Bill Belichick Q&A, 10/31

Posted on October 31, 2007 
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Here’s the complete transcript of Bill Belichick’s Q&A with the media today at Gillette:

BB: Good morning, everybody. We have a nice turnout today. [We’ve] been watching a lot of the Colts the last couple of days, of course, and they do so many things well, but I would say the most impressive thing that I’ve seen is defensively they just don’t give up any big plays, really. They don’t give many long runs. They don’t give many long passes. They don’t have many defensive penalties, and the same thing is true on the offensive side of the ball. They don’t have any sacks. They don’t have turnovers. They don’t fumble. They don’t have very many penalties and they don’t have very many negative runs. They’re right at the top of the league in all of those categories. They make you earn everything and it’s hard to get. I think all of the exemplary statistics that they have speak for themselves, starting with wins, all of their rankings and all of their production and everything. It’s very, very impressive what they’ve done. They really take care of the ball well. They don’t have any bad plays, really, on offense and they don’t have any on defense. For the amount of football they’ve played and the level they’ve played it at, that’s pretty impressive. It’s a big week for us – a lot to get ready for, a lot of work to do. We’ll get started on it today, but we’ll certainly need all of the preparation time we can get for the Colts. They just do an outstanding job all the way around, every phase of the game, every aspect of it. They’re tough. They’re playing extremely well right now. It will be a big challenge for us to go out there and try to be competitive.

Q: Are they doing anything different with Dallas Clark this year?
BB: I wouldn’t say so. I do not think they… They don’t do anything different, fundamentally. I think they do what gets them the most production. They can run the ball, they can play-action and throw deep, they can throw short, they throw to the tight ends, they throw to the receivers, they throw to the backs, they run inside, they run outside. Wherever you are, they’re probably going somewhere else. Wherever you aren’t, that’s where they’re going to be. Everybody that plays them, of course, is concerned about [Reggie] Wayne and [Marvin] Harrison. They create space inside. Once you start coming inside for the running game and Clark and [Ben] Utecht and those guys or try to pressure Peyton [Manning], then you’ve got problems outside. So, you’ve pretty much got problems everywhere and it’s just a question of where they think you’re most vulnerable, and that’s usually where they hit – and they hit hard.

Q: Have you noticed a constant – Are defenses going sub against them or staying with their base?
BB: They’ve seen the whole spectrum. It depends on what they’re in. They use some different personnel groups. They use a lot of two tight ends and one back, but they do use some three-receivers with [Anthony] Gonzales. They’ve been banged up a little bit at receiver. Harrison has missed a little bit, so that might have limited a little bit of their three-receiver offense. It’s clear they can play pretty much in any grouping. They’ve made plays in short yardage when they’re in their two tight ends and two back groupings. They move the ball and make plays in everything. It doesn’t matter – run, pass, play-action, inside, outside, short, deep, catch-and-run, over the top. We could put a highlight tape up here and find plays in all of those areas. They’re good at everything.

Q: Their defense is very good overall, obviously, but how important in Bob Sanders to their defense?
BB: Oh, he’s important but, again, they play good team defense. They’re very fast, they’re athletic up front. They get a lot of penetration in the running game. They can run, rush the passer. They’re fast. We talked about Washington being fast, but I think they’re faster up front, with [Robert] Mathis and [Raheem] Brock and, of course, [Dwight] Freeney. They get on the edges a lot in the pass rush and in the running game. Other times the linemen can’t really get in front of them, get them covered up and they penetrate up the field and then usually something bad happens after that – the quarterback gets pressured, [the] runner has to cut back into the pursuit. They do a good job. Sanders is outstanding – great range, terrific tackler, a hard-hitting guy who causes a lot of fumbles and turnovers. He gets in on a lot of plays, if the other guys don’t get there first, which a lot of times they do. They’re good. They’re good all the way around. [They have] a lot of team speed. Sanders has quite a bit of it.

Q: How do they approach three-receiver sets defensively? Is Tim Jennings the guy who comes in?
BB: When they go to their sub-defense, then Jennings would come in and Marlin Jackson would go in to play the nickel corner.

Q: But Jennings goes outside? And Jackson goes in to the slot?
BB: That’s generally the way they do it, yes.

Q: How have the personnel changes on both teams altered the way you go against them?
BB: I guess we’ll be talking about that on Sunday. They don’t have a lot of changes. Offensively, the two main people that are new are [Tony] Ugoh and Gonzalez. Defensively, they’ve got a couple of changes at linebacker [and] the corners, but fundamentally they play the same. When you watch last year’s tapes and cut-ups with this year’s plays, it’s hard to tell, “this is this year, this is last year.” If you look and say, “OK, there’s Tarik Glenn, OK, there’s Ugoh.” But you watch the plays, you watch the execution. You don’t see [Cato] June in there. You see [Tyjuan] Hagler in there. It’s hard to tell. It really is. It’s hard to tell. The corners, [Kelvin] Haden, Jackson – Jackson played last year, but not as much. He played more in the slot. It’s hard to tell. It really is hard to tell.

