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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, December 28, 2011.

BB: I hope everybody had a good holiday weekend. We're back at it here with Buffalo. [The Bills] really had an impressive game last week against Denver. Lot of good football players there - real explosive offensively with the quarterback, running back, all the receivers. They make a lot of big plays in the kicking game - blocked kicks and returns with [Leodis] McKelvin, and of course [C.J.] Spiller and [Justin] Rogers now taking over on kick returns. Defensively, turnover team, team takes the ball away a lot. They did it against us, did it against Denver. Statistically we're two of the better teams in terms of that but they got both of us so we're going to have to do a good job there. Pro Bowl - always happy for the guys that made it. There are always other guys that probably were worthy of it but that's the way it goes. I don't have a lot of control over that. Most importantly, we're moving on here to our last regular season game. Try to continue to improve, get some things worked out. Take advantage of this opportunity against a good football team, a team that did a good job against us in the first game. Hopefully we can be more competitive this time.  

Q: From what you've seen, what happened to Buffalo from the beginning of the season to the middle of the season that they've corrected that caused them to lose all those games?  

BB: They've been in a lot of close games all year - some they've won and some they've lost. They've been very competitive - the Jets game is a good example, it came down to the last play. Our game came down to the last possession. They're in every game really. It just comes down to who makes the plays at the end of the game, them or their opponents. They've been solid all year, they really have, in all three phases of the game. Good in the kicking game, they've been able to move the ball, be productive on offense, they've gotten a lot of takeaways on defense, they have a good front, they have guys who can cover. They had some transition on their team throughout the course of the year but through all that, I think Chan [Gailey] has done a real good job, kept that team improving and they're sailing forward. I don't think I worry as much about the record as just watching the team play and seeing what they do on film and they do a lot of things well.  

Q: Could you talk a little bit about the defensive progression and the progression of Kyle Love as a football player?  

BB: Kyle was of course undrafted last year, came in and made our team. Had a good solid rookie year for us and has built on that, has improved in terms of his techniques and understanding the NFL game, pass rush moves, things like that. He's gotten a lot better. Solid player, works hard, great kid to be around. He's added a lot to us.  

Q: Did you learn anything about Stevie Johnson the way he had rare success against Darrelle Revis a couple weeks ago?  

BB: Yeah, he did a good job but Johnson has had a lot of success against everybody. He's dangerous down the field and has catch and run plays like he had against the Giants, where he takes a short pass and turns it into a long play. He's tough on the catch and run plays, he's tough in the red zone and he can vertically get down the field as we saw, as the Jets saw. He's gotten a lot of people, he's had a lot of production.  

Q: Has Lousaka Polite played a variety positions or just mainly fullback?  

BB: Fullback and special teams, [yes].  

Q: What capacity do you see him playing here?  

BB: I'd say those two roles. We'll see how it goes. I don't know. I've never coached him before so we'll have to get a feel for him, what he can do, how he fits in, the things that we would ask him to do. I'd say somewhere in those neighborhoods.  

Q: Does having a true fullback allow you to do more things offensively than you did before?  

BB: I don't know. We haven't even been on the field with him yet so I'm not sure what it allows us to do. We'll see. Obviously, we're hopeful, that's why he's here. I don't want to make any predictions before I've been on the practice field for one day.  

Q: I just mean having a true fullback though, him or anyone else.  

BB: If you have a player in the backfield, it really gives you the ability to put an extra blocker on either side of the center. You can go either way and block to either side of the center. If you have a guy on the line of scrimmage then it obviously declares to which side he's on, not that he couldn't cross back but it declares what side he is on but it prevents the defense from being able to penetrate. There's one more gap on the line of scrimmage they have to account for. It makes it a little bit harder to penetrate off the edge. It gives you a quicker receiver in the passing game and a quicker blocker to the end of the line of scrimmage, whereas if you're in the backfield you have more options as to which way you're going to send him and who you're going to block him, it could be an inside linebacker, an outside linebacker, a safety, misdirection play. It just puts him in a different location, creates some other possibilities. If you have him on the line then that adds some things and takes away some others.  

Q: The national perception is that this team takes a one game at a time approach. What would your course of action be if you heard BenJarvus Green-Ellis say to Tom Brady, 'Man, I can't wait to go for 125 yards in our first playoff victory?'  

BB: I think our team does take that approach and I think all our players do that. Having just talked to Benny yesterday, I'd be really surprised if he said that.  

Q: When Logan Mankins got hit on his knee, he was wearing a knee brace. Is that mandatory to wear a knee brace? Does that come from you guys? It seemed like it saved him from something serious.  

BB: Yeah, I'm sure it did. I'm sure the knee brace prevented it from being a more serious injury. Our policies relative to equipment and so forth are - it would be a longer answer but there are multiple things involved, some things that are mandated by the league, there are other things that are handled by the teams, there are other things that aren't.  

Q: Do they all wear some form of knee brace?  

BB: There are different requirements by the league, there are different requirements by the individual teams and not all equipment is covered in any or all of that. Without getting into specifics about a lot of different things, that's a general answer to that question.  

Q: With quarterbacks around the league throwing for so many yards this year, what's really changed this year as opposed to several years ago where it wasn't as productive in terms of yards?  

BB: I think we've seen production in the passing game. Look at [Dan] Marino, that was 20 years ago or whatever it was. We're talking about that record now, standing for quite a while. I think it's all a function of execution. There have been great passers in this league for a long time, great receivers, great tight ends, great runners, great defenders. Sometimes each year it falls a little bit differently. I don't have a great explanation for it.  

