Bill Belichick Q&A, 8/23

Posted on August 23, 2008 
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Here’s the complete transcript of Bill Belichick’s conference call with the media this afternoon:

After watching the tape there’s a lot of things that we need to correct and keep working on. I thought there was some positive moments, more in the second half. We were able to put together a couple of decent drives, played more competitively on defense and got a few things straightened out in the kicking game. I think with any game there are always some positives and some negatives, and I think there were plenty of both in last nights game. I think the big thing for us is to just keep working, keep correcting and making sure we can get everything as ready as we can for next week and the opener against Kansas City. Take the things that happened whether it be technique mistakes, scheme errors, situational plays and make sure we coach them up and everybody understands them and we are able to move forward. I think the players are trying to work hard and I think they are trying to do everything the right way. It is obvious we still have a ways to go. We haven’t been executing as efficiently as we need to be in all three phases of the game. We will keep plugging away, take the positives and dual on them and take the things that need to get corrected and spend some more time on them to get them to a higher level of performance.

Tedy Bruschi was wearing the green dot for the defensive headset. Did you use that last night and if so, how did it go?
We used the headset with Tedy [Bruschi] and Mike Vrabel on both of them in the game in the first half and a little bit in the third quarter. We used them [defensive headsets] a little bit last week against Tampa [Bay] in pre-game, not actually during the game but just to be on the road and all that. I think it is a learning experience for everyone. We know more about it now and at least have a game under our belts to try to figure out what is the best way to utilize it and how to make it advantageous and keep it from being a problem or another log on the fire that we really don’t need. We will talk about it more this week and try to figure out the best plan and if we can utilize it productively than we will and if we can’t then we won’t. We will just have to see how that goes and try to decide what is the most efficient way to do it.

Ellis Hobbs mentioned last night that he feels like there are a lot of little mistakes that they are making defensively that end up looking like big things. Would you agree with that assessment?
Yes. A lot of the little things lead to bigger things. A lot of the things we do well and then maybe another point in the game we don’t do it well, end up being a problem. I think that is true. I don’t think it is just the defensive side of the ball. I think that it’s true in all three phases of the game. Little things can add up to be big things and I think there is a certain amount of that, that is occurring.

Do you chalk those little things up to fundamentals like Ellis [Hobbs] did last night? Are those all fundamental errors?
I think they come in a lot of forms. Fundamentals are part of it but it is also situations, assignments, little variations of assignments and little things like that. Fundamentals are a little part of it too. That goes for all of us not just the players – the coaches and the play calling too. Just making sure the little things are in place and that gives the big things a chance to fall into place. Where sometimes the little things are skewed then it is harder for the big things, they don’t quite fit right and then there is a problem with them. We can all do a better job of that.

With the issues you had last night on special teams, where you pleased with Stephen Gostkowski’s play and his consistency?
I thought Steve [Gostkowski] kicked the ball well. I thought he has kicked the ball well in all three games – kickoffs and field goals when he has had the opportunity to do so. I thought that he did a good job kicking the ball last night too. He strung three together. I think he is having a good camp and he is kicking the ball well. He had a good off-season, had a good spring and has been pretty consistent all the way through this year going back to May.

Do you have any further update on Wes Welker’s rib injury?
No, I don’t have an update.

Can you give us an evaluation of the play in the fourth quarter from some of the receivers who were on the field like C.J. Jones and Chad Jackson?
I thought at the end of the game, offensively we were able to string some positive plays together more so than we had early in the first half. Some of that was the receivers making catches. Chad [Jackson] and C.J. [Jones] both went up and got balls very aggressively and were good catches. Ray Ventrone had a couple catch and run plays. I thought he ran hard with the ball after he caught it. Dave Thomas, Tyson DeVree and a few of those guys showed up on a few plays as well. Overall, I thought the receivers made some plays either going up and aggressively getting the ball or catch and run kind of plays. A couple third down conversions, a couple of red area plays and long balls, so that was encouraging. You like to see receivers go get the ball regardless of what quarter it is, who’s guarding them, or who’s throwing it and then run with it after they get it. I thought those were positives, probably a little better than we have in the two previous games.

