Bill Belichick Q&A, 12/26

Posted on December 26, 2007 
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Here’s the full transcript of Bill Belichick’s Q&A with the media today at Gillette Stadium:

BB: In a way, it doesn’t seem that long ago that we played the Giants there in the last preseason game. On the other hand, it seems like it was four years ago. But looking back on it and the Giants from when we saw them earlier in the year, certainly there’s a lot of – that game’s a lot different from this one, but we know the Giants a little bit from going against them pretty much on an annual basis. They’re tough, they’re physical, they’re well-coached, they’re hard to beat. They don’t do a lot of things that make it easy for you. You have to really go out there and play a good, tough football game. The division they’re in – Dallas, Philadelphia and Washington – we’ve seen those teams a lot on film. That’s a pretty physical division and certainly the Giants are as physical as any team that we’ve faced all year on both sides of the ball, particularly in the front. They have some good play-makers, offensively. The running backs are good, the receivers are big-play guys down the field, they have an athletic quarterback, their offensive line is real good and defensively they’re strong on the front. They can rush the passer, they can stop the run [and] they’re a good third down team. [Sam] Madison’s always a guy that’s the play-maker in the secondary, giving us and everybody else trouble, and they have a good blitz-scheme. I think their defense is a combination of just a good, basic, sound defense but it pressures the offense a lot as well, so we’re going to have to do a good job on that. I think all of those elements that I just talked about carry over into the kicking game. They’re a physical coverage team. They’re a strong blocking team. They take people on and they take them on hard, and they’re tough. I think last week’s game against Buffalo is a good example of it, where they just basically controlled the game. Even though they spotted them a two touchdown lead, they controlled the game on the line of scrimmage and in the kicking game on the line of scrimmage, and that was the difference in the game. We have a lot of respect for the Giants, always have. We need a good week of practice here, even though it’s on a short week, to get everything ready to go. This will be a big challenge for us, with their scheme and their style of play and their play-makers.

Q: Eli Manning has had an up and down season at times, but when he’s hot he’s particularly good. Can you talk a little about him?
BB: I think he’s become an experienced quarterback that sees the field well. He’s athletic enough to get out of some trouble. I’m not saying he’s a big-time scrambler, but he’s certainly athletic enough in the pocket to get out of some trouble and he’s made a lot of big plays. Kind of like — different, but sort of like [Ben] Roethlisberger, where he gets some time, looks down the field, finds [Plaxico] Burress, [Amani] Toomer, [Steve] Smith — one of those guys running around down there. [Jeremy] Shockey, until last week – and makes big plays in the passing game off scrambles. They do all of the stuff that you would do with Manning, that you would expect them to do with a good quarterback like that. They drop back, they play-action, they bootleg, they sprint out, they run max-protection patterns, they run the empty patterns and stuff like that where they’ll get everybody out. They have a good variety in their passing game. They utilize all of their players – the backs, the tight ends, the receivers, both down the field and on shorter, quicker throws, three-step drops and that kind of thing. They do a good job keeping you off-balance. They’re a well-balanced offensive football team and Manning can do all that they need him to do.

Q: Are the Giants the most blitzing team that you’ll see or that you expect to see? Thinking back, Pittsburgh blitzed you a lot and the Eagles blitzed you a lot.
BB: It depends on how much they want to call it. I mean, they blitz. They could blitz a lot or not as much. That’s hard to tell, how they’re going to play the game. I’m sure they’ll blitz some. It’s a question of how many they want to call and whether that’s more or less than somebody else. I’m sure not – certainly, we have to be ready for it, but I don’t know.

Q: They have a league high, I think, for sacks. When you see that, are those coming off blitzes?
BB: No. No. They get them off blitzes, but they can rush. Those guys – [Justin] Tuck and Osi [Umenyiora] and [Michael] Strahan, they don’t need any help. They can get there, definitely. They do a good job. They’ve got a good pass rush. They lead the league in sacks, they lead the league in runs for negative yardage. They create negative yardage in both the running game and the passing game, and then they get you in long yardage and it’s hard to convert. And they’re a good third down team. They’re a real good defensive football team. They’re good all the way around, but it certainly starts up front. And no, they don’t need to blitz to get there at all. Definitely not. They have plenty of sacks and plenty of pressure on three and four-man rushes, if that’s what they want to do.

Q: Tom Brady and Randy Moss have been a great combination, as have Tom and Wes Welker. Even with a quarterback as good as Tom is, is there a danger sometimes that you get into a comfort zone with a player and you end up trying to force the ball in?
BB: I think every pass is – Every play is designed to be executed differently against different defenses and the way the play comes out, so I think we have to do the same thing we do in the passing game every week, which is put in our game plan [and] prepare for all the different contingencies. Again, a team like the Giants is a tough team to prepare for because they give you a lot of different looks. They play man, they play zone, they play two-deep, they play three-deep, they blitz with help, they blitz with no help. Depending on what happens on the play, how we execute the pattern and adjust it if we have to, how the quarterback reads it and delivers the ball, that’s all going to be a function of, to a degree, what’s going on on the other side of the ball, as well as it is us doing the right thing. That’ll definitely be a big part of the passing game this week. I don’t think you want to go into this game – or any game, for that matter — without an open mind to the pattern, because it’s hard to tell what they’re going to do and where the best place to throw the ball is going to be until after the ball is snapped and you see what coverage they’re in.

Q: How much practicing in pads will the guys do this week?
BB: We’ll take it on a day-by-day basis.

Q: How much has being able to establish the rush in the past couple of weeks helped your team going forward?
BB: I don’t know. I don’t know. We’ll see how we do against the Giants. That’s really all that matters right now, is how we’re able to play against them, whether that’s running it, throwing it [or] doing a little bit of each. Maybe there’s more one way or the other – I’m not sure. Whatever plays we call, we hope we go out there and can execute them well. That’s why we’re calling them, but it’s not always the same every week. Whether there’s a carry-over from one game to the next, whether those plays carry over or even that style attack carries over, I’m not really sure.

Q: It seemed like Brandon Meriweather maybe had a little more time on defense in the last game. If that’s the case, how do you think he responded to seeing more time?
BB: I think Brandon’s improved all year. He played more two weeks ago against the Jets when James [Sanders] was out and then played in some dime situations last week. He’s improved through the course of the year and there’s still a lot of things he needs to work on, but I think he gives us good depth at the position. I’d like to see him catch the ball a little bit better, but that’s… He’s around it and I think he’s making progress.

Q: How much does the fact that you played them in a preseason game factor into this game, if at all?
BB: Well, a lot of the players that played in that game won’t be playing in this one, but from a scheme standpoint, they line up in some of the same – basically the same places, and so do we. The way the plays are blocked or the plays are defended, whichever side of the ball you’re talking about, you can definitely see how some of the schemes fit together. Maybe it’s not necessarily the players – You know, we played them two years ago in preseason as well, so I think there’s some good… There’s certainly some good teaching from those tapes because it’s us and them and it’s our scheme and their scheme, but some of the individual match-ups are different, so we’ll have to account for those, but there’s something to be gained from looking at it.

Q: Do you mean players who were back-up players won’t be playing in this game or players that have been released since the preseason?
BB: I think both teams played a lot of players in the preseason game that aren’t on the roster now for either team.


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