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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Tue Apr 23 - 02:00 PM | Wed Apr 24 - 11:55 AM

Bill Belichick Press Transcript - 1/15

Belichick: We are going to go outside and work in the stadium. It will be good to get some fresh air and get the blood flowing.



            **BB:**  There are no changes to the injury report.  We are going to go outside and work in the stadium.  It will be good to get some fresh air and get the blood flowing.  Otherwise it is just a normal preparation week here – third down, red area, some of the situational things that this time of year we have seen in these playoff games and how close they have been.  I think six of the eight of them have come down to the last possession or been in overtime, that type of thing.  Every play, every situation could potentially be the one that decides it so we will do everything we can to be well prepared in those and hope we can execute them if the situation presents itself.  So, go ahead and fire away.  Not all at once.  Just one at a time.  

**Q: [Laughter] The weather forecasters are saying it is dangerously cold out there. Is it okay to practice in that?

BB:** I think we will be all right.

**Q: How essential is it to get pressure on Peyton Manning this week?

BB:** Well, anytime you can disrupt the passing game, that does more for you than anything else. The combination of the quarterback that is throwing and the receivers that are catching, you have to do something to somebody. If you don't, then when you are going against players like the Colts have, they are going to hit them. So, it is very important.

**Q: What are some of the things that Damon Huard is doing this week to help with the preparations?

BB:** Every week we have a lot of different challenges. One of the big challenges this week is the offensive scout team, running the plays and simulating them the way that Indianapolis runs them for our defense. Damon is doing a great job of that. Of course, I am sure that he has a little bit of familiarity with it with his brother there. Damon is a sharp guy and he has given our defense a good look and that is really important because you can't prepare for the game without practicing for it and try to get it simulated as close as we can to the way they do it, he did a really good job of it yesterday.

**Q: Given your success against Peyton, does it give you more of an edge? Does that even matter?

BB:** I don't think any of those games matter. Some of them were so long ago, it is hard to find too many common denominators in any of them. This game is about what happens this week. I don't think what happened in 1998 or 1999, I don't think that matters.

**Q: How are you and your staff preparing your younger players for the extra attention this week?

BB:** I think our emphasis for them is to make it a normal week of normal preparations. Do what your normally do and then do a little bit more. That is kind of the motto this week. We know what is at stake and there is nothing to save it for. We have had some success this season and I think that by doing things the way we are doing them, there must be something being done right, but at the same time, we are going against our stiffest test this week. We want to do a little bit more than we usually do to try to make sure that we are as well prepared as we can possibly be for this one.

**Q: Coach, could you go back in time…

BB:** How far back?

**Q: Well, Tom Brady, he wasn't a starter when you came, [Drew] Bledsoe was the starter. In training camp and in preseason did you have any signs that he had the ability to be a starter and to be a winner?

BB:** Well he won in college and the way he handled himself here his rookie year even though a lot of times he was the fourth quarterback, not even the third, I thought was good. We had a big rookie class, not all draft choices, but rookie free agents and all of that. They ran their plays after practice and did all of the extra assignments the rookies did. I thought that he did a real good job that year of kind of taking control of that group. If things weren't going well or we wanted something done, you could just say, 'Tom I want you take care of this with the rest of these guys.' And it got taken care of pretty well. I thought he made a lot of improvement from his first year to his second year. By the end of training camp he was competing for the second spot, not the third. And he ended up winning that and then had an opportunity to play there at the end of the Jets game and going into the Indianapolis game. I think it was a progression. I don't think it was any one moment or one play or one throw that did it. But I think it was a lot of hard work in the weight room, a lot of hard work in the film room and a lot of execution on the practice field that led to a higher level of performance. Ted Marchibroda told me a long time ago, it was my first year in the league, 'It is better to be prepared and never have the opportunity than to have the opportunity and not be prepared.' I think there is a lot of truth to that. You do all you can to be prepared and then when the opportunity strikes, if you are prepared, you will be able to take advantage of it.

**Q: If your starting quarterback hadn't got hurt, would he have had the opportunity?

BB:** Who knows what would have happened? You can't predict what is going to happen in this game or in this league. I don't know. All I know is what did happen and those are the events that led up to him being prepared to be in that position and then the opportunity presented itself.

