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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 26, 2012.

BB: It's good to get out on the field here today. This will be a good day for us to get back and get reacquainted with our preparations on the Giants. Obviously a great football team; done a lot of things well all year and playing their best football of the season over the last five, six weeks or so. They've really been impressive. Great organization, the Mara Family, Tom [Coughlin], his staff, Jerry Reese, the personnel people, they've done a great job, a lot of good players. A really solid, solid organization; solid team. I have a lot of respect for them. We'll get going with our preparations here this week. There are a lot of things I think we can get accomplished here before hit the road on Sunday and then hopefully have a good week out there in Indianapolis. It's an honor to be in this game; it's an honor to be representing the AFC at the Super Bowl. Right now we just have to use our time efficiently, use it well, be well prepared and play our best game of the year. That will be our goal for the next 10 days.  

Q: How much do you want to get accomplished as far as game plan this week?

BB: We've got some goals, some things we want to get done. It won't be all of it but things we obviously feel are important. We'll try to get ahead on those.  

Q: Will you coach this game any differently?  

BB: I think every game is different. Every game is unique. Even if you've played a team before, the players are different, the situation is different, the conditions are different - every game is unique. [We'll] try to take the unique aspects of this game and maximize them, get the most out of them, do the best job we can in this particular setting with all the things that are included in that.  

Q: You've said before that a situation like this is like being back in the division. Is this like that, after seeing them so much over the past few years?  

BB: There's no team that we're more familiar with in the NFC than the Giants. We've played them every year for a lot of years, I don't know - twice in '07 and this will be three times now this year. A lot of those games are preseason games which isn't quite the same as playing division teams twice during the regular season but still there's a familiarity. You're keeping up with a team year after year as opposed to a lot of the other teams we see in the NFC every three years, four years. There's a gap and there's usually a lot of changes. At least with the Giants, there's kind of an annual review of that team, even though it's in preseason. This year it was a little different because we had them on the regular schedule so we looked at the preseason game a little more closely than we normally would that game because they were on the regular schedule. I don't think it's a like a division game but we know them a lot better than most of the NFC teams that we play against.  

Q: Can you talk about Aaron Hernandez and how you're able to use him in so many different ways?  How unique is that?  

BB: Aaron is a real smart guy, so from a learning standpoint he's very good in terms of assignments, alignments, assignments - that's a big part of our offense - with most teams do as far as their tight ends, that's where a lot of the formationing comes from. Along with a lot of different linemen come different assignments, different techniques, different depths, whether he's on the ball, off the ball, whether he's split out, whether he's in close. A lot of the passing concepts are the same but if you move people around, then you have to run the passing concepts from two or three different spots. One time you're the 'X', one time you're the 'Y', one time you're the 'Z', one time you're the 'F', whatever it is. He's a smart player, he's versatile athletically. He can do a lot of different things from a skill standpoint. He has the mental flexibility to have a lot of different assignments. When you put all that together, you have good versatility.  

Q: Can you talk about how Chad Ochocinco has fit in as a team guy off the field?  

BB: Chad has worked hard. He's made a very good effort to do everything we've asked him to do on and off the field.  

Q: With the front four Giants pressure, is this where Tom Brady's ability to read the field quickly really comes into play because the longer he holds the ball, the Giants can put a lot of pressure on?  

BB: I think it's a combination of a lot of things. It's a combination of how long we block them and how quickly our receivers are able to get separation and get open relative to the coverages that the Giants are playing. It comes down to team execution. Hopefully we'll be able to do a competitive job against that. The Giants are tough - they cover well, they rush well. They have some big, physical players that are hard to block in the running game. They're a good defensive football team. In the end, we need to do a good job whether we're blocking them, whether we're trying to get open, whether we're throwing the ball, whether we're running it - whatever it is, we have to do a good job against executing against that defense. They have a lot of good players, they're well coached. They're a tough team to move the ball against.  

Q: How often do they run that four defensive end set up front and how rare is that?  

