Bill Belichick Q&A, 11/29

Posted on November 29, 2007 
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Here’s the complete transcript of Bill Belichick’s Q&A with reporters this morning at Gillette Stadium:

BB: We’re moving along here on Baltimore. [This is our] situation day [when] we start to get into all the situations that — One-play type situations or shorter ones, like red area, third down, short yardage, goal line, all of those types of things. The Ravens defensively, as we know, lead the league in the red area. They’re real good in those third down situations and in short yardage they’re tough, so we have a lot to get ready for. We’re moving along. If we didn’t have to play them it would be fun to watch them play on defense, but we have to play them, so it’s not too much fun.

Q: Are they doing anything differently with Willis McGahee than the Bills did?
BB: Well, they run their offense, so their offense is their offense. Buffalo’s offense is Buffalo’s offense, which is, as you know, kind of the San Diego, a cousin of the San Diego offense. So they do it similar to what they did when Jamal Lewis was there. It’s those plays.

Q: All teams have good safeties and good players. What is it from your perspective that sets Ed Reed apart?
BB: He’s really good at everything. He has great speed and quickness, which is a good combination, [is] very smart, understands and anticipates plays well, reads the quarterback probably better than anybody that I’ve ever seen or that I can remember seeing, great hands, gets the ball [and] runs them back for touchdowns. He’s a hard guy to tackle, he’s a big-play guy but he turns those big plays into even bigger plays. He takes some chances, but they’re calculated and he’s usually right, so he’s a little bit of an unpredictable guy. That makes it hard, too, because you don’t know exactly what he’s seeing or where he’s going to be. But he’s usually in the right place. He does a lot of things well and he has so much range back there that I think he enables their defense to not really need to play a lot of split-safety coverage. They can just put him back there and he can handle the whole deep part of the field, which is rare to find a guy that can handle it as well as he can.

Q: Teams have their offense and their way of doing things. Is he the type of player that can alter your plan, or do you go ahead with it but have to be aware of where he is?
BB: You better know where he is. You better know where he is. Absolutely. When that ball leaves the quarterback’s hands, the quarterback better know where he is. I think to some degree you have to look at what your plays are and decide how you think they’ll affect him or not affect him, based on what defense they’re in. But whatever you play you call and whatever defense they happen to be in, when you let it go, you better know where he is.

Q: Yesterday you talked about Haloti Ngata playing linebacker. Is that a pre-snap thing or does he drop back? How does that work?
BB: No, they line him up off the ball, five, six yards deep. Last week they had him hiding behind the umpire. Haven’t seen that in awhile. But yeah, he lines up off the ball, moves around back there. You don’t see a lot of 350lb guys walking around five, six, seven yards off the line of scrimmage.

Q: Does it work?
BB: Well, you know, they bring him in different spots. You don’t know exactly where he’s going to come from and when he does come he’s got quite a bit of momentum and speed, so no matter who gets in front of him, he’s quite a load coming up in there. He can run some people over. It just forces you to handle your protections. You need to decide who’s going to block him, how you’re going to handle it. Is he a linebacker? Is he a lineman? Are you going to zone it? Are you going to man it? What are you going to do with it? It’s just another rock on the pile. It’s already a big pile anyway, and it’s just another rock on the pile.

Q: I know a couple years ago Rex Ryan said he was going to implement some of his father’s 46 defense. Do they still use that at all?
BB: Very little. Very little. [They] run it in short yardage a little bit, but they haven’t run a lot of it this year. Most of it’s been in short yardage. I mean, they have used it, but on a percentage basis of very low percentage – two percent, one percent. But it does show up in short yardage.

Q: Talking about Ngata a little bit again, are they able to use him on all three downs? Even at that size, can they use him on third down?
BB: He’ll be out there. You’ll be able to see him – you can’t miss him. You can’t miss him. He plays the three-technique in the regular defense. They kind of flip-flop their line. He usually plays the three-technique, [Kelly] Gregg plays on the nose or the one-technique and then on third down he lines up – They have a lot of different third down packages. They probably have, I don’t know, four or five different sub combinations and he’s in on some of them, he’s not in on some of them. Again, it’s, like I said, more rocks on the pile. They don’t always do it, but they sprinkle some of that stuff in there. So he’s not always in on third down, no, but he is in one third down in some of their packages.

