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Complete Q&A with Bill Belichick

02.22.09 at 1:32 pm ET
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INDIANAPOLIS – Here’s the complete Q&A that Patriots coach Bill Belichick had with the media this morning at the NFL Scouting Combine:

On Rex Ryan
Rex has had a tremendous career. He’€™s done a great job in Baltimore, coached with his brother Rob, and they are very much alike, so I feel like I know Rex even though I don’€™t really know Rex. I have tremendous respect for what he’€™s done with the Ravens and the players he’€™s developed and the scheme that he runs. He comes from a great football family, and I’€™m sure it’€™ll be very competitive against the Jets, as it always is.

On the outside linebackers/defensive ends available in this draft’€¦
The 3-4 outside linebacker/4-3 defensive end group and all that I think is an interesting group. I think there are some very talented players there, guys from different backgrounds. Guys that have been in coverage, guys who haven’€™t been in coverage, with pass rush ability. The Orapko’€™s and the English’€™s and guys like that, so that’€™ll be part of the process as we go forward and try to figure out how they would fit in into our system, how we would utilize them. What their skills are and how that translates. I think there’€™s an awful lot of teams playing the 3-4 defense now, certainly compared to 2000 when I came to New England, when it was pretty much us and Pittsburgh. Now, you have teams in our division, many teams in the AFC, a couple of teams in the NFC. You’€™ve probably got eight, nine, 10 teams basing out of a 3-4 defense, and that’€™s made those positions, those outside linebacker positions, the 3-4 nose tackle position, very competitive and very unique from the 4-3 complimentary spots. Scheme has an awful lot to do with how those players are evaluated from club to club.

Why are so many teams going to the 3-4?
I don’€™t know. Some of that is assistant coaches going to take their system somewhere else. Romeo going to Cleveland to take the 3-4 to Cleveland, or Rex going from Baltimore to take that system to the Jets. I’€™m sure he’€™s not going to change his system ‘€” he’€™s been too successful with it. Or Mike Nolan, when he went to San Francisco, and now Denver. It’€™s a little like the West Coast offense, when Mike Holmgren and Jon Gruden and Andy Reid and all those guys ‘€¦ Brian Billick and all those guys left the Walsh system and were head coaches. This league was a heavy West Coast offense, which it still is on the NFC North. So it’€™s trendy. But again, that’€™s the NFL. Things kind of go cyclical, and right now, 3-4 defense seems to be about as popular as it was back in the 80s when they actually had some  Pro Bowl positions follow the 3-4 defense to recognize some of those players on the Pro Bowl level.

On how happy Floyd Reese is to be back in the game’€¦
Floyd’€™s pretty happy with everything. He’€™s an upbeat, easygoing guy that has a great football background. I think Floyd is like several people I’€™ve worked with in New England. He’€™s been a special teams coach, he’€™s been a strength coach, he’€™s been a defensive line, linebacker, defensive coordinator. Assistant general manager, general manager for the Titans for 13 years. He’€™s been at pretty much every aspect of professional football that you could be in ‘€” coaching, the administrative side of it, the hiring and firing, the contracts, the negotiation with agents. All those things. He has a wealth of experience. Floyd kind of ‘€¦ as much as anybody, kind of mentored me when I got to Detroit. Our staff was an older staff and Floyd and I were the two youngest coaches on the staff. We ended up living a couple of blocks away from each other, and he ‘€¦ we kind of hung out together. Rode to work, rode to the games and worked together in the kicking game. I was coaching the tight ends and he was working with the linebackers, so we’€™d do drills against one another. So we communicated a lot, we had a friendship as well as a coaching relationship. I’€™ve just always admired and respected Floyd for what he’€™s been able to do. Even as a player ‘€” you look at him, and it’€™s hard to believe he was an All-American tackle, even at 5-foot-11 or whatever he was. But that’€™s the way he played. He’€™s a great achiever and a great worker, and that was something that rubbed off on me early, his work ethic. And his determination and versatility as a coach, I think that’€™s something that I appreciated very early in my career, and I’€™m glad I did. I’€™m glad to have Floyd. I’€™m glad to be able to work with Floyd again. I didn’€™t know if that would have every happened a few years ago, but I’€™m glad it’€™s worked out that way. I’€™m really enjoying him.

On the available defensive backs’€¦
There are some interesting guys here. There are some corners, there are some safeties, and then there are some guys that kind of fall in between. We’€™ll have to determine how they’€™ll fall in a particular system. I think that the safety position has become more and more of a corner position in the National Football League. There were times when some of the safeties, particularly the strong safeties, fit more almost like linebackers than they did as defensive backs. I think that’€™s changed gradually, but now to the point where your defensive backs a lot of times have to cover wide receivers or they have to cover tight ends who are very, very good in the passing game. Not guys running five-yard hook routes, and stuff like that. The tight ends in the league, and it seems like just about every team in the league has one, can get down the field and make athletic and acrobatic catches and can get open and beat tight coverage. I think the demand for that position has changed and I think that’€™s changed the evaluation a little bit. So maybe some of those hybrid guys who played corner and played safety ‘€“ like Jenkins, for example, is a guy who played both, what his best fit would be for a team, where he’€™s most valuable, is certainly an interesting discussion for all teams.

More on some veteran coordinators who aren’€™t working now, like Jim Haslett and Mike Martz‘€¦
I’€™m glad you followed up with that, because I feel the same way about that as I do about the head coaches. Mike Martz, there’€™s another Super Bowl winner, and Haslett, I have tremendous respect for Jim Haslett and what he’€™s done. Again, I can’€™t really speak for what other teams are doing or not doing. Believe me, I have my hands full trying to just coach the team I’€™m on, but it’€™s ‘€¦ as a coach, its just sort of a little bit of an empty feeling to see people like that not in the game. As much as I don’€™t want to compete against them. They certainly deserve to be at this level. They’€™re great coaches. Mike Martz has had a tremendous offensive career, and so has Jim, on the defensive side of the ball, as well as being a head coach. I don’€™t know. You’€™ll have to ask the people who do the hiring.

Is that trend of going young unfair?
Again, I don’€™t know. I’€™m just trying to coach the Patriots, really. I’€™m not trying to solve the worlds’€™ problems.

On his Cleveland days’€¦
Again, I was very fortunate in Cleveland to work with some of the great people that were there. Nick Saban, Scott O’€™Brien, Kirk Ferentz, Pat Hill, you can go right down the line. Scott [Pioli], Mike Lombardi, George [Kokinis], Phil Savage, Ozzie [Newsome]. It was a tremendous group of people. Terry McDonough. Tom Dimitroff. Tom’€™s dad, Thomas. Sr. ‘€¦ It was a great, great opportunity for me. I learned from all those people. I had the opportunity to work with some outstanding people on a lot of different levels. Ernie Accorsi was another great person to learn from there. All those different relationships in coaching, scouting and the integrating of all those different things into an organization. I think that had a lot to do with the success we’€™ve had from 1991 to the 11-5 season we had in 1994 was the work of the staff, not just the players but the coaches, the development of the younger players. Some of the offensive linemen that were developed by Pat Hill and Kirk Ferentz that people like Mike Lombardi selected or were signed as free agents. ‘€¦ I think there were a lot of things we learned from. There were a lot of things to be proud of. The accomplishments we had there between that 1991 and 1994 period, a lot of that had to do with the staff and people that were there.

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