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Bill Belichick Press Conference Transcript

BB: We need another good day of review here hopefully to get ready to go here on Sunday. A lot of familiar things with the Colts team scheme-wise, a lot of familiar players so hopefully we can be ready on Sunday to do a good job.  

Q: Are you guys feeling a little more confident in the health of your secondary? It seems like Patrick Chung and Devin McCourty are doing better.  

BB: I think everybody is doing better; they're doing better than they were. Whether that's good enough or not, we'll still have to wait and see. We'll practice and then [it will] probably be game-time decisions on several guys on our roster on both sides of the ball – we'll just have to see how it goes. I do think we're improving health-wise. Where exactly that puts us, I'm not sure.  

Q: Was how banged up you guys are the reason you went to the walkthrough on Wednesday?  

BB: We've done this three weeks in a row actually.  

Q: But you've been banged up for three weeks.  

BB: Yeah. I think every week we talk about our schedule: our practice schedule, our meeting schedule, which drills we want to do, how many plays of this, how many plays of that. Each week we try to maximize our opportunities, our time, to make the most of it. Whatever that is, it is. If it's walkthrough, it's walkthrough. If it's sit around and meditate, it's sit around and meditate. If it's run sprints, it's run sprints. We just try to get the most out of it.  

Q: What is the importance of December? You guys have compiled a pretty impressive record in this month and it seems to set the tone as you end the regular season and head into the playoffs. Is it important to generate momentum in this month?  

BB: I think the important thing is that they keep improving as a football team. I think early in the year, everything is so new and fresh. You start playing games and nobody has played a full game in preseason. You build up your stamina [and] you build up your routine which is different than what it is in training camp, a far as your weekly preparation. You start to expand your playbook a little bit and your opponents each week, you see a little bit more from each of them progressively. Then as you get into this part of the season, I think it's important that we keep working to improve as a football team and individually. Fundamentally, here are the things we need to better, these type of plays or your individual techniques and things like that. I really make it a point to talk to a number of players individually on a weekly basis, about, 'Look, this what you need to do better or here are some examples of plays over the last few weeks that this is a problem, we have to get this, here's how you can do a better job or this is how we're going to do this differently or whatever it is.' I don't think it's so much of looking ahead as it is there's a body of work here; there are a lot of games. Looking back at the last three, four, five, six games, whatever it is, what things can we do better than what we've been doing? There is certainly enough to go on whereas those first few weeks, a lot of it is just trying to move forward with your team but now we're seeing some of the same things every week, teams are trying to do similar things to us, whether it's a weakness or scheme thing, whatever it is, we have to try to address it and take better care of it.  

Q: How much of the expansion of the playbook and getting things together, especially ramping things up, was impacted by the lockout – not having the practices and the reps?  

BB: I think you go through it every year, I think you go through it every year. You get to the end of the season, you get to December, January and you've been doing things now for 22, 20, however many weeks it is. The same plays, you continue to build on your situation plays so you get third and goal on the three, you start the year with one play or two plays, now you maybe have four or five plays, maybe a couple that you've used before but it's been so long ago that it's really not showing up on the breakdown so you can go back to them but in the meantime you have to keep adding to that. So you get to the end of the year and then you start the next year and you think, 'OK, where are we?' Well we're nowhere close to where we were in December or January – we're just not. We're starting training camp, we have new people, nobody has run these plays in six months. It takes you a period of time, even if you have some spring practices, still you're just nowhere near the execution level. Now, they're executing better at this time of the year too, I'm not saying that we're great in December. We're better in December, well so is everybody else. I think where your team is in September from an execution standpoint, what we can do now and what we can do in September are two different things. A big part of it is just the newness and the getting back to the timing and the execution of your basic plays and then adjustments and situations and all those kind of things. That's the way I see it. Now, you can look at the stats, like I'm sure everybody does and say 'Look at how great the Patriots were in September.' That's only relative to where anybody else was in September, it's not relative to where you are. We're better now than we were in September, there's no question about that. Even though maybe you don't want to believe that, but I know we are. But where is everybody else? And if they've improved more than we have, then the results are a little different. Or if we have improved more than they have, the results could be a little bit different. It's a constant race for 16 weeks to get your football team better and better and better and better but they're doing that on the other side too. I really think when the season starts, as much as anybody wants to say, 'Well, we'll start off where we were last year,' there's no way. There's no way. It takes so long to build to that point that you have to be realistic. You just can't do the things that you did a year ago in December, in September. Maybe some of them, you pick out a few but overall as team, there's no way.  

