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Bill Belichick Press Conference Transcript

New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference on Wednesday, January 15, 2014.

BB: First of all, on behalf of the football team, again it's an honor to be playing in this game for the AFC Championship. It's been a lot of hard work all year by our staff and our players, by our football team to get to this position. It will be a great challenge for us Sunday going to Denver, playing the top ranked team in the AFC. They've had a terrific year from the opening game against Baltimore, all the way through the season. They've been a strong football team. They showed it again last week against San Diego. Offense, defense, special teams – they made big plays in all those areas. They're a well balanced team. They have a good level of experience. They're well coached. They've been a good football team all year. I have a lot of respect for that entire organization, for John [Fox], his staff and the players on that team. We need to have a good week; we need to play our best football out there Sunday. I think this team understands that and that's what we're going to work toward all week. I think that, again, it's been a long, tough road to get to this point. We've faced a lot of great competition along the way. Now we're playing the top ranked team in the AFC. We're looking forward to the matchup. We know it's going to be a challenge but we're looking forward to it.

Q: I know the injury report will come out later today –

BB: Correct, it will. We'll talk about that when it comes out.

Q: No sneak peeks?

BB: No, we're not going through it player by player. I'm not doing that. I know we'd love that, but I'm not doing that.

Q: Champ Bailey and Shaun Phillips are two players who have been in search of that Super Bowl ring. What's your appraisal of these two players who have been around for so long and what do they bring to Denver?

BB: Champ's pretty close to the face of that franchise, has been for the last decade. Great player, great ball skills, tremendous consistency. I think Champ is one of the players that, [what] makes him so special is he can just match up against anybody. [You] can put him on big receivers, can put him on tight ends, can put him on little, fast guys. You can put him on anybody you want. He's always been able to cover the top players; excellent run force player, good tackler, tough, very instinctive. He's been a great football player. He's had a great career. Shaun has been excellent, in the [3-4] defense out in San Diego most of the time he played outside linebacker and then defensive end in their sub defenses. Physical player on the edge, good pass rusher. Again, a very instinctive guy; does a good job of recognizing things, taking advantage of offensive mistakes or getting the anticipation of plays that are coming based on his experience and his understanding. I've had both players in the Pro Bowl: good to work with, solid guys. I'm sure they bring a lot to their team.

Q: You played the Broncos in late November. How much do you think you can take away from that first matchup or do you see two different teams?

BB: I think we're going to see a different team. I don't know about different teams, but I think we're going to see a different game. The matchups – we have some players that are playing in this game that didn't play in that game and so do they. We'll just have to see how it all plays out. But the guys that we have and what we have, we're going to do our best to be ready to go and matchup with them. There are some new faces out there as well. We'll just have to see how all that unfolds. It's just like any time you play a team twice: I think you look at what happened but you have to erase the board and start all over again.

Q: How does your longstanding relationship with Tom Brady and your familiarity help you in a game of this magnitude?

BB: I don't really look at this game any different than a lot of the other games. I meet with Tom on a regular basis; meet with the quarterbacks on a regular basis weekly all year long. We'll do the same thing this week that we've done every other week.

Q: You guys know each other so well. When's the last time he surprised you?

BB: This morning. [Laughter]

Q: What did he surprise you with?

BB: We'll keep that between Tom and I.

Q: The fans are really excited about LeGarrette Blount. Can you talk about the impact he's had here at the end of the season? Also, have you ever had any trouble figuring out how to pronounce his name?

