Bill Belichick Q&A, 8/27

Posted on August 27, 2007 
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Here’s the complete transcript of Bill Belichick’s Q&A with the media this morning at Gillette Stadium:

BB: Asante [Samuel] came to the facility this morning. I spoke to him. He’s going through the normal process that any player would go through at the beginning of camp in terms of taking the conditioning run and so forth. That’s basically where we are on that one. As far as this week goes, I think this is another big week for us in terms of pulling some things together as we finish up our preseason and training camp. There’s still a lot of things that we need to work on before we get into a weekly game plan situation, starting with the Jets. This is kind of our last chance on the practice field to get some generic, general things, specific situations, things like that, so that’s what we’re going to try to do. It’s a combination of finishing up our training camp, getting ready for the Giants and trying to get our last look at some evaluations and at the end of the week, of course, we’ll turn our attention towards opening day.

Q: Do you expect that it will be easier for Asante to work his way back since he’s had five years in this system?
BB: I don’t know we’ll just take it day-to-day just like everything else.

Q: Are you glad this is behind you? Is it good to have your whole roster here?
BB: Yes, it’s always good to have all of the players available. Sure.

Q: Have you talked to him about his conditioning?
BB: I told you what the extent of it is. That’s it.

Q: If he did not report, would you have been okay with the group you had?
BB: He came in today. He’s here.

Q: I’m aware of that.
BB: Well, the rest of the hypothetical questions, they’re all hypothetical. I don’t know. It doesn’t make any difference. It’s day-to-day and go with the information that is available.

Q: Is it easy for you to let bygones be bygones?
BB: All I do is coach the team. That’s it. I just try to make the team better. I try to give the team the best chance to win and do what I can do to help the football team. That’s my job. That’s what it’s been. That’s what it’s going to be.

Q: Will Asante’s return allow you to work Brandon Meriweather at safety?
BB: We’ll take it day-to-day.

Q: Would you like to see Brandon at safety?
BB: Asante hasn’t been on the practice field yet. The first thing he’s going to do is take his physical and then go through the normal process. We’ll take it day-to-day.

Q: Do you have to talk to the guys who have been here working in camp and working at that spot, guys like Randall Gay, about how Asante’s return will affect them?
BB: We’ll take it day-to-day. I talk to the players everyday.

Q: Are you happy with where the defense is and it’s progression?
BB: I think we have a lot of things we need to work on. There are some things that we’re doing that are okay and have been okay against certain opponents. We’ll meet other challenges this week and other challenges next week. We have a lot of things to work on. We have a long way to go in every phase of the game and in every aspect of offense, defense and special teams. We’re nowhere near where we need to be or where we’re capable of being. There’s a lot left in the season, I hope we can make a lot of improvements between now as we go forward.

Q: With the progress that James Sanders has made, is he a guy who can play both safety spots?
BB: Well, I think everybody in our defense has to play both spots. If they move the tight end, they formation in different ways, you have to do that anyway. The linebacker has to play strong and weak – to the tight end, away from the tight end. Sometimes there are two tight ends. Sometimes there’s no tight end. Sometimes they move them. Stuff like. I think you have to learn how to play that. A good offensive team that formations you and shifts and that kind of thing can force you into that situation. I think everybody has to learn how to play both. They need to be able to play both.

Q: Are you in a position right now where you know what your roster is going to be? Will there still be roster spots available that players can win in Thursday night’s game? Where are you right now?
BB: I think there are a number of questions that we can answer as a football team, a lot of different ways things could go. We have a lot of different roles on our team that need to be filled. They could come from a lot of different directions. There are a lot of things that we haven’t decided and a lot of things we haven’t even talked about because it’s still premature. We’ll see how things turnout after the last game.

Q: How would you compare your rookie linebackers this year compared to the rookie linebackers you had last year?
BB: I think each player is different. We’ve all seen players that start fast and then don’t maintain that same rate of progress. We’ve seen other players start at a slower rate and then increase their rate of progress. I think as long as the player is improving, you keep working with him and you see what point he can get to. If at some point you have to make a decision, then you make it. But, as long as they’re improving, then you keep working with them. The rate of progress is definitely not anything that you know is going to be constant. It may be constant, but you don’t know that. We’ve all seen it go at different rates. So we just have to evaluate that as it happens.

Q: When you look at Richard Seymour’s development as a player, how important was it to guys like Ty Warren and Vince Wilfork for Richard who came in and set the bar so high? What has it meant in their development?
BB: I don’t know. You’d probably have to ask them that. It’s a pretty competitive group. They all work hard. It’s a good group. Mike [Wright]. Jarvis [Green]. Vince. Ty. Le Kevin [Smith]. Santonio [Thomas]. It’s a hard working group. How much of that is them, how much of it is somebody else, how much of it is a combination? I’m not sure about all of that.

Q: Do you feel like Richard has developed into a leader?
BB: Yes, I think he’s a well-respected guy, no question. He’s a well-respected player on this team.

