Bill Belichick Q&A, 8/25

Posted on August 25, 2007 
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Thanks to the Patriots’ PR staff, here’s the complete transcript from Bill Belichick’s Q&A with the media this afternoon via conference call:

BB: I think everything that we kind of talked about last night was what we saw on the film. It was obviously a much better effort running the ball than what we’ve had in the first couple of games. I thought that overall we defended the running game with some consistency. There certainly are a lot of things that we can do better in both our run defense and our running game, but I thought it was definitely a step in the right direction. I thought that we did a decent job defensively of getting off the field. We gave up a big play there before the half. We had a couple of third and longs in the third quarter, but overall we had about half of our series were three and out and that was good. I thought our kickoff coverage was good. Our field goal rush was pretty good. We left some points out there on the field. Our return game wasn’t what we would like for it to be. The bottom line is there are still a lot of things that we need work on. Some of the things that went well statistically, or looked like they were executed pretty well in the game, still can be cleaned up. A couple of the other things that didn’t look quite as good, actually, with one or two corrections could’ve been a lot better. That’s what we’re trying to do is go through the tape today and get ourselves moving closer to real good execution and the difference between some big plays and not so good plays sometimes is a real fine line. As I said, a lot of people that played a lot in the game last night we’ll probably switch some of that playing time around this week so we can kind of get a look at everybody here in the last two preseason games and obviously by Tuesday we’ll have to make some roster reductions to be compliant with the 75-man roster size and we’ll do those when we feel like the right time is. It could be tomorrow. It might be Monday. It might be Tuesday. We’ll just have to wait and see how that goes for us. There’s obviously a lot of balls that we’re juggling on that between some guys that are banged up and depth at certain positions and so forth. There’s no real timeframe on that. It will just be when we feel like we’re ready to do it.

Q: After the game, you had talked about run defense. I think you were pretty pleased with it. Can you elaborate on the front seven getting the proper fits and how good you feel about that area of the game right now?
BB: I think that the run defense is total team defense and there were a number of plays that Carolina ran to the outside, perimeter type of plays, where our secondary also was a big factor in those and a couple of them went for losses. It’s really just total team defense, understanding where each person fits on a particular blocking schemes, depending on what our call is, and how to be consistent with that along front so that the runner doesn’t have an opening or a place to read the yardage and we have to really make him work to work and fight for every yard. Some of those were good. Some of them could’ve been better and some of them, a couple of them actually, weren’t that good and we just need to be more consistent with it. It’s the front seven. It’s the secondary force and perimeter defense, it all needs to be tied together. At times last night, it was better than it was in the first two games.

Q: With Laurence Maroney, I know that last night was the first time that he’s seen preseason game action. Would you feel comfortable at this point with that being the only action he needs to see heading into the regular season?
BB: That’s one of the things that we’ll talk about this week. Every player will be talked about specifically and individually, so I don’t think it’s quite the same for probably any two players. We’ll talk about them all during the week and also factor in their physical situation if there’s something that we want to give them a little bit more time on or whatever. All of that will be factored in and then we’ll make our decisions closer to the Giants game. In the meantime, everybody that can practice, hopefully they’ll be out there. Everyone that can practice will be out there practicing and then we’ll decide how to play them probably next Tuesday or Wednesday night.

Q: Does the progress of each player kind of play into that?
BB: First of all, I don’t think anybody is ready to go. I think everybody is getting better and everybody needs to continue to get better and everybody has a long way to go. The coaching staff. The players. Everything. Our whole operation. We’ve made a lot of strides in three weeks, but I don’t think we are where we eventually need to be. I wouldn’t put anybody in that category. But it still comes down to balancing out, giving people a look to give everybody an opportunity so you can make the right decision, get people ready. It’s just a priority type of thing. You just try to decide what’s the most important thing, what do you need to do and how do you get that done. You can’t do everything that you want to do, but that’s the way it is.

Q: Were the blocked field goals something that was encouraging?
BB: We really got our hands on all three kicks. The extra point that went through that was deflected at the line as well. Sure, it’s always good to reinforce the practice time and the drills that you do out there in preparation for the game and to see those come to fruition when they actually get out there and compete against an opponent in that particular situation. We were able to make a couple of plays there, hopefully we can make them along the line in the regular season. Sometimes when one or two guys make a play, particularly in a rush situation, whether it be a punt or field goal, a lot of times your opponents will see that and make sure they take that away and sometimes that opens up opportunities for somebody else if you can take advantage of those. We’ll just have to see how all of that plays out down the road. It’s always good to go out there and be productive and make plays and, again, that reinforces the teaching and the practice that we’ve had through the last four weeks.

Q: Can you talk about what your impressions have been of Marcellus Rivers since he joined the team in the middle of training camp?
BB: Well, he came in late and it was a real rush job to get him in there for the first one, Brian [Jones] as well. They’ve both worked hard and improved. Pete [Mangurian] has spent a lot of time with them. Marcellus, he’s a veteran player. He’s been through camps before and been in the league before, so he picked things up pretty quickly. He’s done a good job for us, as has Brian. Ben [Watson] and Garrett [Mills] have been out there working in that spot. Garrett also worked in the backfield. I think that overall the tight end position, it’s certainly a whole lot better than it was three weeks ago when we played Tampa. There’s no doubt about that. It’s helping our offense become a little bit more consistent because we’re able to get in formations that we are a little bit more comfortable in, not that we don’t do a little bit of everything, but to not have a tight end in the game, that doesn’t happen all that much for us. It’s good to have that and Marcellus and Brian and Ben and Garrett have done a good job.

