Bill Belichick Q&A, 11/28

Posted on November 28, 2007 
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Here’s the complete transcript of Bill Belichick’s Q-and-A with the media this morning at Gillette:

BB: First of all I’d like to on behalf of our team extend our condolences, thoughts and prayers to Sean Taylor’s family and his extended families with the Redskins and the University of Miami. Of course, we have a number of players from Miami on our team and some connections there. It’s a terrible tragedy. [There’s] no way to really explain it, obviously, it’s just our sympathies go out to them. On our end of it, we unfortunately had to put Rosie [Colvin] on injured reserve yesterday. He’s worked awfully hard this year, as he always does and I feel badly for him, as I do for the other players that are on IR – Sammy [Morris], Chad Scott, Dave Thomas and all of those guys. It’s unfortunate. [We] re-signed Chad Brown who, of course, has been with us and gives us some depth and experience at the position, as well as activated Troy [Brown] from the PUP roster. So we’ll as usual go into the game with the players that we feel like from the 53-man roster that give us the best chance to compete against the Ravens and we’ll make that decision at the end of the week. I don’t want to lead anybody in any direction other than that one and so that’s where we’re at, as far as the Ravens go. This is in a lot of ways similar to the Eagles that we talked about last week – veteran team, veteran coaches, a team that’s won, that’s played very well at home, that’s played in a lot of big games and won them, especially at this time of year, very good defensively, outstanding return game, good kicker, big play-makers on offense, especially at the skill positions, a lot of outstanding players, a lot of outstanding talent and a team that we have a lot of respect for. I know going down there playing Monday night it’s going to be a very energetic environment for us to go in to, so we’ll have to really be sharp on everything that we do, especially as it relates to snap counts and communication and things like that. We have a lot in front of us. [It’s] a team we haven’t played in a while. [There are] a lot of good players we have to get ready for, a lot of difficult schemes that they run. It’s probably good that we have the extra day. I’m sure we’ll be able to use it.

Q: You guys rarely see the sun. This is your third night game in a row.
BB: We’re so excited about that.

Q: Does it take some special preparation to play at night?
BB: I don’t think it’s [so] much the preparation for the night game. I think where it gets you is at the other end, is coming off the night game and you sort of lose more of Monday than you normally would on a 1:00 or 4:00 game. Then it kind of pushes you back into Tuesday, but at this point in the year I think everybody deals with short weeks and long weeks and all that. We’ve been through a lot of football and a lot of games and a lot of meetings and a lot of preparation, so you just make those adjustments and go on.

Q: Is it in any way better to have them back-to-back so that they are the same week, rather than having a long week and then a short week?
BB: I’m personally not that excited about it, but whatever. There’s things we don’t have any control over. I just don’t think there’s any sense in worrying about it. You just make whatever adjustments you make and move on. Everybody’s got to deal with something.

Q: Having five linebackers playing four spots has worked pretty well for you so far. Is there any concern of especially Junior Seau and Tedy Bruschi having to play more snaps than they had previously?
BB: Yeah, well, sure. We certainly didn’t want to lose Rosie, but that’s where we’re at so we’ll just move on with what we have. We’ve added Chad. Like I said, Chad gives us a level of depth and experience that [we’re] probably fortunate to be able to have at this time of year. He knows our system, he’s been here, he’s played here. [He] played in one regular season game, played in some preseason games, was with us for a lot of practices, so I think everybody has a lot of confidence in Chad, as we should, and our other players. Whatever we feel like is the best thing to do, we’ll use those combinations of people and – Yeah, it’s certainly not the optimum situation, but that’s what we have.

Q: Chad played a lot of inside here but was an outside guy primarily in his career before he got here. Do you see him better at one spot or is he a guy that has flexibility?
BB: Yeah, well he’s done both. He’s a pretty versatile guy. He’s played inside, he’s played outside, he’s played defensive end for us in passing situations in the sub, he’s played off-line, he’s played on the line. I think he definitely has versatility. Like I said, it’s a big advantage for us to have a player like that at this point in the year, who has that kind of flexibility, knows our system, who’s played in it. He’ll just have to work hard – I know he will – to get back up to speed with the different things that we’re doing since he was here last in the first Buffalo game and get caught up on some of that stuff, but it’s a lot further along than we would be with a player who was totally new to our system. Plus, he has a lot of experience in the league and he’s played here.

