My apologies if this is a repost: (parts snipped for brevity,but a good read in it's entirety)
Belichick weighs in on 2006 season
By Mike Reiss | January 27, 2007
Continuity Breeds Success
Continuity ties into something that is clearly meaningful to Belichick -- sustained success. Achieving such annual success is the ultimate challenge in the NFL's salary cap era, where the system is designed to promote parity.
"There are situations where teams might win consistently, but you know it's kind of coming to an end, or you'll pay for that eventually. There are other teams that pull back, regain some resources, but it comes at the expense of winning games now."
When Belichick looks at the makeup of the Patriots, he sees a team that has consistently added younger talent -- and also has resources such as two first-round picks in 2007 -- which gives him reason for optimism. The Patriots are the only team in the NFL to have won at least one playoff game in each of the last four seasons.
"It's hard to win in this league consistently and I think it's really hard to win consistently and have room under the salary cap and get younger and try to infuse new talent on your team and still be able to remain at a high, competitive level," he said. "That's really a tough challenge. You can go out and blow a lot of money and be good for a couple years. You can go out and get veteran players that give you an experienced edge for a couple years, but it's hard to sustain that for a long period of time.
"The way we're trending gives me confidence that we're on the right track. We're not an old team, with no cap money and no choices, where when you look at it, you say, 'How are we going to get any better?' I think you can look at it and say, 'OK, we have some draft choices, a little bit of room on the salary cap, and some young players you think will improve.' "
As the Patriots transition to 2007, Belichick said this is a key time.
"Everyone thinks you just go on vacation, relax for a couple of months, but right now it's tough because you're battling on three or four different fronts," he said. "One, you want to go back and review the season. Not just the last couple of games, but you want to get the plays and schemes that you ended up using, or not using, and either developing them or getting them in the background of your system if they're not important to you.
"It's the same thing with player evaluation. You're going through and trying to take a good overview of where everyone is, what the future is for those players. The biggest mistake you can make is misevaluating your team. There is nothing worse than that, when you're out there the whole year and make a mistake on a guy. That's bad. I think we've done a good job with that.
"At the same time, you're starting the free agency process. The draft process is ongoing. Organizationally there are always a few things. There are a lot of balls in the air."
Midseason turning point
As Belichick pointed out, before moving forward, a team must always take a look back. When reviewing the 2006 season, Belichick believes a turning point came Nov. 19 when the Patriots traveled to Green Bay and blanked the Packers, 35-0.
"I definitely thought the Green Bay game was an important game for us," he said. "I didn't feel like we played the way we wanted to play either against the Jets or Indianapolis [the weeks before]. I think things could have unraveled a little bit. It's a point around midseason and that was a big game to rein things back in. I think it showed the team what we could do."
"I thought we improved a lot as a football team and played some of our best football at the end of the season," Belichick said. "There were things that had to come together and they did. Jacksonville was a tough game on the road, against a good football team playing for a lot. Tennessee was playing for a lot, so it felt like we played five playoff games at the end."
It was clear how much the holdout and departure of Branch affected the team. The passing game is complex for most NFL teams, and it's especially complex in the Patriots' system.
The Patriots opened the season by dressing just three receivers -- Caldwell, Troy Brown, and Bam Childress. The team worked Doug Gabriel into the mix, but he wasn't a solution and was waived after being acquired by the Raiders in a trade, while free agent Jabar Gaffney was signed in early October and emerged in the playoffs.
Such volatility and change at the position were not ideal.
"The way the season started, we got a lot of production in the passing game from some of our inside players - Watson, Graham -- and Maroney and Faulk on screens, and as the passing game evolved, the receivers had more production and there was more balance in production, in games like Minnesota and Green Bay," Belichick said.
When assessing the overall state of the passing game, Belichick lauded the offensive line of left tackle Matt Light, left guard Logan Mankins, center Dan Koppen, right guard Stephen Neal, and right tackle Nick Kaczur.
"The offensive line did a real good job in pass protection," Belichick said. "I don't know how many sacks we ended up with , but many of those were not offensive line-related." As for the running game, Belichick didn't disagree that it was inconsistent.
"We had our moments. Some aspects of it were good, some aspects of it were inconsistent, some aspects of it were just flat-out not good," he said. "For the most part, on the goal line and short yardage, we were pretty productive in those situations when we needed a yard in tough situations. At times our ability to run the ball and grind out the clock was good, early in the season, the Buffalo game, the Jets game.
"Sometimes on first and second down we lost yardage, and when you set up a long-yardage situation in the running game, you never want that to happen. It's one thing if you're sacked and it's second and 14, but when you hand off and it's second and 12, you can't let that happen."
Because of that, it would not be a surprise if the Patriots take a hard look at their scheme this offseason and consider alterations.
On the defensive side, the Patriots set a franchise record for fewest points allowed in a 16-game season (237).
From a personal standpoint, one enjoyable part of the season for Belichick was having his children -- Amanda, Stephen, and Brian -- on the sideline at various points of the year. Stephen and Brian kept the team's quarterback chart, which was initially a result of the team not having a third quarterback.
"It's the first time they had been around, on the sideline doing anything, and I'm glad it happened," Belichick said. "I think those kids learn a lot from seeing guys like Troy Brown, Rodney Harrison, Tom Brady, Mike Vrabel, I could name 50 other ones, right down the line. To see not just how they compete, but to see how focused they are, to see their toughness, their ability to stay calm, stay poised in critical situations. I think that's a great experience and I'm glad they were able to have it. It wasn't planned, it just happened that way."
Key decisions loom
One of the next big dates on the NFL calendar is March 2, when free agency begins. Cornerback Asante Samuel and Graham top the list of 14 players scheduled for unrestricted free agency. Belichick said it is too early to determine how things will unfold.
"Overall, we have a lot of decisions to make, like we always do," he said. "I'm not saying this negatively or spitefully or anything else, but like we do every year, we just need to look back over what happened the previous years or years, and try to analyze what we did."
One area that pleases Belichick is the age makeup of the roster. "From the '01 to the '06 season -- from the first championship to this year -- the team has gotten progressively younger," he said.
As for the team's coaching staff, Belichick doesn't expect a lot of changes, but perhaps a tweaking here or there. Two years ago, the team lost offensive coordinator Charlie Weis and defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel. Last year, defensive coordinator Eric Mangini departed.
"Somewhere along the line, there will be some type of change, or adjustments, but I really don't know exactly how that will go," he said.
In summary, Belichick said, "I'm disappointed in the way it ended, we all wanted to go further than that, but I think we have a chance to continue to be competitive based on the overall talent on the team, the youth on the team, and some opportunities to improve relative to draft choices and free agency cap spending, just general better coaching, better schemes, and improvement of younger players.
"I'm not saying we'll be the front-runner of the next decade, but I think we can be better if we can continue to improve as we did in the second half of the season. As I look at the teams through the eight years, for the most part, we do improve through the season. I think you have to credit the players for working hard, correcting mistakes, becoming more efficient, having a better understanding and execution of plays. That's the way it should be. I'm glad it's that way. We work at it to make it happen."