By: Ian Logue
Here is the complete transcript of Bill Belichick’s press conference from Tuesday, courtesy of the Patriots PR Department.
BB: How are we doing this morning, afternoon, whatever it is? We’re just trying to scramble together here. [Today is a] big day for us today in terms of our preparation, trying to get as much done as we can – as many situations as we can. We can’t get them all, but we’ll get as much as we can and then a couple of leftover things, we’ll try to tie those up tomorrow and head to Detroit. I think this game is very unique. It’s unlike any other game you’ll play for a number of years. Just the short preparation, how quick the turnaround is, basically no practice. We’re just out there walking through some stuff today, jogging through it at a low tempo. [Then we’ll] just tee up and be ready to go on Thursday. So, it’s very unique and different for the players, the coaches – equal footing for both teams, it’s just different. It’s always good to play on Thanksgiving. I think it’s a great part of the holiday. It’s good to be a part of it. So, we’re all looking forward to the game, but it’s a tough one to get ready for.
Q: I’m sure it’s different for each individual player, but how does this short turnaround affect the players’ bodies?
BB: That’s a good question. I don’t know. I don’t know. You can talk to the players. And you’re right; I’m sure it’s different for each guy. It’s a quick turnaround. It’s a quick turnaround. Good thing is, with every short week, is a long week. Where you go quick, then you have extra time. Where you have extra time, then somewhere along the line, you have to go quick. So, it all evens out in the end.
Q: You used a package in a game where Kyle Arrington blitzed. Is that something you saw in training camp that you implemented this past week?
BB: When you do the drills in training camp, you have your linebackers blitz against your tight ends and running backs. Then somewhere along the line, you usually have your defensive backs blitz against your backs because their involved in pickup and you have different secondary blitzers. You kind of get a feel for who’s got a natural feel for the blitz and who doesn’t, as far as timing and technique and that kind of thing. Guys that pressure well, you have a tendency to bring then more frequently than guys where that’s not as good of a strength in their game. I’m not saying you don’t bring them, too, but there’s guys you want to bring, [then] there’s other guys that you bring because it’s good for the scheme, but maybe they’re not necessarily your best blitzers.
Q: So can Arrington stuff the run, too? Is he going to be challenging [Brandon] Deaderick?
BB: In a two-gap? Yeah. We got to work on that.
Q: One thing you said about moving Vince Wilfork along the line is that it forces other teams, at the very least, to prepare for it. Is that a small victory for you?
BB: I don’t really know what [the Lions] are preparing for. I doubt that they’re losing a lot of sleep over it. It’s not like [Wilfork] had six sacks or anything. But, you’d have to talk to them. I don’t really know how they’re looking at it. Maybe it’s a problem, maybe it isn’t. I have no idea.
Q: Can you talk about Devin McCourty and how he has stepped in as a rookie?
BB: Devin’s really been a consistent player for us all year, from the first rookie mini-camp after the draft to all through the season. In the spring, spring workouts, training camp, preseason, he’s really the same guy every day: very alert, attentive, very professional. You wouldn’t know he’s a rookie; he acts and prepares like he’s been doing it for five or six years. He’s very attentive. He understands a lot of little things. When you give him a coaching point, he understands that it doesn’t apply to everything [and] it may only apply to one, particular situation or one little thing. But when that comes up again, he’s usually on it. He’s made a lot of improvement. Josh [Boyer] has done a good job with him, of making him aware of things that could make him a better player. And [Devin’s] done a good job of working on those things and improving on them. We see him doing things now that he wasn’t doing in October. We [saw] him doing things in September that he wasn’t doing in August, and that’s really a great feeling to have as a coach, but I think it’s also great for him as a player. He can see how much he’s improved and his techniques have improved in man-to-man coverage, zone coverage, ball skills, reading the quarterback, tackling, leverage, all those things. He’s done a good job for us and he continues to work hard and get better. He’s a great kid to coach. I’m glad he’s on our team. [He] works hard at special teams. Whatever you ask him to do, he gives you his best every play and that’s worth a lot.
Q: What did you think of the way Darius Butler played and can you assess that situation going forward?