Q: Your kick coverage has been pretty strong all year, with Kelley Washington and guys mixing in with guys like Larry Izzo, the old core guys. Can you talk about the way that group has performed?
BB: I think our kickoff coverage is certainly improved over a year ago. That’s a combination of the kicking and the coverage. We’re up against another real good returner this week in [Yamon] Figurs – well, Ed [Reed]’s been back there some, too, but I assume it would be mostly Figurs doing the punt and kickoff returns – but another fast, quick, elusive guy with good running skills and good vision. Those guys work hard on that. Larry, of course, is our special teams captain and he gives us great leadership in the entire special teams unit. Those guys spend a lot of time watching film, meeting, talking together. Like I said, the coordination of those coverage units is so important – the proper lanes and leverage, and any time you’re doing something a little bit different whether it’s twisting players or changing coverage lanes or picking to try to get somebody else free to try to get a better release off the line of scrimmage on punts – all of those little things, there’s really a lot of teamwork and communication involved. It may not seem like that to the average fan, but there’s a game within a game going on there and they’ve done a good job with it. Overall, our force players have done a good job. One thing you don’t want to have happen on those returns is let the guy get the ball and run down the sideline. Then it’s just a lot of easy yardage. No one really has a shot of them if they get outside. There’s nobody left. At least if you can force them back inside, you have other people who have a chance to make the play. It was a big play last week on the last punt when [Brian] Westbrook was back there, which didn’t surprise me, that he was in there in that critical situation. Pierre [Woods] kind of had him, but I don’t think he was really down. I don’t think they called him down, and Kyle Eckel was kind of heads-up and came in there and made the tackle so he didn’t spin out of that one. [We’ve] been getting good hang time on the punts, and Steve [Gostkowski]’s done, on the balls that haven’t gone out of bounds, done basically a pretty good job of kicking off and our coverage units have been pretty solid, other than the long kickoff return against Dallas.

Q: Obviously you have great depth at wide receiver. What kind of a role do you envision Troy Brown in now that he’s back?
BB: We’ll determine that on a week-to-week basis, same as we always do. Troy is a versatile guy for us. He’s done a lot of different things around here. He’s played on offense, defense, special teams and obviously [is a] very experienced player, a guy that has done a lot of different things, and I think has the opportunity to fill different spots for us. We’ll see how that works out on a game-to-game basis and that’s the way it’s been here for a while. That’s the way it will be this week, that’s the way it will be next week.

Q: Is it possible he would see time in all of those areas, or would you rule out –
BB: No, I wouldn’t rule anything out. Anything is possible. We’ll do whatever we need to do. I’m not going to sit here and say we’re not going to do something we think will help us win. Whatever it is, we’ll do it. That’s what we’re here for.

Q: So it’s possible he could play defense as well?
BB: It’s possible he could do anything that we need him to do to help us win.

Q: Chris Hanson hasn’t had to punt much. How would you assess his performance? Is it tougher for a guy to get in a rhythm when he’s only punting twice a week? I know you don’t want him to be punting a lot.
BB: No, that’s right. We don’t want him to punt nine times. We’re trying to avoid that. You know, we’ve talked about it many times. Punting is a lot like golf. It’s not like standing on the driving range and hitting all drivers out there as far as you can hit them. I’d say probably well over 50 percent of a punter’s punts are situational punts, either based on what the return team is doing or based on field position or the game-situation that dictates do you want the punt directional, do you want it with hang time, they’re rushing, you have to kick it a certain way, you’re trying to kick away from – You have a key that they’re going to run right-return, you’re going to punt the ball to the left – Whatever it happens to be. A lot of it is situational punting, like using all of the clubs in your bag that a golfer would do. I think that Chris is a very good athlete. He handles the ball well, he’s got good hands and he does a good job of getting the ball off and placing it and doing the things that we ask him to do from a situational standpoint. He’s given us some real good kicks in clutch situations where we needed the ball down the field and changed field position a little bit. Like last week against Philadelphia, kicking out of the end zone, we had the false start penalty and we were backed up on the, whatever it was, four, five-yard line or whatever, and he gave us a great field position punt and Kelley gave us a big tackle on that for little or no return, whatever it was. That was a big play. Sometimes that’s what the situation calls for. Sometimes it’s getting the ball down inside the five, 10-yard line and Chris does a good job of that. Sometimes it’s, like I said, directionally kicking or utilizing some type of wind or return key or whatever it is to get the ball. I think he’s been effective for us. Is there room for improvement? Of course. But I think he’s been effective for us.

