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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 Thursday, January 19, 2012.

BB: We're moving on with our preparations here. As I said yesterday, certainly a big challenge. The Ravens are one of the best, the best really, red area defensive team in the league. They do a great job offensively of getting big plays down in the red area. They have a good running attack, obviously, on the goal line. I'm sure that will be an important part of the game - third down, red area, all the situational football things that we start to move into today and follow up on tomorrow. That's kind of where we're at.  

Q: What do you remember about your pre-draft interview with Ray Lewis?

BB: Real impressive. I spent all day down there with him in Miami. It was before the '96 season when I was first coming to New England. Yeah, really impressive guy. Fast, made a lot of plays in college in their 4-3 scheme, he was a middle linebacker, he had a ton of production. Really instinctive guy that had great intensity and knowledge of the game, even back then and certainly we can all see that now, but I saw it when he was at Miami.  

Q: I think you compared Ray Lewis' film watching ability to the best you've ever seen, is that right?  

BB: Yeah, it was a real impressive day with Ray. I would put him up there with pretty much anybody.  

Q: Has Bill O'Brien's role been the same this week and why do you think he'll do well at Penn State?  

BB: We're definitely all focused on the game with Baltimore and that's what our team is preparing for. He's done what we've asked him to do last week and this week and hopefully we'll be able to play well on Sunday.  

Q: How unique is your offensive design because it's focused on the tight ends? What challenges and opportunities does that present?  

BB: How unique is it? I don't know, you'd have to talk to the other teams about that. We always try to do what we think is best for our football team that will give us the best chance to compete against our opponent for that week. That changes sometimes from week to week, it usually does. That's how we approach it.  

Q: It appears that you outmaneuvered Baltimore for both your tight ends as they were selected right before Baltimore's picks. How fortunate do you feel?  

BB: I don't know. When we draft, we just take the players that we feel like can help our football team. Based on the situation sometimes we move up or move down. Baltimore does the same thing - they have a great football team. They've drafted I'd say arguably as well as anybody in the National Football League over the last decade. Ozzie [Newsome] and his staff have done a great job. I think both teams have a lot of good players on their team. We'll see how it turns out on Sunday.  

Q: What kind of off-field relationship do you have with Coach Harbaugh?  

BB: I think we have a good relationship. I see him from time to time. I spend a little bit of time in that area because of my roots being back there. We're both pretty entrenched in what we're doing. But Indianapolis or league meetings, stuff like that. I enjoy talking to John, I think he's a great guy, does a good job with his football team. I have all the respect in the world for him. This week, I hope our team can play a little better than theirs, that's all.  

Q: How does Coach Harbaugh leave his mark on that team?  

BB: They're tough, they're physical, they don't make many mistakes, they're very well prepared, they do a great job of situational football. They're physical in all three areas of the game. They run the ball well, obviously they have a physical defense, they're very physical in the kicking game. I think that's what John wants, he really wants them to be a tough, physical, hardnosed football team and they are.  

Q: Was Tom Brady missing practice yesterday a pre-planned thing or did he re-aggravate something?  

BB: Yeah, he wasn't out there, so hopefully he'll be out there today.  

Q: Is this a pain issue for him or something you're concerned about?  

BB: We'll see how it goes today. Hopefully he'll be able to go out there and practice today.  

Q: Do your Maryland roots make playing the Ravens any extra special?  

BB: No, not at all. Our goal is to win and try to advance. It wouldn't make any difference who we were playing, that would still be our goal.  

Q: How do you slow down Terrell Suggs?  

BB: It's hard. He's a great player. He does a terrific job in all phases of the game. He's a strong run player, probably doesn't get enough credit for that, he causes a lot of negative plays in the running game. Outstanding pass rusher, he's got good power, good quickness. He can beat you with speed, he has the up and under moves and those kind of things. He runs games well and he has a lot of power. They also use him in coverage some so when you try to slide your protection to him and help out over there a lot of times your weakening yourself at other points in the rush. They use that to complement his pass rush abilities to bring guys from the other side and try to make you think offensively about how much you want to help him because you might be helping a guy that isn't even rushing on that particular play. He rushes most of the time but they do enough of that kind of thing to keep you honest. He's versatile enough to play enough in coverage and give them enough coverage plays where you have to respect it. Very versatile player; he makes a lot of plays.  

Q: What attributes does Tom Brady have that allows him to pretty much call half the game on the fly in the no-huddle?  