BB: They run it in passing situations, third down, two-minute. It's not their steady defense but they're in it and sometimes they do it out of an odd front where they have [Mathias] Kiawanuka kind of floating behind the line scrimmage as a fourth rusher, but you don't know exactly where he's going to come. We'll see a lot of teams [whose] personnel look quite like that. But teams that have defensive ends that can move them inside, they move them inside and put another defensive end out there. We've seen plenty of that during the course of the year. Those four or five guys, six guys, they have a bunch of them, they roll them all in there. They're all good and some of them have their own unique skills to rush the passer and that makes it a different matchup when one guy is in there relative to another guy.   

Q: How do you compare the challenge for your offense from Baltimore's defense to this New York Giants defense?  

BB: They're different, they're both good, they're both good. Baltimore has their way of doing things, the Giants have their way of doing things - both are successful. We don't really care about Baltimore anymore, we're done with them. What the Giants do: their personnel, their schemes, their matchups and we'll work on them.  

Q: What led to the decision to put Julian Edelman on defense? Was it injuries?  

BB: That was a big part of it, sure that was a big part of it. Julian has those skills to be able to compete at that position for the same reasons he can do that on offense. He's strong, he's quick, he's got good toughness, he's got good lateral quickness and change of direction. It's some of the same things that you want for the defender to cover that receiver are the same things that he has a receiver that makes him a competitive slot receiver.  His skills are good but yeah, we ran into some depth issues. We worked him in there some and ended up playing there, I think the Jets game was his first game, somewhere in there, about midseason.  

Q: One of your favorite topics - injuries.  

BB: That would actually be number one. If you had to rank them, I'd move that up there as number one.  

Q: How would you describe the progress of Rob Gronkowski?  

BB: Good, good.  

Q: How optimistic are you that Sebastian Vollmer will be able to go?  

BB: We'll see how it goes. He practiced some last week, he wasn't able to play. We'll practice this week and we'll see if he's ready this week. The [crystal] ball is kind of clouding up, I can't see it clearly.  

Q: If Rob Gronkowski doesn't practice but does play in the game, how much does that affect what you're able to do on the practice field or do you just rely on the previous 105 practices? I think he was out there for pretty much all of them.  

BB: Right, yeah I think he was, yeah. We'll just have to see, you know. Today, he's not going to practice today so we'll take it day-by-day. I'm not going to try to forecast where things will be 10 days from now. We'll just take it day-by-day.  

Q: With Sebastian Vollmer, how much does your matchup with the Giants affect your decision on whether he's ready?  

BB: Doesn't affect it all. If he's ready, he's ready. If he's not, he's not. If Sebastian is ready, he can help our football team, he's a good football player. There's no question he would absolutely be on the game day roster if he's ready. It doesn't make any difference who we were playing.  

Q: Will this be the most complete offense you've seen all year? What concerns you more - their run game or their vertical game?  

BB: I'd say all of it. They're very good offensively. They're strong across the board. They have good backs, [Ahmad] Bradshaw and of course [Brandon] Jacobs. They've gotten a lot of production from [Jake] Ballard at tight end, now [Travis] Beckum. The receiving corps has been productive with a number of different guys but certainly [Victor] Cruz has had a tremendous year, [Hakeem] Nicks is back, [Mario] Manningham. They're strong at that position. They're strong at all the skill positions. Quarterback is playing great, offensive line is solid. They have a lot of different guys to stop. You can't just say, 'We're going to stop one thing.' They'll kill you with the other ones. 'We're going to take away this guy,' but they have too many other guys. We're going to have to play good team defense. Everybody is going to have to do their job - this is no one man band and we have to deal with all of them.  

Q: Would you say it's the most complete offense you've seen?  

BB: They're very well balanced. They're well coached - Tom [Coughlin], Kevin [Gilbride], those guys do a god job. They run the ball, they play-action, they can throw it. When they have to throw it, they can throw it; when they have to run it, they can run it. I think that's the mark of a good offense. Even though you kind of know what they're going to do, they can still go out there and do it. They have good players, they have good coaches, they have a good scheme, they're playing well - they're good.  

