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Bill Belichick Transcript: 'Winning favors the team that makes the fewest mistakes'

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Friday, November 28, 2014.


BB:** Sorry, running a little late this morning. Alright, how are we doing?

Q: You've pointed out the statistic of how fast they've started games at Lambeau Field.

BB: Yeah, it's at a historical level.

Q: I'm curious if with that, does it at all alter your thinking – should you win the toss or is that not the mindset you would take, almost playing into that? Because you could take the ball, three-and out and you're in the same spot.

BB: I mean look, they're going to get the ball, we're going to get it. I don't think that's as important as what you do with it when they have or we have it or when it's being kicked. It's going to be the execution more than – if we have the wind, they're going to have it in the second quarter or vice-versa, whatever it is. I'm really more focused on what our execution level is and being able to put ourselves, from a coaching standpoint, strategically in a decent position so that we can be competitive and not be in some bad, bad play that that would just totally get out-schemed on. Hopefully we can do that – give the players a chance to play and play well.


Q:** One of the things in the Philadelphia game was that the players were having trouble with the footing, changing cleats, etc. How do you handle that situation in a place like Lambeau. Is that a coach's decision, is that the players or equipment staff to make sure they have the proper footing?

BB: Yeah, I'd say all the above. It's a combination of all those. We go through that every week. I know what you're saying, it's probably highlighted a little bit based on that game and some of the comments that came out of that game. But we do the same thing every week. It's a combination of Dave [Schoenfeld] the equipment manager, looking at film, the coaches, the players and just all kind of getting on the same page. Certainly as a player, probably the equipment that's most important to him are his shoes because that's where his confidence comes from, his footing, being able to change directions and play. That's an important part of it, but there's also the experience level of coaches and equipment people and what's kind of the right thing to do there. So, that's all part of it. I think it can, not does, but it could vary from position to position, so what's right for one position or one player might not necessarily be right for another guy. I think that's always an important decision to make, for the player to feel comfortable in his footwear and his footing and that's every week. So you know, you'd be on the same field, the conditions could change, whether it's temperature or moisture, what have you.

Q: I think there's a general consensus that it's tougher to win on the road in this league. Do you agree with that and if so, what are the primary reasons for that?

BB: Well, I think I'd go back to Coach [Bobby] Knight's comment of, 'Winning favors the team that makes the fewest mistakes.' I'd start with that. I'd rather play well and make fewer mistakes and play anywhere than not play well and make a lot of mistakes, put it wherever you want to put it – at home, neutral field. I'll go with Coach Knight on that one.

Q: What are some of the challenges you have to face on the road that are less so at home?

BB: All the obvious things – schedule, field conditions, crowd noise on offense and when you handle the ball – punt team, field goal team, all those things. Those crowd noise situations are just in reverse when you play at home – field conditions and weather, schedule, routine – whatever. It's always a little bit easier when you're familiar with what the norm is. You're into a routine, the home routine. Going on the road, it's always a little bit different. Every team has the same number of home and away games in this league, so it all evens out.

Q: You mentioned earlier this week that Dom Capers has a background with Pittsburgh and the zone blitz is kind of related to that system.

BB: Yeah, they have a lot of them.

Q: What about that scheme challenges the offense, the zone?

BB: Well, I'd say that the Pittsburgh system, the [Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Dick] Lebeau system and the Capers, the way it challenges you is that they bring everybody. It's not one, this guy or that guy. You have to block the Sam, the Mike, the Will. You have to block the strong safety. You have to block corners eventually. Sometimes they bring one guy and drop a defensive lineman, so it's a seven-man coverage. But, I'd say most of the time they bring two guys and drop one, so it's a six-man coverage. So, three under, three deep or occasionally four under, two deep, which is also kind of matched. They do not always drop back and stand there in spots. They take certain guys who can actually play sort of like a man-to-man. But I'd say the challenge with them is you have a lot of different guys coming. It's hard to say it's him or it's them or it's them. You're going to get them all. You're going to get two up the middle or two strong or two weak. You're going to get secondary pressure from both sides and I think that when you come out of the game, you'll say, 'OK, they did this one a couple times, they did that one once, this one once, that one once, that on once and another one a couple times.' It's not like, 'OK, it's going to be these two guys coming all day.' That's not really what they do. It's a challenge. Every protection you have, every play you have, potentially, if you hit the wrong thing, you're going to be out-numbered. You could hit it right and have a favorable advantage but if you hit it wrong, then you kind of, it's a tough play against that call. So if you're trying to put together and 10, 12-play drive, they have good field position, you don't need too many of those plays, you know what I mean? You could give a couple little six-yard gains, but then you get a negative two and maybe that's enough to stop the drive. I think that's kind of the challenge of playing that type of a system is avoiding negative plays, avoiding long yardage. Even though you could get two or three first downs, if you get one of those bad plays in there, now they have you in second and long or third and long and then you're in trouble. So, I think that's kind of the overall philosophy.

Q: Is that challenge exacerbated by a Pro-Bowl caliber pass rusher in Clay Matthews playing inside linebacker now on occasion?

BB: I mean look, every team has good players, so wherever they are, they're there. You have to deal with them.

Q: Is there a trend as to how they move Matthews around or the reasons they move him around?

