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Bill Belichick Press Conference Transcript

New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday, November 30, 2011.

BB: I feel like we're back in the division again; getting ready for the Colts, a lot of familiar faces. We never really worry about a team's record; we just worry about trying to get ready to play them and the matchup that we have on Sunday - that's all that really matters. It doesn't really matter what anybody's record is; it just matters how the two teams play and compete on Sunday afternoon. That's really what this week is about for us. The Colts have been competitive; been in just about every game. Defensively, a lot of the same cast of characters there with [Robert] Mathis and [Dwight] Freeney up front. They have some young linebackers that have been very productive. [Pat] Angerer has had a big year for them; he's already over 100 tackles. [Antoine] Bethea, [Jerraud] Powers in the secondary, guys we have to really watch out for. Offensively, of course the receivers are all very good. They've all be very productive, [Pierre] Garcon, [Austin] Collie, and obviously Reggie Wayne. The backs have been productive; they've got a lot of plays out of all those guys - [Donald] Brown, [Delone] Carter and of course [Joseph] Addai. Interestingly, this is the Colts' most productive rushing season in a decade so they've done a good job on that. Their offensive line, they've got all those guys back now, other than the left guard there's been a little bit of a juggle there with [Joe] Reitz going out last week and then [Mike Pollak]. But anyway, the rest of them are all there, [Jeff] Linkenbach and [Ryan] Diem and [Jeff] Saturday and [Anthony] Castonzo, so they've had a lot of continuity in their offensive line throughout most of the course of the year other than that one left guard position. They've got a lot of the same guys. I think that even though they made a couple of changes this week, I'm sure they made them for reasons that they felt would make them better. We have to be ready for both quarterbacks. Defensively, they pretty much do what they've liked to do for the last decade as far as their aggressive front and stunting and all the quickness that they have up front and playing a lot of zone coverage, mixing in some man, a little bit of pressure and all that. We still have to be ready for all those things regardless of the new coordinator or not. That's what it looks like.  

Q: Without Peyton Manning in there, does the offense still look the same?  

BB: It's identical. It's their offense. No huddle, they go at a fast pace. It's hard to substitute. You have to be ready to play defensively with whoever you have on the field; you have to be ready to play first, second and third down with them. You can't count on getting anybody in or getting anybody out. Or if you put a group in on third down and they convert, you can't count on getting another group back in on first down, so you have to be ready to play consecutive plays. [Curtis] Painter and [Dan] Orlovsky, both of them, whoever has been in there, they've both done a good job of changing plays, taking advantage of looks, they've hit some big plays, a couple of long passes against Tampa on audibles. They hit another one on Carolina last week. They do a lot of the same things; same thing in the running game. They've done a good job checking to runs against overloaded looks or light fronts and [Delone] Carter and [Joseph] Addai and [Donald] Brown rip off a lot of good runs in that off tackle, their zone play. They've done a good job matching that up, too. I don't see any change there at all, no.  

Q: How much do you know about Mike Murphy as a coach?  

BB: Not a lot, but he's been there for a long time in that system. Unfortunately, been a part of couple of those kind of changes. You only have a couple of days; you can't put in a whole new defense. Really what they're doing, they probably feel like [they] just need to do it a little bit better because they have a lot of good plays, they have a lot of young players and they have a lot of good players. I'm sure they feel like if they can just keep doing the things that they're doing a little bit better that they'll be all right. They really are. They've been in every game other than a couple - the New Orleans game obviously - but for the most part, they're battling toe-to-toe in the middle of the fourth quarter or down to the last - last week they get a tipped pass in the end zone or they beat Carolina. They're very competitive.  

Q: Do you often make the distinction between sacks and pressures? The numbers don't always equate. The numbers have been up in sacks in the last month. How would you discuss your pass rush over the season in terms of how it's consistently improved?  

BB: We've had our moments. At times, it's good; other times, it could be more consistent all the way across the board - outside, inside, games. It all ties into team defense. There're times when we've had the receiver covered, forced the quarterback to hold the ball; that's helped the pass rush. There're times where we haven't had a good pass rush, we've had the receivers covered - they've hit passes. There have been times when we've had a good pass rush, we haven't had good coverage and they come open too soon and the rush can't get there. We just have to do a better job of having all that mesh together. Of course, the offense changes it by different tempos of their pattern - bootlegs and rollouts and drop backs and three-step drops and shotgun and all that, so it's not always the same. Part of that is recognition and being able to match the patterns at the right time coverage-wise and also, from a pass rush standpoint, kind of knowing when it's a quick throw, when it's a little bit longer throw like on play-action, sometimes on longer yardage, those kind of things, and use your pass rush game plan or individual moves accordingly.  

Q: I know they're on opposite ends of the line, but it seems like there have been a lot of plays where Mark Anderson and Andre Carter have gotten there together. Can those two defensive ends play off each other?  

BB: They absolutely do play off each other.  