Q: When you look at the game against the Giants during the regular season, were their defensive linemen trying to rush the quarterback or were they trying to get into the passing lane to bat down balls?  

BB: Look, every defensive lineman, they rush the passer, they try to get to the quarterback. If they don't get to the quarterback then they're in a passing lane and they try to bat down the pass. That's what defensive linemen do. If they're in front of the quarterback and they're not hitting him, then they put their hands up and try to get their hands in the throwing lane. That's the progression. If they can hit him first, they're going to hit him first.  

Q: Is Tom Brady the type of guy that will quickly respond and erase a previous bad game like the one he had last week?  

BB: I think after every game we can all look back at the game - coaches, players, if we participated in the game - there's always things that you feel good about that you did and then there are things that you don't feel good about. Things you wish you could have back, calls you wish you could have back, plays you wish you could have back. That's the way it is every week, it's part of football. Even when you win, there are plays that you don't like. If things that don't go well, there are still usually plays that are good plays. Learn from the bad ones, try to build on the good ones, get ready for a new week. It's new team, a new week, new situation - we'll see what happens this week.  

Q: Do you see Rob Gronkowski as a guy who can make game changing plays because of his hands and skill at running over people? Is he a game changer?  

BB: He's had a lot of production. He's had a lot of touchdowns, he's had a lot of good blocks. I don't know what a 'game changer' is but he's definitely made some plays.  

Q: It looks like Greg Schiano is headed to the NFL. With your relationship with Devin McCourty and other players from the Rutgers program, what does that say about that program putting out pro-ready players?  

BB: I think they've been very pro-ready. We have four of them. We have a whole Rutgers contingent whether it's Nate [Jones], Alex [Silvestro] on the practice squad, Tiquan [Underwood], Devin. We're well stocked with Rutgers players. We can't compete with all the BC [Boston College] guys that the Giants have, although we have a stable of them too, but not like the Giants. Greg obviously has done a great job at Rutgers. I think he's a tremendous coach and he's done a great job with that program. His players have been very NFL-ready. Guys that come out of that program, when they get to the NFL, I'd say most of them make it. They may not be first round picks or whatever but if they have enough talent to compete in the NFL, most of them end up staying in one way or another. I think that's a credit to the preparation and the program that he's built there.  

Q: Is Eli Manning playing at an even higher level than when you saw him earlier in the year?  

BB: Yeah, he's had a great year. I thought he was playing well at the beginning of the year before we played them in the [eighth] game, whatever it was. Then of course he's had a great end of the season, as has their entire team playing the Jets, Dallas, Atlanta, Green Bay and last week against San Francisco. They're on a very good stretch - offensively, defensively, special teams. They've had big plays in the kicking game. Eli has done a good job not turning the ball over, hitting big plays, converting on third down. Their third down conversion numbers are significantly up from the regular season, playing against better teams, better defenses. He's doing a great job. He's an outstanding quarterback. He can hurt you with his legs, not that he's looking to run for 100 yards or anything but converting on third down, scrambling out of the pocket, keeping plays alive, we've seen that before. He does a good job. He has a lot of skill and he uses all his weapons, spreads the ball around and makes you defend everybody. And he wins - that's really what a quarterback's job is, is to manage the game so his team can win. That's what he's done.  

Q: Every team has players that are just core special teamers. You can only have so many of those guys if they don't contribute on offense or defense. Where was your philosophy shaped on how many of those players you keep and their importance?  

BB: I think that you're right; there are only so many players that can play in the kicking game and not play on offense and defense. Then there are so many players that can only play on offense or defense and not play in the kicking game. Then there's another group of players that contribute in both areas so you just have to balance that out. Really, we're talking about the skill positions because the offense and defensive lines - that really doesn't comprise the bulk of your special teams, it comes from skill players. So you have to somehow balance that out. If you have a lot of guys on your starting units that don't play in the kicking game, then you have to find some guys that can play there. Whether they have a role on offense or defense or not, then you just have to decide what that value is. Is the value of a player who is not as good of a special teams player but a better defensive player more valuable than a player who is a real good special teams player but less of a defensive player? Or offensive guys, vice versa, whatever it is. It's not a philosophy. You just have to strike a balance. You have to send somebody out there on the punt team, you have to send somebody out there to cover kickoffs, you have to send somebody out there to return them so who is that going to be? You have to have somebody to back up your offensive and defensive starters so who is that going to be? What's the best balance?  

