Bill Belichick Q&A, 10/29

Posted on October 29, 2007 
Filed Under Uncategorized

Thanks to the Patriots’ PR staff, here’s the complete transcript of Bill Belichick’s Q&A with the media this morning at Gillette Stadium:

BB: Kind of following up on what I said yesterday after the game, I thought that individually and in units our team played well yesterday. [The] players did a good job. We had a lot of guys step up and play well [and] make a lot of good plays. It’s really hard to single anybody out. I know there’s a few guys that had some big plays and so forth. I don’t want to take anything away from them, but we had a lot of guys do a good job. I thought this was our best week of practice. I thought that the players, the scout teams that gave our guys a look at what Washington did, did an excellent job preparing them for the game and I think that showed up. We had some good execution on a few plays we really hadn’t run very much before, but it worked out that the timing of the plays worked out pretty well because of the look we got in practice. The assistant coaches, the players, the practice squad guys – we really had a good week leading into this game and we’ll need to have another one like that going into Indianapolis. We made the practice squad transaction, so you guys got that and now we’re going to put this one behind us and move on to the Colts.

Q: Have you had a chance to get into the Colts this morning, and what did you see?
BB: I see a real good football team. They do everything well. They’re really good on defense. They’re tough to run against, they’re tough to throw against, they can rush the passer. Offensively…They’re what we all know they are, offensively. They can run it, they can throw it short, throw it deep, go on long drives, hit big plays and play well on special teams. They’re fast, they cover kicks well, they’re hard to return against on kickoffs. I mean, they don’t have to punt, so you don’t really worry too much about that, but their kickoff coverage is good. And [T.J.] Rushing has done a good job returning for them. [They’re] well-coached. The team is well put together. They’re obviously a solid team. They’ve won however many straight, however many in a row at home. Any numbers you want, they’ve got. Along with the Red Sox, that was a pretty impressive performance by them too. I don’t want to overlook that. Terry [Francona], eight straight World Series wins – that’s awesome. [It was a] great day for the Red Sox last night and all of the Boston sports fans.

Q: Are there common threads between the way you and the Colts have tried to build your teams? It seems like skilled drafting is the common thread.
BB: I don’t know. It’s probably something better for you to look at than me. Really, we just try to do what’s best for our football team. I’m sure everybody else in the league is trying to do what’s best for theirs. Obviously not all of these decisions are aligned, because we all have little different philosophies and schemes and so forth. We just try to do what’s best for us, but obviously they’ve done a great job. You have to give them, all of the people in their organization, the players and everybody, they’ve done an outstanding job. They’ve won a lot of games through the years, they won a championship last year and nobody’s beat them in a long time, so there’s nobody doing it better than they are.

Q: For any organization to sustain success – yours, the Colts – does it come down to being sharp at the draft?
BB: Oh, that’s important. There’s no doubt about it, absolutely. That’s important. But however you build your team, whatever those decisions are, however you decide to build it, those are all important decisions, too, whether they’re to resign your players, to sign other players, who to draft, how to build the depth on your team and so forth. I think all of those are a part of every team, but certainly the Colts, there’s no question they’ve had some key player acquisitions, great draft choices, they’ve re-signed their players, they haven’t re-signed some. So, you know, all of those decisions are important to building the team.

Q: Looking back at the tape yesterday, was Mike Vrabel’s performance as impressive as the stat sheet would make it seem?
BB: He had a lot of good plays. Three strip-sacks in one game, that’s a lot of ball-awareness and being close to the quarterback. [The] touchdown pass was well-executed, he was in on a lot of tackles, so he played well. He did a good job. But, you know, so did a lot of other guys. I mean, you can’t play team defense – It’s not all about one guy. A couple of times we had good coverage that forced [Jason] Campbell to hold the ball a little bit. It gave Mike a little more time to get there, but it was all work[ing] together.

Q: How does he continue to get so wide open as a tight end?
BB: It looked like they were kind of coming up to stop the run on that and [Kelley] Washington went in there to take them on. Mike kind of slipped in and got behind him. We talked about it last week – it’s tough on the goal line. You’re trying to stop the run, play-action passes. You’re only defending a yard, so it’s tough.

