New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Monday, September 8, 2008.
BB: We pushed this [press conference] back from this morning in order to try to have time to gather more information. I think Stacey [James] just handed you the release. That is really about all we have at this point. I wanted to try to give you that as soon as possible. So, we feel badly for Tom [Brady] about the injury. You hate to see anyone go down. No one has worked harder and done more for this team than Tom has so it is a tough set back for him. That is sort of the bad news in the game. I thought that as a team we played hard. [We] made some plays in the red area at the end of the game. We had a couple of long touchdown drives and made some plays on special teams particularly in the fourth quarter. I thought that overall our team stepped up and did some good things at that point. There are certainly a lot of things that we need to correct and improve on. That is where we are at this time of year in September. Every team is improving - we are certainly in that boat in every phase of the game. We hope we can take this week and do a good job of getting ready for the Jets. They had a big win yesterday on the road but also we will be continuing to improve our team and do things better and stay with that kind of program for a few weeks here and get into, quote, "midseason form".
Q: Tom [Brady] is noted for his leadership. What do you say to the players in terms of stepping up individually?
BB: We all just have to do our jobs. That is what every player has to do. Each guy has a job to do, a coach, a player - they have a job to do and need to do it as well as they can. That really doesn't change. He played one position. He played it very well. There will be someone else playing that position now. I have a lot of confidence in Matt [Cassel] and everyone else has to continue to do their job, just like they have and like they always need to.
Q: How did Tom [Brady] take the news?
BB: Probably about like you would expect.
Q: Can you confirm it was a torn ACL [anterior cruciate ligament]?
BB: We gave out all the information. That is what I have. I don't have a lot of medical details.
Q: Are there any other quarterbacks coming in to work out?
BB: No. In spite of what some people are putting out there, we haven't worked out a quarterback [and] haven't given anyone a physical. Believe me, we have had a lot of people call us - I can tell you that. But, in spite of what other people are saying that we are doing, that is simply not true. We haven't worked out a quarterback.
Q: In terms of the roster now, do you think you will need three quarterbacks?
BB: We will do what we think is best for our football team - as always. We will take a look at whatever our options are for the entire football team and do what we feel like is best for the football team.
Q: Who are going to be the three quarterbacks on Sunday?
BB: Right now, there are two on our roster.
Q: Is there going to be anyone else?
BB: We'll do what's best for our football team. I can't tell you what decisions those will or won't be. We will evaluate our options and do what's best for the team just like we always do.
Q: How did Matt [Cassel] play?
BB: Matt did some good things. Certainly, the 98-yard drive on a throw coming out of the end zone on third down was a big play. Matt did a lot of good things. There are some things he can improve on. I can say that about everybody. But, he took care of the ball and made some big plays.
Q: After reviewing the play [of Tom Brady's injury] do you think the play was dirty?
BB: It doesn't really matter what I think. The officials officate the game. I am sure they will handle it. We have always taught our players that it is their responsibility to hit the quarterback above the knees and below the shoulders. If you look at the Vince Wilfork play from last year against Buffalo, it is not the same but there are some similiarities.
Q: How confident are you in Kevin O'Connell's growth?
BB: I am confident in all of the players that are on our team. If I wasn't then they wouldn't be here. Kevin did a good job in preseason of moving the team and making some plays. He was put in a lot of different situations. I think he made some plays throwing, made some playing running and managed the team pretty well in terms of communication, formations, not wasting timeouts and having the team misalign. I am confident he will keep improving - if he works hard, that he will keep improving on those things. If we need him we will put him in there.
Q: Going forward do you feel you will need to lessen the playbook for Matt Cassel?
BB: As you know, we change our game plan from week to week anyway. We do what we think is best for each individual game and we will continue to do that. Whatever we feel will give us the best chance against the [New York] Jets, that's what it will be. We have always done it that way. There is no real set playbook. It is a game plan situation now.
Q: To be accurate, neither Chris Simms nor Tim Rattay have been in to try out?
BB: We have not worked out a quarterback.
Q: Do you plan on bringing in anyone to try out this week?
BB: No at this time. I am not saying it can't happen but we don't have anyone planned to work out, no.
Q: Can you talk about the opportunity in front of Matt Cassel now?
