Bill Belichick Q&A, 9/9

Posted on September 9, 2008 
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Here’s the complete transcript of Bill Belichick’s conference call with the media this afternoon:

We’re kind of into a regular season routine now with it being a regular Tuesday [and] players are off. We are working on our preparations for the [New York] Jets. They are a team that made a lot of moves in the off-season. We have seen the preseason games and saw last week’s game against Miami, which was another solid performance – like the Jets always give in all three phases of the game. In the end, they made some plays like we did to keep Miami out of the end zone on the last drive to win by a touchdown. We have always had it tough with the Jets. The last time we played them up here, it was another dogfight and that is what we are expecting down there in New York again this week. We have a lot of work to do. We’ve got to try to improve our team from where we are here in the early part of the season, move forward in a positive direction and get ready for the Jets. It will have a little different look with Brett [Favre] in there as quarterback. There are plenty of changes besides that one too that we will have to prepare for.

Is there anything new with Tom Brady in terms of his condition?
No. I don’t have any updates.

Matt Cassel hasn’t started a football game since 1999. The actual game experience is hard to simulate. What will it mean to get that game experience he had last week under his belt and get in another game this week. How much will that help him in terms of going forward?
He started all four preseason games and he has played quite a bit of football for us. He played more than any other quarterback, by far, in the preseason and has taken a lot of snaps in training camp. I think that is the best preparation he could have for this year. It is what it is. I don’t think there’s anything, more or less that could be made out of it. He has had a lot of snaps this year and a lot of preparation. Of course, that will increase this week for the Jets relative to last week when Tom took the majority of the snaps. I think from an overall standpoint, going back to July and even in the spring, he has had a lot of reps. He’ll get some game opportunity this week.

When game planning this week, how much will you have to go back and look at Brett Favre over the last couple of years as opposed to looking at what the Jets themselves do?
Are you talking about going back and watching him in Green Bay? I don’t follow you.

It seems there is differences between what Brett Favre did in Green Bay last year and what the Jets did on offensively last year.
Right. But, Favre has been in their offensive system for about a month, so there are plenty of plays with him running the Jets offense. I am sure they will have some new ones for us on Sunday, probably, like they do every week anyway. They did that when Chad [Pennington] was the quarterback. I am sure there will be some new wrinkles in there. But, I think the majority of the plays that they’ve been running over a month – we will see some variation of those. It might not be the exact look that they ran against somebody else but the essence of the play will be the same, with a different formation or different personnel grouping to disguise it. I think that is what their offense is. It will continue to grow and they’ll build on it. We have no idea what direction they are heading in on that. That is just something we’ll have to react to during the game. I can’t imagine they will put in a whole new offense in one week when they’ve been working on that stuff for a month with him.

With Matt Cassel, will that affect your game plan?
Again, as I talked about yesterday, we change our game plan every week depending on who we are playing and what the match-ups are in each individual game. Even when you play the same team twice during the same year, it changes from game to game because of the different circumstances. There are always variables in each game. Our game plan for this game will be what we think will give us the best chance to win. That will be different than what it was from the last time Tom played them anyway. I think that is part of the way we prepare. We’ll try to set up the things we feel like are best for this particular game against the Jets. That is what we will go with. Obviously, there are some things that Matt are a little more comfortable with than Tom and there are some things that Tom are a little more comfortable with than Matt. I would say the majority of what we do in our offensive system that all the players have to run- the lineman, receivers, backs and tight-ends – that all of our quarterbacks can run that and we might modify a couple things a little bit. But, it certainly wouldn’t be to change the offense.

Following up on Tom Brady ‘the no update’ – is that because you don’t have any information or do you prefer to keep it in house?
I don’t have anymore than what I told you yesterday.

There were reports that Chris Simms and Tim Rattay came to town and you told them to leave- that the situation had changed. Any insight you can give us?
They visited but we didn’t give them a physical and we didn’t work them out. I didn’t even see them while they were here. They did visit. They did come in, but we didn’t end up doing anything with them. We sent them back.

Do you anticipate another veteran presence at quarterback?
We will look at what our options are across the board in every area of our team. We will look at whatever those options are and do what we feel is best for the team. I’m not going to say what we would or wouldn’t do. I will just say that we will try to evaluate everything. We will look at our options and try to make the decisions, when and if we feel like they are advantageous to help our football team.

Is it fair to say that anyone you brought in this week wouldn’t be of much use to you on Sunday, so this Sunday you will be going with your two quarterbacks?
Well, I think it would be hard to get a quarterback ready who hasn’t been in our system. It would be hard to get them ready to do much in a week, I agree with that.

Can you comment on Jerod Mayo? It looked like he was out on the field for a lot of Sunday’s game against Kansas City.
He was out there for just about all of it. Jerod has done a good job for us all the way through. I thought he did a nice job against Kansas City. There is always room for improvement but I thought he did a nice job. He was in all the different personnel groups, running situations, passing situations, two minute, short-yardage and so forth. I thought all in all he handled things pretty well. He has done that in preseason too, so that’s just a continuation. I think he’s had a good background in our system. He has been out there on the field. He hasn’t missed time. He’s been able to stay up with everything, execute it and run it out there. Dean Pees and Matt Patricia, his position coach, have spent a lot of time with him, getting him ready. He has worked hard to absorb a lot of information and preparation. I thought that overall came together fairly well last weekend and I hope we can continue to moving that forward in the right direction.

If you are considering bringing in a third quarterback, can you speak about your decision making process, balancing the idea – when a player has been in your system vs. someone who would be coming in and would have to learn the system from step one?
We’ve talked about before, new players coming into your system, there is no way exactly to know how that learning curve is going to go or the time frame that it’ll take. There definitely is one, I’m not saying that. The time frame of it would depend on the individual player, his background, how quickly he picks things up, how familiar that is to something else he has done, how many reps you could give him and a lot of other variables. It’s a long season. We’ve got 15 regular season games left, so I don’t think that bringing a player in and him taking – two, three, four or five weeks to be fairly efficient in the system is out of the question. That would be a possibility. You would be looking more for a longer-term situation than something this week. I wouldn’t rule that out. I am not saying that we are going to do it either. We will look at our options, as I said, and do what we feel like is best. A player that has been in our system has an advantage of knowing the system, knowing the terminology and the operation – that may or not be the best player for us. That’s, again, a decision that we would have to make. He would probably have an advantage in the short term [but] whether he had an advantage in the long term that would be a point of discussion.

There were reports that Randy Moss might have put in a good work for Daunte Culpepper. Do you put any stock in letters of reference from players on team?
Sure. Absolutely. I think if someone has good working knowledge of the situation, of course we would talk to him and take that into consideration. I don’t think any player is going to head up our personnel department, I don’t mean it that way. But, would we take any source of information and take it into consideration? Of course we would.

Assuming you have talked to Tom Brady, is there anything you can share with us about his spirits or any sentiments he would like to share with his fans?
No. I think Tom can do that himself. Whatever he wants to share and any feelings he wants to express, I think that he can do that and would be better than me trying to speak for him. I will pass on that one.

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