Bill Belichick Q&A, 9/10

Posted on September 10, 2007 
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Here’s the complete transcript of Bill Belichick’s Q&A with the media today at Gillette Stadium

BB: It was good to come out of New York yesterday with a win. I thought that was a good win for our football team. I’m proud of the players. I thought in all three phases of the game we played competitively. There are some things to work with and build off of. We have a long way to go. I think there are a lot of things that came up in the game that we need to correct and talk about and work on. Some of the things that we had problems with I’m sure we’ll get from other opponents that we face down the road. That will kind of be our focus today is to go over the tape and make sure that we get all of the things corrected that we need to and just move along. It’s one game. For our first game, there were some positive things and we’ll certainly try to build on those and try to keep moving in the right direction. We have a lot of work ahead of us. We have a long way to go. We know we’re going up against another really good team this weekend. We know it will be tough against San Diego.

Q: Did you feel like some of your success yesterday was based on it being the first game and you guys doing things that maybe the Jets hadn’t seen?
BB: I don’t know. I think there was probably plenty of that on both sides. We were scrambling on a lot of adjustments there, even in the first quarter on both sides of the ball and on special teams for that matter. They used several different alignments in the kicking game. Like I said, I think that’s part of opening day. We were doing plenty of it, maybe they were doing it too, I don’t know. You would have to ask them. They were a number of things that we saw yesterday that were new that were a little bit different, but that doesn’t surprise me that that showed up. We just had to talk everybody and make sure that we got on the same page and try to adjust to them.

Q: Do you send the message to your players not to read too much into how dominant they were yesterday?
BB: We have plenty of things we have to work on. I think that’s obvious. As we go through the tape, it’ll be more obvious. There were some things right on the play. There were other things that weren’t right and sometimes those things got exposed, sometimes they didn’t, but in the end, we need to tighten them all up, so that’s what we’ll work on.

Q: On the punt, can you explain what Willie Andrews did wrong to warrant the flag?
BB: He went out of bounds.

Q: He was the first person to touch it?
BB: He was. They changed that rule now where instead of it being a five-yard illegal touching penalty, if it’s inside then it goes back out to the 20. No, I thought the play was ruled correctly. That’s the way they explained it during the game and then after watching it on the film…

Q: Did they explain it to you, because I didn’t hear them explain it on television?
BB: Yes, Jeff [Triplette] came over and explained the call, I think it might have been in the next series or whatever, but that’s what I thought happened. No, I thought after looking at it, it was the correct ruling on the play.

Q: Where were the breakdowns in communication in terms of getting the different packages on the field yesterday?
BB: There were a couple of different situations, but ultimately it’s getting the right people on the field for the call and sometimes if you’re trying to matchup with them, understanding who they have out there, which sometimes isn’t totally clear as to what grouping they have out there, and then depending on whether you’re trying to substitute a group or whether you’re just trying to substitute a player for a player and not a whole group, then sometimes there could be a little miscommunication on that. There’s a number of things involved there and that’s something that we need to tighten up on.

Q: What went into the decision to play Ryan O’Callaghan at tight end and what kind of athletic skills does he have?
BB: Well, he’s a tackle and plays on the end of the line anyway, so that puts him closer to that position. We thought it was the best way to set up that part of our attack for the Jets.

Q: That was Jets specific?
BB: Well, that’s who we played this week.

Q: Is that something going forward you’ll do?
BB: We’ll do that on a week-to-week basis, maybe. Maybe not.

Q: Was it more of a case of having him just be an extra blocker in certain situations or was there possibly he might catch a ball? I know he has to check in as eligible.
BB: Well, he’s an eligible receiver, so yes, he’d be eligible in the passing game. I’m not saying he’s a guy we’d want to feature in the passing game, but he’d be an eligible receiver and somebody that they’d potentially have to cover.

Q: Right, like when Mike Vrabel comes on the field, most of the time the ball is going to come to him or he’s out there to be a decoy that the ball might come to him.
BB: I think if you talked to him, he wouldn’t agree with that. [Laughter] Yes, he’s an eligible receiver, just like anybody else is. Certainly he’s more of a blocker than he is a receiver. Could we have plays where we could throw him the ball too? I suppose we could.

Q: Does he have hands?
BB: He has two, yes.