Q: With he and Gregg, are they like five years ago when they had Sam Adams and Tony Siragusa in the middle?
BB: Different style players. Gregg is probably one of the best defensive line technique players that we’ve played against in several years. He’s quick, he’s strong, he has a real good motor and he’s a very good technique player. He uses his hands well, he’s got great balance, he plays laterally down the line of scrimmage extremely well. He’s a much bigger version of a guy like Jim Burt that we had at the Giants. He’s extremely hard to block, and if you block him it’s very hard to get to Lewis, who plays behind him. That’s a lot different than the way Goose and Sam played. Ngata is a mountain of a guy, but has good mobility and so he plays on the three-technique. Again, it’s the same thing – if you double him or if you spend too much time blocking him, then you can’t get up to the next level to get to [Ray] Lewis and [Bart] Scott. If you leave too quickly to get up to Lewis and Scott, then you leave him standing on the line of scrimmage and it’s hard to get by him. It’s the same thing with Gregg. So that’s the problem with those kinds of guys. You can get one of them, but it’s hard to get the other one. It’s like in the 70’s when you had Joe Greene and Jack Lambert. You could never leave Greene to get to Lambert. If you did, you’re leaving Greene there, plus they had [Ernie] “Fats” Holmes. But that was such a combination that it didn’t really matter what you did. It’s like Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks down at Tampa. Those two guys played behind each other. You couldn’t leave Sapp to get to Brooks; If you did, Brooks makes 30 tackles. Whichever one you choose is usually a bad choice, so it’s a good setup for them. If you gave half of every one of Ray Lewis’ tackles to Gregg, then that would give you an appreciation for what Gregg’s production is. He probably doesn’t make [as many tackles], but what he does to free up Lewis, or in some cases Scott, but probably more Lewis than Scott, if you gave half of those to him, then you’d get a sense of what – How many tackles does Lewis have? He must have 150 tackles. Whatever it is. So you can give a lot of those, an assist or whatever you want to give, to Gregg.

Q: How bad were those conditions the last time you guys played?
BB: About as bad as they can get. I’d say by the end of the first quarter it was a full-out mud bowl. I can’t think of – I mean, we haven’t had a game worse than that. I don’t even think we’ve had a game that I would compare to that. That was significantly worse than any other game that we’ve had here – and we’ve had some muddy games, but that was in a class by itself.

Q: Does it make it hard to look at the tape and get anything off that?
BB: Well, yeah, but a lot of things have changed since then. It gives you some perspective, but there’s a lot of things that are different. Just as a comparison, I think there was a lot more carry-over between the Eagles game, last week’s Philadelphia game and the Eagles game in ’04 than what there was in the Baltimore game. Didn’t we play them in ’04, too? Having watched them back-to-back, I would say there was more carry-over, if you want to call it that, from that match-up than this one.

Q: When you’re playing a team that presents the defensive challenge that Baltimore does, do you spend more time on your offense during that week in preparation?
BB: You only have so much time, so whatever time you have, you have the same time every week. That’s what the offense works on. The defense works on what the Ravens do, just like they worked on what the Eagles did. Are you talking about me, personally?

Q: As a coaching staff.
BB: No, I think, believe me, as a coaching staff the offense works on whoever they play against defensively the whole week, and so does the defensive staff. And so does the special teams. That’s what you do – you prepare all week for it. And really, that’s a full-time job. It really is. Again, when you get into a lot of situational football, especially at this point in the year, we have 11 games, not counting last year’s games or previous games where we might have played a team, things like that. You have 11 games just from this year. Like with the Ravens, there’s games that [Kyle] Boller played. He hasn’t played all that many this year, so you might want to go back and look at him from last year, or even preseason when he did play. [Todd] Heap’s another guy that has been in and out, so if you want to see Heap, if all you watch is the last four games, all you’re going to see him in is that first quarter against Cincinnati. The last five games, whatever it was. So if you want to see Heap, you have to go somewhere else to look at him. When you start adding all of that up, you don’t feel like, well, I’m just sitting here, I have a lot of extra time. You just don’t feel that way. The same thing with [Jonathan] Ogden. There’s another guy who really hasn’t played much this year, so you could watch him in the last couple of games. If you really want to see him, you go back to last year.

Q: Do the MIAA EMass Super Bowls at Gillette Stadium tomorrow interrupt you at all?
BB: We haven’t ever had that before, but as we look at it going forward, not really, no. We think it should be all right. We’ll stay on our own schedule. But we’ve never really been through that, so maybe that’s a good question for next week. We’ll see how it goes.

Q: Tom Brady joked yesterday that you want to adopt Ed Reed and maybe even kidnap him sneak him onto the plane with you on the way home Monday night. Should Ed be running?
BB: I think Tom’s stretching it a little bit there. We can’t do that. We can’t do that. I have tremendous respect for Ed as a football player, and as a person. He was a guy that I had an experience to coach for a week last year and it was a great experience. He’s everything that I had heard he was at Miami, in terms of the way he sees the game, his intelligence, his instinctiveness, just all of those kinds of things. He’s a great guy to coach. You tell him something out on the field, he understands it, he can give you feedback on it. He plays football at a high level intellectually and also athletically. We have some pretty good players here. We have some good safeties and all of that. I’m not taking anything away from Rodney [Harrison] or James [Sanders] or any of our players. I’m not saying that. I’m just saying I had an opportunity to spend some time with him and we competed against him in the past. I think he’s pretty good. I mean, real good. Not pretty good – real good. Like I said, I think he’s a special player because he allows their team to do some things that I’d say most teams in this league just aren’t able to do in the passing game.

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