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Replay: Best of Radio Thu Apr 11 - 02:00 PM | Tue Apr 16 - 11:55 AM

Bill Belichick Press Transcript

Belichick: I think field position was really a big factor in it. Defensively, I think the Dolphins started five times inside their own 15.



            **BB:**  Good morning.  Well, just a couple of quick comments about the game yesterday.  When I saw the game, I was certainly aware of the field position in the game but I think that after looking at the tape and kind of taking a little bit closer look at the game, I think field position was really a big factor in it.  Defensively, I think the Dolphins started five times inside their own 15.  We had good field position on a lot of drives, I think over half of their drives were close to 80 yards or more, started off 80 yards or more away from the goal line.  That is really a good thing defensively.  That had a lot to do with the kicking game.  It had a lot to do with offensively our ability to [in audible] and in the first quarter and also in the fourth quarter to put the Dolphins in a situation where they were on a long field.  Other than all of the things that we already talked about, that just stood a little bit more after looking at it today than maybe I realized last night and I think that is a good team effort because defensively when we had good field position, for the most part, we were able to keep it and not give it up.  Offensively we were able to change that field position around a couple of times, especially in the first quarter when we were going into the wind.  To keep Miami on a long field and also keep the ball out of their hands.  Otherwise that is it.  Injuries, there isn't really too much to report.  We will take a look at Lonie [Paxton] today and see where we are on that one.  Everything else is pretty much status quo.  I don't think there is too much to talk about, on the injuries.  We can talk about something else if you want to.  

**Q: Last year in the season finale, Ricky Williams really hurt you by bouncing outside a lot. How much better are you on perimeter defense this year?

BB:** Well, I wouldn't limit it to Ricky last year. You can go right down the line. There were a lot of guys that did it. Certainly in that game that was probably the worst of all of them. There were some bad ones to compare it to. But it is better. Our run force has been better and that includes a lot of different people. It includes the outside linebackers, it includes the safeties, and it includes the corners. There have been different games where different elements have been involved in the run for us. I thought we did a good job yesterday. For the most part our run force this season has been certainly a lot better than it was year but for the most part it has been okay.

**Q: What do you attribute that to? Is it personnel? A different scheme?

BB:** We recognized how poor it was last year and it has been a major point of emphasis all year. The players have done a good job understanding it and executing it. Again, there are a lot of different people that come into play. Sometimes it is the corners, sometimes it is safeties and sometimes it is the outside linebackers. But whoever it is, somebody has to do it and it is getting done a lot better than it did in the past. That is good.

**Q: This year it just seems like Willie McGinest is making more plays this season. Is that because of scheme? Is it something that he is doing? Has be been a bigger contributor?

BB:** Well I think that he is playing well. He has been a big contributor for us around here but I think he is playing well in both the running game and the passing game. It is not limited to certain situations or anything. He has shown up pretty much across the board. He has made a lot of big plays for us as well especially at some key times. We always have a tendency to remember those plays a little bit more prominently. He has really stepped up in some of those situations and made some big ones. I think he is playing well. Mike [Vrabel] on the other side has been really solid too. I think that anytime having been through situations with the outside linebackers with other teams that I have been on, when they are both playing well, that really plays into the strength of your defense. If it is one guy and you are good on one side and not so good on the other, then they always end up running away from one. It is good when you can have a good edge on both ends and Mike has given us that to with Willie. Willie has played well.

**Q: Rosevelt Colvin was a huge acquisition in the offseason. You must be somewhat surprised given his absence. You have still gotten such good plays from your outside linebackers.

BB:** No, I am not surprised that McGinest and Vrabel are playing well. They have been significant players for us in the past and they continue to be. Nobody ever thought those guys, well maybe some people did, but nobody around here ever thought those guys weren't major contributors for us. It just comes down to depth. We had the same thing at the inside linebacker situation with [Tedy] Bruschi, Ted Johnson and Roman [Phifer]. It is the same thing. There have been different points in time where we haven't had all of those players available either inside or outside. Then when you need them, they have been there and they have stepped up and they have done a great job. Depth doesn't mean anything until you need it. Then when you need it then all of a sudden it becomes a real important issue.

