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Replay: Best of Patriots Radio Thu Jun 01 - 03:45 PM | Tue Jun 06 - 11:55 AM

Bill Belichick Press Transcript - 11/21

Belichick: We are working on the red area today. These guys do a good job on the goal line and red area on both sides of the ball especially offensively.



            **BB:**  Good morning.  Are you working on any positive pieces today?  There is not too much new here.  

**Q: Did you sign anybody today?

BB:** No. It's the first day we haven't signed anybody in a while. The roster is the same. We are status quo. We are working on the red area today. These guys do a good job on the goal line and red area on both sides of the ball especially offensively. They have been very productive in the red area offensively and real good on the goal line. It has helped them win a lot of games, Carolina, Buffalo last week of course, they had a couple of stops down there and Jacksonville. They had a two-point play against Miami. That will be a challenge for us this week in that area.

**Q: How have the practices been this week? Crisp?

BB:** Well we have been inside so that has taken a little bit of the element out of it. There are always things in practice when you are working on, each week it is a little bit different, new plays and the other team is running different schemes and you go out there and match it up on Wednesday and there are always some things that don't look that good and you try to clean those up on Thursday. There are some things on Thursday like when you put in your third down stuff and red area stuff, you clean that up on Friday. Then you have some two-minute and goal line and short yardage, that kind of thing. You are always fine tuning right until the end. This week was no exception.

**Q: When you go to a new venue, do you do anything special on Saturday?

BB:** Well, you try to talk to some people in the league who have been there and just talk to them about it and see if there is anything unusual about or specific to that field or environment that you should be aware of. Then you usually try to get there and try to check it out a little bit earlier just to find where the 40-second clocks are and to just kind of get your bearings and see where the scoreboard is and that type of thing, are there any conditions, which this week there may or may not be based on an open or closed roof. The wind conditions, the lighting, just the situation you sometimes try to anticipate it especially if the sun is going to be a factor.

**Q: Is it especially important for guys on special teams, guys like Adam Vinatieri?

BB:** Sure. All of the specialist and all of the ball handlers, the returners, the receivers, the defensive backs, again the quarterbacks, just being under center and knowing where that 40-second clock is where you can see it. Or defensively if you are trying to time out your blitzes and that kind of thing, when you see the clocks tick down, four, three, two, if you are blitzing or if you are stemming your defense, you know the ball is going to be snapped and you can time it out a little bit. It is a little bit of playing at home where you are a little more familiar with those surroundings, but on the road you want to make sure that you at least get familiar with them so that in the heat of the game you are not looking around saying, 'Where is the 40-second clock? I can't find it.' Sometimes the flags, you know how that goes too, you look in some stadiums and the flags are blowing one way but on the field, the wind is actually blowing a little bit differently, all those kind of things. It is just part of the preparation for a game. We do the same things at home but we are a little more familiar here with some things but every game condition is just a little bit different from another one.

**Q: Is there anything unique to that facility?

BB:** Well, I don't know what is going to be specific until you get there. It is what it is. It is a grass field, which not all of them are in that type of setting but it is. It sounds like it is not totally uniform surface. Noise will be an issue. Weather could be an issue based on what they decide to do with the rood. The temperature doesn't see like it is that bad based on their climate control system. Things like that. I am sure that crowd noise will be something we will have to deal with.

**Q: Do you get a little bit of an advantage playing against a 3-4 defense having played in it? Does that help at all?

BB:** Yeah, I think it probably helps a little bit because at least in training camp when you install all of your plays you have to put in rules for them and how you are going to handle guard bubbles and all of that kind of thing. I think the way that Houston plays is a little bit different than the way we play it but nevertheless the is still the fact that you had some exposure to it. It is a little bit of a help offensively because you do have to create some rules in the running game, you have to create some rules in pass protection just on how you are going to handle it even if you play the 3-4 every week you still might want to modify that. At least you have a base to go from. I have seen it the other way around where you are blocking a 4-3 all through training camp and you are blocking a 4-3 for five, six, eight, regular season games and then you come to the 3-4 and then you have to re-rule some of your basic 4-3 plays because it is just different now. It is not a four-man line. You have to determine where that fourth guy is or treat is as a three-man line and then you have two sets of rules on either side of the center. Like I said, at least we have a base on it so that is good.

