Bill Belichick Q&A, 12/13

Posted on December 13, 2007 
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Here’s the complete transcript of Bill Belichick’s Q&A with the media this morning at Gillette Stadium:

BB: We slid things up a little bit today, but we’ll just still do what we have to do and just get you guys in a little bit earlier. It looks like we might be in the snow today.

Q: Would you go ahead and practice outside today, in the elements?
BB: We’re practicing. Whatever we get, we get. Whatever it is, it is.

Q: Figuring you haven’t really seen much of it this year…
BB: No, it’s just – Well, we’ve seen a little bit of everything. Whatever we get, we get.

Q: You’ve given up a couple hundred yards rushing in the last couple of weeks. Is there a reason for that?
BB: No, I think we’ve played some good running teams and we haven’t played it as well as we’d like to play it. [There’s] certainly room for improvement.

Q: Are there specific reasons why you guys haven’t done as well?
BB: Just haven’t coached well enough, haven’t played well enough.

Q: That’s general. Is there a specific reason?
BB: No, that’s the reason. I just gave it. Each play is different. It’s been a combination of things. It’s not any one play or anyone. It’s just, we have to do a better job – coaching and playing.

Q: When an opponent’s rusher gets – what was it, a 30-yard run by Willie Parker last week? That kind of skews the stats. Is that easier to figure out what’s wrong than if you’re giving up five or six yards?
BB: Yeah, I know what you’re saying. In a way, it is, but in a way it’s still – You don’t want to give up a long one, either, so that’s a problem. I guess if you give up all eight-yarders, then it’s good because you’re not giving up any long ones, but it’s not good because you’re giving up all the eight-yarders. [If you] give up some two-yarders and then a 40-yarder, then that’s bad because you gave up a 40-yarder. There’s plays that we defended well and there’s others that we didn’t, and as I said, it just goes back to we need to do a better job of coaching and a better job of playing. And we’ve faced some good runners, so that’s not to take anything away from them, but we just need to do a better job.

Q: I don’t know if there’s any one, but what are some of the keys to avoiding so-called “negative plays” as an offense?
BB: Just the usual culprits – penalties, missed assignments, just in general penetration. If the defense can’t penetrate the line of scrimmage, it’s going to be hard to get a negative play, so if they do penetrate the line of scrimmage and they somehow get to the runner before he can get into the hole, then you’ve got problems. Of course, penalties, that’s the quickest way.

Q: You guys have been on the snap pretty good at avoiding not just negative plays, but turnovers as well.
BB: Well, the less penetration you have, then the fewer opportunities the defense has to have a negative play. If they can’t get on your side of the line of scrimmage then they’re going to have fewer of those. The more they’re on your side of the line of scrimmage, then sooner or later they’re probably going to get some. And sometimes that’s getting to you physically and sometimes it’s some type of mental error or some type of scheme error where you allow the defense to penetrate. It’s more a function of you making a mistake than them making a great physical play. But, you know, sometimes that happens, too. We play against a lot of good defensive players. Sometimes they make good plays. Sometimes we make them.

Q: What do you remember about the Miami game in 2003? Did you have as much fun as the fans and players seemed to?
BB: What was it, 12-0? That was a good win for our team. It was a big win. It was good to see the fans get into it – that was good. It was a win against a division team. It was an important game for us and that gave us the division, right, if I remember correctly. So that was great. Believe me, that was great. Anytime you can win a game in the division – especially against Miami, [with] the way that was going with them. We didn’t beat them very often – and win the divisions, it’s great.

Q: I know preparing for the Jets and winning is obviously important, but how much have you talked to the team about the importance of this game and clinching home field advantage?
BB: We’re just talking about beating the Jets. That’s it. Everything else will just take care of itself. We just have to do what we can do, do our job and just let everybody else worry about the other stuff. [There’s] nothing we can do about it.

Q: With David Harris playing in the lineup for them as a rookie – I thought he would be the kind of guy that you would be interested in. Did you look at him?
BB: Sure, we looked at a lot of players.

Q: Obviously Eric Mangini runs a similar style defense to what you do here. Do you think he’s a good fit for that system?
BB: I think you’d have to ask him that question. Obviously they did, based on the fact that they traded up to take him. He’s had some production for them. He’s done a good job. They started off playing him at the weak side spot when [Jonathan] Vilma got hurt, and he actually played there during preseason. And then they shifted him over to what we call the Mike, to the strong side spot and bumped [Eric] Barton back to the weak side, where Vilma had played. So I don’t really know what – You’d have to talk to them about that move, why they did it and all that, but that’s kind of what happened. Harris played on the weak side in through preseason and in the early part of the regular season, and then they switched and moved him over to Mike and moved Barton back to the weak side. He’s had a productive year.

Q: Where does Leon Washington rank in terms of the returners you’ve faced this year? I know you’ve faced some good ones, but…
BB: Yeah, he’s right up. Leon, he’s good. He does both punts and kickoffs. There’s some guys that haven’t done that – [Josh] Cribbs did, but we’ve seen guys like [Willis] McGahee and even Justin Miller in the opener that are kind of one guy does one thing and another guy does something else. Leon’s quick, he’s fast, he’s had the long runs, which shows you that he’s got enough long speed. He’s a hard guy to tackle. He’ll reverse his field [and] change directions. [He’s] maybe a little quicker than Cribbs, probably not as strong, maybe a little bit faster. But we’ve seen some real good ones. McGahee is another, probably more of a straight-line guy – although he’ll change directions, too, but I think Washington is a pretty nifty guy, sort of like Roscoe Parrish from Buffalo, in terms of his quickness. [Ted] Ginn – we’ve seen a lot of good ones.

