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Bill Belichick Press Transcript - 12/30

Belichick: the final preparations and the real meat of it will not come until Sunday night when we know for sure who our opponent is going to be



            **BB:**  How's it going today?  Have a nice holiday?  We are back to work here on one of obviously could be three opponents.  It starts with Denver.  If Denver wins, then obviously we play Denver.  If Denver does not win, then we play the winner of the Baltimore/Tennessee game.  I know everybody knows that but that is just the way we have to look at it.  We will do a little bit of work on all three of those teams and we know that whomever we face at this point in the season is a good football team.  They are good in a lot of different areas and to reach this point they have obviously won a lot of games and played well in a lot of different situations and we totally respect that.  At the same time there are still a number of things that we want to try to continue to work on-things that have gotten less attention in previous weeks for whatever reasons or circumstances, things that we want to improve our execution and timing on and all that type of thing.  So there will be a combination of trying to just move forward ourselves progressively, and at the same time try to look at what some other people are doing that we could potentially be in competition with and try to begin our preparations on those, although obviously the final preparations and the real meat of it will not come until Sunday night when we know for sure who our opponent is going to be.  That is really pretty much it.  No injuries to report.  I think everybody at this time of year is about as good as can be expected.  That is where we are.  

**Q: You have played two of the three [possible opponents]. Does that lessen the amount of time you have to spend on preparation, or is it pretty much an equal amount of time because it obviously has been a while since you played them?

BB:** It has been a while, yeah. We will have to go back. Once you play a team like that that you do not play again, unlike division teams, after you play them you kind of put them out of your mind and move on to all the other teams you face. So we have spent a lot of time going back over them, certainly our game and the games that led up to our games are ones that we want to review and get refreshed on, but there has been a lot of football played since we played both Denver and Tennessee, particularly Tennessee-what was it the fourth, fifth game of the season? It was a long time ago.

**Q: How useful is the Denver film given that [Danny] Kanell was in there?

BB:** Well again there were a lot of changes and some of the players that we had in those games are playing now and were not playing then, and vice versa. There is some carryover, there are certainly changes. That would be one of them.

**Q: In building a foundation for the post season, how well situated is this team to have success there?

BB:** It is all about the next game really. That is where we are. We are in preparation for the next game. We are not sure exactly who it is going to be. We are working on three opponents. It will be one of them and then at some point we will funnel all of our energies to that one opponent and then really that is where it is. It is not about anything more or less than that. It is taking our team right now, all the components of it, and channeling all of that energy into our next game.

**Q: In terms of the components, are there things that you do well that possibly will allow you to succeed?

BB:** I think we have shown throughout the course of the year that there are a number of different things that we can do well, but a lot of those same areas have been inconsistent for us. It will all come down to what we can do well against our new opponents, or our next opponent rather, in a little over a week. That is really what it is all about.

**Q: You have had a number of different starters in there. Does that make your team difficult to prepare for?

BB:** I don't know. I think you would have to ask the teams that are preparing for us. I really could not answer that question.

**Q: In coming off a bye week, how do you guard against having a letdown [in momentum] after being off a while?

BB:** We have a bye week every year during the regular season. Every team goes through that. I think it is just part of the scheduling. You just deal with it. We do not play this week. We still prepare. We are still working on things. The true intensity of the game preparations will begin next week. At least in a regular season bye week you know we were playing Dallas this year. In this case there are potentially different opponents. There is still plenty of work to do, plenty of work we can do internally ourselves in terms of making improvements and the familiarization with those three very good teams and very capable teams, however it turns out, there is really plenty to look at there. They are all very good.

**Q: Is there one team that you would rather face?

BB:** We don't have any control over that. We don't have any control.

