Bill Belichick Q&A, 11/9
|11.09.09 at 3:59 pm ET|
Thanks to the Patriots’ PR staff, here’s the complete transcript of Bill Belichick’s Q&A with the media today at Gillette Stadium:
BB: This was three games we played in the division. They’ve kind of all been the same. They’ve been tough, hard-fought games that have pretty much come right down to the wire, the last possession or two. [We’re] fortunate to come out on top yesterday. Miami is a good football team; they certainly presented a lot of problems for us. I thought our guys stepped up to the challenge. They played good in the second half after they went ahead, came back [and] answered their drive with a scoring drive and then played good on defense, moved the ball a little bit, got some field position and were able to hang on there at the end. It’s good to win. It’s good to win in the division and now we turn ahead to Indianapolis. I thought our team responded to a lot of challenges yesterday, coverage teams – especially what [Ted] Ginn did last year – pass protection. I thought we did a good job there with the line, the backs, the tight ends, all the people that were involved. We threw the ball to a lot of different guys. We ran the ball fairly effectively. We defended the run pretty well, except for a couple option plays there. But our red area offense, our red area defense was – give Miami credit – but that probably made game, the score, a little bit close, but then with some of the other statistics or opportunities would lead you to think it was going to be. It’s an area we’ve got to keep working on, so we’ll get back at it.
Q: The Moss touchdown and the subsequent two-point conversion, how did that unfold?
BB: On the touchdown play, he was running a crossing pattern with Wes [Welker]. The safety, I think it was [Tyrone] Culver, jumped Wes – kind of took Wes crossing there towards our sideline – Randy [Moss] came underneath it. That’s why there’s no safety there, he took the deeper cross to Welker and then Randy broke [Vontae] Davis’ tackle and went in. On the two-point play, they were in an all out blitz [and] everybody was single covered. They had some guys that basically, blitz coverage, they are all playing inside technique and Randy had an outside route, so he got a step on Davis there and Tom [Brady] put it out there. So it was two different coverages, really.
Q: On the touchdown pass, is there a primary receiver on that play?
BB: There’s never a primary receiver.
Q: It’s based on how the defense reacts?
BB: Yeah, the quarterback reads the coverage and then that takes him to a certain part of the pattern. And then based on how they play that part of the pattern, he either reads it from high to low or low to high, inside to outside or outside to inside, depending on how the route’s designed. If you put everybody over here, there’s no primary receiver. The only time there’s a primary receiver is on a screen pass and that’s the ups and downs of the screen, you only have one guy to throw it to. If you get it to him, you’ve got a play. If he’s covered than you’ve got nothing. Other than screen passes, there really – in our passing game – you might think there’s a primary guy because if they give you this coverage, which is what you’re expecting, that would be the read and that’s where it would take him, but if they played something differently the player would read a different receiver or a different set of receivers.
Q: Have there been a ton of teams that have all out blitzed Tom Brady like that?
BB: Yeah, sure, we’ve seen it in probably most games. Tampa did it. Tennessee did it. The Jets certainly did it. Buffalo didn’t do it a lot. Atlanta [all out blitzed] not much, a little bit. I think most teams run a few of those a game – two, three, four, five, six-to keep you honest during the game. Sometimes it’s situational. Down there close to the goal line where you usually either cover or you put a lot of guys in cover or rush a lot of guys rather than being somewhere in between, try to kind of make one or the other. That’s basically what Miami did. They were either a full coverage team or a full pressure team.
Q: Was that a big reason why you had two backs in the shotgun?
BB: We’ve done that before. It was just a game plan thing.
Q: You mentioned after the game that when you were going to go for it on fourth down it was stupid coaching. Were you joking or do you really regret that decision?
BB: Of having a penalty on fourth and one? Yeah, we should have just been able to execute a fourth down play and pickup an inch, two inches – whatever it was. And we didn’t and we had a penalty. It’s not what we were looking for.
