Bill Belichick Q&A, 8/3

Posted on August 3, 2008 
Filed Under Uncategorized

Thanks to the Patriots’ PR staff, here’s the complete transcript of Bill Belichick’s Q&A with the media this morning at Gillette Stadium:

BB: We took a little break on Friday and got back at it yesterday. We will just keep moving along here. [We will] start tonight with some preparations for the [Baltimore] Ravens. Yesterday and today [we will] just try to keep moving ahead in terms of our installation. Also, starting to work on some situational football and put everything together, down, distance, field position and flow of the game. We continue to do more of that. Also, we got a couple people back from the PUP [players unable to perform] list. It was good to add Ellis [Hobbs], Bo [Ruud], and Wes [Welker] back out there. I thought we got off to a good start yesterday in terms of the second week and I hope we can build on that and have a good few days here leading up to the Baltimore [Ravens] game.

Q: What sort of things were you able to do, in terms of evaluating where you are now?
BB: More just planning I would say. I think we are pretty close to the schedule we laid out. There are always a few adjustments that you need to make but we are pretty close – What things do we need to work on, what stuff do we need to go back and get even though we’ve already gone over it, do we need to look over it a little more, that type of thing.

Q: You have had six months to focus on the last game you played. Is it good to go back and play in the weekly game, getting that focus out and now being able to focus on looking ahead toward regular season games?
BB: Well, it is a combination. We are not going to be anywhere near the preparations for this game that we will have for the regular season. There is a new coach down there [Baltimore] and new staff. We are not sure exactly what they are going to do. We will prepare the players with some information to get them to a point but right now the biggest focus is what we are doing, improving on our fundamentals, making sure we understand what our assignments are, what we are supposed to do, where we are supposed to go and all that. Then, follow our rules when we go up against whatever the [Baltimore] Ravens do. We’ll have to adjust to it [what the Ravens do] but if we just follow our rules, it won’t be anything that we haven’t seen before. The real game planning and all that isn’t really going to start until the regular season. There will be gradually a little more of it as we go along to try to build up to that but certainly nothing like what we will do in preparation for opening day and the 15 [regular season games] after that.

Q: How is LaMont [Jordan] fitting in?
BB: LaMont has done well. He will probably get a few more reps than he got last week. He’s getting a little more familiar with the offense and his assignments. He’s more comfortable back there in the protections and all those kind of things. I’m sure he will get a few more carries and we will try to get him ready to play Thursday against Baltimore [Ravens]. I think he should be ready to do that. It looks like he is coming along and will be able to have enough understanding and experience in the offense that I think he will be alright.

Q: Can you talk about the competition behind [Tom] Brady. Have you decided if they will all play on Thursday?
BB: We usually talk about that, the playing time and all, a couple days before the game, so Tuesday. Then when we practice on Tuesday, we will try to practice them in the groups that they’ll be playing at points in the game on Thursday. Right now, we haven’t gotten into the Baltimore game that much. We will start to get into that a little bit tonight. We are more focused on what we are doing, correcting mistakes from last week, moving on with some situational football, trying to get that taught to everyone so everyone understands it, so we can go out there and execute it.

Q: Have all three [back-up quarterbacks] worked well?
BB: Yes. The quarterbacks – that group has been great. They have been great to work with. Matt [Cassel] has had a good camp. He has had a real good off-season. He did a nice job in the spring. He’s probably as hard a working player as we have on this team so he’s worked hard to get better and build off of last year. Kevin [O’Connell] has made improvement from the spring. He seems a lot more comfortable. This is kind of the second time around in terms of teaching our plays and all that. We taught them all in the spring and then we go back and re-teach them here in training camp. I think that has really helped him. He seems a lot more comfortable and confident and is playing quicker at the line of scrimmage than what he was in the spring. It will be interesting to see him play. It will be interesting to see [Matt] Gutierrez play with a year under his belt. He played last year at this time. He was obviously a rookie but had very few snaps, very little experience and won a spot on the team so it will be interesting to see how those two guys do. I am confident in Matt [Cassel]. This is his fourth year so he has a good understanding of what we are doing and he has done a pretty good job of it when he has had the opportunity to play.

