Bill Belichick Q&A, 8/28

Posted on August 28, 2007 
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Thanks to the Patriots’ PR staff, here’s the full Q&A from Bill Belichick’s meeting with the media today at Gillette Stadium. We’ll have news on the cuts as it happens.

BB: You got the announcement on Chris [Patrick] this morning. We’ll have to make some other roster moves to be in compliance with the 75-man limit by four o’clock today. We’ll release those once they’re in place later on this afternoon. Otherwise it’s moving ahead on the Giants. We’re kind of winding down here at the end of camp, similar to what we talked about yesterday. It’s just another step on that. This is kind of our last chance here to get a few things generically, training camp things, back in order. Next week it will be the start of the game planning situation. That’s where we are. Hopefully we’ll be ready to go.

Q: Has Asante [Samuel] signed his franchise tender yet?
BB: Yes. He’s signed.

Q: Will he practice today?
BB: Asante will go through the same procedures as every other player.

Q: He hasn’t passed the conditioning test?
BB: There’s things he needs to do. It’s just like everybody else at the start of camp. I’m glad he’s here. I’m glad that we got things worked out. I’m looking forward to working with him. We drafted him four years ago and this will be his fifth year. He’s been a very productive player for us. I’m glad it all got worked out.

Q: With the guys on the PUP list, do you hold out hope they’ll be able to play this week?
BB: They’re day-to-day. We’ll evaluate them on a day-to-day basis.

Q: Is there a balance you have to strike there with the roster spots and the PUP guys who may be ready at say week four of the season, but you need that roster spot?
BB: Sure. Yes. Absolutely. We have to be in compliance with the roster limits, just like everybody else does. There are a lot of factors. There are a lot of moving parts. There are a lot of questions that nobody really knows the answer to. You just have to go on an estimate or a guess on how you feel about that situation. Sometimes there are other situations that play into them – depth on the roster, depth in another position, maybe somebody else on the team is in some type of situation where you’re questioning their availability. Yes, those are all part of it. We just try to balance that and make the best decision we can for the football team and move on and then we’ll have to make some more next week, we know that too. Some of the moves this week are certainly related to the moves that are going to have to be made Saturday, so that’s not that far off. It’s all related.

Q: What does Asante have to do to catch up to the other players?
BB: They’ve been here working for over a month. I’m sure that he’ll work hard to make up that ground. They’ve been here practicing and doing all of the things they do. I know he’s been doing things on his own, but it’s not quite the same. He’ll just have to make up that ground and just take it day-by-day.

Q: You mentioned last week that you wanted to get a look at some guys this week who maybe didn’t play as much last week. The guys who do play this week, are they going to be getting the reps as the first stringers this week?
BB: I think, as I’ve mentioned the last two days, we’re working on a lot of different things. Certainly the Giants are a part of it, but again, these last two days of practice, Monday and Tuesday, yesterday and today, were kind of our last two days to just take care of some generic things in training camp and we’ve done that every week with all of the preseason games. We work on things that are important to our team just to install, to know how to execute, whether it be in a situation or a particular play or an adjustment or whatever it happens to be. At the same time, to give some type of preparation to the team we’re playing, I just don’t think you can prepare your team for the season by just focusing it totally on your preseason opponents. There are going to be things that are going to come up during the year where we just want to cover it and we want to make sure that we get those covered and then we allocate time to our preseason opponents so we can be prepared for them. But, it’s a balancing act, whereas once the season starts, then all of our preparation goes on that weekly opponent and that’s it until the bye week. We’re not quite in that mode, but we’re definitely not in that mode like we are in the regular season.

Q: You mentioned yesterday on the radio that Randy Moss was closer. Do you think he’ll be ready by week one?
BB: He’s day-to-day.

Q: Tom [Brady] and Randy haven’t played together in the preseason. Does that concern you at all?
BB: We do what we can do. They practiced together for a while. Randy has been out for a little while, but we do what we can do.

