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Bill Belichick Press Conference Transcript

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference on Wednesday, November 16, 2011.

BB: We're on Kansas City here. We have an extra day which is good for us. I'm sure we'll need it this week. It's a team that we haven't played since '08, first game of '08 so really that whole season too. We haven't seen them in quite awhile. A lot of new faces, of course new coaches, quite a few new players from the last time we played them. We're really starting from scratch. Impressive team, I think some of the things that I've been impressed with are their overall toughness, I think they're a hard-nosed football team that's tough. They do a good job on the line of scrimmage, they have some receivers that are big physical guys that really like to take it to the defense. They have good skill, their return game is very good with [Dexter] McCluster and [Javier] Arenas. They lead the league in kickoff coverage, so they're good in the kicking game. [Dustin] Colquitt – outstanding punter. He can really change field position on you as well as anybody we've played. Their defensive backs are ball hawks, they get their hands on a lot of balls, they get a lot of interceptions. They're quick, they're aggressive back there, they have good instincts, they're well coached. It's a well coached football team. They play good technique. They're sound. They don't give you a lot of easy opportunities – you have to earn them. If you're sloppy, they can definitely take advantage of them with their explosiveness in their offense and their return game and defensively with their ability to turn the ball over in the secondary and rush the passer, of course led by [Tamba] Hali, knocking the ball off the quarterback. I think they're a good team. They were in a situation earlier in the year when they were 0-3 and people were writing them off, come back and win four straight. I know they had a couple disappointing games the last couple of weeks but I know that with some of the people on that staff – Romeo [Crennel] and Bill Muir, Todd [Haley] and  Scott [Pioli] and all the people out there, I know what kind of competitors they are. I know this team will be ready to go Monday night. Let's hope we are too.  

Q: I know there's not a large body of work on Tyler Palko. Is this a case of having to be ready to make more adjustments during the game on what he can and can't do during the game?  

BB: I think we always have to be ready to do that but I don't really think that's the case in this particular instance. I think Tyler is very similar to [Matt] Cassel, except he's left handed. The same type of guy – a hardworking guy that is smart, that has a lot of confidence – I think they have a lot of confidence in him. He's a talented player, he was at Pitt and that's the reason why [Joe] Flacco transferred. I think that tells you something about him right there, that he beat Flacco out in that situation. I think that he's a guy that they're confident in. I think he can run their offense. I think he can do all the things that Matt did. He's athletic like Matt is. He can pull the ball down and run and run some of their bootlegs and quarterback movement plays and so forth. I would be surprised if they would change too much other than if it's a left handed play compared to a right handed play for a running quarterback or something like that. I'd be surprised if they change too much. They have a good offensive system, they've been productive with it. I think that Palko can do everything that he needs to do from what Matt has done. I wouldn't expect them to deviate too far from what they like to do. That's – they do quite a few things now, it's not like they just run a few plays – they mix things up pretty good. I don't see any reason why he shouldn't be able to do that.  

Q: Can you draw any parallels between Tyler Palko coming in and Matt Flynn playing for the Packers? I know Aaron Rodgers was questionable so it was a little bit later in the switch.  

BB: I think Green Bay ran their offense. Again, it was later in the week; it was kind of an iffy situation going into the last couple of days before the game. I'm sure whatever game plan they had in they would have run with whichever quarterback they had, maybe other than a couple of plays or a couple of specific calls. I don't expect a dramatic change in what Kansas City can do. I don't what they'll choose to do but I don't see any reason why he can't do the things that they would need a quarterback to do.  

Q: If Devin McCourty can't go, will it be Antwaun Molden coming in like he did during the Jets game? Are there any similarities between what Molden can do and what McCourty can do?  

BB: We have a couple options back there and there are some different matchups that we have with Kansas City depending on what they do too, how we want to match up with them and so forth. Whoever we have, we'll try to put them in the best spot that we can, based again on what Kansas City is doing. I think there are similarities between Antwaun and Devin. They're both bigger corners, both run well, strong, physical guys. I think there are some similarities there.  

Q: When you look at some of the catches that Rob Gronkowski makes, for a big guy, he seems awfully acrobatic. Does that surprise you for such a big guy that he can make those catches?  

