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Replay: Best of Radio Thu Apr 18 - 02:00 PM | Tue Apr 23 - 11:55 AM

Bill Belichick Press Transcript - 12/22

Belichick: Buffalo is really good on defense. They are certainly one of the best defensive teams in the league all the way through.



            **BB:**  Good morning.  There are no roster moves today.  Nothing major on the injuries to report. So, I guess we will just move on to Buffalo.  Obviously we took it pretty good the last time we played them so we have spent a lot of attention looking at that game and of course looking at the other 14 games since then too.  Buffalo is really good on defense.  They are certainly one of the best defensive teams in the league all the way through.  They have good corners, good linebackers, a good front and a good scheme.  They do a lot of blitzing and mix in a lot of different coverages so they give you a lot to prepare for.  Gregg [Williams] has obviously done a good job and statistically, more than statistically, just on film it really shows.  They have a good punter.  We certainly know better than anybody what they are capable of offensively with [Travis] Henry and Drew [Bledsoe] and the receiving group, [Josh] Reed and [Eric] Moulds and so forth.  That is what we have been working on.  Hopefully, as I said the other night, we can play a little more competitively than we did the last time we faced them.  That is objective number one and at least make it a game.  

**Q: What was it that made it a 31-point difference between the two teams in the last game?

BB:** A lot good plays by one team and turnovers by another. Penalties, turnovers, negative plays. I think almost half of our plays in the first 40 plays almost half of them were negative plays, sacks, turnovers, penalties, some version of all of those. Almost half the time we were going in reverse instead of going forward. That is not what we are looking for. We gave up 50-yard completions, pass interference penalties, penalties in the kicking game, you name it, you can take your pick.

**Q: Did it seem like they played at a different emotional level?

BB:** They played well. There is no question, they played well. They ran the ball, they threw it, they tackled us, they rushed the passer, they made plays in the kicking game, you name it.

**Q: Given all that has transpired between then and now, how relevant is what happened in that game to what you are facing this weekend?

BB:** Well, a lot of the same players are playing. There are a couple of changes here and there; there is no doubt about that. There are a lot of the same players that will be going up against each other. Moulds will be there, Henry will be there, Bledsoe will be there, Ruben Brown will be there an All-Pro guard, Reed will be there, [Lawyer] Milloy will be there, [Takeo] Spikes will be there. Those two defensive tackles [Sam] Adams and [Pat] Williams, they will be there. [Aaron] Schobel will be there, [Ryan] Denney will be there, [Nate] Clements, [Antoine] Winfield, they will all be there.

**Q: Given they will be there, but given the direction in which they have gone...

BB:** Look, I don't care about that. I don't care what happened last week. They took the Titans right down to the wire, it came down to the last play. They had several other big wins this year, none bigger than ours. It is not really about how they match up against somebody else. It is how they match up against us. We are playing them. That is what counts. The last time they matched up pretty well. Like I said, we are going to need to be able to play more competitively than we played the last time. That is where it starts.

**Q: Do you forward to the opportunity to kind of bookend your year and maybe show where you have come from?

BB:** I just look at it as it is the next game. It is the next game. It is not about when the last one was played or what the date was or where it was on the schedule. We look at it for study and be able to improve off of it. This is the next one so we will do everything that we can to get ready for it.

**Q: But you are not reluctant about looking back to see how poorly you played, are you at all looking forward to seeing how well you can play?

BB:** I hope we can play more competitively than we played the last time. That is where it starts.

**Q: How well has Lawyer been playing? I understand he has been playing well over the last month.

BB:** Well we all know that Lawyer is a good player. He is aggressive. He is a good tackler. He is a good hitter. We all know that. He is doing it. So is everybody else on that defense. They have a good defensive team. The linebackers are active, they blitz well and put a lot of pressure on the quarterback, stop the run, the defensive line is good, the corners are good, and the safeties are good. They have a good defensive football team. They have to be ranked, I don't know exactly what the numbers are, but they have to be ranked right at the top of the league. What did they give up 200 yards against Miami? They are pretty good.

**Q: I have to believe that you went into that game thinking that you had a good game plan and for whatever reason it wasn't executed. At this stage in the seas, 14 games later, do you have any fears that your team would not execute a game plan as they did in that game now?

