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Bill Belichick Press Conference Transcript

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference on Monday, September 5, 2011.

BB: Happy Labor Day. Have a good holiday. It's always a busy time of year in terms of finishing up our roster decisions and then turning the page and getting ready for the regular season, the Miami opener and so forth. It's been a pretty busy weekend as I'm sure it has [been] for the other 31 clubs. Cut downs are always difficult; you have to try to balance a lot of things, take a lot of things into consideration, and the decisions aren't always easy. It certainly is based a lot on the players' performance, but also, I think you have to look ahead a little bit as to not only where the players are now, but where you think they're going to be at different points in time: midseason, by the end of the season – that type of thing. There're a lot of other factors: injuries in some cases, contracts in some cases, just evaluating the overall depth of your roster whether it comes from the practice squad or possibly guys that are not on your roster that could become depth, and so forth. So, [there's] no clear-cut formula; you just try to do what you feel like is best for your team, and so that's what we did this weekend, and now we're onto Miami. Of course, opening up [the season] down there [will be] a big challenge for us there. Division game's are always tough – division games on the road. And it's a new season, [there're] a lot of unknowns. We'll have to prepare for all the things that they've shown and we know that they can do, and we know we won't get all of them, but whatever we get will be their best stuff. They've got a good football team. They're well coached, got a lot of explosive players, so that's what lies ahead.  

Q: How do you look back on Brandon Meriweather's career here? He did have a lot of production and he did start for a while…  

BB: Yeah, no doubt about it. Again, I think each year is a new year and I just don't think you can pick teams, or pick your players based on what's happened in the past. You have to pick them based on what you think is going to happen this year, and that's relative to the competition, to the make of your team, and player's performance. All of those are obviously a part of it. Brandon played a lot of good football for us. We kept the players this year that we felt would be the best make up for the 2011 team. It's not the 2009 team; it's the 2011 team, so those are the players that we've selected.  

Q: What sort of skill set does Josh Barrett bring to the table?  

BB: Josh is big and he's fast. [He's] a smart guy. He's got pretty good physical skills.  

Q: What drew you guys to Brian Waters?  

BB: As usual, we keep our eye on all the players that are available whether they're current players in the league, or players that aren't with a team. We've worked out a lot of guys this year during training camp. Brian has a good level of experience. I think his playing style is one that we feel like – the way that he plays the position is kind of the way we feel like we would want it played. I think the fact that he has a little familiarity with our system relative to what Kansas City is doing and all that doesn't hurt. That's not an overriding factor; it's just the part of it. We've gone up against him a number of times. I have a lot of respect for Brian: his play, his professionalism, what he brings to the team.  

Q: Is that in Charlie Weis' scheme you're talking about in Kansas City?  

BB: Well, yeah. I mean, even Todd [Haley] – the basis of their terminology and things like that. I'm not saying it's the same, but there's certainly some carryover.  

Q: Is this the kind of thing where you think it could happen pretty quickly for him to jump in here?   

BB: Well, I don't know. We haven't even had him on the field yet, so I'm not sure what that will be. But, again, I'm not saying that's not the reason, but that's part of it. In other words, you've been able to see the player perform in a system that's similar to yours, so you can see him do some of the things that you would be asking him to do as opposed to going from a totally different offense [and] putting it into – then you try to project, 'Well, what this would look like if he were doing this or doing that?' I think that just kind of helps more with the evaluation as opposed to the whole learning curve. I mean, look, we brought a couple guys in here for a few of hours and played them last week, so sometimes you can do that; sometimes it takes a lot longer than that and they're still not ready to play, so each case is different. I don't know.  

Q: Has he played primarily left guard?  

BB: Yeah. He's played a number of different positions, but yeah, primarily left guard.  

Q: With the familiarity with the scheme like you were talking about is probably more important than one position on the line?  

BB: Well, we'll see. We had Brian out at the Pro Bowl last year, but that was a whole different ball game. We'll see how it goes. I don't know.  

Q: No team had more players cut that other teams actually placed claims on than the Patriots, which I think was a compliment to the quality of players that the Patriots had to let go. What was your opinion just of that aspect of the waiver process, and so many of the players that the Patriots cut having legitimate claims on them?  

BB: I think we've had a competitive camp. We have whatever it is, what 11 guys on other teams now. We had a competitive camp. We had a lot of guys battling it out in a lot of different positions. I can't really speak to what other teams did, but the fact that they are with other teams probably says something about what the level of competition was at different positions on our team.  

Q: How much did that high total surprise you? I know you basically get a feel because you're talking to different teams all the time about interests in players…  

BB: This is one of these years where there weren't very many trades, and that's just the way it was. It looked like most teams were going to wait and see how the waiver wire process worked out rather than making trades for players. We talked to some teams – I would say no more or less than usual, about the same. This just wasn't a real active trade market. Some teams claimed players and didn't get them because the teams ahead of them claimed them, and that kind of thing. That's just the process; it is what it is.  

Q: Any sense or any opinion on why there weren't as many trades this year?  

