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Bill Belichick Press Transcript - 11/19

BB: Everyone has the injury report. There are a couple of guys who are on and a couple of guys who are off. I am sure we will have a couple of end of the week decisions on that like we usually do. Looking at Houston, they had a real good win last week in Buffalo. They have beaten a couple of teams in our division. They had a real good win over Carolina a couple of weeks ago. [Tony] Banks has stepped in there offensively. I think this is a real scrappy, tough team. I think they are, in a lot of ways, similar to the Dallas team that we played last week. They are physical. They are tough. They are very resilient. They are well coached and are a very disciplined team. It is the type of team that you can't afford to make too many mistakes against them or they will make you pay for it. Offensively, I think that the Texans have a lot of real good skill players. They have a good running back in [Domanick] Davis. They have some good receivers in [Andre] Johnson and [Jabar] Gaffney and [Corey] Bradford. Billy Miller is an excellent pass receiving tight end. Billy Miller is a guy that is probably not a lot of people know about but this guy is really an impressive player and he has a lot of plays in the passing game. Defensively, it is a very experienced unit. They have a lot of good linebackers of course headed by [Jamie] Sharper, [Charlie] Clemons, [Antwan] Peek, and [Steve] Foley. They have a lot of active guys there and they are very good in the secondary. We know the corners pretty well, [Aaron] Glenn and [Marcus] Coleman. Eric Brown is an excellent strong safety and a real playmaker for them. Another skill player that they have that has been a big play guy for them has been [J.J.] Moses on the return. I think offensively including the kicking game, it is a good group of skill players. Defensively, they are an experienced group and they have had a number of very good defensive games. They gave 10 points against Carolina and 10 points against Buffalo. They held the jets in check pretty much the whole game until that last drive. They have had some very good performances defensively and they are an explosive offensive team with their skill players and on the return. It is a new environment for us down there and again, a new team. We've have obviously never played them. We don't know the players or have much experience with the scheme. Of course Chris Palmer and [Vic] Fangio and [Joe] Marciano are all very experienced coordinators in the league. Of course Dom [Capers] has been in the league quite a while so we have seen or worked against him in previous years but not in the current situation that they are in so there is a lot of newness for us. The players have to do a real good job with their preparation this week seeing a lot of new faces.

**Q: J.J. Stokes, where did you have him rated on your pro board?

BB:** Well he became available last week. We are a little thin at the receiver position and we put David [Patten] on injured reserve. We will take a look at it. We don't really have much background with J.J. He has had some production in the league in San Francisco and of course went down to Carolina this year. He is a little different from the other receivers that we have in terms of his overall size and he does have a quite a bit of experience. We will put him in there and see how that goes.

**Q: Will his skill set in the red zone , will you draw some plays up specifically for him or is he just going to fit in your scheme?

BB:** Well, at this point I think we just need to get him out there and see what he can do in our system. We know what he did in San Francisco but that doesn't really mean anything. We need to see what we can do with him.

**Q: He can't really be termed as a fast receiver can he?

BB:** I think his speed is okay. He is probably not going to outrun Bethel [Johnson]. I am not putting him in that category.

**Q: When you say see what he can do, you mean in practice or in the game?

BB:** Well, you don't put anybody in the game until you see what they can do in practice. A player has to earn some playing time in practice. He hasn't been on the field, no fault of his, he has been studying hard, learning what to do, and trying to get the terminology down and all of that. We can't put anybody out there on the game field until we have some degree of confidence in what they can do in terms of knowing our system and knowing their assignments. I can't evaluate that until we see it.

**Q: Did the Keyshawn Johnson situation surprise you with what has developed?

BB:** I really don't have much knowledge on that situation at all. I don't have any comment on it.

**Q: Well just on the player, what was your experience with him as a player?

BB:** I don't think he has any bearing at all in this game or anything that we are doing.

**Q: Almost immediately after the game on Sunday, you shifted the focus of the players and brought up Houston and said it was the only thing to focus on. Do you find that your team is mature enough now to take that approach without much reminder during the week? Or are you going to have to remind them of the proverbial trap game?

