Bill Belichick Q&A, 9/20

Posted on September 20, 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: We’re moving along here on Buffalo, getting into some situational stuff today and tomorrow. As I said at the beginning of the week, and it will be true all the way through to game time, each thing that they do will be a different and a new matchup for us relative to what we’ve been seeing the last few weeks. It’s just an extension of what the process started with yesterday and the situational stuff will just build off of that. That’s where we are. Plenty of new challenges.

Q: How has [Marshawn] Lynch made Buffalo different than with [Willis] McGahee?
BB: I think they’re similar. I think it’s similar. He’s only played a couple of regular season games. McGahee has had a lot of production, but I’m sure Lynch will too. Lynch does pretty much everything well. He’s fast. He’s quick. He has power. He catches the ball well. He’s an elusive guy, but he can make some tough yards. He’s pretty good.

Q: Can you talk a little bit about Kyle Brady and what you remember him from the past?
BB: Yes, from when I was with him for two years at the Jets, he’s a smart guy, he works hard, a well conditioned athlete, a big frame obviously, about as big as you can get at tight end. He’s been very dependable for us in the running game and the passing game, protection, routes. I think he’s a good player. He’s done a good job. I’m glad we have him.

Q: Were you at all surprised at how much he’s been able to do given he was limited for a significant part of training camp?
BB: Again, he hasn’t missed a lot of time in his career. He’s been pretty durable. We had some other guys that missed some time in training camp but are ready to go that are veteran players. We just take it on an individual case-by-case basis and what they can do, they can do. I’m not that surprised that a player who is an experienced player, a veteran player, can get ready to play without playing all the preseason games. I’m not saying that means that he shouldn’t play in them or that it’s good not to play in them. I’d rather that they did if they could, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way.

Q: Do you emphasize special teams even more this week because of how good Buffalo is?
BB: Sure. It’s important every week, but Buffalo they’re as good as anybody in the league and they’re good at everything. They’re good in the return game. They’re good in the coverage game. They have a great punter. He can change field position. He’s also very fast, so fakes and a bad snap or something like that…we had that a couple of years ago where he dropped the snap and ran for 35 yards. I think it was the longest run of the season against us in ’03. So, absolutely. They’re good at everything. That will be a big challenge for us this week, absolutely.

Q: How impressive has Wes Welker been so far, especially his toughness?
BB: Yes, Wes is a tough kid. No doubt about it. He’s done a good job for us. We saw that playing against him twice a year at Miami. I don’t think that’s ever been a question.

Q: What have your impressions of how Jarvis [Green] has handled stepping into the starting role?
BB: Jarvis is a good player. He’s been a good player for us. His playing time has varied from time to time, but there have been plenty of games, plenty of big games, that he’s played a significant amount in, situations similar to this. He’s always been a dependable, solid player for us. He’s been very consistent. I think he’s done that this year. I think that’s just kind of what we’ve kind of come to know and expect from Jarvis and that’s what he gives us. He’s a smart guy. He’s well prepared. He works hard. He really understands what we’re trying to do and tries to do it right every time. I think he’s well respected and he’s a good player.

Q: Would you rather have a quarterback like JP Losman sit back in the pocket and throw or would you rather have him throw from on the run?
BB: Well, I’d like to have the receivers covered. That would be number one. So if they’re open, I think he’s going to hit them. If they’re not open, then I think his running ability is a threat and it’s a problem for us. You hate to have a situation defensively where you cover the pattern that they’re trying to throw and then the quarterback runs and beats you for a first down or whatever.

Q: Is it more difficult for a quarterback to throw on the run?
BB: I think that depends. Some quarterbacks throw well on the run. Some quarterbacks don’t throw as well. I think it’s a matter of mechanics. I don’t think it’s a matter of they can or they can’t. I think they just have to work on their mechanics when they throw on the run. It’s just a little bit different getting your hips and shoulders aligned properly so the ball can be accurately delivered and I think he does a good job of that. I think he throws well on the run. He hits them in the pocket too. I don’t think arm strength or accuracy or throwing mechanics are really a problem for him. I’ve seen him do all of the above. He’s had some plays that I’m sure he’d like to have back that aren’t as good. That goes with it too. I don’t really see any limitations as to whether he’s in the pocket or on the move. It looks like he can make all of the throws to me.

