Coach Belichick Q&A, 8/14
|08.14.09 at 7:42 pm ET|
Thanks to the Patriots’ PR staff, here’s the transcript of Bill Belichick’s conference call from earlier today.
BB: I think, just kind of as a follow-up to last night, looking at the film, there were again a lot of positive things in all areas and a lot of things that we still need a lot of work on, fundamentally, a lot of little techniques. There was, again, some good evidence that we’ve made some progress there and there were also times when we didn’t do it as consistently or correctly as we need to do it. So we’ve gone through the film in quite a bit of detail today, both as a staff and with the players here this afternoon, to get those things corrected. Of course, there were a number of scheme things. Philadelphia is a very good football team, as we know, and offensively and defensively they do some things that are challenging. So we had to make some adjustments there and handle some of the things they did that are a lot different from what we do. That was part of the whole learning process as well, not only for the players, but also for the coaches — our work, from the press box to the field, from the field to the players, and the play calling and all of those kind of things. That was good for all of us and so today we’re just trying to get back. As much contact as we’ve had during training camp, game action and game speed and game contact is another level up from that. So, as far as players kind of taking care of themselves, as far as treatments, and recuperation and so forth from last night’s game, in which we had a lot of guys get a fairly significant amount of playing time. You know, that’s another step here, where we kind of go from the training camp practices to games, to post games, to starting all over again for the next week and that process. We’re still definitely in training camp and we’ll have a training camp-type of schedule this week, involving night meetings and two-a-day practices and all those same things that we’ve been doing — with some modifications for our schedule. But we’re still going to maintain that same focus and that same emphasis. As we build forward to Cincinnati, we can hopefully try to gain ground on the foundation we laid last night against the Eagles and make some corrections and keep working to get better. I think that some players that didn’t play last night or that weren’t dressed are going to be closer to being out there this week. We’ll take that day by day, but it seems like we made some progress with those guys in the couple days we’ve been gone and then today. So I think that’s heading in the right direction as well. That’s kind of the update from here.
Q: Can you comment on Tom Brady’s performance and how it looked after you saw it on film?
BB: I’d say about the same as what I said last night. Tom did some things well. [He] moved the team, got us in the end zone. I thought he delivered the ball on time and accurately for the most part. There were other things that we can tighten up and that he surely will be better at the next time around. Some of the plays we ran could have had a little bit better timing. That was true the entire game, but I thought that it was a good start and something that we can and he can build on and we all can. [It’s] good to have him back out there. I thought he showed good leadership and presence on the field and in the huddle, as he always does. So it was certainly good to have him back doing that again.
Q: Can you talk about why those two touchdowns to Chris Baker worked and what he did well?
BB: In both those cases, Chris was able to run routes to get himself open. The first time, it was man coverage and they were double-covering other receivers. Chris had single coverage and he was able to create some separation and Tom [Brady] hit him. The second touchdown, Philadelphia blitzed and our guys up front did a good job of picking the pressure up. Tom had time to let the pattern develop and Chris did a nice job of adjusting his route and kind of creating an open … finding that open spot there in the seam and Tom hit him on that, too. Both those kind of routes are the routes that, if the first one is man coverage, the second one was zone coverage, and had the coverages been different — let’s say the first one had been zone and the second had been man — the routes would have turned out a little bit differently. Chris did a good job of identifying the situation and getting open. We had good protection on both of those plays and Tom delivered him the ball.
Q: Does that kind of performance only increase the coaching staff’s confidence in Chris Baker?
BB: I think the staff has confidence in all the players that are out there or they wouldn’t be out there. Chris has done a good job and he has gained everybody’s confidence from the spring practices and those training periods through the last couple weeks and last night. He’s been steady. He’s been solid. I don’t think that he’s … Like any new player, like every player, there’re always mistakes and there’re always corrections, but Chris is very professional and he’s done a good job in the opportunities that he’s had and he’s been productive.
Q: When you look at the younger group, there were some rookies that showed up pretty well last night. Is that a sign that at this point that they’re picking things up and making the progress you want them to?
