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Bill Belichick Press Transcript - 11/17

Belichick: It was a very hard fought game, a physical game between two pretty evenly matched teams. We made a couple of more big plays in the game and just a few more plays, which gave us enough to win.



            **BB:**  As I said last night I think that everybody pretty much saw what happened in that game.  There is no big mystery looking at the film today.  It was a very hard fought game, a physical game between two pretty evenly matched teams.  We made a couple of more big plays in the game and just a few more plays, which gave us enough to win.  It was a tough game and I thought that the players really on both sides played hard. There were a lot of good football players out there playing last night. I feel fortunate that we came out on top.  Injury wise, I don't think we have anything major.  It was a physical game but at this point nothing really major to report.  A good win.  Now it is time to move onto Houston.  That is where our sights are set.  We all know what Houston did Sunday.  That is next on the schedule and we have to move past this one and go onto the Texans.  

**Q: What is your wide receiver situation looking like? I know David [Givens] left briefly last night.

BB:** I don't think it appears too serious but we will probably know Wednesday when they come out there and we'll see where we are with David and see where we are with Troy [Brown]. It ended up getting a little thin there at the end of the game. Right.

**Q: With Troy, last year he suffered an injury in the Kansas City game. He never really seemed to get back to being exactly Troy Brown. Is there a concern with David Patten already on injured reserve, that Troy may be battling something that will linger? Do you have to do something or develop something in your wide receiver core?

BB:** It is possible. With David down, if we want to replace that spot, we could look at that. I think that Troy's situation last year was a little bit different than it was this year injury wise. Hopefully, he will be able to return pretty quickly. He was pretty close yesterday whereas last year, I think that seemed to be a little bit more of a lingering type of injury. In any case, we will take what we have and try to use them the most efficient way that we can.

**Q: We have talked before how you don't find 330 pounders walking down the street. Is there a greater pool sometimes of guys who can go up and play receiver who have played in past year like say for instance a guy like Oronde Gadsden? Or is this a little too complex?

BB:** No, I don't think that. I think that the issues that we have dealt with at receiver other than David's situation which has come up pretty recently, it has been a week here, a week there, two weeks, two weeks there, that type of thing. It hasn't been a season ending injury where it looks like the player is going to be out 12, 14-weeks, that type of thing. It's, you think you are going to get him back so we just haven't had the full complement very many times this year. But it is not like we think, 'Well these guys aren't going to play again during the season.' You just kind of keep managing it and hoping that at some point, that they will all be back out there. We just haven't had a lot of consistency with that situation yet this year. We are still working toward it. Those guys are working hard. They are getting a lot of treatment. I know they are tough guys that want to be out there but that is where it is.

**Q: You have had a lot more successful long passing plays this year than you did last year. Why is that?

BB:** I don't really know. It is not anything that is necessarily intended to go that way. A couple of them have worked out that way. Yesterday we had a couple of blitz situations where we did have a chance to go down field. That was maybe a little bit more expected just because Dallas is a very good blitzing team. We were able to hit a couple of those. We hit them last year in practice. I never had any lack of confidence last year but for whatever reason, we missed them. We have worked hard on it and we worked hard on it last year. Some of the players have made great catches. Tom [Brady] has made great throws. Our protection has been good enough to get the ball down there or get it off. So all of those elements have been in place. Sometimes last year it was just one thing or another, it goes off of the guys finger tips, we are open but we don't have enough time to throw or something happens. We hit some last year, but I agree. We obviously have hit more this year. It is obviously better execution but I couldn't really sit hear and pinpoint, 'Well this is the reason why.' I think also, Charlie [Weis] has made some good calls. I am not saying we didn't hit them last year because he made bad calls. I am not saying that. But I think he has made some good calls where the plays have hit against coverages where the deeper ball has had a better chance to be thrown than it would have been if they had been in some other situations.

**Q: Because you have had success throwing long, when you look at the film, do you see a tangible difference in the cushion or the openings that the receivers get in short routes because of the success as opposed to the way it was last season?

BB:** I think that is probably fair to say. Yes.

**Q: Why is Tom Brady so good at picking up the blitz so quickly? Is it just his preparation? Does he just have natural decision-making ability?

BB:** Picking it up? What do you mean? He doesn't block anybody.

**Q: Getting rid of the ball quickly and making quick decisions as opposed to some other quarterbacks.

BB:** Well, I don't think that has ever been a problem with Tom. I really don't. From the 2001 season when he has been in there, Tom is smart. He sees the field very well and he is a quick decision maker. He has gotten better through the years naturally through experience. But I think that has always been a strength of his, seeing where they are coming from, knowing how much time he has to get rid of it. If there is a free man coming and then unloading the ball, he is generally not one to hold the ball in the pocket. That is not really his style. His style is to step up and throw it. Sometimes those things happen but for the most part that is not really his style. The more they bring, the time clock just has to accelerate a little bit for him which it does, that ball has got to go a little bit sooner.

