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

Bill Belichick Press Transcript

Q: How questionable is Troy [Brown] today?BB: He is as questionable as he has been.

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            **BB:**  Good morning.  What are you working on today?  

**Q: Coach, I know you have a lot of respect for Jay Fiedler. Is he the type of player that seem like he is forgotten guy? It seems like they are always trying to replace him or move him when he is winning games and scoring a lot of points?

BB:** Well, that is what I see. He has a good record. He is a good player. He has played when we played him. I don't know what happened in some of the games after, he was hurt obviously after our game. I think he is an efficient quarterback and he is a winning quarterback. I remember two years ago in the 2000 season at the end, he played well, he threw the ball well at the end of the year when they beat us. I think that he a very capable quarterback and a good quarterback. He knows how to make the plays to make that team win. That is what quarterbacking is about. It is about winning games. It is not all about stats and interception rating and all of that. It is about winning games.

**Q: Do you think he has some of he intangibles that Tom Brady has?

BB:** I have never been around him personally. I am sure he has good intangibles though. I am sure that he has good poise and he looks like a smart player and he knows what is going on. He may very well have, I just never personally spent much time with him. I have a lot of respect for him. His team certainly responds well to him and that is important.

**Q: How questionable is Troy [Brown] today?

BB:** He is as questionable as he has been.

**Q: Which side of 50/50 would you put him?

BB:** I don't know. With Troy, this week where we are at is we haven't done much so far. We are going to take a look at it later on in the week. Tomorrow and maybe it will be a game day decision. That will depend on where he is tomorrow. That is what we are going to do. If you don't go out there and run him, I don't know how you could be any better yesterday or today or the day before. I don't know until we go out there and do it. We don't want to set him back so we will give him as much time as possible and take a look at it before the game. I have no idea.

**Q: How much does weather and field conditions play into a leg injury?

BB:** Either you can play or you can't play. I don't buy that.

**Q: Is he pushing to play?

BB:** Of course. Nobody is more competitive than Troy. He is working hard to be out there. Nobody is working harder than he is.

**Q: I heard on the radio today that bad weather favors you and not the Dolphins and I can think about that game Ricky Williams had in Buffalo last year.

BB:** Yeah, in Buffalo and against us. They had an 11-point lead with three minutes to go in the game. It is not like they were behind the whole game. They were far from it.

**Q: A guy like that who has no exposure to this kind of weather and then suddenly thriving in it, how would you explain?

BB:** How would I explain last year? Good blocking, good running and bad defense. That is how I would explain that.

**Q: A guy like Ricky Williams and the snowstorm in Buffalo and the bad weather, how would you explain that?

BB:** It wasn't snowing any harder for Miami than it was Buffalo. It is not like the guy is a rookie. He has been in the league. He has played in it. He plays up in Buffalo every year. He plays in New York every year. He plays in New England every year and of course whatever other away games they have up here. The guy is a pro. I think a pro player goes out there and competes whatever the conditions are. I don't think a good competitive player gets psyched out just because it is windy or there is some snow on the ground or the crowd boos or whatever. A good player doesn't get bothered by any of that stuff. He just goes out there and plays and plays through it.

**Q: You talked about players making a role for themselves on the team and earning more playing time. What has Shawn Mayer shown you over the last couple of games?

BB:** Most of his opportunities have come in the kicking game and he has taken advantage of those. He did a good job last week. I think he was in on three tackles. That is what we are looking for. We know when you put him out there, and sometimes it is in a minor role for a play or two or maybe it is one kick off team, one grouping, whatever it is. When a guy does well in that and then he gets to the point where he is going to be active for the game the next week and everybody knows, all the coaches know that he is definitely going to be active the next week. Then you say, 'Okay, well we know he is going to be here, so what else can he do?' Then if does well in that next opportunity, then sometimes that leads to another one. A lot of times, players opportunities as we have talked about before on offense and defense stem from their initial performance in the kicking game because that gets them to the game and that gets them a role on the team. Patrick Pass would be a good example of that.

**Q: Has Mayer gotten to that point? Is he working towards an opportunity defensively?

BB:** Well, he is a lot closer to it now than he was four or five weeks ago. There is no doubt about that.

