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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Thu May 16 - 02:00 PM | Tue May 21 - 11:55 AM

Bill Belichick Press Transcript - 1/23

Belichick:

BB: No big updates from this end. We are plugging along and going through the different phases of our preparation for the Panthers, so we are kind of on a normal Thursday type of schedule today—not normal, but more like a Thursday than any other day. We are working on the red area, working on a couple of different phases of the kicking game and we will look at some third down situations and then we will just keep it moving through the week.

**Q: There aren't a lot of head coaches like Dante [Scarnecchia] in the league who have been with one franchise for decades.

BB:** Right.

**Q: There are a handful, Pittsburgh has one. What is it about those guys in general, and maybe Dante in particular, that allows them to serve so many different administrations that may have very different ideas?

BB:** Well I think that is really a great question. Number one I would say flexibility and being able to work in different styles or different points of emphasis and having a good knowledge base. Also, I think part of it probably comes from people giving up some of their career, maybe, aspirations for the sake of continuity. Sometimes in any career, football or anything else, sometimes you need to move to have a career promotion or advancement. Some people would rather not make that move and stay in one place for whatever the personal or professional reasons are and not do that. I am not saying any one of those is the reason. I think it may be a combination of those things. But I would see those being three– being flexible, being obviously experienced in doing a number of different things—Dante has been on defense, he has been on special teams, he has been on offense and he has coached a lot of different areas—and again, just what personal goals a person has.

**Q: Does he have a certain style or is he adaptable?

BB:** I think Dante is very fundamentally sound and is an excellent technique coach. When we came here in 2000 and I spoke with Dante then we were all in agreement of the basic structure of the offense that we would run so that is what we have been running. How exactly that compares to some other things that were done in the past, I don't know for sure. I just know what we wanted to commit to when we were here. He was certainly very willing to work that way and has had a lot of good input and good ideas to go with it.

**Q: Would you say this was one of his best performances this season given all the injuries?

BB:** I think Dante is one of the best coaches I have ever worked with. Let's put it that way. I think he has done a good job. I have seen him do a good job a lot of other times too. I think he is really an outstanding person and an outstanding coach who has a wealth of experience, knowledge and does a great job of teaching it to all of the different levels of players that he coaches– the experienced players, the guys with less playing time, the practice squad guys, and several of them have developed for us. So all of that didn't happen this year. Some of that has come from a build-up of prior coaching experiences or learning experiences for those players. I think it has all been positive.

**Q: What did you see in scouting or recruiting David Givens in predominately a running offense and not that much passing at Notre Dame that made you think he could make the transition?

BB:** I think a lot of the things that we are seeing now. He has good size. He runs well. He is tough. He is a physical player. He catches the ball well. Now, he didn't have a lot of opportunity to do it, but in the opportunities that he had you could see his skill and his athleticism, [a] potential special teams player as a back-up role type of receiver, which was the way it initially started. It is not like we took him and expected him to start for us or anything like that. Where he had an opportunity to play, in the kicking game and also offensively in a couple of different roles, he has developed in all of those areas since he has been here. He certainly wasn't any finished product in the 2002 season. But, he made progress through the year and had a good year like a lot of our second year guys, not just this year but a lot of second year guys do between that rookie year and the second year, he made a lot of strides in the off season.

**Q: Was he a guy that you needed to see in the combine to see how good he could catch the ball?

BB:** I don't think so. He was one of the top recruits out of Texas when he went to Notre Dame. It is not like he was some throwaway guy. He was heavily recruited. He is a good athlete. I don't think that has really been any secret.

**Q: You have spoken glowingly of Adam [Vinatieri] and how he has really integrated with the team. Is that rare in your experience?

BB:** I don't know about rare. I would just say I would put him, as a kicker, probably at the top of the guys I have been around and [Dave] Jennings at the top of the punters in that same type of category. I am not saying that other guys don't fit into that role. I think the comments that I made were Adam and Dave were probably the two best that I have had the opportunity to be around.

**Q: Is that important in terms of earning their teammates respect?

BB:** That is what it is. There are probably other kickers that don't fall into that category as much that could still be good kickers. I am not saying that. I am just saying he happens to be that way and I think that is a good thing. I don't think it is a bad thing.