**Q: Is an injury of any sort bothering Ken Walter? I was noticing him limping a little bit.

BB:** No I don't think so. I think he might have had a little bit of a cramp last night. But no, it is nothing major.

**Q: To the untrained eye, he seems to be struggling.

BB:** Yeah, well the ball wasn't going very far last night. That is no secret.

**Q: In general, not just last night, this season.

BB:** Well, I think that the Cleveland punting was pretty good. He had, whatever it was, four or five inside the 20. He had a couple inside the 10. Some games have been better than others, I agree.

**Q: Is there a particular technical aspect that he is struggling with?

BB:** I think anytime you are executing a technique that has a lot of moving parts like kicking a football or hitting a golf ball or something like that, there are a million things that go into it. One little thing can send it off and it could be a lot of different things. Kenny is working hard. Brad [Seely] works hard with him. They go over the tapes and look at the techniques, not every punt is the same, a lot of it is situational. We are always looking to do a better job.

**Q: Can you afford to have a punter with the punting yips?

BB:** Well, I am sure everybody has been out there in pregame warm-ups. Some go better than others. Some go better than others in the game. You are always looking for more consistency at that position. I would say that is the case right now.

**Q: With the defense, you switched from a 3-4 to a 4-3 during the game as the team has done throughout the year.

BB:** Right.

**Q: Is seems to me a lot of teams would like to do that if they good but it takes a special type of player to do that. What are some of the attributes that the players need to have?

BB:** I think really it just comes from your system that you put in at the beginning of training camp and in the offseason. You teach certain fundamentals. I don't think it really makes a difference to a player, a linebacker or a defensive lineman, whether it is a 4-3 or a 3-4 call. What is important to him is the technique that he has to execute. And if on one thing it is substantially different from something else that he is doing, that is a big adjustment. If it is basically the same thing that he does on everything else but there are one or two exceptions on this against a certain blocking scheme or against a certain formation, here is how you would adjust differently in this set. Then you take that modification into account and handle it that way. That is what we tried to do. We have tried to keep the techniques that we put in at the beginning of training camp, we try to have those last through the season. There are some different groupings. There are some different alignments, but we try not to ask the players on a weekly basis to do things that are dramatically different from what they have been trained to do. I think that there is a comfort level with them on that.

**Q: In your coaching history, have you switched as liberally throughout the season in games or is this the most?

BB:** I would say, since I have been in New England, it has been a use of the two fronts within a season or within games, more frequently than others. At the Jets in 1997, we started off in a 4-3 defense and then shifted to the 3-4 on opening day and stayed with the 3-4 pretty much for the rest of the year. The next year we started in a 3-4 and then shifted to 4-3 very early in the season and stayed with that for the majority of the year although we shifted back and fourth a little bit. In 1999, it was a similar scenario where we started in one and then shifted into the other and circumstances brought that out. In those years, it has been kind of from one to the other and then kind of staying in whichever one we shifted to. Whereas this year, we have been kind of utilizing, even going back to 2000, both fronts.

**Q: It seems like the team that is pretty well disciplined has been the team that makes the fewest mistakes. Why does there seem to be a problem with the penalties?

BB:** Well I think we had less penalties than Dallas did last night, less penalties and less turnovers. I think that was right. Am I wrong there?

**Q: No. There may have been. It just seemed like a higher number to me.

BB:** Well, sure. There is always room for improvement. You can always do a better job in every area.

**Q: How do you balance the two? When you win a highly charged emotional game as you did last night, I guess a lot of fans can overlook the mental mistakes. You have to attack that. So in the wake of a victory how do you work on something like that?

BB:** Point them out and correct them. The calls that we are definitely wrong on, You can show the player and the other players who play that position, 'Here is what you can't do. This one is going to be called and it is not what we are looking for and it is not anything we are going to accept.' Eugene Wilson's play, I don't know what to tell him. I couldn't tell him to do anything differently. I thought he made a real good play on it. Sometimes that is the way it goes. There is nothing I can tell him to do differently than what he did.

**Q: At the risk of being an alarmist, do you see certain plays like that and say, 'That is the play that could lose the Super Bowl?' Or do you just wait for the next day and talk to him about it?

BB:** You mean during the game?

**Q: Do you think that yourself? Do you see small plays like that?

BB:** Well, sure. Anytime you see those plays, whether it is a penalty, whether it is a missed tackle, whether it is a turnover, whether it is a dropped interception or a missed fumble recovery that could have been a turnover, missing a chance to block the punt, sure. As you are sitting there seeing the game, you see those plays go by the board and you are saying, 'Wow, that could have been a big play on a dropped pass.' Absolutely. They are all big plays, significantly if they are turnover plays. Or they could significantly change field position. When you see a missed opportunity, when the fans groan we are groaning too.

