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Bill Belichick Press Transcript - 12/1

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            **BB:**Good morning.  Well we had several unusual types of games this year.  I think yesterday's against the Colts fits into it unlike the Tennessee game for example which was another kind of high scoring game where I think the lead went back and forth six or seven times whatever it was.  This was one of those games where depending on what point in the game you are looking at, one team seemed to be a lot more in control than the other team.  I thought that really even though the score was heavily in our favor at one point and then it pretty quickly evened up by Indianapolis in a short period of time there in the third and fourth quarter, I never really felt either team had real control of the game.  Even though the score wasn't that close, I still felt like it was a real competitive game in spite of the score and so it ended up about where it was.  In other words, even when we were ahead, I never really felt that comfortable and even when they came back and made it 31-31, I didn't feel like we were about to fall apart even though there was 10 minutes to go in the game.  I still felt like, 'Okay, we played 50 minutes here and we are in an even game and in a tough game and it is going to come down to the last 10 minutes.'  Looking at the tape this morning, I think there were really a lot of good plays by both teams.  I am sure there are some that we would like to have back and they would like to have back.  But I think there were a lot of good plays in that game, more than there were a lot of bad plays.  I could say that certainly there were some that both teams would like to have back.  They made a lot of good throws.  They made a lot of good catches.  I thought we made some good plays.  As I said at the beginning of the week, the Colts are a very, very explosive team and I think they showed that yesterday.  I was pleased with the fact that we were able to respond with some big lays and some explosive plays as well.  In the end, I think that is what you need to do to beat a team like the Colts.  You are going to have to have a couple of big plays in the game rather than trying to win it 6-3.  That is where we are.  Injury-wise, [there is] nothing too serious.  I think that everyone was able to finish up the game that had anything come up during the game.  Hopefully, those will all improve and we will be okay on Sunday against Miami.  

**Q: 10-2, obviously that is good. What were you disappointed with in the game? Was there one thing you could think of?

BB:** Well, we didn't play very well from five minutes left in the third quarter to five minutes going into the fourth quarter. We turned the ball over. We gave up big plays on defense. We didn't do anything to help ourselves in the kicking game. We gave up a lot of plays in a hurry and they made plays too. I am not saying they were all bad plays on our part. A couple of them were tough plays and they made good plays. They took advantage of the opportunities that we gave them. You would like to see more consistency than that. No doubt about it. We had the ball in the red zone; we were pretty affective in the red area and on the goal line. That was good. Defensively, at times we stopped them. But at times we didn't. We gave up a couple of fourth down conversions and that obviously hurt us.

**Q: Would you consider carrying two punters on your team, maybe Ken [Walter] to hold and another guy to come in and kick?

BB:** No. Not a chance of that.

**Q: In the fourth quarter, you could have run more time off of the clock. Was there any thought there to try to run the ball at that point to kill some clock?

BB:** Yeah, sure. Basically what we tried to do was throw somewhat we thought were possession type of passes, really glorified outside runs, try to get the ball out there. They were blitzing weak-safety, will-blitzes, Mike/Sam-blitzes, Mike/strong safety-blitzes, that is what they were doing a good part of the third quarter. Then the fourth quarter they were blitzing with ends. It was hard to run against that. I didn't think we would make much. If we could have got the ball outside, and I thought we had a couple of opportunities to, we just didn't get them, that was really our best chance to move the ball and pick up a couple of first downs. We didn't do it. I am not convinced that we would have just pounded it out and run out the clock if we had run inside. They just had too many people and they were coming hard. We didn't run the ball that well at other points against those same looks. We could have taken some time off of the clock. Again, my feeling in that game was, we need to go out to make plays to win. That is how we went into the game. We were either going to sink or swim with that. I think anytime that the Colts have a minute and a half to go in the game, which they had a timeout and they had the two-minute warning and all of that, I didn't think time was going to be that big of a factor. It was going to come down to who made the plays and who didn't. We cut it pretty close there.

**Q: It doesn't look like you abused the short pass yesterday. Do you worry because those are risky passes? If the defensive back anticipates it, it could be a touchdown the other way. There were a couple of them in that game.

BB:** Anytime you throw the ball, there is always a risk that something can wrong. We all know that. We have made a lot of plays in the passing game. Unfortunately there is going to be a couple of bad ones that are going to go with that from time to time, hopefully not too many. If there are too many, then you better reconsider it. We have confidence in it. When the opportunity presents itself, which it did a lot of times in the game in terms of pressure and getting the ball out there on single coverage. We have seen that before in other games this year. We have been successful there. Not every time.