BB:** Well, I don't know. Anytime you go into opening day, there are a lot of unknowns. That is true for everybody. On that particular day, they certainly handled the new things we showed, and the new things they showed, and all of that, the way it all came together it certainly came together a lot better for them than it did for us. But we have all see that before, teams play each other one week and then the same two teams play each other a couple of weeks or a couple of months later and you could have the same result but you still have a different type of game a lot of times. Sometimes the results are different. I don't know. We will find that out on Saturday. We still have to go through the same process, the same procedures, the same preparations that we do every other week. Regardless of what happened the last time, whether they beat us, which they did, or we beat them, which is the way it was the time before when we played them. You look at it, you learn from it, you factor it in but you get ready for the next one.

**Q: One of the differences in that first game in the secondary is Eugene Wilson starting.

BB:** Eugene was starting. He started at corner.

**Q: He started at corner in that game?

BB:** Yes.

**Q: Okay, I stand corrected, now he is starting at safety.

BB:** Right.

**Q: In the place of Antwan Harris. How much of the 20-something interceptions that you guys have...

BB:** Not all of the passes were completed on that position believe me. So, yeah there are changes and they have changed their free safety too. It is 15 weeks later. I am not saying there aren't any differences in the teams. There are. [Izell] Reese has been replaced by [Pierson] Prioleau. They went through the same thing a few weeks later but they had an injury and they went through it there. But there are a lot of people that are the same. We can name them all and it is most of them. Even the ones that we lost for a period of time during the year for a period of time whether it be Ted Johnson or Ted Washington or Mike Vrabel or those kind of guys, they all played in that game.

**Q: Did you come out of that gem thinking that you had misread your team?

BB:** No, I thought we didn't play well out there and we didn't. I am not that sharp but I can figure that out.

**Q: You played so well the following week, was there any difference there? You looked so good against Philadelphia.

BB:** Yeah, well we played better. We played better. Maybe they didn't play as well, I don't know. You would have to ask Philadelphia about that. I think we played better that week. But that is what every week is about. It is about getting ready and preparing and then going out and you put the product out on the field. We all know some weeks it is better than others. If we all knew exactly what that formula was, we would put it in a jar and we would be all right. That is the NFL. That is pro football. This week certainly I am sure they will be coming in here with a lot of confidence and we will have to see whether we can match that same mental emotional level and physical level. We will find out Saturday.

**Q: You already have the bye. How important is home field advantage?

BB:** The only thing that is important right now is playing Buffalo. We can't worry about any of that other stuff. We can talk about it when it gets here. Right now it is just Buffalo.

**Q: The way the NFL schedule is, you are always going to work Christmas week. Is it a difficult week for you and the players with the distraction?

BB:** Well you have the Thanksgiving holiday too. We had that a few weeks back. I am not saying it is the same but it is similar. You have seven days and one of them is a holiday and this year it happens to be the same day, Thursday. You just work around it. We have dealt with it every year and wherever it falls you just try to work around it. It is the same for us, Buffalo and every other team in the league. You just try to figure out what is the best way for your schedule that week whether you are playing home or away or where it falls and so forth. That is really a little bit different every year because of the way Christmas moves through the week.

**Q: How about with it being on a Saturday this week?

BB:** Well, we played on a Saturday so it is really a seven-day week for us. It is Saturday to Saturday instead of last week, which was Sunday to Saturday where we really were a day short this week. We have the full compliment of days we just have a holiday that we have to factor in there on our schedule.

**Q: How much do you like your team?

BB:** Well there have been some things that have been good and other things could be better. It is not really about, at this point, I get asked about it every week about reflecting about this and reflecting about that, the mid-term grades and all of that stuff, the November report and the Thanksgiving update and all of that, but really it is week-to-week. Just one day leads into the next. The game is over, you come in the day after the game, you grade the film, you get ready for the next opponent and you do the scouting report. Then you put together the game plan. You go out and practice, you correct the practice film. You make the adjustments you made during the week, you make your roster decisions and your active decisions at the end of the week, manage the injuries, play the game and the next week it is on to the same thing. It is not really about going back and how is this going and how is that going and comparing this year or that week to some other year or some other week.