**Q: You have a pretty veteran roster. How much does that come into play? Does that help?

BB:** Sure, I think everybody can benefit from previous experiences. Some of the players that have been through it, I am sure they will be able to benefit from that and maybe they will be able to impart some of that to those who have not. I think if you look at every team that is competing at this time of year, there are going be some players that fall into that category and there are going to be some players that have not been through that before. Ultimately it will be how the team performs collectively given all those circumstances rolled into one. I think that guys who have been through it, their experiences could help them and it could possibly help their teammates.

**Q: Does that experience come more in preparing for the game or in the actual game?

BB:** I think the whole situation, all of those, the media attention that comes to the game. There are a lot less teams playing now than there were playing a week ago. All that gets channeled into a fewer number of teams and a fewer number of games. Everything becomes magnified.

**Q: Can you compare the mood of this team versus the 2001 team?

BB:** I can't really. I hate to make comparisons. Every year is different. No two weeks are the same, no two teams are the same, and no two years are the same. Everything is always different, it is always in flux, and whatever we will be facing going forward will be different than what we faced before. Anything we faced in the past will be different from what we will be facing going forward.

**Q: In 2001 that team was excited because it was the surprise, the Cinderella team. This team has kept building and building and now it is the number one seed. It seems in the locker room they are more matter of fact about winning.

BB:** I would not argue with the way you characterized it. You were around both teams. That is probably accurate.

**Q: Do rookies go back to being rookies during the playoffs?

BB:** They have played 16 regular-season games, or most of them have. Maybe they did not play in every single game, but they have been through 16 weeks of preparation, four preseason games, a lot of practices and all that. You would like to think that those games and those experiences would count for something. The NFL playoffs are the NFL playoffs. It is not like playing in a college bowl game. It is quite different. It is an experience that they will all have to go through, but other teams have rookies just like we do and it probably all evens out.

**Q: Bobby Hamilton-what has he done that makes him a valuable player to this defense?

BB:** Well, he is a good player. He is a good player. He is a good technique player. He is smart. He has more experience in our system than probably anybody else. He reacts very quickly to things, but he is a very good technique player. He knows where his responsibility is. He uses his hands well. He plays good techniques.

**Q: Does his responsibility vary greatly week to week or is it fairly similar?

BB:** It depends on who we play, what our opponents do and how we match up against them what we ask our players to do in particular match-ups. It could vary from week to week. Sometimes there is continuity and carryover. Sometimes there is less of it. It just depends on what we are doing and also how it matches up against what our opponents are doing. So I would say a combination of both.

**Q: I am going to ask you something on your least favorite topic.

BB:** Why do we have to bring it up then?

**Q: What is the feel of what you are about to embark on here, with this team being the number one seed and all and all the media attention, as opposed to other years?

BB:** I completely understand what you are saying. I do not see it that way. When I stand and talk to the team, I look at the team and our preparations for the game coming up. I really cannot be too concerned about what everybody else externally thinks or does not think. Everybody has their own opinion and their own take on everything and that is great, and I respect that. At the same time what we are trying to do as a team is get ourselves ready to meet our next challenge. That is really what I am trying to calculate, observe and work towards.

**Q: What kind of season has [Tedy] Bruschi had?

BB:** Bruschi has had a great season. He has done a terrific job for us, all the way around. His leadership. He is one of the team's captains. He is the defensive signal caller. He has to make a lot of adjustments from that linebacker position. His play on the run and in the passing game. He has been a solid player for us in the kicking game as well. Punt team, field goal team, kickoff return team. He has been an integral part of a lot of things we do both on and off the field. He brings high energy to the field as well. He has had a real good year.

**Q: So has this been his best season?

BB:** He has had some other pretty good ones too, but he has had a lot of production and a lot of big plays this year, so you probably have to put it up there with any other season he has had.