BB: No, I don't know. No.  

Q: When you release a guy and hope to put him on your practice squad and he gets claimed by another team is that a frustration for you?  

BB: No. I mean, anytime you release a player I think you have a pretty good expectation that he's not going to be here. If you want him then you keep him on the roster. Once you've put him out there then you can expect to lose him. The practice squad – we've lost guys before that haven't been claimed and then they sign with another practice squad team – or sign with another team and go to their practice squad, and we've done that. We've signed guys that have been released by other teams. We did it this year. Maybe somebody else wanted them on their practice squad, but they're on our practice squad. There're guys that we would have put on our practice squad that went to other teams on their practice squad. So, once you release the player, I think you expect them to be released. If you get them back, you get them back, but if you don't, you don't. I just don't think you can release a player and expect to keep the player. If you do that's pretty – it's nice if it happens if that's what you want, but there's got to be a good probability that that isn't going to happen. It's certainly not anything you can count on; it's not anything that we ever count on, I can tell you that. Once they're on the wire then 31 other teams – if anybody wants him, he's there's. Unless he's vested – that's a little different situation, but we weren't talking about a lot of players in that category – not on the practice squad.  

Q: I had asked about a kick returner a couple days ago before the 53-man roster was set. Do you have a better sense now for who's competing or who's in the mix?  

BB: Well, we've had a number of guys on our team return kicks, so we'll work it out with the guys we have – maybe one guy, maybe a combination of guys. I think we definitely have some options there. It might not do the same every game; It might depend on the circumstances of that particular game. We'll see how it goes.  

Q: What are your thoughts on the new long snapper Danny Aiken that was claimed by the Bills?  

BB: Well, it looked like that was a close competition there, and we obviously didn't know which way it was going to go. That was a guy we had interest in coming out. At the beginning of the process he signed with Buffalo, so we didn't get him the first time, but we got him this time around. I thought James [Dearth] came in and did a good job for us on short notice, but we just feel like going forward we'll go with Danny and see how it goes.  

Q: Was he your top rated guy coming out of the draft?  

BB: He was a guy that we had interest in. I don't want to rate him.  

Q: Was Eric Moore just a victim of numbers? There were so many defensive linemen at one point on the team.  

BB: As I said, I thought we had real good competition in camp in a number of positions. Eric did a good job for us last year. I think Eric is a good player. You just can't keep everybody.  

Q: How did the NFL Network ever get you to agree to do the piece that we all anticipate?  

BB: Well, again, when they approached us on it, it was the Patriots' 50th season and my 35th season in the NFL, so it was a little bit of a unique situation. So organizationally, they captured the team's 50th year along with what I did. They really did it in a way that was not intrusive, and they didn't really know what they're going to do with it. They just did it to archive it, to keep it as a historical – to do it in a historical way and there were no set plans on what to do with it, or how to present it or anything like that. That, I guess, evolved later on. I have a ton of respect for NFL Films: Steve Sabol, Ken Rodgers, their whole crew [and] staff down there. I think they do a tremendous job and they've always been good to work with, so I have a great trust in what they do and the professional way that they present it. So, I personally agree with it, and organizationally we also signed off on it.  

Q: Have you see the final cut?  

BB: No, I haven't. I've just seen a couple excerpts of it. I hope they can find some way to make me look not too bad.  

Q: Are you surprised at all then that it became about you not the organization so to speak?  

BB: Again, I don't know. I haven't seen the whole thing. I'm sure that there's a lot in there that's not just about me. I don't know, look, they put it together. It's their thing [and] I don't really know exactly what they have or how it's presented, or the flow of it or anything else. It's hard for me to comment on that.  

Q: I haven't seen it either it's just the title that jumps out at me…  

BB: Well, I'm sure I'll be a main character in the show based on the title.  

Q: You get this question a lot when a player is claimed by the team you're going to play in the first week of the season. How much can that player possibly help the other team? Will Yeatman for example, got claimed by the Dolphins, so people will ask how much can he help the Dolphins based on what he saw in Patriots camp. What's your opinion?  

BB: Probably about the same amount that [Matt] Kopa help us. I don't know. I think there's a lot more to it than that. Could they tell you something that may be helpful? I don't know. I know we worked on a lot of things in training camp. We had however many practice it was for preseason games – that's a lot of stuff. We hadn't begun our game plans for Miami yet, [and] I doubt that they'd begun their game plans for us either. I mean, there's a whole volume of stuff there – it's all on film. I think we have a pretty good idea of what Miami's going to do – not exactly, but I'm sure they have a pretty good idea of what we're going to do. We play each other twice a year, so I don't know.  

Q: It doesn't sound like it's a big deal…  

BB: Whatever information anybody gets on that I think is very marginal, very marginal. In all honesty, sometimes it can be more harm than good. 'They do this, they do that, watch out for this, watch out for that,' then they don't do it, then it's just a waste of time working on stuff that you didn't know they had, [and] they still didn't use it. So, I think it's marginal. 

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