Bill Belichick Q&A, 08/04

Posted on August 4, 2008 
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Here’s the full transcript of Bill Belichick’s Q&A with the media this morning at Gillette Stadium:

BB: We start on the Baltimore [Ravens] preparations today, tonight and tomorrow. We will get our three days in on that. Like I said we are just going to have to adjust a little bit on the run there. We don’t really know what they are going to do. The most important thing we are concerned about is more what we are doing at this point. We will play a lot of people, I am sure they will too. It will be a lot less game planning in this one than what we will have in the regular season or even going forward. We will progress a little bit more in each of the next three-preseason games after this. That is where we are at this morning; we are just chugging along here. It will be good to get into the stadium tonight, get that environment. The scoreboard, the situations are a little clearer when you can actually see it up there rather than just yell it out. You can get a more visual and ‘spacial’ effect on it. That will be good too tonight.

Q: Laurence [Maroney] said the most important thing this year is his ability to finish. Is that a good assessment?
BB: I think everyone has to work on their game. It doesn’t really matter where we were last year individually or as a team. We are all starting from scratch. Laurence is working on everything and finishing plays, whether it be runs, routes, blocks, or whatever. That is important. I don’t want to disagree with that but I think there is a lot of things we have to work on and that’s one of them.

Q: Matthew Slater, how has he handled everything you have thrown at him?
BB: Good. Matthew is a smart kid. We have been working him at some different spots since he has gotten here in all three phases of the game. We will see how that all comes together but he is a smart guy that has a good set of skills. We will just see how he is able to do in those different things. Maybe we will zero in on more than one than the other and maybe we won’t. I don’t know. We will see how it goes.

Q: The positions that [Matthew] Slater has been practicing in, is that were we can anticipate to see him play this season?
BB: He’s been practicing at those spots all camp and even in the spring so it’s your call.

Q: Is the kick-return his [Matthew Slater] thing?
BB: I don’t know, we will see. We will try him there. I don’t know that is what training camp and the preseason games are for. To evaluate how those players do in those different situations. Just because some guys do it in college or don’t do it in college doesn’t necessarily mean that’s going to transfer here but we will certainly take a look at Matthew returning kicks.

Q: This is not a Green Bay questions but in a general sense, how does a coach create an atmosphere to not let any of that become a distraction? Is it up to the coach or the players?
BB: I don’t know. I think it is up to each individual to focus on his job and block out whatever the other distractions are so he can commit to his job and his teammates can count on him to do his job. It is a broad question and that is a broad answer but I mean in the end I think that is what it is about. Each person who has a job – being focused to do it so everybody else can depend on him and they are accountable for it.

Q: Have you seen in your experience coaching in the NFL has become a distraction to a locker room?
BB: Definitely, without a doubt.

Q: Do you feel comfortable with the blockers you have this year? Do you think Stephen Spach can fill that role?
BB: Well, let’s put it this way. I think we have good competition at the tight end position. I think we have several guys there, three or four veteran players and one rookie that bring different sets of skills to the position. How all that works out and what each guys role will be and how we will use them – that all remains to be seen. Right now, we are just trying to teach everybody everything. We will see how they do. I am not personally ready to label anybody, he’s this or he’s that, or he isn’t this or he isn’t that. That is what training camp and preseason are for and we will see who can do what.

Q: Do you see a difference in [Stephen] Spach this year?
BB: Yes. Stephen came in and it was a hard situation last year. He came in and four days later he’s out there playing in a regular season game with no training camp and no real foundation. He was just trying to learn some plays from the game plan and apply them when they were called in the game. He is way ahead of any place he could have possibly been last year. That is not any kind of indictment at him. I think he did a great job to do what he did but it is an impossible situation to come in and try to absorb everything that guys have been doing for four or five months in three days.

Q: Antwain Spann has been around for a few years. Is he making a move to get more involved in defense and in special teams?
BB: Well, I would say he has played more defensively in this camp than even a little bit in the spring. We will see how all that goes. He’s been a contributor for us in the kicking game and he has played at times defensively at both corner, safety and also in the slot position so he has some position versatility and contributes in the kicking game. How all that will go, we will just have to see. He has gotten more work there and I think he is certainly working hard at it.

Q: Can you comment on Russ Hochstein’s versatility up front?
BB: I don’t know where we would be without it really. Russ is one of the most solid and consistent players we have on our team. He is really the same guy everyday, whether it be practice, games, preseason or postseason, the first quarter, or the fourth quarter – it doesn’t matter. He is a very consistent and dependable guy. He can play all three spots. He’s played guard, he’s played center, both guards, helped us out on a couple special teams situations – like kickoff return in the wedge, a field goal and that kind of thing. The best compliment you can give a lineman like that is, you don’t really realize when he is in there. He is a solid guy and the last game he played in, he played well and that was a big game. He has been a very dependable guy for us with great inside versatility. He’s played some at tackle and a little bit at tight end and short yardage situations. He’s played every position at the offensive line even though he’s primarily an inside guy. He’s also worked at tackle and short yardage situations out there at tight end. He’s done a good job for us.