Q: It may sound silly, but you’ve had that personnel package in several times in the last several games. Do you think they forgot he was an option?
BB: No, I don’t think that. Look, I’ve coached goal line defense a long time, too. There’s guys [that] get open in the end zone. You’re out there trying to stop the run. We gave one up earlier in the year to San Diego, right? Standing out there, it looks like he’s out to practice early. That’s tough. We hit some; there’s a couple we didn’t hit. We threw one down there and ended up having to scramble and throw it away late.

Q: It seemed you were more aggressive this off-season in terms of free agency. Was that just the opportunity that you thought existed, just the nature of the people available?
BB: That’s exactly the way I would characterize it, and have many times. There was no change in philosophy or anything. We’re just trying to improve our team, just trying to get better. It’s no different than we tried to do in any other off-season.

Q: There are times you’ve been portrayed as not wanting to commit too much money to any one player, but you have committed to keep certain people. Is that to some degree a mischaracterization, then?
BB: Well, sure. What’s the difference whether you commit it to one of your players or to somebody else’s players? It’s still a team commitment to a player. We’ve made plenty of those. We’ve done it with players in our organization and we’ve done it to some players that we brought in from the outside.

Q: This organization has done a pretty good job of focusing on week-to-week and not looking ahead. How much of that comes from veteran leadership in the locker room?
BB: I think that the players that have been through a lot of games in this league, been through years in this league all understand that the only game that they can really do anything about is the next game. I think most veteran players learn that and we have a lot of guys who have been through a lot of big games, been through a lot of seasons around here and I think they understand that. I’m sure that rubs off some on guys who haven’t been in as many games as they have, but it’s really all about short-term focus. What happened last week, what happens next week or next year – really, it’s not that high of a priority.

Q: What are some of the things you think need improvement coming out of yesterday’s game?
BB: Four false starts on offense isn’t exactly what we’re looking for. We’re still trying to get our return game going. Defensively, we had our moments there. [The] two minute drive at the end of the half, the end of the game, we could have played better. Just a lot of individual things. You know, obviously it wasn’t Washington’s best game. Washington is a good football team. They beat some good football teams; I’m sure they’re going to beat some going forward. They didn’t have their best day, there’s no question about that. We were fortunate. We got some good breaks. We’ve had strip-sacks before and the ball bounces right back into the quarterback’s hands. Yesterday we had one, Rosie [Colvin] turned around, wasn’t even looking at the quarterback and the ball bounced right up into his hand for a touchdown, so sometimes things go your way on things like that and sometimes they don’t. There’s still a lot of things individually that we can do better. Each one of us – coaching, playing, techniques, recognition, overall team execution – so those are the things that we’re going to concentrate on. How to perform better, how to execute better. We’ve played eight games. We have eight more regular season games to go and I hope that we can improve our performance and our execution in those games. That’s what we’re going to try to do.

Q: Is this game just the next game or is there something more to it?
BB: It’s the next game

Q: A number of Redskins players were upset yesterday at what they thought was piling on.
BB: I don’t know exactly what you’re referring to there, but we’re just going to —

Q: Well, Randall Godfrey –
BB: Well, Randall is entitled to his opinion. You can talk to him about that. I’m sure he’ll give it to you.

Q: I was just wondering how you feel when you look back on it. Is there anything you would have done differently?
BB: Again, I don’t know exactly what you’re referring to.

Q: What they were saying was they felt like —
BB: Well, I said, Randall is entitled to his opinion.

Q: You mentioned yesterday, “what do you want me to do, kick a field goal?” Why is that worse than going for it on 4th down?
BB: Which play are you talking about?

Q: The first 4th down.
BB: The first 4th down play was 4th-and-1 on the seven. Do you kick a field goal and make it 41-0? Or go for it on 4th down? So, those are your two options. The second was 4th-and-7 on the 38, or whatever it was, a 55-yard field goal. Right? 4th and whatever it was. 4th and…how much was it? I don’t know, it would have been a 55-yard field goal, 56-yard field goal. Something like that. Kick a 56-yard field goal with the score like that? So those are your options.

Q: Do you and Tony Dungy have any kind of relationship outside of the fact that you’re both head football coaches? Do you ever spend any time together at the league meetings or the combine or whatever?
BB: If it works out that way, yeah. It’s not a scheduled thing or anything. But I’ve known Tony for a long time. I have a lot of respect for Tony. We’re both defensive coaches and we’re both kind of the same age. We’ve both been around it for a long time.

