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

Bill Belichick Press Transcript

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            **BB:**  Everyone has the injury report.  We had three roster transactions over the last couple of days.  Yesterday, we re-signed Larry Centers and released J.J. Stokes.  I thought J.J. did a really good job coming in here.  It was a tight situation, a couple of spots here on the roster, with the backfield being one of them.  It was tough to release him.  As I said, I think he did a good job for us.  I am sure if we get into another bind, he is somebody, if he is available, we would certainly be interested in him down the road.  We are going to place Lonie Paxton on injured reserve and we signed Sean McDermott as the long snapper. We made one other move on our practice squad. We released Jamil Soriano and added Travis Dorsch, a punter.  That brings everything back up to speed there.  Looking at Jacksonville, this is a team that in the first seven or eight games of the year was maybe feeling their way a little bit with a new coach, a new system and so forth and so on.  I think over the last five or six weeks, they have really played very good football.  They have been pretty consistent on defense all year.  Overall I think they have played really well in the last few weeks against some very good teams, Baltimore, Tennessee, Tampa, right down the line.  This is one of the most physical teams that I think we will see this year in the trenches on the offensive line and defensive line.  They are very physical.  They are tough.  They have started pretty much the same group on both sides of the line the entire season.  So they have had a lot of continuity in there and they are very physical. They are very strong.  Obviously on offense they have some big playmakers with [Jimmy] Smith and Fred Taylor.  They picked up Kevin Johnson.  [Byron] Leftwich has come in there and done a real nice job for them.  I think it really starts with the offensive line.  The same thing defensively.  They do a good job of controlling the line of scrimmage.  They play the run well.  They are one of the top teams in run defense.  They rush the passer well.  It is hard to control the line of scrimmage against these guys, either run the ball or get the passes off.  They are active in the secondary, guys like [Donovin] Darius who is a big hitter, a big playmaker.  [Rashean] Mathis has done a good job for them in the secondary as well.  He started off at free safety and has come over to corner.  [David] Allen has given them some plays in the return game.  I think the way they are playing right now, they are probably playing as well as anybody we have seen this year.  They are very physical. They are very good on the lines and I think that is going to be a big challenge for us this week.  I know it is.  These guys are pretty good.  They rotate a lot of people on defense.  They play seven or eight guys in there on the defensive line and they all have been productive.  Obviously, with the starters with [Tony] Brackens and [Hugh] Douglas, and [Marcus] Stroud and [John] Henderson, going right down the line there, [Paul] Spicer and all the rest of them that they rotate through there, [Lionel] Barnes, all of those guys.  They have done a nice job for them.  That is the scouting report on Jacksonville.  They are playing well.  

**Q: Is Russ Hochstein or [Sean] McDermott going to be your long snapper? How concerned are you with the level of play there without Lonie?

BB:** Well, Lonie has been here four years and has had virtually every snap during that time. Somebody else will be doing it this week. Sean has had good experience snapping in the league. He has been in Miami, Houston and Tampa. He has done it and we will take a look at him. Russ has been doing it as well. By the end of the week we will decide what we are going to do there.

**Q: Is it tough this late in the year to develop that continuity? You have a new holder and now a new snapper.

BB:** And a different punter, so yes, no doubt about it. We definitely have put in some extra time in those areas with the specialists, both themselves and also allocating more practice time to those field goals and the punting situations to try to do the best we can to create game type conditions for the timing and all of that for the whole unit not just the specialist. It is going to take more work and we are going to have to put in some extra time on it. There is no question. It is not the type of thing you want to go through in December. But we don't really have any choice.

**Q: How would you describe Fred Taylor? Is he similar to any back you have faced this year?

BB:** How would I describe Fred Taylor? Damn good! That is how. Good. He is big. He is fast. He has the speed to get outside. He is powerful. He runs over people. He has good vision. He is a good pass protector. He has good hands. There is no weakness in Fred Taylor's game. This guy is a really good football player. You see him picking up the blitz, you see him blocking guys, he is tough, he is not afraid to stick it up in there. He will run over guys and he can out run just about everybody. It doesn't make any difference who they are, backs, linebackers, you can look at some of the best defensive players in the league and he makes them all look bad. You can go right down the line. Tennessee, Baltimore, Tampa, all of the teams they have played. This guy is good.