Q: So you were OK with the call?
BB: There were just too many things that didn’t go right. That shouldn’t have happened the way it did.
Q: With Fred Taylor and Sammy Morris being out for a couple weeks, has Laurence Maroney stepped forward like you would have hoped?
BB: Laurence is ready to play every week. He came into the season healthy. He had a good spring, a good offseason program, a good training camp. He’s been out there every day working hard, he hasn’t had any limitations. He’s been out there on the field on a consistent basis and he’s worked hard. I think he’s been ready to go every week. I think he’s run hard.
Q: Has his performance improved in terms of keeping his feet moving?
BB: I think you are always talking about the timing in the running game and the reading of blocks, the blocks and the reading of blocks by the line, the tight ends, the backs and that’s something you’re always working on and it plays differently every week because teams have different players and the matchups are a little different and the way they fit on plays might be a little bit different. I think the bottom line is, Laurence has run the ball pretty well all year. I think when he’s had space he’s been able to make yards and when he hasn’t, he’s run hard and gotten what’s there and he’s taken care of the ball pretty well. When he’s had opportunities, he’s made good yardage. When he hasn’t – like most backs – they don’t make a lot of yardage when there’s nothing there.
Q: [On defending the Wildcat]
BB: The perimeter guys are definitely a part of that because of their perimeter running game. When they run that speed sweep to Ricky Williams, the nose tackle isn’t going to stop that play. It comes down to team defense and wherever they run the ball you’ve got to be able to defend it, whether it’s on the perimeter, off tackle, inside or some-type of counter, misdirection play. Everybody’s got to do their job with that and it starts, definitely, from the outside in. Most of those plays were inside, other than I think they ran two sweeps to Ricky, not counting the option plays. Those were obviously perimeter plays. Once we got that straightened out at halftime, we just didn’t play them well in there in the second quarter, but in the second half I thought we played it the way we wanted to play it, frankly the way we should have played it the first time, but we just didn’t recognize it quite quick enough.
Q: Were you surprised with the new wrinkle they put in of Pat White running to the outside?
BB: No, I mean, that’s what he does, he runs options. He’s more of an option player than Ricky and Ronnie [Brown] are when they’re running the Wildcat offense. He’s more the option guy. That wasn’t really any surprise.
Q: How much fullback had BenJarvus Green-Ellis played before yesterday?
BB: The last three or four weeks. He came in there at the Tennessee game after Sammy [Morris] went out and then Tampa [and] counting the Bye Week. He’s kind of replaced Sammy in that role.
Q: What makes him well-suited for that role?
BB: It’s kind of process of elimination. It’s not Kevin Faulk, so who’s your next guy?
Q: You moved Vince Wilfork to the end for a game. Does the player have a choice in that or did you have to convince him?
BB: Vince has played – in 2004 – quite a bit at left end. We’ve moved him around a little bit. He’s played on the guards. He’s played on the center. He played out in the three-technique. I think Vince had a good week. We talked to him about it early when Jarvis [Green] looked like he was going to be out. Vince worked there all week. I’m sure he could have gone back in and played inside if we needed him, but the way the game went and with what we were seeing – the way the schemes were, the way they fit together – we felt, during the game, that we should just leave him there. That was going pretty good. I think he did a good job over there both in the running game and in the passing game. Vince is the type of player that will do whatever he can to help the team win. He’s very unselfish. He really controls the front in terms of communication, line calls, adjustments, stunts and things like that. He really handles the front there. He’s a very smart player. He’s got good instincts. Usually, if something new happens, it doesn’t really catch him by surprise. He reacts to it pretty quickly. They tried to trap him yesterday and without really practicing it – we hadn’t practiced it – he read it perfectly, squeezed it down and made a play. It was on a Wildcat counter play. He’s just a good football player. He’s smart. He’s got good skill and he’s a very instinctive player.
