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Bill Belichick Press Conference Transcript

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference on Friday, November 25, 2011.

BB: I hope everybody had a good day yesterday; I feel a couple of pounds heavier. How are we doing here? [You] ready for Philly? I hope we are. Not much since yesterday after practice until this morning before practice - not too much new on this end.  

Q: What do you see from Asante Samuel? Same old Asante?  

BB: Yeah, I think Asante has real good ball skills, a ball hawk in the secondary, has a great feel for the passing game, good hands, made some big plays. He looks like we've seen him for many years.  

Q: Are they primarily a zone team on defense?  

BB: They play a lot of zone, [yes].  

Q: Does your familiarity or Tom Brady's familiarity with a guy like Asante Samuel help on the field on Sunday?  

BB: I think we know you have to be careful throwing around him because he's very instinctive, he's got good ball skills, he's got good quickness. You just have to be careful. Tom has thrown against him hundreds of times. I think he has a good feel for what it's like to play against him.  

Q: How do they use Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie? I know he has a lot of versatility.  

BB: They basically play him in the slot. He's played some outside with injury but for the most part, he came in as the third corner in the slot - Asante [Samuel] and Nnamdi [Asomugha] stayed outside. When they went to their dime package, then they bring [Joselio] Hanson in and Hanson will play inside with Cromartie. Cromartie has been out, so then it's been Hanson as the inside corner.  

Q: Was he mostly outside in Arizona?  

BB: Yes. I'd say exclusively, I don't think he played inside at all down there.  

Q: Can you talk about DeSean Jackson and the home run he really presents on two different fronts?  

BB: I'd say really, he's kind of a multiple threat guy - of course punt returns, extremely dangerous. We've seen all the Giants games from '09 and last year with 12 seconds left, this year he had another one. He's a very explosive player. He can go anywhere - he can hit it up the middle, he has the speed to go outside, very elusive. It's kind of the same thing offensively, they get him the ball on things like reverses and tear screens, which are a problem. He's got his normal routes and then he's got deep routes. He can beat you deep and he can beat you on a normal over-route or in-route. Then there are a lot of catch and run plays or reverse plays where they just put the ball in his hands and let him go, those are like punt returns too. He's very dangerous; you can't give him much space. They have a lot of guys like that too. Really [Brent] Celek is a big play guy. [LeSean] McCoy, every run is like a punt return with him too. [Jeremy] Maclin, [Michael] Vick, they have a lot of players that can really score from anywhere on the field. Their pass rush, strip sacks, things like that where if they knock the ball off you, they can scoop it up and run it back. Asante [Samuel], Nnamdi [Asomugha], if you're sloppy around them, they'll make you pay for it.  

Q: When you watch LeSean McCoy on film, what are some of the characteristics that jump out about him?  

BB: Unbelievably quick, he's got tremendous quickness. You don't see really anybody tackle him one-on-one. You need a group of guys around him. He gets hemmed in and then he gets out of it. He's got great quickness, good vision but great quickness to be able to avoid people. He's got some running strength too, he gets through the line. Guys get a shot at him and he's able to run through them. I'm not saying he's a big-time power runner like Brandon Jacobs or Peyton Hillis or someone like that. He's got good playing strength, but he's very quick - screen passes, draws, things like that and the guy has a lot of carries. He's really hard to tackle, makes a lot of yards on his own, not taking anything away from their blocking or anything but he gets a lot of yards after it looks like somebody should get him, he gets a lot more.  

Q: Does he remind you of Brian Westbrook at all?  

BB: He might be better than Westbrook and Westbrook is pretty good; this guy is pretty good. I'd say he's quicker than Westbrook. Westbrook might be a little stronger, I don't know. This guy is a handful now.  

Q: When you look at their backup quarterback situation, obviously Michael Vick is a lefty and Vince Young is a righty, but they have a lot of similarities like escapability and being able to scramble.  When you're evaluating a backup quarterback, like Brian Hoyer, do you try to find guys that can be in the mold of your starter?  

BB: It's a lot easier that way. It's a lot easier if your quarterbacks all have - none of us are the same, we're all different but if you have a quarterback that can run your offense, meaning do whatever it is that you do, whether it's run bootlegs, audible, throw deep, throw outside, throw inside, whatever your offense is, if you have another guy that can do that, then that's a huge advantage. When that player takes reps in practice, it's the same and there's consistency between him and the other skill players - the receivers, the tight ends, the backs. You're able to go out there and execute your offense. That's one of the things that Brian definitely gives us is any time we put him in at practice, which he practices every day with the offense, you don't think about what play is he in there for and can he do this and can he do that. He's called on to run whatever plays he gets thrown in there for and he can do them so that's a huge, huge plus for your backup quarterback. I'm sure that it's similar there with Philadelphia although [Mike] Kafka played earlier in the year, I think it was the Atlanta game and maybe the Giants game, but it was back earlier in the year. Vince, that drive he had against the Giants, their backs were against the wall and they were on the road, big game for them in the division and he takes them 80 yards and converts I don't know four, five third downs, including whatever it was, third and goal on the eight, whatever that last play was. I'm sure they have a lot of confidence in him. There are certainly a lot of similarities between him and Vick, other than the righty, lefty thing.  

Q: Ryan Mallett has been on the field during pre-game warm-ups a lot and I'm sure it's valuable experience for him to see how everything unfolds at that point in the day. How often have you had a quarterback that you have known to be inactive for that day go through that same sort of routine? I know you haven't had the opportunity over the last few years with just two quarterbacks, but is that something you have traditionally done?  

