HOUSTON – Super Bowl week is in full swing and Bill Belichick addressed the media again on Wednesday fresh off the practice field. After indicating his team was able to get a lot of things done before departing for Houston, Belichick expressed confidence that the remainder of the preparations and game plan would be in place well in advance of Sunday's showdown.
Things soon turned to the Falcons and their high-powered offense. Belichick was asked which of the many weapons Matt Ryan has at his disposal was the top priority for his defense to focus on. Not surprisingly, Belichick wasn't about to tip his team's game plan.
"To play good team defense. One guy can't stop them and we can't just stop one guy," he said. "They have too many great players. They're very well coached by Coach [Kyle] Shanahan and his offensive staff. They create a lot of problems for the defense. We're going to have to play good team defense and do a good job of coaching, make some good in-game adjustments and figure out some things as we go.
"They're tough, they're averaging 40 points per game in the playoffs and are the highest scoring team in the league through 16 games so that says a lot right there. They're consistent. They move the ball and hang up a lot of points every week. Obviously it's our biggest challenge of the year, the best offensive team we've faced. We'll have our hands full, we know that."
Though Belichick didn't specifically answer the question, he later was asked to weigh in on the attributes of the Falcons dynamic running back tandem and his glowing tribute of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman may have tipped his hand.
"Tremendous," he began. "They're both very dangerous. They're both good, they have a little different style but they're both very good. They're fast. They catch the ball well, they're hard to tackle. They catch the ball down the field. Certainly dangerous on catch-and-run plays, check downs, screens and things like that.
"They're can get outside, they can run inside, they do a great job of breaking tackles, they make people miss in space, they run over tacklers, they don't fumble and they run with toughness, they get tough yards around the goal line. These backs are really good and Ryan knows how to use them. They're a big factor in the passing game. It's a very difficult offense to stop but the backs do a tremendous job."
Belichick's press conference ran about 14 minutes and featured a couple of interesting moments that weren't necessarily tied to Sunday's game, most notably questions about his kids and former player Wes Welker, although the Falcons remained very much at the forefront.
Early risers – Much has been made of the Falcons fast starts offensively after Atlanta scored touchdowns on the opening drive in eight straight games. While the Patriots have been a fast-starting team as well, that hasn't been the case in Super Bowls under Belichick.
In the six previous trips the Patriots have yet to score a point in the opening 15 minutes. Belichick was asked if there was something about the Super Bowl environment that makes scoring early more difficult.
"One thing about this game is you're playing against a great team," Belichick said. "The Falcons are a great team and they've done a great job, like last week against the Packers of shutting them out and getting a couple of turnovers and were up 24-0 at the half.
"For us to move the ball and score points we're going to have to execute well offensively. They do a great job of getting you into long-yardage situations; they're very quick and active up front. The reason we didn't score points in those games you referenced was because we didn't deserve to. We have to find a way to do better than that. Certainly we don't want to play this game from 24-0 or 24-3 where Green Bay ended up last week. We have to avoid that or it will be a long night."
Do as I say, not as I do – Belichick has talked a lot about how satisfying the season has been due to the presence of his children on the staff. His son Steve is in his first year as safeties coach while Brian is part of the personnel department as a scouting assistant. His daughter Amanda is the women's lacrosse coach at Holy Cross.
Belichick was asked if he had any advice for his coaching children.
"I got some advice from my dad and I passed that along to my kids. My dad's advice was, 'Don't get into coaching,'" he joked. "But it's something I've always said to my kids, 'Go follow your heart and do what your passion is. Don't take a job because it may pay a little more money or whatever. Just do what you want to do. Live out your dreams and try to achieve them.'
"They're in what they do because that's what they want to do. It's not my decision. I don't try to guide them into it or try to guide them out of it. I try to help them the best I can, like any father would do for his children. Ultimately when they become adults and are ready to make their own decisions they have the green light to make them. If they ask for my advice I'd certainly give them my fatherly advice the best that I can but in the end they're the ones that have to live that."
Coach Wes – The Houston Texans announced the hiring of Welker as an offensive/special teams assistant coach and Belichick spoke about the coaching attributes he may possess.
"Nobody worked harder than Wes. Wes loved football. First one in, last one out type of guy," Belichick said. "Very instinctive player. Wes was a great player as a receiver for us but also as a returner and he was actually our backup kicker. He actually kicked in a game against us with the Dolphins when they had an injury in pregame warmups.
"Wes is a football guy. Whatever we ever asked him to do – block, run routes, return kicks – whatever it took to help us out. He has a great football mind and works extremely hard. Always seemed to do the right thing. He had a great feel for where the quarterback wanted to throw him the ball. I'm sure Coach [Bill] O'Brien recognized that as well and I'm sure he'll do a great job with whatever they ask him do to."