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Bill Belichick Press Transcript - 11/28




**Q: Marvin Harrison. I remember the press conference a while ago and you were talking about defensively if you want to take somebody away that you could almost always do it, but that nobody can stop Marvin Harrison. What makes him so effective?

BB:** First of all, part of the problem with a guy like that is finding him because they move him around a lot. There was a time when he always lined up in the same spot. I'm not saying he was easy to defend, but at least you knew where he was. Now it is less predictable where he is. He may not be the fastest, but he is pretty fast and he has the combination of speed and quickness, as well as experience, good hands and route running. He is obviously one of the best receivers in the league and he beats with his quickness and he beats you with his speed and he has a good quarterback. When you combine all of those elements … and a good runner and some other good weapons offensively. They are spreading it around. He is still the man, but they have a lot of other weapons too that even if you do stop him, you have to worry about a lot of other people.

**Q: Technically speaking he is one of the best route runners?

BB:** Yes, one of the best and he can play outside or in the slot. He has a complete set of receiver skills.

**Q: I was looking at some of his numbers. Earlier in his career he was sharing the ball with Marshall Faulk. Marshall was catching a lot of passes. When Marshall left is when Harrison starting catching 100 balls. Was it more of factor of Marshall leaving or did you see something different with Harrison at that point?

BB:** If I am not mistaken ... how long was Lindy [Infante] there? Marvin's first year was 1996. When Lindy was there Marshall was being used as a third receiver for them. They would split him out and he would like the third receiver from an extended position. That was maybe a different emphasis in the offense. [Sean] Dawkins, Harrison and Marshall, a lot of times those were their three receivers. I'm not saying that Faulk was not in the backfield. He was back there plenty. A lot of Lindy's offense was to split into that three wide look with Marshall as one of the extended receivers.

**Q: Have [David] Thornton and [Mike] Doss kind of changed the look of the defense?

BB:** I think when you look at Tony [Dungy]'s defense they all are going to look pretty much the same because his scheme is very consistent. They run their two deep and then they run their three deep zone and then they run their blitz zone and a little bit of man with the free safety. Pretty much wherever he has been it has been pretty much the same scheme with the same front with some of the same stunts. They have a package that ties in well together and then they get the people to play it. Whoever the players are playing it, they have to fall within the framework of the scheme. It is very consistent. The things that they run, they run them on a consistent basis. Whether it's [Dwight] Freeney or whether it is Simeon Rice or whoever it is, that is what they do.

**Q: I know we have spoke in the past that you don't have an opportunity to cross paths with fellow coaches. I was wondering if you had any friends within the coaching fraternity, specifically whether you talked to Tony Dungy and ever exchanged notes with him?

BB:** I would like to say that Tony's first years of coaching were in the late 1970s. I'm not sure when he exactly started, but it is somewhere in there. I think he was playing when I first started coaching if I am not mistaken. We have both been in the league a long time. When he was at Pittsburgh … both being defensive coaches we certainly crossed paths a number of times. We have never been on the same staff together though.

**Q: In terms of staff to staff, do you sit down and talk about what you like to do?

BB:** it is probably like the same relationships you make. Sometimes you work with somebody, sometimes you have a common bond there somewhere with a connection. Sometimes when you run a similar style of defense, particularly if you are not competing directly with that person, if they are in another conference or something like that then you might be able to match up notes on common opponents. I don't know if there are any set formulas. Sometimes it just works out that way.

**Q: Can you talk about how he has a lot more weapons on this team and they run the ball a lot more. What have you seen defenses do against Indianapolis. It is one thing to say they are going to double Marvin Harrison, but now they have other people to worry about as well.

BB:** I think that is where you see some of the production there. [Reggie] Wayne is having a big year. [Dallas] Clark is catching a lot of balls. [Marcus] Pollard is very productive. He has missed a couple of games, but on a per catch basis. You have seen the other guys in there like [Aaron] Morehead, [Troy] Walters, [Brandon] Stokley they all have production. It has been some different guys. When you look at the receiver group as a whole, it is not all Harrison. He has his 800 yards or whatever it is. What has Manning thrown for 3,000 yards? Those 2,200 are to somebody else

**Q: Have you seen teams say, 'we will deal with Reggie Wayne'?

BB:** I wouldn't say that. I would say teams have taken different approaches. With Houston there were a lot of times, not all the time, where they just took their two guys and put them over on Harrison. If Harrison went in motion then those two guys went with him. It was very obvious what they were doing. There are other teams that didn't do that as much.

