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Transcript: Bill Belichick Conference Call

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the San Francisco media during his conference call on Wednesday, October 1, 2008.

Q: With the Bye Week how much extra time do you spend on the upcoming opponent?

BB:We try to balance it out with working on some things we feel like we need to work on. We've got 13 regular seasons left so there's just some basic football things that we need to address and then we mixed in a lot of San Francisco's stuff there too and of course this week it's really all 49ers. We kind of tried to combine some things last week and this week we are on to San Francisco.

Q: Bill, after four games, do you have a handle on how different your team is both on the field of play and the attitude in the locker room without Tom Brady? Can you sum that up?

BB:First of all, we've only played three games. Defensively, I don't think he really effects us on defense. That group has their things they have to deal with whether he's in there or not. Offensively, Matt [Cassel]'s taken a lot of snaps this year. Tom didn't play at all in the preseason and he was in a lot of practices, but Matt got a lot of those snaps as well. Even before Tom and the Kansas City game Matt had the majority of the snaps offensively. I would say that was something that we've been kind of working with all the way through training camp and in the preseason games so it wasn't a big, 'Well, all of a sudden Matt's in there.' Matt's been in there a majority of the time and in all the preseason games this year anyway, so it really, as much as we didn't want it to happen, believe me it wasn't that big of a transition, is kind of the way it's been this year.

Q: After a loss like that to the Dolphins, was there a sense that you wanted to get back on the field the following week or you needed that week to correct some of the things that bothered you in that game?

BB:I think it made everybody want to get back out on the field. No doubt about that. We would have loved to play the next day but it wasn't the situation. We have a lot of things to work on, that's obvious, so we try to take this time to work on them, hopefully improve them and hopefully be able to do them better the next chance we get on Sunday.

Q: The game against the Dolphins, where they used the direct snaps so much. Is that just an isolated thing or do you think the teams saw something in your defense that they might try to exploit down the road?

BB:Oh, I think we definitely have to be ready for it down the road. We've seen it before. We saw it, worked against it last week with Leon Washington with the Jets. [LaDanian] Tomlinson in San Diego did that at the end of the year. [Frank] Gore has done it. A lot of teams have that formation or some element of it and we obviously didn't do a very good job of defending it. Coaching, playing, tackling. Everything wasn't what it needs to be. It's something…Anytime you get hurt with something like that you've got to anticipate that it is always a possibility that somebody else could do it again and you better make sure that you get it straightened out.

Q: The Saints got after J.T. O'Sullivan last week with four sacks and that seems to fit in well with the approach and philosophy of your defense. Is that something you would also try to take advantage of if it's there?

BB:Well, I think every defense wants to pressure the passer and hit the receivers and stop the run so that'd be great, but it's a lot easier said than done and I think that the 49ers have done a good job offensively this year. They are one of the…they are second in the league in big plays offensively so that definitely shows they can get the ball down the field and they've broken some good runs to go with it. They are an explosive offense and they've been hit a couple times and so has everybody else. They can move the ball, they can score points and J.T.'s done a good job back there running the club. I think that their offensive line is good and I think that [Vernon] Davis helps them a lot in pass protection and in the running game when he is the point of attack. I think they've done a good job.

Q: You had O'Sullivan as a practice squad player, what kind of impression did he leave with you guys?

BB:I think what we've seen this year. Athletic, good arm, live arm, can make all the throws. Quick feet, can stay alive in the pocket, can improvise, make some plays scrambling around. Lacks a little bit of experience but he's certainly gained that in training camp and in the preseason. He has had good production in the four games this year, particularly, in the second and third games, against Seattle and Detroit where he put up big numbers. I don't think it's a question of talent or anything else. For us, it was more of a question of opportunity and reps and how many quarterbacks you can work with. He got into a good competitive situation in San Francisco and made the most of it. So I think he deserves the credit for his perseverance and making that happen…taking advantage of his opportunities.

Q: You played against Mike Martz's offenses for a while. Does O'Sullivan remind you of his other quarterbacks that he's had?

BB:I think he's more mobile than certainly [Kurt] Warner, probably [Jon] Kitna too, not as much experience as those two guys. He's gaining that and he certainly has the arm to make all the throws down the field. The seam routes, the deep in cuts, and the deep comebacks that we've all seen him hit. I think he's got plenty of arm strength and accuracy to make those passes.

Q: When you look at the 49ers defense, do they do a lot of the same things that you guys try to do defensively?

BB:I would say this year, they are based primarily out of a four man front with Justin Smith which is understandable because that's …he's a good player for them, he's been very productive and I think it looks more like kind of what they did in Baltimore when they had [Terrell] Suggs and even though he was an outside linebacker, he really played down almost like a fourth defensive lineman a majority of the time and I think that's kind of what Justin's doing. Mike [Nolan]'s does a good job. He always has, he's a good defensive coach. They game plan things up and change things differently from week to week depending on the strengths and weaknesses of the team that they're playing. I think that he's a very creative defensive coach and they have good players. They have a veteran experienced group of players on defense. I'm sure that gives them the ability to make some adjustments and do some different things there with all of those experienced guys.

Q: Speaking of defenses, how is your new middle linebacker [Jerod] Mayo been working out for you?