Q: Talk about going against another team. Seeing different jersey’s lined up against the guys. Are you excited and looking forward to this?
BB: Sure. It is the next step for us. We have had the spring camps and we are now into our sixteenth practice, seventeenth practice of training camp. I think we are about at that stage where we worked on a lot of fundamentals. We put in our basic stuff, we tried to bring in some situational football and put it together. Now we need to go out and play a game and in game type conditions. The contact, the situational football, the going up against different type of players and a different scheme that we will face [rather] than seeing ourselves out there on the practice field. I think we are ready to take that next step and in the following week against Tampa Bay [Buccaneers] and Philadelphia [Eagles]. All those will be good experiences for our team – both on an individual basis, unit standpoint and collectively as a team. I think we are ready for that. I think we are all looking forward to it. It is part of the process of preparation for the season and we are just getting a little bit closer.

Q: Do you approach every first preseason game the same way? What do you like to see happen in the first game?
BB: I think each year is different. The players that we put into the game, I think we have to try to decide what we want to see from each player and sometimes groups of players. [We need to] define how that is going to go from a playing time standpoint, which is a ‘guesstimate’ and from a scheme standpoint. What you are going to call and what you’re going to ask them to do, that changes from year to year. I think I would like to see the team go out there and play competitively and play with a good level of execution. Whatever we experience out there, we will learn from. Whatever it is, there will be plenty of that. Hopefully, we can go out there and play competitively and execute things at a reasonably good level, given the amount of time we have put into it. [Performance] certainly not going to be midseason form, we have a long way to go. But we will have some semblance of what its supposed to look like. That would be nice.

Q: Talk about Lewis Sanders and how he’s fitting in?
BB: Lewis is working hard. He is another guy that has had a lot of different responsibilities for us in the kicking game, playing both corner and safety defensively. He’s got good experience in a couple different systems so I don’t think anything he is doing here is anything that new. It is just a question on some new terminology or adapting it to a different situation but he is an experienced guy and he keeps showing up. He shows up with a play or two everyday and he is a hard working guy. He’s tough, he’s been a physical player, been productive in the kicking game and we look forward to seeing him play.

Q: Do you see Ray Ventrone picking up more and more each day?
BB: I think Ray is another guy that falls into that category. He does a lot of things for us. He’s also played on both sides of the ball, played in the kicking game, smart player, doesn’t need a lot of reps and is a tough kid. He’s the type of player that shows up better when the pads come on in the competitive game situations. Not that he doesn’t show up in practice but he is a contact player and I think that really benefits him being in those types of situations. He has been in our system now – this is his third year. I think he has continued to improve on it and build value to the team whether it’s versatility. When he’s had a chance to perform, he’s come through for us. Everybody has good confidence in Ray and that is another guy that we are looking forward to seeing some snaps from him in offense. He has worked there primarily this year. We know he can play defense and he has played in the kicking game so we will see how all that comes together.

Q: We see Logan [Mankins] snapping. Is that something he could do for you? Did he play there [center] at Fresno State?
BB: He played left tackle. I think Logan can play any position on the offensive line. He played left tackle at Fresno State. Athletically and as a football player, I think he could play anywhere.

Q: I know you are at the limit on your roster with 80 players but have you spoken to Junior Seau?
BB: Yeah. I have spoken to him. We are at 80 and if we make any roster moves we will let you know as soon as we can. We are where we are right now. If anything changes, we will let you know when it changes. Really what we are trying to concentrate most on now is just getting our team ready for Thursday night, pulling things together and trying to keep improving every time we go out on the practice field. We have a lot of guys that are doing that and you want to keep working with them because they are getting better on a daily basis.

Q: How has the transitions been with headsets on defense?
BB: I don’t know, we haven’t used them. I can’t tell you.

Q: Do you know who your designated players are?
BB: Well, we haven’t used them yet. It is not really a high priority right now. We need to just go out there and learn how to play good defense and learn our assignments. We will get to the other stuff when we get to it. It’s not a high priority right now.

Q: Will you use them [defensive helmet radios] at all?
BB: I don’t know. We haven’t used them yet.

Q: With all the substitutions in the preseason game it may be more confusing than a regular season game so what about designating the two guys [defensive players using helmet radios]?
BB: Right. Know argument here.

Q: They do not allow different guys to use them [defensive helmet radios] in preseason games?
BB: Nope.

Q: Clayton Weishuhn was a former Patriot who attended the Pro Football Hall of Fame for Andre Tippett this past weekend. What do you remember of him as a player? Are you familiar with him?
BB: No. Not really. I am not familiar with him.

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