BB: Well, we have confidence in all the guys we put out there. I think Darius did some good things. [It] wasn’t perfect, but he’s worked hard in practice and I think he’s improved on some things that maybe weren’t quite at the level that he would want them to be at earlier in the season. And those have been showing up better in practice. I thought he did some good things in the game. The key for him is to keep working hard, stay focused and pay attention to little details in the techniques and executing the defense. He has a lot of talent. He’s a smart kid, but it’s about being able to apply it on the field and take those coaching points [from] practice and the meetings and make those part of the execution on the field on Sundays, or Thursdays.
Q: Are you usually curious about how a guy will respond from being removed from the lineup?
BB: Well, in our defense and offense, we have a lot of guys that are in some plays and out others in different packages and different substitution groups and so forth. We don’t really worry about that. Everyone has different roles to play. Those roles change from game to game, from month to month, sometimes from year to year. That’s part of playing a team sport. Everybody can’t dot the “I.”
Q: Is balance one of the goals of the offense? I know you’re going to say that scoring points is the goal, but…
BB: That is the goal. That’s why we send them out there.
Q: Is balance a good way to obtain that ultimate goal of scoring points?
BB: Well, if you can do it, then sure. I think that’s the toughest thing for the defense to defend is when you’ve got to defend everything. You have to defend inside runs, outside runs, short passes, intermediate passes, deep passes, screens, reverses. If you can make a lot of things work than it’s hard for the defense to say, ‘Well, we’re going to take this away,’ because there’s so many other things that are a problem. On the other hand, if you can do something real well and you can just keep doing it, or do a couple things real well – you don’t have to do 20 things well, sometimes you can do one or two things well – and they complement each other, then that’s hard for a defense to stop, too. It isn’t all about how many things you can do; it’s basically about how many things you can do well. But I think, in this league, if you can only do one thing well, it’s going to be hard against NFL defenses to make that go very far. It might get you a little ways, but sooner or later, somebody’s going to be able to handle it and then you have to have something else.
Q: Have you seen increased consistency with you running game and the blocking game?
BB: Yeah, I think there are some things that are better. I think there’re some things that have definitely improved. A lot of our techniques have improved. Still, it’s a different matchup each week. If you’re fundamentally doing things well, then that’s a huge start. That goes a long way. Then you still have to execute it against a particular scheme and the players [of] your next opponent – what they use. That’s a new challenge every week. So, whether you did it good or not so good the week before, it’s really a new week. But if you’re doing things fundamentally well, your footwork, your techniques, your leverage, your blocking position and all that, then there’s a pretty good chance that good things are going to happen. And if you’re doing it bad, then there’s almost no chance that anything good is going to happen, so you have to get those fundamentals and those techniques as perfect as you can on a consistent basis if you’re going to have any kind of success and be able to sustain it. Otherwise, you luck into a play every now and then, but that usually it doesn’t last if you don’t consistently do things well.
Q: What have you seen from Ndamukong Suh? Is he already playing at above a rookie level?
BB: Well he was the first guy picked, so I don’t know what you… he was taken pretty high, but he’s a good player. He’s a very good player. He’s strong. He’s very athletic. He’s a big man; he’s a very powerful man. But, he’s athletic. He runs well. He’s got good feet. He gets over and around things easily, but he’s very strong. He’s an explosive guy. He’s a good player. He’s got a great future ahead of him. He plays hard. I think there’s a lot to like about him.
Q: Do you see any similarities between Calvin Johnson and Randy Moss and does it help you guys at all, having practiced against Randy to prepare for Johnson?
BB: I would see them as two different players. [They’re] both good players, but there’s a lot of differences.
Q: What do you think about the Lions’ offensive weapons, in general?