BB: Well, in the last couple weeks, I mean I don't think it's any big state secret – they've played him at inside linebacker with [A.J.] Hawk in their base defense and in their nickel defense. And then in passing situations or third down if you will, most of the time then he has gone to defensive end. There have been times, I know it was a couple weeks ago when he was out on third down – maybe it was because of his groin or whatever, I don't know. Then they've also at times, replaced Hawk with [Brad] Jones on some of their dime, again third-down defense. How much of that's game plan, how much of it's the injury, how much of it's managing the player… I'm not really sure. Maybe it's a combination of all those things, but he's basically played inside and then outside on third down passing situations, two-minute, stuff like that. But, I'm sure that they could put him back outside whenever they feel like it. If they want to play Jones and Hawk inside, they could play them. We have to be ready for all that.

Q: You've had Chandler Jones back at practice this week. Are you encouraged by the rehab progress that he's made?

BB: I think he's along – I mean look, it's a day-by-day process. There's no leap frog where you jump like four or five steps in the process. Each day, if it's based on what the medical department says, if he goes out there and does little bit more than he did the day before and if he feels good and there are no setbacks, then we bump it up to the next level. And if he doesn't, then we either stay the same or maybe we back it down for a day and then try it again. Look, that's just normal rehab for every player. The rehab is different, but the process is really the same. We just take it day by day by day by day. I know you guys don't want to hear that, but that's what it is. I'm not going to sit here and make something up. Each day, we go out there and the player does what he can do, we evaluate it, either step it up. If he can't, keep it the same if that's what's called for or back it down if we need to back it down. So we'll do the same thing with him that we do with every other player in that situation. Chandler's worked hard. He does what he can do. We evaluate him each day and make the decision for the next day based on what he did they previous day and what it looks like that morning when we come in and evaluate him.

Q: You often keep us guessing with some personnel moves. Don Jones seemed productive for you with eight special teams tackles I think. What were the factors that led into the decision to release him?

BB: We did what we feel like was best for the football team. I don't disagree with anything you said. I think he has had production but in the end we're going to do what we think is best for the team.

Q: Is there anything football-wise that he wasn't doing that you need from someone else or that led to the decision?

BB: I mean, I just told you what the decision is based on. That's what it's based on. Every player has value. Some players have more than others. We have to decide which ones we feel like have the most value for the team at that particular point in time or that point in the season. So that's what we'll do. I think the player definitely has value. I think there are a lot of players on our team that do have value. They can't all be on the team. We have to pick the ones that we think have the most value for the team for that point in time. And it changes over the course of the year, just like it does for every other team.

Q: You said in the past when you worked with a guy on the 53-man roster who does have practice squad eligibility, you usually want to bring him back in that role. Is that something you want to do with Don Jones if you are able to?

BB: He is practice squad eligible. He is one of the exception players. Yeah, that would be a possibility. Again, there are other players that are in consideration based on our team and what other players are available. We've made a couple practice squad transactions – we've made them throughout the course of the year. Again, we'll try to manage it the best that we can. I'd say there are a lot of things that go into that. Part of it is what we have, part of it is guys who are available and part of it is what's available – I mean, what players are available. It's all part of it and it's probably going to be constantly in some type of transition throughout the course of the year like it usually is.

Q: Aaron Rodgers seems especially adept at changing cadences, getting free plays, drawing teams offsides –

BB: Great at it. He's great at it.

Q: How much of an art is that and how much does it help you to have one of the best at it as well in Tom Brady?

BB: He [Rodgers] gets more than anybody and I'd say does more with it when he gets them. It's not the five yards; it's the 50 yards that he gets on the play, the free play. He's really good at it. We're going to have to be very disciplined and hopefully not get into that situation where we either get penalized or give them a free play. He does that in a lot of critical situations. He's very good at it. Again, as good as anybody that we'll play against. Not that we've played against him, but just watching him do it. He gets everybody. He gets them multiple times and he gets them in critical situations. Like I said, it's not the five yards – it is, but sometimes the big plays that come as a result of that. I've heard other teams talk about it and other players talk about it. We haven't experienced it, but we've certainly emphasized it and we know it's something – one of the many things that he does not well, but very well – probably better than anybody. Yeah, we've got to do a good job there.

Q: How much of a threat is Julius Peppers and what is it going to take to make sure he doesn't take control?

BB: I mean, he's a big threat. He has 13 career blocked field goals, so that in itself is an issue. He's very athletic. He's long. He's got great timing, so kicking the ball is an issue and then blocking him with the same issues. He plays on the end of the line, he matches up against a lot of tight ends as well as tackles, so there are times when you don't always have an offensive lineman on him like when he played in a four-man line. In previous years, most of the time he was one of the four down linemen, so you almost always have a lineman on him. There are going to be situations where we're going to have tight ends on him. So again, he's a tough matchup. He's big. He's athletic. He's got good playing strength. He's obviously got a lot of experience, so it's a tough matchup for whoever is on him – whether it's the field goal team or a tackle or a tight end or whatever run or pass play you have called there. His length and his athleticism and his quickness – he's usually got something on somebody. If he's playing against bigger guys, he' got quickness. Playing against smaller guys he's got length and strength. It's hard to find a guy that's not somewhat at a disadvantage playing against him. Plus again he has a lot of experience. He's a smart player and he makes a lot of instinctive plays. I wouldn't say he guesses – I think he just recognizes and reacts quickly and kind of gets a half-a-step advantage and it's hard to make that up with a guy like him.

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