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Bill Belichick Q & A, 11/28

11.28.09 at 8:48 pm ET
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Courtesy of the Patriots media relations, here is the transcript of Saturday’s press conference with Patriots coach Bill Belichick. The team leaves Sunday for New Orleans to get ready for the Monday night showdown with New Orleans at the Superdome.

Q: How was your Thanksgiving?

BB: Good. It was good. It was a good time to reflect a little bit and be thankful.

Q: Did you watch much football?

BB: No, I didn’t. I sure didn’t.

Q: Do you get away from it for a day?

BB: Sometimes you do [and] sometimes you don’t. I didn’t Thursday. I just saw a little bit of the Denver/Giants game – a little bit of the second quarter – that’s about it.

Q: Did you cook?

BB: No.

Q: Nothing at all?

BB: No. I’m the eater.

Q: You won in London, but is getting a big road win something that you say is one of the targets for any successful season?

BB: Oh yeah, it’s got to be. You only play half of your games at home, so you’ve got to win some on the road. And that really wasn’t the kind of hostile environment we normally see on the road. Look, you’ve got to win some at home [and] you’ve got to win some on the road. You can’t win them all in one place; it’s just not enough wins.

Q: [On the silent count]

BB: We’ve pretty much been in a silent count for about five or six years on the road. I would say that’s probably most teams except some of the teams that come here. The loud stadiums, you’ve got to have it. And even if it’s not always loud, it can be loud at points in the game.

Q: Mr. Kraft has already spoken to you about the last time you were at the Superdome and winning your first Super Bowl, what kind of reflections will you have just before game time?

BB: I don’t know what will be going through my mind then. Right now, it’s really just focusing on New Orleans. It’s a huge game and they’re a real good football team. They are undefeated, they’re playing at home and it’s Monday night. Really, our attention is just turned towards them.

Q: In terms of defensively what this team must do, going up against the league’s leading offense, are there any defined goals that you want your defense to accomplish?

BB: They are a hard team to stop and I just think it’s going to come down to everybody doing their job. It’s not one guy you’ve got to gang up on – they’re all good – the quarterback is good, the running backs are good, the tight ends are good, the offensive line is good, the receivers are good. They have good scheme. Sean [Payton] is an excellent coach that puts a lot of pressure on the defense from an X and O standpoint. He forces you to deal with a lot of different concepts, a lot of formations, a lot of personnel groupings, all those things, so it’s really hard to single out one of them and say, “We’re going to do this” because there’re 20 other things you’ve got to worry about, too. I think everybody’s just got to do their job. Hopefully, defensively, we can have a plan that puts the players in a competitive position, but then it’s just going to come down to a lot of one-on-one matchups and team defense and team offense. They present a lot of challenges. I don’t think you can just call a defense or go into the game and say, “We’ve got to stop this one thing.” There’s not enough of anything that you can say that about, and there’s plenty of everything. They’re very challenging. It’s obvious why they scored a lot of points, they’re good.

Q: Do you make sure during the week that you have different guys working together during practice?

BB: Yeah, that’s always the case. We hardly ever go to a game with more than seven offensive linemen, occasionally eight, but very seldom, most of the time it’s seven. Those seven players have to cover five positions and that’s the way most teams do it, but that’s about as thin as you get. Usually you have four or five receivers for two or three spots, or three or four backs for one or two spots – things like that. The offensive line positions, you have the fewest players for the most amount of spots. There has to be that kind of flexibility every week and sometimes in situations where you go into a week of practice where you’re not sure who the active players are going to be that spins the wheel a little bit faster. And that’s true of other positions, too. There’re times that you’re short a linebacker, receiver, defensive back or whatever and you go into the game, and we talked about that last week or a couple weeks ago. It’s challenging for the coaches to set up practice because you don’t want to move everybody around because at the game if so and so plays then everybody is kind of back in their normal spot, but on the other hand you don’t want to practice and then that player who’s maybe not going to be available then isn’t, then you really haven’t practiced without him, so you kind of have to try to find that balance within each unit.

Q: How different do personal styles vary? For example, someone like Logan Mankins to not know if he’s going to be next to Matt Light or Sebastian Vollmer.

BB: All those guys have been playing together all year, so that’s been since the first day of training camp and each week in practice. I don’t think they feel that way, I really don’t. Certainly you feel more comfortable with a guy you are playing in a game with every week compared to somebody that you’re not. But guys that have played, whether it’s Sebastian, Mark [LeVoir], Nick [Kaczur], Logan, Dan [Connolly], Stephen [Neal], Dan Koppen – they have all played and I think they are comfortable with each other, and we do that in practice.

Q: Where would your comfort level be right now in terms of the week of practice you’ve seen from your offensive line?

