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Bill Belichick Press Transcript - 12/4

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            **BB:**  Good morning.  Today is a third down emphasis day for us.  It is kind of unusual to see a team like the Dolphins that, not that it is unusual for them, but it just unusual for one team to be at the top of league on short yardage offense and defense.  The Dolphins haven't even given up 50 percent conversions on third and one this year.  They are stopping them a lot and they are converting almost every time.  They are really good in that area. They are a good third down team and of course they are leading the league defensively in the red area.  Situationally this will be a big day for us to get the start on that stuff.  I am sure it will be real important on Sunday.  Otherwise, I think that is it.  Mike [Vrabel] had a little flu so we added him to the injury report.  Everything else is pretty much status quo.  

**Q: On third and one if you are going against the Dolphins then they are probably more of a stingier defense than Indianapolis.

BB:** Well, you know they nailed us twice down there in the first game and they are stopping everybody. It is hard to make a yard. You think you can make a yard but it is hard to make one.

**Q: What I am getting at is, you weren't confident enough to go ahead and try to make a yard up the middle because of whatever variations Indianapolis was doing. Are you concerned now that running between the tackles in December and on short yardage when you need to pick up yards, it is not going to be a problem?

BB:** Well, we have gotten down to the goal line and that is what counted. It could always be better. It could definitely be better. You would like to have a strong running game that can run inside and run outside and complement that with the short and deep passing game, those are all the elements of being a top offense. Anytime you come up short in those areas whether it is third down, whether it is red area, whether it is the inside running game or whatever it is, that just put a little more stress everywhere else. You want to be as balanced as you can and there is certainly room for us to improve on it.

**Q: Do you tend to more or less when planning, say, 'We are going to try to establish this before the end of the month?'

BB:** Well I think when you play a game, you have to play it to win it. I don't think at this point in the year you can start worrying about…

**Q: That is preseason stuff?

BB:** Right. That is what is preseason is for. In the regular season, you put your best shot out there every time you have it. You need it. You see what these games come down to. It is one play, one yard, one anything. You better go to your best stuff every time or you will be taking them home with you.

**Q: Offensively you guys have struggled at times with managing the clock at the end of games. Is that a concern heading down the stretch?

BB:** Again, you would always like to when you have a lead try to be able to control the clock and run it out. When you are behind, you have to be able to make up the difference. Those are key points to finishing games and they are definitely important. We talk about it every week. Every week we need to prepare for those situations. You don't know which one you are going to be in. One way or the other, if you do all the preparation, something is going to come into play. You are just not sure which way it is going to be. Yes, it is definitely an area where we have had a couple of chances where we could have done a better job in.

**Q: Do you feel like you have the ability and the players to take care of that?

BB:** Sure. We just have to a better job of it.

**Q: What do you tell a guy like Kevin [Faulk] who has worked so hard on fumbling and then he has such a big fumble on that play in Indianapolis?

BB:** Take care of the ball, the same thing you tell everybody. The same thing you tell [Tom] Brady, the same thing you tell Faulk. Whoever carries the ball, whether you are holding it, throwing it, kicking it, whatever you are doing, you carry the fortunes of your team with you. The ball is the most important thing out there on the field. So whoever has it, needs to secure it. Ty [Law] tossing it behind his back on the last play of the Dallas game that is one thing. It is another thing when it is a key play in a game. There is nothing more important than possession of the ball.

**Q: Do you have to monitor that when you give Kevin the ball? Does that change your thinking?

BB:** No. I don't think you can evaluate players on one play. I think when guys have a lot of plays, you evaluate all of them and Kevin has had a lot of plays. He has had a lot of good ones. Like everybody, some have been better than others.

**Q: When Mike Cloud is in the game, he has been in on short yardage situations.

BB:** Well, whoever the other back has been, Antowain [Smith] or Mike, they have been primarily the short yardage back. So it has been usually one or the other. Kevin has had more of the third down plays and a lot of the end of field plays.

**Q: Is there a chance that Mike could expand his role?

BB:** Anybody can increase their role on the team if they play well enough.

**Q: Has he played well enough?

BB:** That is what we evaluate and that is what we look for. I don't want to get into specifics on what everybody's grade is and all of that. I would just say anybody that wants to play more, they can come into my office and say, 'Coach put me in there.' It is easy. Play better. Take advantage of your opportunity and you will get more of them. You don't do that, you will get fewer of them and somebody else will get them. It is as simple as that.

