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Bill Belichick Press Conference Transcript - 10/3/2011

Read what New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick had to say as he addressed the media on Monday, October 3, 2011.

BB: We kind of had a quick turnaround. [We] got in real early this morning, went through the film [and we are] going through it with the players this afternoon. Flip the page and get onto the Jets here. As I said yesterday, good win. [It's] always good to go out there and win in Oakland. They're a good football team - physical. I thought they were really playing well this year. Fortunately, we were able to make a few more plays there than they were. I thought that was kind of a big swing there at the end of the half where Patrick [Chung] got the interception, then we were able to get the field goal before the half - the exact opposite of what happened last week in Buffalo. Then we had the second half kickoff and we were able to convert that into points. Get another red area stop and then drive it down the field for another touchdown. Couple big red area plays, field goal at the end of the half, couple touchdown drives [on] consecutive possessions - that really gave us a big boost there. The players did a good job. [I] thought they competed well. [It] wasn't perfect - [we] still have a lot of work to do [and] a long way to go. They did a good job yesterday. [We're] happy to win. Time to move on.  

Q: When Jerod Mayo went down, you had a rotation of guys, including Tracy White. How did that group do yesterday in the second half?  

BB: We had our moments. There were some good things [and] there were some other things we need to do a better job of. Gary [Guyton] basically replaced Jerod in our regular defense and then we had some other guys in sub defenses. So we had some different packages in there, it wasn't a Ferris wheel of guys. There was actually a plan there, believe it or not.  

Q: Did it help that Gary Guyton had been in that situation a few years back, in terms of knowing how to come in and what to do?  

BB: Yeah, well Gary and Jerod came in together. They're very close, personally and [they] play well next to each other. They have great communication and both guys kind of can do what the other one does. They flip assignments and positions regularly on the defense just to change up the looks, just to have a different guy doing it - within the structure of the defense, having different guys doing it to make the offense read it differently and so forth. I think Gary has good experience and he knows all the positions - any inside linebacker part of the defense, regardless of what our front is and so forth, he's pretty adept and he's a real sharp guy.  

Q: Is it safe to assume that with Jerod Mayo out, Gary Guyton will be the one to fill in?  

BB: Well, we'll see what the game plan is going forward here. But certainly Gary has had a big role in our defense over the last three years and I'm sure he'll continue to. He's a key guy for us and he's done a good job. He's done various things: played in sub defenses, played in regular defenses, played our middle linebacker spot, played our other inside linebacker spot, what we'll call the Will. He's done a lot of things.  

Q: You said after that game that Jerod Mayo would get looked at today. Has that happened yet?  

BB: I saw him in there today. I'm not sure exactly where things are at. We'll see where we are on Wednesday.  

Q: Do you have indication who long Jerod Mayo will be out?  

BB: I'm not going to guess at it. I'm not going to make a guess, no.  

Q: What do you like from what you have seen from Dane Fletcher so far this year?  

BB: I think Dane has taken a big jump from where he was last year. Last year, he came in really as a converted defensive lineman. [He] made an impact for us in the kicking game. At other points in the year, [he] did some things situationally on defense. This year, he came in and played inside linebacker right from the beginning of the year. He's way ahead of where he was last year. There's just really no comparison. He got a good year of experience and he definitely built on that. He's a smart guy, works hard, he's in good condition, he's a good athlete, runs well [and] he's physical.  

Q: Do you see Dane Fletcher being able to share the responsibility to fill the void in the middle that Jerod Mayo leaves behind?  

BB: We have a lot of confidence in Dane. I'm sure whatever we ask him to do, he'll work hard to do it. I have no doubt about that.  

Q: Does it change things to have a different guy with the green dot calling the plays?  

BB: We go through that in practice every day. We have two green dots in practice so whoever is the other signal caller in the huddle - and that's changed from time-to-time, so we have different guys doing it. We had different guys doing it in preseason. It's just part of - you have to have a backup for every position. Everybody has to get used to another quarterback calling plays, another defensive signal caller calling plays, whatever it is. I don't think it's that big a deal.  

Q: How concerned are you about the yards the defense is allowing and what's the best way to turn that around this week in practice?  