**Q: In training camp when you had Colvin, there was an emphasis on Mike Vrabel rushing the passer as well. Without Colvin here, there has been the same emphasis with Mike. Was that just part of the scheme originally?

BB:** Well I think anytime you are in a 3-4 defense, you have to get pressure from your outside linebackers. I don't care who your nose tackle is. They are not going to lead the league in sacks playing a 3-4. The ends don't have the edge rush ability that they have in a 4-3 look. That outside pressure has to come from the outside linebackers if you want to have a good pass rush. When those guys can give it to you, then that opens up everything inside for the interior people. I think our outside rushers have done a good job and they are the same outside rushers when we go to our nickel defense on third down and that type of thing. It is the same people. They have given us good, consistent rush there on all three downs and that is really and important part of your pass defense is being able to control the perimeter of the pass rush and force the quarterback to step up and not let him get outside on a lot of scramble plays and dashes and that kind of thing.

**Q: How is continuity with your coaching staff help get your message across to this team?

BB:** I think it helps tremendously. I think we have all been thorough a lot together and we share the same philosophy and a lot of those things that we talk about, a lot of the time the assistants generate the ideas, 'We really need to think about that this week,' or 'This is really something that was good for us in the past.' I bring that to the team. Sometimes it goes the other way. Sometimes I will say, 'Let's mention that to this player or that group of players.' I think there is a good flow on that. We have a lot of experience together. I think we work well with each other. I certainly get a lot of input from them and I use it.

**Q: Is there any for instance that you could give me?

BB:** There are probably 20 examples every week. We talk about it Monday after the game. We talk about it Tuesday when we start doing the game planning for the new opponent. We talked about it all through the week even into the Saturday night game right prior to the game about situations that we anticipate that could come up in the game, be it personnel decisions, weather related or opponent related or whatever it happens to be. I think you can go right down the line. I don't want to single anybody out but I think you could use all of them.

**Q: Is this staff at a point where, if somebody is trying to make a point, have you been together long enough where you understand what they are saying? Like, you know how they are going teach, you know that they understand?

BB:** Sure. It goes a lot quicker. I just say 'Look, talk to 'so-and-so' about something,' and they have been through it before and we don't need a big explanation about it. 'They are punting into the wind, talk to the returners about playing for the shorter kicks and the ball might bounce back and hit our punt return team because the ball is being kicked into the wind and it could bounce that way.' Yeah we have been though that. Brad [Seely] has probably already covered it. If I mention it to him, he has probably already covered it. 'Yeah, I talked to them about that Thursday.' There is a lot of that too. 'It has already been done.' But that is just to cover our bases. But I think there is a good efficiency there. Those guys, a lot of them, have been in almost as many games as I have. So I am learning from them just like they are learning from me. So I think there is a good flow there.

**Q: Obviously, you aim for consistency. Does it surprise you how well prepared these guys are prepared to play?

BB:** Well, that is what the expectations are. We always expect the most out of ourselves. I don't think we ever go into a week saying, 'Okay, this is the week that we are going to put 50 percent out there and see what that will bring.' It's, 'Here are the things we need to take care of, here is how we are going to address the problems and let's put our best into it and see if that is good enough.' We never go into it less than that. I am not saying that we get that every week but that is certainly the approach you try for, '[Not] let's go out there and see if we can be 3-12 on third down.' Our goals are higher than that. I am not saying that we always reach them but that is what we aim for. So, no I am not surprised when players work hard and perform well because that is what they are trained to do and that is what their goal are.

**Q: Are they a more self-motivated group than you have had in the past?

BB:** I don't know. There have been a lot of good players that I have coached. A lot of good players that have been here in the last, this is the fourth year, through these years. But I think that the team works hard. I do think we do have a lot of self-starting type of people. Football is important to them and they help each other out and they are unselfish. Again, a lot of guys will look at a situation and say, 'Okay, if I do this, that will free you up to make the play.' That is a great attitude that you like for them to have where it is, 'How do we stop them?' not 'How do I stand out?' That is how you play good team football.