BB: Well, sure. I’d definitely say it is, although — again — it’s a long process. It started back in the spring and day by day in camp, and you had a competitive game situation last night. So some of those evaluations are better than others and some performances are better. The big thing is I think all those young players are learning from what they’re doing and trying to correct the mistakes and not make them again and repeat them. [They] try to take advantage of the keys and coaching points and tips that they get, to react and make quicker adjustments and better adjustments. So I think all of that’s headed in the right direction. The rate of learning and execution varies; it’s not necessarily a straight line. A lot of times they will go along OK, then they kind of cloud up and then all of a sudden there’s a big clearing and a great growth spurt. Sometimes it’s more steady. Really, there’s no set formula on it. The big thing is you just want to see young players continue to work hard and take the coaching and the techniques and the little finer points that they get and utilize them and improve. I think our young players have all done that.
Q: Is the amount of 4-3 defense that you guys have played in training camp a sign that you don’t want to force the personnel to fit the scheme? You’d rather adjust the scheme to fit the personnel you have?
BB: We’ve played 4-3 and 3-4 and nickel and dime and a lot of things around here in various percentages or ratios over the years. What are common are the fundamental techniques that are taught within those schemes and the flexibility comes from the versatility of the players and — to a certain extent — game planning and the opponents that we play. I don’t think we really, we definitely, haven’t determined anything right now. We’re just teaching our defense and teaching the techniques; which no matter what defense we play, those techniques will apply to it at all the positions. We’ll continue to do that and as we face our opponents during the regular season, game plan it on a weekly basis to what we feel like will give us the best opportunity for that particular game and that week. That’s really what our approach is. But again, that can include our personnel, their personnel, schemes, depth. There are a lot of factors there in the decision-making process, but the big thing for us is to have the flexibility to be able to do what we need to do to be competitive against the teams that we see.
Q: A lot of times defensive linemen like playing in the 4-3 because they get more individual matchups as opposed to being double-teamed. When you play a 4-3, do you sense a certain excitement among your defensive line?
BB: Well, I don’t really understand the whole double-teaming concept so it’s hard for me to comment on that one. It’s the same number of players no matter how you slice it up so the whole double-teaming thing, I don’t really understand or get that. I think the payers appreciate good defensive football and that’s what they’re out there for and everybody’s got a job to do. There’s no one player that can stop any offense and I’ve coached some great players — the Lawrence Taylors of the world and other players not as dynamic as Taylor, but very, very good, outstanding football players. It’s about team defense and everybody doing their job and doing it well. That really extends to every position on the field, whether it’s man or zone or 4-3, or 3-4, or 5-2, or 2-5, or blitz, or coverage, or whatever you want it to be. It comes down to playing good team defense and that’s everybody’s responsibility. It’s a collective thing. That’s the way I know it. That’s what I believe in. I honestly don’t think there’s any other way to do it and that’s part of football. Every player has to give a little bit when they are a member of a team, in some way or another. It’s not an individual sport and so, collectively, there are some things that you do that are good for some guys, or some positions, or some group, and others have to do something that’s a little harder in order for that to be a little easier for the other group. That goes back and forth. I think that’s just inherent in football and certainly, fundamentally, that’s what defense is: 11 guys playing good team defense.
Q: Myron Pryor had a sack and was put on the field first last night. What did you think of his overall performance and did anything he did surprise you last night?
BB: I thought Myron played with pretty good effort and some technique. He’s got a long way to go. I think there were some plays that he certainly left something to be desired, but he did show up productively and made a few plays. I don’t think it was significant who was out there first, second, third or whenever they were out there. I don’t think that that’s important — the way our defensive rotation went. Myron is a talented kid. He’s quick. He’s got good strength. He’s a pretty smart football player. He certainly understands leverage and in-line play. [Inaudible] I think his fundamentals, his background and defensive football are very good, but technique-wise and some responsibilities are a little bit different than what he’s done. I think he’s adjusting well. He’s picked things up. He’s continued to improve steadily. So that’s good and I do think he had some plays last night to build on, also some that need to be improved.