**Q: Will Damon Huard's role in practice this week be as important as it was last week?

BB:** Sure. It is always important. It is always important for the scout team players to try to emulate what our opponents are doing so that our offense/defense, whatever team it is, can be as well prepared as possible for it when it comes up on Sunday. Some of the things that the Colts did were a little bit, relative to other teams in the league, a little bit different [and] maybe a little bit harder to simulate and Damon did a great job of that. We face different challenges every week, whether it is what is going on at the line of scrimmage or it could be the actual execution of the play, the quarterback looking off of a defense to throw it to the other side of the field, a scrambling quarterback running out of the pocket on a particular type of play or a bootleg play or those kind of things. It can cover a lot of different areas. And it is important every week.

**Q: You hit more long passes this season that what you have in the past. Is that a reflection of [Tom] Brady's progress or an effort to do more with the game plan?

BB:** Probably a combination of the throwing, the catching, the overall execution of the play, the timing of the play-calling, so yeah I would say it has probably been a combination of all those. It is not like they have gone to one guy or it is not like it has all been one specific type of play. It has come from different types of plays and different actions in the passing game—drop back, play action, misdirection, that kind of thing. So it has come from different things like that. I don't think you could really pinpoint it on one thing. It has probably been a combination of things.

**Q: As a coach myself I understand how important the mental aspect of the game is, what the intimidation factor of the game is. That is in all sports, especially in the physical ones like football, hockey and boxing. You guys seemed to really get into the Colts' heads last week. Brandon Stokley, [Marvin] Harrison, Peyton [Manning], they didn't seem to be too comfortable out there. An intimidation factor—is that something you guys instill in the physical defensive play that you teach or is it something the players just bring themselves?

BB:** I think probably a combination of both. I think as a defensive player, if you don't like contact, if you don't like being physical, then you are probably on the wrong side of the ball or maybe in the wrong sport. I think that is one of the top prerequisites of being a defensive player. Get the guy with the ball—that is really what a defensive player's job is. Sure you want that from your defensive team. You want to be physical, you want to be aggressive, you want to hold your territory and make your opponents not feel comfortable coming into your zone. At the same time, there are a lot of good players on the other side of the ball. I think that in the end, to me, the best thing you can do is to show your opponent that they have to deal with all 11 of you, that you are a team and that everybody out there is ready, willing and able to help [his] teammate, to support him, to hustle, to be around the ball, to be aggressive, more than making some kind of gestures or that kind of thing. I think it is the team play that really is the catalyst in, for yourself, showing the kind of team you have and also showing your opponents that, 'look, this is what you have to deal with today. It is not 11 guys in the same color uniforms. It is a team all trying to achieve one collective goal.'

**Q: Ted Johnson spent, in a sense, the first Super Bowl as a back-up. Has he evolved as a player since then?

BB:** I think Ted is a very valuable and important member of the team. Again, he is one of our team captains. He plays a significant role on defense and has in the kicking game as well from time to time during the year. When I got herein '96 the Patriots had played a 3-4 defense in prior years. Ted was a 3-4 linebacker at Colorado. We made a transition into more of a 4-3 scheme in the '96 season and then I think that was predominantly played from '96 through '99. Then in 2000, when I came back again, it was a combination from time to time of being a three or four-man line defensive scheme, which affects the middle linebacker more than anybody because there are either two of them or there is one of them and their responsibilities change a little bit depending on what the configuration is and whether there are people in front of them or whether there aren't people in front of them. In the end I would say that Ted is a guy that has adapted well in both systems, been productive in both systems. Ted is strong, he is powerful, he is a good instinctive player, he can take people on, he is a good tackler, a real physical player and he makes his presence felt in there. I don't think there are too many offensive linemen or backs that are really particularly excited to see him line up across from them because he brings a good physical level of play to the game.

**Q: Is there a chance that this could be a game that could be suited for them to run the ball at Tedy Bruschi and Ted Johnson? Will that be one of the keys in the game?

BB:** I think players like Ted Johnson and Tedy Bruschi can play against anybody and they are capable of playing well against anybody. They have played against the best teams and the best players in the league and whatever they are called on to do, I am sure they will give us their absolute best.