Q: What was the rationale behind starting the game with nine straight running plays.
BB: To work on the running game.

Q: Why that in particular? Was it sending any kind of message? Was there anything more to it than that?
BB: Well, if you want to work on your running game, you have to call running plays. I don’t know how else to do it.

Q: Did Maroney’s presence have anything to do with that because you hadn’t seen the game reps and you felt like you had to get him ready a little bit?
BB: We ran the ball throughout the whole course of the game. It didn’t really matter who the back was in there. We wanted to put some emphasis in the running game and we did that by calling more running plays. Some of it was better and some of it there’s certainly room for improvement.

Q: Is Stephen Gostkowski is kind of working through a nagging injury?
BB: I wouldn’t say so.

Q: I noticed he had his ankle taped up last week. It could be an issue. You wouldn’t say he’s injured?
BB: Obviously every kicker would like to make all of his kicks. The two last night that he missed were a couple of feet from being in, so they weren’t good, but I think that a small error, one of them was on a long kick. We just have to be a little bit more accurate and get those through. I don’t think we’re talking about…the margin of error on those two was not very big, not good enough, but I don’t think it’s that far off.

Q: For the coaching staff, is it easier to work with because all of the kicks were going the same direction when they’re missing? Is that a technical flaw that’s easier to pick up or is it just a coincidence that they all go that way?
BB: Well, it’s all technique of course. Kicking, that’s what it is. It’s technique. It’s a team operation between the snapper, holder and kicker and the timing on the protection. But as far as the kicking motion itself, it’s all technique.

Q: It seemed like Adalius Thomas was maybe being a little more aggressive in the running game, quicker to diagnose things. Have you noticed him becoming more comfortable and maybe a consistent upward arch in his play against the run?
BB: I think he’s been pretty consistent all the way through camp. Again, there are always plays that everybody could play a little bit better. Some of it depends on, even though it might look the same to a fan who is watching the game, there are different coverages that are called and different pass responsibilities that a player has when the defense comes to the line of scrimmage, and we don’t always know it’s going to be a run. Sometimes those plays get played differently depending on what the player’s pass coverage responsibility is as well. Anyway, not to get too technical, but I would just say that I think that Adalius has been consistent playing the running game all through camp. I don’t think it’s anything dramatic. I think he did a good job at the beginning of camp and I think with each week and more reps and seeing some new plays and all of that, he knows that our entire defense, including him, has improved technique wise and has improved in their overall consistency and there’s still a ways to go.

Q: It seems like he’s also given you some flexibility in the nickel. Is that one of the things that was really attractive to you?
BB: He absolutely gives us flexibility on third down, as we have with some other people out there as well and being able to move those guys around a little bit and change up or get different guys to do different things and create a different look for the offense and line up in a different front and that type of thing, I think it’s and advantage for us and it’s something that we want to make effective and he absolutely is a part of that.

Q: What do you think of the way Jarvis Green has played in camp and in the preseason?
BB: I think that Jarvis has had a good camp. I think Jarvis is a good player for us. I think everybody has felt that for quite a while and I don’t think there’s been anything to change that feeling on Jarvis. He’s a player that we all have a lot of confidence in. He’s a good football player.

Q: What did you think of the way your offensive line performed and responded after taking some criticism during the week?
BB: I think that we showed some improvement from the previous week and I think we still have a way to go, but we ran the ball with more consistency and that helped the passing game, like it usually does, when you create some kind of balance in your offense. It kept some of the third down situations shorter and more manageable. I just thought overall we had a better balance and more consistency on offense and certainly the line deserves credit for that, the receivers, the tight ends, the backs. It was a solid effort offensively, even though we left some points out there on the field and some plays and some yards on the field that I think we should’ve had. Like the rest of the team, it was another step towards our preparation for the regular season.

Q: Was that fourth down call a vote of confidence in the line in any way? Maybe to challenge them?
BB: I think it was a challenge to the whole offense. When you’re deep in your own territory and you go for it on fourth down, you’re counting on everybody to come through there – the guys who are blocking, the guys who are carrying the ball, the guys who are faking, guys who are cutting off on the back side away from the play. It’s something that everybody has to do. There’s going to be situations during the year where we are going to have gain a yard and it’s going to be a tough yard. Last night, we were in that situation and fortunately we were able to convert it. So I hope that we’ll be able to do that at some point during the year, when we need a tough yard we’ll be able to pick it up. That’s part of football. Defensively there’s going to be times where we are going to need to stop somebody from getting a yard. Hopefully we’ll be able to do that.

Q: For some of your receivers and DBs and your linebackers that are going to be competing for a roster spot here over the next week to make that 53-man, how important does special teams become?
BB: I think it’s very important. You can look at our roster in the last few years, or even since I’ve been here, and find plenty of players on the 53-man roster who had a significant amount of playing time in the kicking game and had very little offensively or defensively. There’s no question that there’s a place for those players on our roster and they’re important players to us. Some players give us offensive and defensive depth and fewer plays in the kicking game. Other players give us a lot of plays in the kicking game and fewer plays as depth on offense and defense. Some guys are more balanced. When you put your roster together, you have to find a way to get all of those bases covered. There’s no question that special teams is a big factor in the makeup of your team and in some roster decisions. No doubt about it.


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