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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Thu May 23 - 02:00 PM | Tue May 28 - 11:55 AM

Bill Belichick Press Transcript - 12/11

Belichick: (on Brown) He ran a few routes with the scout team and he did a few individual drills. It was good at least to see him out there jogging around a little bit.



            **BB:**  Good morning.  What is up this morning?  

**Q: How did Troy [Brown] do in practice?

BB:** Better. He ran a few routes with the scout team and he did a few individual drills. It was good at least to see him out there jogging around a little bit.

**Q: How about Travis Dorsch? Do you have an update for us? Did you find out if he was in for workouts?

BB:** No. I should have dug that out. No, but I will get it for you. I will get it for you today. I have had so many of them in here, I lost track.

**Q: Deion Branch, can you talk a little bit about the progress he has made this year from last season?

BB:** Well I think the big thing this year is he is out there. He missed quite a bit of time in the second half of the season last year and it is good to have him out there. I know he has played through some bumps and bruises along the way. He has shown a lot of toughness and he came through, those catches he had Sunday, those were really big plays. They changed field position. He has done a real solid job for us. He started off strong and he is a good player and has been a solid player for us.

**Q: Can you just talk about the benefits of having veteran players on your roster?

BB:** Well, I think anytime you have veteran players, they have just been through it before. A lot of things that come up during the season when they are not new and they have been through those experiences, I think most of us handle things better the second or third or fourth time around when you have had a chance to go through it before no matter what it is. I think those guys do a good job of that. They also try to impart some of their experience to the younger players and we do have a number of younger players on the team. It is a very unselfish attitude that the veteran players bring. It is not about what everybody can do for them. It is more about what the team can do and what their role in it is and how the young players can fit in.

**Q: Do you feel like you are talking more or talking less to them about not getting too high on themselves or too low even?

BB:** I don't think we ever talk about that. We just talk about what the challenges are this week and how we are going to meet them. That is really what we try to do every week. It is not about doing what we did last week or keeping something that we had. It is about, 'Here is what Jacksonville brings. How are we going to deal with Jimmy Smith? How are we going to deal with [Fred] Taylor? How are we going to deal with [Byron] Leftwich? How are we going to deal with Kevin Johnson? How are we going to deal with [Kyle] Brady? How are we going to deal with this offensive line? How are we going to deal with David Allen?' Right down the line. 'Here are the things that we need to do to deal with a very talented team like Jacksonville and this is what we are going to do about it.' That is really how we try to be specific to the problem because in the end, you can bang your head against the wall all you want, in the end it is going to come down to whether you can block [John] Henderson, whether you can block [Marcus] Stroud, whether you can block [Hugh] Douglas, whether you can block [Tony] Brackens, whether you can get by Donovin Darius, whatever it is. It is how you deal with those guys or those schemes.

**Q: With the replacements you have with the specialists, you talked about taking more practice time, have you had to go back and do some of the basics from training camp?

BB:** I would say in terms of doing more, you only have so many plays during the week that you can run, offensively, defensively and special teams. You have basically 'x' number of plays. If you add more somewhere you are probably going to take some away somewhere else or we will be out there until six o'clock at night. If you are going to add more plays in the punting game, then you take them away from some other aspect. If you are going to add more red area plays then you take away from first down, third down, or field goals or whatever it is. All I am saying is we are adding more field goal plays, we are adding more punting plays, we are adding more of those plays so that we can try to build the timing and the recognition, like the shifting punt rushes and their different looks and so forth and how we have to handle that, the punters assignments and the snappers assignments and how they could change and that kind of thing. So we are just allocating more time to that both in walk-throughs and meetings and in practice reps on the field. When I say those kinds of things now, fundamentally the specialist always go through those drills on a weekly basis. You go through bad snaps, you go through no huddle field goal, you go through all of those things, just the three of them or three of them on a field goal, two of them on a punt, they all go through those on a weekly basis as part of their preparation. But in terms of the team aspect and the timing and all of that, we have allocated more of that which means we are pulling it from somewhere else.

**Q: Given you have a new snapper, is it advantageous to have Damon Huard as your holder in case something breaks down during a field goal and you have someone who can throw it?