**Q: Do they two-gap? Does Pittsburgh two-gap?

BB:** Pittsburgh, yeah, that system has elements of two-gap in it. I think that basically the 3-4 in Pittsburgh and now in Houston, the line slides a little bit more than what ours does. With ours, the guards are uncovered or at least one guard is uncovered. In their system sometimes they are, sometimes they aren't. A lot of times it ends up in an even front. They shade the nose and that type of thing so it becomes really like a 4-3 over or under if you will. From an offensive standpoint you have to decide when you want to treat it as a 3-4 and when you want to treat it as a 4-3 over or under front or even front depending on how it slides. Those are the kinds of things that you work out in your game plan and you rule them out going into the game.

**Q: J.J. Stokes and Dedric Ward, how did the two of them practice yesterday?

BB:** Good. I think that Dedric really in this system is, as crazy as it sounds, almost the most experienced receiver we have. I mean, Deion [Branch] has only been here a couple of years. [David] Givens has only been here a couple of years. Troy [Brown] didn't practice yesterday but obviously he would be our most experienced, Bethel [Johnson], J.J., Jamin Elliott. So Dedric has at least run all of this stuff through the years, he hasn't been here for a few weeks but in terms of overall familiarity, understanding terminology, putting it together quick, playing different spots, he is kind of directing traffic out there on the first day of practice. It was kind of scary.

**Q: I am going to profess partial ignorance on this topic. I was talking about this yesterday but I didn't really understand it. Can you just go back to the 4-3 over and under and explain exactly what that is?

BB:** Well, it starts with the center. Either the center is covered or he isn't covered and then it really all starts from there. If the center is uncovered then basically people refer to that as an even front, if he is uncovered. If the center is covered, then it is some type of odd spacing, whether that covered is head up or shaded a little bit one way or another and there are some gray areas there. But basically an odd front would be a center covered and an even front would be a center uncovered. Normally when the center is uncovered then you usually have two linemen on either side.

**Q: So with the over/under, it is like it shifting so the tight end is covered by the…

BB:** The over and under, no it is not so much the tight end. If you have four defensive linemen over would be three linemen from the center to the tight end. Under would be three linemen from the center away from the tight end to the open side. Naturally, the linebackers would balance that off. So if you had more linemen on one side, you would have more linebackers on the other side. But if you are an over and under team, you almost have to be in over and under. If you are over you have to be an under team. If you are an under team, you have to be an over team when they move the tight end and stuff like that. They can force you into under or over, I am not saying you have to play it all of the time, but you have to have some degree of versatility there or you might want to be in under but they run the tight end over, you are in over. You have to deal with it like that. If you are an even team, like say Miami. Like if you watch Miami play, you will almost never see the center covered. Five times the whole season, almost never. That is a true even front team.

**Q: You had Dan Klecko in the goal line offense. Could you expand that role a little bit in light of your situation at that position?

BB:** We have talked about that. We could. We have talked about it, especially in the last couple of days with Fred McCrary going on injured reserve that we might need to take the goal line fullback role and make it into a little bit of an emergency fullback situation. Yes, that is a possibility. You get a guy like Dan, well any player, going both ways in the NFL, there is plenty just going one way. There are a lot of things that can happen. If it was a fairly small segment of plays, I am sure that he would be able to do that.

**Q: Do you have a lot of options there with the tight ends like with Fred Baxter?

BB:** Well, I am sure that you saw last week Fred played in the backfield. Patrick [Pass] played back there. Between our tight ends and our backs, we would cover that, we have to get that extra spot covered. A lot of times we are in two tight ends, one back and two receivers in effect one of those tight ends is a fullback.

**Q: Is [Andre Johnson] going to be a focus for you? How do you plan on addressing him?

BB:** Oh sure. He's a big, strong, fast receiver. Tough after the catch. Makes a lot of plays on short passes, where he breaks tackles and runs through people. He has outstanding speed and he is a big target down the field. He's a real good receiver. He adds a lot to their offense. He is strong, comes inside, can block, run after the catch, go deep. Second pick in the draft, so he's got a lot of talent. He'll definitely be a guy that we have to find. Their skill players are good. [Jabar] Gaffney's good. [Corey] Bradford's good. [Billy] Miller's good. Their backs are pretty good. Quarterback's good. So, they've got good skill players and they use all of them.

**Q: His hands were a bit of a question mark, I believe, until he had his vision corrected earlier this season. How have you seen him as far as his catches he's had? How have his hands been?

BB:** I would say good. There are probably other receivers that may have a little bit better hands than him, but I wouldn't say that they're deficient. He makes plenty of good catches. It's not perfect, every receivers going to drop some balls. He's above average. It's no problem.

**Q: Did you see an improvement with him since college?

BB:** Yes. I'm sure the number of passes he gets thrown, the amount of reps he is getting in the passing game, just in terms of pure numbers, that helps any player.