**Q: Does it get boring?

BB:** No. It beats working. But that is what it is. It is a lot of short-term goals. You are hour-to-hour, day-to-day and week-to-week. You are not year-to-year at this point. You are week-to-week.

**Q: But at 13-2 it would seem there has to be something that you like about the team.

BB:** Well, I think as soon as you take that attitude, you are going to be 13-3. You take that attitude at 5-2, you will be 5-3. Take that attitude at 3-0, you will be 3-1. As soon as you think everything is great and you don't need to do anything, you will drop one.

**Q: Do you have to do something different during the week to maybe break up the monotony so that the players do not fall into a rut?

BB:** I think there is a fine line between being on a roller coaster and being consistent and the consistency being monotonous and boring. There certainly are some ups and downs there. On the other hand, when there are peaks and valleys that is not good either because you do not end up with enough high points. You have too many low points in there. You try to break it up. Certainly every week is different from the last week. Even if you were playing the same team back to back it would still be different. On the other hand, I think there is something to be said for a routine, for consistency and for following a pattern so that you know where you are. I walk in here on Thursday or a player walks in on Friday, he knows where he is at that point in the week. If for whatever reason he is not at that point, then he knows he is a little bit behind or I know I am a little bit behind. Or maybe I am a little bit ahead. But you know where those benchmarks are and being in a routine, I think there is something to be said for that in terms of your preparation leading up to the game. If you are behind a little bit from where you normally are, then you need to do something to pull that back up either to where it should be or to where it needs to be.

**Q: Does it surprise you at all-it is human nature for players to look ahead a little, after where they have been and what they have done.

BB:** Why?

**Q: Do you think you would look down when you get to the top of Mount Everest?

BB:** Probably do. Yes.

**Q: These players have bought into what you have been telling them about it always being about next week's game. Does it surprise you at all how much they have accepted that notion and have rejected the temptation to look ahead?

BB:** Again, I cannot tell you exactly what is in everybody's mind. Far from that. I have been around a lot of these players now for four years and I think they have approached it the same way. Here is what we need to do. Here is how we need to do it. Let us all get a hold of the rope and start pulling and get it done. It does not mean it works out all the time. It does not mean it is great. I am not saying that. That is just what we do. I think that the players have done that. I do not know that this year is any different from last year in terms of that. 'Here is what you do this week; here is how you go about it, let us jump in there and start doing it.'

**Q: Do you have more playmakers on your defense now than you have in your tenure here?

BB:** I think that is a hard question to answer, but I would say that to be a good defensive football team, you need good players but you need to play good team defense. I think you can take an all-star team and still not be a good defensive football team because it all has to fit together. There only needs to be one hole. Five guys can be doing a great job, but if there is a hole there, they only need to make two blocks and the guy is through it. Only one guy needs to be open. The other four could be covered like a blanket. If one guy is open, you have a play. Playing good team defense means everybody on the team playing good defense, not one guy. One guy cannot stop an offense. Offensively, if you only have to block one guy you will probably block him. If you have to commit three guys to him, you will probably block him. That means somebody else has to make them. I think defensively we play fairly well together as a team, sometimes better than others. But I think to have a good defensive football team your players have to play well together as a team. That may sound corny or maybe that is not answering the question, but that is really the way I look at it.

**Q: Did you ever party with Joe Namath?

BB:** When Joe was with the Jets, he did the broadcast at preseason games. Joe was around. Joe is a fun guy.

**Q: 'Happy' is the word I think.

BB:** Happy, yeah.

**Q: The things you miss while you are coaching.

BB:** While you are out there on the field, some of the stuff that goes on in the stands, yeah.

**Q: Assuming this week-to-week philosophy is not something new, what makes this year different as opposed to other years?