**Q: The kick return unit has been consistent. From a technical standpoint, what are they doing well?

BB:** Well, first of all kickoff returns every one of them is different. You could call the same return all season long and every play would be different because the hang time and location of the ball will be a little bit different, from week-to-week the speed, athleticism or power depending on the player, the coverage is different and how you match up on that and how the blocks when they occur, whether they occur on the 35, the 30, the 28, where the ball is kicked, and how much hang time. Every situation is different. It is organized chaos is what it is. Everybody has got a job to do but within every play, it is different from every other play. In the end what that means is there is a basic set of guidelines and assignments that you follow. Beyond that, it is judgment and every play is different. The speed of the defender, the angle that he is coming at, where the ball is and so forth and so on. Everybody has to make judgment decisions there at a point significantly into the play as opposed to let's say a play at the line of scrimmage where you line up that far across from the guy and you react to it and basically it is over. You have read it and then you are in pursuit. On a kickoff return it is totally different from that. The play doesn't really start until three seconds into the play where you really get in position and start making blocks and reading them and reacting to them and all of that. I think the judgment of the players is good. The consistency, it has been up and down. We have had too many plays where we have left yards out on the field and we only get the ball back at the 20 yard line when there is more out there. Now we've had a couple of big ones which has been great and I think that has kept the average up and off set it and you like to have those kind of plays but you consistently want to get the ball out there in good field position. Statistically we have done that but it has been through a lot of big plays. Those are important but you would like to see those ones at the 20 end up at the 28 or the 29.

**Q: What is happening on those plays that you mentioned on the 20? Is it just breakdowns?

BB:** Well, yeah, sure. Somebody is not making the block. We haven't had a lot of penalties which is good so we are not getting them called back two or three times every game. We need to finish the blocks or in some cases do a little bit of a better job of sustaining them.

**Q: You are in the top four in kickoff return.

BB:** Well the kickoff part of the game has statistically been better than the punting part on both sides. Punting the net and the net return, the kickoffs, I think Adam has kicked the ball well, better than he did last year. Overall our coverage has been more consistent. That comes from all 11 guys. You can't have one guy to make every tackle. Across the board we have been a little more disciplined and haven't given up the lanes, tried to be physical in terms of attacking blockers down the field. The main thing is keeping good leverage on the ball and not opening up those seams.

**Q: I am sure that you consider that Miami might not kick the ball to Bethel Johnson.

BB:** Sure. We saw that at the end of the Colts game.

**Q: Are there any provisions that you can make to get him the ball even if it is a squib quick?

BB:** Well, it was like the play in the Dallas game where the ball was a line drive kick and Mike Vrabel handled it and got it back to the 35 yard line, somewhere in there. If the ball is not kicked deep then you want you people who are in front of the deep returners to handle it cleanly and get it back up the field. That is just as good as catching on the goal line and then running it back to the 35. What you are looking for is field position. If the ball is not kicked deep, then it is not kicked deep. But it is important that you handle it at the wedge level.

**Q: Have you talked to Mike Vrabel about taking his helmet off at the end of the play?

BB:** Did I talk to him? I talked to the whole team about it.

**Q: What did you feel about it?

BB:** What did I feel about it? I think that Mike Pereira explained the play. I saw his explanation of the play after the game and I would agree with it.

**Q: Bethel Johnson, how much does he depend on his blockers whereas with a guy like Dante Hall who acts on instincts maybe to make a play happen?

BB:** I think it is a combination of both. I think for the most part when you see good returns you see a combination of good blocking and a hole and an opportunity and then at some point the runner makes a play on his own where he either breaks a tackle or he dodges somebody or something like that. Every once and a while it opens up where the guy just goes untouched. Every once and a while the guy will break 11 tackles and get a big play. Usually it is creating some space, maybe one guy has got a decent shot at him and then the returner makes a play on that guy and then you have a play that is out towards midfield or maybe a little bit further. I think it is a combination of both. It is the blocking that creates that opportunity but then you need good running to really take advantage of getting the ball out there past that first line, that first wave of people.