**Q: Despite the personnel were you surprised they ran right at Ted Washington?

BB:** Well, when you are in the formation we were in, I don't think there are really a lot of places to go. The ball inside the one, you don't want to be running sideways to the sideline. There is a good chance you could lose yardage on that down there just because you have so many people close to the line of scrimmage. In an open formation like that, that is what they have done and they have been successful with it. They did it against the Jets at the end of the half. They did it against Jacksonville. They have done it in several games this year and they have hit it. They almost scored when they were out there on the nine-yard line or whatever it was when they ran it down to the two on a similar type of play. That is what you have to defend. They have a big offensive line and they have a real good running back. Giving him the ball with less than a yard to go, he has scored plenty of times. It is not like this guy has never been in the end zone.

**Q: With Ted Washington in the line up, does that change your goal line defense?

BB:** We have made a couple of adjustments defensively for having Ted in there. Yes. Not dramatically but subtle differences just to take into account where he is and what he can do and kind of what we don't want him doing.

**Q: Can you just comment on Bethel Johnson's development?

BB:** Well I think that Bethel has shown some of those things all the way back to preseason. He had a kickoff return in preseason. We know he has a lot of speed. We know he has big play potential and he has produced some of those both ways. If you want a player that has that kind of explosion and that kind of speed, I think for the most part you are going to have to step up there and take him. You are not going to get him in the sixth round. And we did and he has given us a lot of those plays. He has worked hard. He has come a long way this year. He has a long way to go. He has come a long way and he still has a long way to go.

**Q: What were you pleased with and what can you be doing better with the running game?

BB:** Well, it could always be better. We ran into some problems yesterday when they blitzed it and again, they got into a lot of Will/weak safety, Mike/strong safety-type of blitzes and it is more than you can block. There are more guys than you can get. A lot of times the free guy came in there and made the play. We got out numbered at times. I thought that we were able to run the ball fairly well in short yardage, fairly well on the goal line. Our draws, especially in the first half, I thought our runs were complementing our passing game. We were able to move the ball down and score pretty consistently. Later in the game as it just got into more of some obvious running situations then we tried to pound it in there without a lot of success. Then we tried to get the ball more to the perimeter.

**Q: Looking back a couple of weeks, has the running game been satisfactory to you?

BB:** It could always be better. I think everything we are doing could be better. We could run it better. We could throw it better. We could kick it better. We could cover better. I think that every week you see the things that you did and there are always going to be areas that you can improve in. The running game is certainly one of them. I think there are a lot of other ones too.

**Q: With a win this week, you will clinch the division. Is that going to be part of your discussion this week with the team?

BB:** We are playing Miami. That is it. We are playing Miami. How we match up against Miami and how we play against Miami Sunday at 4:15pm that is what it is going to come down to. Everything else will take care of itself whatever it is.

**Q: Willie McGinest said he knew it was going to be a running play because Peyton Manning tapped his backside. Is it easy to capture the signals of the other team?

BB:** I think that when you are out there playing, and you are out there on the field and you are playing against those guys only a few feet across from you, play after play, that a smart player, a player who is aware, can pick up things and get a little bit of a tendency on what is going on. Sometimes they are subtle. Sometimes it is the way a guy's eyes look or the weight he has on his hand. Maybe when he talks to somebody else you can anticipate that there is going to be some kind of game going on between those two guys, that type of thing. I think that type of thing happens all of the time. The linemen communicate it. The defensive line and the linebackers communicate it. You see the defensive backs talking about it, the receivers split and the quarterback mannerisms. I think that is just part of football. I think that everybody does that. I don't think that is any big state secret that anybody has. It doesn't matter who you are playing. It is just like if you go out and play somebody in whatever the sport is, tennis. There are certain times when you can anticipate certain shots and just by the way they go about it. I think it is like that in a game like football too especially where it is so well organized, where everybody sits basically in a stationary position at the beginning of the play. Willie has played them a lot of times. They have played him a lot of times. I am sure that they see each other walking around, you try to disguise it and sometimes you guess right, sometimes you don't.

**Q: At 10-2, you guys are clearly one of the dominant teams in football but it didn't start that way. What effect did the week one loss have in terms of making this team stronger?