**Q: How effective was Ted Washington last night?

BB:** I think defensively, really we had a lot of guys play well. It was good to have Ted Washington and Ted Johnson back out there. I thought they were good solid players for us last night. They both did a good job. It would really be hard to single anybody out defensively. I thought that we got a lot of good play out of a lot of people. Anytime you hold a team without any points in this league, you have more than one guy playing well. I thought all three segments of the defense – the line, the linebackers and the secondary, played solidly. They made a lot of good contributions, made some big plays. It was a good, solid team defensive effort and as I said last night, I thought Romeo [Crennel] called a great game and had a good game plan and put players in good position and the players played well.

**Q: With Ted Washington back, will Ty Warren need to create a niche for himself in a different area?

BB:** Well I don't think that Ted Washington is going to be out there for all of the plays, which he wasn't last night either. I think that Ty is coming along well. I think that in the last month, not that he hadn't made progress earlier because he had, but I think that his level now is coming up to where he is seeing things quicker, he is more comfortable doing more different things than he was in an earlier point in the year. When he has been in he is doing a solid job for us. He is creating opportunity for himself with his performance. It is not perfect, it is not great, but it is not bad either. He is doing a pretty solid job.

**Q: Last year on defense, there were times when you back to teach the fundamentals of the one-on-one matchups. Is it safe to say that hasn't been a problem this year?

BB:** Well I definitely wouldn't say that it hasn't been a problem but compared to last year, it is like night and day. Last year, we weren't any good at anything. We really weren't. This year, we at least have some strengths that we can try to build off of. Last year, it would be hard pressed to find a strength defensively that we had.

**Q: Why is it so much better?

BB:** We play better. We are playing better. We have some new people in there but there are also, collectively as a team, we are playing better. We are executing better. We have changed some things around defensively. I think that, starting with me, we are maybe coaching a little bit better. I don't think the coaching last year was great. I have said that many times before. We addressed some things in the offseason. I think that the players are collectively playing better, individually some of them are playing better but collectively they are playing better as a unit. They are doing a good of taking the game plans and playing unselfishly and playing good team defense and that is how you win.

**Q: What are the strengths specifically on this defense?

BB:** Relative to last year, that would be easy. We are better against the run. We are better against the pass. We are not giving up big plays in the passing game. We are better on third down. Who did we make punt last year? There were games where they never punted. One or two times, there were plenty of those games. How many punts did we have last night, seven, eight? At least looking at some of the games, at least you see the punter out there on the field. Defensively, that is good. Now, we had some turnovers last year defensively which was one of the ways we held some points down and could at least get off the field but in terms of actually being able to stop anybody, at least we have shown the ability this year to go out there on the field defensively and be able to make some plays and be able to stop the other team and get off the field and make the punter come out there. Which, there were not a whole lot of punts last year. Not enough of them.

**Q: You took Eugene Wilson pretty high in the draft. Have you been a little bit surprised by what he has been able to do for you this season?

BB:** I thought that Eugene would help us. I thought that he would have a chance to help us for all of the things that he has as a player. I didn't see it as a safety to be honest with you but I thought that he would be playing significantly for us. I thought that he would have a chance if he worked hard, if he improved the way I thought that he would, that he would have a chance to play and contribute for us this year. I didn't see it at safety initially and when that opportunity presented itself, after looking at all of the things that he did in preseason and his performance in preseason not only in the games but in training camp, we just felt like he was, for lack of a better word, just a good football player. It is not all about how high a guy vertical jumps or what his toe raise lift is and all of that. It is just about guys that are good football players. He played well in preseason. He played well in training camp and has played well during the regular season.

**Q: Has the physicality of his play, the way he tackles people, has that been a little bit of a surprise? Did he look this physical in college?

BB:** I would say, coming out of college, he was a very good tackler. I think that he has had some physical tackles that maybe haven't shown up as much earlier. Sometimes as a safety, you get a little more opportunity to do that. It is not always that the corners aren't tough or aren't physical. It is just the angles that they are coming from, the opportunities that they have a lot of times are better from the safety spot for those types of plays. Eugene has shown when he has the opportunity to do it that he will go ahead and tag them. That has been a positive. Just like the play on when Zuriel Smith got the in-cut and kind of broke a couple of tackles and went across the field, I thought that Eugene made a real good tackle on that. It was a good solid wrap up tackle and he knocked him down and that was it. Those are the types of plays that you need for a safety, to not give up big plays defensively in the secondary. He has been a good part of that.

**Q: Has Rodney Harrison rubbed off on him?

BB:** Sure. Well, Rodney rubs off on everybody. I am sure that Rodney has rubbed off on Ty Warren and [Dan] Klecko and everybody else. I think that everybody that sees Rodney play appreciates his style of play, his toughness, his preparation, and his intensity. I think that rubs off on everybody

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