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Bill Belichick Press Conference Transcript: 'We're on to Cincinnati'

BB:We've got a quick turnaround here. [We're] really diving into the Cincinnati preparations. This is really an impressive football team. I think Mike Brown, Coach [Marvin] Lewis [and] the organization have really done a good job of building this football team. They have a lot of good players. They're well coached. They're tough, they're physical, they're explosive. It's been a while since I've seen a team that's as complete as they are – even going back the past [years], they've been a playoff team here, but the way they started the season this year. Watching them through training camp, they're really a good football team. [They're] strong in all areas of the game – offense, defense, special teams. [They're] playing extremely well. Well coached, good fundamentals. Marvin has an excellent – I think they've got an excellent approach to the game as an overall team. They play to it and they do it consistently and they've done it consistently. It will be a big challenge for us Sunday night. Good to get back on the field today here and get going. They've been very impressive, watching the Bengals and where they're at. I'm sure coming off the bye week they'll be fresh and ready to go. They've played very well the first three weeks of the season.

Q:You referenced their approach. What is their approach if you had to describe it?

BB:They're tough, they're physical. They've done a great job on the turnovers. They've done a good job controlling the line of scrimmage. They're an explosive team that can make big plays, score from anywhere on the field on offense, on special teams and on defense, relative to strip-sacks and interception returns and things like that. They're a very dangerous and explosive team. They play hard for 60 minutes. There are no plays off. You can't turn your back. There's something – they run fakes in the kicking game. They have good returners; they can change field position on special teams. They can score on defense. They can grind it out on offense, but they can score from 80 yards too, with a number of different guys. All of the above.

Q:In light of the changes at coordinator for their offense and defense, have there been any noticeable changes?

BB:I think it's been pretty similar. They've promoted from within. Every year is a little bit different. There's always a couple new wrinkles or things, little adjustments and so forth. But I'd say the core of it is absolutely, it looks like it's Coach Lewis' system and whoever the coordinator is, they're doing what they do.

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Q: **Your team has been successful for so long. How difficult is it to adjust to the adversity of Monday night's game and get back on track? This team and organization hasn't had these sort of issues in the past.

BB:We're on to Cincinnati.

Q:You mentioned Tom Brady's age at the draft –

BB:We're on to Cincinnati.

Q:Do you think having a 37-year old –

BB:We're on to Cincinnati. It's nothing about the past, nothing about the future. Right now we're preparing for Cincinnati.

Q:Do you think the talent you have here is good?

BB:We're getting ready for Cincinnati.

Q:Do you think you've done enough to help Tom Brady?

BB:We're getting ready for Cincinnati. That's what we're doing.

Q:As you get ready for Cincinnati, does Tom Brady have the talent and protection around him?

BB:We're going to game plan, do the best we can to be ready to go Sunday night – same as we always do. Nothing's changed.

Q:We saw multiple combinations on the offensive line on Monday. Going forward in preparing for Cincinnati and teams you'll meet after them, how much closer are you to an offensive line that's going to be comfortable with the positions that they're in?

BB:We're going to put the best players out there this weekend that we can. We'll see how that plays out.

Q:How important is it to get continuity on the offensive line where everyone is comfortable around who is next to them?

BB:It's always important to have a good understanding of what we're doing and do it with teammates that we're comfortable with. I don't think anybody is against that.

Q:Are the problems you're seeing correctable?

BB:We're going to do the best we can to put together a game plan for Cincinnati and go and execute it well. That's where we're at.

Q:The things that you've seen on tape the first four weeks, do you think that's correctable with the talent that is here?

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BB: **We're going to put together the best game plan we can, practice it and go out and execute it against Cincinnati.

Q:You went through a nice characterization of Cincinnati's team and where they stand right now. How do you see your team as you come up against Cincinnati? How would you describe them?

BB:You can talk to Coach Lewis about that. Our job is to identify our opponent and prepare both in the classroom and on the practice field and then film study to play. That's what we're doing with Cincinnati.

Q:Do you think you're still searching for an identity and looking for answers?

BB:I think we're trying to find a way to beat the Bengals. That's what we're trying to do.