BB:** Well, I think what is important for the holder is that he has good hands to be able to handle the ball cleanly. I am not sure if having a quarterback versus having somebody else, it is still the skill of getting the ball and getting it down and getting on or as close to the spot as possible. If everything breaks down and the guy has to throw it, who you are throwing it to in that situation isn't probably what you are really looking for anyway.

**Q: You mentioned you could practice eight hours a day. How do you decide when enough is enough?

BB:** Well, that is tough. You just have to prioritize it. Right, we could be out there, especially at this point in the season, everyone has played 13 games so by the time you go back and see everything, like Jacksonville, everything that they have done all the way back to early in the season, yes, you could be out there practicing this stuff for three weeks and still not get it all called. You just have to prioritize it. 'Here is what we think they are going to do against us,' or 'These are the things that we know they are going to run on a weekly basis and how are we going to handle them?' You just have to pick them out. You sit in there as a coordinator, and I have done this many of times, you sit in there and you have all the cards drawn up and all of the plays that they run. You have 12 plays. Then you have 60 cards. Which 12 do you want? 'This is for the corner, this is for the linebacker, this is if we are in cover two, this will be a problem if we are in cover three, this will be a problem if we were in a blitz.' You try to get a little bit for everybody or if you really have a conviction, 'Well, this is what they are going to try to do,' then maybe you take a couple of extra plays to work on that. Ultimately, you just have to prioritize and pick your spots. But, yes, we could be out there all day.

**Q: Do you start saying, 'Well we have two hours and this is what we have to fit in there,' or do you say, 'Well I want to get these plays done and it is going to take two and a half hours to get done?'

BB:** No, I think you block out the time frame that you are going to be out there practicing and then you say, 'Okay this is the number of plays we have,' and you have to pick which ones you want to run. 'We are going to take 10 plays of third down, let's decide what we want to run. Do we want to run five plays of third-and-10, five plays of third-and-five, five plays of third-and-one, three of each?' You just decide how you want to sort it out. Within that, what plays do you want to run in that situation then, 'What are our calls going to be?' As a coach what you really have to decide in terms of your game plan is you can put a lot of stuff up on the game plan board and it all looks great. Then what you have to do is you have to sit there and say, 'Okay, a) can we practice it? b) When am I going to call it?' Where you don't want to be as a coach is, you don't want to be sitting there when you look at the game plan and you look at it and you say, 'Okay we have four calls I really like in third-and-six to 10, any of these plays would be great. Third-and-three to five, what are we going to do? We don't want this, we don't want that, we don't want that.' Now you have nothing in third-and-three to five and you have too much in third-and-six to 10 let's say. You don't want to be in that situation. As you are putting everything together and you go situationally, it all comes down and then you really come to that final Friday, Saturday, 'Here is what we have, how are we going to use it and when are we going to use it.' Sometimes you are sitting there and saying, 'Well, we have more than we need here and we don't have enough here.' Then you have to try to iron that out in your final preparation.

**Q: In the past as an assistant, have you seen where you saw practices that just went too long?

BB:** Well, sure. I don't know if there is any set formula for it. Every situation is different. But sometimes your team is banged up and it is not about going out there and leaving it on the field and running a lot of plays. In fact there are other times your team needs the time, it needs the execution reps, it needs the practice time and you have to devote it or you just can't get any better. You just can't get any better sitting around talking about it. 'We are going to run this play better,' great, but until you can actually execute it better, it probably isn't going to get any better. But I think each team is different. You get some teams that honestly don't need to practice as much as others. You have other teams that really need it. Sometimes you have a certain aspect to your team that you feel like really needs a lot of work and then you have another aspect of it that you don't think needs that as much. You try to balance that out.

**Q: How does the relative strength of your schedule factor in? You have a 7-0 record against teams that have a winning record. Is that at all advantageous?

BB:** I don't know. I haven't thought about it. I don't know. You just take them as they come.

**Q: You have beat some pretty good teams in Dallas, Miami and I am sure that was a different Philadelphia team that you beat in week two.

BB:** It sure was.

**Q: Does that at all factor into these guy's confidence at all?

BB:** Well, I think anytime you go out and win and play well it helps your confidence. I think that is all to it. How those things would affect us? I think it would just depend on…we'll see where it goes. I really couldn't answer that now.