**Q: When you say 'Take care of this', what do you mean by that?

BB:** Like if one or two rookies were late for the meeting, the rookies come in earlier than everybody else, so if they are late for it, then you just tell Tom, 'Hey look tell the rest of these rookies, the next time they are late, we are going to move this meeting back to 6:00 AM. Do you want to come in at 6:00 AM? That is the way it is going to be, just let them know that.' Then they are all on time. They get there and one guy is not there and they call him and round them up and [say], 'Hey you better get over here or we're all going to have to come in at 6:00 AM.' And then they are all there. I don't know how they got there, but they are there. Stuff like that.

**Q: Can you describe the faith you have in Eugene Wilson and Asante Samuel going into this game as rookies?

BB:** They have been playing all year. Again, at this point, this is the 18th game not counting preseason, so I don't know at what point a rookie becomes not a rookie but I think those guys have been through pretty much everything they are going to go through. They have seen the formations. They have seen the plays. They have played against a lot of the players they have played against a second time whether it be [Drew] Bledsoe, Manning or [Steve] McNair or whoever it happens to be. We have had a lot of repeat games. I think that they have learned a lot. They certainly have a long way to go. We wouldn't put them out there if we didn't have confidence in them and they will be out there on Sunday.

**Q: Did you share with Tom the Marchibroda advice about preparation or did he already have that coming in? He seems to really be a guy that is such a prepared guy.

BB:** I think that is the way he has gone about it and I think that goes way back to before Tom and I were even together. I think that goes back to Michigan and probably all the way back to high school or maybe with his parents. I am sure it did.

**Q: So his preparation is something that struck you when he came in?

BB:** I think it was good and I think it has gotten better. I do think it has gotten better. Until you get into the National Football League, you are not in the NFL. Preparation at one level, I am sure it is hard, I am sure there is a lot to it. I think there is even more to it at this level. There are a lot more things to study, a lot more things to worry about, especially at that position. I think he was well prepared, but I think his preparation and his film study and his understanding not only what we are doing but also what our opponents are doing is better than it was a couple of years ago, which it should be.

**Q: Phil Simms said that when he was the Giants quarterback that one of the key things he tried to keep in mind was that he needed to be an extension of the coaching staff. Do you see Brady as an extension of you on the field?

BB:** We have never talked about it in those terms. I think that Tom is one of the captains and he is one of the leaders on the team without a doubt. I think that leadership can come in a lot of different forms and a lot of different styles. I think he has a very effective style. I don't think it is necessarily like mine or mine is like his but I think that you can be effective in different ways and I think that he is very effective at it. But I have never talked to him specifically about that, about 'You have to be me.' I don't think that would work.

**Q: Coach you have six players on this team who are competing in their third AFC Championship game with this team. Do you call upon them to lend experience to the other players? Or is that overrated?

BB:** I don't think it is overrated. I don't think it is underrated. I mean, it is what it is. Guys that have been there before can lend something about their experience to players who haven't [experienced it]. We have a lot of experienced players on this team. I don't know if being in two is that much better than being in one in terms of experience or being in three is better than being in two. I don't know. Whatever you have, you have. I think Rodney Harrison has a lot of experience to share with the younger players, so does Willie McGinest, so does Tedy Bruschi, so does Troy Brown and I am sure they all do it in their own individual way to different guys and I think it is positive.

**Q: So is it more individually based than not something that is orchestrated by you?

BB:** I think most of it, on this team, I think it is an unselfish team. I think it is something that happens. I haven't had to go along and prod it a lot at times. There have been times where I would definitely say, 'Would you talk to so-and-so,' or, 'Would you mention this to this group of guys, I think it would really be helpful coming from you?' Yes, I have definitely said that. Not that frequently. I think that, again, it is an unselfish group. I think they are looking at team-oriented goals and whatever they can do to help the team then they are a part of it. That comes all across the board – from the starters, from back ups, from special teams guys, from guys that are inactive, to guys that are playing every play. I think it comes from a lot of different areas and I think that is a good feeling on team. It is positive.

