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Bill Belichick Press Conference Transcript: 'Always a lot of unknowns on opening day'

Patriots Head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday, September 3, 2014.


BB: ** We're in a regular game week now. Wednesday is Wednesday; our big day of preparation today. We'll need it. Miami is obviously a good football team. They handled us down there last year and gave us a real competitive game up here. I think they're good in all areas. I think Coach [Joe] Philbin has done a good job with that team. They're good on defense – they have a good front, they have good cover guys, they have a good scheme, do a lot of different things. Offensively, they've got good skill players, a lot of guys that can make plays – receivers, backs, tight ends, quarterback. They're always good in the kicking game, we know that. They put a lot of pressure on your specialists. Protection is certainly an issue for us. Good return game. A lot of big guys on their special teams units – linebackers, big, physical unit, one of the biggest probably we'll see all year. Real good snapper, [John] Denney, experienced. A lot of good players, good coaches, good scheme. We'll have our hands full.

Q: What are the challenges between Knowshon Moreno and Lamar Miller and how different are their skill sets?

BB: They're both good players – run hard, good in space. [Damien] Williams, they've all been productive; all good.

Q: How much of a jump is this for the rookies, installing a game plan and getting ready?

BB: I'm sure it's a jump for them. I'm sure it's a big jump. Personnel, we can really zero in on that, much more so than we have, knowing the differences between the different players that they'll be facing, the schemes. Of course, there's an element unknown in this game. In a way it's harder, in a way it's easier because it's much more specific. There are a lot of things in training camp, we kind of have everything against everything. We have all our plays, we have all their plays. That's not the way it is now. We've got our stuff narrowed down specifically to what our opponent is doing. In that respect, it's less. But, in terms of detail and specifics, it's a lot more. So, it balances out, I don't know.

Q: Is this a good time to see where they are – these next couple days?

BB: I think we'll find out where everybody is by the time we get a few regular season games under our belt. I don't know. I don't think we're going to find anything out in one day; I don't think we're going to find anything out in one game. We'll know more but it will be an accumulation of plays and games that add up to eventually give us a picture. I don't think you can base it on just one thing. It's too long of a season.

Q: How much growth of you seen from Sealver Siliga after spending the offseason with the team?

BB: He came in and had a real good spring, real good training camp until the Washington week and then he's been able to do what he can do, but there have been some limitations. But he's obviously way, way, way ahead of where he was last year when he came in mid-season and was on the practice squad and worked his way up to the roster. He's much further ahead than that.

Q: What makes Charles Clay a tough guy to deal with?

BB: He's shifty and he's fast. He's got good run-after-catch skills. He's a hard guy to match up with.

Q: Size-wise, he's not what you'd call a huge tight end.

BB: No. No, I wouldn't say his size; I'd say it's his quickness, his speed, his ability as a vertical receiver. He can really hurt you down the field, not that he can't hurt you in short areas but he's certainly a 20, 30, 40-yard type of guy when they hit him on those seams and overs, vertical routes.

Q: Miami formations him in so many different spots and puts some stress on the defense I would think.

BB: Yeah, you have to find him. He's all over. Sometimes he's in the normal tight end location but you certainly can't count on that; flex, could be in the backfield, could be detached as a receiver. Yeah, they move him around.

Q: What do you expect to see out of their revamped offensive line and how difficult is it to prepare for them considering none of their starters are returning for this game?


BB: ** Every team in the league has new players on their roster. I don't think we should pretend that that's anything unique to anybody. We have them, they have them, every team in the league has them. I think we'll see what we've seen in preseason. They basically played six guys in there in some kind of rotation of players. [Ja'Wuan] James is a good young tackle. Dallas Thomas missed last year so he's a second-year player but he's kind of like a rookie, he didn't get much playing time last year. They have a couple young players and they have some experienced players, like [Samson] Satele, [Branden] Albert is one of the best tackles in the league; Shelley Smith. They have a good group of players; [Daryn] Colledge. Those guys all have experience and now they've been working together all through training camp and in the spring so I'm sure they'll be ready to go.

Q: How much of a challenge is the defensive line with Olivier Vernon and Cameron Wake?

BB: Well, it's all of them – [Randy] Starks and obviously [Earl] Mitchell and [Jared] Odrick. They're all good players. Yeah, they're well balanced. It's, I'd say, one of the best fronts, defensive lines, that we'll see all year. They're physical, they run well, they're tough, use their hands well, they're aware, big blocking schemes. They don't really get fooled much. It's good. It's one of the, again, one of the strongest units that we'll see all year. [They] do a real good job.