Q: Who is the best special teamer you've ever coached against or coached?  

BB: There have been a lot. Obviously there are a lot of good players. Certainly Larry Izzo did a great job for us here as a player and special teams captain, leader. He was a great tone setter. I would definitely put him up there at the top of that list of the players that I've coached. We had a lot of good players at Cleveland. We've had a lot of them here, going all the way back to Detroit and Leonard Thompson, Baltimore. I can think of guys that you really had to game plan for. Obviously a lot of guys that have been in the Pro Bowl the last few years - the [Brendon] Ayanbadejos of the world. You have to double them on your return units; you just can't leave guys like that running free down the field, with 20 yards of space to dodge a blocker and make a tackle. You have to take care of guys like that. The Giants have a lot of good ones - [Greg] Jones has done a really good job for them. They've had a lot of production out of their young linebackers: [Jacquian] Williams has done a good job and his role has increased defensively but he's covered extremely well. They've gotten plays out of their receivers on the coverage units. You see them every week.   

Q: What you look back at Super Bowl XXV, there were a number of coaches on that staff who became head coaches. What did you all learn from each other? What was special about that staff that you all went on to become head coaches at the NFL or college level?  

BB: I think first of all, you have to give a lot of credit to the guy who put it together, Bill [Parcells]. Bill did a real good job of hiring good people and collectively bringing them together. We kind of had our own way of doing things. That was a different time; the game was different than what it is now. I think Bill brought together people, I'd say what we all have in common out of that group, is we all like football. You don't really feel like you're working. You're doing something you want to do. You don't think about the hours or you don't think about how much more I have to do, you think about doing something because you enjoy doing it. I would say that about all those people. I think that staff worked pretty well together. There was a good amount of respect. As I've said many times, I think my relationship with Tom [Coughlin] during those years as the secondary coach, I was the defensive coordinator but I coached the secondary. Tom was coaching the receivers. The way that we worked together over those years, helping each other out, going one-on-one, going seven-on-seven, but being able to have that give and take of 'Tom, this is really a tough pattern, we really have a tough time defending that' or, 'We really have a hard time covering this route with the technique that you use.' Or Tom saying, 'We can tell when your corner is lined up like this, it's going to be zone,' or, 'We can tell when he jams us like this, it's tough on that route,' or, 'It's hard when your linebacker plays it like that or plays it like this in that coverage.' That reinforces some things because on your side of the ball you think you're coaching it the best that you can, that's what you're doing. But when the guy that is working against you is telling you that, 'This is really hard,' or 'This is a lot harder than that is,' then it makes you think about how the offense is seeing what you're doing, not just how the defense is seeing it from the defensive perspective. There was a lot of that - Charlie [Weis] and Al [Groh], Mike Pope, Mike is still there. It was a good staff and we all got along well and helped each other out. It wasn't just about what you were doing; it was truly a collective team effort. It was a special team; not just the coaches but the players.  

Q: How has the misfortunate that has taken place at Penn State impacted your staff and Coach Bill O'Brien as you prepare this week?  

BB: Coach O'Brien has done everything that we would normally be doing. Everything that I've asked him to do, everything that's his responsibility, he's taken care of. He's been great about that for the last few weeks and I'm sure it will continue that way through our last game.  

Q: How much does experience coaching in a Super Bowl help in avoiding distractions and preparing for the game?  