**Q: You talked about Ted Marchibroda. Are there any other coaches whose management style you have borrowed from?

BB:** In my first four years in the league I worked for four different head coaches in three different cities. Five years, four cities, five coaches, let's put it that way. So Marchibroda, [Rick] Forzano, [Tommy] Hudspeth, [Red] Miller and [Ray] Perkins. That was a lot of exposure not only to those coaches, but also to the assistants on their staff and to the other people around him—the general managers and personnel people and all that. I would say in those first five years that I had in the league I was exposed to a lot of coaches, a lot of different philosophies, a lot of different teaching styles, a lot of different philosophies and probably took something from all of them. I don't think there is any one person in that five year time frame that I could just say, '90 percent of it came from him and ten percent from everybody else.' It was from a lot of people—Fritz Shurmer, Jerry Glanville, Joe Bugel, Floyd Reese, Joe Collier, you can go right down the line. There were a lot of them. Richie McCabe and so on.

**Q: How do you make a team unselfish?

BB:** I don't think you do. I think you put the team together and then those people become what they become. I don't' think at this point you can take 53 guys, put them all together and say, 'ok, this is what you guys are going to be.' I think that they all have to come together somehow themselves to a large degree on that. I think the chemistry is something that you can't orchestrate. You put it in the pot and then it comes together and has its own aroma.

**Q: Is that your number one goal as a coach?

BB:** My number one goal is to win. That is the number one goal.

**Q: Don't they go together?

BB:** I have been on teams that have had selfish players, or I would say more selfish than others, let's put it that way. I think the number one goal is to win. There are a lot of different personalities, a lot of different ways of doing things, a lot of different ways of coming together and sometimes that can be done in a positive way if it is handled properly.

**Q: Then does it take luck to have chemistry?

BB:** I don't think it is about luck. I think if you know the people that you are putting together, my experience has been that if you put a certain type of people together, you have a pretty good idea of the way that they are going to form and what direction it is going to head in. Not specifically because anytime you go through a season you are going to have specific events in your season that are going to either dictate or have an influence on your season. You can't control those. Two years ago a situation like 9/11, that had a huge impact on everybody's season. There is no way you can orchestrate those things. You have to react to those and deal with them, but you put the elements in place and then as you go forward there are certain things that help define that team and the bond within that team.

**Q: Have you seen Bethel Johnson progress as far as catching the ball? I remember him being inconsistent.

BB:** I think he has had good hands. I thought he caught the ball well in college. I thought he caught the ball pretty well when he got here and all the way through. Like any receiver he has dropped some. You can't find anybody that hasn't. I think his hands are good. I think they have been good. Hopefully they will continue to improve, as they should. I don't think that has really been a big problem.

**Q: On the reverse against Tennessee, when he reversed the field, you were on that sideline watching the play.

BB:** Well it started out on the other sideline and ended up back on our sideline.

**Q: Right. Were you going crazy on the sideline?

BB:** I am not big on those plays. I think when it is third and whatever it was—third and nine, third and ten—

**Q: Third and thirteen.

BB:** Ok, third and thirteen. I think he caught the ball for maybe a three or four yard gain, so had he been tackled there it is fourth and nine. I think if you are going to do that—Troy [Brown] had one of those plays for us a few weeks ago, a similar type of play where he reversed his field—I think in that kind of situation, third and long, where you have part of the distance that you need, if you are going to try and gain some extra yards those are the plays to do it if you are going to do it. If you lose a couple there it is not as bad. When you do that on first down and instead of it being second and six, it ends up second and fourteen, I don't think that is really the way to go. So no, it is not something I am just nuts about but situationally I think it could have a place and if the player has enough skill to make it happen then you pat him on the butt when he comes off and say, 'great play. Nice job.'

**Q: Did he know what the situation was?

BB:** Well I think he knew it was third down. I think he knew he was short of the first down.

**Q: Do you think that is why he did it?

BB:** I think he was trying to make a play. I'm saying I think that it was a good time to try and make it. I wouldn't recommend it if you are in field goal range and now you are running back out of field goal range to try to gain a couple more yards. It was situational.

**Q: When Tom Brady made that block on that play how did you feel about that? When Bethel is trying to make a play and Tom makes a block, how did you feel about that?

BB:** That is what he is supposed to do.