**Q: Are you at all surprised that after 13 weeks you are sitting where you are at 10-2?

BB:** I really don't spend a lot of time looking at it that way or trying to evaluate it that way. I just take a look at this week and it is Miami. 'Here is what we have, here is what we think they are going to do, what is the best we can put out there schematically, personnel wise and from a play calling or personnel substitution standpoint, what are our best match ups?' That is really the way I look at it. I don't try to make an analysis on how the record is going or what I thought it would be or anything else. It is just week-to-week. Sorry.

**Q: How did Brooks [Barnard] look yesterday?

BB:** It was okay. It was a windy day. It certainly wasn't ideal conditions out there for kicking the ball or throwing it but it was okay.

**Q: How much concern do you have with this being his first NFL game?

BB:** Well I think there is no way to know until it happens. Obviously we feel confident enough about it to put it out there. What happens? We will all be anxiously waiting. Who will be the first to report on it?

**Q: You just got somebody with a similar accent.

BB:** Yeah, well there is nothing wrong with that.

**Q: What experience does he have with kicking in poor weather conditions?

BB:** Everybody keeps talking about the conditions and nobody knows what it is going to be like on Sunday. Nobody knows. It could be a beautiful day. It could be a day like we had in January a couple of years ago against Oakland. Who knows?

**Q: Yesterday you talked about the weather…

BB:** Well, look, whatever it is we have to deal with it. Whatever it is. The wind could be blowing 60 miles per hour. It could be like it was in Dallas. I doubt if it was one mile per hour in that game. It could be 10 degrees. It could be 60 degrees. Who knows?

**Q: I am just wonder has he had experience in college kicking in poor weather conditions.

BB:** Well I think the best he is going to best he is going to get on it is this week right here. It is this week leading up to the game and whatever we get during the week, I am sure there will be some element that will carryover into Sunday. But who knows? There is no way to predict the weather this time of year in this part of the country. We will see the forecast on Sunday and it will probably be different by four o'clock from what it is at seven or eight in the morning. I am not worried about that. I am not saying it won't be a factor but I can't sit here and say, 'Well what if it is windy, what if it isn't, what if there is a cross wind, what if it is down the field, what if it is quartering, what if there are flurries, what if there is drizzle?' I mean I can't worry about that.

**Q: Are you saying that the Boston meteorologists aren't very effective? [Laughter]

BB:** No. I just think it is hard to predict in this part of the country. No I am not saying that at all. I think they do an awesome job.

**Q: How has the push been upfront along the offensive line with teams keying up on one spot or another?

BB:** I think the blocking has at times been better than others. The one thing that we haven't had statistically is we haven't had a lot of negative plays in the running game. Now we have had some, but compared to other teams, compared to a league average, we are not losing as many yards in the running game as maybe what the average is.

**Q: Which is indicative of?

BB:** Just not having bad plays. Not cutting guys loose in the backfield, not getting over powered and all of that. At the same time, we would like our yards per carry average to be higher than it is and would like to gain more yards in the running game. That is probably true of every team in the league, I am saying that. But you want to eliminate the negative plays. There are some positives, there are some negatives and balance, it is like everything else, it could definitely stand some improvement. The blocking has been just about what I said it was there, it hasn't been terrible, they are not just storming the castle and hitting them four yards in the backfield as soon as he is handed the ball. At the same time you would like to create bigger running lanes for the backs. At the same time, the backs have to make some yards on their own. All those parts of the running game have to be tied together.

**Q: What have been your impressions of J.J. Stokes?

BB:** I think J.J. has worked hard the last two weeks. I think he is very professional. He is a smart guy. He is an experienced guy. He really works hard at the game. Football is important to him. He wants to get everything right. He has done a pretty good job out there catching the ball and trying to adapt to the system. The system that we are running is a lot different than what he has been used to in the west coast offense whether it was in Jacksonville or obviously San Francisco.

**Q: Has he surprised you or intrigued you at all and maybe addressed a need?

BB:** Compared to the rest of our receiving group he has a size presence that we really haven't had. That adds an element as far as a target to throw to that is good.

**Q: I mean down the road….

BB:** Well, we will worry about that later. Right now we will worry about Miami. All that other stuff will work itself out. We have plenty of time for that.

**Q: Is David Givens all right?

BB:** Yes, he is great. Is he on the injury report?

**Q: No, I didn't see him.

BB:** Look, everybody has got something at this time of year. If they are not on the injury report then they are okay. If they are on there, then that is the nature of their injury, in general terms, and that is their status. I am not trying to hide anything from you.

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