Bill Belichick Q&A, 12/12

Posted on December 12, 2007 
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Here’s the complete transcript of Bill Belichick’s Q&A with the New England media this morning at Gillette Stadium:

BB: Sorry I’m running a few minutes late here this morning. I just got off the conference call [with] New York and you know how those things can run a little long. We’re into the Jets and this is a team that’s been in a lot of tight games. Obviously they played very well a couple of weeks ago against Pittsburgh when they beat them. There’s a lot of new faces. Of course, the quarterback is the most obvious one, but defensively they’re playing a lot of people across the board, both in the secondary and in the front seven. [There are] a lot of new players, a lot of rotations, guys playing different positions. Like sometimes [Dewayne] Robertson’s at end, sometimes he’s at nose. Sometimes [Shaun] Ellis is at outside linebacker, sometimes he’s at end. Sometimes [Kenyon] Coleman’s on the left, the right and so on and so forth. There’s a number of different personnel things that they do. As we know, the Jets are a very explosive team. They can get you on one play in any phase of the game, whether it’s a kickoff return by [Leon] Washington, or a blocked kick or a big play pass to [Jerricho] Cotchery or [Laveranues] Coles or a long run by [Thomas] Jones or a strip-sack or an interception by [Kerry] Rhodes or one of their pressure defenses where they get a guy coming free and knock the quarterback down, knock the ball lose and all of that. They’re explosive, they can turn games around in a hurry, score quickly and they give you a lot to get ready for, so we’re going to need all of the time that we can get to try to recalibrate here. I think this is quite a bit different from what we saw in September. Certainly there’s some similarities, I’m not saying that, but there’s a lot of things that are new. It’s been three months and they’re doing some things differently that we’ll have to prepare for this week and that will be a big challenge for us. That’s where we’re at today on the Jets.

Q: Weather-wise, things can always change, but right now there’s a possibility of snow in the forecast. When you’re putting together your plan, how much do you put stock into that and how much flexability do you have within the plan?
BB: I think you certainly have to be aware of it. When you’re playing in the Northeast and at this time of year, you have to be ready for the different elements. I think my experience has been you have to be careful about going overboard one way or the other this far in advance, on Tuesday when you do the game plan or Wednesday when you put it in, because a lot can change between now and Sunday. The forecast is a foot of snow and it turns out to be 60 degrees and vice versa. I think you set it up the way you would want to play the team in kind of a normal situation, and then as the game gets closer, then you be ready to adjust to the conditions as they get a little more predictable and as it comes to precipitation or heavy winds or things like that, we usually don’t talk to the team about that until either the day of the game or, in this case it’s a 1:00 game, so maybe the night before. But I’ve made that mistake before, the night before telling the team, “We’re going to be playing in a foot of snow.” You wake up the next morning and it’s 50 degrees and sunny and they look at you like, “What a moron you are. Why did we go through that?” But in the end, no matter what the conditions are, our opponent is the Jets, and that’s the team we have to stop. We have to block them, we have to tackle them, we have to defend them, we have to cover kicks against them and that’s really, no matter what the situation is, weather-wise on Sunday, we have to do a good job against the New York Jets. They’re our opponent this week and that’s where our real focus is. I’m not saying the weather couldn’t be a factor, but I think we have to focus on the Jets and then, as I said, maybe as it gets closer to game time, if there’s something that might affect us then we’ll work with that.

Q: I assume the New York guys were asking you about your relationship —
BB: Oh, they had a lot of questions. I’m sure we can get you the transcript. Take a good look at it.

Q: Is this a personal thing with you, this game, or not? Can you void yourself from that aspect of it?
BB: It’s the next game. It’s a division game. This is a team that we know well, [that] we played three times last year [and] twice a year. It’s a division game. They know us well, we know them well and we’re just going to try to do what we always do, which is win – try to have a good week of preparation and go out there and play well on Sunday. That’s our job. That’s what we get paid to do and that’s what we want to do. Everything that’s in the past is in the past. Everything that’s in the future doesn’t really matter. Right now it’s a one game season [and] we’re focused on the New York Jets. That’s all I’m focused on. And I’m happy to talk about that, and that’s really about the extent of it.

Q: There’s going to be so much attention paid to that post-game handshake. When you’re in that kind of scenario —
BB: The handshakes and the high-fives and all that – Right now my attention is on the New York Jets, and that’s really all I’m thinking about, is how I can prepare our team to the best of my ability to prepare for the game and play it on Sunday.

Q: My question was, does it make you uneasy? You seem to be a guy who’s comfortable when the action is on the field and you don’t care for that kind of spotlight.
BB: Well, right now my focus is on getting ready for the New York Jets. High-fives, I really haven’t thought too much about that — Cartwheels.