**Q: How did it work out by comparison?

BB:** They double Harrison and they [Houston] gave up some to some other guys. [Reggie] Wayne hit them with a double move for about a 55-yard touchdown.

**Q: Obviously, you have to pick your poison. Which one would you rather deal with? Would you rather have Wayne get 55 yards or Harrison get 160 yards on eight catches?

BB:** I don't think you are very happy if Wayne catches a 55-yard touchdown on you. I don't think you walk on the field saying 'well, it wasn't Harrison.' You can't feel very good about that. You can't feel very good about Pollard catching a 70-yard screen pass. Well we shut down Harrison. You are going to have to play good defense across the board against a team like this and you are going to have to do a good job on everybody … Harrison, Pollard, Walters, Clark, Wayne, James. It is not a one-man band.

**Q: [Peyton] Manning having felt a twinge in his elbow and having an MRI, does that change how you prepare for him at all or do you feel that he is just still going to play?

BB:** He will be there.

**Q: In a situation where something happened and they use Brock Huard, do you pick Damon's brain about his brother? That has to be an unusual situation.

BB:** It is an unusual situation, but I think that the Colts offense has been the Colts offense now for multiple years, same coordinator, same system. They are going to do what they do. They are not going to go in there, if they had to change quarterbacks and throw out all these plays and run all of these other plays. You can't do it. You have too many other guys that know what they are doing. It would be too hard to do that. I'm sure that they feel comfortable with Brock running the offense and he had plenty of snaps in the preseason and did a good job with it. I'm sure they have plenty of confidence with him running it like Peyton.

**Q: But as a sibling, you might know what takes someone out of the game better than something else. If you are playing your brother in the backyard you do certain things differently to annoy him.

BB:** Sure and if you are playing one-on-one it is a lot easier to do that. When you are playing 11-on-11 it's … I'm sure it is like any other quarterback. Cover the receivers tight, get a good rush on them, that hurts them all.

**Q: Obviously you didn't practice yesterday, but from what you saw the previous two days, how is the timing in week two with Tom [Brady] and Dedric [Ward] and J.J. [Stokes]?

BB:** Better. It is definitely better. There is a lot less of, 'What do I do on this route and what do you do on that coverage,' and that kind of thing. It is more repetition now rather than just installation. That definitely helps. I think they all feel better about it - the quarterbacks and the receivers. More time together helps.

**Q: When Patrick Pass gets the ball in the regular offense seems to run hard and with almost every kickoff return he has handled he has had a significant run back. Is there a point where you say that he has earned a position where you can get him the ball a little more and see what he has to offer?

BB:** I think Patrick knows, and it is no secret, take advantage of the opportunities you get and you will get more of them and I think he has to a degree.

**Q: I know we are in Week 11, but if you look down the line your entire backfield can turnover at the end of this season. I am wondering if Pass will be given the opportunity next season.

BB:** Right now what is relevant is Indianapolis. That is really all that I'm concerned about. I'm really not worried too much about what is going to happen next year. Any player that gets opportunities and they are productive with those opportunities is it going to lead to more opportunities. Patrick is in that category and he is well aware of it believe me. He has had some good plays. He has had some that were better than others. I don't want to make too much or too little about it. It is what it is. If you go back to a couple of years ago he caught a big pass for us in the Miami game and scored a touchdown. I think he knows and we all know that he can have a role in the offense. He can be productive in our offensive system. He was our leading rusher in the preseason. It is not like we are afraid to use him or afraid to get him the ball. There is only one ball and it can only go to so many people. We don't mind seeing him with it.

**Q: Marvin Harrison was around the third receiver taken in the 1996 draft, after Terry Glenn and Keyshawn Johnson. Are you surprised with how he developed?

BB:** He was taken ahead of [Eric] Moulds, wasn't he?

**Q: Yes.

BB:** I mean, if you take him in the first round, I don't think it's a throwaway pick.

**Q: I don't mean that, but did you expect him to have the kind of impact he's had in the past few years?

BB:** I think so. I think the fact that those receivers went in the first round that year, which is unusual for that many receivers to go in one year in that first round, gives you some indication of that people thought of him. They can't all go first. They can't all go second. For them all to go in the first round? I think that shows they were pretty highly thought of. It's just the question of who takes who, but I don't think that anybody thought that any of those guys would not be good players.