Q: [laughter]
BB: They’re not game tested yet. We haven’t game tested them.

Q: Going forward, will [Chris] Hanson be holding for Stephen [Gostkowski]?
BB: We’ll maybe talk about that.

Q: Had he done a lot of that in the past?
BB: Yes, Chris has held before.

Q: What separates [Randy] Moss from a lot of the receivers in the league as far as what he does that makes him so good?
BB: I think Randy’s skills have been pretty well identified. He’s a smart player. He runs well. He catches the ball well. He makes good route adjustments. He has a number of things going for him.

Q: How did Adalius Thomas acclimate himself to the defense?
BB: Well, I’d say the same thing about Adalius that I would say probably about all of the players on defense. There were some plays that were good, some plays that could’ve better. Again, the Jets gave us some different looks on some things. Some things we reacted to and identified probably the way we should have. Other things we either didn’t identify correctly or maybe the call defensively we could’ve been in something a little bit better than what we were in, so it’s a combination of things. I think overall, he did some good things. Some things were okay. There’s other things that we need to work on, but I would say that for every player on both sides of the ball for that matter.

Q: So he didn’t look out of place out there?
BB: I certainly wouldn’t say that, no.

Q: When you saw Ellis [Hobbs] catch the ball eight yards deep in the end zone, were you thinking knee?
BB: Well, I’d say it doesn’t really matter what I’m thinking. The players are out there playing and they make the decisions when they’re out there on the field. I think Ellis made the decision that he thought was the best one at that time. It worked out okay, so that’s good. I think he was trying to make a play. What I always encourage the players to do is try to make a good play and it turned out good.

Q: You were a special teams coach, was there a rule that you used as far as a kick return – ‘If you’re this deep, don’t take it out?’
BB: Well, I think you have general guidelines on everything. I don’t think there’s necessarily a hard and fast rule.

Q: Is there a case where a guy could make a decision that turned out well like that, it could be pointed out to him that it turned out to be a bad decision even though the circumstances worked out okay?
BB: Again, I think every play is a little bit different, every kick is a little bit different. I think if you ever coached special teams in this league, you’d know that just because a ball comes down in a certain place that all kicks aren’t the same. Hang time is involved, which I’d say is a big factor. You tell me whether you’d rather handle a ball that is three yards deep in the end zone with a 3.7 hang time or handle a ball that comes down on the goal line with 4.2 hang time. It’s not the same. It’s not the same. There’s a yardage difference, there’s also a hang time difference in kicks and each one is different and the coverage is different, the return is different. There’s a guideline for plays like handling the ball inside the 10 yard line. You can say don’t catch the ball inside the 10 yard line, but if there’s a five second hang time and you have four guys standing behind you on the goal line and the ball comes down on the six, I don’t know how smart it is to let it hit and bounce down to the two. You might be better off catching it on the six. I think that every situation is a little bit different and players make decisions because they think they’re the best decisions they can make. I’m not saying they always do, I’m not saying all of the coaching decisions are the best ones, but you do what you think is in the best interest of your team and for that play at that particular time based on circumstances in that instance. That’s how I would answer every question. That kickoff. Ones that are downed. The ones that are returned out. Just like Kevin [Faulk] fair-catching that first punt on, what was it, the nine? I don’t know. I thought it was a good decision. Some people might disagree with that. Those are the decisions that players have to make in that situation and they’re all different. I think if you’ve been around the kicking game in this league long enough, you know it’s hard to have a hard and fast rule and be right every time. You could have a rule, but I don’t think you’re going to be right every time.

Q: Would you say it’s different from punts to kickoff’s then, because I know sometimes on punts they say you can’t put your heels on the 10 and don’t back up?
BB: Yeah, that’s what I’m saying. Yeah, you can put your heels on the 10 and you can have a hard and fast rule. I’m just telling you that if the ball comes down on the nine yard line with five seconds hang time and there’s four guys standing on the goal line waiting to down it, I think it would be dumb to get away from the ball, let it hit on the nine and roll down to the one. I don’t think that would be a good play. You can have a hard and fast rule, whatever you want. You can tell your returner on kickoffs, ‘If the ball is here, run it out. If it’s there, keep it in.’ I’m just telling you that all kickoffs aren’t the same. If you want to have a hard and fast rule, you can have it. I don’t think it’s necessarily the best one to have, but I’m sure that there are some people that have it clear cut like that and that’s fine if that’s the way they want to do it.