BB: That's why we go with LG, make it easy there. LeGarrette has given us good football all year long, he really has. Certainly he's had some outstanding games recently, but he's been a solid player for us all the way through. You go back to the Atlanta game, that was a big game for us on the road. He did a great job in that game; gave us an explosive play that we really needed to win. I think everybody has a lot of confidence in him. He's done a good job in the passing game. He's caught a couple check-downs, screen passes and stuff like that. Obviously the kickoff games have been big for us, were big for us in the Buffalo game. He's run the ball well. He has a great skill set: good vision, good size, good quickness, good speed, he's a hard guy to tackle. I think he's been solid; he's been a solid player for us all year long. All of our backs – Brandon [Bolden] played a lot in the first game, Shane [Vereen] has given us a lot of good plays, Stevan [Ridley] has given us a lot of good plays, LeGarrette has given us a lot of good plays. We feel like we have a lot of depth at that position. All those guys have contributed. Whichever guy is in the game we have a lot of confidence in.

Q: Knowing how much Peyton Manning has done at the line over the course of his career, how much more do you see this group and coaching staff doing as they play more together and get comfortable?

BB: I don't know, you'd have to ask them. I don't really know. I don't get the sense that they change every play, if that's what you're referring to. I think if they have a play called and they get a bad look, that they get to something better. That's what I think they do. So how many times does that come up? I don't know. When it comes up, then they do something about it. I don't see them run a lot of bad plays into plays that just have no chance. I don't think they go up to the line and call a different play four or five times every play. I just don't see that, but you'll have to ask them.

Q: When you're in the red zone, does the running game change at all – how you can call plays and what plays you're more likely to call?

BB: I think it changes a lot from the standpoint that the defensive backs really become linebackers, especially as you get – obviously it's different if it's on the five and if it's on the 20. When the ball is down there inside the 10 or certainly inside the five-yard line, those safeties are linebackers. You're not really blocking linebackers anymore, you're blocking spots and somebody has to get them or you have to run over them. It's as simple as that. I think your running game down there involves a lot more in terms of your receivers blocking run force or formationing to get the run force out of the way or having free guys. You don't mind having a free safety as the unblocked guy on a running play and you get to the line of scrimmage and he tackles you and you gain 10, 12, 15 yards, whatever it is. Down there on the goal line it's a different story. Those guys can make the play at or behind the line of scrimmage, especially if the play isn't a quick hitting direct play. So you have to account for them. Defensively that gives you a lot more opportunity to stunt, pinch guys inside because you have extra force players, so forth, they're a lot closer to the line of scrimmage. I think it changes the running game quite a bit, I really do.

Q: When you see a team that's as disciplined at the line of scrimmage as San Diego is commit five neutral zone infractions, what do you tell your guys about the line between being aggressive and not being penalized?

BB: First of all, I think you have to give a lot of credit to Denver on that, Manning. They did a great job with the snap count. They do a good job mixing it up anyway, but they certainly did a good job of doing some of the things that they had done maybe all year, or certainly for a number of weeks and putting a variation to them. That was very effective. You're right. San Diego is a good football team. They played them twice already this year, they have a very good understanding of what they're doing and they got them. We have to be really disciplined, very alert. That's always been a big part of Peyton's game, is controlling the defensive front, however he does it with the fake cadence, double cadence, hard counts, so forth. We have to do a great job, be disciplined there. Nobody does it better than them and that's a big challenge for us to a, not show what we're doing and be aggressive and not be offside.

Q: What are your thoughts on playing your first road playoff game since 2007?

BB: We play eight games on the road every year.

Q: You're 4-4 on the road this year.

BB: I think if we play well, we'll have a good chance to win. If we don't play well, I don't think we'll have a good chance to win. But I think it's like that every Sunday home or away.

Q: Can you talk about what you and Tom Brady have accomplished together – one of the longest running coach-quarterback combinations in NFL history – and what it's meant to your career?

BB: I appreciate the question, but really right now we're just focused on this game. Whatever we have or haven't done, maybe some other time we can talk about that. We're on the Broncos right now. That's all that matters is this game. Not what did or didn't happen however many years ago.

Q: It's been nearly 10 years since you won the Super Bowl. How does that affect you? Does that make you more committed?

BB: Every time we go out on the field we expect to win and we prepare to win. It doesn't matter whether it's a regular season game, postseason game, whatever game it is. We take the same approach to every game. We expect to win and we prepare to win.

