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Replay: Best of Radio Thu Apr 11 - 02:00 PM | Tue Apr 16 - 11:55 AM

Bill Belichick Press Transcript - 11/26

Belichick: I think this is going to be our biggest test. Out of all the teams we have played in the passing game, I think this is a test.



            **BB:**  Everybody has the injury report so you can see where we are on that.  If there is one word that I would use to describe the Colts it would be explosive. Going through all of their games, this is the type of team who they could be down by a touchdown one minute and three minutes later be up by two touchdowns.  I think the Tampa game was a great example of that where they are down 35-14 with, I think it was about 3:30 left in the game, and they come back and tie it and win it in overtime.  The Houston game a couple of weeks ago, they were down 14-10, right at the end of the half, Houston was kind of running out the clock and Indianapolis picked up a fumble and run that back and score.  They got the opening kickoff and go down and score on a couple of plays and they are up by 10 with 14:00 minutes to go in third quarter.  The New Orleans game, they got a strip sack, scooped up the fumble and intercepted a pass, and just turned the game around in a couple of plays.  They had a long kickoff return against Tampa, that was another big factor in it.  It doesn't matter really what phase of the game they are in, they are capable in one or two plays of really turning the score and momentum of the game around.  I think that is really an area that we are going to have to do a good job of in this game, protecting the ball, not giving up big plays defensively and in the kicking game and playing a good sound football game because these guys are capable and they have some many guys that have done it, whether it is [Marcus] Pollard, [Dallas] Clark, [Marvin] Harrison, [Reggie] Wayne, obviously [Edgerrin] James, and you can just right down the line.  They have been very productive as a team and defensively as well with the pass rush guys and intercepting the ball and turning it over and all of that.  They are scoring on defense.  They are making big plays in the kicking game.  They are very, very explosive on offense.  That is kind of the way I see this team.  They have a lot of weapons.  

**Q: How has Peyton Manning matured in terms of his thinking and ability to run a football game?

BB:** Well, I think that Peyton looks probably a lot like a lot of us have remembered him in the last few years. The thing I would say about the Colts this year is they are really doing a good job of spreading the ball around offensively. They have a lot of weapons obviously, [Marvin] Harrison is still the guy and James but their tight ends Pollard and Clark have been very productive and they have had a number of receivers that have produced for them. Wayne is having a big year. They had [Aaron] Moorehead step in for them last week and play well against Buffalo. [Troy] Walters and [Brandon] Stokley have been productive. So they have had a lot of different guys at the receiver spot. I think that Peyton has done a good job of getting the ball to whoever is open. It isn't just a one-man band. They have a lot of weapons and he uses them all. But in terms of his mannerisms and running the offense and 'audibleing' and being a great play action faker and all of those kinds of things. I think that those elements are still in place. He has probably had as much success this year doing them as he has had in other years. He is the leading passer in the league so he is doing okay.

**Q: In the Miami game, Dwight Freeney really made some explosive plays. Was that an exception or is has he been doing that all along?

BB:** No. I think he has 10 sacks this year. He is very explosive off the edge. He is fast. He is a good up field rusher. Those guys that beat the count and get around the corner, if the quarterback doesn't have the ball protected it is more than a sack, it is a turnover. He is one of the fastest in the league. It is not just his speed rushes though. He has good counter moves. He spins back inside, he starts up and he comes under, so he really keeps the rushers honest. A couple of the times tight ends have gotten matched up against him and those weren't good match-ups offensively.

**Q: What did you think about him coming out of Syracuse?

BB:** Fast. Fast, explosive.

**Q: Did you look at him?

BB:** Well, he is a little bit of a different fit in our system. But he is a real good football player. I am sure that he could help any team in the league. There is no doubt about it. He is a good pass rusher. He is strong and he has a great motor. He really hustles all of the time. He is pretty good.