Q: You historically don’t get caught up in the hype, you’re just worried about the next game on the schedule, but at the same time you’re a real student of the game’s history. In that spirit, do these Colts-Patriots games excite you?
BB: I think, right now, the most important thing is what it means to our football team. We’re 6-2 and it’s a big game for us on the road. We know it’s an outstanding team. They are undefeated this year, they’ve won 18, 19 in a row – however many it’s been. They’re pretty good. It’s a big challenge for us. That’s really where we’re at.
Q: In that spirit, people are still talking about the Colts-Giants 50-years later…
BB: For me and for our football team, I would say every game’s a big game. The biggest game is the next game.
Q: Going into this week, you’ve coached against Peyton Manning for 12-years, is it at all unique or different the challenge that he presents to the defensive coach as far as preparation of the mental game?
BB: He’s real good. He’s obviously a very skilled player and he has a good scheme. They have a good system they’ve been running for a long time, they have a lot of good players to run it with. On top of that, I know he prepares very hard, things that you’ve shown, he’ll be ready for. Looks that are different, he sorts them out pretty quickly [and] can figure out what you’re doing. It’s hard enough trying to stop him the way it is, it’s even worse when you tell him, ‘Well here’s what we’re going to do, what do you want to do about it?’ Well, they’ll have something they can do about it, so you don’t want to put yourself in that position anymore than you have to. You’ve got to get in position to play, but you don’t want to tell him this is where we are, go ahead and attack us. You want to try to keep him moving a little bit, keep him off balance and not do the same thing all the time or not do the same thing from the same look, have a couple of different change-ups off of it so you are not locked into one thing. That usually doesn’t work against him – whatever it is – it doesn’t matter if the team’s trying to play one thing repetitively, they have an answer for it.
Q: What do you remember from coaching Peyton Manning at the Pro Bowl?
BB: I would say all those things. He’s a smart guy. He’s really well-prepared. He understands the whole game – the passing game, the running game, situation football, how defenses think, how to attack them.
Q: Do you ever run out of wrinkles?
BB: Yeah, I think there’re only so many things you can do in football. It’s not unlimited. You have 11 guys, so there’re some multiples there, I understand that. You’ve got to be able to run something that your defense is comfortable running. We’re not going to go in here and install a new defense in the next couple of days and think that would be a good way to defend one of the best offensive team, not only this year, but really in the last decade in the history of football. They’re very good. You’re not going to come up with things in a day or two. You have to come up with things that you are comfortable with doing, that your defense is familiar with – at least their principles, you might give them a little different look, but you don’t want to be out there with everybody being hesitant and indecisive about, is it this or is it that? You want to be confident and be able to play aggressively and know what you’re doing and know what the guys beside you are doing. I think that’s the best way to do it. Do you want to give them a little different look? Yeah, sure. Are they going to give us a little different look? Sure. It will be things that teams are comfortable doing. Look, we’re 12 games into the season now, four preseason games. I don’t think now is the time to start putting in a new offense or a new defense.
Q: How do you decide how much you’re going to blitz against an elite quarterback like Peyton Manning?
BB: I think, when you take a good look at what your personnel is, what their personnel is and then you look at situations, you consider blitzing as one of your options. You weigh that against the other options. Sometimes you feel like that’s a good option compared to what else is available, sometimes you don’t. We don’t have any set formula for it and I couldn’t even tell you at this point. I haven’t studied them enough this year to even know the answer to that question, but it’s something we’ll look at like we always do every week – How much man? How much zone? How much combination? How much pressure? How much six-man pressure? How much five-man pressure and what you want to do it out of, what looks or what personnel groups? That’s kind of how we formulate the defensive game plan every week, so that’s a process that Monday, Tuesday, even Wednesday – it’s a two or three day process of formulating all that. Then you get into the game and then you have to decide, as far as calling that, you go in with a plan – OK, here are the situations we want to call these blitzes in or these coverages in – whatever it is. You many stick with that or you may get into the game and say we thought this was going to be good in this situation, but I don’t think it is because here’s what they’re doing. Then you get into the adjustments and counter adjustments.