BB:** As I have said, I do not know that it is different. Look back at last year, I do not remember a lot of guys talking about 'we do not really care about this game. We cannot wait until we play so-and-so three weeks from now. That is what we are pointing towards.' I do not remember that last year either. That is not saying that it is going to work out every time, I just think that is what the approach is. I go back to my first year in the league when I was with the Colts. We were 1-4, the only thing we were worried about was going 2-4. Then when we were 2-4 the only thing we talked about was being 3-4. Nobody is talking about being 10-4. When you are 1-4 you cannot even imagine being 2-4. You have your hands full with that. When you are 5-4 you are thinking about being 6-4. You are not thinking about being 10-4. It is a lifetime.

**Q: Obviously you cannot speak for every player and coach in the league, but it seems like that is just the general mentality of the NFL, not really specific to this team.

BB:** I would be surprised if there were any other teams that really preach that philosophy-let us put all our eggs in next week's basket and we will just only put a few in this week's and see how it goes. Two teams take the same approach, take the same attitude, one wins, one loses, you can sit here and say 'one team was focused, one team was not.' That may not really be the case. One team may have just played better than the other. That may just be what it is.

**Q: That said, do you think that your team has looked forward to this game?

BB:** I don't know. You would probably have to ask players on the team that. Last week when we played the Jets, I think we were pretty concerned with the Jets. The week before when we played Jacksonville, we were pretty concerned about Jacksonville. When we played Miami we were pretty concerned about Miami. I was not [concerned with the Buffalo game], but I am now because it is the next game. Hopefully our team will take that same attitude, that now that we are playing them, we put everything into Buffalo. Last week we put everything into the Jets.

**Q: It has been a few days since the Pro Bowl selections were announced. Only two of your players made it. Have you seen anything like that before? What is your reaction?

BB:** My reaction is, first of all, I think that Ty [Law] and Richard [Seymour] had real good seasons, have played very well. I think they deserve whatever recognition they are getting. I think we have a lot of other good football players on this team and I cannot tell you exactly what all the other players who got that recognition did. I guess I would say I would be a little bit surprised if all of them played better than some of the players we have on our team. It would just surprise me. I think that we have had a lot of guys play well. I do not want to sit here and name-I could name a lot of names. I would be surprised if all those players played better than a lot of our guys that did not get selected. That is really all I can say about it because I really did not see every one of those guys play, but I saw our guys play and we have a lot of guys that I think have played pretty well this year. Maybe a lot of other guys have played better. I do not know.

**Q: But I will tell you what you said the week before-'I will tell you who will make the Pro Bowl, it is the guys who are on the winning teams.'

BB:** Take a look at the Pro Bowl roster. How many guys are from teams that are not either in the playoffs or in playoff contention? Start listing them, there are maybe 4 or 5 on each team.

**Q: I am just saying that it doesn't seem to correlate to...

BB:** It correlates to the playoff teams. Those are all the winning teams. I am not saying it correlates by record-whoever has the best record has the most. I am not saying that. I am saying that if you look at the winning teams who are either in the playoffs, or the strongest teams in playoff contention, that is where you are going to find the majority-the vast majority-of the Pro Bowl players.

**Q: But you see what I am saying-it is different than 13-2?

BB:** Playoff teams are considered the winning teams in the National Football League regardless of what their specific record is. That is where you are going to find the majority of this year's Pro Bowl players, the '02 Pro Bowl players, the '01 Pro Bowl players, the 2000 Pro Bowl players and I am going to say the '04 Pro Bowl players are going to come from that same group of teams. I do not know what the teams are. None of us do. But when it comes around to that time of year and we see where those teams are, that is where I am going to guess that the players are going to come from. How many players on the Pro Bowl were first-time players? A bunch of them. 15? 20? Whatever it was. If you are a first-time Pro Bowl player, most of those guys I imagine are going to come from winning teams.

**Q: Do you like how they are selected, or do you just not care or what?

BB:** I do not have any control over that. I am just trying to beat Buffalo, that is what I am trying to do. Last time I did not do a very good job of it, so that is where I am trying to put my energy in, not reformatting the Pro Bowl vote.

**Q: Is that a way to say you don't want to talk about it any more?

BB:** Well you asked for my reaction to it and that is my reaction to it. That is about all I have to say.

**Q: It does not directly correlate because if it did, the teams with the best record would have the most players. It is not that way? Yes or no?

BB:** You said it. That is a quote from Michael Felger there. You got it.