**Q: What can your offense do better in the red zone this week?

BB:** What we can do better is not lose yardage. You get down to the red area and get false starts and lose yardage in the running game and go from first and 10 to second and 12 or go from second and eight to third and 10. That kind of thing. You just can't afford to lose yardage down there. That more than anything else would help us out. We have to eliminate those plays. It is hard enough to score when you are just moving forward, it doesn't have to be 10 yards every play, but when you start putting the negative plays in there and start getting into second and third long yards, it is hard. There is not enough space. It is too hard to through the ball in there in long yardage. We have been in that situation too many times.

**Q: Have any of your games this season that you played turned out just the way you thought they would?

BB:** I don't think you go into a game knowing this is going to be the final score, this is the way it is going to go. You think you are going up against a certain style of team. You want to play them a certain way. Sometimes that unfolds and sometimes it doesn't. When you are playing against an explosive team like the colts, you know you are going to have to defend the whole field on every play no matter what. The ball could be on own one-yard line and honestly I think they are just as close to scoring as they are when the ball is at midfield. If they hit one, they can take it all the way. I think we have to play this game that way. I don't know what is going to happen. They might score 75 points. I don't know. But I know that is the way that we are going to have to play it and they are capable of doing that. If we are successful, then maybe we will hold them to less than that. If we are not, I am sure they could easily score one point per minute. They are that kind of team.

**Q: What is Peyton Manning doing this year?

BB:** Well, I think he is usually trying to get his team in the best position to run the play. Sometimes he has what we call 'run, run checks' where you run this play or run that play depending on the look. Sometimes it is a 'run, pass, check', run the ball if the defense looks like they are soft in the running game. If they are crowding the line of scrimmage, throw it. Sometimes, because the defenses know he is checking a lot of times, the defenses stem in and out front so I am sure there are situations where he calls one play and then he sees the defense move and then he re-calls another play. A little bit of it is a disguise game defensively, and an audible game offensively. It is a lot easier for him to do at home then it is on the road. But they do it wherever they play. It is just part of their offense. It is just the way they do it.

**Q: The pressure on him must be much more because once the ball is snapped, the look changes.

BB:** Well, sure. Anytime you run a play as a quarterback, you still have to confirm what the defense is doing after the ball is snapped. Sometimes you can get yourself in a better play relatively speaking, if you can pick the right one, if you can figure out what they are doing, I am sure that they have, again, depending on what the play is that is called, there are a lot of different ways to do it. But depending on what the play is called, they will just want to try to do, it is one or the other. I am sure that one looks better than the other somewhere to him and they want to just try to gain that advantage for him. But I think probably most every team in the league does that. They probably do it more than most. It is fairly common.

**Q: How much does Peyton's tendency to 'audiblize' affect how you…

BB:** Well I think we have to do it. Indianapolis is one of those teams where, when you normally look at the tendencies of a team—on first and ten they run 60 percent of the time and throw 40, or whatever it is. Then in certain personnel groups and certain formations you see what the breakdown is. With these guys, it does not really matter. They could throw 80 percent of the time in a formation, but if you give them a certain look they are going to run the ball. A lot of it depends on what they see you are doing, what type of play they are going to call. Those tendencies and all that have a lot less meaning in a game like this than they would in some other games because so much of it is done at the line of scrimmage.

**Q: Is he one of the best quarterbacks you have seen?

BB:** I think he is pretty good. He runs the team well. He is aggressive, but at the same time he is very disciplined. I do not think he throws caution to the wind, but you cannot go into the game and say 'well he is not going to do this' or 'he is not going to throw into double coverage'. If he thinks he can get it, he will throw it in there. He will challenge you. I am not saying that is the norm, but you just cannot say 'he will not do this' or 'he will not do that'. He is capable of it and he will challenge the defense. He will also hit the soft spots in the defense, so you have to be good across the board. I do not think there is really any shortcut with this offense. Everybody is going to have to do a good job.

**Q: You mentioned yesterday that speed was a big factor in the secondary. Have you been impressed or surprised with how fast they have meshed?

BB:** Yeah, I think they have done a good job. I think they have done a good job. I think this is going to be our biggest test. Out of all the teams we have played in the passing game, I think this is a test. This is a real good quarterback. They have a real good system. They have real good receivers and tight ends and running backs, and they are very experienced in their offensive system. I think all the elements are in place there. They are playing at home, so the crowd noise will not be a factor for them offensively. I think this will be our biggest test across the board on defense.

