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Bill Belichick Press Conference Transcript

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference on Thursday, November 24, 2011.

BB: Thanks for sticking around. This is the hardcore group. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone and to the fans. Family, friends, food and football; you can't beat this holiday. I felt like we got a few things done here today, this morning. We needed it. Yesterday we just walked through and mentally tried to get a lot of things covered. But at least today we're able to go out there and step through a few plays and situations and so forth. It's good. We've got a lot of work to do still, but I think we're gaining on it. Like I said, I think Philadelphia is a tough team to get ready for. We really have to push through it this week.  

Q: Do you feel behind because of the Monday night game?  

BB: I think we're still trying to gain a little ground.   (On preparing for the Eagles' special teams)  

BB: The Jets were pretty good on kickoff return. But the Eagles are explosive and punt return, absolutely. [DeSean] Jackson is a very dynamic player. You never know where he's going to go. They've done a good job on both of their return units and their coverage teams, too. They have good players on the coverage teams. Colt Anderson – their linebackers – [Akeem] Jordan and those guys. They do a good job.  

Q: When you're faced with a quarterback with a unique skill set, whether it's Vince Young or Michael Vick, how do you replicate that in practice with Brian Hoyer?  

BB: We try to get it, yeah, we try to get it with the quarterbacks running around, whether it's Ryan Mallett or Brian Hoyer running around some. Some of their plays are conducive to that – their bootlegs plays and roll out plays and things like that, where it's just part of the play. But there are also other plays where we tell them if it breaks down to scramble around. Of course we can't simulate his speed and athleticism; I don't think anybody really can, but we can at least build an awareness of it and try to simulate it the best we can, but it's not quite the same.  

Q: How do you defend against their improvisational style of play?  

BB: Well, the players who are pass rushing the quarterback have a responsibility to keep him within the framework of the pocket. Depending on what the defensive call is, sometimes we have a person assigned to a scrambling quarterback; sometimes we don't, again depending on what defense we're in and what the call is. We've done that both ways. If we assign somebody to him, then obviously that guy has him and the other people can be more aggressive in the rush. If we don't assign somebody to him, then everybody has to be more lane conscious. It's kind of like, on a smaller scale, a punt return, where somebody has to be outside, somebody has to be inside and you have to keep the ball leveraged.  

Q: Was placing Jeff Tarpinian on IR, was that concussion related?  

BB: I think it was an illness we listed.  

Q: Is that a bigger hit to the linebacker position than special teams?  

BB: Yeah. Jeff did a good job for us. We really felt like he was coming along. Unfortunately, last week he had this thing come up, so we'll just have to see how it all works out. In the meantime, he's not going to be able to participate for awhile. He was a young player doing well, playing on defense a little bit. I think he was starting to develop a role there and he certainly was improving in the kicking game. He was giving us a solid player in all four phases – the big four: kickoff, kickoff return, punt and punt return. He was giving us solid play in all four phases of special teams that he was involved in, so I'm disappointed for him and disappointed for us, but we have to move on. Fortunately, we were able to bring Niko [Koutouvides] in and he really has helped us both on defense and in the kicking game, in practice and in the games. He's a solid, veteran guy that was here for us, fortunately, in preseason, so the recall and the assignments and all of that come back pretty quickly to him. He's a smart guy, anyway. But it's a tough break for Jeff.  

Q: Is it serious?  

BB: Well, he's on injured reserve, so.  

Q: It seemed like it was just going to be flu-like.  

BB: Well, you can't put him on injured reserve for having a head cold.  

Q: Is it something long-term?  

BB: I'm not a doctor.  

Q: When you guys acquired Kyle Arrington a couple years ago, did you think he was going to be a special teams guy or did you foresee him becoming a major contributor at some point?  

BB: Yeah, I wouldn't say we saw him as a starting corner when he came on to the team, but I would say that he has a lot of skills that you like to work with. But we did feel like he was a good special teams performer. In fact, he was our best special teams performer his first year. He made a lot of tackles and he was very active and aggressive and then as he continued to develop as a defensive player, we can all see the role that he's developed into. It's similar to the BenJarvus [Green-Ellis] story, similar to the Rob Ninkovich story, those kinds of things. But no, his primary role was in the kicking game and he was able to lay a foundation on that and then build his opportunity and his role into something a lot more than that, but it definitely started with special teams.  