**Q: Is he just as consistent a back that you have seen?

BB:** Well, he has started I don't know how many straight games for them. He is durable. He has been there. Whatever you want him to do, he can do. He can take it 80 yards. You can give it to him on fourth and one, he is the guy you want carrying it in that situation. Pass protection, pass routes, you name it, he is a problem. He is definitely a problem. Jimmy Smith is a problem too. They picked up Kevin Johnson and Kyle Brady. Brady is a really good blocking tight end. He has been productive for them in the passing game for a number of years. They have good skill players and they have a good line. You can go right down the line. You have to start with Taylor and Jimmy Smith. Those two guys have had as much consistent production as just about anybody else you can throw up there.

**Q: Speaking of Kevin, how well has he been able to mesh in their offense?

BB:** It has only been a couple of weeks but he seems to be more of a factor each week. I think by now, this is what his fourth game now? Maybe the third one he will be active, I think he is established himself pretty solidly. There are still guys like [Troy] Edwards, they are still are productive receivers. Leftwich has done a good job of spreading the ball around and utilizing all of his weapons.

**Q: Is Kevin like a possession type of receiver, the perfect type of receiver to complement Jimmy?

BB:** Well he is a good receiver. Look at Kevin Johnson's production through his first, four, five years in the league. He is producing about as much as anybody can. He is good. I certainly wouldn't label him a possession receiver. I think he can do whatever you need him to do. He can make big plays. He has great hands and can catch the ball. He can come inside. He runs good routes. I mean he just caught too many passes, believe me they are not all hitches.

**Q: In terms of durability, you have had good luck with Tom Brady. Is that just good protection, good release?

BB:** I don't know what the percentages are but probably some combination of all of them. Plus, I think to Tom's credit, he has worked hard himself on his physical conditioning, his overall body strength. I am sure that is part of the equation too. You can probably put all four of those things together. You have to have protection. You have to get rid of the ball. Every quarterback gets hit so you are going to have to be able to withstand some shots there. I don't think there is any quarterback that goes back there and doesn't get hit. Unless you want to look at Leftwich against Tampa. Then you would have a quarterback who didn't get hit.

**Q: Signing Travis to the practice squad, is that to say that you aren't too happy with Brooks Barnard's performance on Sunday?

BB:** I am not saying anything. I am saying he is on the practice squad and he is there with four other guys. And we will take a look at him.

**Q: Are you happy with Brooks' performance?

BB:** Well, he has only been here a few days. He punted in one game. I think it is hard to make a complete evaluation of a player based on that short of a time frame. I thought he did an okay job. We will continue to work with him and we will work with Travis and we will work with Sean. That is who we have. We have multiple players at other positions too.

**Q: Did you bring in Dorsch before you released Kenny [Walter]?

BB:** I think he was, yes. I am not positive on that though. So, I will get back to you on that.

**Q: [Laughter] Did Lonie make any bad snaps?

BB:** Well, he had that one where he threw it over a guy's head in Denver.

**Q: [Laughter] Did he make any unintentional bad snaps?

BB:** I think Lonie was pretty consistent. He did a pretty good job. I wouldn't say it was perfect, no. There was a couple that I think he would like to have back. Or I would like to have back, I don't want to speak for him. I would like to have had them back. Overall, he did a real good job.

**Q: If it were not for the fact that he has to go down on punt coverage, could he have just worn a brace?

BB:** Not in the medical opinion of our people, no.

**Q: How much punt protection is down there?

BB:** How much is there? On field goals? Well usually they put two or three guys right over you that weigh about 300 pounds a piece and then they put guys behind them that push it, and so I would say about 1500 pounds worth. Punt protection it is the same thing. Sometimes they put big guys in there. Sometimes they will bring their quickest and most athletic people and put them inside and try to stunt the center one way or another. How much protection is there? I would say quite a bit. If you do not do it well there is going to be a lot more. You have to be able to hold up in the middle of your kicking game or it is going to be a long day.

**Q: So obviously he was a good long snapper.

BB:** Lonie was a good snapper. Lonie is a good player. He is a good snapper. He covered okay, but his protection was good and he was consistent. There are a lot of different elements in snapping—the protection, the situational things. We have some different responsibilities for him situationally and that type of thing. He is good.

