Bill Belichick Q&A, 11/19

Posted on November 19, 2008 
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Here’s the complete Q&A of Bill Belichick’s chat with the media this morning at Gillette Stadium:

BB: Well we are moving along on the Dolphins. I am glad we got an extra day to work on them this week. I think we are going to need it. They certainly give you a lot of things to get ready for and they are doing a good job with them, so I am sure we can use the extra time.

Q: Given the uniqueness of the Wildcat package, do you use one day to focus solely on that?
BB: No. The way they use it they kind of get in and out of it. They are in it for a play or two and then they are out of it. So, we will kind of practice it that way because that is what we are going to have to do. We are going to have to be playing our regular stuff and then they are going to jump into that and then they are going to jump out of it, so we won’t be able to just sit there and look at it. At least that’s the way they have done it the last six or seven games. We will have to be ready for them to move in and out of it like they did. Sometimes it’s in the red area, sometimes it’s on third down, sometimes it is on early downs, so we will mix it into practice more on that basis.

Q: I am sure he has a lot of work to do but how would you evaluate Pierre Woods’ start last week?
BB: Pierre has been playing for us all year. We have rotated him in there with Mike [Vrabel] and Adalius [Thomas] through the course of the year and I think he continued to build on that last week. He does a solid job. He doesn’t have as much experience as the other two guys, but he does a solid job for us, not just in last week’s game but all through the year when he has had a chance to play.

Q: You faced two good returners the last two weeks. Has their success been based on your breakdowns or their abilities?
BB: We play against good returners every week. Pretty much every team in this league has a good returner and we will see a couple of them again this week – very different styles with [Davone] Bess and [Ted] Ginn [Jr.]. We have to do a better job of covering the kicks and the overall coordination of our coverage units from the kicker to the contain guys to the inside leverage players to the safety to the whole works.

Q: Not that your team isn’t always hungry for a win, but do you notice anything extra from your players this week in regard to how Miami handled you last time and Joey Porter’s recent comments?
BB: Well, it is a division game. It is November. I think our guys are doing their best to get ready to go and I think they would do that regardless; I would like to think so, anyway. It is a big division game in the middle of November. I think everyone is aware of that and everybody wants to do their best, work hard and be at their best. I have noticed that but I think that is how it would normally be.

Q: Assuming Miami has improved, what do you have to be more aware of, overall?
BB: Overall we have to be aware of everything. They are good at everything. They are good against the run. They are good at [forcing turnovers]. They don’t give up a lot of big plays. They run the ball. They are efficient throwing it. They are good in the kicking game [and] they have good returners. They are physical and like you said, they did everything great against us in the first game, so all we have to do is look at that game. I don’t think you can come out of that game and say, ‘Well if we had just done this one thing it would have been ok.’ It was everything, so we need to work on everything. I don’t think you can single out one thing, no.

Q: What makes Chad Pennington a very good quarterback?
BB: He has been a good quarterback. I have never seen it any differently. [He is a] Good decisionmaker, real smart guy, very accurate with the ball. He hasn’t turned it over. I don’t know if anybody has less turnovers than him or the Dolphins, but they don’t give the ball up very much. He makes a lot of good decisions. He is smart [and] they give him a lot of latitude in the offense: check plays, in and out of plays based on the defensive look. He uses all of his receivers well. He gets the ball down the field to the wide-outs, the tight ends, uses the backs efficiently. He gets the ball to whoever is open. He’s a really smart guy with an accurate passing style. He is tough.

Q: Is Chad Pennington an example that you don’t need to have a great arm to be a good quarterback? Is a great arm overrated?
BB: Depends on who is rating it. I don’t think I have ever said that a great arm is a prerequisite. The two most important things for a quarterback are accuracy and decision making and I don’t think that will ever change. There are plenty of guys that can throw it through the wall that aren’t good quarterbacks. There are plenty of guys that don’t have the strongest arm on the team that are the best quarterback on the team.

Q: Bill Parcells has always had a reputation of turning teams around, has he had a role in turning the Dolphins around?
BB: I am sure he has had a lot to do with it. Bill has a great ability to build football teams, not just from personnel but in putting it together. I am sure that he’s helped do that whether it be staff, personnel department, medical department, so forth and so on. There are a million things that go into putting together an organization and a football team and he has had tremendous success at pretty much every place he has been. And it doesn’t surprise me that they are having success down there this year. He has had it at every place he has been. That’s not taking anything away from their coaches, players or anything else but I am sure he has had a big impact in them.

Q: What are the challenges of covering the middle of the field?
BB: They are strong because they do a good job of getting the ball to their tight ends, both [David] Martin and [Anthony] Fasano, with as much balance as anyone we have played. It is not just one tight end it is both of them and they are both effective. They get the ball to their backs. They get the ball to their receivers on a lot of inside routes but Pennington is good enough to get the ball where the coverage is light. So, if you have a lot of guys inside, he’ll throw it outside. If you try take away the outside guys, he’ll throw it inside. The running game is a problem, so they are a well balanced offense. They do a good job. He will attack you wherever you are weak. But, these tight ends are solid. They are good in the running game, they are good in the passing game and they are good in the red area. So, they get a lot of third downs, a lot of touchdowns for them [and] a lot of conversions. They are clutch guys. They catch the ball well and they get open.

Q: (On Miami giving up punt returns for touchdowns…)
BB: No, I think like all of us, everybody has breakdowns through the course of the year at some point – most every team does. They have had a couple plays that I am sure they would like to have back that weren’t great plays. We had a long kickoff return on them in the first game. But they are a very physical team. They are very physical in the kicking game. They tackle well. They are fast. They are aggressive and they knock a lot of people around. Sometimes when you have a really aggressive team like that, they overcommit, they get a little overaggressive and lose some leverage or lose a lane and against a good returner that could be costly, as we know well. But I think overall they have a very solid special teams unit. They are very physical in the return game and their returners are very different but they are both effective. Both [Davone] Bess and [Ted] Ginn [Jr.] have had big plays. They had that 100-yard touchdown called back against Seattle but that is the kind of explosiveness that they have had back there.

Q: I know you have a background with Patrick Cobbs when he was coming out of school, have you been impressed with him?
BB: He ran the ball well for us in preseason. He is a guy that we thought had a chance and we tried to get him on the practice squad. Then Pittsburgh signed him and he ended up in Miami. He has done well. He is a good football player. I forget how many carries he got for us in preseason but he carried the ball a lot and he was very impressive running it and catching it. He is a good athlete, a good player and we just weren’t able to keep him on the roster that year. But, he’s shown the skill and he has improved from where he was, like any player would from his rookie year. But, he has improved and he is a very productive guy.

Q: How has their rookie defensive end [Philip Merling] been?
BB: Merling plays rotationally, which really all of their defensive linemen do. They use them all in there and their linebackers too for that matter. They get a lot of plays out of everybody. But, he is active. He is quick. They use him in some passing situations. He is a hard guy to block. He is explosive; he is strong. He gets on the edge and he is a tough guy to handle.

Q: What about Kendall Langston?
BB: Same thing. He’s been a little bit more of a run player but he has been a very productive guy too. They have used all of those guys and they have all been productive – [Vonnie] Holliday, [Jason] Ferguson, [Kendall] Langford, [Phillip] Merling. They roll him in there – [Charlie] Anderson. They have several different sub packages, different guys inside, different guys outside. You are not really sure who you are going to get matched up against on the offensive line and they have been productive with that.

Q: Are you expecting Adalius Thomas to return this season?
BB: We will see.

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