Q: A couple of years ago before you played the Ravens, I remember you saying that you felt Ed Reed was probably playing better defensively and was the defensive MVP at that point in the season. How is he playing now? Is there slippage?
BB: No. No, Ed Reed is an awesome football player. To me, he’s one of the best football players in the league. I think he’s the type of guy that allows the Ravens to do some things defensively that you wouldn’t ordinarily be able to do. I would say that in a lot of cases – in most cases – just common sense would tell you that you could protect the deep part of the field better with two deep safeties than with one deep safety. I’m not sure that’s really the case. I think that probably Ed Reed by himself back there can control the deep part of the field better than any two guys can, because the other guy isn’t as good as Ed Reed, no matter who it is. So whichever side he’s on, whoever the other guy is doesn’t have the same kind of skill that Ed Reed has. To me, when he’s in the deep part of the field, it’s hard to throw in the deep part of the field with him being back there, and then that allows them to do whatever they want with the other 10 guys, which they have a lot of creative schemes and he’s a tremendous play-maker. Not only does he come up with a lot of balls, but as we’ve seen, when he has it in his hands he’s a threat to score, whether he runs it back or laterals it or does something creative to not only turn the ball over but have it find it’s way into the end zone on your end. He’s a tremendous football player. I really enjoyed working with him for a week in February and I got to spend a little more time with him on a person level and really talk to him a little bit about football and some of the things that we were doing. I mean, it was an all-star game, but still, he’s really, really good, as good as anybody I’ve ever seen.

Q: You had him and Champ Bailey together on that. How good was that secondary?
BB: Pretty good. Yeah, pretty good. Those two guys were real good – at different positions, so it’s an appreciation, but we had [Chris] McAlister out there, we had [Bart] Scott. I mean, they have a lot of good defensive players. Really, everybody’s good – their outside linebackers are, [Terrell] Suggs, we had him, he’s a tremendous pass-rusher, [Jarret] Johnson has done a great job for them, Scott and Ray Lewis inside. Their down-guys are good, [Dwan] Edwards has played well for them. [Haloti] Ngata blocks out the sun. He’s an enormous guy that plays linebacker a good part of the time, which is…You don’t often see 350 lb. guys playing linebacker, but he’s back there [and] plays it quite a bit. [Kelly] Gregg is one of the best defensive technique linemen in the league. He’s outstanding on the nose. They have great corners in [Samari] Rolle and McAlister. [Dawan] Landry has done a terrific job for them at safety, playing with Reed. I think that’s an excellent safety tandem. For a rookie, he came in and played great last year and he’s having a terrific year this year. Big kid, big hitter, but he’s got good coverage skills. I couldn’t say enough complimentary things about Ed Reed as a football player – his intelligence, his skill, his play-making ability, his ability to do things back there that…I mean, I’ve seen some good free safeties and they may have some elements of his game, but I think he pretty much has it all.

Q: A little off the subject – This weekend is the Army-Navy game. What makes that game so special for the people involved?
BB: It’s kind of a season within a season for those teams. I think no matter what the record is, that game means more than all the other ones put together, if that makes any sense, so in some respects it’s probably better to go 1-11 and win that game than to go 11-1 and lose that game. I’ve kind of seen that from both sides of it. One of the things they do, they have such esprit de corps with the brigade and the corps of cadets and the brigade of midshipmen, is a lot of times the team that wins that game, the superintendent gives all the other members of the brigade special privileges, like an extra night out or they knock off the demerits or whatever it is as kind of moral-booster thing. So a lot of times that game means a lot more than just what meets the eye. I know there’s a couple kids, Max Lane and Kyle Eckel and [Roger] Staubach, but those kids aren’t playing football to be professional football players. They’re playing football because they’ve chosen a career in the military and that’s what’s really important to them, so to compete against their rival military academy, it’s a tremendous tradition that goes back forever, even back into the great Army-Navy teams in the 40’s and 50’s and 60’s where they were ranked in the top 10 on a pretty regular basis and [had] Heisman trophy winners and all of that, as well as guys going on to be great leaders of this country. The tradition in that game just flows. It just drips with tradition. But really, there’s a lot at stake within the brigade, within the institution, that is a little bit special relative to just another college football game. You know, you walk around there in March or April or May or whatever and there’s signs all over of “261 days until we beat Army” or “173 days until we beat Army.” I mean, literally, a lot of times the calendar in that Navy football office is just reflected on how many days to the Army-Navy game. When my dad was there, there were a lot of years when he would scout the opponent that Navy was going to play next. So if they were going to play Pitt, he would go to Pitt. If they were going to play BC, he’d go to BC. But then there were other years when the only team he scouted was Army. He would watch them play all 11 games. So if that gives you any sense of what that game meant, that you just put one guy on it the whole year, that was not uncommon. And Army would do the same thing.

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