BB: When we've had the third inactive quarterback, when we've had that player then he would do that. Of course, he would dress back before the rule change here, that third quarterback would dress and essentially do the same thing.  

Q: To take it back even further, when you had four quarterbacks in 2000-2001, one of those guys wouldn't dress. Would you have him out there before the game?  

BB: I don't think Tom [Brady] was at a lot of games. I mean, he was at the game but not on the field or dressed for the game. I can't remember him being at very many games. You might have to ask him about that, my memory isn't what it used to be. I don't think he was at too many. So it was, [Michael] Bishop was the third quarterback. I think there's something to be said for that, I wouldn't overrate it - I don't think that's the key to developing a quarterback. I think that there are some things that they learn from it, sure. It's just part of the game experience. As a backup quarterback, if you put yourself through mentally all the situations that the guy who is in there experiences, you could certainly learn from it and you can sharpen your mental skills and your thought process and all that and that's valuable if it's used properly.  

Q: In training camp, Ryan Mallett was doing a lot of work after practice. Is he still doing that now?  

BB: Sure. Absolutely, yeah.  

Q: How is his rookie year going?  

BB: I think at that position, so much of it is about playing. Certainly from a mechanics standpoint, from a physical standpoint, I think he's made a lot of improvements, as [Tom] Brady did. Brady's rookie year, he was like 205 or 207 [pounds] or whatever it was, he gained a lot of strength in both his upper and his lower body. That's helped him, both in throwing and taking hits, durability and all that. Ryan's definitely gotten on that program, he spends a lot of time in the weight room and doing what we ask him to do. A lot of his job is working with the defense but when he gets the opportunity to work with some of our other receivers after practice - receivers, backs, tight ends, whoever it is. Also, one of the good things about the backup quarterback is he's always working against our defense. Whatever you think of our defense, it's the best that we can put out there so they're getting reps against our best players on defense, what they're doing relative to our scout defense, trying to simulate what our opponents are doing. I think those reps are good too because as a quarterback, you make that competitive. You're trying to complete a pass and execute a play against a defense that sort of knows it's coming and they're sort of geared to stop it, hopefully. That's a competitive situation too. I remember my first year at the Giants, one of the things that I did as a special teams coach was kind of run the scout team offense for the defensive coaches. That was [Phil] Simms' rookie year and he wasn't playing a lot so he was the scout team quarterback. I really gained a tremendous appreciation for Phil in that season of just how good he was, how accurate he was. When we would have a route drawn up on the card and throw it to this receiver and there are four guys around the receiver and he still could get it into them. I remember walking off the practice field a number of days saying, 'Man, that guy can really throw the ball accurately. This guy is going to be a good quarterback.' He had some other things he needed to get straightened out, but just in terms of throwing it to a spot, threading the needle, which in practice you can do - it's not always recommended in a game but in practice you're supposed to throw to a guy and there's three or four guys there and you find a spot and sling it in there and he could do that. I think, I'm not comparing this guy to Phil Simms now, but I'm just saying it's that same opportunity for our other quarterbacks, Ryan, Brian [Hoyer]. But Mallett has made some impressive throws in practice.  

Q: When Ryan Mallett is working with the scout team, how do you balance everything that he has to learn in your system as opposed to what he's trying to simulate with another team's offense? Is that a challenge?  

BB: It's the same for every player. We tell the corner, 'You play like Asante Samuel, you play like Nnamdi [Asomugha], in the slot you play like [Joselio] Hanson or [Dominique Rodgers-]Cromartie.' We talk to them about how we want them to play.  Play like [Marcus] Cannon and [Matt] Kopa and guys like that, [Jason] Peters and [Todd] Herremans. It isn't much different for the quarterback and then the other positions, we play corners that grab us and use their hands a lot at the line of scrimmage and we're telling our guys, 'Tackle them at the line of scrimmage.' If they play off then we play off. So for the quarterback it's kind of the same thing. Your job is to help the defense, that's part of your job. You do that and when that's not part of your job, like dropping back and throwing, you're just dropping back and throwing. As far as the mechanics and the rhythm and the cadence and maybe certain plays - scrambling plays or something like that, there's particular ball handling that goes with a play that we're keying on defensively. Of course, we expect him to do it the way our opponents do it but there are plenty of plays where he just drops back and throws the play but the receivers are kind of circled the way that we think they'll read the pattern out.   

Q: We saw Shane Vereen get into the Monday night game there at the end for his most extended regular season action. How much of that was a result of where the game was at the time versus him turning a corner and earning more time?  

BB: I think he has earned more time. The fact that the game was what it was and the score was what it was and the fact that we kept getting first downs, gave him more opportunity to do that - 10 or 12 plays, whatever it was. I'd say part of both - A, he's earned it and B, he was afforded that opportunity in that particular situation. I thought he did pretty well with it. He also had a lot of plays in the kicking game. He probably had more plays on special teams than on offense. I think it was pretty close.  

Q: He played on three units. You always say special teams earns you the opportunity to get on the field.  

BB: Right. He contributed in both phases of the game. The more he plays in the kicking game, probably the more he'll play on offense. I know that sounds backwards but that's probably the way it is.  

Q: Did you watch any of the Baltimore-San Francisco game last night?  

BB: I didn't.

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