BB:** Houston is a good team. They beat Carolina and they beat them pretty good a few weeks back when Carolina was 6-1. They are 2-1 in our division and could have easily beaten the Jets. I don't know how mature our team is. I think we have some players on our team that are very mature. We have a lot of other young players who have never been through a full season in the National Football League. I don't really know where they are at. They are in un-chartered waters too. I am going to do what I can every week to try to get the team ready to play. That is my job. Hopefully we can collectively as a team, perform and hopefully perform a little bit better than we have done a little bit more consistently. I still think we can play better than we have played in some of the recent games.

**Q: Are you getting a sense of how some of those younger players are maybe taking the cue from some of the veterans and approaching how they prepare especially since this is that time of the year when in college they stop playing at this time?

BB:** Right. I don't know. We go out to Denver and one guy gets three penalties. We come out here last week against Dallas and another guy gets a couple of penalties. I don't know how great that is. It doesn't look all that hot to me. If that is the standard that we are trying to set, then I think we need to try to raise the bar a little bit.

**Q: Do you sense that your guys understand that each game is important and the fact that you are playing a team that is in its second year below .500?

BB:** A team that is 2 games out of the playoffs? Yeah. That is it.

**Q: Do you sense that they won't take anyone lightly knowing the importance of each game?

BB:** There are a lot of players in there and I don't know what is inside everybody's head. I really can't evaluate that. Players who I have been with through an extended period of time and have been in a lot of situations with, I have a lot better idea of what they are thinking and what their approach is than other players who are new to the team or new to this league and through no fault of their own, they just haven't been through it. They haven't been through November and December in the NFL. That is tough sledding. It is not an easy task. We do the best we can to try to prepare them for it and try to make them understand how the game is played at this time of year. More importantly how we need to play against Houston in order to be successful regardless of when we play them. We are going to have to play a certain way in the game or it will be a long day. Just ask Carolina.

**Q: In terms of getting this team mentally prepared for a the season, when you thing back right after game two when you were 1-1 and had a significant number of injuries, how were you able to get this team convinced to come back from that?

BB:** I don't think this team has ever lacked confidence. I don't think they have ever lacked confidence. We won four games in preseason and then we lost in the opener. Then we won a couple of more and then we lost another one and then we won a few since then. I have never felt that the team has walked out on the field feeling like, we re not going to be able to win this week or this is going to take a super human performance for us to win. I think that the team has confidence. I think the team feels that if it plays well we can be competitive with the other teams in the National Football League and the other teams on our schedule. That is just the way they think and that is good.

**Q: How about from an 'x's' and 'o's' standpoint, how much have you had to adjust your schemes and your playbook because of personnel or lack there of?

BB:** Well, we do a little bit of adjusting every week. You always game plan for each team a little bit differently. It is never the same. Even if you play the same team twice in a season, it still isn't the same. There are always some changes or fine-tuning that you do. There have been times this year where we have had to scale it back a little bit due to our depth. There have been other times where we have had new people playing new positions or new people being involved in the game more than…we just wanted to limit what the number of possibilities were that they would have to deal with. There has been some of that.

**Q: Capers is getting a second chance as a head coach. Do you notice a difference in what he did in Carolina and what he is doing now?

BB:** That is a good question. That is a tough question. I have not studied the two situations that carefully. Obviously they are both expansion teams. It looks like, just from a distance, that maybe the Houston expansion philosophy is a little bit different from what the philosophy was in Carolina, just based on the make-up of the roster and who is involved in that. I do not know between Charley [Casserly] and Dom and the personnel people in the Carolina situation. Again Dom was a common thread but there was also Bill Polian and [Jerry] Richardson and a whole different group of people, so I am not sure really where that stops and where it starts within the organization. I think that there probably is a little bit of a different philosophy in terms of building an expansion team on those two franchises. More importantly to me, rather than trying to analyze the direction that the franchise is taking, what we are trying to do is prepare for the team on a one-game basis—our current situation, their current situation. How it matches up and how we can make the most of it, and from that standpoint I think that there is a lot of continuity. Knowing Dom in the past, and Vic [Fangio] as his defensive coordinator, Chris [Palmer] on offense, [Joe] Marciano on special teams, when you look at those units play you see a lot of consistency from the way and some of the schemes that they have used in the past. Not that it is the same—there are always changes—but there is a foundation there.

**Q: Is there much difference between [David] Carr and Banks?

BB:** It looks like it is going to be Banks, so that is where our focus is. He has had two really good wins there against Carolina and then against Buffalo. His quarterback rating is good, he has been productive on his yards per completion, getting the ball down the field, making good decisions and, most importantly, leading this team to victories. That is what a quarterback is paid to do and that is what his job is, taking care of the ball, not turning it over. He did a good job of that last week against Buffalo, and ultimately that was the difference in the game.