**Q: What was the time line with him? I remember he was on the practice squad and then he was off.

BB:** He was on the practice squad then we brought him up on the roster. Then he went back down on the practice squad and then he came back up.

**Q: How much is a player on the practice squad able to show you?

BB:** Well, if a guy is on the practice squad, he is on the roster as far as we are concerned. We all know those players could be activated Saturday afternoon before the game. Practice squad players are just as much responsible for a game plan and responsible for preparation in any given week as the players on the roster are. A guy turns his ankle at the end of the week and that is an opportunity. You never know when those are going to come and they always have to be ready. Usually sooner or later, usually, those practice squad players get called on if they are ready. If they ready then they can capitalize on it. Now if they don't take advantage of those opportunities then somebody else gets them.

**Q: There is a rumor that the Dolphins practiced in an ice skating rink this week. Have you ever tried a tactic like that?

BB:** Right, put the fans out there on the sideline and wind conditions. I can't think of it now.

**Q: Well, you went down to Miami early a couple of days early a few years ago.

BB:** Yeah, well we have done that in that in the past. We went out to San Diego early. But it is hard to make it colder.

**Q: You have always talked about outside opinions.

BB:** Well, you know I value your opinion.

**Q: Right, right. But not my opinion, do you every get the sense that, you know, lucky is attached to this team a lot, you are fortunate, Christmas gifts, that kind of thing, do ever get the sense that some of the players are irked by that or they get bugged by that perception?

BB:** You would have to ask the players. I don't know.

**Q: Since you do value my opinion, do you ever get bugged by it?

BB:** No. Let the record stand. Whatever it is, let it stand.

**Q: Was your message to the team any different this week?

BB:** No. [We talked about] just what the situation is. Not any implication, just what the situation is. We could be 11-2 if we win. If we lose, we are 10-3. That is what the game is about right now. The only thing we can do anything about is this week and this game and that is it. And we always talk about what one game means. There are four games left in the season, you win one and lose three, then I don't know what that one means.

**Q: Being 10-2 how do you stay so single minded?

BB:** That is how we got to 10-2. You don't worry about the game that happened. You don't worry about the game that is coming up. You worry about the game that is at hand. That is the only one you can do anything about. Play-to-play, series-to-series, that is all there is. You can't get too far ahead or too far behind. Just stay on track.

**Q: What does [Adewale] Ogunleye, he is having a monster year…

BB:** He is.

**Q: Is he benefiting from Jason Taylor or is he just coming into his own as a player?

BB:** I think he has been pretty good. I think he is having an outstanding year. I think you have to credit him. Yeah, Taylor is a good player in his own right. But between the two of them, they give you a lot of pressure off of both edges. They are both good in the running game. They are explosive guys. They are quick, they get their hands in there and they knock people back as well as use their speed in pursuit in pass rush. He is a good player. I think he has made believers out of everybody. Not that anybody didn't believe in him, but you just always saw Taylor as kind of a premiere guy. I think now, they are bookends.

**Q: Who would you compare his package to?

BB:** Boy, that is a tough question. He has a lot of skill. He is explosive. He can power rush. He can obviously get the edge. He is a good speed rusher. He has a good counter-move where he starts up and comes inside. He has good three or four good pitches there that he can throw interchangeably. That makes him hard to stop. Taylor is a lot like that too. He is just taller and lankier, he has more of a reach maybe but Taylor is the same thing. Taylor can power rush. He might not look like it but he has a good power rush and of course he is a great speed rusher and he can counter back inside and he is quick running game. Taylor is tall. This guy has a lot going for him. He is a good player. There is not a lot of weakness to his game.

**Q: Do they flip-flop those guys?

BB:** They do, at times. Yes, they do. You can't always count on where they are going to be but they do flip them. They flip them and then they don't flip them so you have to be ready both ways.

**Q: Did they do that in the first meeting?

BB:** Oh, yeah. They do it pretty much every week. Taylor is normally on the right but he is on the open side quite a bit and then every once and a while he moves around where he lines up kind of as an off the line linebacker in a two-point stance and either blitzes or fakes his blitz and covers and that type of thing. They have a couple of little different wrinkles with him.