BB: I think just about every team in this league runs it, at least in a two-minute situation. We work on it every week, I know defensively we look at other teams; every team we play, they mix it in during the game or you certainly see it when time is at a premium. Tom does a good job with it, he has, we've done that for years. He has a good presence on the field. It's really all 11 guys being able to do it, it's not just the quarterback. He can call something but everybody else has to make their adjustments, make their calls, recognize what the defense is in, they're scrambling around to get lined up, you're scrambling around to get lined up. A lot of times it isn't a real clean look. It's incumbent on everybody, not just the quarterback but all 11 guys to be able to get the play and execute it based on whatever the look is. A lot of times those looks aren't static. People are moving into position and they're adjusting and you're trying to play fast and they're trying to play fast. It's not as clean as it sometimes when you go up there and stand at the line for 10 seconds.  

Q: Ten years ago today was the Oakland playoff game. What are your recollections of that?  

BB: It was a great game, it was a great night and of course a lot of fond memories but [we're] really just trying to get on to Baltimore. We've had a lot of big wins in the past, we've had a lot of great games, we've lost games. Right now none of those really I think have too much impact on what's going on this week. We're really trying to keep our sights focused on Sunday's game. It's a one-game season, we've worked all year for that. We've worked hard for the last six months to put ourselves in that position and now it's time for us to go out there and do our best with it. With all due respect to other games, other teams, other situations, it's really not the forefront now.  

Q: What was the biggest challenge getting the defense to gel with so many moving parts?  

BB: Our guys on defense, they work hard, they really do. They come in and put in a lot of extra time watching film, preparing, studying. I think all of our players really have gotten better individually. We've had some moving parts where some guys have worked with other players beside them or in front of them or behind them as the case would be.  We stayed at it and some things have gotten better. We still have a lot of work to do, there are a lot of things we can improve on. I think overall, the work ethic and the confidence of the unit has been good. Hopefully we can continue to get better.  

Q: How do you balance between throwing more stuff at them now versus trying to get them to play more consistently, particularly in the secondary?  

BB: I think that's something that you have to look at every week with every part of your team no matter what you're doing, whether it's a lot or less than a lot, whatever it is, still you have to make that decision of how much is too much, how much is the right amount? What do we want to do that we know we can do well? What do we want to do that we know we can attack our opponents with? What adjustments do you anticipate having to make in the game. Something is going to come up in the game, how much of that is there going to be? All those things play into it. I think each decision is an independent decision weekly, sometimes certainly that's affected by what's happened in previous games, how confident you are that your team can perform at a certain level and how much they can handle and all that. It's still a weekly decision. It's not just what we do, it's what they do. Everything that we do matches up against something. How hard that is or how hard it isn't, that affects your decisions too.  

Q: Is Joe Flacco a good deep thrower?  

BB: Yeah, real good. Good deep thrower and he's got good deep receivers, starting with [Torrey] Smith. He'll throw it down there to [Anquan] Boldin and Ray Rice coming out of the backfield on those wheel routes and tight ends they run a lot of vertical routes, seams, middle reads, things like that. They have a lot of guys that can get the ball down the field too. Lee Evans, we all know what kind of deep receiver he is.  

Q: How tough was it for Logan Mankins to be on the field last week?  

BB: I don't think you ever really know about that until you see it. We went through the same process with him as any other player. You rehabilitate the injury. When the player is ready to start activity, you put him in the activity. When he's able to do the activity, then you move him into some element of practice, whether that's individual drills or whatever it is. Once the player is able to participate in some type of controlled drills, then you put him into seven-on-seven or one-on-ones or team drills that are not controlled, they're reactive drills. Based on how that goes, then you take the next - they're all the same. We can talk about everybody. We can talk about this guy's toe and that guy's shoulder and somebody else's hip and somebody else's knee, but it's the same thing. We've all had them.  We've all had doctors. They always say the same thing. You have to get it to a point where you can use it. Once you get to a point where you can use it, you stress it and put more demand on it and see how it reacts. If it doesn't react well then you back off. If it does okay, then you move up to the next level. If the guy shows that he's ready to perform and can do it then great and if he doesn't then wait until he can. Let's not make this into - it's the same thing. We go through this every week with a different player with a different injury. It's the same thing for everybody, I don't understand it.  

Q: Their red zone defense is ranked number one in the NFL. What is the key to a good red zone defense and what makes their red zone defense so successful?  