**Q: At the start of the year, did you envision him playing this much of a role?

BB:** Well Ted [Johnson] missed a significant number of games, so that increased the playing time for Roman [Phifer] and Tedy both. They have stepped up and played a lot of plays and played them well. You never know-I try not to, at the beginning of the year, say 'well this is how it is going to go. This guy is going to play 700 plays, this guy is going to play 900, this guy is going to play 400. You get everybody prepared. It changes from week to week. You have to meet different challenges along the way. You never know how they are going to turn out. I thought Tedy had a great offseason. I thought he was very well prepared coming into the year. He was in good condition. He had a good training camp, good preseason year and in his preparation for the season. He has played well. I think it is all falling into place for him.

**Q: What is the best advice that players that have been there can give to players that have not been there?

BB:** To play well.

**Q: Could you expand on that, or is that it?

BB:** Well, all the rest of it you can make whatever you want out of. What time the game is or who telecasts it or which way the wind is blowing or what some team did nine weeks ago in some other circumstance that came from 90 points from behind in the last seconds to win or whatever it was. The only thing that really matters is how you play the game. I think the best advice that you can give to any player coming into this game is to prepare and play well in the game. There is nothing that matters more than that. You can pull anything else you want into it, but in the end that is what it is going to come down to.

**Q: Is one of the aspects that you like about your team that it has so many different contributors?

BB:** Sure. It has been a team. We have had a lot of players step up and contribute in a lot of different ways on and off the field. From week to week the inactives have changed, the playing time has changed, the playmakers have changed, from a statistical standpoint anyway. Yeah, there have been a lot of different aspects and a lot of different players have come into the spotlight, so to speak. It was not orchestrated in any particular way. It just turned out that way.

**Q: You talked last week about team defense and sometimes it is difficult to get guys to buy into or understand about taking care of their own responsibility. Where does Bobby Hamilton stack up as a guy who understands just to do his responsibilities? He seems like a guy that might get that pretty quickly.

BB:** Well, I would put him near the top of that. He has been in this system a long time and I think he understands it as well as anybody because he has probably played in it as much as anybody. I think that is where is real strength is, is understanding the defensive scheme and the system knowing what he has to do and taking care of his job and there will be plays that he will make as a result of somebody else's play. And there will be plays that somebody else might make as a result of his play on that particular play. I think he understands that as well as anybody.

**Q: Coach, do you have some mixed feelings about Romeo Crennel and Charlie Weis being talked about as the top in the league? Like on one hand you are happy for them to get it but you will be sad to see them go?

BB:** Yes, if it works out that way. That is exactly how I would feel. Exactly.

**Q: Tedy Bruschi, the evolution of his career and his contributions on and off the field, is that something you can see in a guy when they come in or when they first come in are you just worried about them getting better as rookies? Can you see that potential in a guy like him when they first come in?

BB:** Well, I would say both. The first thing you are worried about is them getting better and playing and just finding a role and contributing on the team. Of course with Tedy, there was a big transition coming from a down lineman, basically a defensive tackle, to a stand up linebacker, that is a huge transition from playing down to playing on his feet. Tedy brings a lot of high energy to the game and brought that even as a rookie in his different roles whether it was sub-defense, whether it was regular defense, special teams on the practice field and so forth. He did a great job of that. I think the leadership comes with confidence, it comes with performance, it comes with production, it comes with experience and that was a lot more evident when I came back in 2000 than what it was in 1996. I have said many times that every player brings leadership to the team - rookies, 20-year veterans, everyday they come to the practice facility or to the stadium and do their job. They provide some kind of leadership either a positive or a negative and his has always been positive. As his experience has grown, as his performance has grown, I think his leadership has grown with it and I saw that in 2000 and it has continued to grow in the last four years.

**Q: Has Tedy maybe take further steps than some other similar players might have who made the transition that he did from being a down lineman to a linebacker?

