New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday, September 3, 2008.
BB: We gave the players a day off yesterday which gave the coaching staff an opportunity to do roster tweaking and a chance to look at different players. It really gave us a good chance to go back and take a look at our practice on Monday, also get ready for the next three days, really gear up in our preparations for Kansas City and making sure we are totally focused on that target. I am not saying there won't be any other roster moves during the rest of the week but I think we have spent a lot of time on that, looked at a lot of different scenarios, looked at our own team and some other players. Yesterday gave us a good chance to come back and zero in on exactly what we want to do with Kansas City. During the next three days, we will try to put that out on the practice field and get everything tightened up to be ready to go on Sunday. It was a good day for us. Hopefully, we will be ready to go today and start driving it home as we get ready for opening day.
Q: [On the Chiefs' running game]
BB: I think they ran the ball well against Arizona and ran well against Chicago. The [offensive] line is a veteran group of guys. We have seen Adrian Jones, Damion McIntosh and Brian Waters before. [Rudy] Niswanger has been there for a year and they popped him in there at center. The left tackle is new [rookie Branden Albert] - that is obvious. The rest of those guys, we played against them at different times. I think [Larry] Johnson looks good. He was having a good year last year before he got injured. They have great backs. The depth in their backfield is as good as anybody we will play with Kolby Smith, who started at the end of last year and did a good job, Dantrell Savage, who has done an excellent job returning kicks, and also Jamaal Charles, with the run on the catch out of the backfield. They have a lot of depth at that position. It seems like whoever they put in there runs it well, including Larry [Johnson].
Q: Do you have any early impressions of Glenn Dorsey?
BB: From what we saw in college, he's athletic guy for his size, a real strong physical player with good initial quickness. He controls the line of scrimmage, is a good vertical pass rusher, and is a penetrating guy that is hard to stop. They have a real good front. They play all of those guys - [Glenn] Dorsey, [Alfonso] Boon, [Tank] Tyler, [Ron] Edwards. They have four good inside guys that they roll through who are all disruptive. I think [Tank] Tyler had a good training camp and preseason. They get a lot of plays from all of those guys. [Tamba] Hali and [Turk] McBride [play] outside and [Alfonso] Boone in some situations. They move them around. They are all pretty good and they just keep coming.
Q: For a team to win another conference title, what are the top three things they need to accomplish?
BB: I think each year, each team, each game, is it's own unique experience. We didn't play Kansas City last year so what we have to do to beat Kansas City this year doesn't have anything to do with last year.
Q: In general, what does a team need to do to win back-to-back conference titles?
BB: Play better than the other team you are playing, whoever that is. I think each year is its own year. What you do to win this year, may or may not be the same as what you did the year before. Teams are built differently. Things change from year to year. Sometimes you win playing one way and sometimes you can win playing another way. Last year is last year. We are a different team and so is everyone else in the league. I think everyone is trying to find what their comfort level is in the season, certainly in our case it is and I can't imagine any other team would be any different. You try to get to a point where you really see what you have and when teams start game-planning you and throwing their butcher's knives at you. You figure out which you can handle and which you can't, then, figure out how you are going to handle it. I think that is a process that you have to go through every year.
Q: What did you see in Gary Guyton that led him to the final roster and how has he progressed?
BB: He has had a good solid experience since he has come to us. He performed well in the spring camps. He is a smart kid. He has good size. He runs well. He is instinctive. He is versatile and does some different things for us. He has shown up in the kicking game. Even the tackle he made in the Baltimore game, you could see his speed just on that play on the punt return. He has shown good versatility. He is smart. He gives us good depth and he has made some plays. He played at a good level of competition at Georgia Tech and showed some of those same things in college. He's a good run player, pass player and blitzer. Like I said, he has come in, picked up things quickly, showed a lot of versatility for a rookie, and done a good job when he has been given the opportunity.
Q: Kansas City has a lot of rookies. Does that present a unique challenge when preparing to play them so early in the season?
BB: Sure. I think that until you actually face them, you can watch them on film, but it always helps to have played against them. This is a case where a majority of players on that team we haven't played against. The last time we played them, it was a different system anyway. There is a lot of newness there. I am sure a guy like [Branden] Albert, they wish would have played in preseason. That would have helped them, but at the same time, we have never seen him play. You're trying to get a guy ready from watching a few plays of him from Virginia, as opposed to watching him play against competition in the NFL. There are a lot of unknowns. That is the way it is on opening day anyway, but I think more so with the number of young players they have and being able to attack them. In three or four weeks, teams will have a better feel for exactly how to play some of those players compared to what we are going in there with. That is one of the challenges though. I am sure with a new offensive system, like Chan [Gailey] has, they have held some things back. They will give us some wrinkles and give us some looks that we haven't seen or practiced for. We just hope we will be ready to adjust those.
Q: With what you have seen with Chan [Gailey's] offense - is it similar to Miami?
BB: Yes. [It is similar to] Miami and Georgia Tech.
Q: How unusual is it to see a team with so many rookies? Have you encountered that many times?