**Q: What do you know about Jacksonville? Are they comparable to any other team you have played this season?

BB:** I have seen quite a bit of Jacksonville. We had a number of common opponents with them. They have played Tennessee, Indianapolis, and teams like that. I would say this is a good football team defensively. They have a very good front. [Tony] Brackens and Hugh Douglas are outstanding ends and pass rushers. Inside they have the big guys [Marcus] Stroud and [John] Henderson. They have a good secondary. They drafted a kid [Rashean] Mathis and he is playing at corner with [Fernando] Bryant. [Donovin] Darius is a very good safety with [Mike] Peterson in the middle. So they are very good on defense. I would say they are one of the best fronts we have seen all year. Offensively, they have a good offensive line. I think if you just take a look at the Tampa game, they blocked them and it was three-step drops either, they just went back and blocked them. They have a good tight end. They have a couple of good receivers and they have a real good running back who is fast. I think there is a good talent level on the team. They are tough. I think the personality of Jack [Del Rio] is rubbing off on the team in terms of toughness and competitiveness. You see their offensive line really scrapping to make second and third blocks, on plays away [you see] receivers blocking down field, things like that, that you see from a team that is aggressive and hustling and that is what I see from Jacksonville. They have played very well lately. They won three of their last five. They could have beat Tennessee and they could have beat the Jets. There were right there with them at the end of both games. It is a good team. And they are good on defense. They are not okay. They are good on defense.

**Q: Is it fair or unfair to say this team plays to the level of its competition?

BB:** I don't know. As I just said, I think the team goes out there with high goals every week and some weeks the performance is better than others. Some games it is better than others. Offensively, as a good example, yesterday we had a lot of production in the first quarter offensively in terms of moving the ball, we had a period there in the second and third quarter where we had a lot of three and outs or turned the ball over and in the fourth quarter came back and had control over quite a bit of the clock and quite a bit of the field position. Why it happened one way and another, if I knew that then we would eliminate the second and third quarter there. It is not the intent but you are playing against good teams, Miami is a good team, they make some plays too. They had some pretty good football players out there.

**Q: I don't really mean to put a negative connotation on it either.

BB:** No, that is your job.

**Q: What I am saying is this team just seems to find, somehow, that level that it has to play at to do what its goals are accomplished.

BB:** Look, as far that goes, you look at any competitive contest and when you get to the end of the contest, you do what you have to do to win. If it is baseball and you need a run, you are bunting, you are stealing, you are hitting and running, you are bringing in your relief pitchers for every other guy that comes up and matching lefties against lefties and all of that. That is what you do to win. If you are at the end of a football game, you go through the different situation things and do what you need to do to win. That is what teams do to win. You can't control those situations. You just have to react to them. That is what the team has to do in those situations. You can't script that act. But over a 60 minute game, there are going to be some points in the game that are certainly going to be better than others and you try to have as many high points as possible. I am not going to sit here and tell you that they are all up there because they are not.

**Q: When is the last time you have coached a team that was as consistent as this team is?

BB:** I don't know. It is hard for me to sit here…here we are trying to get ready to play Jacksonville. That is where we are right now. To rank one game against another game or rank one team against another team or halfway through the season or three-quarters of the way, whatever it is, there is still a lot of football left to be played. There are still a lot of challenges to be met. Let's wait until everything is in, maybe we can rank them then. But to rank one team halfway through it against another team when halfway through it, I don't know.

**Q: What do you like about Del Rio and what has he done with that team?

BB:** Well, I think there attitude, as I said, is a tough, competitive attitude. These guys play hard. You can find that in every game. I am not saying it is a one game view of it. But the Tampa game just tells it all. They played very competitively and tough and physically against a team that…we all know what Tampa can do. Of course, I haven't seen the tape of yesterday's game against Houston. But to go in there and beat them 27-0 in Houston and we were there a couple of weeks ago, we know what that is about. I think they play hard. I think they are tough. They are very physical on defense. They don't give you much. You have to work for it. You better be able to stop the run and you better be able to handle their front or you are going to be in for a long day. A lot of teams have been in for long days against them especially offensively.

**Q: So, it comes from the top with them?

BB:** Well, just looking at the team, this is what I see in the team. Obviously, Jack is the coach, I am sure he has a lot of input in what they do and what the philosophy is. That is what I see.

**Q: Did field conditions enter at all into the decision not to play Troy Brown?

BB:** Zero. It had absolutely nothing to do with it.

**Q: When is he coming back?

BB:** When he is ready.