BB: We have a lot of confidence in Matt. Matt's grown up through the system. He has expanded his knowledge of the offense as the offense has expanded through the years. He ran it a lot in preseason this year, in training camp and some of the time that Tom [Brady] missed. I think that he is capable of handling himself in a lot of different situations because he has been through them. It is not just chalk talk but it's actually going out there and doing it on the field and doing it in practice situations. I think he showed that yesterday - that he could go out there, manage the game and manage the team.
Q: With the fact that you can't substitute game experience, what do you feel Matt Cassel's strengths are?
BB: Well, the two most important things for any quarterback are decision-making and accuracy. If the quarterback does that well then he will probably play well and if he doesn't then that will off set whatever all the other things are.
Q: Looking back, do you regret not bringing in a veteran quarterback be your backup?
BB: We went with a team that we felt like gave us the best chance to win. That is what we did then and that is what we're going to do now.
Q: You guys have been especially good here when notable players go down. How much confidence does that give you?
BB: I think everybody is going to do the same thing that they will do every other week that they are here [which] is, understand what they have to do, do it as well as they can, prepare as well as they can and then go out there and play or coach as well as they can. I think that is what we do. We come in [and] do our jobs. We each have a separate job to do. I am not going to play, players aren't going to coach, defensive players aren't going to run [and] offensive players aren't going to play defense. Everybody has a job to do, so I think that is the way we will approach it.
Q: Considering the situation, how important was is that Matt Cassel got reps with the first team in preseason?
BB: Well, you never want to see any player miss anything but anytime a player misses reps or misses time, than that gives someone else an opportunity. That is just the way it is. The opportunities that Matt got - experience always helps. Kevin [O'Connell] got some too. We didn't want to see Tom [Brady] not get those but that is the way it worked out. Those experiences helped Matt just like Tom's experiences helped him at one point during his young career, when he got a chance to play. You hate to see anyone miss time but when they do it provides an opportunity for somebody else.
Q: Have you spoken to the team about Tom [Brady's] situation and what was your message?
BB: Yes. We talk to the team about everything, about yesterday's game, about our current situation and about going forward to the Jets. What I said to the team is between me and the team. I hope you can respect that.
Q: What is your understanding of the rule?
BB: I think any questions on the rule should be directed to the league and Mike Pereira, the head of officiating. It doesn't really matter what any of us think. The rules are what the rules are based on what the officials think they are. I would direct any of those questions to the league.
Q: You said earlier…
BB: I just said how I coach it [the rule]. I'd say any questions on the officiating, talk to the league.
Q: Do you think Matt [Cassel] is more up on the offense than Tom [Brady] was when he took over for Drew Bledsoe?
BB: I think you are comparing apples to grapefruits. What our offense was in 2001 and what it is now are two different things.
Q: When will the surgery be?
BB: I don't know. Whenever the doctors schedule it.
Q: Do you know how long his recovery will be?
BB: Whenever he is ready, I'm sure he will be back out there.
Q: Since you have been here you have always preached that no individual is bigger than the group but this must be a little different with this quarterback.
BB: Again, I feel badly for Tom. Nobody has worked harder at football and meant more to this team than Tom has since I've been here. So, I feel badly for Tom.
Q: So for your team, this is no different than anyone else getting hurt on your team?
BB: Everybody has to do their job. The guys that play quarterback could play quarterback but the guys that play center, linebacker, corner, or kick - they play corner, they kick, they play linebacker and they cover. So whatever they do they do - we are not moving them to quarterback. They have their job to do and I have my job to do and there will be somebody else playing quarterback this week.
Q: What does a backup quarterback have to do to play well after taking over? What made Jeff Hostetler successful in 1990?
BB: I would say the same thing as I have said about any quarterback playing well. Good decision making and accuracy- those would be the two most important things.
Q: Could you compare the mood to when Phil Simms got hurt in 1990?
BB: In the 1990 situation, I think it was 10 or 11 games into the season so it was at a different stage. It was in December or late November. It was much later in the season.
Q: Do you expect him to be ready to play next year?
BB: The information that we have is what I gave you. That is what we know.
Q: Is Kevin Faulk back on the roster?
Q: Do you have to make any moves in terms of your roster?
BB: Right now, he is back on the roster and has a one-day exemption. We can add him without making a move until, I think, tomorrow.