**Q: Kansas City has not played as tough a schedule as you have.

BB:** You play who you play. You know how I feel about that. I do not think the record…in one game, it doesn't mean anything. Jacksonville to me, they are one of the best teams we will play. I do not care what their record was, and I do not care how they played in September. I look at how they are playing now, I look at how they played in Houston and I look at how they played against Tampa and I look at how they played against Tennessee, Baltimore. They are playing well. How they played in September, what difference does it make? I know they were 1-7. Maybe I would not have said that if we had played them back then. But the way they look playing now, Leftwich is back, Smith is back, they have Kevin Johnson defensively. Nobody is scoring on them. They give up 33 points in four weeks. You are not going to win scoring eight points a game very often. That is where they are at now, and that is all that matters. I would not really worry about anybody else's schedule. I would just look at the specific match-up coming up and that is really—it is not about where a team was, it is about where they are right now.

**Q: If you beat these guys do you think it is going to help you in the BCS?

BB:** Look, you play 16 games. Every one of them is important. There is no game in the schedule that is not an important game—not when you play 16. Maybe at 162. You miss one you have 161 to go or whatever it is. But not when you have 16.

**Q: Have you talked to Nick Saban?

BB:** Nick? Yeah, we talk on a regular basis.

**Q: [on giving advice]

BB:** Well there are a lot of problems that a college coach has that a pro coach does not have and vice versa. There is no salary cap at LSU.

**Q: You are 11-2. Have you played your best game yet?

BB:** I do not know. I think we will have to wait until the end of the season to evaluate it. I think there are areas we can improve in, yes. Whether we will or not of course remains to be seen.

**Q: Are you seeing everything click the way you want it to?

BB:** I think we come out of every game saying there are things we want to do better. I do not really rank them, but there are things you do well in every game—I should not say 'well', but things you are satisfied with that are pretty close to the way you want them executed. Some other things are not there, and you have to try and correct those and move on. The big thing is a lot of those situations will reoccur during the season. They may not reoccur the following week. You play Miami. The way Miami plays defense. Jacksonville may not be playing that defense. It might be some other time when we see something similar to that. You do not know when that learning is going to give itself an opportunity—I am talking about specific schemes and that sort of thing. You may be in a third and twelve situation again in the year, but specific schemes as they match up may not come for a while. You still have to bank it. You cover it, you correct it, you bank it and when it comes up again you hope that you are able to build off that previous knowledge.

**Q: You are kind of the George Blanda of coaching. With Dan Reeves being fired from Atlanta, any cause to talk about that at all?

BB:** I guess I would have two thoughts on that. One, on the positive side, to be able to be in this profession and in this league for a long time is an honor and it is something that I am proud of. Honest to God, it does not seem like that long ago that I was the youngest coach in the league and the players were older than me. It was a big question about how you could coach guys that are older and more experienced and have been in the league longer than you have. It does not seem that long ago, but I guess it was a couple of decades ago.

**Q: In 1975 did you think you would be coaching this long?

BB:** In 1975 I did not know what I would be doing two days in the future. When you are 23 or whatever it was at that point, for me long term was next week. I did not really think past what would happen tomorrow. I did not know what was going to happen the next day. You are making 25 dollars a week, you are just going to work day to day going through something you have never really been through before. It is not like you are thinking about retiring at that point. You are just trying to make it to the next day.

**Q: Did you want to be the next Marv Levy?

BB:** I do not think so. No, I do not think so.

**Q: Can you explain how it is that you do not have great stats and yet you are 11-2?

BB:** I think we all know what the most important stat is. It is team stats. It is not individual. That is why we are all out there. That is why we have 53 players, or 45 active ones during the game. Everybody has a job to do. Everybody has a role. Everybody has a part to play and you go out there and play it. The result is what the team does. It is not about featuring one guy or one guy's stats. Not that that is not important because that leads to the overall team production, but it is team performance that is more important than individual performance. That is the universal feeling on the team and that is what I think it needs to be if you want to be successful.

**Q: Can you tell me what Tom Ashworth has been doing well up to this point? Feet, hands, strength—what has allowed him to be out there every game?