BB:** I don't know. I think we played well in Philadelphia. We played better than they did on that particular day. They are a good football team but we had a good game that day. I think that really it came down to that game. I don't think it had any effect of what happened the week before, just like winning the four-preseason games. I don't think that had any affect on the Buffalo game.

**Q: Can you compare the attitude of this team right now to where it was after week one?

BB:** Well I think the team is confident. I think the team was confident at the end of preseason. I think that this team has the feeling that if we go out and play the game the way we want to play it, and each game is different, playing Donovan McNabb is a lot different than playing Peyton Manning and then they are both great quarterbacks. But if we go out and play the game the way we want to play it on our terms and with our style of play, I think we feel confident that we can play with anybody. There are a lot of good teams in this league and there are a lot different ways that you have to play from week to week. Some games are going to, style-wise, come out a lot differently than others.

**Q: What have you had to do to get the team to buy into your system this year?

BB:** I think that this team has been a good team to coach. I think they have been receptive to the coaching. You ask them to try to do something and they do their best to try to do it. It doesn't always work out perfectly but I don't have any complaints with their effort or their attitude or really their unselfishness as a team. They try to do what you ask them to do. I think the credit gets spread from player to player depending on how certain plays or certain games go. But I think as a team they try to play cohesively and take care of their job and play as a team. So I don't have any problem with that.

**Q: You are a very successful team but he used the word dominant. Would you say that is an accurate characterization of the Patriots this season?

BB:** I think that is a joke. The ball is inside the one-yard line on the last play of the game—who is dominating who?

**Q: These last couple of games could have gone either way. It would be unusual if these guys, especially the young guys might now think they can walk on water. How do you combat that?

BB:** Well I think if they just watch themselves play they will be easily convinced they cannot walk on water. Easily. There is plenty of room for improvement. The young players—I will be the first to give them credit. They stuck out by giving us some big plays this year. It is far from perfect and they have all given up their share of plays, and they all know it, believe me. They all know that there is plenty of room for improvement.

**Q: Do you buy into the mantra that close wins might develop character down the line?

BB:** I think good football wins close games. That is what I think. I think if you play good, and you play appropriately in the situation, and you can execute the way you want to execute, you have a lot better chance of winning than if you don't. That is what we try to do. It does not always work out that way, but that is what we try to do.

**Q: It seems to work more times than not. From a confidence standpoint, can you see a carryover of the confidence from one game to the next? Does that carryover?

BB:** The team has confidence. I have never felt that this team did not have confidence, from the first preseason game to yesterday's game. I think they have confidence. I think they have confidence in themselves and I think they have confidence in their teammates. I think that is good but that only carries us so far. You have to be able to go out there and do what you need to do. We have had games where we have had to come from behind and games where we have tried to protect the lead, and all sorts of different circumstances in between. Each one is a little bit different. There is no telling how the next one is going to turn out, so you better be ready for everything. You just do not know how it is going to transpire.

**Q: From a perfectionist standpoint, how far away are you from peaking, from playing your best football?

BB:** I do not know. That is a good question. Either you get better or you get worse in this league. You hardly ever stay the same. Hopefully we can continue to improve. I thought we did some things, as I said, well—certainly better than we have been doing them. For example, the red area offense. We have not been very good there. That has been a big improvement, just to take yesterday's game and pick one example. There are still other things that at other times of the year we did better than we did them yesterday, so we need to keep working on those. And again, I give credit to the Colts too. We are going up against a good football team—it is not like they are getting shut out every week either. We have a lot of things to deal with. This week we are playing Miami—the hottest team in the league, or as hot as anybody in the league. They are playing well, they are hitting on all cylinders and they are going to be tough. We will have a lot of different challenges that we will have to face this week against the Dolphins.

**Q: When you have played on Thanksgiving, did those extra days help you better prepare for your opponent?

BB:** I think the preparation is a little bit helpful, especially in a game like this where both teams know each other so well. I am not sure about the extra day so much as the extra days of rest. This time of year, every day that the players get to get a little rest and get treatment and feel a little bit better physically is a valuable day. There are not very many of them. At this time of year everybody has bumps and bruises. There is no way you can play 12 regular season games in the NFL and not be a little bit worn down at this point. There is no way.