BB: Not really. I think at Arizona, they didn't throw the ball as much as we do but they threw the ball, they split him out, they used him – they threw in some routes that I would say were more receiver type routes as opposed to tight end type routes. I think you can definitely see his skills in the passing game when he was in college – his sophomore year, he didn't play his junior year. So you certainly saw the talent there in terms of the workout, just watching him run around and catch the ball. He makes catches out on the practice field that are good catches. He's long, he has good hands and he can extend and catch the ball. He's got a big radius – there are a lot of places that you can throw the ball that he can get to. There's usually some place that a quarterback can throw the ball away from the defender that Rob can reach and the defender can't. Tom [Brady] has done a good job of that, Rob has done a good job of anticipating those throws, like the touchdown against the Giants last week where the defender [Jacquian] Williams was inside, Tom put the ball on the backside of him and Rob was able to extend out there and get it.  Those guys have developed a good chemistry – worked a lot after practice on their timing against our defensive backs and linebackers. I'd say Rob and Aaron [Hernandez] both, we expected both of them to be able to catch the ball and perform in the passing game and they've done that.  

Q: I assume you activated Marcus Cannon with hopes that he will see the field.  

BB: Well, I don't know. Look, anybody that is on the roster certainly has to be ready to be play but I don't know whether he is going to play or not.  

Q: Will you start working him at just guard, just tackle, just center or whatever or will you throw him in and take a little time at each?  

BB: All of our players who aren't starting players and even some of the players who are starting players will work at multiple spots. We only have, I'd say normally you only have maybe 10 or 11 offensive linemen on the field for practice. Again, it varies depending on if a guy practices or not. I'm just saying, you're in that ballpark somewhere so the guys who are the starting players, they take a lot of their reps on offense and but then when it goes to defense, sometimes they'll play at their secondary spot and then the guys who, like the practice squad guys or Marcus, players like that, then they'll get some reps for the defense at maybe what is their primary position they're responsible for, but they'll also take reps at other spots based on which other guys are in the game with them, that type of thing. I'd say that everybody, maybe with the exception of some of your starting offensive linemen, they'll get reps at at least one other position over the course of practice somewhere along the line. And the guys who aren't starting probably get multiple looks at different positions so it's pretty much the same for everybody.  

Q: What would you say that you saw in Rob Ninkovich that somebody else might not have seen – was it work ethic or IQ?  

BB: I don't know. I can't really speak for what happened in Miami or in New Orleans. But Rob is a guy that was productive in college. He only had one year of production when [Anthony] Spencer was out, Rob's senior year, he stepped in and had a big senior year. He was drafted in whatever it was, the fifth round or something like that. We've seen guys – Wes Welker was cut by a team, [Tom] Brady went in the sixth round. There's no, it's no perfect science. Rob's come in here, he's done a good job for us since the day he got there. He's performed well in the kicking game, played outside linebacker, backup long snapper, we've asked him to a lot of things and he's done a good job. He's been dependable, he's been versatile, he's a smart guy, works hard, he's a good athlete. He can do a number of different things – he can rush the passer, he can play with strength in the running game, he's a good pass defender, plays in the kicking game, long snapper – that's a pretty good resume. He's done a good job for us.  

Q: How does a guy hang on for that long waiting for an opportunity to open up?  

BB: I think Rob's case is similar to a lot of other examples that I could give you, is that the first thing that happened was he was on special teams. He played in the kicking game and was productive in the kicking game and so he's going to every game to play on special teams. Defensively when you have that situation, when you know that a player is going to be at the game because of his value in the kicking game, then he starts to gain a greater role on offense or defense because as a coach you know he's going to be there. There may be other players that might arguably be better offensive or defensive players but you can't get them onto the 46-man roster so therefore you have to wait for there to be an opening, an injury or something for that player to have an opportunity to play, whereas if the player is there because of his role in the kicking game then he can expand that role to offense or defense. The Matt Slaters and Ray Ventrone, Rob Ninkovich, you can go right down the line, you could have a thousand of them. A lot of times, their offensive and defensive opportunities come because of their performance in the kicking game – BenJarvus [Green-Ellis] is another one. That's where it starts and then if a guy got hurt, maybe the guy got the offensive or defensive opportunity because of that situation, a need, maybe it would have turned out the same way, I don't know, but a lot of times it turns out that way because of the kicking game.  

Q: Is it the opposite situation with Taylor Price because he doesn't play special teams and it's hard to get him onto the active roster?  

BB: I'd say he probably falls into a little different category. Unfortunately one of the things with Taylor has just been his overall availability.  

Q: When you're in a situation where you have a number of backups who need to be placed in lead roles, what is the key to developing a good consistency with those new guys?  