Q: When you have to cut a younger guy, is it just a guessing game if he’ll make it through waivers if he’s someone you want to sign to your practice squad?
BB: It’s a guesstimate. It would be a guesstimate. I think that’s part of the overall decision-making process. If you think that you need to carry a player to have him or would he be claimed and how much interest is there in that player, you don’t know. It only takes one team to claim him. 30 teams could not want him and one team could and that answers your question. It’s a very inexact science. I think in the end, you have to do what’s best for your football team. Now sometimes there’s a little strategy involved in personnel moves, kind of like there is in the draft. Sometimes you can maneuver a little bit if you want to do a little bit of a draft strategy on who might be available, who might slide, who might not, that type of thing. I think there’s a little bit of that, but I think in the end, the best decision is to make decisions that we feel are best for our football team. I would say that 95 percent of it is probably that and then there might be a little percentage of trying to figure out what’s going to happen. But I’ve seen it go the other way too. I’ve seen other teams call about a certain player and you think you’re going to be able to trade this player or trade this player and, okay, it doesn’t work out and then you release him and then nobody claims him. You say, ‘Well I know this guy is gone because these two or three teams have called and even thought about trading for him,’ and then you release him and they don’t pick him up. This time of year there’s a lot of things in flux. There really are. A team could be interested in a player, but then somebody else becomes available and then they’re not interested in that guy anymore and vice versa. A lot can change in a hurry and everybody has injuries, everybody has particular situations on their roster by certain positions. Everybody has young players who are ascending but haven’t caught the veteran players yet, maybe veteran players who maybe aren’t what they were the year before, but they’re still better. When do you make the switch, when do you not make it? How many young players is too many? How many veteran players is too many? How do you balance that? Where are you now in September? Where do you think you’re going to be in the middle of October? Where do think you’re going to be in November relative to some of those decisions? Is the young guy going to improve, where is he going to be one month from now, two months from now? Maybe he’s not ready now, but where do you think he’s going to end up? The flipside of that is sometimes it’s the older players – where do you think they’re going to be halfway or three quarters of the way through the season. Again, I can’t sit here and say there’s a formula. You just try to take everything into consideration and make the best decisions you can for the football team. Each year is different. Every player is different. Every situation is different. I don’t think there’s any formula or perfect example of, ‘If you put these things in and you come out with this.’ I just don’t think it works that way.

Q: Do you think teams play games with that?
BB: Sure. I’m sure there’s some of that. I’m sure personnel people try to figure out what’s going to happen on a roster just to try to get a head start on it. ‘All right, if they’re going to keep this guy, then maybe that means they’re going to release somebody else, or, that’s going to put them in a squeeze in another position,’ or something like that. Yes, I think there’s plenty of that going on. Absolutely.

Q: Is it ever a situation where you might say, ‘I want this guy for my practice squad, so I’m not going to show him in this last preseason game?’
BB: Well, in all honesty, I think that that last preseason game is a hard game to evaluate because you have so many… I think you could pick out, ‘Here’s three or four players around the league that we’re interested in and let’s really focus on them,’ I think you could do that. What I think is more common is we’re so concerned with our roster, our situation and trying to get our team in the best position we can that it’s really hard to evaluate the other 31 teams. Even though you have some scouts out there, the college season has already started. They’re making their college visits. They’re going to college games. So your personnel staff gets spread kind of thin as to how many people you can allocate to the pro end of it because the college season is ramping up. So what normally happens is I’d say around the middle of September to early October is when the league, in general, has a chance to really go back and take a good look at that last preseason game, that next to last preseason game, and you find a guy that maybe has fallen through the cracks a little bit or he’s not on a practice squad or maybe he is on a practice squad, but maybe we’d like to have this guy on our roster kind of thing and in those games, I think get evaluated in that September timeframe, somewhere in there. But it’s really hard. By the time you get the tape in, the cuts are made. These games are done. I see a lot more of that kind of movement in the early part of the season, maybe the first three or four weeks of the season. Scott [Pioli] will do that. He’ll come to me during maybe the second or third week of the regular season and say, ‘Hey, we’ve been looking at this guy. This is so-and-so. We made a tape on him. I think he could do this or he could do that,’ maybe it was an injury. It could be a lot of circumstances, but I’m telling you, there are a lot of players to grind through here these last couple of weeks of preseason. There really are.