**Q: That doesn't bother you?

BB:** When a quarterback makes a block? No. That is what he is supposed to do. No.

**Q: Most coaches would rather their quarterback get out of the way.

BB:** No. You will never hear me say that. No. He is a football player. If we have a misdirection play and he is out in front of the play then that is what he is supposed to do, just take out the guy who is trying to get the ball. If they intercept a pass then he is supposed to go over there and make a tackle. That is football. We can't run him off the field.

**Q: What kind of year has [Mike] Vrabel had?

BB:** Good. Mike has had a good year. He had an arm injury earlier in the year, but he came back and probably has shown as much toughness as any player that we have and I think we have a lot of tough players, but I would put him right up there. He has done a good job rushing the passer, he has done a good job on coverage, he has done a good job in the running game. I think he has had an all-around solid season. He has had a lot of big plays for us. Mike is a very vocal guy that has a lot of leadership on the team. I think he is well respected and he is smart. He is really I think one of the smarter football players that I have had the privilege to coach. He gets things in a hurry and can make adjustments very quickly.

**Q: Can you characterize the type of year that Willie [McGinest] has had?

BB:** I think a lot of the same things that I just said about Mike. Willie has had a lot of big plays for us. He has done great job of pass rushing. He has had some big plays in coverage. He had the interception a couple of weeks ago. He has done a super job in the running game. The Houston game as an example, he made a couple of big stops there. He has made them all year. I think he has really done an outstanding job in all the areas that he has been asked to contribute in. He has worked well with some different linemen inside, whether it be [Dan] Klecko or [Richard] Seymour, Jarvis [Green] in sub situations, however that has gone. We ask him to do a lot of things and I think he has done them all pretty well.

**Q: Can you talk about the year that Roman Phifer has had?

BB:** Well Roman just keeps trucking along. He is an amazing athlete for his age and at the position he is in and the amount he is involved. Once again he is—I don't know what it is—one hundred tackles or whatever it was this year. He is in on a lot of plays. He is very athletic. He is a smart player. He is excellent in coverage, one of our best coverage players. He adds a lot of versatility to our unit because of the things he can do. He plays in the kicking game when he is asked to. Roman is very unselfish. He has a lot of experience and adds a lot of athleticism to the group.

**Q: Given the recent emergence of [Brandon] Stokley as the slot receiver—

BB:** I wouldn't say it is all that recent. When he was playing in the middle of the year I thought he was pretty productive then too. Whenever he has been in there he has been productive. It doesn't matter who is in there. They are all productive. [Troy] Walters has been productive, [Reggie] Wayne, [Marvin] Harrison, Stokley. I didn't mean to cut you off but they all have a lot of production.

**Q: How much time have you had to spend trying to figure out ways to try to stop them?

BB:** It is definitely a problem. It is definitely a problem. Again, all of their receivers are problems. [Marcus] Pollard and all the wideouts. You have to put Pollard in that group too. And they throw to [Edgerrin] James and [Dominic] Rhodes out of the backfield, so you have to account for everybody. They are all part of the passing game. They are all part of the production. If you try to overload one guy—we saw what Wayne did earlier in the year, he had whatever it was, 150 yards in one game. Those kind of things, any one of them can kill you. Pollard caught the 73-yard screen pass against Jacksonville. You better pay attention to all of them, but Stokley has done a great job for them. He has given them a real presence on some big plays in the latter part of the season down the middle. He is tough.

**Q: Troy Brown has evolved a little bit. Does he still have your confidence as your go-to guy? Is he still a guy who, if you need a play, if it is fourth and three and you need the first down, you go to?

BB:** Right, fourth and three in a playoff game or handling a punt there late in the fourth quarter and in bad conditions getting it up field and setting up the field position that ultimately led to the field goal. We have tremendous confidence in Troy Brown. He is a football-playing dude now. Whatever you want him do. Whether it is rushing kicks on field goals, returning punts, blocking, catching, running. He is a good player. That is the kind of guy you want out there at a time like this.

**Q: Before used to catch the ball 90 to 100 times. For whatever reason you have spread the ball around more.

BB:** I don't think you are going to catch 100 balls if you miss as many games as he has missed. It is just unrealistic.

