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Bill Belichick Press Conference Transcript

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Brandon Bolden

(Opening statement)
"We just got off of the practice field. We were in pads today. We had a good, crisp workout. I think we got a few things done. As I said yesterday, the Giants are a tough team to prepare for. They really do a good job with all of the different schemes they have, and the players they have present a big challenge for us. It's good to get underway down here. It is a nice facility over there that the Colts have. We will get some film done this afternoon and get back at it on Wednesday."

(on why the Patriots had a padded practice today)
"We felt like it would be the best way for us to prepare for the game."

(on what he admires about Giants head coach Tom Coughlin and how much of Bill Parcells he sees in Coughlin)
"I respect a lot of things about Tom - his evaluation of talent, the way he attacks teams, his consistency, his discipline, his team's toughness, their resiliency - I would say all of those things. Bill (Parcells) has a lot of those characteristics as a coach. I don't know who rubs off on whom. That was the way Tom was as an assistant coach. He was very disciplined and very detail-oriented. He demanded a lot from his players. He was fair, but firm, like he is now. Tom is a good guy, and he has a good sense of humor. He is a good guy to be around. On the practice field and the game field, you have a job to do. He was demanding of them in a good way. There is a lot of Bill Parcells in that, too. He is demanding. He can shoot the needle in there to you a little bit, and get a little dig in. He expects a lot. He has high expectations. There is a different style, but some similarities as a coach. I don't know how much one rubbed off on the other, as much as it's kind of the way they are."

(on what has allowed Vince Wilfork to play so much)
"Vince is a very good athlete as we can see from all of those interception returns, all of his open-field running and those kinds of plays. I made a big mistake his rookie year when I made a bet with the team about a night off, or not giving them a night off. I put Vince back there to catch a punt. He has soft hands, and you can hear the ball hit his hands. He is a really good athlete. He has the ability to play on all three downs. Last year, we had some injuries, and I'd say he was forced into it a little bit because of our lack of depth on the defensive line. This year, he takes a lot of pride about not coming off the field, which I love in a defensive lineman. I love that they want to be out there on every play. They are not looking to come out. Shaun Ellis is like that. All of those years with the Jets, and a lot of those going back to the Giants, Jim Burt and Leonard (Marshall) didn't want to come off the field. That's the way Vince's attitude is. He is in good condition. Out at practice today during the offensive period, he's running sprints back and forth across the field, working on his conditioning. There is a week to go in the season, and I think that's indicative of his competitiveness, his desire to be good and consistently be good week after week during the entire season. You can talk about his appearance. He doesn't have the classic appearance. He is a good athlete. He is in good shape, and he works really hard. He can play a lot of plays, and he plays them well, too. I think those plays he made at the end of the Baltimore game last week on third and 3, when he made the stop on the trap play. Fourth and 5, he got a hold of (Joe) Flacco, and he threw it away. Those were getting into the 60-play numbers late in the fourth quarter when we had to have it when the whole game was on the line, and he made two critical plays there."

(on former players' opinions saying they would use the loss to the Giants in Super Bowl XLII as revenge)
"You can talk to all of those guys. Their opinions are their opinions. But I see this game as this game. There aren't all that many people who played in the last game four years ago. This team is this team. I think our team is different than what it was at midseason and different from what it was in December. I think the Giants are a different team than when we played them in November, and I think they are a different team than where they were in early December. This game, the elements of it are what we have in front of us, not what happened two months ago or what happened two years ago or four years ago."

(on OT Sebastian Vollmer, a native of Germany)
"Sebastian has gotten a lot better over the last few weeks. He came out of his cast, I'd say, before the Denver game. And then he practiced last week before the Baltimore game, and I would say he was close, but obviously, he wasn't ready to go, and we didn't activate him. This week, he is further along than where he was before the Denver game. He practiced today, so we will see how the week goes and see how he holds up. But I think there is definitely a possibility. We will just have to see how he tolerates the added work. If he does well, then I will think you will see him. If not, then it will be where it was in Baltimore. I don't know if we will know about that until we put him through the full week of practice. He is definitely making progress, so he is getting there."

(on if there was one thing he learned between his stints as head coach with Cleveland and New England)
"I don't think there was any one thing. To me, I learn something every day, a lot of things. It is a constant process. After the 1995 season in Cleveland, I came to New England and had a great year here in 1996 working defensively with Al (Groh) Romeo (Crennel), Dante (Scarnecchia), coach* (Bill)* Parcells and our entire offensive staff. I certainly learned a lot that year being around Bill for three years with basically the same staff that had moved down to New York. All of the things that you do as a head coach, when you become an assistant coach again, you understand more what the head coach is going through when you have been a head coach, than when you are an assistant coach and you haven't had that responsibility. It was a great learning experience for me. Bill was very generous in some of the information and experiences he shared with me during those four years from 1996 to 1999 - the situations he was dealing with, the things that would come up with the team and how you would handle this and how you would handle that. Our relationship is a little bit different because I had been a head coach. He would say, 'Look, you've been a head coach. Here is the situation. How would you handle this or that?' And I would watch him handle it. I have a little different perspective on it than I had during those years with the Giants when I wasn't a head coach, and I probably didn't fully understand some of the dynamics of various decisions, whether it was personnel decisions or - as it was in the 1990s - salary-cap decisions, strategic decisions and logistics and planning. It was certainly a great learning experience for me from a different point of view. I think I knew a lot more then than I knew in the 1980s when I was with with the Giants. Some of the same things came up, but I didn't have the same perspective. So I wouldn't say it was one thing, it was a culmination of things. Honestly, as a head coach of a professional football team, you make hundreds of decisions every day. I can't talk to everyone on the team and sit down to have a long conversation with them. Some guys you talk to, some guys you don't. You can say things one way, and you can say them a different way. You make decisions on strategy, make decisions on personnel, make decisions on motivation and practice reps - all of those kinds of things. There are a lot of things on a daily basis, that as the head coach, you are involved in. People come to you and say, 'How do you want to do it? This way, or that way? Do you have a feeling on this?' You can make a decision to turn it over to them. Whatever you think is best, that's what you do, or you can say, 'I prefer A over B, C over D.' It's not just one thing. There are a lot of different elements to it."