**Q: Did you think that he and Terry Glenn were pretty similar in their abilities? You were here, right?

BB:** Yeah, but I was on defense. I coached defense. I scouted most of the defensive players, the Lawyer Milloys and even the other defensive players that came through that year, even [Tedy] Bruschi and Devin Wyman and Sully [Chris Sullivan]. I didn't see as much of the offensive players. You just see them when they're playing somebody else.

**Q: Do you recall if there was a lot of discussion about Terry Glenn vs. Marvin Harrison?

BB:** There was a lot of discussion about all of those guys. I think there was a lot of feeling here in the organization that they were all good players and they are. That's no secret.

**Q: There was nothing that you can recall that put Glenn ahead of Harrison?

BB:** Well, I wasn't part of those discussions. I was coaching the defensive backs and not the receivers, so that was Bobby [Grier] and Bill [Parcells] and Charlie [Weis] and whoever else was involved in that.

**Q: There were several dropped balls against Houston. In general, is that a concern for you? Or, is that just an anomaly or an isolated thing?

BB:** To be a good receiver in this game, you've got to be able to do two things. You have to get open and catch the balls. Without both of them, you have nothing. That's what receivers do. That's what you have in the passing game. To have a good passing game, the quarterback has got to make the right decisions and throw the ball accurately. Without those two things, you've got nothing on the throwing end. When those things come together, you have completions. When they don't, you don't.

**Q: I just remember several of them in the Houston game and was wondering is it's something you've seen as a pattern this year.

BB:** I'd say the overall number of dropped balls this year is probably … It's always more than what you want it to be. Nobody wants to drop any balls. No coach wants to see them dropped and every player wants to catch every ball he touches. The fact of the matter is that I don't think any team's gone through a season without dropping a pass, so you're looking to improve it and you're looking to eliminate them. That's our goal every week. Every week our goal is no dropped passes, no blocked kicks, no penalties, no big plays on defense. Those are always your goals every week. It doesn't mean you hit them every week, but that's what you're shooting for and that's what we're shooting for on the receiving end, not to have any [dropped balls].

**Q: Is it a higher number compared to last year?

BB:** When you talk about dropped passes, it depends on how you want to look at it. There are ones we can look at and we can all say, 'He absolutely should have caught that ball.' There are other ones where we can say, 'Boy, he could have caught it, but it would have been a great catch.' Is that a drop or is that not a drop? If a guy dives out and gets one hand on a ball and makes a terrific effort to even touch the ball, is that really a drop? That might be asking a little bit too much. There's going to be a little bit of a gray area on those. There are other ones that are more clear cut where you think, the players think, the fans think, the coaches think and the other team that's playing you all think that he should have caught the ball. Those fall into a different category. Where you want to draw the line and distinguish one from another … On any given play, it might be clear cut, but when you look at a lot of them, they're going to fall into different categories. It's going to go through the whole spectrum.

**Q: I know you never question officiating, but there was one with Bethel [Johnson] when he was on the ground and he came down with it and the guy slapped it away and it was called incomplete. That's the way it looked on the replay. Maybe that's not really a drop.

BB:** Right.

**Q: That goes in the category of …

BB:** Well, it's definitely an incomplete pass. I don't think there's any question about that.

**Q: He came down with the ball and the defender slapped it away after Bethel was already on the ground. It could have been called differently, so maybe that doesn't go in the category of drops that maybe I or a fan might …

BB:** All I'm saying is that I think the play was called correctly.

**Q: Okay.

BB:** Absolutely. If the guy doesn't have the ball at the end of the play, It's not going to be a catch. Whether his knee hits, whether both feet hit, or he takes a step and all that, until he catches the ball and then does some other football-related act like tuck it away or stretch it out, or do something with the ball after he catches it, if it comes out as part of the catching process when he hits the ground, in bounds, out of bounds or anywhere else, it's not going to be a catch. It's like the Todd Heap play in the Baltimore game in the end zone. It's not a catch, it's never a catch and it's not going to be a catch until they change the rule. Look, I don't have any argument with that play. If we don't end up with the ball at the end of the catch, it's not going to be a completion.

**Q: What's your evaluation on the way Bethel Johnson has been playing?

BB:** He's making steady improvement. I think there's things each week that get a little bit better than the week before, for the most part. He started the season without a very sophisticated background in the passing game. Routes, releases, terminology, route adjustments, all of those kinds of things, we've thrown a lot at him. He's absorbed a lot, but he's still got a long way to go. I think he's made some solid progress and he's had some production for us. There's still a lot in front of him, too.

