Bill Belichick Q&A, 11/2

Posted on November 2, 2007 
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Thanks to the kind folks in the Patriots’ PR office, here’s the complete transcript of today’s Q&A between Bill Belichick and the media:

BB: How are we doing? Do you have it all figured out?

Q: Do you?
BB: I don’t know. This is a big day for us today – a lot of situational stuff. We’re two-thirds of the way there, Wednesday and Thursday. Now we have today. We’re wrapping up the [preparation], but we’re getting there. You’re probably further ahead than we are.

Q: You made the point yesterday with Stephen Gostkowski, pressure kicks and not having been in those situations. You mentioned game situations today – how much has that been turned up by the coaching staff to keep the team sharp?
BB: Well, we work on it every week. We don’t work on the same things every week because there’s just not enough time. You can’t go through every situation, but over a three- or four-week period, you’d like to try to hit them all. There’s some we do every week and then there’s others you try to just take some this week, then take some next week and then take some the following week –situational plays, stuff like that. But it’s an emphasis point every week, whether you’ve been in those games or not. We go over the film, we talk about it, we walk through it, we run a few plays in practice to cover… We haven’t had a lot of game plays that we can put up on the screen and say, “Here’s what we called. Here’s what we did. Here’s what happened.” WE just haven’t had very many of them. Like I said, the hands team was one last week, but there haven’t been a lot of those, so it’s a good thing.

Q: With the changes in the cornerbacks, I know it’s still predominantly Tampa 2 and the coverage hasn’t really changed much, but have [Marlin] Jackson and [Kelvin] Hayden played differently than guys that you played? Is it more physical or a different style?
BB: Well, Jackson is a lot bigger than David [Macklin] was on our left, their right. But Jackson played the slot for them last year. He played the nickel back for them last year and [Nick] Harper and Hayden – Harper is a pretty experienced guy. Hayden is a younger kid, but they’re both about – not exactly the same size, but they’re in the same ballpark. I think David and Jackson are — David is a smaller, quicker, faster guy. Jackson is a little bigger, a little more physical, but in sub, then he goes in the slot and then Jennings comes in. Jennings is a stocky guy, but he’s on the shorter side. They play their system. They’re a good zone team and they play quite a bit of zone, but they mix some man in there and they certainly gave us a dose of it last year, situationally.

Q: Bob Sanders is listed at 5’8”, but it he’s more than 5’7” I’d be surprised. Do you recall many guys of that stature being able to influence defenses the way we has?
BB: At the Jets, Vick Green was like that. We had him here for a year, but Vick was a —

Q: 5’9”. He was up to 5’9”.
BB: Vick’s that kind of player. He was [a] short, compact guy, [an] explosive kind of hitter. I’m not saying maybe quite the level of Sanders, but similar. I think there’s a few of those guys in the league. I mean, a guy like [Troy] Polamalu, who is a little bit bigger – he’s maybe like 5’10”, but he has a little bit of that same fast, explosive, a little bit short, but you wouldn’t call him small. Just short.

Q: I imagine you try to freeze that guy from going downfield using draws or screens to make him think twice about going down the field, but he comes up so fast in run-support.
BB: It depends on what their responsibility is, but when they come up fast and their responsibility is in the short area of the field, then…But that’s what they do. You disguise it, you keep your safeties high and then right on the snap or prior to the snap you drop them down then. Well, they come flying down because a) that’s their responsibility and, b) if you run a pass on them you have three guys behind them — the other safety and the two corners. Now, when a guy is a deep-field player and he comes running down like that, then that’s a problem. That’s kind of, I’m sure, what Washington was looking for last week when they ran the half-back pass. It was Randle El throwing it, but [it’s the] same kind of idea, to try to get the guys who had deep-field responsibility to come attack the line of scrimmage and then throw it behind them. When you get those underneath players to step up, then you’re really looking to hit more the intermediate passes and play-action, for the most part.

Q: So when you have a run-support safety, it’s vital when you have a guy like [Antoine] Bethea who doesn’t suck up on anything that you have Sanders up to the line?
BB: Yeah, I would say you very rarely see that. You don’t see Bethea caught out of position. They don’t have up very many big plays. There’s hardly any big plays against them in the passing game. Hardly any, and that includes pass interference plays that move the ball down the field that don’t show up in the stats, which a lot of people don’t take into consideration but I think you do as a coach. Maybe you don’t hit them all, but if you get pass interference calls, it’s kind of the same thing, so you want to keep throwing them. But it’s hard against the Colts because they haven’t given up, really I can’t think of one. They do a good job on that. The guys that are back stay back. The guys that are run-force guys, they force the run and they tackle. They haven’t given up very many big plays defensively, period, run or pass. Or penalties.

Q: When you look at Indianapolis’ offense, are there any similarities to the K-gun that Buffalo had when you were with the Giants?
BB: Well, the Buffalo offense was a two-minute offense. They went fast, and so a lot of times the ball was snapped with like twenty seconds left on the 40-second clock, or 45, however many it was back then. It was a much faster pace. It was like a two-minute drill, so getting the call in, getting the communication, getting lined up, getting ready to go, that was an issue. But the tempo was a lot different. There’s wasn’t much – [Jim] Kelly didn’t audible. They just ran and called the play and tried to play it like a two-minute drill. This is a different – it’s no-huddle, but it’s not that kind of no-huddle pace. There’s a lot more variation. To me, the K-gun was a two-minute drill. That’s what it’s like and that’s what most teams in the league, to some degree, run. The difference was, of course, that they ran the ball more because it wasn’t the two-minute situation, but they ran it like a two-minute type of tempo.

Q: Marv Levy said when, “When we went to the line, we had a companion run with every pass call and a companion pass with every run call.” I wondered if it was the same thing with Peyton.
BB: I don’t really see it the same. I guess Marv knew the offense, but I don’t know. [Ted] Marchibroda was calling it. I don’t know. I didn’t really see it as a big check-with-me offense. When we played them in the Super Bowl, all we had was a bunch of defensive backs and linebackers out there. I think if they would have been checking it, they would have checked to some runs, but they pretty much called it and ran it. I’m sure Marv knows more about it than I do. I can just tell you what it was like defending it.

Q: Do you look at the tape of that AFC Championship game from last year?
BB: We played them twice last year and once the year before. We have plenty of film on them against us.

Q: Is the second half of that game difficult to watch at all?
BB: Really, when you watch… I think when you’re preparing for a team, a lot of the film that you watch is situational. I mean, not that you don’t watch sequential film, play-by-play – you do, but a lot of it is situational. Here’s all of their first-down plays, here’s all of their three-by-one plays, here’s all of their inside runs, outside runs. You know, you’re just trying to understand how they execute each play more. But yeah, we’ve seen it. Of course.

Q: Despite the outcome, will you ever be able to just watch that game and appreciate the back-and-forth nature of it?
BB: Yeah, no. I don’t appreciate anything about that game.

Q: Do you feel that way about every game you guys happen to come in second place on, or does that game have a particular edge to it?
BB: Well, there’s only been one of those, but yeah, I’d say I feel that way about all of the games that we’ve lost. I can’t see anything really exciting about them.

Q: Celtics tonight!
BB: They’ve got an exciting team. I talked to Doc [Rivers] – he’s excited about it and he should be. I’m sure there will be a lot of excitement at the Garden.

Q: Do you make it a point to talk to all of the other pro coaches in the area?
BB: We run into each other from time to time. We have a few things in common, so yeah. It’s not a scheduled thing in my date book or anything, but you bump into them. Their season starts, our season starts. If something happens, yeah, you talk to them. I mean, I like him.

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