(on what Deion Branch has meant to the team)
"I can't speak for anyone else's recognition, but from my standpoint and the team's standpoint, I think everyone knows how important Deion is to our to our football team, to our offense and our passing game. He does a lot of things. He handles a lot of different responsibilities as far as where he lines up, his position and his assignments. He has a great route tree in terms of the number and variety of routes that he runs. He has great confidence in his relationship with Tom (Brady) because of their experience together. I couldn't imagine anybody on the team not thinking that Deion Branch has a tremendous importance to our football team. I don't care if they play offense, defense or wash towels, I just can't imagine that anybody would think that. Maybe a lot of people out there do, but I can't imagine anyone on our football team would feel that way. He does a great job for us. Plays like in the Denver game on the long touchdown play, I don't know how many guys make that play for us. It was a clear-out route, but it wasn't a clear-out route. Tom (Brady) saw it and Deion saw it, and it turned into a long touchdown. Deion does a lot of things. Blocking, people don't give him credit for that. Deion has done a good job blocking for us this year. I look at him and say he looks like a great blocker, but he is an effective blocker. He's done a great job. The running backs appreciate him."
**

(on Rob Gronkowski's status)
"He didn't practice today."

(on what he appreciates about this team that gives him confidence going into the Super Bowl)
"I would say that one of the good things about this team is their consistency. They come to work every day, they are ready to work. This team overall, they come to work, they are ready to work and they go to work. There is not a lot of 'We've got to get things started, things going. We are just going through the motions.' There hasn't been a lot of that. I respect their consistency. I respect their mental toughness, their physical toughness and their ability to put things behind them and move ahead to the next challenge - daily, weekly, after a bad play and moving on to the next play, whether that is in practice or in games. We've been behind, we've had some bad plays in practice, but they get over it. They move on to the next thing, and try to make the next thing better and don't get bogged down by something that didn't go well."

(on lessons he learned working with the Giants coaching staff)
"It was awesome. We had a great staff and great players. One of the biggest things I learned, that I can't do today, but I know, is how tough those players were. We practiced every day in pads, every single day in pads. There were years that we practiced every single day on the turf before we had the grass practice fields up there on the hill, or it was being rebuilt or something happened. How we did 9-on-7, which is a good-tempo running drill, and how we did that on a regular basis. In training camp, we went out in pads every day. We hit every day. We did 9-on-7 every day. There was no way Bill (Parcells) would go out on the field without doing 9-on-7. We'd skip stretching before we'd skip 9-on-7. Going back to last year, and even this year, going out in pads, working on 9-on-7, having more contact work in practice, we'd get that look a little bit like, 'I don't know if the players can do it.' I'm thinking to myself, 'Can't do it?' We were in pads on Fridays with the Giants, and nobody said anything. That's the way it was. You went out there and practiced. I know what players are capable of doing because of how demanding we were with them from a physical standpoint, and that certainly didn't lessen their aggressiveness or their toughness in games. That was a physical defense. That was a physical offensive line. Even getting ready for the Super Bowl against Buffalo, the way we ran the ball in that game. That started on the practice field with the tempo in practice. When you get those guys crashing into each other - Jumbo (Elliott) and Mark Bavaro blocking (Lawrence) Taylor, (Carl) Banks, (Jim) Burt and all them - they just lined up and played football. I know it was a different era, but it will never be like that again. I learned players can be tough, they can be physical, they can do more than they think they can do from that standpoint. Those were valuable lessons, because I can say before I got to New York, and coach (Ray) Perkins was like that, too, we had tough, physical practices, too. He definitely set the tone. When I got there in 1979, relative to what the Giants had done previous to that, it was kind of a country-club atmosphere, from what I understood. I wasn't there. It was a little bit different than what I had been used to. I learned a lot from the mental and physical toughness standpoint that Ray, and then Bill, built their teams with. Maybe I took it a little too far in Cleveland, I don't know. It was kind of the same thing when I got there. People said that we were too demanding and we were doing too much. I was thinking to myself, 'I was with the Giants for 12 years. I saw this every day for 12 years. Don't tell me we can't go out there and have 9-on-7 two days in a row. I know we can.'

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