Q: Can you talk about LeGarrette Blount off the field and in the meeting rooms?

BB: I think LeGarrette's been great. He's been a good teammate. I think he has a good relationship with all the players, coaches on the team, defensive guys, defensive coaches, defensive players, all that. Look, he's a competitive guy who wants to do well. He works hard at his game. He tried to improve. He has improved. He's done the things we've asked him to do. When a player does that, I don't think he can do anything but earn the respect of all the people around him. I think that's what he's done. Look, you get what you earn. And everything he's gotten, he's earned. Nothing has been given to him. He's earned everything he's gotten. I think that's totally respected by everybody in the organization.

Q: The interior of your offensive line was so effective against Indianapolis. Can you talk about those guys and a little bit about what Denver offers on the other side with their line?

BB: Denver's really strong on the defensive line. Obviously [Terrance] Knighton and [Sylvester] Williams, two big physical guys. They're hard to block in there. I think our guys have done a good job. That group has been able to have continuity together: Logan [Mankins], Dan [Connolly], Wendy [Ryan Wendell]. They work well together. It's important and that includes Nate [Solder] and Marcus [Cannon] too, really because on the offensive line you have five guys to block five guys. That's what it comes down to. If you include the tight end, you have six for six. After the snap, those guys move, they stunt, the linebackers flow and so forth. Our five have to get their five. We have to all see it the same way. We have to be in unison in our blocking techniques, our footwork and our recognition of the defense after the snap once the play unfolds. Those guys do a great job of that. They study together. They spend a lot of extra time in the film room communicating and watching film and making sure that they see the games, the pass rush, the flow of the linebackers stunts in the running game, all those things. If one guy sees something that he can alert somebody on the other side of the line of a twist or a stunt or something that they're doing that might affect everybody. Their communication, the execution and just everybody being able to see the game through one set of eyes is so key at that position with that group. Those guys do a really good job of it and they have all year.

Q: Whatever is the case with Tom Brady today, do you have any reason to doubt his availability for Sunday?

BB: We'll give the injury report later on this afternoon.

Q: Denver did not have Julius Thomas in the first game. Jacob Tamme had a good game for them. Do they utilize Tamme similarly to how they use Thomas on a regular basis?

BB: He did. Yeah, I would say that their offense is very broad, but if you watch enough games. If you watch four, five, six games, then you see their offense. You start to see some things repeat. They'll pick out certain things they want to use in this game or that game, but over a broader look they have their system and they have some variations But I would say overall they don't put in like 20 new plays each week. That's not really their thing. But they do have some little modifications. They have a couple game plan things to attack each individual team. But I would say overall that Tamme and Thomas perform similar roles. You're right: Tamme was effective. He definitely had some production against us and he's had some production in the kicking game as well. Look, we saw him when he was in Indianapolis. We know he's a good player. Thomas is obviously an explosive player. We're going to have to be ready for both of them. Do they basically do the same things in their offense? I would say yeah. They split Tamme out against us; they split Thomas out. Seam routes and all that, so I would say pretty similar.

Q: We're seeing a matchup by two elite quarterbacks. How do you prepare for this? What do you see in this game?

BB: We prepare for the Denver Broncos' entire football team. Obviously Manning is a great quarterback. There's no question about that. But the Broncos are a good football team. They're good on defense, they're good in the kicking game, they have a good running game, they have a lot of good receivers, a lot of good offensive linemen. We have to prepare for the entire team. Peyton certainly is a key guy in it; the offense runs through him, but we have to do a good job on everybody. He's as good as we're going to face – as good as we have faced. It will be a big challenge for us. I think our defensive football team realizes that and we'll be out there Sunday to do our very best at defending not only him, but the other 10 guys that are out there with him. They're all pretty good too. Big challenge, we're looking forward to it.

Q: What do you think about the fact that Tom and Peyton are always compared?

BB: That's your job.

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