BB: They really do everything well, that's what makes it good. It's hard to run against them. They're hard to run against, they have a good front, I mean they're hard to run against anyway. You have less space. They have good scheme, they're well coached and they really understand what plays, what types of plays from different formations and different looks are a problem. They're experienced - they know how to play them. They have a good mix of scheme with what they do - man, zone, pressure, those kind of things. They keep you off balance. They're good tacklers. You don't see a lot of plays where they have the guy but they don't have him and he ends up scoring anyway. Fundamentally, they're good; scheme-wise they're good. Obviously they can stop the run and they can cover well in tight situations.  

Q: Can you talk about Jimmy Smith and the growth you've seen in him and what makes him difficult to match up against?  

BB: It's rare to get a guy that's 6-2 or whatever he is, he's over six feet. I would say he's a bigger guy. You didn't see too many corners that have his height and length just period in the league. Out of that select group, then the athleticism, the ability to have the quickness and the athletic skills for that size to match up against the smaller, quicker receiver.  It's easier for them to cover the bigger, more physical guys, kind of like themselves, the tougher matchup for them a lot of times is against the quicker ones. If they can use their length and strength to bang those lower guys around then they gain the advantage. He's gotten a lot of playing time over the last I'd say, third of the season. He's done well, he's done a good job with it. I thought he played well against San Francisco, jammed those guys, jammed those receivers well. He does a good job for them in the kicking game; has made plays for them as a gunner. You can see his speed and open field tackling ability, same thing on kickoff coverage, he plays on that. He's effective there. That's part of, again corners are only involved in so many plays in the game, it's not a nose guard where they're in on every play. They get 'X' number of chances but you also can see him holding up on punt returns, see him covering punts, see him covering kickoffs. You start to look at all those plays and you certainly see a lot of talent in that player. He has the skills to do a lot of different things.  

Q: Can you talk about Ed Reed and his development over the years?  

BB: Haven't we had enough on Ed Reed? We had a whole day on - what else can I say? Like I said, he's the best weak safety I've seen since I've been in the National Football League in my career. He's outstanding at pretty much everything, including blocking punts or returning punts or returning interceptions for touchdowns. The list goes on and on with him; it's just a question of pretty much anything he's out there for he's good at.  

Q: What has the return of Patrick Chung meant to the back end of that secondary?  

BB: Patrick brings a good level of experience. He's been through a lot in terms of all our calls and adjustments. He and James Ihedigbo work well together and then when Devin [McCourty] has come in there, Patrick has done a good job, he and Devi have done a good job working together. They've done that as a safety and a corner, but now as two safeties, their communication and adjustments are a little bit different. That's worked out well. Patrick is a smart guy, he understands concepts, he's well prepared and he had a good level of experience. He's been out there in all situations: first down, second down, third down, fourth down. He takes that experience to all those situations and he's got good confidence.  

Q: When Wes Welker was in Miami, he looked like he was pretty beat up coming off games on Sundays -  

BB: It was probably against us when he caught so many passes and we couldn't tackle him.  

Q: Kicking field goals.  

BB: Kicking field goals, returning punts. I'm sure he was tired after playing us, putting up 150, 175 yards in total offense, that will probably wear you out.  

Q: What's allowed him to last, given that he's a smaller guy and takes so much punishment?  

BB: Wes really trains hard. He's one of our hardest workers; just really tireless guy. He pushes himself to the limit on a daily basis, whether it's lifting weights, practicing; he practices 100 miles an hour, trains very hard. He's very strong for his size and stature but he actually has good playing strength. Nutrition, all those things, he's really borderline fanatical about them. He gets the most out of everything he's got. I think it's been hard training, hard work. We all saw how he came back from the injury a couple years ago. I think that's just indicative of his overall work ethic and commitment.  

Q: Do teams really try to test him as much as possible? We all remember the Ryan Clark play in the open field but do defenses really try to punish him?  

BB: I think all defenses try to hit all offense players - it's no secret. If they catch the ball, no defensive back or linebacker is happy about that. If you can hit the guy after he catches it, then you're going to hit him. That's what defensive players do, that's their job is to tackle the guy with the ball. If the guy's got, I'm sure they're trying to tackle him, otherwise they shouldn't be playing defense.  

Q: What were your thoughts on the quality of practice yesterday?  

BB: It's the first day working on a new team. Like a lot of Wednesdays, there were some things that were good, other things that we have to go back and hit and clean up on. At the same time, we're moving on to new situations: third down, red area, two-minute, all those things. We have a ways to go. I think we made some progress but we still have some more ground to cover.

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