Q: On Wednesday you talked about the record and how it didn't matter and that seemed to trickle down to the players. Now that you've had a few more days to practice and go through film and talk to the guys, where would you say the players' focus is? Is it where you want it to be?  

BB: We'll find out on Sunday, we'll find out on Sunday – that's the way it is every week. You try to use your opportunities to prepare for the game during week – film, walkthroughs, practice sessions and so forth, all the opportunities that you have and then we'll find out where we are on Sunday. That's the way it is every week. That's why there will be 65,000 people here and all the ones tuning in on TV, they want to see where things are at too. Hopefully we'll be ready to go.  

Q: What options do you guys have in the slot at slot corner now that Phillip Adams isn't here? Can you break down your choices?  

BB: Can I break them down? You know the guys who are on the roster.  

Q: Well, I don't know, maybe could Kyle Arrington slide inside?  

BB: Have you ever seen him play in there? Yeah, of course. I'm not going to go through our starting lineup here. Do we have options? Yeah, we have them and we'll use the ones that we think are best. If the person that we want to play for whatever reason isn't able to play than somebody else is going to have to play for him or we're going to have to do something else. Whatever that is, we'll find out on Sunday.  

Q: It seems like there's a fraternity among the head coaches in this town. Do you have any relationship with Bobby Valentine?  

BB: Yeah, when I was in New York, Bobby was in New York with the Mets. Love Bobby, great guy, great baseball guy. I love to talk to him; he has a lot of energy. Don't get me wrong, I love Terry [Francona] but I had a great relationship with Bobby in New York. I went to several Mets games and stuff like that – watched Keyshawn [Johnson] throw out the opening pitch and all that. Bobby is a wonderful guy. I look forward to catching up with him and seeing him here.  

Q: It's considered to be such a passing league now, would you say that the running game is just as important in December as it once was?  

BB: I don't know. I think winning is just as important as it always is in December so whatever you have to do to win – whether that's stop the run, stop the pass, run the ball, throw the ball, block kicks, return them. There are only a few games left in the season, each one gets more important because there are fewer of them left, there is less margin for error all the way across the board. It's a five game season instead of a 16 game season. It all comes down to winning. You tell me what we need to do to win and I'll tell you that's the most important thing. Whatever that order is, it could change from week to week or opponent to opponent. Of course the running game is important, the passing game is important, the kicking game is important – everything is important; winning is important. Whatever we can do to win, then that's the most important thing.  

Q: You've said in the past that scouting one prospect has led you to other guys – I think that's how you said you found Wes Welker. Did looking at Pat Angerer lead you to finding Jeff Tarpinian?  

BB: No, I think we did a pretty thorough, took a pretty thorough look at all the Iowa guys. Particularly this past year, they had three defensive linemen who are all playing in the league – [Karl] Klug and [Adrian] Clayborn and [Christian] Ballard. They had good linebackers, they had a good safety – [Tyler] Sash is with the Giants. We saw all of those guys, I don't think any of them were secrets. They've had good defensive players through the years. [Iowa Head Coach] Kirk [Ferentz] and I talk every year about general things about football. Of course, Brian [Ferentz], his son, is with us – he was there. There aren't too many years in Iowa we go by the board without, 'Hey Brian, what do things look like at Iowa?' I think that's one of the schools that we have pretty good information on, relative to some other schools. I don't think I would really put Jeff in that category. I think Jeff was a guy that, there were a lot of good players on that defense and maybe he got overlooked a little bit, obviously he wasn't drafted. That was a pretty good defensive team – in the front, at linebacker and in the secondary and they're well coached, Coach [Norm] Parker does a good job there.  

Q: Since you had two of them on the roster, how did those three linebackers play off each other?  

BB: Well [A.J.] Edds played Sam and Jeff [Tarpinian] played the Will position. In their defense, they didn't play very much nickel defense so Jeff was really like the fifth defensive back if you will. He would adjust and play kind of on the slot and things like that. He had more coverage responsibilities, like a nickel back would. That was more of his role and A.J. played primarily at Sam, on the end of the line of scrimmage, two years ago.

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