Bill Belichick 10/21, Q&A
|10.21.09 at 7:53 pm ET|
Thanks to the Patriots’ PR staff, here’s the complete transcript of the Q&A between Bill Belichick and the media today at Gillette Stadium:
BB: We’re just rolling along here. Like I said yesterday, we’re trying to put three days into two. We’re back at it.
Q: Does everyone have their passports ready?
BB: I think so, yeah, they all brought them in today. Checking the list, yeah, I think we’re all set.
Q: Where would you say Terrence Nunn is at?
BB: He’s on the practice squad. He played in all the preseason games. He practices with the team every day, so that’s where he’s at.
Q: Are you going to bring everyone including the practice squad guys?
BB: Yeah, we’ll basically…Not everybody, but [we’ll] bring a lot of people. This will be a big trip. There will be a lot of people on this one.
Q: Is that the type of thing that you have an idea of your deactivations at that point, is that why you would leave some behind or would you take everyone so you have some flexibility as you get closer?
BB: We’re going to practice Friday.
Q: With a guy like Terrence Nunn, how many chances at practice does he get to run the Patriots offense?
BB: It varies; it really does. It depends on how many other receivers we have out there. We had a couple weeks where we really haven’t had too many receivers [and] he would run probably more routes than some of the guys that played.
Q: How would you characterize your level of involvement in terms of logistics of the trip?
BB: Minimal. I don’t know anything about London. I don’t know anything about all the stuff they have to do. What I’m trying to do is learn about Tampa and try to get our team prepared to play them. All the logistics and all the details are being handled by people in our operations department, on all the away trips really. I don’t get any more involved in this than I would in a trip to San Diego. There might be a decision here or there: Do you want to meet here? Do you want to meet there? Do you want to practice there? But other than that, it’s all handled by people in our football operations and security department.
Q: People might not know what operations people do, could you pass that along and how they go about doing this on a week-to-week basis during the season?
BB: It starts in the spring; they travel to the sites that we play, the new ones. [They] don’t have to go to Buffalo, Miami and all that; we do that every year. But they go to the new sites, take a look at the facilities. If it’s a West Coast trip like it was last year and we’re staying at locations, we ended up in San Jose, but we investigated other places out there in California to stay. [They] go through all the things that you go through: all the travel, all the meals, lodging, families, all those kind of arrangements. We try to coordinate those. There was a lot of time spent on this trip in the offseason in terms of making decisions: when we’re going to leave – all that – where we’re going to practice, where we’re going to stay. There were some different options, so we talked about those. We got recommendations from the people who knew what we liked and what we try to do on a regular basis [and] made decisions based on that information.
Q: Being that it’s an international trip it has a different meaning as opposed to San Diego or something like that. Can you talk a little bit about maybe distractions?
BB: You can basically add two hours to the trip on each end of it, leaving and arriving, going through customs travel and so forth and so on. That piles a lot of time into a long trip anyway. It’s all new. We’ve never been there. We’ve never played there. The field’s new, the venue’s new, the locations, the meetings and all that is new. [We have to get] our own personal body clocks, time clocks, adjusted to the travel and [be] ready to play Sunday. That’s a little bit different. The West Coast, that’s going in the other direction. When I was at Denver and we came to the East Coast you kind of get that sense of traveling east instead of traveling west; it’s a little different adjustment. All those things are new for us. We talked about those to our players. Yesterday we spent a good half hour, 45 minutes going over that – making sure we look to the right when we cross the road [and] not the left, some of the real important things. Then we’ll touch on some of that when we get there. Those are all things that we’re taking into consideration and they are time consuming and they are distractions. It’s the same for both teams. It’s not like we have a home team over in London, so we have another team that’s traveling, too. There are things that are different that you just want to remind everybody and tell them how we feel the best way to handle them is. Hopefully it works out.
Q: Do you expect the footing to be a factor?
BB: Yeah, we have looked into it. I think it’s something that we’ll know more about later in the week when we actually get over there. We’ll be on that field Saturday. We’re going to a Cricket field on Friday, so that’s not really applicable, but we’ll be over there Saturday for the walkthrough. We’ll see what it looks like. Our footing and everything, we’re certainly prepared for a grass field. We’ve been on soft fields; we’ve been on hard fields, so I’m sure we’ll be able to handle whatever it is. We’ll just have to wait and see. It’s like that with every field though. Anytime you’re playing on a new field – a field that you’re not familiar with – you kind of get a scouting report on it. Don Brocher, our Equipment Manager handles all that stuff and he does a great job of it. He’s always aware of what the surface is, what it’s like if it rains and what the difference of that surface is compared to what we’re used to. We take the proper footing and if there is some kind of question about it, we take one, two, three different options and then if we work out on the field before the game or a pregame walkthrough – like this – than we’ll make our decisions based on that.