BB: We're looking to improve in all three areas of the game - offense, defense, special teams, so there are things we can do better in each area of the game. We'll do what we normally do: correct the mistakes after the game, work on things in practice as it applies to us in general as a team and specifically how it applies to our next opponent and how we can do a better job on that. I don't see that changing.   (On the defense's third down efficiency)  

BB: We had our moments. We had third down stops in the red area which were big - kept the points off the board. We're always looking to improve. Whatever it is, there's still room for improvement.  

Q:  How did Patrick Chung look in his first game back?  

BB: He did some good things, definitely made some plays. Some things we'll talk to him about that he needs to improve on.  

Q: Did you see that Patrick Chung had a noticeable impact on the defense, being back in there?  

BB: Yeah, well Patrick is a solid player for us, no question about that. Smart guy, he's got good experience, plays the run well, plays the pass well, can play man-coverage [and] plays the ball well. It's good to have him back out there, no question.  

Q: Did Thomas Welch have any tight end experience before yesterday?  

BB: Yeah, he went to Vanderbilt as a tight end. He was a quarterback in high school. I want to say he played tight end his senior year in high school. He hurt his shoulder and couldn't throw, so they moved him to tight end in high school. Vanderbilt recruited him as a tight end and he grew into a tackle. He's played at least one year of tight end. I can't remember if he actually played tight end at Vanderbilt or whether he was a tight end as a freshman but didn't play, and then they moved him to tackle. I forget exactly when that happened. His progression was quarterback, tight end, tackle.  

Q: So you knew when you drafted him last year that he had the ability to do some of the things we saw yesterday?  

BB: Yeah. Sure, he did it in high school. Again, he was whatever he was, 210, 215 [pounds] and then he grew. I mean, he wasn't a 280-pound high school kid, although there are some.  

Q: How did losing Danny Woodhead affect what you could do in the running game?  

BB: [Stevan] Ridley and Benny [BenJarvus Green-Ellis] stepped in and did a good job. Shane [Vereen] was there; he helped us out in the kicking game. Again, that's the way we practice. We practice that some guys get more reps than others but everybody is responsible for it. If we take them to the game, we're ready to play them and we're prepared to play them. If we had to put anybody else into the game or whoever we have to put in the game, we're confident in that person. That's why they're there.  

Q: How about Stevan Ridley's performance?  

BB: He had a couple good runs. Again, he did some good things out there. There were some other things that weren't quite the way they need to be. He's got good vision, broke some tackles. I thought really in the running game, we got some good yards on the outside - our receivers did a good job of blocking. There was a decent amount of, I'd say, basically uncontested yardage out there. We got outside and there really wasn't much defense out there. And Ridley and Benny both made some guys miss, broke tackles, and took five, 10, 12-yard gains and took them into a little bit more than that. The touchdown run was a long play. The third and eight at the end of the game where we were down to the two, three yard-line, whatever it was, Ridley kind of stepped through a tackle there about six, seven yards downfield. I thought it was good. Good teamwork - good blocking by the line, good blocking by the receivers and the tight ends, Thomas [Welch] and Rob [Gronkowski], and good running by the backs. And Tom [Brady] did a good job too. I thought this was maybe Brady's best game in terms of some of the checks he made, some of the adjustments, where he went with the ball, his decision-making, his overall management of the game. Obviously he has played well, but I thought he really did a good job yesterday.  

Q: I know you expect your guys to make plays and Vince Wilfork is athletic, but does it surprise you to see that Vince Wilfork has two interceptions in the past three weeks?  

BB: It doesn't surprise me if he gets his hands on it, no. He's got really good hands. I think we've said, we've had him out there catching punts. He's very athletic; he has very good hand-eye coordination. He makes those plays in practice. I'm not saying every day, but we've seen him catch the ball out there. If he gets his hands on the ball, he's like a vacuum cleaner, just pulls it right in.  

Q: It looked like he took two steps forward and then a step back to clog up the passing lane. Is that something he did or was that something you guys saw with Darren McFadden?  

