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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 30, 2011.

BB: We're getting ready to wrap it up here for our preparations on Buffalo. It seems like a long time since we played them but then again it doesn't really seem that long. Team we're familiar with, hopefully we can play more competitively than we did the last time - take better care of the ball, play a little better on defense and in the kicking game. I think that Buffalo has done a good job in a lot of areas - leading the league in kickoff coverage, fewest sacks, they run the ball well, 20 interceptions. Chan [Gailey] and his staff have done a real good job with that team. They do a lot of things well; they're not penalized much. You have to play good football against them, obviously a lot better than we played the last time. Hopefully we'll be able to do that but it's not easy. They do a lot of things well; return the ball well.  

Q: Do you anticipate Tom Brady will practice today?  

BB: We'll list his status at the end of practice.  

Q: What was he able to do yesterday?  

BB: Play quarterback - the usual thing.  

Q: Did he practice?  

BB: He did just the way we listed him. That's what we do after every practice.  

Q: He wasn't injured during the week then? Because he was listed as non-injury on Wednesday.  

BB: I think we covered that. I think we've already talked about that.  

Q: It was a planned day off? It wasn't that he was hurt during practice right?  

BB: I think we've covered that.  

Q: Will he be able to play in the game?  

BB: It's all been covered.  

Q: Is it important for Brandon Spikes and Patrick Chung to play in a live game before the playoffs or can they get enough work done in practice?  

BB: You can only play a player if he's ready to play. If he's ready to play then you have a decision to make as to how much or if you want to play him. If they're not ready to play, then there's no decision to make. We'll have to see what each of the player's individual situation is, what they're playing status is. I think they're close obviously. They've been practicing. Some guys have done more than others. Some guys - it's a question of really being able to string it together and really get up to the competitive level that they need to be at. What their performance this week, whether there is or isn't one, how that would affect the next game, I don't know. If a player is healthy, you'd like for him to play. If he's not ready to play, then there's no decision to make, he's not ready to play.  

Q: Will the bye week impact how long you play your starters on Sunday?  

BB: We'll play this game like we - every game is important and there are important things in this game. We'll prepare for this game just like we have the last 15. That's the best way I can put it.  

Q: Is the number one seed important to you?  

BB: We prepare for this game like every one of the other ones. [We] go out there, we practice, we watch film, we go through our scouting reports and our meetings and our walkthroughs. We go out there and play. We don't focus on the other team's record. We don't focus on what the other teams around the league are doing. We just try to go out there and do our job. That's what we've done the other 15 weeks in varying degrees of success or lack of it. That's what we'll do again this week. We'll go out there and do our best against a team that we've already lost to once this year and we'll see what happens this time. We'll leave it up to all of you to figure out all the rest of it but that's all we're trying to do. I'm not trying to oversimplify it but that's all we can control and that's all we try to do.  

Q: Donald Thomas was thrown into the fire last week. How did he do in that game as well as over the course of the season?  

BB: He's had a lot of different roles for us this year. Situationally, he's played in some goal-line, short yardage packages and then in different weeks depending on the availability of our inside players - we've been through four centers now and things like that that has affected our overall depth inside. He's actually gotten quite a few snaps for us in practice. The most playing time was in the game last week. I thought he hung in there and he did some good things. There are some over things that he could have done better of course - you could say that about every player. Donald has worked hard, he's a smart guy and he's been very dependable for us on a daily basis. I know that you don't see that but we see it going out there to practice and getting thrown into different situations - goal-line, short yardage, two-minute, blitzes and all the different things that we have to see over the course of a week of preparation. He's ready to go, he's on top of it. Like I said, he works hard, he's in good condition, pays attention. He's done a good job for us.  

Q: He was kind of a special player coming out of UConn, he hadn't played any football and he walked on.  

BB: Miami obviously did a good job with him. They got him, developed him and he played for them. He's a guy that we have had interest in. Then last year he signed with Detroit late and then stayed with them. We didn't get him until after training camp this year. There are only so many players - look there are a lot of players we're interested in coming out of the draft, there were a lot of players that aren't drafted that we're interested in. You can't get all of them for various reasons but you kind of keep your eye on those guys and then sometimes later on along the line somewhere you might get another shot at them. If you do and your roster is such that you can have an opportunity to take them or look at them or whatever then you can do that. I'd say that's kind of the case with him. Definitely we had interest in him but there was a degree of a lack of total history and production from him that was somewhat circumstantial and how do you project it? Is that the kind of player that we like to work with? Yes. After watching in Miami and going down there and really winning the starting position and then being available and all that we had a chance for him this year. I think it's worked out well. Glad we have him.  