BB:** I think just going back on Tom in college. He played tight end in college and then was moved to tackle later on in his career there. When we saw him in preseason he was a very aggressive athletic guy, a little bit of a tight end playing tackle if you will, at this level. Even though he moved to tackle in college, they are just so much bigger in this league and more physical that he kind of looked like a tackle. Athletic, tough, competitive, just not really physical enough. And you see Tom, he has the frame for it. He just did not have the girth. He worked hard in the weight room. That was a big target for him—his overall strength and explosion and power. Not just weight room strength, but explosiveness and power on the field. I think he has an aggressive playing style. He is smart. He is tough. He plays the game hard and he has become a lot stronger to go up against some of the most physical ends that we have played against—guys like Kevin Carter, guys like [Michael] Strahan and, we will see this week, guys like [Tony] Brackens. I do not think the athleticism has ever been a big problem for him, not that he has not gone against good edge rushers, guys like [Jason] Taylor and you can go right down the line. When you go against the big physical guys—the Trevor Prices, the [Michael] Strahan's, the Kevin Carters, the Brackens', the guys like that, that brings another element of strength and power that you have to be able to meet. I think that is the part of his game that has improved the most since he has been here. He has worked hard at it with Mike [Woicik] and the strength coaches and, as you can see, he has the frame to hold it. It was never a question of that, but he just needed to grow from a tight end into a tackle.

**Q: For a tight end that becomes a tackle, was Matt Light at one point a tight end?

BB:** He is a wannabe tight end. He is a wannabe. To be a good tackle in this league you need to have enough athleticism to block the type of athletic edge rushers that you see during the course of the season. Not everybody is like that, but there are certainly plenty of them out there. I think to be athletic enough to block them is certainly a real test. Now there are a lot of good tackles that would never be tight ends—the Orlando Brown's and the Orlando Pace's of the world. But they have another level of their game that they can neutralize that type of athleticism—it has to or they would not be able to play. I do not think it is a prerequisite or anything like that. You know how it goes in high school and college—you get a big athletic guy, he is at a skill position, then you get another athletic guy that is more skilled than he is and he moves inside. Kyle Brady is an interesting guy like that. When we had him at the Jets, there was talk of moving him into tackle. He is built a lot like—well he is probably bigger than Ashworth—he is built a lot like Seymour. Not obviously that heavy, but I am sure Kyle could easily be 300 pounds. Easily. We talked about moving him to tackle. I was on the defensive side of the ball, but I remember that was part of the discussion at the Jets, whether to move him into tackle or leave him at tight end. I am sure he could probably be good at either one. He is a great tight end blocker. He covers people. He is powerful. He can pass protect against defensive ends. He also makes a lot of plays in the passing game, so he is probably one of those guys who could have done either one.

**Q: Can you comment on the influence that Rodney Harrison has had on the younger guys, and on the defense in general?

BB:** Rodney has done a great job for us all the way around. On the field, off the field, in the meetings, just in every aspect of this game. He is professional. He works hard at the game. Football is important to him. He is a good team person. He plays the game the way we like to play it—he is aggressive, he is tough, he is physical, he plays hard and he makes a lot of plays. I think he really has a good attitude, a good approach to the game and he has a good playing style.

**Q: When you talk about a team attitude, is that spending time with the younger players?

BB:** It is setting an example by being prepared himself. It is helping out younger players who do not have as much experience as he does. It is working with veteran players—guys like Ty [Law] and Tyrone [Poole], who have played maybe not as long, but close to as long as he has played. Building the chemistry and communication within that group and Tedy Bruschi and Ted Johnson and [Roman] Phifer and those guys, because as a safety you have to communicate with your linebackers in front of you to make sure that you are all on the same page in terms of your coverage and run force responsibility. All of that is part of it. I could not really sit here and single one thing out. I think they are all strong points and they all make his leadership and just his presence on the team very significant—again, both on and off the field. A lot of that comes in the meeting room. You sit there and say 'ok here is the play right now. I am going to do this, you are going to do this, here is how we are going to handle it, ok.' Some of it is out on the practice field and some of it is in the game.

**Q: Sounds like he has some coaching attributes.

BB:** I will tell you this—I think he is well respected by the team. I do not think there is any question about that. I am not talking about just the players. I am talking about players, coaches, everybody that is around him. I think he is well respected. There is really nothing not to like about him. He is a good guy, he is a good player, football is important to him and he works hard.

