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Bill Belichick Press Conference Transcript

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Thursday, August 11, 2011.

BB: On the personnel side here, Nate [Solder] signed so we had him in today so he'll be out on the field. It's good to have all the draft choices signed. We're really looking forward to getting as many people out there on the field as we can. You know, just take another step here, just one day after another trying to improve on things we did yesterday. We're seeing some steady improvement, but we've still got a long way to go so we just have to keep grinding it out. These are the days of camp where you just have to try to string good practices together and try to improve every day and hopefully [if] we can stay on that kind of schedule, we'll be ready for the season, but we've got a long way to go here.

Q: Have you gotten any notification of whether the CBA is ratified and if veteran players can practice?

BB: As I understand it's an ongoing process here, so we'll work through it.

Q: Are they literally waiting with pads on in the locker room?

BB: We're expecting that it's going to happen. That's what we've been led to believe.

Q: On Nate Solder, when you were scouting him, was he a guy who can play right or left tackle of is he more like Matt Light, where he only plays one side?

BB: Well, I guess the answer to that is 'we'll see.' Does he have the skill set to play right tackle? I think he probably does, but we'll see. We thought Matt [Light] did, too, and that only lasted about two weeks.

Q: On draft night, you were a little more definitive on him being a left tackle. Are you more open to other possibilities now?

BB:That's what he played. And he played it well. That's why we drafted him. But can he play right tackle? I think he has the skill set to, but we'll see.

(On the difference between the skill sets, agility vs. strength)

BB: I mean, there are big and fast guys on both sides. I'd say normally - more frequently - there's another body on the right side, at tight end, than there is on the left side. But that's not always true. Sometimes [the] formation goes the other way. Eventually, everybody is going to have to block - big guys, fast guys, quick guys, games, blitzes - everybody will get tested sooner or later.

Q: What do you want a rookie to get out of his first year here when he has the opportunity to learn under a veteran like Matt Light?

BB: Right now, we just have to forget about rookies and veterans and all that and hope that every player can get to his potential for this current year. But that's a day-by-day, step-by-step process. Right now our goal is to go out and improve from yesterday, have a good practice, correct the mistakes we make today and move on tomorrow. Every young player will have veteran players in his position or certainly on his side of the ball that he'll be able to watch and possibly learn from if he's so inclined. We have a lot of veterans who are very professional and well-prepared, guys that work hard that do a lot things right and that's why they've had great careers. It will be up to the rookies to observe those things, or learn from them, or talk to them and take advantage of the experience that someone else has until they ultimately gain enough of their own to feel like they have enough knowledge and experience to make some of their own decisions or choices, whether it be on or off the field.

Q: When you were watching Nate Solder, what stood out to you and what did you like about the way he played?

BB: He played pretty good. He's big, he can run, he's a good pass blocker, he's a good run blocker, he plays on his feet, he's long.

Q: It must be a little more complete and nice to get all the guys out there now?

BB: Well, like I said, we're looking forward to seeing as many players on the field as possible, including guys who are banged up, including guys in various stages of contracts and so forth and so on. We try to get as many out there as we can. They won't all be out there today. They weren't all out there yesterday. But hopefully we'll get as many as possible.

Q: Last year you had joint practices with the Saints and Falcons. Do you have any plans to do that with any other teams this year?

BB: Not at this point, no. We're here for the foreseeable future. But we'll see how it goes later on in camp.

Q: What is it about the 3-4 defense that has been near and dear to you throughout your coaching on that side of the ball?

BB: At the Browns we played a 4-3.

Q: Other than the Browns, what is it about the 3-4?

BB: We won two Super Bowls playing a 4-3. In '01 and ['04]. Second half of the '01 season, we played 4-3 after Bryan Cox and [Ted] Johnson got hurt.

Q: 3-4 has been historically presumed to be your preferred defense.