**Q: There is not a lot of drop from their number one guy to their number two guy?

BB:** Well Banks' quarterback rating is around 95, and Carr's quarterback rating is around 75. I don't know about who is dropping from where.

**Q: Talking about character plays, does that have a correlation with their confidence?

BB:** I am confident in the players I have on this team and I am confident when I put them on the field. Otherwise, believe me, they would not be out there.

**Q: With good character plays, does that give them more confidence overcoming adversity?

BB:** I don't know. Each player, just like every one of us in this room, we all have a different makeup, we all have a little different personality, we all have a little different motivation on one thing or another. It is the same way when you stand up there and look at our team. They are not all the same. Each one is an individual. They all have different strengths and weaknesses and different levels of experience and different points of view, different ways they approach the game. I am not saying there are not some common threads, but they are all different. They all come together and what I think is important is how the team approaches it as a unit, rather than trying to segregate it out. I think for the most part our team tries to take a professional approach to the game, prepare for an opponent, get ready with the game plan, and try to go out there and execute it on Sunday. We always do it as well as I would like to see us do it. Coaching is tied into that too, so we are still looking for a better performance.

**Q: Do they do a lot of what Pittsburgh does defensively?

BB:** Yes. That is the foundation of their system. I think in terms of percentages, they would not necessarily make the same calls in the same percentage category that Pittsburgh does, but that is the basis of their system—a three four with a lot of blitz zoning and shifting the over's and under's on the fronts. Their nickel package, they use their personnel to scheme that up, but fundamentally I would say it is very similar, yes.

**Q: They seem like a pretty disciplined team. Is making penalties this game more of a concern for you?

BB:** Penalties and turnovers every week is a big issue. Penalties, turnovers, red area and third down—you can always put those at the top of the list. Houston is one of the best teams in the league on the goal line and in the red area on both sides of the ball, and that has led to a lot of their success. You look at the Buffalo game last week—Buffalo has the ball on the two-yard line, can't score, end up kicking a field goal. That is the kind of play that ends up being the difference in a low-scoring game. Penalties are a big party of that, no question about it. Turnovers, red area, third down defense, third down conversions, whichever side of the ball you are on. Anytime you are in a close game, they are going to hinge on plays like that.

**Q: Do you think they take advantage of other teams' mistakes?

BB:** I think that when they have been on the positive turnover category, they have won, and when they have not, they have lost. And that is not uncommon for most teams in this league, so offensively taking care of the ball, not giving it away, and defensively, being turnover conscious and taking advantage of the turnover opportunities when they occur is critical to our success, it is critical to theirs.

**Q: They seem to have good young players. How is their depth?

BB:** It looks pretty good to me. They have a lot of depth on defense, they have a lot of linebackers. They are good in the secondary, good depth at the corner position and at the safety position, for that matter. Kenny Wright and [Jason] Simmons, the way that they have played them, the third and fourth corners. At times they have played when either Marcus [Coleman] or Aaron [Glenn] has been out, they looked pretty good. Again, they have a lot of linebackers. They are very deep at the receiver position. Again, with [Corey] Bradford, with [Jabar] Gaffney, with [Andre] Johnson. They have quite a few running backs—can't get them all in the game, but Tony Hollings has been successful for them. They have [Jonathan] Wells, they have Domanick Davis, [Stacey] Mack, so their skilled positions on offense I think are very deep. Two quarterbacks, they have won with both of them, so I think there is a lot of good, not only young, but good players on that team. Defensively they are a little bit more of an experienced team, I would say more on the defensive side of the ball than the offensive side of the ball. But there are still quite a few good players at every position.

**Q: Can you assess how Greg Randall is playing?

BB:** Greg looks like Greg.

**Q: And you are of course familiar with him?

BB:** Yeah, I think he has a certain style to his game, a certain way of playing, and I think that is the way he is playing. We have all seen it. I think we all know what it is. He is the starting right tackle.

**Q: No big differences?

BB:** No, I think he is a solid player. He is starting for them at right tackle and I think he is playing the way he normally plays.