Q: When you get into a game with the Colts, how much pressure does their offense put on your offense to go out and score points?
BB: I don’t know. I mean, our offense is always trying to score points. Why else would they go out on the field? That’s their job. Their job is to go out there and score points. That’s what the offense’s job is. It’s their job every week.

Q: Tom [Brady] was saying yesterday they’re not going to punt very often and if you turn it over against them it’s going to be points…
BB: He’s right. [If] you turn it over against anybody in this league, you know what the stats are. Turnover ratios – you know what they are in terms of wins and losses. That’s the way it is every week. When you get a great team like Indianapolis, it’s even a better example of it. There’s no other reason to put the offense out on the field than to score points. If you want to punt, then you put the punt team out there. That’s what their job is, is to score. And the defense’s job is to stop them – that’s the only reason they’re out there.

Q: But turning the ball over against the Redskins is not the same as turning it over against the Colts.
BB: If you look at the stats in this league, turnovers as it relates to wins and losses, it’s a pretty strong correlation. You lose the turnover ratio in any game, your chances of winning go way down. It doesn’t matter who you play. If you’re on the plus side of it, you get a lot better of a chance to win. It’s been that way for a long time [and] I don’t think it’s going to change. It doesn’t guarantee anything, but statistically it gives you a much better percentage chance, so it’s a priority every week.

Q: Could you talk about the work of your offensive line, and has that been a strength up to this point?
BB: They did a real good job yesterday. Washington’s a good pass-rushing team. They’re very athletic up there. They put a lot of pressure on other quarterbacks and I thought the line did a good job of blocking them. We got a lot of four-man rush. They’d been doing some three-man rush. We got some of that, but we’ve been seeing more three-man rush out of Washington in some other games like, for example, Detroit, games like that. But I thought those guys did a pretty good job of blocking them all the way across the board. Their ends challenged Nick [Kaczur] and Matt [Light]. Inside, Logan [Mankins], Dan [Koppen] and Steve [Neal] got tested pretty good there, too, but I thought they held up well. We made some yards in the running game, which helped our passing game. We made some yards in the passing game, which helped our running game, so it was some good balance on our offense, but the line did a nice job in all areas – pass-protection, run-blocking. We had some plays like screens and plays like that where they had to get out on those linebackers, on [London] Fletcher and [Rocky] McIntosh and those guys, [Pierson] Prioleau, who was playing really a linebacker-type role in that game, so there were a lot of times where they had to really get out there and block them in space and they did a good job on that.

Q: Is this a regular Monday? Did the players have more time off than normal?
BB: Players aren’t required to come in today, but I think a lot of them are in trying to get a jump on this week.

Q: You mentioned Prioleau being used as a linebacker. Did you feel that was them kind of daring you to run?
BB: No, that’s what they had done a lot of. When teams came in with three receiver sets, then he would come into the slot and kind of play like he did sort of inside the slot, kind of cheat it between the slot and the tackle and get in some running plays almost as an extra linebacker but then be in coverage on the passing game. He gave them a little more probably athleticism and quickness than a normal linebacker would. He’s not as big but he’s more athletic, and they did that primarily against three receiver sets in previous games and they did it yesterday a lot. When they went to their dime package and they brought [David] Macklin in, then they had Macklin and Prioleau as the two inside guys with Fletcher. And that’s, again, when [Fred] Smoot was healthy then they would bring [Shawn] Springs inside and do that, so Springs played the majority of the game or maybe all of the game yesterday outside. That’s what they’d done in the past, so I think it’s what they were comfortable with and he did a good job. In that first quarter, he must have made three or four tackles in our running game.

Q: What went into the decision to use Matt Gutierrez on special teams? I know you did it some in the preseason.
BB: Trying to win. Trying to get our best players out there and trying to build depth on the roster, get guys to do things that they can do to help us win. That’s what goes into every decision.

Q: Did he lobby for that?
BB: He’s a rookie.

Q: Rookies don’t lobby for anything?
BB: Rookies do what they’re told. They try to learn what to do and do what they’re told.

Q: Several players said yesterday in the post game locker room that the Colts are the best team in football. Some people might not agree with that, but whatever. Do you think they’re the best team.
BB: They’ve won however many straight, won a championship last year, they haven’t been beaten since then, they’ve won however many straight at home. That’s more than anybody else can say. That would put them number one in my book.

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