BB:Jerod [Mayo] has done a good job. He's seen a lot of playing time. He's played in a lot of different situations, and he's learning every time he goes out on the field but he works hard at it, he's very productive. He's a very mature young man that spends a lot of time working on football and picks things up quickly, doesn't make the same mistake twice and every time he gets on the field he gets a little bit better and he's played well for us.

Q: Does he look like Patrick Willis? Do those two guys have similarities?

BB:I think there are some similarities. I mean [Patrick] Willis is a terrific player. He's fast and very athletic, a big hitter, an excellent tackler out in the open field. I thought the interception against Seattle [that he had] really looked like a running back than a linebacker running with the ball, cutting back and accelerating away from people and all that. You don't see a lot of linebackers run like he does. He's been a very productive guy in terms of tackles both on the perimeter in the passing game and also in the interior in the running game, reading his keys and blocking schemes, sitting on the ball and not just dragging guys down but delivering a good blow and being strong as well as a sure tackler. He's a terrific football player.

Q: Concerning key players and injuries:

BB:I'm not sure I really got that question.

Q: The juxt of it is when is time to remove key players from the game, late in the game when the score is lopsided?

BB:I think that's a tough question, it isn't like college where you have 80-90 guys in the game. You only have 45 players and you have three specialists, three quarterbacks so who do you want to take out? Most teams take four receivers in a game maybe five at the most, they have three receiver sets, somebody's got to play, you've got seven offensive linemen a the game you take one or two of them out, the other guys got to play. It's hard you just don't have enough guys to back up every position. Then you take one or two guys out so what message does that send to the guys that your leaving in there like 'we don't care about you, you go ahead and play but we're going to take somebody else out but we don't really care what happens to you. When one guy comes out the other one doesn't, what's that say? There's a lot of different ways to look at it and anytime that you have a situation where somebody gets hurt or you score at the end of the game or some thing like that, you know it's easy to second guess it and say 'well you know, you should've done this and you should've done that' but in all honesty, you don't have all that many options in terms of personnel in the National Football League and you do in the preseason, but you don't in the regular season. You just don't have that many options. Whatever you do, you're always going to be open to being second-guessed by somebody [saying] you could've done something else. A lot of times they're really aren't that many choices.

Q: How many approaches are there to designing protections and where does the [Mike] Martz style fit under the spectrum philosophically?

BB:I think there's as many pass protections as there are combinations of eight guys, five, six, seven and eight and however many combinations you can get out of that. That's how many there are. Mike [Martz] is a coach that uses a lot of different pass protections. He uses a pretty good amount of seven-man protections, he probably mostly uses six man protections and he uses some five man protection and I'd say that's probably about the norm for every team in the league and he uses a little bit of eight man protection. I would say that that's pretty normal for most teams in the league using a lot of six man protection and then some seven and some five. Some teams use eight man protection, but not a lot on play action and those type of plays. And that varies from game to game and from play to play. We've had games in the past when we've been an empty formation for 25 plays in a row and that's all five man protection, there's other times when you keep more guys in depending on what the other team is doing and how you want to attack them and so forth. There are pluses and minuses to every one of those, I think the bottom line is if you just do one thing it makes it a lot easier for the defense to attack you. If you have a lot of different looks then it makes it much more difficult for the defense to try to scheme you on blitzes and pass rush schemes and stuff like that so it's probably good to have a mixture and keep the defense off balance like it's good for the defense to sometimes rush three, sometimes rush four, sometimes rush five, sometimes rush six and keep the offense off balance that way. It's a little bit of a guessing game and a give and take there.

Q: Did he use more seven and up protections in the Ram days?

BB:I'd say that the offense looks about the same as it does now as it did then. Yeah, Conwell was in protection a lot, Vernon Davis protects a lot. I think that Vernon is an excellent pass-blocking tight end, one of the better one's in the league and he does a good job on that when he's asked to do it, and he's asked to do it a good percentage of the time. I think [Frank] Gore is a good blocker, he picks up well and think that the offensive line, you know, they've done a good job too. I mean, like every offensive line, they've given up a couple of plays but so has every other line in the league. And the bottom line is that the 49ers are throwing it down the field they're making big plays in the passing game. They've gotten hit a couple of times, but they've hit the defense plenty too. Again, it's a give and take thing.

Q: As an offense are you willing to trade a quarterback sack for a 25- 30 yard completion. Is that a good trade in your mind?

BB:I think that's one thing about Mike [Martz's] offense, they've always been able to overcome that. They've been able to overcome a 2nd and 20 or a 3rd and 15 because of their efficiency in throwing the ball down the field. 3rd and 10 is no big deal to them. They get those 20-yard in cuts to beat 3rd and 18 or 3rd and 6. They are going to pick it up either way. I think that's the offense. They score 30 points a couple weeks and throw for 300 plus yards and the running back's running good. It's a lot to defend and yeah the defense makes a couple plays here and there, but they are making a lot of play on offense to offset it and that's the trade off.

Q: I don't know if you've caught Al Davis's press conference yesterday, but he had a lot to say and one of the things he said was that you guys are pampered by Randy Moss by working him out before you signed him. How would you respond to that?

BB:I've told the story about Randy many, many times and the first time I ever talked to Randy was the Sunday morning of the second day of the draft last year so that's the first time I met him, that's the first time I talked to him. No there was no workout, there was no other contact with him.

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