BB: Well, we knew that they liked to throw check downs, especially at that point in the game where they weren't really in their two-minute. They were, but they weren't in their two-minute offense. They were trying to get the ball down the field with deep patterns, kind of similar to what San Diego did - deep patterns with the back as an outlet receiver over the line. It looked like Vince - we had a little game going inside, and when Vince came around, it looked like he saw the quarterback looking and just kind of instinctively pulled out and that's right when McFadden was coming over there. He read [Jason] Campbell's eyes, kind of saw the ball come out and just stepped right into it. It's tough for a quarterback to see that - you're looking at the coverage downfield, you're not really looking at the defensive line. When they're able to pop out into the passing lane, then you kind of lose them.  

Q: Jason Campbell said after the game that he didn't see him.  

BB: You don't want the quarterback reading the defensive linemen. You want them looking downfield at the pass routes and the coverage and trying to pick out the receivers. If they're watching the rush, they're not going to be very good quarterbacks. That's one of those that was a real good play by Vince [Wilfork]. It's a tough play for a quarterback, just one of those things sometimes.  

Q: Any chance we see Wilfork Island against the Jets? Put him in at corner?  

BB: Yeah, put him back there as a linebacker. Yeah, maybe. I'm sure he'd have fun with that.  

Q: Vince Wilfork said he thought last week was the best week of practice the defense has had. Did you see that - the defense starting to come together?  

BB: I thought it was a good week of practice. We've had different guys in and out of there. Last week we had a little more continuity. Communication was, I think, improved from where it was the first couple of weeks. But we still have a long way to go.  

Q: There's been a lot of attention on what Rob Gronkowski brings to the passing game. What does he bring to the running game?  

BB: I think one of the great things about Rob is he really likes to block. As much as he gets excited about his touchdown catches and his spikes and all that, he really enjoys blocking. When he gets a good block, he takes a lot of pride in that. He's a good blocker. He's long, he's got those long arms, he can tie up those longer outside linebackers and defensive ends. He's also a real strong guy - he's got good power and is able to get moving at the point of attack. That obviously helps the running game. It also helps our play-action game because there are times when he's in there blocking and it draws the coverage up, like on [Deion] Branch's touchdown, things like that where you get plays that look like he's the point of attack and that opens up some other things in the passing game. Rob is certainly a good blocker and he takes a lot of pride in his blocking. He enjoys making good, hard-hitting blocks, crack blocks, point-of-attack blocks, those kind of things. He adds a good level of toughness and playing style to the offensive line group, even though he's not really an offensive lineman, but he really is, too. He is, but he isn't. He brings an element of toughness into that group. I think everyone appreciates it - the linemen, the [running] backs, the quarterback.  

Q: We've been seeing Dane Fletcher at fullback. At what point did you realize that he had the skills to do that?  

BB: He did it at the end of training camp, probably right around the time we released Sammy Morris. That was kind of something Sammy had done. We also had used Dan Connolly in the past but of course with [Dan] Koppen's injury. Also, we had used Ryan Wendell some in the past too, but Ryan missed the bulk of training camp and was inactive for a couple of games there. We wanted to try to have somebody who was active for the games that we actually use there. Dane kind of has a good feel for that. It's different but similar to linebackers. Linebackers, you kind of have to see the hole, like a [running] back does. You don't want to fill where your guys are, you want to fill where they're not and fill in the space and that's the same space that running back's seeing. When you get on the other side of the ball and you're a running back, you're sort of seeing that same space that you would see as a linebacker - that's where you want to go. You don't want to go in back of your guys; you want to go where they aren't. That's sort of the same thing a linebacker does, is to try to see those openings and know that's where you fit into them because your linemen have the other areas occupied. It's not the same but if you see what I'm saying, there's some carryover there. And Dane has adapted to that pretty well. He kind of has a good feel for it because it is similar spacing to what a linebacker has to look at.  

Q: I assume he's shown some good hands. You threw to him in the Miami game I think it was. Has he shown that in practice?  

BB: He can catch the ball. I don't think he's ever going to be confused with Wes Welker or Larry Centers or anybody, but yeah he can catch.  

Q: How are his Dane Fletcher's hands compared to Mike Vrabel's hands?  

BB: Well, you're talking about a guy who might have had the best hands on the team in that group when he was on the field. I'm saying, when Mike was in the goal-line offense, of all the players that were on the field, he probably had the best hands of anybody - the other tight ends, the [running] back, anybody we put out there. Mike had pretty good hands. He could catch. Maybe not Vince [Wilfork] hands, but pretty good hands.

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