**Q: How valuable is it that this team has learned how to come from behind and win close games?

BB:** At the end of every game situational football comes into play. You are either protecting the lead or trying to conserve time and get back in the game or regain the lead or get the ball back. Whatever those situations are, you just have to play them out. We are not always successful doing what we want to do, but we have a plan of what we want to do. Obviously it changes a little bit depending on time and timeouts and field position and field condition and so forth and so on. But situationally all those things are covered by the coaches. You never know what can come up. You never know when it is going to be an onside kick situation or a get the ball back situation or whatever. A two-minute drill or a burn the clock situation, so you just have to be prepared for all of them and then when they come up, hope that you can get them executed for the situation as it presents itself on that particular day. We try to do that every week, but there is no way to predict how that is going to come out. There just is not. It seems like every week there is something that is just a little bit different than what you expected it. Sometimes you have to either adjust to it or talk about it after the game and say, 'well this is what we would normally would do but this circumstance was just a little bit different than what we usually talk about and we had to make a little bit of an adjustment there.'

**Q: What are the factors that go into running a screen pass successfully, and what is it about this team that makes it so good at doing it?

BB:** The screenplay is one of the few passing plays in football where you really know who is going to get the ball. For the most part you know who is going to get the ball. On a lot of other pass plays the quarterback has to read the coverage. Certain coverages put it one place. It has certain elements of a running play to it. There are certain people you have to get blocked. It is an overall team timing play between letting the rush in, getting the people who are in coverage—whether it be man or zone coverage—identified, getting your blockers on them after you let the rush in, having the timing between the quarterback and the back to get through the line and find some open space, and then making good decisions in the open field. There are a lot of different things that can happen when you run a screenplay. The biggest thing you want to do is avoid a negative play there. Sometimes a guy will get in front of the screen and read it and you just do not have anything, so you just have to cut your losses and take an incomplete pass and move on. If you can get the ball out there then it is a question of being able to identify the defense as it is reacting to the play—get them blocked and get the screen started.

**Q: In the past few years, or in your experience, what teams ran [screen play] well?

BB:** Overall I think the best screen team I have seen would be the Cowboys when [Tom] Landry was there back in the '80s. I think they had the most variety and the best execution and a real good sense of timing. They had a lot of different ones. You just could not go in there and say 'well they are going to screen to [Ron] Springs,' or 'they are going to screen to [Tony] Dorsett,' or 'they are going to screen to [Billy Joe] DuPree.' They would screen to all those guys, but they would do it in a lot of different ways and it was hard to really diagnose it. At the same time, for them, they were able to keep the continuity of the screen, but make it look differently and make it hard to figure out. I think they were one of the best at it. There are a lot of good screen teams in the league now. In fact, the Colts are definitely one of them. They use several different varieties and those are like running plays to James.

**Q: Rohan Davey as the number two quarterback—was that just for last week?

BB:** It was for last week, and that decision will be made week-to-week as every decision is.

**Q: You mentioned situational football. With the Patriots down and little time on the clock, what makes Tom Brady so good in that situation?

BB:** I think Tom has good poise, good judgment, but again it is team execution. You have to block them, you have to get open, you have to run good routes, he has to throw them the ball and make good decisions. I think Tom's game management and clock management are good. But it is team execution. It is not one guy. You have to be able to do it collectively, and that is getting to the line and getting set and getting the plays communicated and getting them called and getting them run in a short amount of time. And doing the right thing in terms of gaining yardage, getting out of bounds, using the time-outs and all that. Some of that is controlled by the quarterback, but some of those are team decisions too. A player has to make the decision whether to get out of bounds or to stay in bounds and get the extra yardage and so forth.

**Q: Who is the best quarterback in that situation that you have seen?

BB:** Well that guy in Denver was not too bad. [John] Elway. He was decent.