Q: Would that development be quicker than normal?
BB: I don’t know what normal is. We have one of the youngest defensive lines in the league. We’ve had it for several years. Anthony Pleasant was here. Bobby Hamilton and those guys. They gave us great leadership. In the last couple of years, we’ve had a pretty young group therefore younger players are leaders. Those players aren’t here anymore. I don’t know if that’s normal. It’s probably not like a lot of defensive lines in the league. Sometimes that’s the way it evolves.

Q: What kind of improvement have you seen in Willie Andrews from last year to this year?
BB: I think he’s made a big jump, both defensively and the kicking game. He has a full season under his belt and he has a lot more experience in our system, obviously, than he had last year and that was a big jump coming from college, from Baylor, seeing the types of offenses that we see compared to what they saw in their league. Willie is a hard working guy. He’s been out there consistently. He’s missed very little time since he’s been here, so he continues to get better. He’s a hard working kid.

Q: For a safety, does he play bigger than his size?
BB: I think that’s fair to say. I would say that. He’s a tough kid and he plays with, probably, a little better strength than some guys with that size.

Q: Has Oscar Lua done anything to impress you? Is there anything that he can work in his game? What else can he work on?
BB: I think he has a lot of things to work on. He’s a rookie linebacker. Oscar is a hard working kid too. He’s smart. He understands the defense. He communicates well. He’s able to, not only do his assignment, but also control the guys in front of him, the front seven, and line calls and adjustments and things like that. He gets better out there everyday. He pays attention. I know he’s very attentive to what the veteran players do in the classroom and on the practice field. He’s always alert and trying to pick up more information. I think he’s working hard and he’s getting better.

Q: From an outsiders perspective, it may seem like the guys who are fighting for a roster spot may need to do something in this last preseason game in order to make the team. Is that necessarily the case?
BB: I think a good performance helps everybody, no matter what they’re doing. Whether it’s establishing more of a role or a playing time situation, whether it’s making a roster or a practice squad or whatever it is. I think every opportunity to practice and play is invaluable for everybody – for players that are so called on the team, which certainly there are some who would fall into that category, guys who maybe aren’t as secure in their position, but it’s an opportunity for everybody. I think that should be something that we’d all want to take advantage of, there aren’t that many of them. We only play once a week.

Q: Do you start looking at the Jets this week?
BB: I think when you go through training camp, you’re aware of your first few opponents. There are some things, that depending on how your schedule falls, that you need to do to prepare for those games in the season and take advantage of the little bit of time that you have in training camp to do that. Certainly there are aspects of the Jets that would fall under that category. We’ve played two 3-4 teams early in the season. We’re a 3-4 team. I don’t think we just want our offense to work exclusively against 3-4 fronts the entire camp because that’s not the way it’s going to be during the year. You have to find a way to balance that out. We have teams that we play that are two back teams. We have teams that we play that are more one back teams. We’re probably more of a one back team than we are a two back team. We have to find a way to balance that out defensively so that we don’t come out of 30 practices in training camp where we’ve never seen something that we’re going to see during the year, especially if you’re going to see it in let’s say the first month of the season. I don’t think that would be a good way to prepare your team for the season. Like I said, as you go through camp, you’re trying to balance off getting ready for the opening game – physically, mentally and schematically, but also trying to prepare your team to play a 16-game regular season schedule and there are things that are going to come up during the year, that if you wait to cover them the day before they happen, you’re probably not going to get it right. That’s part of the preseason preparation. Whether it’s a situational thing or whether it’s a schematic thing, you know sooner or later that somebody is going to do. Somebody is going to max-blitz you. They’re going to blitz their secondary guys, maybe it doesn’t happen opening day, maybe it does. If you think you’re going to go through the whole season and not see it and not work on it because you haven’t seen it, and then it happens, we all know how that’s going to go. Punt rushes. Have we been rushed a lot in preseason on the punter? Are the Jets going to do it? I don’t know, but we’re going to get it at some point, so we better work on it. There’s things that fall into that category.

Q: Do you foresee the cuts being made today?
BB: Well, they’re due tomorrow. I would say that you could probably expect them tomorrow. If something happens today, you’ll be the first to know. We don’t want to keep anything from you.

Q: Are the cuts at 75 easier than the cuts at 53?
BB: Right now it’s only five players. No, it’s not easier to tell those five players than it is to tell the next, whatever it is, 22 , from 75 to 53. Is it easier in terms of making decisions to reduce your roster from 80 to 75 than it is from 75 to 53? Well, you know the answer to that question. But no, I don’t think it makes it any easier to release a player now or Saturday. Guys that working hard that are putting everything they have into it that have been with you for however long they’ve been with you, whether it’s a year or more than that, all through the spring and so forth, when you have to release a player like that, it’s the worst part of the job, but it’s a necessary part because we have to comply with the roster limit, so that’s the way it goes.

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