**Q: Let's talk about the Carolina running game in terms of [DeShaun] Foster and [Stephen] Davis and what they bring to the table.

BB:** I think they are both good runners. They both break tackles, they both make yards on their own after the initial hit, which is really I think a good measure of a back regardless of how he does it, whether he breaks a tackle, whether he dodges a guy, whether he spins out of them. They are both powerful, they both have good speed, and they both had a number of long runs. I think Davis has shown certainly that he has the ability to rip off a 30, 40, 50-yard run without any problem. He did it a couple of weeks ago against St. Louis, and looked real good doing it. They can run inside, they can run outside, they run with power. They both catch the ball in the passing game—not extensively, but they are involved in it. A lot of times they get the ball on short passes, which are really the same as runs and then once they get the ball in their hands they become a runner. Two guys that are tough to defend that have not quite the same type of skills, just like any two people don't have, but they are both very good and they both complement each other well. They both have a lot of production. I thought that the run Foster made last week against Philadelphia for the touchdown was one of the best runs of the year. Six guys had a shot at him at the three-yard line and he ended up getting the ball in the end zone. It was a terrific run.

**Q: Given that David Givens was highly recruited from Texas in high school and played at a high-profile place like Notre Dame, why do you think he was still around in the seventh round [of the draft]?

BB:** I think the reason that he was probably not picked earlier had to do with his role and his production at Notre Dame. It was hard to see him doing all the things in college that you would project him doing in the NFL. It was just hard to see that. They didn't do that. That just wasn't the way they played. Like you do with some players sometimes, you see a guy in a college system, you have to project him into not only a pro system but your pro system, and there are a lot of variables there.

**Q: How does a coach get modern athletes to buy into a team concept? It doesn't seem like that happens everywhere.

BB:** What we do is we present our approach and our program and the players really, for the most part, have been very cooperative and have tried to do what we asked them to do. That is really all it is about. I think a lot of the players, when we bring them in to this situation, regardless of where they come from, whether it is college or free agency or wherever it happens to be—waivers or however they get here—that we always look to see how—not that you ever know for sure—but you look to see how you project and think that player will do in our program, which includes a lot of different things: the offseason training, the film study, the practice preparation, the style of play, the scheme that we use and all those things. I think the players, as a group, football is important to them. They work hard. They depend on each other and they work hard not to let the other guy down. I think that is a good attitude.

**Q: Can you talk about Brian Kinchen, his ability to come back after two years and his confidence and experience going into the Super Bowl?

BB:** I had Brian in Cleveland and that seems like a lifetime ago for both of us. Brian has been around a long time. He has been in a lot of big games. He has snapped in a lot of critical situations, so that experience was probably an important factor with him. He has been out of football for a while, so he has had an opportunity to get back in it and it seems like he is enjoying it.

**Q: At what point this season did you know that Asante Samuel and Eugene Wilson would make a significant contribution this season?

BB:** We played both of them from the first game of the season on. They both played significantly in preseason, in fact they both started the first preseason game of the year against the Giants. They showed enough in training camp and enough in the preseason games and in mini camp for that matter to warrant more of an opportunity and warrant more playing time. As they got that, for the most part, they continued to improve, so we have had confidence putting them out there since the beginning of the season because they were out there since the beginning of the season. I would say it was pretty early.

**Q: Is there any concern about the rookies and how they will handle the Super Bowl?

BB:** Well I think there is always concern about any young player and how their performances are going to be, how steady it is going to be and when things new happen to them, how they are going to respond to them. At this point I don't think that rookies are really rookies anymore. We have had 18 games—16 regular season games and two postseason games. At what point does a rookie not become a rookie. That is almost two college seasons, probably more than two college seasons when you get into training camp and preseason games and all that. That is a lot of football I think. At this point they have seen most of what they are going to see in a year, and hopefully they will be able to respond to the different challenges that are presented to them.

**Q: In your 30 years—

BB:** 29, don't rush it.

**Q: In your 29 years, what is the best single season you ever saw?

BB:** I would say that Bears team in 1985 was pretty good.