Q: What’s the status of Dan Koppen?
BB: No, I don’t have any update, but Wednesday after practice we’ll let you know how he does in practice with an update then. I said yesterday and I could say this every Monday, it takes a little while after the game. The next day, take a look at them, see how they feel, see how they’re moving around, go out to practice Wednesday and see if they can practice or once they get loose how they go, we don’t know the answers to those questions, to tell you the truth, until we actually get a little time behind us. I thought Dan Connolly did a real good job of playing yesterday [and] when he’s had an opportunity. I said after the game, I think Dan’s [Koppen] a pretty fast healer and hopefully he’ll be back out there soon.
Q: Is there an update on Sammy Morris and are you anticipating that he will return soon?
BB: We’ll see on Wednesday. We’ll see on Wednesday.
Q: Is it taking longer than you thought?
BB: They’re day to day.
Q: How’d Sebastian Vollmer do?
BB: I think Sebastian’s gotten better each week, even going back to training camp. He’s a guy that doesn’t have a great football background, it’s solid, but it’s not [great] and he’s certainly added to it and he’s gotten a lot of opportunity to practice against good players and play against good players and get some game experience in preseason and now in the regular season. He’s learning every week, every play. But he’s very competitive, he’s tough, he’s long. He’s pretty athletic and he can stay with quicker guys and he can hold up to the stronger guys and play with the guys that have combinations of those two skills and his techniques are improving – his footwork and his hands and seeing things. It’s not perfect. He has plays that he can certainly learn from, but he’s got more good ones than bad ones and that’s heading in the right direction. He’s working hard.
Q: The mental aspect seems to be…
BB: He’s a smart guy. This guy’s smart, there’s no doubt about it. Again, anybody can be smart, but when you have five guys, or five guys and a tight end or five guys and a tight end and a back, [they] all have to see and sort out the same thing. Like Miami did yesterday, a lot of times they only had one defensive lineman in the game or two defensive linemen [in the game]. They’ve got guys walking around, linebackers walking in and out and Yeremiah Bell walking in there on the line of scrimmage, [Reggie] Torbor, [Akin] Ayodele roaming around there, and changing defensive ends, and [Cameron] Wake and [Joey] Porter and [Jason] Taylor. Who’s who? But we all have to see that, not just the left tackle. The center’s got to see it. The running back’s got to see it. So getting everybody on the same page, that’s really the bigger challenge rather than just somebody learning what to do, it’s all of us seeing it the same way.
Q: Dan Connolly has been around here a couple years now and yesterday he showed us a lot of things that Russ Hochstein used to do. At what point in his development here were you able to recognize that he could do all the type of things that Hochstein used to do?
BB: I don’t think athleticism with Dan’s ever been a question. For a big guy, he’s very athletic. He’s got good feet, he moves well, we use him on the kickoff return team – playing out there, blocking space out there in the wedge. That’s hard to do for a bigger – 300-pound body kind of guy – that’s tough, but he does that well. He plays on his feet. He’s not on the ground very much. I’d say the biggest thing with Dan is he came from a small school. Again, not a great football background in terms of level of competition and seeing the things that we see. The thing about Dan is he’s smart, he works hard, he’s got good skills. I think his progress has improved gradually, but in the last six to eight months he’s taken a big jump. Why that happened now and it didn’t happen at some other point? I don’t know if I know the answer to that. But from last spring, to training camp, to by the end of training camp this year his level of play has jumped up significantly. Then he played yesterday and I thought he did a real good job. But then we didn’t have him for a couple of games earlier in the season. Even out on the practice field, he really blocks, pretty much, everybody we put up against him. He’s really improved a lot in the last few months – confidence, experience – it’s really all coming to focus for him.
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