BB: All the players practice with the team every day, so whichever guys, whoever is on the team, they take reps in there just because they have to be ready to play. We all know that who goes out there on the first play of the game, there could be somebody out there different on the second or third play of the game so everybody has to be ready. We try to give everybody on the team as many reps as we can but certainly some reps so they're prepared to play – whether that's because of circumstance or because of a rotation or something like that. That consistency gets built through practice repetitions – that's what practice is, it's preparation for the game.  

Q: How much more involved do you become working with specific a group of guys if you have a bunch of new guys in the secondary or a bunch of new guys on the offensive line. Do you take off your head coaching hat and go over and work more with them than you normally would?  

BB: What I try to do as a head coach and it's one of the advantages honestly of being a head coach is you can go where you want to go. If you want to work with this group, you can work with this group; if you want to work with that group, you can work with that group – so that's kind of nice. But no, the assistant coaches do the coaching but if there's anything that I want to try to convey to a particular player or to a particular group, then it doesn't make a difference whether it's new guys, old guys, whoever they are. I have no problem going into that meeting room, calling him into my office, talking to [him], sitting down with him and trying to tell them, 'Look, this is what I think is important this week or this is what I think you need to do better or this is what we're looking for from you or this is something that's going to change and here's what's going to happen.' I try to do that on, I would say weekly but really it's more of a daily basis. It could be with young players, it could be with veteran players, it could be with anybody – it's wherever I feel like I want to put that emphasis. It's not always in the same groups; it's not always with the same people.  

Q: Do you think the same could be said for play-calling as well or is that something that is different from hands-on coaching, like during a game?  

BB: During a game, I talk to all the play callers, to Scott [O'Brien] to Billy [O'Brien] to Matt [Patricia]. First of all, we go into the game with a plan of how we want to try to start things, believe it or not, I know everybody doesn't think that's the way it is but we actually talk about, 'This is how we want to start the game and these are the calls that we would make in this situation, second and long, third and short, third and medium, red area, goal line,' and then after the game starts to unfold then you kind of say 'OK well we want to sort of stay with the way we mapped this out or they're doing this and these don't look as good, these look better or maybe we have to make an adjustment and say, 'Well we can run these plays but if this happens we have to do something else,' that type of thing. We talk about that over the course of the game.  

Q: Has Bill O'Brien done more of that this year since he assumed the official title of offensive coordinator?  

BB: No, play calling is play calling. I know titles are a big important thing externally. But whether you're President of the United States or graduate assistant, whatever your job is, you do it and then there are people that you work with that do that job. Call him whatever you want to call him, it doesn't matter. Whoever is calling plays, if the head coach is involved with the play calling or the organization of the play calling, then I'm going to talk to the person that calls the plays. If I'm not, then he calls them and you know, there's no input from the head coach, that's alright too. I'm not saying it has to be one way or the other, but however you're structured to set it up, that's how its' set up. But the way it's structured here is, I'll take responsibility for all the plays that are called. I have the final say on it. If I don't want to run the play, then I can call it off – that's my right as a head coach. Any of the bad ones, you can blame me for because ultimately I could change them if I wanted to.  

Q: How often do you find yourself calling off a play?  

BB: I don't know. I don't keep track of it.  

Q: Once a week?  

BB: I don't know. I'll log them for you over the next couple of weeks and we'll see how that goes.  

Q: How closely did you get to work with Todd Haley when you were with the Jets?  

BB: Todd was, I was the defensive coordinator and Todd worked on the offensive side of the ball. He worked with Charlie [Weis], Dan Henning, Bill Muir, Maurice Carthon and all those guys. Todd worked more with the receivers and so when we worked as a defensive backfield coach, we worked against the receivers – it's similar to the Tom Coughlin situation but Todd wasn't the – he used to like breaking down film and he was an offensive assistant, so we worked against him there. I know Todd well and of course Dick [Haley], who was the director of college scouting when I was there. I know all those guys. Todd was young, he was breaking down film, working with Charlie, working on the offense and then we worked against each other in some practice situations and things like that.  

Q: Have you ever engaged in a conversation with a heckler and if you haven't, how have you resisted?  

BB: I don't know. Right now I'm really thinking about Kansas City, with all due respect. I'm trying to focus on a team that we don't really know very well, that I have a lot of respect for the people there – players, the coaches [and] the organization. I think we have a lot to do to get our team ready. Sorry, my mind's not really on that one.

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