Q: Do they do that well, those two?  

BB: Yeah, they do and Rob [Ninkovich] too. I think all three of those guys work well together, of having a coordination of just how the whole rush should fit together. You really don't want both ends up the field past the quarterback because then when the quarterback steps up, you just have two linemen that now have to really defend basically five gaps and that's impossible. You need some kind of coordination between the ends of coming up and back or up and under or in conjunction with the linemen inside and the linemen outside. There are a lot of different ways to do it, but however you do it, it needs to be coordinated. Sometimes you plan for it to be one way and then you get a certain protection that really doesn't allow that. You want to come inside but the line slides into that and prevents you from coming in there then you have to make some kind of adjustment, things like that. I think those guys have done a good job though of coordinating the rushes and also, at times, working off each other based on where one guy is and the other guy compensates, which is really what you want to do because the quarterback isn't going to run into one guy, so if he steps away from one, he'll hopefully step into the other.  

Q: Can you talk about what went into the Phillip Adams move and have you filled that spot yet?  

BB: We haven't filled it. We'll announce that roster move later on. We felt like that we just need to make a roster move and we had to create a spot there.  

Q: Did the play of Julian Edelman at defensive back the past couple of games influence the decision to release Phillip Adams?  

BB: I would say not really. Not really.  

Q: Can you talk about what went into making Julian Edelman a two-way player and does he remind you of what Troy Brown has done in the past?  

BB: There's obviously similarity between two guys that played in the slot and moved to the other side of the ball. We've been working with Julian for, I don't know, it's been several weeks, post-practice, one-on-ones, mixing him in on some scout team work, mixing him in on some defensive work, some things on post-practice, had a few snaps in games, has had a lot more snaps in individual practice and also in our team practice sessions. Obviously, we don't have a lot of numbers there and he's done a great job of trying to step in and learn what we're doing and try to do it to a competitive level and he's definitely done that. He's a smart guy and he does have a little bit of an instinctiveness and also a set of skills that are conducive to both spots - what you want physically from your slot receiver is pretty similar to what you want physically from your slot corner or vice versa. I think the fact that he's played in there gives him some understanding of what that position is from the other side of the ball, which helps him play on the defensive side, as it did with Troy. Troy had obviously a great understanding of the slot position offensively and why the slot receiver would cut down a split, why he would widen it out, why it would stem a certain way because that's what he did. He was able to flip that over, which isn't the easiest thing in the world to do; it's easy to sit here and talk about it, but it's sometimes hard to go from thinking about techniques on one side of the ball and now you're on the other side of the ball and now you're thinking about them all in reverse as a defensive player. Julian has had a good presence for that and I think has adapted to it pretty well.  

Q: How much does his experience tackling on special teams help him tackling in the secondary?  

BB: Well it's really the same thing. Tackling in the open field, using your leverage, knowing where your help is, whether it's a defensive player inside of you or the sideline outside or wherever it happens to be. You're in some of those same relationships in the kicking game, no question. I don't want to say tackling is tackling, but tackling is tackling. It's leveraging the runner, knowing what you're taking away, knowing where you're light but counting on your help from that position, whether it be a player or the sideline. Fundamentally, keeping your head up, wrapping up, doing all the fundamental things you do on contacting to get a guy on the ground. There's definitely carryover.  

Q: Along that line, is there a chance that when you switch a player like that, is there a chance that his aptitude for the new position suggests that his potential is greater at his new position than returning to his old position?  

BB: It's possible. It's possible, yeah. Not to dig too deep, but that's kind of where it was with Steve Neal. We started with Steve Neal and we put him on defense - that was a brilliant coaching move. We had him there in training camp for a couple of weeks and he kind of got worse instead of better. Finally, when we moved him to offense, he was so far behind from never playing football, from now shifting over to offense in the middle of training camp that it was again, impossible and he was put in a really tough position there. I think we saw enough that when we resigned him at the end of the '01 season and brought him back, we felt like he would be able to develop more on the offensive side of the ball than on the defensive side of the ball. Sometimes it could work out that way.  

Q: Do you see that with Julian Edelman?  

BB: I don't know. That's a good question. I'd say that's a good question. He's certainly been competitive, I'll say that. He's been competitive. I think the question with young players always is, when does it start to level out? Any player, at any position. And once it starts to level out, you have to say to yourself, 'Okay, is that good enough? Is that leveled out or that small incline, is that good enough?' If it is, then great, you can leave him there. If it isn't, then 'Okay, are we going to come up short there?' As long as the curve is climbing, where is it going to stop? Well, I don't know. Is it going to stop here? How far up is it going to get? As long as it's moving in that direction..; think you kind of have to [have] enough time, enough experience, enough reps to where you can try to make a decision as to whether you think that it's leveled or it's going to continue to improve. I think we're too early in the running to know that so we keep going until we can figure it out.  