Q: Are your emotions leading up to the season any different than Week 2 or Week 3? Is there anything special about the first game?

BB: I'd say there are just more unknowns. I think each year has its own – the opener has its own set of unanswered questions, unknowns. We know a little bit more about our team each week. We've been with them, but once we get to the regular season, opening day and the succeeding games, we'll continue to learn. I'm not really sure what we have. I'm not sure anybody knows what they have. I don't know what they have. We'll see how it goes. I'm sure there will be some matchups that we'll be alright with. I'm sure there will be other matchups that we won't be alright with. We'll see how that plays out in succeeding weeks and if there's a pattern or not a pattern or whatever. There are always a lot of unknowns on opening day. This year is no exception.


Q: ** How hard has Rob Gronkowski worked up to this point off the field and on the field?

BB: Rob always works hard. I don't think that's really ever been an issue since he's been here. He works hard in the weight room, works hard in the film room, in the meetings and he works hard on the field. I don't think you could ever question Rob's work ethic. I never have. I think it's always one of the best on our team.

Q: Is that why he's an exception to the rule that he cannot play a single snap in the preseason and still put himself in the position to be ready to play?

BB: I think we're going to see a lot of guys in the league – we have other guys on our team that will probably fall into that category too – didn't play a lot in preseason that will play Sunday. I'm sure every team has guys in that category.

Q: We saw a lot of different guys play next to Devin McCourty during training camp and the preseason. What might the advantage be for you guys as a team and as a defense to picking one guy and playing him most of the situations? Would there be an advantage to that?

BB: Probably would be. [It] would probably give you more continuity.

Q: Against a hurry-up team, would that help substitution-wise?

BB: I mean, I don't think they're going to – if they don't substitute, it's going to be hard for us to substitute. But, I don't know who they're going to have in the game. They use different personnel groups. Whoever they have in the game, if they go quicker with that group, then they go quicker with that group. I'm sure we'll have to leave our group on the field. It would be hard to sub in those situations. If they change, we change to match them. We've done both – we have, we haven't. I don't know. It would depend on, again, what groups they use and what the situations are and so forth. Look, if you want to substitute a player to get a matchup then the advantage is, you've substituted to get that matchup. If you don't substitute, then you take the matchups that you have and have more continuity possibly. There're tradeoffs no matter which way you do it.

Q: What kind of leadership has Dan Connolly shown this offseason?

BB: Dan has had a real good year. He's had a real good spring, good training camp, been out there every day. He's been a versatile guy, as he always has. He's always been ready to play all three spots plus contribute in the kicking game. He's a sharp guy, works hard and had a good offseason. He was able to train throughout the bulk of the offseason and he's done a solid job for us at really a number of positions.

Q: Is Cameron Wake still as explosive as he was a couple years ago?

BB: Sure looks like it, [yes]. That whole defensive line is, you can pick any of them, they're all good. They're all fast, explosive, have good technique, play with high motors, strong. It's good, it's a real good group.

Q: With a group that talented, is it more difficult to focus your attention on someone like Wake?

BB: Yeah, sure. You can't – you could probably pick out one guy if you wanted to and depending on what the front is. And they pressure enough to where you can't always get help where you want to because you have to block the linebacker or secondary player that's blitzing – they do plenty of that. Even if you want to help on one guy, then you still have to deal with the other guys. They do a good job of that. They do a good job of recognizing who has the best chance and those guys rush very aggressively and the guys that get doubled or have less of an opportunity on that particular play, they kind of are ready to replace the penetrating rusher and that type of thing. It's well coordinated. They do a good job and the players are good – they're all good.

Q: Is it safe to say that the film from last year and playing them twice is a little more advantageous that preseason Dolphins film?

BB: It depends on what part of the game you're talking about. I think there are some things from last year that have a lot of relevance and there are other things that have a lot less relevance. It would depend on what part of the game you're talking about.

Q: Offense, defense.

BB: They changed offensive coordinators so their offensive style is a lot different than it was last year. I don't think stopping last year's offense is really the answer. What they're doing now is different than what they did last year. Defensively, Kevin Coyle is, it's essentially the same defense. They've obviously made some modifications, they have [Cortland] Finnegan and Mitchell, there's some different personnel there but a lot of the scheme is the same. A lot of the scheme is the same in the kicking game but again they have a couple new guys in their core but scheme-wise I'd say more changes on offense. It depends on what you're talking about.

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