Q: You mentioned the quarterback change. What does Kellen Clemens do differently than Chad Pennington that you have to prepare for?
BB: I think they’re both really good. Clemens had a real good preseason so we saw him in preseason getting ready for the opener. But he’s an athletic kid. I think he has a strong arm, can make all of the throws, he’s scrambled out and done a good job of making some plays out of the pocket. He’s also, on reverses and stuff like that, he’s aggressive. He’ll go out there and block. He’s a tough kid and I think he’s got a good arm. He can get the ball down the field. He’s got a good touch on it and he’s strong in the pocket. You have to wrap him up. They move him around some on – They’re not a big bootleg team, but they run some plays where the quarterback moves in the pocket and he’s certainly athletic enough to do that. He’s pulled the ball down on some scrambles and picked up some key first downs on third down situations, so you have to – Similar to last week with [Ben] Roethlisberger. I’m not talking about a guy that’s — not Vince Young, but a guy that can pull the ball down and pick up yardage and gain first downs in critical situations, so you have to defend that as well with Clemens.

Q: Can you talk about Vince Wilfork? He seemed very active last week. He’s obviously having a very good year for you. Can you just talk about how he’s come along?
BB: Oh, Vince is a real good player. I think he does everything well. He’s strong, he’s physical, he’s a tough guy to block in the running game and he’s an explosive guy in pass-rush and he has good quickness and plays with good leverage. Vince is smart. He understands football, he understands blocking schemes, defensive concepts, where we’re strong on a particular defense, where we’re weak and sometimes – him being right in the middle – how he can compensate on that one way or the other. When you’re strong on one place and weak on another, then the first place you can start to adjust is right in the middle of the defense, whether it be the nose or the middle linebacker or one of your safeties to try to cheat back there to balance it up, that type of thing. Vince is very well-prepared. He’s one of the most instinctive and smartest defensive linemen that I’ve coached, and he’s got a lot of skill and he works hard. He’s out there all the time. He’s good in the offseason. There’s a long list of positives.

Q: As you’re probably aware from your New York conference call, Newsday is reporting that a Jets employee was told to leave Gillette Stadium last year for illegally videotaping. Can you confirm that?
BB: There’s a lot of things that have happened in the past or been talked about in the past and really, all of the past is in the past. I don’t care about any of those. Right now my focus is on the New York Jets.

Q: There is a history with the Jets going back to the ‘70s. There was a fistfight after a game —
BB: In the ‘70s? Let’s talk about that. I bet everybody’s interested in that. Something that happened 40 years ago.

Q: Do you feel that your players are particularly angry about playing the Jets every time you play them?
BB: It’s a division game. It’s a division game. Division games are very competitive. You’re used to playing a team a couple of times a year. We played the Jets three times last year. We know each other well. It’s a competitive game. We want to do well. I’m sure they want to do well. That’s the way it is.

Q: I understand that you do want to talk about the Jets. However, you were heavily punished for what went on with your situation —
BB: The past is in the past. I’m not thinking about the past. I’m thinking about this week.

Q: Who’s your favorite former Cleveland Browns ballboy?
BB: When did you come up with that one? Just at the spur of the moment or was that one…Been working on it? It would probably be my son, Stephen. That’s probably who it would be. I couldn’t put anybody ahead of him. He was young and inexperienced, but you know, I had a soft spot for him there.

Q: This game is obviously going to be an emotional game for both teams, but Vince Wilfork said this week the difference with the defensive line’s play was how emotional they were for 60 minutes. Did you notice that?
BB: I thought we played better defensively last week than we had in some other weeks, but again, last week is last week, so it doesn’t really – it doesn’t make any difference. I don’t think there’s any carry-over. I think the carry-over will start on Sunday afternoon when the game starts and then we’ll see how we play and how we play verses them at that point in time. Again, to me, this week it’s a one-game season, like they all are. You start on Wednesday, you get ready for Sunday and Sunday you go out there and put your best effort out there on the field and we’ll see how good or not good that is.

Q: You saw the Jets game against Pittsburgh on tape when you were preparing for Pittsburgh, and I’m sure you’ll see it again this week. That stands out as so different from all of the other Jets games. What was the difference with that game?
BB: Well, it came right down to the – How many overtime games have they been in this year? It’s like every other game they’ve been in. Practically every game they’ve been in, it’s come down to the last possession. Including last week. Last week’s game against Cleveland, that came right down to the best possession, too. That’s the way most all of their games have been, other than the Dallas game, so to me, that’s the way it’s been with them. And they make a lot of plays. Just like last week – You think that Cleveland is in good shape after [Jamal] Lewis scores, and then the Jets score. Then they’re on-side kicking again [and] they’ve already got one one-side kick. To me, that’s the way they are. We’ve seen that before, too. We had a big lead on them down there in the second game last year. What was it, 24-0 or whatever, and then they block a field goal and they’re throwing for the end zone at the end of the game. So, like I said, one or two plays, they can turn it around in a hurry. And it can be in any phase of the game. It could be in the kicking game, offensively or defensively. They’re a well-balanced team [and] they have a lot of firepower.


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