**Q: Speaking of that, Daniel Graham. Why do you think he struggles sometimes catching the ball?

BB:** I think Dan has got good hands. I think he has made some real good catches for us. There are a couple balls that I'm sure he'd like to have that he didn't get. It just comes down to consistency; we've been talking about that all year. Particularly offensively, we have shown the ability to do it and we have also shown that we don't do it every single time at all different positions.

**Q: Do you think he falls into the trap of trying to make a play before he actually catches the ball? He's made some really nice difficult catches, but…

BB:** Yeah. I think that's a good question. I'm sure there is some element of that, maybe trying to run before you catch the ball. I think that happens to all receivers sooner or later. Basically it just comes back to fundamentals. Some of it is timing. Being a little bit deep on the route and then the ball hits you quicker because you are late coming out of your cut. You sometimes come out of it early and run into traffic on the other end of the route. A lot of it is time, but just in terms of pure catching, I would say most of the drops in the NFL are concentration drops. I don't think guys playing in this league can't catch. They can all catch. When they drop the ball, it is usually some lack of concentration, not seeing the ball all the way into their hands, thinking about running after the catch, or just not finishing the play.

**Q: How about anticipating contact?

BB:** I don't know. He has taken plenty of hits too. He has caught the ball and held on. I think if I could sit here and say, 'Well it's this one specific thing.' A players drops have all come on routes to his right or that type of thing. I don't think that is the case. There hasn't been that many. All of our receivers have dropped the ball at one point or another during the season. You would like to have 100 percent consistency catching it from everybody.

**Q: Have you prepared at all for [David] Carr?

BB:** Well you can't help but not do it. He's in the most recent games that we've seen. [Tony] Banks played against Carolina, but we've seen Carr in the other games we've watched including the start of the Buffalo game last week. You can't help but not see him in there.

**Q: But you didn't change anything this week?

BB:** No. No. Just like really, I don't think much changed last week when [Tony] Banks came into the game last week for Carr in the second series, or whatever it was. They are going to run what they run.

**Q: You team doesn't seem to go into the game being over confident?

BB:** Well as we've talked about many times before, records don't mean anything. It doesn't mean anything. Carolina was 6-1 in there and Houston went in there and beat them. They didn't care about Carolina being 6-1 or anything else. It came down to how the game was played that day and the way that it was played that day, Texans played better. This game is about how we play it and how Houston plays it. It doesn't matter what their record is. It doesn't matter what our record is. Nothing in the past really has any bearing on this game, it will just be the performance on Sunday. I think when you watch Houston play, you see a lot of good players. They've won a lot of close games. They are a tough team. They are a gritty team. They're very competitive. They beat Miami in Miami. They beat Buffalo in Buffalo, which is a lot more than we did. They beat Carolina pretty good. And they could have easily beaten the Jets, they could have easily beat Cincinnati and Cincinnati beat Kansas City last week. This is a team that has plenty of talent. They have a lot of good football players. Sometimes they play better than their opponents and sometimes they haven't. You've got to have a lot of respect for them. They do a lot of things well. They are well coached. They're tough. And they aren't going to give you much. You have to earn it.

**Q: Do you ever recall leaving game that you won or lost thinking, 'we didn't take this team that serious'? Or do you just not have that type of team?

BB:** I personally don't. I never look at a team like that.

**Q: Not you, but do you have players that might have approached a game like that?

BB:** I think we can look back on some games and I can't necessarily tell you what the reasons were, but I can look back on some games and say that our preparations weren't really good as what it could have been, our practices weren't as sharp as what they could have been. The time to really evaluate that is before the game, not after the game, because there is a real tendency for the outcome of the game to affect the evaluation. You win and play well: 'Oh, we had a great week.' You lose: 'We had a bad week,' and you remember two bad things that happened in the week. Even though there might have been 800 good ones, you only remember the two passes that were dropped. 'We had a bad week, I remember these two plays,' but that's after you lost. You talk about it Saturday before the game, 'Well we had a great week. We are ready to go. Everything is super.' Then go out there and play bad. That's not the time to evaluate it after the game. The time to evaluate it is before the game when you are just evaluating the week, you don't know what the outcome is going to be.