**Q: So that is the plus side of that?

BB:** Yeah. We played it last year and I thought that the extra days after the game, let the players get a little sense of game refresh, to have those games both mentally and physically off. I talk about the mental preparation, and every week we come in on Wednesday and we are banging away at the game plan—'here is what you have to learn to do this week, here are the adjustments you have to make, if they do this you do that, if they do that you do this', go home and study it, come back the next day, go through it again, bring up a bunch more situations. The mental aspect in the NFL of preparing for games and going through all the different situations—if this guy is in there they are going to do this, but if that guy is in there they are going to do something else; we do not know if this guy is going to play, but if he is there here is what he can do; but if he is not there, here is somebody else, here is what he can do. That is a mental grind day after day after day. Then as soon as the week is over you have to forget all of that and start all over again. So to have a few days where you are not thinking about 'what am I going to do if it is Dallas Clark, what am I going to do if it is [Marcus] Pollard, what am I going to do if it is [Troy] Walters, what am I going to do if it is [Aaron] Moorehead? Ok now it is [Marvin] Harrison, now it is [Reggie] Wayne,' and each one is a little bit different. The preparation is a grind. I am not making excuses for anybody. We all have to do it. It is part of the game, but it is a grind.

**Q: What are the basics of a goal line situation? What is it that they know they must do?

BB:** I think the fundamental basis of every goal line defense is, number one, you do not want them to run the ball in. You have to stop them from running the ball in. Coverage is an issue, and coverage is hard because you are singled up out there. You never have really any combination or any help on the coverage. You just have to take your guys man to man, whoever they are. If it is play-action and that kind of thing, then you have some combinations inside with the linebackers having to sort the play out and that type of thing. Number one, the reason why you are putting the goal line in is because you do not want them to run it in and that is your best run defense. You live with the deficiencies in the passing game, and you know you only have to defend a few yards and you hope you can defend it. Whatever way you play—5-3, 6-2, 4-4, whatever it is—and there are a lot of different styles of goal line defense, but I think fundamentally you try to stop the run game first.

**Q: What is your assessment of Ken Walter's performance the last two weeks?

BB:** I am not going to get into that. We have talked enough about that. We talked about it after the game.

**Q: After week one, a lot was made of the Lawyer Milloy situation. How concerned were you that that might create a bigger problem going into week two?

BB:** Any time you lose a game, you are always concerned about the next game, and the next game was Philadelphia. Our players had a good week of preparation and we went down there and played one of our better games of the year. Each week I think is its own entity. I do not think the Miami game is going to have anything to do with what happened in Indianapolis, or what happened in Miami and Dallas. It is going to depend on how the Patriots and the Dolphins face off and play each other. I think that is the key this week, I think that was the key in Week Two, I think it was the key in every week, how teams match up against each other. What they are able to do—not just the match-ups but being able to play the game in those specific circumstances. Playing the Dolphins, even though we have played them once before, playing them up here in December is a lot different than playing them down there in October. It is just the elements of the game. I am sure we will not get that kind of day.

**Q: After Week One, did you think that after week 13 you would be 10-2?

BB:** I never try to think about where I am going to be 10 or 11 weeks from now. After Week One you worry about Week Two. After Week 10 you worry about Week 11. That is what I worry about. I leave it to everybody else to think about it.

**Q: You mentioned a difference between playing Miami this year and playing them last year. What can you take away from the regular season finale into this game?

BB:** We will look at it. We will look at it, but Terrell Buckley used to play for us and now he is playing for them. There are some major differences in the game. There are some different players. A lot of their players are the same, but there are some different players. Different people, and the teams have evolved a little bit differently in terms of planning and schematically what they are doing. The Dolphins have made some changes. We have made some changes. Some of those turned up in the first game. I am sure that we will see some variations or some subtle adjustments between game one and game two this year.

**Q: Do you approach late season games differently? Are the players getting more rest?

BB:** Sure. At this point in the season, we have had close to 90 practices, so a lot of the things we have done, we have done multiple times. We have been through them. It is not really a question of what to do. It is more of an execution situation now. That being said, there is a lot of preparation involved at this time of year because now you have a lot of different views of your opponent and they have shown more than one thing. You have seven or eight games on them, and they have shown seven or eight games worth of stuff you have to prepare for. There is definitely a preparation aspect from a team standpoint, but again a lot of the practice reps and all of that are cut back on a little bit just because of the wear and tear of the season, yes.

**Q: Have you adjusted that over the years, early in your career in Cleveland?

BB:** No, I think that is always been—it is just common sense. You cannot do the same thing in December that you are doing in August and September. You are at a different point with your team and physically they are at a different point.

**Q: When the players are off on a Monday, how much of that is reward or rest?

BB:** They were here the whole week on Dallas. We started here on Monday and went straight through to Sunday. There was no day off that week.