BB: Yes, quite a few. They actually have a lot of young players too. Defensively, they have Donnie Edwards and [Patrick] Surtain, but I would say with the rest of the defense, they are two or three-year guys. Most of the defensive lineman are young players: [Tamba] Hali, [Brian] Johnston, [Glenn] Dorsey, [Brandon] Flowers and [Brandon] Carr. Also, the safeties are Jarrad Page and Bernard Pollard. They have a lot of guys that are within their first four years, with the exception of Donnie Edwards and [Patrick] Surtain. There are a lot of young players, not so much on the offensive side of the ball. Actually, I think that is a pretty experienced group other than [Dwayne] Bowe and [Brodie] Croyle. Larry [Johnson] and [Tony] Gonzalez have been around. The offensive line - even though they have played some different positions - [Brian] Waters, [Adrian] Jones and [Damion] McIntosh are all experienced players. [Brad] Cottam, some of the full backs and tight ends are new. It is a mix on offense. Defensively, there are a lot of good young players and they have depth.
Q: What about your own rookies? Do you have to caution them about the next step, being the transition from preseason to the regular-season?
BB: I am sure everyone will be excited. In talking to our rookies, that is one of the 500 things we will talk to them about or have talked to them about since they have been here. They have so much to learn, experience and absorb on every level, whether it is preparation, playing, on the field, off the field, plays, schemes, techniques, situations, rules - you name it. There are thousands of things that are different between college and pro football. It is a process for them to make that transition. We try to give them as much information and help them as much as we can, but it is a process. They are not going to get it all in one day, one week, or one regular season game. You just hope that they get as much as you give them so they don't make mistakes based on inexperience. If they make a mistake because they get beat on the play; well, that happens to everybody. You hate to give up a play on inexperience so you try to eliminate those if you can.
Q: Since 2001 you have had a remarkably consistent run in postseason appearances. In terms of preparation, can you expound on that?
BB: Good players, making good plays. In the end, you win because players make plays on the field. We have had a lot of good players around here who have made a lot of good plays; usually, a few more than what has been made on the other team. I think the games are won on the field by the players and the plays that they make. That would be my answer to the question.
Q: Brett Favre and Peyton Manning have had great records for consecutive games played. How fortunate are you to have that with Tom [Brady]?
BB: It is always good to have all of your players. Quarterback is an important one, but so is everyone else. Every team goes through injuries every year. We have gone through them and so has everyone else. We just have to manage them, have depth and have players step in and do the job when they are called upon. I don't think any team is going to finish the year with the same players they started with. They would be very fortunate if they did. You never know where or when injuries are going to happen so you have to have the depth on your team to be able to cover all the different scenarios that can come up. That is what you try to prepare for.
Q: One of the things players often say is they are put in positions where they can succeed.
BB: I think a coach's job is to give the players a chance. There is nothing worse than watching them play on film and feel like the players did what we asked them to do, but we really just didn't have a chance on the play. [If] they have something called that we just can't handle that well, you certainly don't want to put your players in that position where there isn't much they can do. You want to put them in a position where they at least have a chance and have a fair fight. You don't want to run plays where they have one more guy that you can block or defend, or have plays where you are out-leveraged and don't have a chance to defend what they are trying to run. You want a fair fight and to give the players a chance to be in a position where they can match up evenly with your opponent. Maybe, in some cases, they can gain an advantage. In the end, you try to stay out of those situations where you don't have a chance. That is the coach's job - to prevent that from happening. That covers a lot of ground but that is a bad feeling when you are looking at one of those plays and you don't have a chance.
Q: You mentioned Deltha O'Neil spending more time with Dom Capers. Do you do that with Brad Seely in terms of punt returns?
BB: Absolutely. Pretty much every player that is on our team is involved with Brad and the kicking game, other than, sometimes, the quarterbacks, offensive lineman or a receiver. But 80-to-90 percent of the players have some role in the kicking game in addition to whatever offensive and defensive responsibilities they have. Then, they would meet with Brad on that. Deltha would fall into that category of kick off coverage and the return game.
Q: Is there a scheme element to punt returning?
BB: In the end, catching the ball, finding the blocking pattern and breaking tackles is a big part of it. I don't want to get too complicated, but there are a lot of things that can come up. You have Plus-50 punts, punt rushes, returns. How long do you stay with a right return or left return versus aborting it and getting what you can? There are a lot of different philosophies on that of really trying to get outside and staying with it versus cutting it short, or in some cases, even converting the return. Say you have a right return called and the ball is kicked to the left. Do you want to try to run it across the field and take a chance on losing yardage? Or, do you want to get what you can get and get positive yardage up the field? There are a lot of coaching points like that that go into the game. Certainly, catching it and running aggressively with the ball; that is what the job is. There are a lot of coaching points that go into the return game, the rush game, Plus-50 punting and, in our stadium, the wind is always a factor. There are always things like that that play a factor. There are some strategy situations, scheme and situational plays involved.
Q: Can you talk about the contributions Jabar Gaffney has made to this offense?
BB: I think he is appreciated around here by the coaching staff, the offensive coaches, the players and the quarterback. He is a very versatile player. He does a lot of different things for us. I don't think there is any way for someone outside this organization to understand how versatile a player he is and how much he patches together, in one way or another, on different plays and formations. He is smart, versatile and a good receiver that has been effective in a lot of different situations - man, zone, red area, third down. He has a good skill set and is a very flexible player that helps our offense in many different ways - some subtle and some not so subtle. He is one of the bonding agents that holds things together.