**Q: How has Tom Ashworth fared against those types of rushers?

BB:** Not bad. Overall our protection has been okay. It certainly could be better. But is has been okay. We have seen a lot of good edge rushers this year. A lot of them, it seems like every week, you can just go right down the line. Pretty much everybody we played has had a couple of guys, at least one I would say pretty high profile guy, in a lot of cases a couple of them have been challenging.

**Q: Has he been pretty good one-on-one with these rushers?

BB:** Yes, I think for the most part it has been okay. You are at all the games. Protection, we have had our breakdowns, but I wouldn't say overall pass protection has been a huge problem for us this year. We have had some breakdowns, there is no question about that. But it is not like you feel like they are storming the castle every time you go back throw a pass. It has been okay. There have been plenty of games where we have had to throw and that is really when you get tested on protection is when you have to throw and they know you have to throw. That is when you really find out whether you can block them or not. You run play-action on second and two and they are on there playing the run, that is great but you don't really get tested on your pass protection at that point as much as you would necessarily on third and 10 and it has to go up and see if you can block him or not.

**Q: Do you have an update on who is going to hold on Sunday?

BB:** No.

**Q: How about personnel decisions? Might a very windy day dictate maybe putting Antowain Smith in the game?

BB:** I think when you go into the game you have to decide what you are going to do. I don't think you want to practice all week and come to the game and say, 'Okay, it is hot today, we are going to play this guy,' or, 'It is cold today, we are going to play that guy,' or you have lost a lot of practice time along the way. I think you have a pretty good idea of what you are going to try to do. There are going to be some game time decisions, so you might have a couple of adjustments to make at the end. But I think as much as you can plan for, 'This is how we would like to play the game, this is how we see the roles stacking up early in the week,' and practice them that way during the week. I think for the most part, that is probably the way you are going to want to go with them for the game unless there is something extra ordinary that would change that whether it be and injury or some unusual circumstance. I don't think you want to wait until one hour before the game and go out and give it one of those and say…

**Q: You might have made the decision already based on…

BB:** Again, look I know it is December and I know we are in New England in December but I don't know if anybody knows what it is going to be like. Like I said, the day we had against Dallas, the last home game, might have been the calmest day we have had, certainly in this stadium, and maybe the calmest day that I have seen since I have been here. You just never know.

**Q: Could Eugene Wilson transition back to corner if he has to?

BB:** Sure. He plays corner. In some of packages, in some of our defenses, he plays corner.

**Q: I know this is thinking way ahead…

BB:** What, the 2006 draft? [Laughter]

**Q: [Laughter] Have you though about him for next year at free safety?

BB:** Just trying to beat Miami. That is it. I don't care anything about next year. We are just trying to beat Miami.

**Q: Is it that much of an advantage with Miami to tell us who is holding on Sunday? Or have you even decided yet?

BB:** I think we will make that a game time decision. How about that?

**Q: Has Brooks [Barnard] been holding in practice?

BB:** Yes.

**Q: How has that been going?

BB:** Well, for all of them, it is…Kenny [Walter] has obviously been doing most of it. You always have to have back ups ready and those have been the quarterbacks. This is Brooks' first shot at it with Lonie [Paxton] and with Adam [Vinatieri]. It is coming along okay.

**Q: Were you back to practicing outside yesterday?

BB:** Yes.

**Q: How was that?

BB:** Okay. Again, it was not perfect conditions out there. Any of the skill things, kicking off, punting, throwing, even catching, was a little bit more challenging than it would be if we were in ideal conditions. But it is okay.

**Q: How much different can it be from one guy to the next with the holding? Is it just getting used to one guy, what is the big difference from one guy to the next?