Q: You were excited to watch Darius Butler in the spring, are you happy with his progress?
BB: Well, Darius has made good progress. He’s a smart kid, he’s worked hard. Some of our techniques and coverages are a little bit different than what he ran [in] college and he’s certainly seeing a high quality level of receivers, both in practice and in the games. He’s adjusted well. He’s smart; he picks things up. He’s very coachable, you tell him how to do something and he tries to do it that way. He tries to play it the way you want it executed. Like all rookies, every game’s a learning experience, going up against different people, different scheme and a little different quarterback and all those kind of things. He’s learning from those and he continues to work hard and improve on a daily basis, I think that’s good.
Q: Josh Johnson seems to be a quarterback that can beat you on his feet as well as his arm, how much carry over is there from what you prepared for with Young last week, are there any similarities there?
BB: I’d say Johnson’s a lot faster than Young, not as big, but a lot faster. He’s very athletic, mobile in the pocket, doesn’t get sacked a lot. They don’t get sacked a lot period because their line does a good job. He’s very athletic and he’ll take off and run. He’s a sixth receiver, so you have to cover him on third down and possession situations or he’ll just run the ball for the first down. That’s definitely a problem, but very accurate, tremendous production in college tremendous, and he’s made…In the Philadelphia game, he had a drive before the half there. He had about four passes for about 80 yards, three or four throws right where there was no space to get the ball in and he got it in. He’s a very talented guy, I can see why he’s in there and he’s definitely a threat to beat you with his feet – not just running, but finding more time to throw and then getting somebody who’s open and putting it down the field. And they have big receivers that can go up and get the ball. Those guys like, Brian [Clark] and [Michael] Clayton are big physical guys. They can go up and take it away from you and of course the tight ends, [Jerramy] Stevens and [Kellen] Winslow are both kind of receivers more than they are tight ends. They are big targets, too. Sammie [Stroughter] is tough, running after the catch, so they’ve got a good group. [Maurice] Stovall, he’s another 6’5, 220 pound guy or whatever he is. They have some big guys to throw it to and it’s hard to over throw them.
Q: Carnelle Williams has had a couple injuries. Does he look like the same guy?
BB: He looks great, very powerful, great lower body strength, runs over people, hard to tackle, plays at a good pad level, he’s got a good running style. When [Derrick] Ward’s in there they just keep coming – [Clifton] Smith, [Earnest] Graham – They’ve got real good backs. They’ve got a stable of them. It doesn’t really matter who’s got the ball; they are all dangerous. Cadillac’s running very well, running strong, breaking a lot of tackles. [He’s] running a lot behind [Davin] Joseph. They’ve got a good offensive line, [Jeff] Faine, Joseph – the tackles have done a good job for them in there – [Donald] Penn and [Jeremy] Trueblood. It’s a good group.
Q: You just talked about Tampa’s running backs, you’ve had a couple banged up the last couple of weeks, are you comfortable with the depth you have at that position?
BB: No, you’re never comfortable. You’d like to get as many as you can get. We’ll go with what you’ve got and the guys that are healthy will play and the guys that aren’t we hope will get back as soon as they can. I know they are working hard. We’ll just take those guys day-to-day and when they’re ready we’ll plug them back in there, but in the meantime that will just be more opportunities for the guys that are active.
Q: At various times in the season you have various running backs split out wide, what do you get out of that matchup and if Sammy Morris is out can the other guys do that?
BB: I think you’ve seen all our backs line up pretty much everywhere. We have a multiple group of formations. The problem for the defense, when a back splits out, is how do they want to matchup with it. Probably you’re best matchup is to put a linebacker on him – not that the other guys can’t cover him, but then if you waste a corner or a safety on a running back, generally speaking, those guys aren’t as good a receivers as your receivers then you end up with a linebacker covering a receiver or a linebacker covering a tight end. It depends on what coverage you’re in and how you want to matchup to it, but it displaces the defense and it gives the quarterback an opportunity to see how the displacement is set up and potentially where the weaknesses of it are. Of course protection is an issue, the fewer guys you have in the formation the less guys you have to block, so that shortens the corner, puts a little bit more pressure on the pass protection end of it if they blitz, but if they blitx they have more guys to cover you’re not keeping anybody in. It’s got its pros and cons.