**Q: Is he even close? He has been getting close for a while.

BB:** Well, again, all I can say is when he is ready we will play him. The field conditions had absolutely no bearing, zero, on that decision. None.

**Q: Are you trying to manage his injury?

BB:** No. Flat out no. When he is ready he will play. If he is not ready, then he won't play. It is the same, with him or anybody else, pick a name. When they are ready to play, they are going to play. If they are not ready, then they are not. When is that going to happen, I don't know. We have all been down this road before.

**Q: Some teams may say to their players who are going to the playoffs, maybe these last few games aren't as precious as the others.

BB:** Don't even go there. We are not talking about preseason now. Michael Vick. He was going to be out 6-8 weeks. That was what, the second game of the preseason? Did he play yesterday?

**Q: Yes.

BB:** All right, so 6-8 weeks. There you go. You tell me. When they are ready, they play. If they are not ready, they don't play.

**Q: Is it fair to say that the defense has played more consistently than your offense?

BB:** You know, it is a team game. All three units have to complement each other. So I can tell you defensively it is a lot easier to play when they have the ball on their 15-yard line than when they have it on your 15. Offensively, when you don't turn the ball over, if you can create some field position in the kicking game, then that helps the defense. Any defensive coach and any defensive player I think would tell you that. I don't think it is unique to our team. You want to help the defense out? That is how you help them out. One way is to score points, a game like yesterday, create field position. Put them 85-yards away from the goal line. Offensively there were times when we did a real good job of that as a team. There are other teams where it could have been better. Defensively, we took advantage of some of those situations. There were times last week where we didn't. I am talking about previous games. I think in any given game, you can find ups and downs for everybody. But offensively when you don't turn the ball over and you can change field position, especially when the wind is a factor like it was yesterday, then there is a lot to be said for that. There is a lot to be said for scoring 38 points too like the week before. The games are different and in the end, you have to do what you have to do.

**Q: Was everything okay with the timing with Damon [Huard] and Adam [Vinatieri] with holding?

BB:** I think it was the first time that we have had, obviously, a new punter and a new holder in regular season game conditions in a while and I think it should get better. I don't think it was perfect. Hopefully it will improve. There is room for improvement.

**Q: Why do teams struggle so much after winning the Super Bowl the following year? What are some of the difficulties that a coaching staff faces whether it is motivation or injuries? Why has it been so difficult the last few years for teams to defend the title or even make the playoffs?

BB:** Well, I think I have answered that question 5,000 times after last season. Honestly, we could probably give you 100 pages on that.

**Q: Maybe just a basic two or three things that you can think of off hand?

BB:** Everything. Number one you have a lot of people shooting at you. Number two there are a lot of other good teams in the league. Some of it is circumstantial. You are never the same team one year as you were the next whatever you were last year. It doesn't matter if you were 0-16, 16-0. You are still not going to be the same team the next year. Something is going to change. It either gets better or it gets worse.

**Q: We talked about run defense on the perimeter. When you look at the run defense this year versus last year, is that the primary reason for the team's success this year?

BB:** I don't know if it is the primary but it is certainly one of the important ones. It would go in that category.

**Q: What would be the others?

BB:** Interior defense, tackling.

**Q: Is that team-wide or just the defense?

BB:** Well it would certainly be on the defensive side. They are important. Look, it is not really that hard on defense. If they run outside and they are uncontested, they are going to gain a lot of yards. If you stop them outside, and you get blocked inside and they go up the middle, they are going to gain yards there too. No matter how many yards that they gain when they cross the line of scrimmage, you are always going to have people in the secondary that should have a shot at them. Then it is going to be whether or not you can make those plays and get them down. They can knock everybody flat on their back but their running back can run through the line of scrimmage untouched and if you have good secondary play, they still might only gain eight or nine yards. It doesn't mean you have to give up a 70-yard touchdown just because there is a hole. All of those elements go into run defense. Doing a good job on the outside runs, doing a good job fitting on the inside runs and at some point when they break the line of scrimmage, then having a good secondary umbrella back there, whoever it consist of, safeties, corners, nickel backs, whoever that group is that they are able to get the runner down after a reasonable gain, which to me is, I would say, under 10 yards. I am not talking about 30-yard runs as being reasonable. Any plays that go longer than that, you can put those on the secondary. Don't put them on the nose tackle because he isn't going to run them down for a 30-yard gain. You can forget about that. The secondary has that responsibility, however it is configured on a particular defense.