Q: So you might have two or three guys on your radar?
BB: Well I’m saying you might look at the team and say, ‘Okay, here’s two or three guys they’re going to have to release one of them and if it was this one, maybe we would want to claim him. If it was the other two, we wouldn’t.’ Maybe that situation is on two or three teams in the league somewhere hypothetically. So you kind of focus on those areas because you know what the targets are, but there’s a lot of players out there and there’s going to be a lot of players that are going to be released and some of them are going to be good football players, they’re guys that we want to keep on our team. I’m sure there are going to be players that other teams release that they would want to keep and maybe if some of those players were in a different system, they might have even more upside. That’s what you have to try to evaluate. Look, the rosters are never going to be any smaller than they are on Saturday. If you’re looking for football players, that’s when the market is flooded. Everybody has to cut to 53 and it’ll never be that thin again, not until one year from now. The rosters, they just increase from there, guys go on injured reserve, guys get locked into the practice squad. Then the season is over and then it starts up again with the draft and build up that roster again with a new pool of talent. Now is the time when the most players are available and we’re all under the most stress to try to pick the right guys for our team, I’m saying all 32 teams. It’s a good time to look for players, but you have the fewest spots. That’s the way it is. That’s why this weekend will be a busy weekend for all of us.

Q: How does Mathias Kiwanuka’s move affect your game planning this week and for your game against the Giants in the regular season? Do you think the Giants have improved on defense because of that move?
BB: I don’t that it’s a big game planning situation in preseason. I really don’t. I think you basically try to run the things that you’ve been working on, in other words, I don’t think you want to work on something in training camp and then come into a preseason game and say, ‘Well, we don’t want to do any of those things. We want to do something else because we’re playing so-and-so.’ I think if you’re going to work on those things, you probably want to see them under game conditions and try to help evaluate them. Certainly we play close attention to the Giants because they’re on our schedule this year, but then again, it is the last game. I’m sure that when we see them at the end of the year, there will be some differences between the two teams from what we have right now. As I said, I think we keep an eye on them. We certainly want to try to measure them the best that we can, but we know that four months from now there’s going to be a few differences and it will be a lot different if we were playing the team say the second or third or fourth week of the regular season like the last time we played them. I think it was like the fourth game, something like that, back in ’03. It was a much different situation. I think this is more like any other preseason game, even though we play them in the regular season. It’s so far away that there’s going to be a lot of changes.

Q: Will you have the Jets on your mind this week at all?
BB: I think that there is a part of that. Certainly we have our eye on the Jets, that’s opening day and we have our eye on the Giants because we play them and there are some other things that apart from both of those that are important to us just in terms of preparing our team for the season. Again, it’s kind of a balancing act to address all of those needs, but at the same time, not trying to give the players four different, not game plans, but for different emphases, ‘This plays is for the Jets. This play is for the Giants. This situational play is for another situation.’ It’s really hard to make any progress when you do it that way. I think you have to find a logical way to put it together so that you can be effective. Going back to the Kiwanuka question, certainly you can’t miss him out there. He’s still a force in the pass rush like he has been as a linebacker. You can’t always get a lineman on him like you can when he’s a lineman. He’s a little bit of a mismatch guy. It looks like he’s worked on his pass coverage and his drops and that kind of thing. You can kind of see that getting better through the preseason. He’s more of a pass rusher than he is a coverage linebacker we all know that. But he’s certainly improved in those areas. I think he’s a guy you have to be careful of because if you get mismatched on him, he’ll make you pay for it.

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