**Q: He has had to share the ball a little bit more than before. How does he handle that as far as getting receptions?

BB:** I think offensively we have had a number of different players step up in a number of different positions to be productive. I don't think there is really anything wrong with that. It's not one guy who is going to get the ball every time. We all know that. It is going to go to different people and it is going to go to wherever the coverages are light. I think there are a lot of people who have a lot of respect for Troy Brown in the league and sometimes that pulls more coverage into his area and less somewhere else.

**Q: With Adam Vinatieri and pressure kicks, is he just unfazed or un-rattled by those pressure situations?

BB:** I think Adam as much as any punter or kicker who I have worked with—Cliff Jennings is maybe the other guy in that category—he is just a football player. I know Adam is a kicker, but he is a football player. He does everything with the same intensity and the same mindset really I think that every other player on the team does, in terms of training and lifting weights and all those kinds of things. He is very poised and confident under pressure. If there is a kick that we need to have made, obviously we send him out there and we have total confidence that he is going to make it. He has come through many times.

**Q: Has he had back trouble that you know of?

BB:** I think all of our players have some sore muscles at this point in the season. They are out there, they are playing, they are working through [it]. If they are not on the injury report, they are playing.

**Q: With Ty Poole, how surprised are you with the year he has had?

BB:** I think with Tyrone you are talking about a guy who is a high draft choice, a significant player in a couple of other organizations, he has had a good track record in this league playing that position, so when we brought Tyrone in here and he signed here there was no doubt about his ability and talent level in a number of different areas, both at corner, playing as sub defense, returning punts. It was just a question of how it would fit in and how his skills and his talents would mesh with the system that we are running. I think obviously it has meshed well. He has done a terrific job. He has had an outstanding year. I think the things that we do and the way that he plays complement each other well, so it has been a good fit.

**Q: Has he had anything to prove?

BB:** You would have to ask him that. He had to come in and establish a role for himself on this team, which he did. He wasn't here before. That is obvious. And he did that. That was the situation here and I think that has all been accomplished.

**Q: Has Dan Koppen been a big surprise? Can you talk about that? And can you talk a little bit about Daniel Graham?

BB:** I think if you say in April, the fifth round draft choice at center is going to start, maybe you say that is a little bit of a surprise. That is probably not normal for the fifth round picks. I think when Koppen got here, going through training camp, going through the preseason games, as the process went along, no I don't think that it was that much of a surprise. He adapted very quickly to what we were doing. He was in a very good system at BC where there is excellent coaching. Offensive linemen come out of there every year and play in the league. I think Tom O'Brien does a great job with that program, particularly the offensive line, so not that big of a surprise really once he got in here and got going. Dan Graham has had some very productive games for us—the Cleveland game as an example. He has had some big catches—Houston, Buffalo games. He has had some big plays and there are some plays that I am sure he would like to have back or have over again. We could probably say that. We all could say that. I could say it as a coach and I am sure we have plenty of other players that could say it too. I think he has done a solid job for us blocking, and I think he is a solid player who has had some solid contributions for us this year, and I think there is room for it to get better.

**Q: In managing the injury report information, there have been times where a player may feel like they are being ridiculed because they are not on the injury report….

BB:** Wait a minute. You are telling me that the players want all the injury information out there, is that what you are saying?

**Q: Well, there was a situation with Bill Polian and Edgerrin James before where he was upset because he was not on it and felt like he was being put out there….

BB:** Okay, well I can't comment on that situation. I can just speak to our players and our situation. I am not really sure what you are referring to. I am not aware of that.

**Q: How do you manage it and what do you say to the players?

BB:** We comply with the league mandates and the league rules about injury information on a weekly basis to the best of our knowledge. There is no perfect situation when you are dealing with that because nobody can accurately predict exactly how long an injury is going to take. I remember when Michael Vick got hurt in preseason he was going to miss six weeks. He didn't play until December. There are plenty of cases where you can be wrong on that when you try to read that crystal ball. Our situation is we evaluate them day to day. When they are better and they are well enough to play we put them out there. When they are not, they don't.

**Q: Well have you ever had a situation where a player was upset because he was not listed on the injury report?

BB:** When I have been the head coach, I can't think of a situation on that, no.

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