**Q: Do you think that your team is maybe just a little different? The make-up is different from other teams?

BB:** I am sure every team does things differently than every other team. That is the NFL. You have 32 different owners. You have 32 different coaches. A whole collection of different players with every one. I am sure it is different. I do not think there is any question about that. How it all washes out-what I think is consistent with the way it washes out is the teams in playoff contention when the Pro Bowl voting comes around, those are the players who are going to end up, for the most part, in the Pro Bowl. I will stick by that year in and year out.

**Q: Are you a little bit surprised that you are 13-2?

BB:** I do not really look at it that way. I look at it, like I said, week to week. Every time I walk out on the field I think our team is going to win. Obviously that does not always happen, but every time I have walked out there I have thought that we would find a way to win, whether it was match-ups, game plan. Whatever the formula happened to be that week, I thought that there was some way we could play the game, coach the game, work together as a team, that we would somehow be able to score more points than our opponent. That is the way I look at it every week. I am not going to sit here and say I thought we would win every game as coach of the Patriots when I took the job. Realistically, there has been one season where that has happened in the history of the NFL. On a game-to-game basis, that is the way I feel. Every week has been that way. I do not look at it as how many games-'I think this team is going to win 8 games, I think this team is going to win 14 games' or whatever. That all depends on how you match up and how you play all those different games. You know as well as I do, playing a team at one point in the year and playing them at another point in the year, even though you are playing the same team, you are not playing the same team. It is not the same. One game you may play really well and not win, and against a similar team you might play not very well and come out on top just because of the way the teams match up in that particular point in the season. I think it is harder to sit there at the beginning of the season and say 'well, we are going to beat this team and beat that team.' You see them crossing off which ones are going to be Ws and which ones are going to be Ls. Who knows in September where your team is going to be in November and December? It is impossible. So many things happen. There are so many variables. I do not look at it that way.

**Q: At the same time, have you ever gone into a game saying 'we are really going to have to do something special to beat this team today because we are just not good enough?'

BB:** I would say the time that I felt the most like that was in Cleveland when we went down to play the Oilers, and they were at the top of their run and shoot game and it was my first year in Cleveland. I felt like 'we are going to have to really play well. If they have their best day we are probably going to be in trouble. If they do not have their best day, then maybe we can take advantage of some of the opportunities.

**Q: How did it work out?

BB:** We were ahead there and [Warren] Moon took it down in the last two minutes and they beat us right at the end of the game.

**Q: In 2000 was it more of a hope as opposed to an expectation?

BB:** Well we have a better team than we had in 2000. I am not going to say that that is the best team I have ever coached. I am not going to portray it that way.

**Q: How about 2001?

BB:** Again, there were points in the season where the team was playing a different level, but I did feel that in 2000. I felt like that in every game. It certainly did not turn out that way. When you are 0-4. But I went into every game thinking that we would win it.

**Q: I am curious about one Bill in particular. Ruben Brown has been to eight straight Pro Bowls. What makes him so good and so consistent?

BB:** First of all, when you look at the guard position, there are not a lot of guards that are athletic enough to play tackle. That is why they are playing guard. Some, but I would say that the majority play guard because they cannot play tackle. I think Ruben is a player that could play tackle and did play tackle in college. He is kind of a tackle playing guard. In terms of his skill set you have a guy who is extremely athletic, he is big, he is powerful, he is a very athletic pass blocker. It is like having a tackle at guard in the passing game, and it is like having a guard at guard in the running game because of his physical power and his athleticism to get up on the second level and block linebackers, pull in lead plays, get out in front on screen plays and at the same time play a powerful enough game to anchor the line of scrimmage and match up against some of the big defensive tackles that we see in the game. For guards to be able to have that kind of a skill set and that type of performance at that position is more unusual than usual. I think that is probably recognized by the teams that look at him. Having coached Ruben in the Pro Bowl and being with him personally on the field, not just competitively across the field, but actually seeing him there in person relative to a lot of other guys, that really reconfirms. That was the opinion I had of him, and then being out there with him in that situation, that reconfirmed it. He is a very unique player. I am not saying other players are not good that have other styles of play, but I think his style of play and his skills are unique to that position and I think that makes him a little bit special

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