Q:With the number of sub packages and personnel matchups in the NFL, you need to get the right personnel on the field to attack the other team. Does, sometimes, it have a benefit to just simplify and just establish what you do well and then worry about trying to get matchups against certain defenses and looks? Is it better to dumb it down a little bit, whether it's offensively or defensively?

BB:There's a sweet spot in there somewhere. You're talking about going out and running the same play every play? I'm sure that would simplify it. I don't think that's the way to go. Different play on every play – that's the other extreme. There's a sweet spot somewhere in the middle. But you have to defend what you have to defend. What they put out there offensively you have to defend. What they do defensively you have to block or throw against, whatever the play is. If they run multiple fronts, then you're blocking multiple fronts. You're not blocking one front. If they run multiple coverages and multiple blitzes then you're blocking multiple coverages and multiple blitzes. If they use multiple personnel groups and multiple formations and multiple plays then that's what you're defending. If you want to defend it all in one call – if you can do that – then great. I mean, maybe that's possible in some cases. In some cases it's maybe harder to do.

Q:How do you go about defending Gio Bernard? He seems like one of the more dynamic backs in football right now.

BB:Yeah, he is. He's very good. He's very good in space. He can make a lot of people miss in terms of with the ball in his hands – running or passing. He's a very hard guy to tackle. He's quick, he's fast, he's got good vision, finds holes. He's a hard guy to get on the ground. He's a dangerous player.

Q:Would you say speed is his number one asset?

BB:No. He has good speed. His number [one] asset I'd say is his quickness and his balance. People get shots at him, but he avoids them or makes them miss or finds a way to get by them. I mean, he runs well. I'm not saying that. But it isn't like he outruns everybody – people get shots at him. They have a hard time getting him though.

Q:Even though they have two new coordinators, have you seen continuity with their system going forward? Have you seen wrinkles in their offense or defense plans?

BB:Yeah, just the way I answered the question before. It's basically the same system. Yeah, there are some modifications from last year, but the core of it is very similar. They promoted from within. The coaches were there and they're doing what they do well with I said, a few modifications.

Q:When your players say they have to do their job, does doing your job translate into exceling at your job? Has that been an issue?

BB:In this case, in preparing for a team like Cincinnati, doing your job means making sure that you have your job done first before you try to do something else. If you're responsible for a gap, you have to control that gap before you do something else. If you're responsible for a combination block, you have to make sure you get the first guy before you go to the second guy – that type of thing. It's making sure you take care of what you have to do before you try to extend beyond that so that we don't have an issue with the priority of what that job is.

Q:Have you had problems taking care of that first part before not even getting to move on?

BB:I think you want to try to do everything you can do. It's not that they don't want to do it. It's just make sure that the priorities are the priorities. Look, you can't stop everything. We could stand up here and list 50 things we have to stop for Cincinnati. We can't have a guy thinking about 50 things, so what is one, two and three? Alright, let's take care of one, two and three and we'll get to the other ones when we get to them. But let's make sure we take care of first things first. I'd say in doing your job, you have to start at the top. You have to prioritize what those things are and make sure you get those done first before you try to start talking about 48, 49 and 50.

Q:What kind of problems do the Bengals pose? You mentioned their toughness. What problems do they pose at the line of scrimmage on both sides?

BB:They have a lot of variety in their running game. They run power schemes, they run spread schemes, they run space schemes. They have multiple backs. They have some good perimeter plays as well with their receivers, which are kind of part of the running game. Defensively, they're big and strong up front. Their linebackers run well. They have real good team speed. The secondary tackles well. I'd say all those are issues.

Q:How much has A.J. Green evolved since coming to the NFL and what challenges does he present?

BB:Everything. He's really good. Good route runner, got great leaping ability, go up and take the ball away from defenders. Good runner after the catch with the ball in his hands. Excellent quickness, burst out of breaks. He can play at all three levels and excel at all three levels. He's one of the best receivers in the league.

Q:Going into Cincinnati, how are relationships and chemistry inside the locker room?

BB:I mean, everybody needs to do a good job preparing this week and go out there and play well to win. That's what it's about. That's what we need to do.

Q:Do we make too much of when it's a short week or you have extra time to prepare or is it really a tangible advantage or disadvantage?