BB: I don't know. I think this game is really about the team that performs well on Sunday. It's not about all the other stuff. We all have to deal with it. It's the same for everybody. It's which team can go out there and play well. We've seen experienced teams play well and not play well. We've seen experienced teams play well and not play well. I don't think that's the answer. I think the answer is how well the team prepares, how focused they are and how well they are able to perform under pressure. We're under pressure every week, but each game gets a little bit bigger and each opponent gets a little bit tougher. We'll see how all that shakes out, but I think a lot of that's overrated. I think it comes down to the week of preparation and the performance that each team is able to generate in this amount of time when the ball gets kicked off next Sunday night.  

Q: What difference does Brandon Spikes make for the defense? How has he grown and developed this season?  

BB: Brandon comes from a good background, good program, good defensive background. Like every other college player, what he saw in college and what he sees in the NFL are not quite the same thing relative to option offenses and the skill level of quarterbacks, particularly the intermediate passing game, things like that, different types of play action that we see relative to what colleges do for the most part. That's been a big learning experience for him, but Brandon's a very instinctive player and he catches on quickly. He just kind of knows where the ball is and sometimes it's not exactly the way you would coach it in terms of the keys and what his footwork and steps and all that would be, but he has a good ability to find the ball and know where the play is - the interception he had last week, the one he had last year against the Jets on a similar type of play. He's tall like Pepper [Johnson] was. You don't see a lot of inside linebackers with that kind of height, that 6'4"ish height. Most guys are a little more compact than that. He's a pretty powerful guy for being that tall like Pepper was, but a lot of those explosive hitters are six feet, 6'1", that type of guy. [Brian] Urlacher's another. I'm just saying there aren't a lot of them and I think that's a problem for the quarterback in terms of the passing game because of their length, their height, their range. They get their hands on a lot of balls, but again kind of like Pepper, Brandon has power. He'll go up and strikes with a good thump whether it tackling or taking on blockers, that kind of thing. He's done a good job for us, he gives us a little bit of a different presence in there. Other guys that are in there, they give us a little different presence than he does. I'm not saying that's bad or good, it's just a little bit of a contrast in style. He's long, he's powerful. He's an explosive guy. He's very instinctive, which is the biggest part of that position. The more you are in the middle of the field, the more guys there are around you, the more things you have to see, the more things that can happen. The better it is for those players to be able to sort it all out and figure out what's going on. Sometimes that comes easier to some players than others. I think it comes relatively easy to him. He has a good sense for that.  

Q: When you have an extra week to prepare for an opponent, how much of an edge does that give you and your football team?  

BB: I don't think it gives you any edge at all. They have the same amount of time that we have. There's no edge. Everybody has the same amount of days to prepare. Everybody has the same schedule. The time that you have is only as valuable as what you can do with it. If you can use it productively then the time is good and if you don't then it's a waste of time. I think part of the challenge is trying to use your time in the most efficient manner that you can and get the most out of whatever opportunities you have whether it's meetings, film, practice, whatever it happens to be - and try to get your team as well prepared as you can within that timeframe, whether its playing a Thursday Thanksgiving game or it's two weeks between the AFC Championship and Super Bowl. Whatever the time is, it is. Whatever your opportunities are in that time, they are. How do you get the most out of them? How's that time most productive, whether its players to get rest, practice more, do more film study, dealing with the travel schedule. Whatever it happens to be, just trying to get the most out of that timeframe and get the best preparation you can. That's what I think it's about, I don't think there's any edge. Both teams have the exact same schedule, what's the advantage?

Q: You've done well with that extra week relative to your opponents in the past. Why do you think that is?  

BB: As I've said many times, I think whatever success we've had here has been the result of players going out there and playing well and winning games on Sunday. That's what it's about. I haven't made any blocks, I haven't made any tackles and I don't think anybody wants me to. I'll just stick to being on the sideline. The players go out there. They're the ones that run, catch, throw, kick, tackle, block and defend. That's why we have them. When they can go out there and do that better than their opponents, then we have good results. They're the guys the guys that have won the games. They've gone out there and made the plays.  If they're prepared and they go out there and they perform well, then that's good for our team. But they're the ones that have to do it. They're the ones that win them.

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