**Q: Can you talk from a coaching perspective about the job that Tony Dungy has done out there?

BB:** I think Tony has come in there and really done well the last two years. They have won a lot of football games. Defensively they have changed their scheme around quite a bit from what it was two years ago when we played them in '01. Offensively it has really been a continuation of Tom Moore's offensive system and there is a lot of continuity there, but defensively they have changed a lot of things around. They got a lot of new players on defense, run a new system, and again their specialists are good, even guys like Wilkins, who was there before, then left, and now he is back. They are still pretty good in that category. Outstanding kicker, and not just field goals and extra points, but kickoffs and again the onside kick in the Tampa game had a lot to do with them winning that game. That was a great kick. I think Tony has taken a lot of the strengths of the team and built on those, and he has changed a little bit, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, to reflect his philosophy and the style of team that he has. One of the things about doing that when you have a fast defense, when your philosophy on defense is speed and team speed, there is a residual carryover effect there to the kicking game because you have your players on defense, most of those guys are special teams players. If your backup players are in that faster, more athletic category, then a lot of times that helps you in the kicking game. I think they have improved on special teams as well.

**Q: What was the decision on putting Rohan Davey as the number two quarterback?

BB:** We thought it was the best thing to do for that game.

**Q: Something specific about the Texans or was it just that he has been practicing?

BB:** It was a coaching decision. All the things that go into a coaching decision—that was a coaching decision.

**Q: Going back to the screenplay, is Kevin [Faulk] doing something particularly well in the screen pass that makes it so successful?

BB:** I think Kevin, like a lot of other backs in the league, some backs are good in space, they are good in open space, they have good run vision, they are able to recognize and set up blocks out in the open field like a returner would do. It is sort of like a punt or kickoff return, to a certain degree. There is space out there, there are defenders, there are blockers. You want to, as a runner, set those blocks up because if you do not then the defenders are probably more athletic than the guys trying to block them, and they can slip them and make the play. He does a good job of using his blockers in the open field, so being a good open field runner he has some quickness and has good change of direction and can make some people miss out there. Usually those are the best screen-type backs, not that guys big and fast that can really run could not be good, but you kind of need the play set up for them in that case.

**Q: When you have an effective screenplay, can that open up your downfield game?

BB:** It maybe helps open up your passing game just in terms of the pass rush. Really what you are trying to do on a screen is you are trying to suck the rush in. You are trying to let the coverage drop and create separation between the rushers and the droppers, and then get the ball to the player with some blockers in front of him. The less the rush penetrates, or the shorter the defense drops, then the less space you have in there. A lot of times you see screen plays get run down by the rushers. They turn, they run, they chase, the guy has to cut back, and he gets nailed from behind. The more you can create separation in there, usually the better play you have. The less separation you have, the tougher it is. If you can get a defensive line worried about screen plays and keeping an eye on the back and waiting to see if the guards and center are going to go out and set the screen, then sometimes that slows them down on the rush a little bit. The underneath coverage—if they are not concerned about screens and draws and quarterback scrambles and that kind of thing, then they can just keep getting more depth. It is hard to get the ball down the field the tighter they have to squeeze up and play for those shorter plays, the screens, the draws, the quarterback scramble type plays, then that creates some intermediate levels in the passing game.

**Q: Rohan Davey—has he shown some improvement this year from last year?

BB:** Well sure. I think all the players that are out there practicing, if they are out there on a regular basis, they are improving. It is hard to measure that when you do not see any game action. You can only play with one quarterback, so there is no game evidence since the start of the regular season, other than three or four plays, but yeah I think he is improving. I think Damon [Huard], I think they are all improving. They have had almost 90 practices this year, I hope that we are a little bit better.

**Q: Specifically, is he being more patient with things?

BB:** A quarterback has so many things he has to do. I think it is hard to just, in this case, pick one out. There are just so many things—the play-calling, the decision-making, the ball-handling, play-action faking, third down, red area, man coverage, zone coverage, throwing to the backs. There are just so many things a quarterback has to do that, the more reps he gets, the more experience he gets, to a point, usually the more they improve and the better understanding they have of it. You still have to go out there and execute it under pressure. Until that happens, I do not know if we are ever going to get as good an evaluation as we would really like to have

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