**Q: The flexibility that your players give you on defense, does that ever make it difficult, does that ever give you a hard time coming to a consensus with a decision on what is the best strategy to use against an offense?

BB:** No I don't think so. You always have options. You just have to weigh those options and put your priorities somewhere. You can't do everything. You can't stop everything. You have to prioritize at some point and say, 'Okay, this is where we want to be and how are we going to get there,' and try to set it up the best way you can to deal with the problems that you are facing. There are always others options. There are always other ways to do that. At some point you just have to put your chips somewhere and you can't put them on every number. You have to pick one.

**Q: Does Roman Phifer exemplify what you want in a defensive player?

BB:** I think Roman Phifer is an excellent defensive player and is an excellent defensive player in our system. He has so many qualities that are positive—personally, professionally, athletically. His attitude, his ability to work with his teammates and be versatile and flexible, but at the same time be athletic and be a powerful player—a good tackler, a good pass defender, a good run defender, he plays in the kicking game. He is really an amazing player. The position that he has played for the number of years, and the number of plays that he has been involved in, I think the only other player that you could really compare him to would be a guy like Clay Matthews. I know Clay ended up playing longer than Roman has to this point, but Clay was similar to that in that it was his thirteenth, fourteenth year and you are saying, 'my God, for a linebacker to play that long,' and then he plays another one and he plays another one and then just plays another one. Roman is at about the same point in his career that I would say, when I coached Clay, that Clay was in his at Cleveland.

**Q: Is his offseason training a factor in that?

BB:** Roman works as hard as anybody in the offseason. He works very hard. He is in good condition and I think a lot of times the program that he is on exceeds what ours would be and honestly players have trouble keeping up with some of the things he does in the offseason.

**Q: After 29 years, regardless of what college a player went to—big college or small college—if they just drop a player in front of you, and you were to watch him for a couple of days, would you be able to get from watching them where they are from and what program they played for?

BB:** I am not sure I quite understand the question.

**Q: Some of the stereotypes of players from small towns in the South—in North Carolina, Alabama, California—can you watch and see where they are from?

BB:** Sometimes. Yeah, sometimes. You know old the saying, 'You can't judge a book by its cover,' and sometimes that is true. You see something on the outside and then once you get to know him it is a little different story. Other times sometimes you get a read on him and that first impression is the lasting one. I think it varies from player to player. I don't know if you could just book it and say, 'this is what it is going to be.' I don't know how many players I have coached. I am sure it is well over one thousand. It is a lot of different make-ups and mixes and they are all different.

**Q: What made me think of it was that your response to the Givens question was that you could see what he can do but maybe not get a real read on him.

BB:** All I am saying with Givens is I don't think there is any question about his athletic ability. I think when you watch David play, you wouldn't sit there and say, 'Gee I wonder if he is a good enough athlete to play.' I don't think that was the question. I think the question would be when you ask him to do a different set of skills than he was performing in college, how would that turn out. But not 'was he a good athlete' because actually he has even played defense with us and played in the kicking game. He has shown his versatility as an athlete on a number of occasions for us.

**Q: How do you use discipline to motivate the team?

BB:** I don't think I follow you. For example?

**Q: Is fear a factor? Losing your job, fines, that kind of thing?

BB:** The only reason you have a set of rules on a team is just because there are so many people that somehow you have to have a guideline for everybody to follow or you can't get anything done. You can't have 70 guys coming in here in the morning whenever they feel like it. You wouldn't be productive that way, so they all need to be here at one time, they all need to be on the field at one time. There are other certain requirements they have to make. Not all that many, but without that you just can't function as a team when you have 70 people on their own individual program. They are just simple things that we need to do just to have a group. It is just like if we had a group of us going on a tour in Europe—everybody has to be somewhere at one time, everybody has to be somewhere at another time. You all have to have a certain thing—passport or whatever—to get on a plane to go to the next place. That is just how you do it. When you have a football team you have a lot of people and you have to do something like that too. You have to have some kind of guideline or direction to get everybody heading in the same direction, that's all.