**Q: Situational football, is that a big chunk of your practices?

BB:** It is. It is a big part of our game plan. It is a big part of our practice and it is a big part of our preparation.

**Q: At what point did that change for you during the season?

BB:** I would say, probably within one week to 10 days of training camp. Once you get all of your basic stuff in and you get your third down stuff in and then you get some of your basic red area things in, even though that is situational football, but that is still basic stuff that goes in fairly early. But I would say from that point on, say from the week before your first preseason game, then it is heavily emphasized, situational football is heavily emphasized. Be it down and distance, be it personnel situations, or be it time management type of things an as they relate to specific plays in the kicking game like after a safety or onside kicks or things like that, well not so much onside kicks, but say the safety situations or kicking out of your endzone and then kicking out of their endzone, which those can occur in the middle of the first quarter so they are not really time management things, they are just situational plays that occur randomly.

**Q: Do you look around the league or do you just use your games?

BB:** Well, first of all at the start of the year, we would go through, just say where we are right now, we go through every situation that we can think of that we want to be prepared for. Let's say there are 70 of them or whatever it is. Then in the offseason, we would go back through all of our games and see if there was anything that came up unusually that would not fit cleanly into one of these situations where we either need to add one or maybe modify it a little bit or that type of thing. An example of that would be the Denver game where we were down by one and we took the safety, which looking at it even at the time was a relatively easy decision. Let's just say the score was tied. Let's just say we were ahead by one. Now let's take a look at that decision and see what we want to do. Maybe that would change it. Maybe it wouldn't. Those are some points that we would be talking about this year that we probably hadn't talked about last year. Are there some new situations based on experiences that we have had, yes. They will come up and those will be discussed. We already have a pretty good background and log of things that we have talked about and we tell the team, 'This is what we are looking for in this situation.' Not necessarily a specific play, but here is conceptually what we do want to do or maybe what we don't want to do. That certainly includes weather, field conditions and that kind of thing as well.

**Q: With the inclement weather, what did you tell your team last week?

BB:** Well, we talked to the team specifically about the conditions that we felt like we would be facing. We addressed that early in the week in general terms, not knowing what it is was going to be and then we talked about it Saturday night and then Sunday morning specifically about the wind, the wet field and the possible precipitation that we could be encountering and how we would want to handle different situations, the reminders for those…whether it be defensively, offensively, special teams, and calls or things that we would do, not knowing for sure if it is going to come up but things that could be possibilities given those conditions. As an example, let's say we had the ball offensively with the wind at the end of the quarter, second and third and long situations, we might want to take a timeout in that situation to preserve the wind to be able to kick with it or vice versa defensively. If we made a call to the defense to be alert to call a timeout at the end of the first quarter which isn't a normal situation to protect the wind advantage to force them to kick into it. That would be a little bit of an unusual situation. We wouldn't want to miss that opportunity if that is what we were looking for. Things like that.

**Q: Two penalties, that was something different.

BB:** Yeah, it was good. It was a very low penalized game throughout. Of course [Richard] Seymour had the one on offense which is him being a little bit out of position, not that it is excusable. But offensively, we didn't have any penalties and defensively we didn't have any penalties. We had the holding penalty on the punt protection. Anytime you can play relatively penalty-free like that, even though those are both significant penalties, I am not minimizing those two but in terms of numbers, when you can keep it down like that, that is obviously helpful.

**Q: Would you agree that one of this team's strengths is its character?

BB:** Yes. They have good character.

**Q: Is it different from last year? Better than last year?

BB:** I think it is a strength. I think our team has good character. I think there is a good level of mental and physical toughness on it. Yes, I would put it above last year's team.

**Q: Can you talk a little bit about Deion Branch's play yesterday in the game?

BB:** He was big yesterday. I thought Deion made a couple of really key and tough plays inside where the coverage was tight and held onto the ball after a couple of big hits and ran a couple of really good routes where he had to come back to the ball, come underneath the coverage and be able to not only make the play but make it with contact. Those are some big plays that changed field position as well. I thought he had a really good game

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