Q: What did you like about Rosevelt Colvin’s performance on Sunday?
BB: Well, I think Rosevelt worked hard last week on his pass defense. I was glad to see him make a couple plays and make some improvement in his pass coverage and make a play. It was a nice play he made on the ball in the first play of the game. We don’t have a lot of interceptions by linebackers around here. We haven’t had a whole lot lately. Like I’ve said, to have two in that game, that’s almost a season’s worth for us around here sometimes. Rosie had one last year in the playoff game against San Diego, but it was much more of a loose play scramble situation where [the quarterback] was trying to dump it over his head. On this one, he made a nice drop, made a nice play on the ball. We dropped a couple the first week. We caught them this week. Maybe that’s a sign that we’re heading in the right direction.

Q: Is that something he’s been working on since he got here given he’s been known specifically as kind of a pass rusher?
BB: In Chicago he played 4-3 outside linebacker, so he was in coverage most of the time there. He rushes more here than he did at Chicago. Sub is sub. He’s a defensive lineman in sub situations. He was in Chicago and he is here. He rushes a lot more here on early downs, on regular downs, than he did in Chicago where most of the time he was on his feet and most of the time he played off the line of scrimmage. He needs to work on it. Every linebacker needs to work on it. I think he was in coverage a lot more there than he was here. It wasn’t like he’d never been in coverage like when he went from Purdue to the Bears. That was a situation where, like a lot of guys in this league, they go from being defensive ends in college to outside linebacker in the NFL and that’s a big adjustment.

Q: Was that maybe the last thing to come back after that hip injury, being able to back pedal and cover guys?
BB: I don’t know. I wouldn’t say it was that dramatic. I think when you’re coming back you have to work to get everything back. Linebackers don’t do a whole lot of back pedaling, at least not in our system. They really don’t. They have to move back into coverage, but they’re usually not back pedaling. They’re usually running away from the line of scrimmage and then trying to get set up. So we don’t back pedal very well, don’t back pedal very fast. It’s more of a defensive back technique than it is a linebacker technique, at least in this system, but I’d say most systems.

Q: How would you rate the job that [James] Sanders has done and what does he bring to the position?
BB: James played a lot there last year for us. He had a lot of playing time at the position. I think that James improved significantly last season and he kind of picked up right where he left off this year in training camp and in preseason games and now in the early part of the season. I think he’s a guy who has worked really hard on his pass coverage and zone coverage, reading the quarterback, things like that, covering man-to-man situations. We’ve played him in a couple of different spots in our sub defenses and he’s adapted to those well, whether he’s covering or blitzing or playing the run from a linebacker type of position. He’s worked hard. He’s improved and he’s given us a good quality of play and also leadership. We still count on him to play in the kicking game and he does that and he does that well. I think he’s really grown into…he still has things he has to work on, but I mean a much more complete player than he was when we got him and he’s worked hard at it. He’s one of the hardest working kids on the team.

Q: Is Asante [Samuel] still trying to catch up?
BB: Well, I think that every player needs a certain amount of time to get everything ironed out and that varies from player to player. It varies from position to position and so forth. What the exact amount of time that is for any player in any situation regardless of what the reasons for it were, it’s done on a case-by-case basis. That’s where we are. That’s where a number of guys who didn’t have all of the preseason practices that other players have. In some cases, they might be a little further behind or maybe not that far behind. It just would depend from player to player.

Q: Has he been able to play a little bit more because he has four years experience?
BB: Sure. Yes, definitely. Asante knows our system well. He’s a smart kid. He understands not only what we do, but he understands football concepts and he’s a very instinctive player. He understands and recognizes things very quickly. He has a good understanding of the passing game and how to defend it from his position and all of the different combinations that teams do. He’s very good at that and [has] real good ball skills. I’m sure that’s definitely helped him. No question.