BB:** Well, first of all, it is not like college where you have a tee. You have to catch the ball and you have to put it on a spot on the ground. That spot on the ground is what the kicker's aiming point is. When the kicker approaches the ball and plants, in Adam's case his left foot, relative to that spot where the ball is supposed to be, then the further ball is off that spot then the more margin for error there is on the kick. Having the ball caught wherever it is snapped and placed perfectly on the spot, that is a legitimate skill there. Now, there is also skill in catching the ball softly and placing it there so that you have control of the ball and then are able to tilt it properly and move the laces to give the kicker the ball in the best possible position you can have it in so that he can make the kick. Again, it is a lot of little things, but they are all important. The straighter the laces are, the more the ball tumbles straight, the more it doesn't drift and turn a little bit. The more the ball is tilted properly then again the straighter it flies for the kicker as opposed to the tilt of the ball creating a little bit of a hook or a slice if you will. The further it is off of the spot then either the closer or further it is relative to his foot position, that would be like, and I hate to use the analogy but I mean it is like if you were standing on the tee hitting a golf ball and the ball was, as you were in the middle of your back swing, placed on the tee, you would probably have a lot better chance of hitting a solid drive than if that tee were moved an inch one way or the other forward or back one way or the other right as you were at the top of your back swing. That is really where a kicker is. He commits to the spot with his left foot. He is in the air, he can't move, and the ball is placed either on the spot or if it is off the spot then he has to try to make some kind of adjustment. He is really into that kicking motion. You can say a holder is a holder but a spot is a spot too and if the ball is on it, it is on it. If it is not, it is not. If it's tilted one way or another, I know I said it many times before, but there is a lot that goes into the kicking game. The snapping, the holding, the punting, the place kicking, kicking off, a lot of it is situational, a lot of it is technique and a lot of it is very, very skillful. That is what it is. I've coached it. I can't do it, but I have seen a lot of guys that are good that can do it. I have seen a lot try to be good that don't do it as well as some other people. There is a lot to it. It is a lot more than leg strength.

**Q: What do you prefer on kickoff returns, consistency or explosiveness and you are willing to give up a little bit of consistency?

BB:** Well, I think you can probably ask that question about every position and there is going to be some trade off there. Some guys that are consistent, there is a lot to be said for that. Some guys are maybe bigger play type of players, a little bit less consistency and you have to make that decision which play, I mean, they are both good and they both have a lot of positives, you pick one or the other based on what you think is the best for your situation, assuming one is not clearly better than the other one then that is a no brain-er.

**Q: Is there any common thread with Mel Gray, Rick Upchurch, those types of guys?

BB:** Well those guys that you mentioned, there are a lot of different style of runners. You have the Mike Nelms type of guys that are big, powerful, strong runners. You have guy who are faster runners, the Mel Grays, Uppie [Rick Upchurch], he was more of a punt returner, but as a kick returner, guys like that, that you don't think of as guys that necessarily are going to run through three or four tackles on a return but are more elusive. Again you go back to some of the more powerful guys, Nelms is a good example, and they got shots at him but he ran through them. Different style of runners just like there is a different style of receivers, just like there are different styles of backs, you have Warrick Dunn, and you have [Mike] Alstott, or you have T.J. Duckett, whoever they are, even on the same team. It is pretty dramatic from one to another. They are both effective, they just have different styles. I would say that is true of returners too. What I think is important is whatever style of runner you have, then you need to fit your return to that type of player. If a guys is a speed player and he is not maybe a run through tackle type of guy, then maybe you don't want him running up in there where he is going to have to run through the whole team. You want to try to spread it out and hit more sideline types of returns or vice versa. If you have a guy who is not that fast, but he is a nifty guy, say a guy like [Dave] Meggett was a good example of somebody who really wasn't that fast but he had good vision, he had good strength for his size. He was tough to tackle because of his body lean and his lower body strength. He is not necessarily the guy you want to run all sideline returns with but was actually better hitting it straight with one or two cuts and making a guy miss and getting into the coverage rather than trying to get to the edge and out run it. Obviously you have a guy that has multiple skills, a fast guy that is a powerful strong runner too, then you have an option to do them both.

**Q: 20 seconds left and you are down by two, if you could chose one guy to run the ball back on a kickoff return, any guy, who do you want to run the ball back to get field position?

BB:** [Billy] White Shoes [Johnson].

**Q: Gales Sayers?

BB:** Gale Sayers. Gale Sayers. Can we trade

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