BB:Well, I mean, look, all 32 teams in the NFL have the same schedule. So, with every long week is a short week; with every short week is a long week. It all evens out in the long run. So, take advantage of whatever your time is and do the best you can with it, whatever it is. If it's a bye week, if it's a Thursday night game, if it's whatever it is in between, try to use the time as efficiently as you can, get the most out of it. Some weeks you have the same amount of time as your opponents. Some weeks you have more; some weeks they have more. But in the end, you can only control what you can control and that's your opportunity. So, that's what we can control. We'll make the most out of what we have this week.

Q:Does the fact that Gio Bernard is paired with a 240-pound back in Jeremy Hill make it especially difficult because you're defending two backs who are pretty different from each other?

BB:Well, I mean, there's some of that. You don't get that all the time by any means. There's a lot of 11 personnel where he's the only back in there.

Q:I don't mean necessarily on the field together, but with them rotating in and out.

BB:Oh, you have to know who is in the game, no question. Yeah, you have to know who the backs are in the game. No doubt about that. I mean, they're both good and they have different styles and different tendencies I would say. But yeah, they have good players. Just like the receivers, they have a lot of good receivers and they move them around and you're not always sure which ones are going to be in the game. But you need to know who you're defending because they're not all the same. They're good, but they're not all the same.

Q:Hue Jackson said he wanted to use more of a running game to take the pressure off Andy Dalton. Are you seeing more use of two backs than you did last year?

BB:Well first of all, Marvin has talked about the running game for years and years. I don't think that's any news breaking story. They're really a 12 personnel team that with the injuries that they've had, are now less of a 12 personnel team, but there's still the same emphasis of the game that there was. It's just different personnel groups.

Q:When you go against a team that has shown a willingness to try to execute some trick plays, defensively how does that affect the quickness with which they can react?

BB:Again, I think it comes back to everybody doing their job. It isn't everybody's job to stop everything. It's one person's job to handle a certain responsibility, whatever that is. It's somebody else's job to handle other plays. If they're running a sweep one way, then you have to play the sweep. Somebody else has to play the reverse. One guy's not playing both plays. I think that's kind of the 'do your job' mentality of take care of what you have to take care of. Somebody else has to take care of what they have to take care of.

Q:When a team uses misdirection on trick plays, how does that dictate the defensive call? Is there a relationship between the two?

BB:As long as I've ever coached, every defense, you have to take care of those responsibilities. I've never coached a defense where you tell the players, 'Well, we don't have a reverse on this play if they run it, that would be a touchdown. Or if they run a halfback pass, nobody is responsible for that and that will be a touchdown. Or if they run an end-around, we don't really have that play.' I just don't think you could coach like that. Somebody has to be responsible for plays over, plays over there. If they start over there, then somebody has to be responsible for a play back there. If a guy reverses his field or they run a reverse or they throw a double pass or the quarterback peels out of the backfield. Whatever it is, there are fundamental responsibilities and those plays are part of the responsibilities. You just don't see them as often. I would say that's the thing. I don't think our defense or probably any other defense is designed to say, 'Well, if that guy runs a post pattern, we're not going to cover that.' Or, 'If that guy runs a reverse, we don't have that.' Somebody has it, but if you don't see it very often, you aren't thinking about it or maybe you're not respecting it enough and then it comes and it hits you. Then you don't see it again for another year, but the damage is done. That's the way I would characterize those plays. Not that there's not a way to defend them, not that there's a magic to the play, but it's a play you haven't seen that we're not practicing against because I'm sure the ones that they've already run, they're probably less inclined to run those. They're probably more inclined to run a new play that they're working on and that's the one that we'll have to react to in the game. That's the challenge of those plays. The challenge on the other side of it is the execution. Some play that you don't run very much, it's calling it at the right time to get maybe a look that you think will be good against that and then being able to execute it well. But I would say that the Bengals have done a very good job of executing those plays. Like [Mohamed] Sanu's passes. He throws the ball as well as a lot of quarterbacks do. He's very accurate and he's got a great touch and arm, but his accuracy is very good. So, they run those plays and it looks like, you see it's [number] 12 but you kind of think, 'Is that a quarterback?' 'No, it's the receiver throwing the ball.' So, they execute them well and they have a good design to them. But I don't think it's a case where you don't – you have the play defended, but you have to actually execute the defense of the play and it's a play you haven't seen or worked on so that sometimes can cause a problem.

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