Q: The Eagles secondary is banged up. Is it fair to say you'd like to try to exploit that?  

BB: We'll go in there with our game plan and see how it goes. I mean, I don't know. We'll see what the injury report is. We'll see who plays and who doesn't play, but the bottom line is that have a lot of depth in the secondary, anyway. They've drafted a couple players back there in the last couple years. I'm sure that they are good players and the guys that they've played are good and they have good depth at safety. Whoever is out there, we'll compete against.  

Q: Watching the game Monday night, it seemed like Matt Light's injury might have been serious. Is there a feeling that you dodged a bullet there?  

BB: I'm not sure I follow you.  

Q: When he went down, it looked very serious, but now it appears to be less so since he's back at practice.  

BB: Yeah, of course everyone is glad that it's not a serious injury, of course. It's so hard to tell in those injuries. Everybody wants to diagnose them 20 seconds after they happen. The fact of the matter is, it's hard to do. You have to take a closer look at it and see what the reaction is. Obviously, at the time it's significant, but then sometimes they resolve and sometimes they don't. Sometimes players finish the game and then they come in on Monday and I find out that somebody has sustained a – all injuries are serious – but in relative terms, a significant injury. Well, he finished the game and he was able to go back in or play, but what happened? Well, he was able to play through it, but now that it's over and the adrenaline has settled down and it's the next day and we can look at it, we can see that there's a problem here. And vice versa. I think I've just learned through time that you have to wait and let that stuff run its course. And I know everybody is looking for an instant diagnosis, but the reality of it is that in a lot of cases, that just isn't realistic. And we've all had that ourselves, right? You feel bad and then you feel good, or you don't feel that bad and then all of sudden, you feel terrible. Or you think it's going to clear up in a day and then it's a week. Sometimes you feel like it's going to be a week and it ends up being a couple days. They live the same lives we do.  

Q: What do you do today, personally? Do you get to enjoy the holiday?  

BB: We'll finish up the things we need to do here this afternoon from the practice. We have to be ready for tomorrow, so I think once we can get done our things for tomorrow so when the players come in, we're ready for them, for our meetings, for the film sessions, for practice, for the adjustments that we would normally make after a Thursday practice, all those things, then everybody can get home and have a chance to enjoy a little time with their friends and family tonight. But we've got to be ready when the players come in here tomorrow. That will take a little while, but we won't be sleeping at the office tonight, won't have to worry about that.  

Q: Do you do that a lot?  

BB: No, not too much.   (On LeSean McCoy)  

BB: Absolutely, yeah. I mean, McCoy is a very dynamic player. He makes a lot of yards on his own. He's a very difficult guy to defend and tackle. He's a very creative runner. It looks like he's stopped for nothing and then he ends up with a lot of yards or if he gets into space then 10 yards can easily be 70. He's really a good player. I've been very impressed watching him. He makes a lot of tacklers miss him and he breaks tackles. He's got great vision. He's an outstanding player. There aren't too many like him. There are a lot of good backs in this league, but this guy is really in the top category.  

Q: What are your thoughts on Nate Solder's performance at tight end?  

BB: Good, good. Nate, I think he's a tough matchup for some of the outside linebackers that he faces. Of course, he's used to facing defensive ends as an offensive tackle – just one position wider. If a defensive end is out there on him, if it's a four-man line or a four-man line look, that's something he's pretty comfortable with. Blocking a linebacker as an offensive tackle – head up as opposed to the 3-4 look where they're a man removed is a little different. But I think he's a hard matchup for those guys because of his length and his athleticism. Most outside linebackers are used to playing against tight ends, but they're not 300 and however many pounds, and they're not 6'9". There are some [Rob] Gronkowski tall guys, but I think he's a tough matchup for them.   (On playing Solder different ways)  

BB: When they're in their nickel defense, they have defensive ends out there. When they're in their 3-4, which they played a decent amount of that against him too, then that was more of their 3-4 look. But we saw them both, yeah.  

Q: What's your favorite thing on the Thanksgiving menu?  

BB: It would have to be dessert – pumpkin or pecan pie, I'll go with that.

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