**Q: How many long snappers are out there this time of year? I mean at this time of year trying to find a wide receiver is hard. With this, you would think there are a lot more.

BB:** I don't know about that. I don't know about that. You have basically 60 players on each team, probably more than that once you get into reserve lists and so forth—65 players. 32 teams. That is a lot of guys that are spoken for. If somebody looks out there and they think, 'Boy this guy is really a good player', somebody is going to find some place for him. So I do not think there is a big abundance of talent necessarily at any position now. You find the people who fit the best for your team or your scheme or your particular situation. Everybody brings people in during the season, but I don't think there is a lot of—there are always diamonds in the rough, don't get me wrong. But I don't think there are a lot of Jerry Rice's and John Elway's and Lawrence Taylor's just hanging around out there with no team to play for in December. I don't think there is necessarily a lot of that at any position.

**Q: Having Larry Centers back—how does that help your offensive plans?

BB:** I don't know if I can answer that right now. Larry has not been with us for a few weeks. We will have to see where exactly he is and whether or not he is even in the picture this week or not. I am not saying that he is, I am not saying that he is not. I just don't know. I have not seen him other than seeing that his knee is rehabbed and he is ready to go, but he has been off the field for a while. We will see what the time frame is for him to come back. I really don't know that for sure. I think it is hard to count on a guy at this point—again, I am not saying that he is not going to play. I think it is hard to say 'Okay, he has not played in several weeks. All of a sudden the guy is going to be—any player, not Larry—at the top of his game.' If that was the way to do it, we should give everybody two months off and then light them up.

**Q: Is Larry one of those guys that gives you experience going into the playoffs?

BB:** Right now Larry is here to help us beat Jacksonville, and maybe in future weeks, we will deal with those as they come. But I do not know about that down the road. Right now it is to try to get him ready for Jacksonville. Whether he is ready or not this week, I don't know. We will just have to see. If he is not ready this week, we will just have to get him ready for next week. I do not know, but Larry has a lot of good qualities as a player. They are well documented and certainly well respected, and that is part of the reason why he is back here. At the same time, he has not played in a while so what that role will be right now is just hard to say.

**Q: Byron did not get hit at all against Tampa Bay. Not many can say that. What is that line doing well?

BB:** They blocked them. That is it. They blocked. There is no magic wand, no trick plays. They just lined up and they blocked them. Every single one of them. [Vince] Manuwai, [Chris] Naeole, [Brad] Meester, [Mike] Pearson and Mo Williams. They just blocked them. Run, pass, drop back, play action, inside run, outside run, whatever you want. They just lined up there and they blocked them. [Derrick] Brooks, [Warren] Sapp, [Simeon] Rice, [Anthony] McFarland, [Greg] Spires, all of them. They just blocked them. [John] Lynch, whoever you want. The Ravens game, same thing. Tennessee, same thing. They just line up and they just block them. That is what they do. They are just good. This is a good offensive line. And [Kyle] Brady is like having another tackle in the game. He was with the Jets when I was there. Kyle is all of 6'6". We talked several times when we were at the Jets in terms of him having the frame. If he just put on 20, 25 pounds he could easily be an offensive tackle. He is that kind of athlete and he has that kind of size. He is obviously a real good tight end who can block like a tackle and be a factor in the receiving game. These guys have played as a group all season, other than the two series against Tennessee when [Jamar] Nesbit was in there for Naeole. Other than that it has been the same group every game, every week, pretty much every play. They have played with a lot of consistency and a lot of continuity and have played well and they are really playing well at this point in the season against obviously some of the good defensive lines that we are familiar with as well.

**Q: Are they using Marc Edwards in any similar way as you did?

BB:** I think we all know what Marc does, and that is what he does. When they go to a two-back set, he is in there with Taylor. Taylor is handling the ball most of the time. Marc handles it every now and then, like he did here or throughout his career.

**Q: When you put Richard Seymour in on offense—or any defensive lineman in on offense—is there a worry about injury in there?

