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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 Friday, December 16, 2011.

BB: We'll wrap things up here today on this end and head out to Denver this afternoon. I think it's been obviously always a tough week to prepare for John's [Fox] teams. They do a good job with their different schemes, give you some different looks, really keep you honest, and we've certainly seen that in all three phases this week. There's a lot to get ready for. They have a lot of good players and they're playing very well. We know we've got our work cut out for us in Denver. Hopefully we can play a good, solid football game for 60 minutes - that's what we'll need to do and be ready to go out there Sunday afternoon. The Broncos are a real good football team, they're playing well. It's going to take a solid effort in all three phases from everybody in order to be competitive with them. Hopefully we'll be able to get that.  

Q: Will Saturday be much different than the norm?  

BB: No, it will be like a normal Saturday for us.  

Q: Does getting out there early have any impact in terms of adjusting to the altitude?  

BB: Not that I know of.  

Q: How do their specialists, Matt Prater and Britton Colquitt, fit into the complementary style of play the Broncos play?  

BB: They're just good, period. Colquitt can change field position, has a big leg, good plus-50 punter. They do a good job down there, the gunners do a good job of downing the ball, making plays inside the 10-yard line. Prater obviously has a big leg, 40 touchbacks, long field goal guy, great onside kicker. His two kicks, the one against Miami and then the one last week against Chicago were really just outstanding kicks, they were great kicks. They got one of them and could have easily had the other one. The returners, [Eric] Decker and [Quan] Cosby and [Eddie] Royal - they're very strong in that area too. Lonie [Paxton] of course does a good job. They've got real good specialists all the way across the board.  

Q: Those two kicks you mentioned, are you talking about onside kicks or kickoffs or field goals?  

BB: I'm talking about the two onsides kicks - the one at the end of the Miami game that they had to get and the one at the end of the Chicago game that two guys had their hands on the ball and they kind of knocked each other off and then it bounced to the linebacker and so Chicago ended up with the ball. They had two guys that the ball was right in their hands. He does a great job of spiking it, putting it up there, giving them a chance to get under it. Even though you're blocking those guys, you can't get them all and the ball comes down to right there in that dead spot. He really does a good job on that. He surprise onside kick - he's done that in the past too. He just does a real good job with it - he's got a great touch on those kicks, kind of like [Olindo] Mare did.  

Q: How have the guys done preparing for an option attack that most of them haven't seen since college or high school?  

BB: I'd say college. I think they're similar principles but it's basically being disciplined. Somebody has to take the quarterback, somebody has to take the pitch, somebody has to take the dive, somebody has to take the quarterback, however they're doing it. They have several different ways that they run it and they use different option combinations which is tough because they're not all the same. You have to have different rules so it definitely stresses the force element - the perimeter of your defense. On some of those dive plays, they hit so quickly relative to the normal, a guy lines up seven, seven and a half, eight yards deep in the backfield in the I-formation or in a one-back set, like an I-back would. By the time it gets to the line of scrimmage, it's a whole different tempo than the dive guy that's just popping right through there sometimes before they even realize it. That's something we had to adjust to in practice - a couple of times our defensive linemen, the back was already by them before they really realized it. We're just not used to that - the plays hitting that quickly, maybe in short yardage but I'm saying in normal plays, it's a little different look to it. They definitely give you some problems on all those different combinations that they've used.  

Q: Is it important when you're practicing onsides kicks, is it important to practice it on the actual surface you'll be playing on that week?  

BB: If you can, sure, yeah, if you can.  

Q: I can see where it would be beneficial for Stephen Gostkowski, but is it similarly important for other guys on the team?  

BB: Every kick is different; each ball is a little bit different. But the concept in terms of recovering them, blocking the guys who are the most dangerous guys to get the ball so that your player can come up and recover it is, that's what you're trying to do. Where that ball is, where it comes down exactly, what the angles are and how quickly your guy can get to it and who is the most dangerous of the guys they have other there and now with the rules being what they are, you can't really overload, you can only overload with six guys so a lot of times you see the five and five look and teams can kick it either way. It's just another thing to prepare for, another thing you have to work on. It's a critical play if it comes up. It doesn't come up every week. You might never know when it's going to come up but when it does, it's a key play so you've got to cover it. I'm just saying they've done a real good job on it. It definitely helped them win the Miami game and it could have easily won the Chicago game for them, they ended up getting the ball back but they could have gotten it back on that play.  