BB:** Yes. I think that Tedy has come about as far as a player could come really. Because from his background...he probably has as many responsibilities on the field as any player. He is involved in every running play, every passing play, every blitz, every time he is not blitzing he is involved in the coverage and that is multiple coverage too because you are talking about a combination of backs and tight ends and flow and guys crossing and switching them off and all of those kinds of things, audibling when we need to change defenses for whatever reasons, he has assumed a wide variety of responsibilities. In addition to that, a significant role in the play calling which is defensively adjustments and audibling and making checks based on formations and that type of thing, as much as anybody. There is not one quarterback on defense like there is on offense, there are more people involved in the communication than that but certainly the middle linebacker is at the top of the food chain there in terms of the communication and decision making from a defensive standpoint.

**Q: In your last two games you finished up with two pretty good rushing games, is there any good reason for that?

BB:** Well, I think that our execution was a little bit better. As usually, that leads to better production and it is a combination of things. A lot of guys are involved, the linemen, the tight ends, the fullback, the running back, the play calling, I think that Dante [Scarnecchia] and Charlie [Weis], the offensive coaches, Ivan [Fears], Jeff [Davidson], have done a good job in trying to set up things that we think would be favorable alignments or match ups for us for the right plays and that type of thing. Again, it is a team effort.

**Q: So is there an increased confidence with the running game?

BB:** I don't think there has ever been a lack of confidence.

**Q: With the coordinators, is there any NFL rule in place that would prohibit teams that might want to hire Romeo or Charlie from announcing it while your team is still playing?

BB:** As far as I know, it is just an interview process. It is not a finalization type of thing.

**Q: If they decide that they would want to hire one of them, would you have any input in saying when they would announce it?

BB:** I really don't anticipate that coming up but I guess if it did then that is something that we would have to look into. To be honest with you, I am not sure exactly how that would work. I can't imagine some other team calling me and wanting to know what I would do in their situation. I think whatever they do they are going to do.

**Q: Is there any are in particular with your team where you might have been the most worried about that actually turned out to be okay?

BB:** Well I think that anytime that you have more moving parts, more new people, in a certain area, you are just never quite sure how it would work out. When you head into a season, you never know exactly how it is going to go regardless of who is playing or how they did last year or anything else, or venture into the unknown to a certain degree. But, we had a lot of changes in the secondary. That certainly has worked itself out. We had a lot fewer changes at the linebacker position just to pick an example. We are dealing with a pretty young group of receivers in relative terms and so there is certainly some newness there, just to pick out a couple. Special teams is always an area because there is always a lot of new players involved in that no matter what players stay the same, there are always going to be a number of new faces and new combinations. That is always an area that you spend a lot of time in training camp and in the preseason games because it takes some time to develop that kind of continuity.

**Q: Would you say the secondary has been the most pleasant surprise given the re-vamp of it?

BB:** I don't know. I don't rank the surprises. I would say that they have done a good job and there have been a lot of new people. They have played well.

**Q: Looking back from your own experience, how flattering or how exciting is it for an assistant coach to have other teams saying they have the stuff it takes to be a head coach? Is it a pretty exciting time for Mr. Weis and Mr. Crennel?

BB:** That is a tough question to answer because when you are going through the process, you just don't know how it is going to turn out. I have been through the process a number of times myself and sometimes you are the selection and sometimes you are the bridesmaid and you don't know that until the end. You are going through the process, a lot of times it is the college application process or whatever it is, you are going through it, you don't know how it is going to turn out. Sometimes you are sitting there and wondering is this going to happen and then other times you are sitting there dreaming about what if it does happen. That is what I went through. I can't tell you exactly what somebody else is thinking about. You go through probably a range of emotions and then at some point you put those aside and you concentrate on the job at hand because that is really what is most important to all of us is what is coming up next.

**Q: Along those lines, you things out there with Scott [Pioli]...

BB:** You hear a lot of things. You hear a lot of things. I am not really interested in commenting on a lot of unfounded rumors or just parachutes coming down from the sky where there is no foundation for it. So if that is where you are heading, I don't think that is really where we want to go.

**Q: I am just curious if you could just clarify his status. Is it different than with the coordinators and being able to interview with other teams?