**Q: Ken Walter has been struggling a little. Do you think he might be able to turn the corner?

BB:** I think that, like a lot of areas of our game, the kicking game has been inconsistent. That covers everything on special teams, take any phase you want—kickoffs, extra points, punts, returns. It just has not been as consistent as we would like it to be. The punting game is certainly part of it. A couple of weeks ago against [Denver] it was great, it was probably the difference in the game. It was not so good last week. We need to strive for more consistency all the way across the board in the kicking game. Every single phase of the game—kickoffs, kickoff returns, punts, punt returns, field goals. The most consistent thing we have done is rush the field goal kicker. Other than that, it is to erratic.

**Q: Do you talk to punters and field goal kickers? What is your philosophy there, do you leave them alone?

BB:** My philosophy on anything is, if it is not going good, to try and coach it and try to correct it. That is what we get paid for. I do not think things are just going to change just because the leaves are changing, or it is November 18th or whatever, I don't know. Things are not going to happen just because the sun comes up in the morning. Either you make it better or it gets worse, it probably is not even going to stay the same.

**Q: When is he kicking his best?

BB:** Punting is—and having coached punters for a number of years—punting is a skill that is different from any other skill on the football field. It is not about being tough, it is not about contact, it is not about being physical with another player, it is about a specific skill. Catching the ball, placing it on your foot properly, coming through with your leg with the proper technique, and hitting the ball the way you want it, whatever that situation calls for. Whether it is plus 50, whether it is backed up, whether it is wind, whether it is coffin-corner kicking, whether it is against the rush, whether it is against the sideline return team, and so forth and so on. It comes down to a specific technique. It is like the difference between hitting a drive and a chip shot and a seven iron—they are all golf shots, they are not the same. It is like hitting a 30-foot putt, it is not the same as hitting out of the sand trap. There are a lot of different kicks involved, each one is a little bit different technique, and it comes down to execution and it is a specific skill. What is wrong on your sand shot might not be what is wrong with your drive. What is wrong on your drive might not be the same as what is wrong on your putt. I am not saying this is golf, I am just saying it is a specific skill that has to be executing by, assuming the snap and the protection is there, it has to be executed by the guy kicking the ball. And it is unique from anything else in football. There is a lot of coaching and a lot of technique that goes into it, from both the coaching standpoint and the playing standpoint, and a lot of analysis. I am not saying that you want to overanalyze it or under analyze it, but you want to get it right. That is what that skill is about, it is about getting things right. It does not take much to throw it off, just like golf. There is not a whole lot of difference between hitting it down the fairway and putting it in the water. There is not a whole lot of difference. Just do a couple little things, and you are looking for your ball.

**Q: Do you think it is some sort of mental block?

BB:** Once again, I cannot tell you what is inside every player's mind, what they're thinking. Kenny has been in the league a long time, and he has punted a lot of balls. He has had some good ones, he has had some that are not so good. I think that is true of probably every other veteran player that has made tackles and missed tackles, dropped passes and caught passes and all that. I think, just like everything else in this league, you have to pretty much forget about what happened last week. If there is a mistake, correct it, but you better look forward to your execution this week and this situation. Kicking in Houston against the Texans is going to be a lot different than kicking in New England and kicking against the Browns.

**Q: When looking at the numbers for your rushing game, do you factor in who you have gone against? Are you encouraged by it or are you concerned?

BB:** I think you have to again take a certain perspective on the past, take a certain perspective on your production and your performance and where that is leading you. But on the other hand, the run defense that we faced last week against Dallas is a lot different than the defense we are going to face this week against Houston. Regardless of how it went last week-- whether we had rushed for 200 yards or rush for 20-- I am not sure that that has a whole lot of bearing on the next game against a different defense, against a different scheme, against what very well could be some different running plays. It is an area that could certainly stand improvement. I am not going to stand here and say that when we run for two yards a carry like we did in Dallas, that that is what we are looking for. There were times when the running game was productive. There were plenty of times when it was not. We need to do a better job. Whether that will manifest itself this week against Houston, I do not know, but we are going to try to improve it.

**Q: Is the system working fairly well?

BB:** I think that all our backs have run hard. They have all shown that they can be productive. It has not been consistent. It definitely has not been consistent. Any time you lose yards in the running game that to me is the biggest problem that you have. If we want to lose yards, we might as well go back and try to throw for more yards. To hand the ball off and end up in second and twelve, that is not good football. Might as well run a quarterback sneak, at least you will be second and nine.

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