Q: With the way Tim Tebow and their offense has finished, is this an easy one to tell your guys about the importance of finishing the game?  

BB: We talk about it every week; we talk about it every week. I don't think it's a part of the game that you ever leave out. You always work on your offense if you're behind, your offense if you're ahead, your defense if you're behind, your defense if you're ahead and the kicking game relative to the same circumstances - you have to try to block a kick or you have to make a kick, you have to cover a kick or you have to return one, whatever the situation is, you work on those end of the game situations. You can't always work on every single one of them every week in practice but you at least walk through it or make sure that you review it if you're not making a change to the way you would normally handle those kind of situations. Absolutely, we do that every week. It's different because sometimes the opponents handle it a little differently. Teams have tendencies or ways that they've handled certain situations so you're a little more aware of those. But we talk about it every week, absolutely.  

Q: Have you showed them clips of all the comebacks?  

BB: We watch it every week. What do you want me to tell you? Name a team that we've played and we've watched their games prior to our game that were those kind of games. Everybody's had them. That's what we talk about - those kind of games, what they did, what we can expect, how they handled the critical situations at the end of the game in all three phases of the game, not just what their offense did but what their defense did and what they did in the kicking game.  

Q: When you see Matt Prater's long field goals at the end of the game last week, does that affect how you prepare for that team at the end of the game with a weapon like that?  

BB: Sure. Field goal range is extended. Absolutely, he's like [12 for 16] from over 50 or whatever it is. He's got the leg but he's also an accurate kicker. He's hit a lot of long ones. Scott [O'Brien] coached him out there. We know him, he knows him. We know this guy has got a lot of leg so yeah, absolutely it extends your defense in those situations in terms of the field goal. If you're trying to protect against the field goal then you're extending out a little bit further. Again, that's something we talk about every week. We go into the game with what we feel like the opposing kicker's range is, also our kicker, what our kicker's range is, how far we have to get to. On game day, we look at the actual conditions and say, 'Okay, this game we need to get inside the 40, we need to get inside the 35, we need to get inside the 30 if we're going in this direction or it's inside the 40 if we're going in the other direction' and whatever it happens to be. Some of that is based on what the actual game conditions are. Yeah, absolutely you have to be aware of that, offensively and defensively, especially at the end of the game because then you're willing to take a shot at anything. If it's the first quarter and you're willing to try a 60-yard field goal, there's a consequence to that. At the end of the game, you're going to take that shot at it so it plays a little bit differently.  

Q: Is there a noticeable difference with the advantage your kicker and opposing kickers get in Denver because of the altitude?  

BB: Obviously there are the normal factors; that's one factor. Temperature is another factor, wind is another factor. You're kicking in heavy air, the ball doesn't go as far. You're kicking in light air, the ball is going to go a little farther. It doesn't go as far in cold weather as it goes in September. You still have to kick it good. We've all seen touchbacks in December and we've all seen kicks that come down on the 10-yard line in September too. Not every kick is perfectly hit. There's still that element to it. Just like the Jet play, [Sebastian] Janikowski had whatever it was, every kick always a touchback or something like that, he had like 14 or 15 of them and then he kind of misses one. [Antonio] Cromartie can't field it, kicks it around, Oakland recovers it - you never know what is going to happen, you have to be ready for those. But yeah, sure, it carries a little bit more.  

Q: Should Patriots fans have any concerns that Vince Wilfork and Tom Brady were on the participation report as limited in practice?  

BB: Well it wasn't injury related. I can't tell anybody else what to think but we list them based on the way they are. However they are, that's how we list it.  

Q: Is an illness an injury? Would that have to be listed?  

BB: Yeah, sure.  

Q: How accurate is it to say that it's the late in the year and you want them to be fresh on game day so you take a little load off leading up to it?  