Q: Derrick Brooks was a staple on Tampa’s defense for a long time, how different does their defense look without him?
BB: You’re right, he was down there forever and he was a great player for the 13 years – or whatever it was, 14 years, but it was a long time. They’re very fast at linebacker now. [Barrett] Ruud’s just a tackling machine. He must have 100 tackles already this year. He’s in on 20, 25 plays a game. He’s all over the place – runs, passes, inside, outside. It doesn’t make any difference what the call is or what the play is it seems like he’s getting up off the pile when it’s over. They play their linebackers; they bring Ronde Barber in there and play him as a linebacker, inside guy in their sub-defenses, so they are very athletic inside. They run well. They tackle well. Jim Bates, I’ve know Jim for a long time, we worked together in Cleveland. He’s an excellent defensive football coach. He’s got them hustling around like he always does; they’re playing with a lot of energy. They have good team speed and their linebackers are very active. I’m not saying its Derrick Brooks – that guy was a special player – but they’re a fast, active group.
Q: At the beginning of the season when you formulated the roster, was there a thought to go with just four or five backs and how did BenJarvus Green-Ellis factor in that mix?
BB: BenJarvus did a good job for us in preseason, but he did a good job for us last year, too. I think that carried a lot of weight, his performance in the ’08 season. When he was called on – really at different points in time – both running the ball [and] catching the ball, pass protection. He does a real good job and he’s been a factor for us in the kicking game, too, he’s contributed there. He has a lot of versatility. I really think he can play on all four downs; he’s not limited in any situation where he’s just a first down back or just a third down back or just a returner or anything like that. He can operate in all those situations pretty effectively and he’s smart and he knows what to do in all those things, too. It’s not just the physical skills but mentally he’s very good on blitz protection, blitz pickup assignments, formations, routes and things like that, which is hard. That’s definitely a challenging part of an offensive system for our backs. He’s done a good job across the board and it’s kind of been like that since day one. He’s been very impressive since the first time we had him here in rookie minicamp and then in the spring minicamps, kind of like how Gary Guyton was on defense. I’m not saying you don’t expect anything…I mean, this guy was a good back, in a good conference, at a good school just like Gary Guyton was a good linebacker, in a good conference, at a good school, but they come in and start competing with your veteran players and even some of your younger veterans – second and third year guys – and they’re right there with them or maybe even moving a little bit ahead of them and it catches your eye pretty quickly. From no experience and no big hype coming in, they show up here and start making plays and start doing a lot of things that guys who supposedly are more talent or supposedly have more experience, they’re doing them better [and] it kind of catches your eye. I would say Gary and BenJarvus both fell into that category last year and have continued to improve and progress through the entire time they’ve been here. It wasn’t just a one hit wonder, quick shot at it. They started fast and they built on it and built it to a very high level.
Q: When it comes to making a decision to promote a guy, how does it work?
BB: All the players that are on the roster, all 53 players and [those who] are, at this point, healthy enough to play in the game – there are some guys that are questionable and day-to-day, you have to figure that out, but there’s a lot of players that aren’t – and all the practice squad players, all eight of them, are basically told the same thing every week, which is: study the game plan, know the scouting report, know the team you’re going to play and get ready to play and if you get the opportunity to play then go out there and play well and if you don’t then you’ve gained from that experience – that preparation and the time that you’ve put into that team – you’ve gained the experience of doing that and the next time you do it hopefully we’ll all improve just like we all do. When you do something multiple times you get better at it and you prepare again the next week and when you get the opportunity you play. We’ve activated players from the practice squad, sometimes we’ve told them at the beginning of the week or from the P.U.P list, which is now coming into play this week. We’ve activated them at the beginning of the week and said, look, if things don’t change we’re going to do this, we’re going to active you, here’s what your role is going to be. But we’ve also had plenty of situations where we come in Saturday morning and say, ‘This is your week, we’re going to bring you up this week.’ To me, that’s not news to them that, ‘OK, you’re going to play this week’ we told them on Tuesday or Wednesday that you should be ready to go, ‘Here’s the position your learning, this is the role you have, this is what we want you to do.’ If it works out that way then there’s your opportunity, if it doesn’t then – like I said – you learn from it and start again next week. That’s the process, really, it doesn’t change. It’s the same every week.
Q: Darius Butler played receiver at UConn, would he be an option to play receiver?
BB: He’s a pretty talented guy, a pretty skilled athlete, he’s got good ball skills, he can run, he’s quick. I think he certainly has the physical ability to do a lot of things on the football field, offensively, defensively and in the kicking game.
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