Q: Phil Simms said yesterday that some of your coaching style is based on fear, that players need to understand that the job could always be at stake. Do you agree with that assessment of yourself?
BB: I think whatever Phil says, you can ask him about that. We’re just trying to win games, that’s all. [I’m] just trying to coach the team and hope I can help the team play better [and] hope we can win some games. That’s all I’m trying to do. Let all of the other experts talk about style points – I don’t know.

Q: How impressed are you with what your team has done up to this point?
BB: I’m not too worried about what happened in the past. I’m looking forward to the Indianapolis game. That’s what we’re focused on. All of our attention is on Indianapolis, not what happened in the past or some other game a week down the road.

Q: You have an appreciation for history of the league. This is the latest two undefeated teams have played in the history of the NFL. Do you take any —
BB: I’m glad we’re one of them. I’ll say that – I’m glad we’re one of them. But, again, I don’t think last week or two weeks ago has a lot to do with this game. It will come down to the preparation that the two teams have and how the two teams perform on Sunday. We’ve had some great games with Indianapolis through the years. They’re an outstanding organization from top to bottom, a great football team. They’ve certainly gotten the better of us the last few times, so I hope we can be more competitive with them than we’ve been in the past.

Q: How did the way the AFC Championship game played out last year influence your off-season, in terms of player acquisition?
BB: [We] do the same thing every year – just try to look at our options and improve the team. We’ve done the same thing since 2000.

Q: Their run defense last year obviously had a lot of problems stopping the run.
BB: Not in the playoffs, they didn’t.

Q: Right. What has been the change?
BB: They’ve played good. It’s team defense. It’s not one guy. One guy can’t stop the running game. One guy can’t stop anything. You need 11 guys out there, and they play good team defense. They cause a lot of negative plays. They don’t give up very many big plays. They get you in long yardage. They don’t commit a lot of penalties. They hustle. They tackle well. They do a good job, and they’ve been doing a good job.

Q: Is your personal preparation for this game any more intense or consuming for you than any other week’s game, or are all games consuming?
BB: I tried to prepare hard for last week’s game and the week before that. You always try to do the best you can. There’s always room for improvement. I’m not saying that. I make a lot of mistakes every week and you try to correct those the following week and get it better. There’s things I would look back on in previous weeks and do differently and try to improve those, but we’ll just try to put everything we have into this game and hope that I can do something to help our team play better than we played out there last time. That wasn’t good enough.

Q: Obviously Dallas Clark is a tight end by trade, but he lines up in slot a lot. Do you treat him as a receiver?
BB: Yeah, they move him around. It’s hard to – You don’t know exactly where he’s going to be. A lot of times he is flexed out, there’s no doubt about that. He’s kind of like a slot receiver, but he does line up in tight and sometimes he lines up in the back side of a formation, a three-by-one formation or they put Harrison and Wayne on one side and split him out on the back side. So they give you some different looks on that. He’s a very versatile player. He’s smart, he’s fast, he catches the ball very well, [he] runs good routes. He’s a good receiver out as a split-guy. He’s good coming off the line of scrimmage in the normal tight end position. He’s an effective blocker for them in the running game and they do a great job of creating mismatches and taking advantage of them. Most of the time when they throw it to him, he’s open. Part of that is the recognition by Peyton, part of it is him doing a good job running routes and beating the coverage or a combination of both. He’s a tough guy to match up on, like a lot of the tight ends that we’ve seen this year. He’s faster than most linebackers he plays, he’s bigger than most defensive backs he plays, plus he’s a good receiver. No matter who you have on him, they have trouble covering him. He’s a hard guy to match up on – and he can block in the running game. It’s a tough match-up.

Q: Usually when you go to a dome you don’t have to worry about the elements. Last year in the title game it was very hot in there and players complained about cramping up.
BB: I don’t think it will be any hotter than it was in Miami two weeks ago. But, whatever the conditions are, we have to play in them just like they do. I don’t think it favors either team. You just have to deal with it. It can’t be any warmer than it was in Miami.

Q: Did that surprise you last year and do you have to factor that into your preparation?
BB: No, I think that’s the way it is in most domes. You get a full crowd in there and it’s a lot of body heat.

Q: Are these Colts better than a year ago?
BB: They’ve won 13 in a row. They’re pretty good.

Q: Do you think these two teams are pretty even?
BB: [We’ll] find out on Sunday.

Q: Any thoughts on Ugoh, their rookie left tackle? I know he’s been in and out…
BB: He missed last week and half of what would be the previous game, but [he’s a] real athletic guy. [He has] quick feet, long arms, big frame, kind of similar to [Jason] Ferguson. Real athletic. I think he’s got plenty of talent out there. I mean, Tarik Glenn was one of the best tackles in the league, no doubt about it. He was a big, much bulkier guy. Ugoh is kind of a leaner frame, but very athletic. Long arms. He’s a good player.

Q: Do you have any time to trick or treat tonight?
BB: That’d be a game-time decision.

Q: Can you comment on the two quarterbacks, maybe some of the best to ever play the game?
BB: Yeah, they’re pretty good. I think they’re both at the top of their game – great players, great leaders, smart guys. They make a lot of plays. [They] know how to manage the game. [They’ve] won a lot of games.

Q: What makes this rivalry special?
BB: It hasn’t been that special the last three times we’ve played them.

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