, they'll practice. If they can't practice, then we'll put it on the report that they can't practice or they are limited, based on where they are on Wednesday.
Q: Do you have a sense whether it's a long-term injury or more of just a nagging thing that he'll have to manage?
BB: We'll see how he is today after treatment this afternoon. We'll see how he is tomorrow and we'll know more on Wednesday.
Q: Did you guys blitz a little more yesterday than usual?
BB: I'd have to go back and look at the numbers, but I'd say it was pretty balanced. I mean, if you go back and add it up, you'll probably come in here Wednesday and tell me that I was wrong, that there was a different number. But I don't think it was that dramatic.