**Q: Do you spend time in practice preaching to the offensive players to try to strip the ball after interceptions?

BB:** Well, any time the offense turns the ball over in practice, whether it's an offensive play or it's a scout team play where we're the other team's offense and the defense turns it over as part of the play, then the offensive players finish the play and they sprint to whoever's got it - whether it's a fumble or an interception or whatever - not to actually tackle the guy, but to get in position to make the play after the ball has been turned over, to limit the yardage on the runback. That's emphasized. Of course, Bethel or any other player who's playing in the kicking game gets plenty of instruction on that because they're really defensive players when they're in coverage. We do talk about it and we do it defensively more than offensively, but it does carry over into the kicking game. With a player like Bethel, who's in the kicking game, he would get that emphasis there as well. Tom Ashworth wouldn't get as much because he doesn't have that same role in the kicking game.

**Q: Has Tarik Glenn been very instrumental in their success passing the ball?

BB:** Well, he has been, but he hasn't been in the last five weeks because he hasn't played. He's a very good left tackle. He's physical and he's a good pass protector there on the left side, the quarterback's left side, our right. He's a strong run-blocker. He's a big man and he's athletic. He came back against Miami for a while, but he really hasn't played much in the last five or six games.

**Q: How important is it for your offense to put together longer drives and keep their offense off the field?

BB:** Well, that's helpful. It's definitely helpful. Scoring points would be even more helpful. We don't want to have long drives and not end up with points, but To be able to control the ball offensively and to be able to score points, that's what you need when you play the Colts. The Jets, I think they ran 38 plays in the game and scored 31 points. They had a lot of their points on big plays and that's great, too. We've done that before. But, the combination of controlling the ball and scoring points, you're going to need to do that offensively against the Colts. You need one or both, because I know there are a couple of teams they didn't score a lot on, but historically that really hasn't been their pattern. It's hard to think you're going to win this game 3-0. You might, but statistically and historically, that's not really the way most of their games go.

**Q: It seems like regardless of the opponent you stress that each game is a dangerous game and an important game. Do you ratchet that up to a different level this week and point out that since there are two 9-2 teams here, this game could have further implications? Or, is that going against your philosophies at all?

BB:** I think you've heard me say may times before that I don't think anybody's record means anything for one game. It doesn't matter what ours is and it doesn't matter what theirs is. All that matters is who plays better on Sunday.

**Q: All I'm saying is that this could have implications on whether you're getting on a plane and staying at a hotel in January in the first or second week of the playoffs.

BB:** Not if we lose the four after this it won't.

**Q: But, do you mention that at all to these guys that this is a team you're contending with in the overall standings?

BB:** I think everybody understands - and we say it, but don't overemphasize it - that the more you win, the bigger the games become. That's the way it is. If you win, the next one is a little bit more important than the last one in order to get to where your goals are. That's the way it is for everybody. But for any single game, I think there's really no relevance to the teams' records or what happened the week before or any of that stuff. It's about the preparation and the performance this week and that's what it comes down to. We'll pick up the papers Monday morning and there will be plenty of games where you'll say, 'Boy, I'm surprised they lost to so-and-so,' or 'I'm surprised that so-and-so beat this other team.' I look at the scores.

**Q: When you were 25, did you have that philosophy?

BB:** In my first year with the Colts, the team was 2-12 the year before, or whatever it was, they were terrible. So, in '75, we came in there and we started off the season 1-4. The, we won the next nine games to finish 10-4 and win the division. But, when we were 1-4, it was the worst team in the league and couldn't do this and couldn't do that. There were 15,000 people at the game and all that. Within nine weeks, it was really the same team, they were obviously playing better, but it was the same team and the stadium was sold out and people were standing in the lobby on Monday trying to buy tickets. They're out scalping them outside the stadium and everything else. The whole atmosphere, the whole city changed in those two months. It was the same team, the same players, basically the same everything, but the results were a little different and it was a totally different environment. It wasn't like it was from one year to the next. It was not only being worst-to-first from '74 to '75, but being the worst in the beginning to middle of October - at 1-4 we were last in the East - to ending up being 10-4 and being first in that division within a short period of time. Maybe I didn't know it going into that year, but I knew it by the end of that year

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