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Bill Belichick Press Transcript - 1/8

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            **BB:**  No injury update. There is nothing there.  We are just moving along here on Tennessee.  

**Q: What is the coldest game you have ever been a part of?

BB:** Probably the Chicago/New York game in 1985 in Soldier Field. It was cool that day. And windy.

**Q: Do you allow Tom [Brady] to call a lot of plays on the field?

BB:** It varies from game to game. Sometimes we have those checks on the field. Sometimes we talk about it on the sideline. Sometimes he comes with suggestions. It can come from a lot of different areas. If I think back through the year or the past couple of years, we could probably find examples of all of them. Tom has a good awareness out there and he has a good feel for what we are trying to do and how they are playing. Sometimes those fit together and sometimes they need some adjustments.

**Q: But he ultimately makes a lot of good decisions?

BB:** I think that is one of his strengths.

**Q: How much do you remember that Giants game?

BB:** It was a competitive game. We had a couple of turnovers and got beat 21-0.

**Q: You look like you are still upset.

BB:** Well, it certainly wasn't a pinnacle of my coaching career. That is for sure.

**Q: Was it closer than the score indicated?

BB:** Not really. No. Not really.

**Q: Did you feel like the cold got your players maybe?

BB:** No. No I think we didn't play as well as they did. They had a real good defense. We couldn't move the ball. They ran the ball well and we didn't play very well defensively. I think that had a lot more to with it than the cold weather. But it was cold. I am not going to deny that.

**Q: Does the cold affect the strategy at all?

BB:** I don't think it really affects it a lot. I am saying you have to take it into consideration the ball is not going to fly as far in the kicking game as it would on an 80-degree day. I don't think there is any doubt about that. So I am not saying it doesn't have any effect but you still have to kick off, you still have to punt, it just doesn't go as far as an example.

**Q: Do you remember how cold it was?

BB:** No. I don't know. I think the wind chill was…I forget what it was.

**Q: Is that the same game with [Sean] Landeta had that punt….

BB:** Yeah, that was one of the plays. Yeah, the punt, that was one play.

**Q: How do you feel about the players and sleeves and wearing them or not wearing them? Do you tell them anything?

BB:** No. The only thing I tell them in practice is to dress for it. Don't come in the middle of practice saying, 'I need another sweatshirt.' Just take whatever you need out there. In the games, we go out there, we warm up, come back in, go back out again, come back in. We are not out there that long.

**Q: Do you sense a sort of antsy-ness or excitement from the team?

BB:** Yes, definitely. I feel it myself. I think everybody is anxious. We played Saturday so it will be two full weeks this Saturday and we are closing in on that. I think everybody is anxious. Yes, I do. Myself, the coaches, the players. There has been a lot of preparation time. We have seen a lot of Tennessee. I think I have probably seen, I am not saying every single play, but I have seen all of their games. I have seen a lot of snaps over and over again, our game [against Tennessee] I don't know how many times, the 2002 game, some of the plays leading up into the 2002 game from last year things that we had in the scouting reports. It is kind of like wanting the clock to a little bit faster than it is going to go but we are not going to be able to do that.

**Q: What are some of the things that you notice in practice from the players? Is there a tempo?

BB:** Yes, I think it is a tempo. You have to through the process. You can't speed it up. You have a Wednesday practice, a Thursday practice, a Friday practice, a special teams review, a walk through on Saturday, I am not saying this is all the day before the game. It moves up a day with the schedule but all of those things. You have to go through it. It helps you get ready. I think you are looking forward to go a little bit quicker I guess.

**Q: Is there any advantage to either belief of having a bye week or not having a bye week?

BB:** I don't really think it is that big of a deal. In the regular season, you play week-to-week. Most of the time you have a buy week in there. Every team has it. You know what the bye week records are. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. When you play back-to-back games, sometimes you win them. Sometimes you lose. You can find every team going through those cycles. I don't think there is any magic formula there. I think the team that plays better will win. The team that doesn't play as well will lose.

**Q: Did you envision Bethel Johnson being the impact player that he has become?

BB:** Well, Bethel has a lot of talent, a lot of skill, a lot of speed and he had some production in college. I don't think it was out of the question that he be productive. How exactly it would work out and how it would turn out, nobody knows that. He has certainly had some good moments for us, others not as good, like most rookies.

**Q: After watching the film on Tennessee what is the number one thing that jumps out to you about them?

BB:** Well, I think the big thing is the way they have played the last month. They have run the ball well. They really controlled those games, the last four games the time of possession has been about 10 minutes more than their opponents. They are strong in the kicking game. I think [Derrick] Mason has given them a lift on punt returns. Their specialists are very good. Defensively they haven't given up much running yardage so again, that plays in the whole time of possession, field position and all of that, it is all tied together for them between offense, defense and special teams. They have looked pretty good. Whether it be Tampa or Baltimore, you can just go back to the latter games on their schedule. The Houston game. There are a lot of big plays in there too especially on the offensive side of the ball with [Steve] McNair throwing it down the field. Take your pick.