**Q: It seems like the team thrives on that atmosphere. How did you get them to do that?

BB:** I am not really sure what atmosphere you are referring to. I think that that is just the way of doing business. What is important is how the team performs Sunday afternoon when it goes out on the field. What happens when the ball is snapped, when the ball is kicked. To me that is what discipline is. Discipline is not having short hair and walking on the sidewalk and all that. Discipline is, when the ball is snapped, doing your job, playing within the team concept and taking care of your responsibility. That is what a disciplined team does. It doesn't turn the ball over. It doesn't commit a lot of stupid penalties. It doesn't blow coverages on defense so that you give up easy touchdowns. It doesn't get kicks blocked on special teams. All those kinds of things. That is really what disciplined football is. It is execution. That is what it comes down to.

**Q: Some of the players, the veterans especially, say that they appreciate the lack of distraction. I know a little bit of it is the improved facilities that you have here. How much of it is your own, for lack of a better word, lack of tolerance for guys going off to do their own things or 'Prima Donna syndrome' kind of thing?

BB:** I don't know. When the players walk out of this building and get in their cars, I don't know where they all go. I really don't. And I don't know what they all do. There is no way I can know that, so again, what is important to me is what they do when they get here. Nothing outside of that takes away from what we are doing, so I am sure they have plenty of fun. I am sure they have a good time. I am sure they have a lot of other interests besides football, just like everybody else does. We are all here for one reason and it is paying a lot of bills, so I think we should put the time and energy and effort into, especially all of us who are here and love the game, which I think is just about everybody in that locker room. If you have fun doing it, you enjoy what you are doing and you want to accomplish something, then you have to put something into it to get something back.

**Q: How would you characterize what Tedy Bruschi means to your offense?

BB:** I think Tedy is, first of all, he is a really good player. I don't think there is any doubt [about that]. I don't want to minimize that in any way because he is a really good player. He has made a lot of big plays for us this year in the passing game—interceptions returned for touchdowns— in the running game—fourth and one stop against Dallas, plays like that. On top of that, he is the quarterback of the defense. He is the communicator. He gets the signal from the sideline, he gives it to the rest of the team. If the offense comes out in a different look, sometimes we have to change our defense or make adjustments or make checks, and that all starts with him too. I think he plays with a lot of emotion and enthusiasm and I think he brings a real good level of energy to the field. He is a terrific player. He is a terrific guy to have on the team. He never complains, really doesn't ever present any kind of negative comments or thoughts. He is just positive. He just wants to go forward and win and I totally respect that. I totally respect it.

**Q: Could you envision him being where he is now back in 1996?

BB:** He has come a long way.

**Q: Can you tell me what concerns you about Carolina's defense?

BB:** Everything. Yeah, everything. They have a good front four—they have a really good front four. First of all, what concerns me the most is the coaching. They have a good scheme, they are well coached, they present a lot of problems for you with their coverages, their blitzes, their disguises, the way they stem into some of the things that they do late. They; give you one look and then all of a sudden, boom, they give you something else. Those are all big problems, so that starts with the coaching. From a personnel standpoint, they have a good front four. Both of their ends are good pass rushers. They are good athletes. Their inside players are strong, they are powerful, they don't just take up space and hold the point in there. There are plenty of times when they are knocking the line of scrimmage back two or three yards. Their linebackers run well. They are active. Their secondary is good. Their corners cover well. They had, I don't know what, three or four interceptions last week, whatever it was. Their safeties have real good range. They have a lot of good football players on that team. They have a very good scheme. They attack you defensively. They don't just sit there and wait to see what you are going to do. They come after you and offensively you have to be ready to deal with it. Other than all those problems, everything is going along pretty good.

**Q: When you are considering someone like Bethel Johnson, is pure speed the first attraction?

BB:** I think that, as I have said before, any time you put a player on your team, you take everything the player has with it. If he just has one quality that is exceptional, then that better be enough to carry him all the way. If it is a combination of things, which is usually is, then all those things come with it, whether it be experience, inexperience, speed, quickness, size, you can go right down the line. Bethel has good size, he is fast, he is quick, eh moves well with the ball. When he came to us he wasn't very experienced, obviously. He has gained some experience during the year. He still has a ways to go.