Q: Can you break down Julian Edelman’s two punt returns?
BB: Well, on the first one, we had a rush on and most of the blocking there was to hold guys up at the line of scrimmage and the outside guys came down and put some pressure on us. The second one was a return and he made a couple guys miss. We initially got very good blocking on both gunners; they weren’t down the field. On every punt return, there are going to be a couple unblocked guys in the coverage unit. I mean, when you double both gunners, then you don’t have enough to go around inside so he was able to make a couple guys miss and pick up some second level blocks from guys that were rushed and then peeled back and he cut back on the last two defenders and out ran the team. Good running, good blocking, good effort and that’s kind of the way punt returns happen. It’s a combination between the returner making a guy or two miss or breaking a tackle, with the punt return team blocking well enough to get the punt return started, some extra effort blocks, second blocks or some type of extra effort play somewhere along the line by somebody in the return team to enable returner to go the distance. All those elements were in place on that play.
Q: Was there anything individually that Julian Edelman could have done on the first kickoff return that was negated?
BB: Anytime a guy has got the ball it — finally, in the end — comes down to whether the defender can tackle him and get him on the ground or not. Anytime you have a runner running, there’s always that opportunity to break a tackle or two, but we play against some very good tackling teams so I’m not saying that’s an easy thing, but it’s part of the challenge. The coverage team is even when you have a guy or two down to the ball to get the runner on the ground. The returner’s challenge is being able to avoid one or two of those guys and then pick up a couple blocks and be able to get into the coverage, split the coverage and break him down. That’s kind of the challenge on every play. There are always opportunities, some a little better than others. But, again. those are most always the elements that are involved in a long punt return – enough blocking or a low enough punt to get the returner started, the returner breaking a tackle or making somebody miss on his own and then some type of extra effort or second block made by somebody else on the return team to spring him.
Q: Going back to the 4-3. Did you guys use a variety of 4-3 and was there some under in there?
BB: No. Actually, we didn’t play any. I’m assuming you are referring to under, where the line shifted away from the tight end?
BB: We actually didn’t use any of that last night. We set it a different way. So I guess, technically, [we did]. Sometimes we were to the tight ends and sometimes we were away from the tight end on the strength. Yeah, we mixed in a little over, a little under and some nickel-type fronts. We had three or four different 4-3 alignments.
Q: How much do you look for players to step up at positions where there is a lot of competition and you might need to make cuts, like at tight end?
BB: I look for every player on the team to step up. I think it’s important for every player, every coach, everybody who is involved with this football team is looking for each of us to step up. That includes everybody, I don’t care what their role on the team is as a player or in any type of support position or coaching responsibility. I expect every single person that’s involved with this team to step up. That’s what we’re here for, to try to do our jobs well, do them better than the team we’re playing against, out-perform, out-compete the competition. I expect everybody to step up. That’s what we’re here for.
Q: How did you feel things went with your new coaches in the first game?
BB: I think that there were some good learning experiences for all of us. I mean, I haven’t called plays and made substitutions in basically six months or whatever it’s been — neither has anybody else. So there’s a breaking in period there, not just for each coach, individually, but coaches collectively and working together and making adjustments and making sure we see the whole play. Different people are sometimes assigned to watch different aspects of the play so making sure that communication and identification is all accurate and transferred exactly as it occurred so we can correct it. Those situations were all good for us, especially against a team like Philadelphia that does a variety of things. I thought that it was something where, at times, it was good; at other times, there were certainly things that could be improved. I think it was a good start for us, but we have a way to go to streamline all of that and make that more efficient and give the players the best information we can so that they can play aggressively and have an opportunity to perform the plays that we call. It’s a start and — just like the players — we have a long way to go just like they do. They’re playing. We have a ways to go in our coaching and our overall operations. It’s not different than any other year; it’s just part of the process.
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