Q: As a defensive coach, with all the rules that have been made the last few years, if Dan Marino was playing now do you think he would have thrown for more yards?  

BB: I don't know. If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, every day would be Christmas. I don't know. I have no idea.  

Q: Do those rules help though - the rules of not being able to hit quarterbacks and the inability to touch receivers downfield.  

BB: Those rules have been in place for like 15 years.  

Q: But there has been a bigger emphasis on them recently.  

BB: It's not a rule. Look, talk to the people who make the rules. They do all those studies, trust me, they do all those studies. They know how long each game was in every year it was played, the length of time, the amount of penalties, the amount of yardage, the amount of rushing yardage, the yards per carry, the yards per completion - all that has been studied very thoroughly by people a lot smarter than I am. I don't really know. I'm just trying to get our team ready for Buffalo, a team we didn't do very well against last [game]. I'm just thinking about Buffalo. I don't really know all the statistics and all the rules and trying to solve all the world's problems in the passing game, I'm just trying to solve ours against Buffalo.  

Q: It's just interesting that Marino's record stood until Monday.  

BB: Yeah, it's a great story. I'm not really, last time I watched Marino throw, I don't know when that was. I'm just trying to concentrate on Buffalo.  

Q: So you don't think there's anything to the fact that potentially three guys will break that record this year?  

BB: Do I think there's anything to it? What's that mean?  

Q: It stood for 30 years. No one had done that and now four guys are going to break 5,000 yards. The game is totally different.  

BB: If that's what you want to write go ahead. I don't know.  

Q: You're the expert.  

BB: I'm not an expert. I'm just trying to get ready for Buffalo. I'm not trying to analyze the passing game of the last 20 years. That's for people a lot smarter than me, like you guys.  

Q: If you had the chance to rest the starters, will you take advantage of that?  

BB: We're preparing for this game like we've prepared for the last 15.  

Q: There hasn't been much drop-off from Fred Jackson to C.J. Spiller. Are they using him the same way? Is he proving like Reggie Bush did that he can be an every down back in this league?  

BB: Yeah, I think Spiller has had the last whatever it has been, six weeks or however long since Fred's been hurt, he's been more productive than any back in the league - big plays, consistency. He's picked up right where Jackson left off and he's had a tremendous amount of production. It's not all outside, it's a good mix of inside running, outside running. He's broken tackles, he's out-run guys, he's made good decisions in terms of his run reads and things like that. He's been very productive. Similar to Bush and a lot of it has come lately not that Bush hasn't been productive all year, he has but Bush has had some huge numbers in the last month and so has Spiller. He's been very impressive, yeah.  

Q: Are they still using him as much in the return game?  

BB: No, the return game has really gone to, [Justin] Rogers has taken over the kickoff returns and he's done a great job. Rogers is leading the league in kickoff returns and he's only been doing it for the last six weeks or so. His production is way up there and [Leodis] McKelvin has done punts. Of course, McKelvin ripped off an 80-yarder last week against Denver. I imagine they're pretty happy with what he's doing. He's looked good back there. Not that [C.J.] Spiller can't return them but those two guys have really done a good job of doing the punt and kicking off returns. I'd be surprised if we wouldn't see them but Spiller is very good at it too. I'm sure they could put him back in there too. He's pretty dynamic. Their return game is solid. And handing the ball to Spiller, however they get it to him - screens, passes, inside runs, outside runs, draw plays, he's been productive on all of them. He's really done a good job.  

Q: Historically they've been very good in the return game. How does that happen when coaches change and players change? It seems like they've always had an emphasis on that even though coaches have come and gone.  

BB: Absolutely. I think they've had a couple of special teams coaches. There are different ways to do it but they've been productive. Go back to whether it's Terrence McGee or [Leodis] McKelvin returning kickoffs, now [Justin] Rogers he's only been doing it for half a season but they've been productive in that, Brad Smith earlier in the year. Those guys have been productive, it doesn't matter who's back there. They do a good job of blocking, a good job of running, their execution is good. You're right, they've always been good at that, that's been a strength of theirs. They obviously take a lot of pride in it and they get a lot of production out of it. They've done as well returning kickoffs over the last decade as anybody. We see it twice a year and it does, it seems like whoever they put back there, the guy is running back to midfield or further.  

Q: All year long players have talked about playing a 60 minute game. Has there been a game when they've come the closest to that this year?  

BB: We've had our moments. We've had some good starts, we've had some good finishes, we've had some good middle of the games. I think right now we're just still working toward trying to play well for 60 minutes. We do that every week. This is another week for us to try to do that. To get off to a good start, to play well through all the downs and all the series and be able to end the game whatever the situation is at the end of the game, we don't know what that's going to be but whatever it is to be able to end it situationally the right way. Whether we're coming from behind or playing from ahead or trying to block a kick or trying to return one or trying to cover one or trying to run out the clock or trying to get the ball back, whatever it is, that we play that situation well too. We'll work on all those things, see what comes up and hopefully we'll be able to do it well.  

Q: What's your favorite part of your defense? What fires you up the most about this unit?  

BB: Team defense, team defense - everybody doing their job. Could be a running play or a passing play or whatever it is but everybody doing their job. Guys on the edge doing their job, guys inside doing theirs, pass coverage, pass rush, run force, whatever it happens to be but just good team defense. That's when we play our best. It really doesn't matter what the play is, if we get good performance out of the entire unit that will be good. If we don't, they'll find areas and we'll break down. Team defense, easily.

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