**Q: Did you get better this year on third down defense because you got better on first and second down?

BB:** I think that is a factor. I think we were better on third down period. Certainly being better on first and second down helps third down. There is a definite relationship there. But I think even in some of the longer yardage situations, statistically – let's just put it that way, statistically I think are a little bit more favorable this year.

**Q: Just playing it better? Is it as simple as that?

BB:** Well, I think like anything else, it is a number of things. Relative to last year, I think we have played better on this year on third down than we did last year.

**Q: Do you feel like there are underlying similarities between Tennessee and New England?

BB:** Well there probably are. There probably are. When you look at the first game between the two teams, it is back and for, however many lead changes. The game was as competitive a game as you could get. From that standpoint I think it was very evenly matched. A lot more evenly matched than when we played them down there in 2002. I think both team probably have a little bit of the same philosophy starting at the top and working its way down. From the personnel to the coaching to player attitudes and all of that kind of thing, there are probably some similarities there.

**Q: In boxing, they say it is a difficult test to prepare and cope with a fighter whose style is basically like yours. Is that true in football?

BB:** Well I think maybe the styles are the same or I shouldn't say the same. There may be some similarities in style but I think schematically, McNair and Brady are both pretty good quarterbacks. I would say they have the same style. Defensively, statistically and all of that, there are probably some comparisons that you could make between Tennessee and the Patriots. I wouldn't say it was the same style and say it is the same scheme. Maybe it is the same style but it is not the same scheme. I think there are a lot of variations there. I get the point to where you are going. I think there are also some variations along the line especially in scheme.

**Q: More different past but in the same place.

BB:** That is a way to put it.

**Q: When you say player attitude what does that mean?

BB:** Well, I think that Tennessee is a very mentally tough team. They have gone on the road. They have a very good record on the road. I think they play well in adverse conditions. They have come from behind on the road. They have played in a lot of tough games and a lot of tough situations and it doesn't seem to bother them. I think that is what we try to convey to our players to have that same type of attitude. It doesn't always happen but that is the message you try to send.

**Q: How has your spread offense been this year?

BB:** At times it has been all right. At times it has been better than others. We have had some production from it. I certainly think it has had some benefit and given us some diversity offensively. It is not perfect. We have had some problems with it too.

**Q: Have you been limited to you using at times because of various injuries to the wide receivers?

BB:** No, I think it is more of a game plan decision, more of situational decision than it is…I don't think that has been a big factor. It might have contributed in a couple of games. I can't think specifically of which ones, but there were a couple where we had shortages at receiver. Overall I would say no. It is more of a game plan decision than it was a personnel decision.

**Q: Are you going to use the a lot on Saturday?

BB:** Well, it is part of our offense. You will probably see it in every game. I doubt if you could find a game that we played this year where we haven't had some version of that. I wouldn't be surprised if you saw it again this week but you never know.

**Q: How much more complicated is it for a lineman on the defensive line who bounces from end to tackle and how has Kevin Carter handled that?

BB:** I think it depends on the player. Some guys can move from end to tackle or from one end to another end and it doesn't even bother them. You would never know that they were in one spot or the other. There are other guys that have a much more difficult time with that and they are not comfortable with it at all. So I think it totally depends on the player. I don't know Carter, but watching him play, it doesn't look like it affects him much at all. He looks pretty damn good at both spots. He is physical. He has a lot of quickness. He is a powerful guy. He is very instinctive. He does a good job of recognizing mistakes in the offense, for example pass sets. He can take advantage of those in a hurry if a guy doesn't set wide enough he is by them. If he oversets them, he undercuts them back inside. He has good counter moves and if a guy sets him soft, he powers them back. If a guy takes him on quick, he makes a quick move and jumps around them. So, he reacts very quickly, he is very instinctive. He has tremendous physical ability in terms of his power and his explosion and quickness in one guy. He is tough to block. I don't think anybody, regardless of where he lines up, I don't anybody would be real excited about seeing him line up across from them. He is one of the best linemen in the league.

**Q: Do you have to think about going inside this week because of the conditions?

BB:** It's not that bad out there. It really isn't. It hasn't been that bad. It is certainly what you expect this time of year but it is playable.

**Q: When it comes to film study what do you ask of the players, specifically Tom Brady, in terms of watching the other team and watching themselves?