BB: In all honesty, most people thought we played a 4-3 at the Giants. Lawrence Taylor did a lot more rushing than he did pass dropping. He was probably 90 percent of the time, 80 to 90 percent of the time he was the rusher in the defense. Now not every play was a pass, but certainly in passing situations and on a lot of pass plays, he was the designated fourth rusher which really put us in what amounts to a 4-3. I think honestly that's something that's a media fabrication. There are a lot of different alignments out there, you see 4-3 teams use odd spacing, you see 3-4 teams use even spacing. You have same… look, you have 11 players. You can put them in various positions. Whether you want to put it in the pregame depth chart as one thing or another I think is a little bit overrated. You play different fronts, you play different spacings and you teach the techniques of your defense and that is what is consistent. The techniques that are taught in the different defensive systems, whichever ones you want to talk about, are consistent within those systems. And those teams go from a three-man line to a four-man line or a four-man line to a odd spacing line or overs-to-unders or unders-to-overs or over-wides or whatever you want to call it. They'll continue to play the same fundamental techniques that they've been teaching for the entire year, for the most part. I think that's what teaching defensive fundamental football is about. It's about fundamentals. Wherever you put them, you have to put other people in complementary places however you decide to do that. It's pretty straightforward really. You can't have them all over here and none over there. You have to balance it off at some point. It's more the teaching and techniques and the fundamentals that you teach your defensive players more than it is the 3-4, 4-3 lineup that is so important to put on the flip card.

Q: Would it be more accurate to look at it as a two-gap versus a one-gap then?

BB: It's all the fundamentals and sure, that's part of it. There are techniques in terms of how to play your front, how to defend the number of gaps and the ways that the offense can attack you, particularly in the running game. So how you want to do that? In a normal set you have eight gaps - seven blockers and eight gaps - so how do you want to defend that? Do you want to defend it with seven people or do you want to defend it with eight? That's really what it comes down to. And every time you spread a guy then the defense spreads a guy, so eight becomes seven. Then seven becomes six. Depending on how many guys are detached from the formation, then that's how many gaps you have. You decide defensively how you want to defend them in the running game. Do you want to defend them with gap control? Do you want to two-gap? Do you want to try to overload the box with extra guys and play eight against seven or seven against six? Those are all the choices you make. With every decision, there's going to be an upside, there's going to be a downside. There will be advantages to playing certain things, there will be disadvantages to playing [them]. So every system has multiple coverages, multiple fronts to adjust to, different problems that the offense presents.

Q: With such a condensed schedule, can you talk about the advantage of having an experienced quarterback who knows the system and doesn't need to learn a lot of new things?

BB: I mean, every team has experienced players. We have some players who are experienced, we have some players who aren't experienced. Really it's the process of blending it all together. We're getting all the players to work together. Even the guys who have played together and have experience haven't done that in over six months. Everybody's got a long way to go. It's a new season and we're starting all over again. That goes for everybody - veteran players and rookie players. Guys with experience have experience and that's great. That gives them a little bit of an edge as to what to expect. But in the end, I think we've all seen players… certainly last year, I could name several rookies that performed pretty well that at this time [last year] we could all say had no experience. So how important is experience? I don't know. It wasn't important enough to keep those guys from being pretty good players last year.

Q: Can you characterize the continuity of the offensive line with Matt Light and Logan Mankins coming back and how important that communication is?

BB: It's always important. That probably, from an experience standpoint, I think when you have players in your system that have played together and can execute certain difficult things together because they've done it before, that gives those players a little bit of a jump in execution relative to the exact same situation in another part of your team where they just haven't had that experience of playing together through some of those unusual situations, or not unusual but ones that require a degree of adjustments.

Q: If 3-4 and 4-3 is overrated like you said, is the important thing to look for players that have skills that can match up against a variety of things that you'll see throughout the season?

BB: Again I think there's certainly a lot to be said for flexibility. There's also a lot to be said for playing well at one position. I think if a player plays one position very well, there's a lot of value to that. If a player plays multiple positions at a good level, maybe not quite as good as a guy who plays one position at a little bit of a higher level, that versatility is worth a lot as well. How do you value those? I don't know. I think you have to have both. We've had plenty of good players who really just did one thing - Ted Washington, Steve Neal, guys like that. They never did anything but play one position for a long time… well Ted was only here a year, but throughout his career or throughout the time he was here, he did one thing [and] he did it pretty well. Great. Other guys, the Mike Vrabels of the world, the Rodney Harrisons, guys like that, Troy Brown, those guys did a lot of things. They did them pretty well too. A football team is comprised of a lot of parts, certainly a lot of moving parts. You need a lot of different things through the course of a season, through the course of a game. Some guys provide one thing, other guys provide others things. In the end you just have to comprise your team so you can put the best group together that you can. That's the only way I can explain it.

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