Q: Did you ever feel like you were taking a flier out on him with the foot fracture and all that?  

BB: Again, any time a player has an injury that's in the hands really of our medical people. I can't evaluate what is or isn't - that's something that we have to get from our medical department. If they clear a player or if they think a player is going to be - look, obviously a guy can have a current situation that doesn't allow him to play but in time, we feel like that situation will resolve and he'll be okay then we look at it for, 'Okay, once the player is healthy, then what do we have?' We can't make a day-to-day decision on, 'Okay, this guy can't play, this guy can.' That doesn't mean that the injuries aren't going to heal. Eventually most all of them do you just have to be able to withstand that timeframe or have the patience to do it. I would say no, that wasn't really a major concern of ours. If it was, he wouldn't be here now.  

Q: What has James Ihedigbo showed you since he first got here that you didn't know about him before?  

BB: Hadn't had any personal contact with him really - very professional, smart guy, very professional. Did a real good job for us in the kicking game, well prepared on defense even though he didn't have a lot of defensive playing time early but he's ne of those guys that always paid attention, knew what to do. You put him in there, he was on top of it. As he's gotten more of an opportunity to play, he's really shown that he communicates well, he makes quick decisions, I think he has good football instincts and understands the game - whether its in the kicking game or defensively. The kind of guy that you tell him once and he understands it or  he'll ask a question that kind of one step ahead of your explanation. You're explaining something and then he's like, 'So if this happens, then would you want me to do this? Yeah, exactly, that would be the next thing to go to.' He's kind of thinking one step ahead like that. He's been a real good addition to this team.  

Q: Is James Ihedigbo at the ceiling defensively of what he'll be able to do?  

BB: He's played there pretty much all year. He's gotten a lot of snaps. I would say along the lines of Brian Waters, Andre Carter, Ihedigbo, are guys that have come onto this team from other teams that have showed a high degree of leadership as well as just being able to do their job, have some flexibility, throw different things at them but they can handle it, they can process it, it doesn't phase them, they're able to make adjustments either quickly or in their role whatever it happens to be and approach the game with very professional and attitude. They're well prepared, they're calm under pressure. They can handle things flying around in a game that are different or a little bit unsettling but they're able to handle those. I would say Brian, Andre, I had a little bit of personal contact with them, obviously I never really coached them to any degree. James would be in that same category too. When you've been through a year with a player, going through all the situations that you go through, you really appreciate that. I would say similar things about all three of those guys that we didn't know that we now know and I have a real appreciation for it.  

Q: Last year you put Brian Hoyer into the game randomly in the second quarter of the finale. Is that a possibility for Sunday and how much does that experience of getting thrown in there help?  

BB: I think that game is a little bit different from this game relative to what the implications of the game were. A preseason game or a game that has literally no bearing in the standings, that's one thing but I wouldn't say we're really in that situation this time.  

Q: You haven't been swept in a season series by a division opponent since 2000. What is it about your staff's preparation that goes into that kind of success over the years?  

BB: I think it's really just more about the players. The payers go out there. They're the ones that block and tackle and catch and kick and make the plays. If you have good players and they go out there and do those things then you win. If you don't and if you don't coach them well, even if you have them and you don't do a good job of coaching them then things don't turn out so well. I think when you talk about those kind of historical things, the things to point to is the performance of the players. That encompasses a lot of players and a lot of games, but they're the ones that are out there winning them. Talk to Mike Vrabel or [Tedy] Bruschi or Troy Brown. Those guys have won a lot of games. Honestly, they're better qualified to answer that than I am because they're the ones that won them.  

Q: What's your level of concern that Tom Brady will be able to perform at a high level?  

BB: Look, any player that we put out on the field, I have confidence in or we wouldn't put him out there. If they're out there, we have confidence in them. If they're not out there, there's either another player ahead of them or we're not confidence that they can go out there and do it. It's as simple as that. We're not going to put anybody out there on the field that we don't have confidence in.  

Q: Do you have confidence in Tom Brady?  

BB: If he's out there on the field, you'll know how I feel about him. If he's not out there, it won't be because we don't have confidence in him. It will be for other reasons. Whatever it is, we'll list it as accurately as we can based on the information that we have, which is what we always do. Sometimes that information changes, obviously. We'll do the best that we can with the information that we have, like we always do. It's no different than anything else.

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