Q: I know you don't like to talk about a team's record but obviously the players have heard it, they know their record -  

BB: They've heard me talk about every week, saying we don't care about the record and we don't. What difference does it make? How somebody played two weeks ago against somebody else - who cares? Us or anybody else, it doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is how we and the Colts perform against each other on Sunday. That's all that matters. Who cares who won three weeks ago in some other game with some other players? It doesn't matter.  

Q: Is there something you do when you have these situations to convince them of that?  

BB: We talk about it every game. It doesn't matter. The 16 games on our schedule, they're all the same. It's our team against that team that week. We look at, try to learn about our opponent and scout them and pick up tendencies and strengths and weaknesses and all that, but how we match up against that team that day is all that matters. The rest of it is a bunch of garbage. You guys can write about it all you want but it doesn't matter, really. The winner of this game will be decided by which team plays better on Sunday, not what happened four weeks ago. This is a news story, but it's like that every week, every week.  

Q: How do you measure how much you have improved week-to-week when you're playing against teams that maybe are not improving week-to-week?  

BB: It's simple. We judge ourselves on our performance. Go out there and things that we do well, we do well and things we don't do well, we need to improve on. I don't know how else to put it.  

Q: Speaking of the continuity the Colts have had on their offensive line, how does a guy like Ryan Wendell help with your stability and continuity with all the changes you guys have had on the offensive line?  

BB: Ryan has done a good job for us. Through the years he's been here and at various times he's jumped in there, whether it be in practice or preseason games or what have you. We have a lot of confidence in Ryan. He's done a good job. He's a smart guy. When you sit and watch the film of a practice as a head coach, you can't watch every single guy on every play. You have 22 guys out there and you can't see them all. Usually you focus on whatever your focus is on that play - whether it's a player or a group of players or a particular aspect of the play. You just try to look at that because you can't see all of them. There are a lot of times where you know, as a coach, when a certain player is out there; you can just feel it. There are other times where you really, I guess I would say, don't know. When that's the case, that says a lot about the competiveness of that player or that group of players. I would say that's kind of the way it is with Ryan. He's in there on the offensive line, oh geez he's been in there for three plays. It could have been [Dan] Connolly in there for three plays or it could have been [Dan] Koppen in there for three plays or it could have been somebody else in there for three plays. It's the same relative level of performance. I'm not saying all the players are the same, but the play looks good, it's like you're looking at the receivers, you're looking at the coverage and it was a good pass, 'Who threw that? Was it [Tom] Brady? Was it [Brian] Hoyer?' You know.  

Q: So there's been no significant drop off?  

BB: I'm just saying that I think he plays at a very competitive level when he's had the opportunity to play, which has been limited. Dan Koppen played for years without hardly ever missing a practice, let alone a game. Then this year Dan [Connolly] played and Ryan had an opportunity and he's had opportunities in practice. There are other players sometimes they get in there and the snap is over the quarterback's head or it's late or here comes some guy screaming up the middle that nobody blocks. You see a player right in the middle of a problem repetitively [and] you lose confidence, you don't feel as good about it. But with Wendell, whether it be at center or at guard for that matter, when he's been in there and most of it has been in practice, so I know you don't see what I see, but in practice settings and in the game opportunities that he's had, whether it be in preseason games or last week, it seems to continue to function at a fairly efficient level. I'm not saying it's perfect, believe me, but you don't see a whole host of problems there.  

Q: I know you're saying that the record doesn't matter but you obviously can gauge your team's performance better against a team that is more competitive or has a better record -  

BB: I don't agree with that, so you can go ahead on your soliloquy, but I just don't agree with that. You don't think you can gauge a team based on how a player blocks Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis? Who else would you gauge it against? Are you kidding me? Covering Reggie Wayne and [Austin] Collie and [Pierre] Garcon - you don't think you can gauge your coverage based on those players? I don't care what their record is. You think there are better receivers around than them? Better pass rushers than Freeney and Mathis? I'm not sure what games you're watching here.  

Q: Have you seen an improvement in Julian Edelman's work ethic since his arrest?  

BB: Julian's been one of our hardest workers since he's been here.  

Q: I've noticed that he's not showing up in the entertainment section as much; it seems like he's not going out as much at night.  

BB: I would say Julian has consistently been one of our hardest working players - film, practice, conditioning, treatment. When I see him, he's working. When I see him, he's working. He works on the field, takes a lot of reps, stays late, stays after, does things, does extra things with Scott O'Brien. He comes in early, meets with Scott in the kicking game, goes through all the offensive stuff, now he's going through defensive stuff. He's always been a hardworking kid.  

Q: How is Devin McCourty coming along and do you expect him to play on Sunday?  

BB: I don't know. He's doing better. He's definitely improving. We'll see what he can do this week. He was able to do a little bit in practice last week. We'll see whether he can do more than that this week.  We haven't practiced since Friday so I'm not sure exactly how much improvement he's had. We'll have to see when we get out on the field.

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