Q: You said that you thought that Kevin’s decision was good. So you also think that Ellis’ decision was good?
BB: I said that every decision that the player makes is based on the situation and the circumstances on that particular play. That’s what I said. I said I think there are general guidelines that they follow, but I think that each play is different and every situation is different. I think that the player should do what he thinks is best on that play. I think that’s what Ellis did.

Q: So you thought it was a good decision?
BB: I said I thought that Ellis makes that decision, just like Kevin makes it. If it’s a gray area, a situation that could kind of go either way, then you count on the player to make the decision that he feels like is the best one. I wasn’t standing back there catching it.

Q: On the Heath Evans play that was challenged, was that your challenge or was that up in the booth?
BB: No, it was my challenge.

Q: What did you feel was the benefit of challenging that play at that time?
BB: Well, I wasn’t planning on using the timeouts for the rest of the game. It looked to me and it looked like to the coaches upstairs, that he was in. I think, looking at it on the film this morning, it’s really close. I think he still might have been in. But, I wasn’t going to use the three timeouts. I thought that there was really nothing to lose. The clock had run down to the two-minute warning anyway, so instead of having three timeouts, we had two or two and one, whatever it was. I can’t remember how many I had at that point. But I didn’t feel like we were going to need them. When the coaches saw the play, and after I saw the play, I thought there was a chance he might be in, so I took a shot at it.

Q: Is there a benefit to that, like everybody going through the process, the coaches upstairs relaying to you and everybody knowing what they have to do on a challenge?
BB: Well, it may be, but that wasn’t the reason for it. The reason for it is you’re just coaching the game competitively and trying to make good decisions, whatever they are and whenever they are. Like I said, I just didn’t think there was anything to lose in that situation. It was a safe call to make. We didn’t get it. We lost a timeout. Given the score and the situation in the game, I don’t think those timeouts were that important, but it wasn’t done for practice for another game. It was done because we thought it was a challengeable situation.

Q: What did Junior [Seau] say when you told him you wanted him to lineup at fullback?
BB: Really, he told me he wanted to lineup at fullback long before I told him that. He wanted to lineup at fullback. Junior and I talked about that last year, but then in the spring, we were talking about goal line. I forget how it came up, but I think he actually brought it up, that he had played fullback and if we needed a fullback on the goal line he was available. We’ve used those guys before. We’ve used Bryan Cox or Russ [Hochstein] as an offensive lineman, Richard [Seymour]. We’ve used other guys back there. I think that Junior is kind of a natural fit because that’s kind of what the linebacker has to do on defense, is you kind of have to see the hole on the goal line and get in it. That’s sort of what the fullback has to do – he’s trying to see the hole and get in it and probably most likely meet the linebacker there.

Q: Is that a way that coaches kind of replace the traditional fullback at this point?
BB: I think it just depends on how much you’re going to use that player in a game. You think about, well how many plays on the goal line are you going to have? If you can find a player that can do that, rather than carry a 45th player to the game, just for that one specific situation, then that allows you to bring somebody else. It’s the same thing with the tight end. We only carried two tight ends in this game with Ben [Watson] and Kyle [Brady]. If we were ever going to be in a three tight end set, whether it’s on the goal line or out on the field or whatever, then rather than carry a third tight end, we, in this game, used Mike and Ryan in those roles. That enabled somebody else to play somewhere else for us. Heath can play fullback in our regular stuff and he could also play it on the goal line, which he did, he did some in short yardage too, or we can use him as the back and use somebody else if he’s not the fullback. No matter what you do, you have to have another guy anyway because if you lost a player, you’d still have to find a way to do it. No matter who your fullback is, you have to have somebody else. No matter who your three tight ends are, you’re going to have to have a fourth guy there somewhere so that you would be able to move whichever three are left to be able to run the plays that you want to run there, unless you just want to junk it, but that’s not really a good way to go into the game where you have a formation and you have no backup for it. Then if one guy has an equipment problem, then you’re out of the whole thing. I don’t think that’s usually where you want to be. Somebody has to back it up anyway.

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