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Replay: Best of Patriots Radio Thu Mar 16 - 03:00 PM | Tue Mar 21 - 11:55 AM

Bill Belichick Press Transcript - 1/5

Belichick: I think this will be the toughest game of the year.



            **BB:**  Well, we are back to Tennessee this week.  I am sure we all saw the game on Saturday.  It was a very impressive performance against Baltimore.  I thought it was a very well balanced and well-played game by Tennessee.  They ran the ball.  They did a good job defending it.  They were very good in the kicking game.  They made a lot of key plays.  They controlled field position.  It is a physical team.  I think that all of the things that we said earlier in the year continue to be true.  Their record this year was outstanding.  They certainly played a tough game on the road against Baltimore and they came out on top.  We have all of the respect in the world for Jeff [Fisher] and the Titans.  As I said, I think this will be the toughest game of the year.  They are a physical team.  They play hard.  That is what we are going to need to do.  Up until last night, obviously, [we were] still balancing off all of the different playoff possibilities but right now our sail is set in one direction.  That is it.  

**Q: Can you just give us an idea of what last night was like here? What happened once you knew who you were playing?

BB:** Well, once Tennessee beat Baltimore, obviously that eliminated them. We worked on three teams and Denver was still a possibility. By the end of the first quarter, it didn't look like that was going to manifest itself. We started pushing on Tennessee at that point.

**Q: What did that entail? Did you guys stay here last night?

BB:** No. I think everybody probably watched the game on their own and still did some work at home.

**Q: How much will you look at that last game in October?

BB:** Sure, we will definitely look at it. There are a number of changes since then. But certainly that was a little bit of a good starting point in terms of it was a very competitive game. It came right down to really the last possession. I think there is a lot to be learned both ways. They had a lot of success against us in different areas. We are going to have to go back and do a good job on that and try to hold them to less than 30 points. We are going to have to be able to score some points and I think that the kicking game and field position will be important as it always is with the Titans. But I am sure it will be important this week as well. They have very good specialist, good returners. They are tough. They are tough in the special teams area.

**Q: Is there reason their pass defense has given up a lot of points this year?

BB:** Well I think they are a very strong defensive team. They have a great front four. They rotate those guys through. The whole group there, [Kevin] Carter, [Jevon] Kearse, [Albert] Haynesworth, [Robaire] Smith, [James] Atkins, they bring all of their linebackers. They blitz them too. They are good upfront. The corners are good. We saw in the Baltimore game, [Samari] Rolle, [Andre] Dyson, [Lance] Schulters, Tank Williams, those guys come up with a lot of big plays. I think it is a solid defense. They are sound all the way through. They have good players. They are well coached. We have all given up plays from time-to-time during the year. They make you earn it. They don't give up too many of them.

**Q: Do you think it is a situational thing?

BB:** I think they are pretty good. I think it will be tough to score on them. Let's put it that way.

**Q: No one has been able to run the ball on them. You guys had tremendous success against them. What went into that? Were you guys just more physical that day?

BB:** Some of those plays were circumstantial. I think anytime you get through the line of scrimmage and the back breaks a couple of tackles, you get a long run and that piles up a few yards and that is where most of it came. I would say most of our yardage came on a few plays. There were plenty of plays there that didn't look all that hot. From game-to-game you never know what is going to happen. Look at Baltimore. They are one of the better run defenses in the league and they gave up whatever it was, 160-something yards to the Titans. It is how you match up that day and how it will match up this week. As we have said many times, I am sure that this game against the Titans will play a lot differently than the last one did even though the teams are the same and there are a lot of things that are the same. There will be some things that are different. There always are.

**Q: How are they different with Haynesworth in than they are with him out?

BB:** Well Haynesworth is pretty good now. He is pretty good. He is big he is physical. He can run. He was a number one draft choice. He has a lot of talent and a lot of skill. He is a very powerful guy that is a very good athlete. He is just another big guy to deal with in there.

**Q: Do they change what they try to do upfront?

BB:** No, because they rotate them through anyway. They rotate Robaire Smith and Atkins and all of those guys in there. I don't think it really matter to them who is in there. They call what they want to call.

**Q: What is your feeling on re-matches in general? Does it change your outlook?

BB:** I don't think it means anything. Look at Denver and Indianapolis. They are as good as an example as you want to see right there. I don't think it means anything. It is a new week. It is a new season at this point. Everybody is going to put their best out there and we will see what happens.