BB: There could be a lot of reasons - personal reasons, a guy could have to go to a funeral, maybe he has a family issue that he needs to attend to. If it's not injury related, then it's not injury related. If it's injury related then we list it. I don't know what you guys are looking for. If a guy has an injury then we list the injury. If he doesn't have an injury then we say it's not injury related. What am I missing here? I'm confused.  

Q: Fans get a little agitated when they see Tom Brady on anything.  

BB: But if he doesn't practice and it's not injury related, then that's how we're going to list it. Do you want us to say he did practice when he didn't practice? No, we're not going to do that. If he didn't practice then if there's an injury then we list it. If it's not an injury, then we don't list it.  

Q: If you ever are interested in sharing more details, we're always interested.  

BB: I'm sure. We don't talk about player's personal situations and things. If they want to talk about it, if there's something to talk about or whatever it is, but it's personal. I don't think that necessarily has to be shared with the rest of the world; it could be but it doesn't have to be.  

Q: You have an open roster spot - what went into the decision to waive Malcolm Williams and where are you going with that roster spot?  

BB: I think we feel for this game that there will be another player besides him that will be able to contribute more than he would for this game. We'll announce that prior to the game most likely unless we decide not to fill it. I would expect that we would fill it with someone that we fill like could help us in the game.  

Q: From the outside it looks like Matt Light is having a pretty solid year against solid pass rushers.  

BB: Yeah, no doubt.  

Q: When you go into a game and he see he's handling a pass rusher for the first few series and you had planned on giving him help, how do you adjust the game plan?  

BB: I think the concept of giving help, if you will, is circumstantial. Who are you helping him with? Is it a back? Well, that back has a blitz pickup assignment. So if his assignment blitzes, he can't help anybody. He has to block the guy he's supposed to block. Or the tight end or if you're trying to slide your line to a certain - you have three guys to block two. Let's say they're in a four-man line so you have a center, guard and tackle to block a tackle and an end. If they bring a guy or if they line up in an alignment where those three guys have three guys to block then nobody is helping anybody. You have to block them. What you can do is you can create a presence, in other words, you can line your tight end up to one side or the other if you want to block him, you could block him and then if the guy he's supposed to block drops into coverage then he could help on somebody. Again, you can't guarantee that you're going to help because he has an assignment. You only have 11 guys on offense, one of them is the quarterback so you only have 10, I'm talking about the passing game, so you're already outnumbered. If you're outnumbered by another guy, these two guys are going to block this one, now you've got nine guys and I'm just telling you, you run out of guys. The concept of helping really only applies to if that player doesn't get occupied by his protection assignment. When you say, 'Well we're going into the game, we're not going to do this, we're not going to do that.' You might not be able to do it anyway. You might think you're going to give this guy all the help in the world but if they, and again, that's some of what they do. They know, 'Okay, here's how we're going to keep you from getting an extra guy over there. We're going to line up in a certain front or blitz a certain linebacker or bring a guy and drop somebody.' They're playing that game too. That's kind of what you get into but you can put a body there - you could put a tight end there, you could put a back who releases there who if he runs up the field and his protection doesn't come, he could chip him on the way out. I'm not saying you can't have a way to help but you can't guarantee that help. Also, if you talk to any tackles in the league, I'm sure most all of them would tell you that in a lot of cases, they would rather not have help because they just can't count on exactly how that back, what he's going to do, when he's going to do it. If he doesn't do it because his guy threatens to blitz but he backs out or whatever it is and now you're counting on that help because you can't see what's behind you, you're counting on that help and then the guy either is late or he's not quite where you think he's going to be or the rusher spins back inside to get away from it. A lot of times, I don't want to say it causes more problems than it solves, but there's an element of that, there really is. If you talk to tackles about that sometimes, I'm sure and I've coached them and I've coached good ones and I've had plenty of times I've heard them say, 'Coach, let me just block the guy. I know he's good, but let me just block the guy because I can't, I'm not sure about -' Again, if you don't line the back up over there where he's in position to help him, if you try to line him up behind the quarterback and then go over there and help him, it's a higher degree of difficulty too. Like I said, I think all that sounds good and there is some element of merit to it but it's not quite as easy as, 'Okay well this guy is going to help that guy and that will take care of it.' There is a lot more to it than that. Long answer to a short question.

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