BB: I think they have real good offensive weapons. Both quarterbacks are good; they’ve been productive. Their tight ends – they’ve got good depth at that position. Running backs – they’re all very good in the passing game; they’re elusive. They’re quick. They’re hard to tackle. They make a lot of plays in space. Their receivers are, for the most part, big. They’re physical guys. They’re hard to matchup against. [Nate] Burleson’s a good slot receiver. They use all those guys. Guys like [Stefan] Logan who don’t play as much, they sprinkle them in, get some plays out of them. They do a real good job throwing the ball. They do a good job in the running game, with their backs, in terms of when they can get them in space, when they have a little space to work with, they’re tough to tackle. They use some of their passing plays like running plays. I know it goes on as passing yardage, but it’s throws behind the line of scrimmage like screens, wide routes and check downs and things like that, so they’re effective at doing those things. I think they have a real good group of skilled players. [Jahvid] Best has certainly been a good addition to their team. But, really, all their backs… [Maurice] Morris was really productive for them last week against Dallas. They’ve got a good group.
Q: Is Calvin Johnson, instead of similar to Randy Moss, similar to Brandon Marshall? Or is he his own unique player?
BB: I would say [he’s] more similar to Marshall than Moss.
Q: How is Johnson different from Randy?
BB: I would say they are totally different players. How are they the same? They’re both tall.
Q: Is he one of those guys that when he’s covered, he’s still not covered?
BB: Yeah, no, he’s never covered. He’s never covered. The play against Green Bay, there’s 10 seconds left to go in the half, [Charles] Woodson’s on him, the safety’s over the top, they throw it up to him, he goes up for a touchdown and gets it. I mean, it looks like Shaquille O’Neal going up for a rebound against two point guards. He’s never covered. He’s never covered. There’s always an opportunity somewhere. He’s got such a great catching radius. He’s so big that he can catch the ball in such a wide amount of space that if the quarterback puts it where the defender can’t reach it, then this guy’s got great hands, he’s got tremendous ball skills. Yeah, I would say, he’s definitely not covered even when he’s covered. You got to worry about it. And they have a lot of confidence in him and they should. They throw some balls to him that you look at and say, ‘Wow, that’s pretty tight coverage. I don’t know if he should be throwing it there.’ Then he comes up with the catch and you understand why – I don’t want to say the ball is being forced in there – but it’s tight coverage, but it isn’t good enough because he’s got really good ball skills and he’s a big target. He’s an impressive player.
Q: Even if being tall is their only similarity, do you think your guys have benefitted from practicing against Randy, now going up against Johnson?
BB: We benefit from practicing against everybody. We have a good group of receivers and we have a good group of defensive backs and those guys compete against each other every day. You cover different types of players and, as a receiver, you go against different types of corners. Some guys are faster. Some guys are quicker. Some guys are more physical. Some guys are more instinctive. Some play techniques a little differently. So, that’s the great thing about training camp and about doing one-on-one drills. Whether it’s pass protection, pass rush, or one-on-one pass coverage or pass defense, you match up against different types of players and, ultimately, over the course of a year, you will see players like that, sooner or later: big receivers, short receivers, fast receivers, quick receivers, receivers that run real good routes, receivers that use their speed to try and get open, receivers that are real physical and knock you around, you see all that over the course of a year. So, you definitely benefit from practicing against different players and players with different skill sets.
Q: Last week you had three corners in the game and it looked like Patrick Chung was playing a star position. How did he look there?
BB: You were at the game. Sometimes we were good in pass defense. Sometimes we had trouble. The Colts had a great passing attack, no question about that. They’ve got a great quarterback, great receivers. At times we were okay. At times, we had trouble.
Q: What kind of advantage is it to have a safety that can do that? That is obviously a lot of versatility from Chung.
BB: Yeah, well, sure it is. One of the problems with the Colts is you can’t substitute. So, whoever you put out there, you have to live with until you don’t know when – until you take a timeout or there’s some kind of stoppage in play or a guy gets tackled over on your sideline or something. So, when you play the Colts, you’re in a whole different ball game because you don’t have the ability to substitute like you do in a lot of other games, let’s put it that way. Defensively, that’s a whole different game plan and strategical decision because of the way and the style that they play. But, Patrick is versatile. He does a lot of things for us. He can play in the deep part of the field. He can play zone coverage, play man-to-man coverage, good blitzer. [He] plays in the kicking game, so he has a lot of skills that help us. [He’s] a smart kid, works hard. So, he’s got a lot going for him.