BB:** No, I think any time you put a player out on the field anything can happen. We have seen plenty of guys, no contact and something happens. Then we have seen other guys have the biggest hit of the year and they both get up and walk away from it. You cannot take out insurance. Everybody has to play and they do what they do to try and help the team win and that is it. I do not think you can worry about not snapping the ball because something might happen. Something could always happen and unfortunately that is part of the game, but I think that is the part that we all have to accept and live with.

**Q: Is Leftwich any good yet?

BB:** Not bad. Not bad.

**Q: Strong arm?

BB:** Very strong arm. He can get it in a lot of tight places. He makes a lot of good throws. If you do not have the receivers covered, he is going to hit them. And he does not need a lot of space. The ball is not in the air long. He can really fire it in there. Deep comebacks, he just ropes them out there. It is tight, and it is out there in a hurry. All the deep balls, he has a lot of zip on the ball and he has a good touch. He steps up in the pocket. He is a very strong kid who is hard to knock off his feet. He does a good job. I think he is the type of guy that, as you watch him each game, he is getting better week-by-week-by- week. And he is probably getting more confident, but there is no lack of talent. He can make all of the throws and he can see the field and put the ball where he needs to put it. Just look at the production of [Jimmy] Smith and really all of the receivers. He is doing a good job and he has some good guys to work with.

**Q: Does that make him dangerous—if any particular Sunday he gets in a groove?

BB:** Yeah, he can make all the throws. If we do not have them covered, he will hit them. Do not worry about that, he will hit them. It is not a question of his arm strength or his accuracy. He can put the ball and thread the needle—put it in some tight spots. You bet it is definitely a concern. It is a concern being able to put any pressure on him too because their offensive line keeps people off him. They do a good job.

**Q: You are 11-2 without having a dominant running back. Are you beating the odds, saying that you do not need a strong running game?

BB:** I think the most important statistic is that final score. That is what you are playing for. It is not about individual stats or individual honors on any side of the ball or the kicking game. It is about trying to win the game and that comes from a lot of different areas. Our backs have contributed and so have a lot of other people.

**Q: Statistically their defense is pretty good.

BB:** Tell me about it.

**Q: Is [Head Coach Jack] Del Rio doing some of the same things from when he was in Carolina or when he was in Baltimore?

BB:** Oh yeah, sure. I think that there are definitely elements of both of those defenses, yes. They are a four-man line all the way, they play overs and unders, they have the two big inside tackles, similar to what Baltimore had when they had [Tony] Siragusa and [Sam] Adams. They have [John] Henderson and [Marcus] Stroud. Those guys are pretty much immovable. They are huge. They are a huge force inside. There are some elements like that. Coverage-wise it is similar. They do some blitz-zoning and they play a lot of three-deep coverages. Their quarters coverage is a little bit of cover two, so basically similar things to what they did in Carolina and Baltimore, yes.

**Q: Does Larry Centers give you an element in pass protection that maybe Patrick Pass doesn't?

BB:** I think Larry is certainly adequate in pass protection, but certainly the most productive thing he has done in his career is catch the ball. Every time you have him, that is one less time you are throwing to him. But you have to do both. Every back pretty much is going to have to pick up, sooner or later that is going to be a factor. If you are throwing the ball and the backs can catch it and make plays—that is important too. They cannot do both. You have to pick one or the other. I think Larry certainly can do them, but he has really been productive as a receiver through his career.

**Q: How often does he have a read on 'if this happens I am out, if this happens I am in?' Is it good to have a guy with that experience back there? Is it easy?

BB:** I would say every play. I wouldn't say it is easy, but that is what the back's job is. You are not going to go into the game saying 'Okay, we are going to put our back on Hugh Douglas, or we are going to have our back blocking Jason Taylor, or we are going to have our back blocking Jevon Kearse' or whoever it is. That is usually never their assignment. Very seldom. Most of the time the backs have to pick up on a linebacker or sometimes a secondary blitzer. If they come, then you block them. If they don't come, then you are released into the pattern. That is pretty much the way it is. Now, who you have them on—sometimes you are reading two guys, sometimes you are reading one guy, occasionally you are out free, but again, the more guys you release then when they blitz you do not have anybody picking them up, and that causes some pattern adjustments someplace else. That is pretty much always the backs'—at least one back's, sometimes two—that is their responsibility. Read for blitz. If blitz comes, they take them. If it doesn't come, then they release them and run their route. That is pretty standard.

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