BB:** In general terms, we try to watch ourselves after the game, immediately after the game, watch the one that we just played while it is fresh in your mind with the game plan and the strategy and so forth. Then you start to move on to the new opponent. First of all you break it down situationally what Tennessee or any other team does on first down probably isn't the same as what they do on third down, it probably isn't the same as what they do in the red area. There may be some carry over but there are usually some differences. You break it down in different segments and if you play a team that we have played before like Tennessee, then you certainly would look at our previous meetings with them to see how they are particularly playing us relative to another team. Things like that. The film study would take in all of the situational aspects of the game. Then I think it is always good for the quarterbacks to watch game film probably at the end of the week again, well at the beginning of the week to kind of get an overview of it and at the end of the week after you have everything in and you put it all together and just sort of play the game in your mind, 'Okay it is first down, we are expecting this. Okay it is second down, we are expecting that. Okay it is third and long, here is what they like to do,' and just kind of run through the game that way.

**Q: After 16 games are there any secrets left?

BB:** Well I think the secrets are how the teams match up against each other. It doesn't really matter how Tennessee play Jacksonville or how we played Jacksonville. At this point, it is how Tennessee plays us and how we play them. Therefore, in a way, there are no secrets. In another way, we are all waiting to unlock that door and see what it is going to be when everything is inside in that one box between these two teams.

**Q: A lot has been made of home field advantage. A) Is it exaggerated and B) What are some of the most important elements to home field advantage?

BB:** The most important element is playing well. I think that overrides everything else. If a team plays well home, away or on a neutral site, they have a lot better chance than if they don't. I think playing at home there is a certain familiarity to the field, to the routine, to all of that. At this point, you have a good football team like Tennessee coming in here that has done very well on the road – I think it will be the team that plays the best. I really do. That is what is going to come down to. And if you don't play well at home then the crowd really gets taken out of the game.

**Q: This stadium has an interesting wind current if you will.

BB:** Right. That is a good way to put it.

**Q: How has Adam [Vinatieri] over the last couple of years been? Have you seen him get better over the years?

BB:** I think it is challenging. I think each time you go out there, it can kind of play a little bit differently. It changes depending on where you are on the field. Even though the wind at the same point and time as you walk from one location on the field to another, the velocity is different and it doesn't blow necessarily consistently in one direction at some points. It might be blown this way and another point it might be quartering a little bit and that kind of thing. There is a little bit of a swirling effect in there. I think it is definitely a factor. It is definitely a factor. It depends on how much does it play. To me it is a little bit like reading the break in the green. It depends on how long your put is. If you have a 20-foot put, there is a lot more break to deal with than if you have a three foot put and you are going to put the ball out straighter even though it is on the same hole on the same slope. I think that it depends on if you are trying a 40-yard field goal, the wind conditions are going to affect your kick a lot more than if you are kicking an extra point where you just have enough power on the ball to bang it through. Then it all varies in between. The same thing on the kickoffs. So that is the best way I could describe it. I don't think there is any set formula. Each game and each set of conditions are going to be a little bit different.

**Q: He has had to deal with different circumstances this year, a new snapper, a new holder. How has he handled the situations?

BB:** Adam is about as consistent of a person as you could have. He comes to work. He works hard everyday. You are getting the same guy every day. He is not emotionally up and down or physically up and down or anything like that. He is a very consistent, hard working, dependable player. He is more of a football player than he is a kicker. He really is. He is just a football player.

**Q: You once said the one position you were not worried about was your kicker. Do you still have that same confidence in him?

BB:** I have confidence in all of the players. Whichever ones we put out there I have confidence in them. If I didn't, then we wouldn't be putting them out there. All 53 of them and ultimately the 45 that we are able to activate for the game. If I didn't have confidence in them, they wouldn't be out there.

**Q: You said that this is the toughest game you will play this season. Is that because it is the next game and it is a playoff game?

BB:** No. I think that Tennessee's record and team speaks for itself. They went into Baltimore and beat Baltimore. I just have a lot of respect for the titans as a football team from the top of the organization all the way down through the coaching staff and the players. I know that they will absolutely put everything they have into the game. This will be their maximum top effort. I think it will take ours to be able to be competitive with that.

**Q: Do you talk to your team about the finality of Saturday?

BB:** We have talked about that. We don't harp on it. I think everybody understands it. We are not playing three out of five here. We all know that.

**Q: What are you and Charlie Weis' philosophy on running backs? Is it just who has the hot hands?

BB:** It varies a little bit. It just depends on…sometimes it is by game plan, sometimes it is by situation, sometimes it is by the personnel grouping that is in the game, sometimes it is by down and distance. It is no set formula. We talk about the game plan. We talk about the utilization of our personnel whether it be backs, tight ends or receivers or what have you on offense. Sometimes it is one way, and another time it could be another way depending on what the challenges are defensively that are posed and how we want to match up in different situations or with different personnel groups.