**Q: You were talking about Tom Ashworth and his improvement. Dan Koppen has a long way to go, as a rookie. Is it less of a dramatic increase?

BB:** I think you are talking a little bit about apples and oranges there, but it is a good comparison and it is something you have to look at when you are looking at a player. For example, when you are drafting or if you are evaluating a player like Tom Ashworth before the season, you have to see the future on that. If you want to look at him as a player right then, you will end up saying 'well he does not look very good. He cannot help us.' If you want to look down the line and say 'well, if this happens and that happens, would he have the potential,' well that is a different story. With a guy like Dan, it is a whole different set of skills at this point in his career. Dan's strength is his strength. He is a strong, physical player—not that he cannot get stronger, I am not saying that. He can, and he can definitely improve himself physically, but he is already pretty far up that ladder. He has good playing strength. He can anchor the line of scrimmage. So that is not really what it is about with him. It is more about his skills. Believe me, playing in space and blocking pass rushing ends like [Jevon] Kearse and [Kevin] Carter and [Michael] Strahan and [Tony] Brackens and Hugh Douglas and those guys is a whole different ballgame than playing with two guards beside you and pass blocking inside. I am not saying it is easier, I am just saying it is a whole different ballgame.

**Q: Given that his strength is his strength and he is a smart guy coming out of college, why then does he last until the fifth round?

BB:** If you look at the draft, you will see historically that a lot of centers are taken in later rounds, in the fifth, sixth, seventh. Jason Ball last year was a free agent, he is starting out there in San Diego. There are plenty of guys like that, that come later in the draft that are players at that position. You know what the priorities are later in the draft—guys that can rush the passer, guys that can cover, guys that can score points and guys that can play offensive tackle. Those are all priorities. Not that other players do not get drafted, but those are always going to be the priorities so I would think that in Dan's case there is nothing not to like about him as a player. He is a three-year starter at a good program, against good competition, playing against the guys from Miami, playing against [Dan] Klecko, playing against Syracuse, Bowl games, everything else. There is nothing not to like about him. You can say that about a couple hundred other players in college football too. You just have to try and find the right balance and the guy that is right for you and your system and all that.

**Q: Overall what roles do Rick Lyle and Anthony Pleasant play on this team?

BB:** Rick was active last week in the game. We know Rick has position versatility in terms of playing inside and outside. Anthony also can play inside in sub situations and pass rush situations. Not in regular down situations, but he can move inside in sub situations. Those are his roles and, like I would say about every player on the 53-man roster, if they were at the game, if we could take 53 to the game, all 53 would play in the game. The problem is we can only take 45. There are plenty of teams that I have coached where, if I took 53 players to the game, there would still be four or five players that would not get in the game. They would not be good enough to play, or they would not be ready to play, whatever the case is. In this particular team and in this particular situation, you take any of those guys on the inactive list, like you guys want to do every week. 'How come this guy is inactive, how come he did not play, is he in the dog house, is he no good' and all that,'—no. But if we could take 46, 47 or 52, those guys would play. Take a look at the inactive list, those guys are significant players and they would be if they were there at the game. You just cannot have them all.

**Q: Have they accepted their roles on the team?

BB:** I think you would have to those guys individually about how they feel about it. But from my standpoint, what I say to the players and what I say to the team is, 'Look, your job is to get ready to play the game. The coach's job is to do personnel substitutions. You have no control over that. It is not your decision so don't worry about it. There is nothing you can do about it. You get ready to play, when you get the opportunity, then be ready to go. The coaches decided what the substitutions are and that is what their job is. That is what they are getting paid for. When you get an opportunity, be prepared for it, take advantage of it and if you do then that will lead to more opportunity for you.' I think that is all a player can do. He can't sit around and worry about, 'What about this? What about that?' You can be sub-rusher and we are never in sub. You can be a goal line player and we are never on the goal line. You could be on the kickoff return and we don't have to return kickoffs this week. Sometimes that is the way it goes. You can't control those things. All you can do is be ready to go and take advantage of the opportunity. That is what I ask all of the players to do. I think they do a good job of it

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