**Q: With some of that how much of it is a reward for them?

BB:** I would say two parts. One, it is a little bit of a reward for the players. I know they appreciate not coming in here and seeing us for a day. And it is selfish from a coaching standpoint, in that we do not have to prepare for meetings with players. We can spend a little more time on the game plan and on getting things ready for the coming week. The further you get into the season—here we are heading into the thirteenth week—there are 12 games on Miami, there are a lot of things to look at. Just because a team played them early in the year—the second, third, fourth, fifth week—some of those teams might have had good ideas and good scheme plays that you might want to take a look at and consider. Or maybe Miami was doing something then that you do not want to completely neglect and here is your chance to get a better look at it. Or maybe certain match-ups—teams that run formations similar to those that we do, or teams that run coverages similar to ones we run—you go back and look at an earlier game, not necessarily the last one. Dallas is a good example. Defensively Dallas, even though they are one of the best defenses in the league, their style of defense is different than ours. Yeah, we can watch it, but there may be other games where we can see a defense a bit more similar to the way we play. Coaches' preparation is an aspect of it. I think player rest and, again, letting their minds cool off a couple days from football, I think that is part of it too. It is nice to reward the players when they have done well and it is an incentive to keep heading in that direction.

**Q: I know when you played Miami the first time, you watched all of their games up to week six. Now, do you watch the games from when you played them the first time or do you just go from the games after you played them?

BB:** I think you have to go back and re-do some of that work. We have played so many games since then—I do not even know how many it has been. Right now Miami is not that fresh in my mind even though we have played them and they are in their division and we know them and all that. I am thinking about the Colts and all the Colts players, and when this guy lines up in that stance, what he is going to do. When [Marvin] Harrison comes in motion, what routes he runs. Today is the day where you have to take the eraser to the board and try to flush all that out, and then go back and re-focus on 'oh yeah, that is right. Miami—when the two tight ends are together, this is what they like to do. When the tight ends are in motion, here is what they do,' and all that, the substitution packets and so forth. There is definitely a re-acclimation to it. Sometimes it comes back to you fairly quickly because you are familiar with the team, but you look at your notes and, again, some of the early games are worth watching, even the ones before we played them. There will be some things in those games that will be more similar, as I used the Dallas example, more similar to maybe what we are thinking, than maybe one that is more recent.

**Q: When you win in overtime and on the last play, are the victories that much sweeter for you as a coach?

BB:** No. A win is a win. They all are going to count the same in the end. I am happy when our team plays well and wins. And when we do not, there is going to be disappointment. Regardless of what the outcome is, I think every week you have to take the same approach—fixing the problems and correcting the things that were deficient and keep those from being a problem in future games. Win, lose or draw I think you have to do that every week. If we do not do it, how are we going to get any better? You have to try and address those things—identifying them and then addressing them.

**Q: Are there reasons why you are able to win these close games?

BB:** I think the credit has to go to the players. They are the ones making the plays. [Willie] McGinest and Ted Washington, they made that play yesterday. [Deion] Branch and [Tom] Brady hit a touchdown pass with the score 31-31. [Bethel] Johnson and the guys out there on the kick-off return team got the ball back at the 31-yard line. Those guys are making big plays in key situations. If Givens drops the ball against Denver, nobody is talking about it. If McGinest misses the tackle down there yesterday, nobody is talking about that either. Players make big plays. And good players make big plays in big games. I think that is what it goes to—it goes to the players making big plays. We have a number of them.

**Q: Does it help coming from behind with four games left?

BB:** I think I know where you are going with that, but here is what I say. Where we are heading into now, this part of our season, situationally I think is going to be a lot different from anything that we have faced. There was no weather factor yesterday, there was no weather factor in Houston, there was not much of a weather factor in Denver. These last four games in December, whether they are here or the New York game, all four of these games are going to be played in the northeast in December. We all know what that can bring in terms of conditions. That affects the field, it affects the wind, it affects the temperature, it is all that stuff. It can be third and two, and it can be third and two in a 20 mile per hour wind, and it can be third and two with a 20 mile per hour wind. Those things, when you start to get into the kicking game and all that, all those situations play differently. When all those situations start to play through, we are getting into potentially new situations, new territory that, in all honesty, we have not [seen]. The Dallas game was as calm a day as I have seen in this stadium—as calm a day as I have seen in New England since I have been here past October. So we are going to face some other situations tha

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