**Q: Can you talk specifically about the difference is between the type of runner Kevin Faulk is and the type of runner Antowain Smith is?

BB:** Well I think if you just look at them physically that probably would just pretty much sum it up. Antowain is a big, strong, powerful guy. Kevin has good speed, quickness, change of direction, isn't much physically, you know, a much smaller person than Antowain is. That is no secret.

**Q: You had a chance to go out on the new stadium grass yesterday. Were you happy with the surface?

BB:** Well it is what it is. Whether I am happy or unhappy or somewhere in between it doesn't really make any difference. It is what it is. It is out there and we are on it and that is it.

**Q: What is it?

BB:** It is out there.

**Q: Is it sure footing more than the one that was there before or is there less?

BB:** Well picture this – it is the middle of January, sod was laid on the field a few days ago. Picture what you think it is like, and that is probably what it is like.

**Q: Do you have heaters on down there?

BB:** The heaters are 18 inches underground. The air temperature is whatever it is. The heating is whatever it is, however far below ground it is. I don't know much about grass but I could tell you the grass is a lot closer to the cold air than it is to the heating coils. That I can tell you for sure.

**Q: Tennessee's defense is the best in the league, what do you attribute that to?

BB:** I would say two things. First their first and second down defense because they do create a lot of long yardage situations. They are also at the top of the league in their run defense. So it is not like people are first and 10, second and seven, third and two, picking up four yards a clip in the running game, that's a problem. They are very good on defense. They have a good scheme number one. They are well coached. They have a good pass rush and they have good people that can cover starting at the corners. When you have good coaching, good football players, a good scheme, and some long yardage situations, then all of those stars line up to good third down defense.

**Q: When you hired Jim Schwartz, did you see him extending as far as he did?

BB:** Jim is a very talented individual. Of course, he was o n the coaching end of it prior to coming to Cleveland and in Cleveland he was more on the personnel end of it although he was integrated in the coaching a little bit as well. Jim has a good background. He has a lot of experience. He is a sharp guy. I am not surprised that he has done well. We had a lot of people in that staff and in that organization that have gone on and done very well. So I wouldn't say it is a surprise. But like all of us, when you start at a relatively low point, it is a long ladder to climb. You don't know what the rate is going to be or what is going to happen along the way but we certainly saw a lot of talent in Jim. He was a very hard working, diligent, smart individual.

**Q: Do you have a reaction to Joe Gibbs coming back?

BB:** Well I was surprised. I never saw that one coming. We have seen it recently in a couple of other situations, [Dick] Vermeil specifically and it worked out pretty well. I competed against Joe as the defensive coordinator and Joe as the coach, he pretty much ran the offense down there. I have tremendous respect for him, his teams, and the way that he coaches the game. I am sure if he wants to do it, he will do a very good job.

**Q: Do you think that the field has the potential to alter the outcome of this game?

BB:** I don't know. I think the game will be won and lost by the players.

**Q: You do?

BB:** Yes.

**Q: So you don't think it will alter the outcome?

BB:** I am not saying it won't affect it. It is like the wind or anything else. I am not going to sit here and say it won't have any effect on the game. If you tell me there is a 40-mile per hour wind, I am going to tell you it is going to affect the game. I still think the better team is going to win but it certainly would have an effect on the game.

**Q: Are you out there again today?

BB:** Yes.

**Q: What was it that you saw in Rodney Harrison that San Diego was passing on?

BB:** I am not sure exactly what the San Diego situation was. I don't really care about that. Once he became available, we just expressed our interest in him as I think a lot of other teams did too. I think there were a number of teams in the league that saw Rodney as a valuable and potentially strong contributing player. Fortunately, he ended up here. I have a lot of respect for the way that Rodney plays, the way he competes, his playing style, and his teamwork and his ability to be a team player. My first real exposure to him, even though we were scouting him coming out of college, was at the Pro Bowl in 1998. Not that you can evaluate a guy in a week at the Pro Bowl but you certainly can get to know him and get to know some things about him and his personality. That is one of those games that honestly some players don't care. They are just out there to spend a week in Hawaii. For Rodney, he had a much different approach to the game. I recognized that and I certainly have an appreciation for it.

**Q: You said earlier it is not so bad out there weather wise. I know you think we are a bunch of wimps. Are you thinking about going out in a sweatshirt to set a macho example to your guys?

BB:** Well I don't want to be stupid. I do a good enough job of that without the…I think the important thing is to dress for it. Like anything else, it will take care of itself. I don't think you guys are wimps.

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