**Q: What aspect of coaching do you never really tire of?

BB:** I think they are all interrelated, so you can't separate one from the other. You can't separate the meetings from the practice. You can't separate the preparation from the study of your opponent. You can't separate the game planning from the film study because you can't do one without the other. You can't game plan until you know what they are doing. You can't practice until you meet and prepare for practice. All those things are interrelated and they all lead up to the competition on Sunday, which is certainly a thrill, but I enjoy all the other aspects of it too. I think when you are involved in this game, if the only thing you like is the game and you hate everything else that leads up to it, then it is probably no going to go as good as it should go because you just can't roll the ball out there and play on Sunday. It's too competitive at this level.

**Q: Where does the teaching aspect fall in there?

BB:** High.

**Q: Very high?

BB:** High. Sure. I mean anytime, as a coach, that you can help somebody do better, then there is some gratification in that.

**Q: Has [Ricky] Manning [Jr.] made a difference in their secondary?

BB:** He has. He has played all the way through the year and his role has been a little bit different from time to time. [Terry] Cousin started most of the year out there. He has moved outside and played predominantly in the nickel the last three or four weeks. Ricky had played mainly in the sub defense, although he started a couple of games, six or seven games, this year, but most of them have come here at the end of the season. They play a lot of nickel defense anyway, so you usually see all three of those corners on the field. [Reggie] Howard has done a good job for them as well. Manning has had some big plays lately, but he is a strong player for his size. He is very physical. He is tough. He has good ball skills. I would say he is very instinctive. He does the right thing a lot of times, and I am sure a lot of that is coaching, but I think also part of it is his ability to recognize, anticipate and make the right decisions on the field.

**Q: Any great Jermaine Wiggins stories?

BB:** Did you see his spike after he scored a touchdown in—which game was it—the Atlanta game? That says it all right there. That play says it all. I forget which game it was in. He hasn't scored that many touchdowns, so it is not going to be that hard to find. Well I'm just saying it isn't like he has had 14 touchdowns. He has three, whatever it is, four. But in the Atlanta game he has a little celebration there in the end zone after he scores which is a Jermaine Wiggins play.

**Q: Can you re-enact it?

BB:** No I can't. It is pretty good though.

**Q: Is there anything new that you have noticed in the veterans as far as their preparation for the Championship game two years ago versus their preparation for this Super Bowl?

BB:** That is a tough question because the situation two years ago was a one-week window and now it is a two-week window, so obviously you are going to have a difference in preparations. I am not really worried about what happened two years ago. I am concerned about how our team is going to prepare for this game in the next two weeks—or actually the next one week. We are almost getting to the end of this first week here. That is really what my emphasis is—what we need to do, how we can do it better, what areas are going to be the most critical for us to make sure that we are on top of. Not that they all aren't important, but again you have to prioritize. That is really what I am looking at.

**Q: In the last [Super Bowl], it seems the players were just having fun, enjoying the moment, enjoying the opportunities. In this particular one they seem very focused. The attitude on the whole team seems to be, 'we have a job to do. It is business. I am really going to approach it that way.'

BB:** I think that some of those elements were in place. To me, two years ago we played in Pittsburgh, we came back Sunday night, Monday morning we are in the plane going to New Orleans. It was a totally different situation. This year we have had a couple of days to really prepare well as a coaching staff. We have brought the players in yesterday and today. There is a much more regimented approach, as opposed to flying down to New Orleans, doing media day on Tuesday. It was a very quick week and a lot different. We were never here during the Super Bowl two years ago. We were away from home the entire time. It is just different. I don't know if one is better or worse. I don't really care about that. Here is what we have to do and here is how we are going to try and approach it.

**Q: Does the bye week allow you to game plan more, or is there only so much information that the players can accumulate?

BB:** A little bit of both. There is only so far you can go. If you had eight weeks to prepare for the game, I don't know how much more you would get done than if you had two. There is definitely a point of diminishing returns there. The extra few days of being able to go over it a second time to tie it up a little bit, like when we have a bye week in the regular season, there is certainly some extra teaching and some extra preparation that can be done, but you reach the point where you are ready to go and I am sure both teams will be there a week from Sunday and I think that will be plenty of time for everybody.

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