**Q: Do you have any concerns about the field being re-sodded?

BB:** Well, the decision was mandated by the league. That is really that. I thought that the field has played well. I haven't really had too many problems with it in terms of player safety and cutting and consistent footing and all of that. Let's hope that will continue to be the case.

**Q: So you think it will be a level playing field for both of you?

BB:** I sure do. I think we will be on the same field. I don't think that is an issue.

**Q: Did you lobby against it?

BB:** It is a league-mandated decision. It was a league decision. They mandated it so we did it.

**Q: Statistically both you and the Titans would be in the lower portion of the league in terms of passing yards allowed. What is that tied most to?

BB:** The score.

**Q: Because you are ahead?

BB:** Well, I think that is a big factor.

**Q: Well I was just wondering if it was at all tied to the fact that you both have capable run defenses.

BB:** Well that might be part of it. But I think the score is a bigger factor. If you are playing from ahead, you are going to see more passes than when you are playing from behind. With their record, they have been playing from ahead a lot. I am sure that has a lot to do with.

**Q: They amassed 411 yards against you and a lot of those came from passes that were 40-yards long. What is different now as opposed to then giving up the big play?

BB:** Well, we haven't played the Titans. That is one thing that is different. They have the MVP quarterback in the league. They have a group of big receivers plus [Derrick] Mason. They have guys that are big that can run and jump. Some of those plays came on short passes that we weren't able to make the tackle on and the receivers then ran for big yardage. It was a combination of things but this is a very good group of skill players. They have big receivers. They have a great quarterback. They have good running backs. They have a good offensive line. It is a good offensive team. They have hung up a lot of points on a lot of people this year. We are going to have to do a better job than we did in the first game or I think it will be a problem. It will definitely be a problem.

**Q: What do you think about Tyrone Calico?

BB:** Calico is a big strong guy. He had one of his best games of the year against us. He is a vertical threat he has a lot of speed so he can get down the field. But as we also saw, he can catch a short pass, break a tackle and turn it into a long run. So you have to be careful about just playing way off of him and laying back and letting him catch those slants and letting him become a runner after the catch. It is a problem. In fact the whole receiver core is a problem. That goes to the tight ends as well. With [Frank] Wycheck back, [Steve] McNair has a lot of people to throw to and a lot of big guys to throw it to.

**Q: How did you feel personally about winning coach of the year?

BB:** I think the award is something that a lot of people in this organization should share and take part of starting with the assistant coaches, the scouting department, the people that help the coaches like the video people and guys like that who put in countless hours to give us an opportunity to do what we have to do. I think it is something that really a lot of people should share in and that is the way I look at it. I see it as a collective thing, primarily assistant coaches but certainly the other support people and the players all deserve.

**Q: What about your own level of personal satisfaction to be recognized?

BB:** It is not that big of a deal. I am more concerned about what the team does.

**Q: What about the fact that you won and if your team hadn't gone 14-2?

BB:** I have won it [the award] and I haven't won it. It is not that big of a thing to me. It really isn't.

**Q: In terms of what you take into consideration, how far does it go with players? Eddie George has a separated shoulder.

BB:** A separated shoulder? What do you think Ray Lewis has? I mean look, they will be there. Eddie George will be there. Steve McNair will be there. You hear about that every week and they show up every week. The damn guy started 100 and how many straight games? They are all going to be there. I don't even think about that. They are all going to be there. I am sure they will be at their best and I hope we are at ours too. They will all be there. You can take that injury report and put whatever you want on it - probable, doubtful, questionable, maybe, definitely in, definitely out, they are going to be there.

**Q: I know they are going to be there.

BB:** They will be there. Well just watch them play. Just watch them play. Eddie George, he is running over everybody against Baltimore. He left the game in the second quarter and came back and ran over everybody in the second half. Whatever is wrong with him, give me some of it.

**Q: Is that one of the more impressive performance you have seen?

BB:** He is a tough guy. The guy hasn't missed a game. He has started every game. What more can you say about him? How much tougher or more durable can you be than a guy who shows up every single week every time and carries the ball as much as he does? That is what he is. He is a stud. So is the other guy. He will be there too.

**Q: Are you talking about Chris Brown or Steve McNair?

BB:** No, I am talking about McNair. They might keep him out of the last regular season game but don't worry he will be there.