**Q: Has it been a super week?

BB:** I would say it has been a typical week. It is typical in that we don't know Houston very well. We don't know their players very well. We don't know the schemes very well. We've never played against them, so a lot of the things that we are running out there were relatively new. We have some players in some positions, obviously receiver, that we could go out there and run the most basic play in our offense and we have some new guys doing it. There's a little bit of timing execution there that maybe isn't quite as good as what it would be in a different situation or a different week. I'm not saying it's been a bad week, but there has been some things that weren't very…. Some things were good on Wednesday, some things weren't. We tried to improve those yesterday. Some things yesterday we didn't do well, try to improve those today. I'm sure they'll be a couple problems out there today that we'll have to straighten out tomorrow. In that respect, I'll say it has been pretty much of a normal week.

**Q: When you bring in those new guys, you obviously have to break them in…

BB:** Dedric doesn't have any timing with [Tom] Brady. He hasn't caught a pass from Brady in whatever it's been, two plus months.

**Q: So that's the downside to bringing in new guys, is there an upside in that the other receivers kind of get a bit of a jolt, like the competition you have in training camp?

BB:** I understand what you are saying. I think that could be a possibility. I think our players are pretty competitive. I think they want to be out there. I don't think anybody is not playing because they are not competitive or they don't want to be out there on the field. There is something that is holding them back and they are trying to get it treated and get it to where they can be out there, whether that player is there or not.

**Q: Not so much injury though, I'm sorry I didn't mean to imply that the injured aren't trying to get back out. It's like a guy like Deion Branch or a Bethel saying, 'Okay, J.J. Stokes. I have to up my game.'?

BB:** There may be some of that. There may be some of that. But when Troy [Brown] and David Givens and David Patten and those guys are out there, I imagine they are probably looking at that the same way too.

**Q: Are you glad you don't have to deal with Earl Campbell anymore?

BB:** I'll say. He is probably the toughest runner that I've ever seen in terms of powerful, explosive run. He had a lot of straight-line speed too, but at 5-10, whatever he was, not much more than 5-10, he was so low to the ground. His thighs are like tree trunks. He was a really hard guy to tackle.

**Q: That you have ever seen? Or coach against?

BB:** I'm saying from '75 on.

**Q: I was thinking Jim Brown?

BB:** He wasn't in the league in '75. [O.J.] Simpson was. There were some other pretty good backs in there, but Campbell was really unique in the power and the explosiveness that he had, and yet still had speed if he broke through. He wasn't slow. He had speed to make long runs.

**Q: It's inevitable that at some point you are going to see NFL clips. Do you look back at some of the runs his rookie year when he…

BB:** Oh yeah. He was…again that was a different era, but we think about big guys now, but guys that are big now picture playing 20 years ago. I remember in Buffalo, when Braxton was a fullback. He was 265 pounds. Linebackers were 220. You get backs like Campbell that were, I don't know how big he was, but 230, 235. Whatever it was. There weren't many linebackers that were that big back then. You look at Jim Brown, he played even before that. And the size of that man and his power. At Cleveland, it was very obvious. When he would come back and the linemen would come back, guys like [John] Wooten and [Dick] Schafrath and those guys, Jim Brown is way bigger than them. Just as a person, he's way bigger. It's not even close. Those guys had a little more weight on them when they played, but now that there body is what it really is, not built up a little bit in the weight room, Jim's way bigger. He's the biggest guy on the team. Campbell was really an exceptional player and they ran him. They ran him. It wasn't like they were saving him. That offense was built around him. He was in the eye and he'd get that momentum up there and he did the line of scrimmage. He had to gain three or four yards.

**Q: Tear away jerseys?

BB:** That's right. Yep. Dan Pastorini. Those powder blue jerseys.

**Q: Will Troy Brown or David Givens practice today?

BB:** I think they are going to give it a try. Yeah. We'll see where they are. I think they are both getting better. Talked to them this morning. They are both making progress. Go out there, get loosened up and see what they can do.

**Q: Tom Brady is probable. How is he doing?

BB:** He's pretty much been there all year. Tom…he is dealing with it. Good chance he will play.

**Q: With the receivers you have seven right now; in overall team depth, how long could you afford to keep it at that?

BB:** That is a good question. The fact that we don't have a lot of healthy ones makes that seven number less than that.

**Q: Could you be forced into a situation where you would put Troy Brown or David Givens on injured reserve?

BB:** It's going to be hard to keep carrying seven receivers for an extended period of time. When that breaking point is, I don't know. Whether that is this week or next week, or some other week. It's going to be hard to keep carrying seven. I understand that. It's hard to carry six. So somewhere along the line, something is going to have to give at some point here. Until we can, again a couple of these guys have only been here a day or two, so it's hard to…when you either don't have anybody or just barely have them for a day or two, sometimes it is hard to feel that you have a great handle on the situation and want to make a move right away. We'll have to see how the position settles out here

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