BB:** What other hypothetical questions do we have? If there is something specific that you want to talk about, I will be happy to talk about it. But all of the hypothetical questions, I am not going to sit here and talk about those.

**Q: So you are saying that teams haven't called you about his status?

BB:** Are you saying that somebody has?

**Q: Well you are saying it is a hypothetical question.

BB:** So, give me some facts and I will talk about them.

**Q: I don't know if it is true.

BB:** Okay, well you are a better reporter than I am. When you have some facts bring them to the table and we will talk about them. If it is hypothetical then pass it on to something else.

**Q: I hate to interrupt that exchange...

BB:** No, feel free to jump right in there.

**Q: [Laughter] We talked about your high quality assistants before Nick [Saban] for example. Is it at all a sense of pride for you seeing how well along they are in their careers and how well they are thought of?

BB:** Well, sure. They are good friends and for them to get whatever recognition they get, I am sure it is deserving because I know they are good coaches. I know they work hard. I think they are amongst some of the best people that I have had the opportunity to work with in my career. Whatever they get, I am sure it is more than deserving.

**Q: What areas have you seen Tom Brady develop in this season and throughout his career?

BB:** Well, over the course of his career, you are starting from being inactive for almost the whole season in 2000 to we all know what has happened since then. I think it has gone from about as low as it could go to where it has been and where it is at now from every standpoint you could want to talk about - game management, accuracy, decision making, right down the line.

**Q: What kind of attributes did you see in him before he was a starter?

BB:** Well he was a good player in college. When he came in here his rookie year, even though he didn't take very many snaps with the team, most of it was scout team and with the other rookies and that kind of thing, he showed a presence and certainly a high level of intelligence to be able to pick things up and deliver them to the team and manage the team, not only the time but also the play calling the formations and all of that type of thing. That improved in the second year. It has improved every year really. Again, I think his rate of improvement has started to level off just because it was so quick in such a short period of time. Tom continues to work hard and he continues to improve. He does a solid job in every area and when things don't go well, he is able to take those experiences and build on them and usually prevent those things from happening again.

**Q: Is there something that you saw in him that made you say, 'he has it?'

BB:** I think his rookie year everybody in the organization that worked with him had the sense that he has a chance. There is still a lot that had to be done. Nobody can establish themselves until they go out there and actually put the performance out there to back it up. Talk is cheap. Anybody can talk about how great they are going to be or what they are going to do and all of that. But once he started hanging some pelts up on the wall then I think he continued to gain everybody else's respect as those accumulated.

**Q: Although he hasn't had the resume yet of a Joe Montana, are there some similarities there?

BB:** I was never with Montana so I couldn't tell you from a first hand basis what it was like to be on a team with him. That would be a hard comparison for me to make.

**Q: But you coached against him?

BB:** Yes, I have coached against a lot of quarterbacks.

**Q: Well you probably got a pretty fair idea of how he was?

BB:** Well, he was pretty good. He was pretty damn good. That is why he is in he Hall of Fame. Fortunately his best days weren't against us, although he had a lot of good days.

**Q: [Laughter] So do you see similarities there?

BB:** They are both right-handed quarterbacks. You are talking about Joe Montana. The guy is a Hall of Fame quarterback. He has won however many Super Bowls he has won. How many guys can you compare to him?

**Q: [Laughter] Right. Well I said the resumes are not the same, do you see any similarities?

BB:** Both are right handed quarterbacks. They are both from California.

**Q: Are you superstitious?

BB:** No I am really not superstitious. I wish that was all there was to it, just wear the same socks, if that was all there was to it then that would make my job a lot easier.

**Q: I have to ask, do you have any New Year's resolutions?

BB:** We still a couple of days on that right?

**Q: [Laughter] You can get back to us.

BB:** I will work on that. Probably the same as last year, to be as helpful as I possibly can to the media.

**Q: [Laughter].


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