Q: Did you see improvement in him from Week 1 to Week 2?
BB: I think when you see a player that’s only been out there for a few days you see improvement from day-to-day. Of course you would see it from week-to-week.

Q: When you have a running back, how much of their running style is innate and how much can you tinker with it? Do you let the guy go or do you make adjustments?
BB: I think that’s a tough question. I think it varies from player to player. I think it varies maybe from team to team depending on what you’re asking the guy to do. Tiger Woods has been a pretty successful golfer, maybe the most successful professional athlete of all times, certainly of our time, and he’s rebuilt his golf swing twice. He probably had a pretty good reason for doing it. Maybe some people would have thought it was a mistake to tell him to change or for him to want to change because I’m sure it was pretty good the way it was the first time, or even the second time. That doesn’t mean that you can’t keep trying to strive to get better. Just because somebody is successful at something doesn’t mean they can’t improve and I think he’s a great example to all of us that you’re always working for perfection and no matter how good you are you’re probably never there. On the other hand, I don’t think Eddie George is ever going to run like Barry Sanders and I don’t think Barry Sanders would ever run like Eddie George. Everybody has their own individual style to a degree, but I think definitely as a coach you can help players be better within their style and you can improve certain fundamentals. There are some things that are inherent with certain techniques, their problems. There are other things that when they’re done correctly, they eliminate a lot of problems. It doesn’t make a difference what position it’s at, but it certainly applies for running backs. It applies to every position. I would say as a coach I would try to help any player that I could improve his performance in any way that I thought I could do it. Sometimes some players have a hard time making certain changes in their style and it ends up hurting them more than it ends up helping them. If that’s the case, then that player is probably better off to go back and do it the way he’s been doing it and live with the problems. Like Tiger Woods, he could’ve lived with that first golf swing, probably still been competitive. If he wasn’t able to make the change or the adjustment, then that probably would’ve been the best thing. If he was, then maybe he has a chance to improve it and get better. I think you just have to take it on an individual case-by-case basis. I’ve had players who were great players, outstanding players in this league, that I would never tell a younger player, ‘Watch this guy and do it this way,’ because fundamentally it’s not the way you would want to teach it. That being said, to change the player from that style of play and from the success that he had, that probably wouldn’t be the right thing to do either. I think you see that in all sports. You see it with pitchers and batters. In basketball, guys shoot, some guys have good technique and they don’t make as many as some guys who have bad technique, but it doesn’t mean that if you have bad technique and you improve it, it might make you a better player.

Q: You mentioned Barry Sanders and Eddie George. They obviously had very different builds. Eddie’s build probably wouldn’t let him run like Barry and vice versa.
BB: Exactly. That’s why I say I think there are certain fundamental things in each position that apply to everybody and then there are other things that are variable based on that person’s skill and playing style and those vary very much based on the player’s individual playing style, exactly. Whether that be quarterbacks – Doug Flutie and Vinny Testaverde. Receivers. Sure. They come in all different shapes, sizes and styles and that doesn’t mean that one particular one has to be successful and the other one doesn’t. There’s just a lot of different ways to do it and in the end, in each position, the player has to have enough strengths to be able to compensate for what his limitations are.

Q: Tom [Brady] said yesterday that during a team meeting you told the team you hope their goal isn’t to win just two games.
BB: Yes, I would hope that.

Q: Was that just to get the guys attention and allow them to maintain their edge or does than in any way have anything to do with the opponent you have coming in and what just happened and how you guys beat your previous opponent?
BB: I don’t know that it has anything to do with anything. It’s just a statement of fact. We haven’t accomplished anything. If you think that two games is going to get you anything in this league, it’s going to take a lot more than that. Let’s get back to work and see if we can beat Buffalo. They’re in the division. It’s a big game. I think that’s what we need to focus on. I don’t really feel like we’ve done anything this year. That’s the way I look at it.


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