Q: Is bad weather more disruptive to defensive players than offensive players? They’re the ones what have to react to what they see. It seems like that might cause them more difficulty.
BB: I think there’s some truth to that, yeah. When you’re reacting to somebody else on a wet or slippery surface, then it’s easier if you know where you’re going. So I think from that standpoint [it is], and it’s harder to make a sharp move. Sometimes the pass-rushers have trouble on a slick field, being able to really change directions, if that’s the kind of pass-rusher you are, you’re trying to move quickly on that type of surface.

Q: Is there any way to mitigate that through cleat-selection and things like that?
BB: You do everything you can to put yourself in the best position. Absolutely. Yeah, in terms of equipment or body position leverage, there’s a lot of things you can do to try to maximize it, regardless of what the conditions are. You can try to find the best way to attack or defend whatever side of it you’re on, on any play. Part of that’s the conditions, part of that’s what you’re doing and how it matches up against the opponent and what they’re doing on that particular play.

Q: Are there any other receivers you’ve seen that have the package that Randy Moss brings to the table, in terms of leaping ability, patterns, hands, speed – the whole package?
BB: I think each player has their own skill-set. There’s a lot of good players. Each guy is unique. Each guy has his own individual skill-set. We’re all like that. We’re all a little bit different, so I think that’s true of football players, too. There’s certain categories – there’s some big receivers and fast receivers and quick receivers – but each guy has his own – And some of that is within the offensive system. You can’t really run every route that everybody runs. You just don’t have enough time to work on all of them and be good at them, so you pick out the ones that are a core to your system and maybe you have a couple of others that you use situationally, based on certain looks or coverages or techniques that you’ve faced that you might use in those situations, and the next team has theirs, and the next has theirs. Sometimes a player, what he does is somewhat related to what the team does in the passing game.

Q: You spread out defenses a lot with 4-5 wide receiver sets. Other than having the tight end in sometimes, what’s the difference between now and the run-and-shoot you used to run back in the day?
BB: Well, the run-and-shoot was an offense into its own entity. What they did was… It was the run-and-shoot. I don’t think the run-and-shoot had a lot of carry-over to any other offense. The quarterback was always under center. [In] the true run-and-shoot, there wasn’t any shotgun. Now, again, like the west coast offense and other offenses, certain things evolved and, depending on the coach that was running it, he may have added or subtracted to it, but [in] the original run-and-shoot, the quarterback was always under center, the back was always behind the quarterback. Backs were always big backs, fullback-types, because they were big protectors. They were sometimes borderline guards, in terms of protection. [It] only ran two formations. It was its own offense, kind of like running the triple option or that type of thing. You do what you do, you have your adjustments to it. They only had a few plays. The plays had multiple, multiple adjustments off each play and off each route. A guy could come out and run any one of maybe five or six routes, or it could be one of three routes, depending on the play. When you have that much flexibility in the passing game, that’s kind of unique. [It would] be hard to put in a lot of plays that have – They did it and they did it full-time. It would be hard to put in two or three plays on a part-time basis and try to get the execution that those teams got on a full-time basis with those plays.

Q: How special is this season for you and your team? Is it special?
BB: Right now we’re really just – we’re thinking about the Jets. It’s a one-game season. I’m not going to say it’s been bad. I’m not unhappy with our record, but at the same time, it doesn’t really mean anything for this week. This week’s just about this week, and so that’s where our focus is. We’re not worried too much about what happened in the past and we’re not worried too much about what’s coming up next. We’re just focused on the Jets.

Q: There’s been a lot of talk this year about humble pie. Do you feel you have to counterbalance that at some level with some sort of praise?
BB: I’m not sure I follow you.

Q: The humble pie — All of the guys talk about humble pie, and obviously it keeps them level. You don’t want their heads to get inflated, but do you have to counter that with some positive reinforcement so guys don’t get beat down over the course of a season?
BB: I think when you put together a team you try to have a way to keep improving your team and get better and that can come from a lot of different ways, be it motivation, technique, practice, meetings, etc. You do what you can to improve your team. I think that’s what a coach does. Whatever all those elements are, I think there are a number of them and I’m sure every coach uses all of them at some point or another. I think you should probably ask the players about that. That’s not… I just try to coach the team [and I] try to do the best I can. It’s not perfect, it’s not great, but it’s what I think is the right thing to do.

Q: Yesterday you spoke very highly of Vince Wilfork, for example, and deservedly so. It seems like you’ve done that more this year than maybe in the past.
BB: Have I ever spoken negatively about any of our players?

Q: Not negatively, but they talk about humble pie and you serving it up to them. Not publicly, no.
BB: I don’t know. You’d have to ask them about that. I don’t know.

Q: What’s the harshest reception you’ve ever gotten on the road?
BB: I don’t know, I haven’t ranked them. I don’t think any team is very popular on the road – or coach, for that matter. It’d be about a 31-way tie.

Q: Is there a place out there that’s more creative than others?
BB: There’s a lot of creative places. Go to the black hole in Oakland. There’s some creation out there. I’m not sure what it is, but there’s plenty of it.

Q: How is Foxborough for visiting teams?
BB: Oh, they get you on Route 1 about four miles before you even get to the stadium. It’s kind of like a parade. They know what the visiting buses are. They get you early and they escort you all the way into the stadium. I’ve been on that one a few times.

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