BB: I hope we will be competitive. I don’t know exactly how all that will turn out. We will see here in the next 48 hours or so, but I hope we’ll be competitive. They’re a good front. They put a lot of pressure on you. They have a lot of good players. Gregg Williams has a very aggressive scheme and you’ve got to block them. They are going to be there and they’re going to change it up on you and pressure you, and they have a lot of good players and they use them all. They rotate them through there. They blitz their linebackers, they play their front, so we’re going to have to do a good job. We’re going to have to block them.

Q: Can you confirm that Sebastian Vollmer suffered a concussion last game?

BB: Whatever is on the injury report, that’s what we’ll list. That’s what it is. Does that help?

Q: Were there any nerves putting him back in or does that have to get cleared?

BB: All the medical decisions are made by medical people. The doctors don’t call plays and I don’t do surgeries and do medical exams.

Q: The doctors never offer advice in the games?

BB: They don’t substitute players and call plays and I don’t get involved in the surgeries. That’s a little deal with have.

Q: Could you provide an update on Fred Taylor and how he’s doing?

BB: He’s doing better. He’s getting better every week. It’s been a few weeks now and he’s making progress. He’s heading in the right direction.

Q: [On the NFL having a neurologist on the sideline]

BB: I have no idea. I’m sure whatever it is it will be dictated that this is the way it is and then we’ll all do whatever that turns out to be. I have no idea. You would have to talk to the people that are involved in that process, which we’re not.

Q: The Saints just signed Mike McKenzie, do you go back and look at his film from two years ago?

BB: Yeah, sure. We’ve seen those players and actually we’ve done work on those players ourselves because they were free agents and we always try to keep up on those in case we have an interest in them, so we want to evaluate where they are and what their last playing status was. Our personnel department does that procedurally anyway and then just for that very reason then if another team signs him we have the book on where they’re at and if we were interested in them then we would know what the last views on tape were. I’m not saying that’s exactly where the player is or isn’t, that depends on his physical situation, but at least you have his most recent views on film and an evaluation of those.

Q: What is the danger of blitzing a team like the Saints?

BB: Anytime you bring more people to the line of scrimmage you have fewer people behind them. The downside is if those people there, close to the line of scrimmage, are blitzing don’t stop the play before it gets into where you have fewer people then you’ve got fewer people, more space to defend and that could potentially lead to bigger plays. As far as hitting people, defensively, you have 11 players and they’ve got 10, depending on how much of a runner [the quarterback] is, but let’s say he’s a passer or hand off guy then they’ve got 10 then you decide what you want to do with your 11 guys, so anytime you commit two to one then you’re nine on nine somewhere else and that thins that out. Anytime you double team a guy, whether you hit him or two guys cover him or you commit coverage – three on two or four on three or two on one – whatever those numbers are – then that levels the field somewhere else, so you can only do that in so many spots. Anytime offensively one of your offensive players takes out two of their defensive players that gives you advantages somewhere else, which is no different than defensively anytime you can make two people account for one defensive player then that thins it out somewhere else. That’s kind of what all those matchups are about. Hopefully if you put two guys on somebody that will take care of it, it doesn’t always, but hopefully it would. If you double team a rusher or double team a receiver, however you want to do it, you would like to think those two guys would be able to handle that one and then you have to deal with everybody else. It basically just comes down to numbers. You have so many options and you can do it a lot of different ways but in the end when you run out of people, you run out of people, you can’t double everybody. It’s like all those defensive linemen talk about how they’re getting double teamed on every play, how many double teams can there be?

Q: When you look back to the 2004 draft, that was the draft Will Smith came out of, I remember thinking that he could fit what you do defensively. What were your thoughts of him coming out and what have you seen six years later in terms of how he’s developed?

BB: I think Will Smith could fit any defense. I can’t imagine there being a defense that he wouldn’t be able to help. He’s certainly a guy that we had a lot of interest in. [He’s] a big guy that can run, rush the passer, pursue well, strong play at the point of attack, athletic, plays on his feet. He’s got a good group of skills. [He] plays hard. He’s been productive. I think he’s been about the player, where he was drafted, and what people thought he would be including us.

Q: When you looked at him, was he that defensive end or outside linebacker?

BB: I think he was really more of a guy at going forward. I don’t think you would want to put him in coverage a whole lot. I think if you had him you use his skills rather than try to convert him into something. I don’t know how good of a coverage player he would be, or you would want him to be, but I think he’s very productive as a defensive end or defensive lineman. I think he can be versatile and you could do some different things. Not saying you couldn’t put him in coverage from time to time, but I wouldn’t really see him as an outside linebacker. It would be like taking a guy like Julius Peppers, could they play outside linebacker? They probably could. Every play they dropped I’m sure the offense would [cheer] they are not coming.

Q: You ended up with Vince Wilfork in the 2004 draft, was it just Will Smith and Vince Wilfork?

BB: Sure. Look, anytime you can get a good defensive lineman… In our situation, any team I’m coaching, if you can get a good defensive lineman – I don’t care where it was or what the situation was or how many you might think you have – you really can’t have too many of those guys, if they are good.

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