**Q: What types of problems does Chris Brown present?

BB:** Brown runs hard. He has gotten in there at the end of year, he had 50-something carries, he runs hard, he is a big strong guy, kind of what we saw at Colorado. He is a real physical runner. I think he is cut from the same cloth as George. I am not saying he is Eddie George now but that type of runner and can run their offense without really any alterations because they have a similar style. There is Eddie George and then there is everybody else.

**Q: Did you have any interest in him coming out of college?

BB:** Sure. We had interest in a lot of players. Yeah. We scout a lot of guys. We have an interest in a lot of guys. You only have so many picks.

**Q: When you have a receiving core like Titans, do you prioritize, you know, 'we are not going to let this guy beat us?' Do you go down the list that way?

BB:** Well, I think this is a tough one because they have so many good receivers, including the tight ends, including the running backs, that is it hard to just say, we are going to take away one guy. Who do you want to take away? Where do you want to start?

**Q: Well, all of the guys you talked about and then I was thinking about a guy like [Justin] McCareins jumps out at you.

BB:** Sure. McCareins, Calico, Derek Mason, that guy is in Pro Bowl and he has 100 catches. He returns punts. He is an awesome player. He has killed us every time we have played them especially down there last year. But so has everybody else. They are all tough. I don't think you can just take one guy away. If you try to do that then you end up paying the price with somebody else. It is going to come down to team defense doing a good job across the board starting with the running game extended into dealing with McNair and certainly covering the receivers and the tight ends and their backs who are effective receivers. This is a very potent offense. They put up a lot of points against a lot of good defenses including us. It will be a big challenge this week to try to handle them.

**Q: How does McNair handle the blitz?

BB:** He stands in there, he lets them bounce off of him and then he throws it down the field. We blitzed him a lot in the first game. You can see it in our game. We blitzed him a lot. He hangs in there. He makes the throws. He is strong and he is hard to get on the ground. He has a great arm. He can see the field. He is tough. He has a real pocket presence and if you don't contain him on the blitz, then he certainly is capable of running out there and either gaining yards running or buying more time to throw the ball down the field. He can stand in there and he ricochets them off of him with the best of them. He is a strong guy in the pocket.

**Q: How much did the game down there last year contribute to the team that you are now? Is that a game where you said, 'Okay, this isn't working?'

BB:** Oh, they just beat us. They beat us every way they could beat us down there.

**Q: Did that prompt a lot of the offseason changes?

BB:** Well, what I think we saw down there last year, we saw in a lot of other games too. That wasn't the only one.

**Q: That was the last straw?

BB:** I don't know. We came back the next week and saw the same thing against the Jets. Which straw broke the camel's back, is that the question?

**Q: Right.

BB:** I don't know.

**Q: Were they both pretty ugly?

BB:** I don't know. We saw that several times.

**Q: Can you talk a little bit about what the satisfaction is being back in the playoffs for you?

BB:** Well, that is certainly one of the things that you start with every year. It starts with doing well in your division and then taking it from there. It is a good opportunity for us. You work awfully hard to get here. It is a lot of meetings, a lot of practices, a lot of film study, a lot of everything to get to this point. It doesn't really mean anything now. Everybody is alive. Everybody is in it. It is going to come down to who plays the best from here on out. You want to put your best effort out there forward. That is what it is about right now, not what got us here. It is certainly an objective at the start of the season, there is no question about that.

**Q: Is this essentially a normal practice week for you? Are there many differences?

BB:** No, not too much. I think it will be pretty normal for us.

**Q: Do you find that guys are coming in on their own?

BB:** I think this is the game where everybody does all that they can. What else is there? This is it. Yes, I am sure that our players will put the most preparation that they can into the game. The coaches will and I am sure that the Titans will too. We are at that time of year. It is playoff football.

**Q: Have you met with the team as a whole yet or is that this afternoon?

BB:** Later today.

**Q: Will you go out on the field and practice today?

BB:** Yes, we will be out later on.

**Q: What happened in the game yesterday to Denver, is that a coaching nightmare?

BB:** Well, I am sure that any team that loses in the playoffs is disappointed. However it happens. Whether it is one way or another. If you lose, you are out. There is a lot of disappointment there I am sure. Whether they are more disappointed than Seattle or not, I don't know.

**Q: The Marvin Harrison play from yesterday, is that play going into the film library of plays to show your team what not to do?

BB:** Well, there are big plays in every game. Sometimes guys make errors in judgment and in games too. If you are not part of it, the best thing you can do is observe it and learn from it and try to help make it part of your good performance on whichever side of the play you could be on whether you are an offensive player or defensive player. It was obviously a heads up play by Harrison.

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