Does it affect the execution of the play or the way you would like to see plays run when you do not have your starting quarterback in with your first team?
No. We teach all the plays the same regardless of who is in there. When you are in training camp you have a lot of different people alternating through and alternating positions so it is not always the same group of guys running every play. That is in all three phases of the game. Everyone learns how to run it. They change and interchange during practice so I think we all should know what to do. The timing with the same guys all the time gives you a chance to refine it and perfect it a little bit more but I think we should still we able to run those. Everyone has had a chance to run them and we went through them enough times. I think that is part of football too is sometimes mixing and matching players. For one reason or another there are not always the same exact players running the same plays and actually we like to see them with different players because it makes the play look a little bit different. You get a different perspective on how it is going to work when different people are doing it. So everyone has to be ready to go and run the offense or defense, whatever the play is. You certainly don’t want to be changing plays when one person comes in the lineup and somebody else goes out so everyone has to learn how to do it. That is what our system is. It is a good opportunity for everyone to get that chance in practice and do it in live competition in the preseason.

Did you see a little spark in the offense when Matt [Gutierrez] came in and was able to string together plays?
Yes. I thought it was better in the second half. I thought that when Matt Cassel was in there, we had our moments but unfortunately we had some negative plays in those drives. A couple of them, there really wasn’t too much he could do about but we had some penalties. We had seven penalties on offense and I think six of those were in Philadelphia’s territory so we were in some kind of scoring zone or close to being in the scoring zone. A couple of other negative running plays, penalties, and a couple sacks. We ended up in a lot of long yardage situations more than we would like. In the second half, it just seemed like we had more positive plays and fewer negative plays, less long yardage so second and third down conversions weren’t as difficult as third and longs. It seemed like a great series and that’s a good formula to moving the ball ahead and scoring some points. Matt [Gutierrez] did a good job of that and so did the other players that were out there with him. It wasn’t just all him but he did his part and did a good job on it too. I think everybody deserves a little bit of credit on that.

How do you make sure players are not living in the past and are living in the present and staying focused on this season?
Well, that is pretty much all we talk about. We just talk about what is going on now and what we have to do and what we are working on. We don’t make much reference to a lot of historical stuff. It is kind of the here and now. What’s going on right now, what do we have to do to improve something, what’s our challenge ahead, how do we meet that challenge and how do we prepare for it. That is pretty much all that we talk about. That is where our focus is. I think the players follow that because that is really all that we talk about.

Is there pressure to match last year’s regular season record?
Right now all we are thinking about it getting ready to play the [New York] Giants on Thursday night and get ready for the opener against Kansas City. This is really the only time we are looking ahead, yeah for the Giants but we are getting ready for the opener. The Giants game is part of getting ready for the opener. To some degree, they are related but that is really all that we are thinking about right now. Not about last year’s record or this year’s record or anything else. We are just trying to get ready to play a regular season schedule starting with Kansas City two weeks from tomorrow. That is what is front and center for us.

The offensive line seemed like it struggled last night. It that because of the unfamiliarity? There are so many guys, both starters and top reserves that are on the shelf right now.
I think there are a couple plays you may be able to attribute to that but overall I would say that Philadelphia has a good defense, they are well coached, they have good players and a good scheme. I think they created some situations for us that were less than optimum and we had a little trouble handling them. It was a combination of things. I think our offensive line has the same – kind of got a little bit better as the game went along. We need to get off to a faster start and be more productive earlier than we have been in the last couple of weeks. I don’t want to minimize that but I think that is something – there is no real short cut to that. We are just going to have to work our way through it and keep working. Work better together as a total offensive unit not just the lineman but the [running] backs and the tight ends and all the people involved. I think the players have a good attitude about it. They are working hard and trying to get the little things done right so the big things will fall into place and be consistent and dependable with it. It is obvious we are not there yet. We are working hard to get to that point.

If Tom [Brady] is unable to go in the last preseason game, does this present more opportunity for a guy like Matt Gutierrez to get an extended look and are you concerned if Tom does not get a snap in preseason?
Well, I don’t think there is any question. If certain players don’t play than the other players at that position get more of an opportunity to play – whatever spot that is. That is something that Matt Cassel, [Matt] Gutierrez, and Kevin [O’Connell] – I think all look for that opportunity to play their position, get a chance to perform, contribute and show what they can do. Last night, we saw a little over a half with [Matt] Cassel and less than a half with [Matt] Gutierrez. I am sure next week against the [New York] Giants we will see Kevin [O’Connell] get a chance to play some and we will figure out what the rest of the playing time is – based on everyone’s availability and so forth. For Tom [Brady], if we decide to play him than that will be an opportunity for him and if we don’t decide to play him or he can’t play or whatever it is then it will be an opportunity for someone else. Same thing we talked about last year with [Randy] Moss. You would like to have everyone out there all the time. The players that are, work hard to get better and the players that aren’t, work hard to get back out there as soon as they can so they can work with their teammates. Everyone is in one of those two categories. Whichever one they are in, they are trying to make the most of it to improve. All the players fall into one of those two spots and that is where they are at.

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