Q: What is the value of having tomorrow’s practice in the stadium?
BB: It will give everyone a chance to work on that field, feel comfortable with their footwear, have an awareness of their surroundings like the 40 second clock and the relative ‘spacial’ feeling in there. With the goal post, we will let the kickers kick in there. It puts you more in the real setting so the next time you do it there isn’t that little bit of the ‘aw’ factor for the younger players. At least they have already been through it once. Hopefully, we will be out there late enough that we will get a little bit of time under the lights. I don’t know if it will be totally dark but it will be darker than what we have practiced in. So, there is a little bit of adjustment there. Not that these guys haven’t played under the lights before but it is like anything else. It will be the first time in quite a few months that any of them have done it so it will be a little bit of an adjustment. It is all part of a long, gradual, methodical preparation for the first preseason game and first regular season game. [Will are] just trying to get everything ready to go by September.

Q: You have had a fluid situation in the offensive line in the first week with guys moving in and out. How have the guys handled that?
BB: It would be nice if we didn’t have quite as much moving as we have had in there or if we controlled more of it but again it’s always unfortunate when someone can’t practice or someone is not available. Every time that happens, it provides an opportunity for someone else. We just have to do what we can do and don’t worry about what we can’t do. We will do what we can do. That means some guys have moved around, some guys are gaining a little bit more position flexibility. We are working some different combinations, which helps us see some things not only individually but how different guys work together. That also gives us some different match ups defensively. Sometimes you go through camp and your right tackle is always blocking the same two or three guys because that’s who always lines up across from him on the other side, but if he plays in a different position than you get to see him against nine or ten different guys. Two or three guys here, two or three guys there and two or three guys somewhere else. Sometimes that helps you with the evaluation of those players not just with their versatility but how they match up with different types of players and different styles. Same thing on the flip side of it, it helps us to go against different players with different skills because over the course of the year we see that. Like I said, whatever we have is an opportunity for someone and its an opportunity for our team in one way or another. Whatever we have, we just try to make the most of that. Hopefully, we will have everyone out there as soon as possible but when they are not there, then we will try to maximize what we do have.

Q: Can you comment on Barry Stokes?
BB: [Barry Stokes] is an experienced guy. He has a lot of position flexibility. He’s played inside and outside, tackle and guard. He’s played on both sides of the line. He’s been in some different systems so he is a pretty smart guy. He’s had quite a bit of experience in the league, experience in different systems and experience in different positions. We will see how it goes here but he is a guy we can hopefully get ready in a short amount of time to be competitive and maybe have some versatility in our group.

Q: Do you expect Tom [Brady] to practice today?
BB: I know as much as you do.

Q: Did you get him anything for his birthday?
BB: No, I missed that this year.

Q: When you are evaluating a young corner that is matching up against Randy Moss, do you take into consideration that there aren’t a lot of ‘Randy Moss’ in the league? How does that play in your evaluation?
BB: Well, Randy [Moss] is a great receiver but there are a lot of good receivers in this league. We pretty much face them every week. Each player has their own different style and special skill set or combination of skills. So again, the guys that they face, those are the ones they work against and will learn from. Wes Welker is a great receiver but he is different than [Randy] Moss. Moss is different than [Jabar] Gaffney and [Jabar] Gaffney is different than Chad Jackson. They are all problems but they present different problems. It’s good for us. Over the course of the year we face fast guys, quick guys, good technique players and guys that are very talented that maybe aren’t as good technique receivers. So I think whatever the experience is, that those guys get out there. I certainly think it is good for them to work against high quality competition. It is always good for corners or any position. I don’t think it is a good situation to work in training camp against a situation that isn’t competitive and then the players you play against in a game are a lot better than the ones you’ve seen in practice. It is unrealistic because you are not seeing what you will be seeing on a weekly basis from a competitive level.

Q: Are there any other PUP [players unable to perform] that are close to practicing?
BB: We have a lot of guys that are day to day. When they are ready, we will practice them. If they are not than they will do what they can do until they are ready to practice. I think everyone is making progress. I don’t think that anyone is having setbacks and going in the other direction but if they aren’t out there than that means they are not quite ready yet. They are certainly closer.

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