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Highlights from Bill Belichick on The Big Show, 12/28

12.28.09 at 6:26 pm ET
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Patriots coach Bill Belichick made his weekly appearance on ‘€œThe Big Show’€ this afternoon, and touched on a number of topics. Here are some of the highlights of the Q&A. (To listen to the entire interview, click here.)

Watching the film today was probably pretty satisfying’€¦
Well, there were some good things on the film. There are always things you need to correct, but when you win 35-7, there’€™s a lot of good things.

Was that a more complete game than you’€™ve played all year long?
I don’€™t know ‘€” I think we did a pretty solid job in most areas. I don’€™t know about ranking them, but it was ‘€¦ again, there’€™s always things we can work on. Things we can improve on, so, we’€™ll try to do that. But it was satisfying to come away, to be ahead at halftime, have control of the game and play well in the second half, finish it off and be AFC East Champions. So we’€™ll take it.

Were you supposed that Jacksonville didn’€™t try some quarterback sneaks or dives against that five-linebacker defense you run?
They tried to punch a couple of runs in there on it. We had, in the first half, we had some success early ‘€” Tully made a hit in the backfield, maybe for a yard gain or whatever it was. They did, they tried a couple of plays in there on it. They ran a draw there at the end of the game. ‘€¦ I don’€™t know. I think they gave the ball to their best back, and let him try to run it a few times. We anticipated that. We know we’€™re a little undersized there ‘€” we tried to do some things to cover up for that, so it wouldn’€™t be too inviting for them.

Has Tully’€™s level of play improved from a couple of weeks ago?
I think that’€™s pretty much the way he’€™s been all year. I think he’€™s had a pretty consistent year. I mean, go back to the Buffalo game, the opener, and all the way through, he’€™s been productive all the way. He’€™s worked hard, he plays the run well, he rushes the passer well, he pursues well. He’€™s having a real good year and he’€™s doing a lot of things real well.

Was there something you saw during the week, during practice that led you to believe your execution would be so clean a game on Sunday?
You never know, but I think we had good practices this week, especially on Thursday and Friday. I know that as a coaching staff, we felt that way, and I heard the players refer to that a couple of times during the course of the week. And you could hear it at the end of the week and after the game as well. Maybe that had something to do with it ‘€” I hope so. But it was certainly a good week of practice. A focused week, and a good execution week on the field in practice. Maybe there’€™s some correlation there.

On practicing during Christmas week not being easy’€¦
I think anytime you have a Holiday week, there’€™s always ‘€¦ there are things going on that we all have, and Jacksonville had them too ‘€” it was Christmas down there. I think it was good by our players to come in, and when we did go out on the field and we did work, they seemed very attentive, and our execution level was good. So I think that helped us during the game.

On the offensive line ‘€¦ seems like they’€™re working real well as a unit.
Protection was real good yesterday, as it has been all year. Our offensive line has done a good job. They were solid yesterday, and Dan and Steve both played some at right guard, Sebastian was at right tackle, and it seems like we’€™ve had a different combination every week or every couple of weeks, whatever it’€™s been. But those guys did a great job yesterday. Ran the ball ‘€¦ had some good runs over on the left side, with Light and Mankins over there. Chris and Ben did a good job too, on some of those outside plays. So yeah, I thought we had solid play from our line, and also our tight ends in the running game.

On Dan Connolly as a fullback on a couple of plays’€¦
Yeah, I thought Dan did a nice job. He had some real solid hits on those linebackers. He’€™s a big man coming in there, so when they come to take him on, it’€™s a little different than taking on a 235, 240-pound fullback. He’€™s really a powerful guy and he had some good blocks.

On using different guys in different positions and how much time they get to spend working on that particular speciality’€¦
We put the plays in and usually, we work those plays a little bit on Wednesday and Thursday. Usually Friday and sometimes Thursday is goal-line short-yardage ‘€” what we call a four-minute offense, meaning at the end of the game when we’€™re trying to run the ball and get first downs as opposed to really trying to score, and that’€™s a lot of times when those two tight or three tight ends ‘€” multiple tight end plays ‘€” come in, whether it’€™s an offensive lineman playing tight end or an offensive lineman playing fullback. Those type of formations usually get worked on later in the week, so ‘€¦ we know we’€™ve had those times. We’€™ve played Light at tight end, we’€™ve played Vollmer at tight end, we’€™ve played Mark LeVoir at tight end, we’€™ve played Connolly at fullback. We’€™ve used different combinations there. And those guys are versatile, they’€™re smart. It gives us the ability to formation things up a little bit differently.

After his fumble on the opening drive, I don’€™t think we saw much of any from Maroney. Was that a direct correlation?
I think all our backs were productive yesterday. They all had good plays when they had a chance to play. Sammy got some carries and hit a couple ‘€¦ like, a 15 or 20-yard run right off the bat and had some short-yardage runs. He kind of had the hot hand there, and so we gave him some carries.

So there’€™s no Bill Belichick Doghouse. It’€™s just who’€™s playing best.
I think all our backs, like I said, have been productive for us all year, and they all were yesterday, and I hope they will be going forward. I expect them to.

On Fred Taylor yesterday’€¦
It was good to get Fred some carries there and get some contact. Let him run the ball, and take some hits and read some blocking plays and just run the ball full speed as opposed to practice there at the end of the game. So that was good too. Kevin did a good job, as usual. We had a nice drive there when we took it down the field the first time, and really ‘€¦ all our backs were productive.

On the goal-line fumble and the challenge’€¦
I think there was a camera on the goal-line or pretty close to it, but like you said, there was just a lot of bodies there. They only really showed it from one angle. I don’€™t know if there had been a look at it from the opposite side, I don’€™t know what that would have shown. But I agree, it did look like the ball was pretty close to coming straight down and it hit either in the end zone or right on the goal line, however you want to look at it.

How does Welker get open all the time?
Wes had another good day, but there was a lot of other production at receiver, too. Baker had a big catch, Watson had a big catch. Moss had, whatever it was, three touchdowns. We got some plays all the way around. And Tom did a great job of getting the ball to the open receivers. Edelman had a big play for us there on a third and 10 or whatever it was, on the scoring drive there in the second half. Wes is a tough guy to cover, and we saw that when he was in Miami. We couldn’€™t cover him. He’€™s got great quickness and separation and instincts and really knows how to get open. So I think that’€™s opened some things up for some other guys too, and definitely Randy on that second touchdown, where there was three guys looking for Wes, that created an opening for Tom. Just like we’€™ve seen guys jump Moss and Wes comes free. Tom does a great job reading that, and picks out the open guys, and he hit him a lot yesterday.

On the search for a third receiver’€¦
Well, Julian’€™s done a good job with us on that this year. Sam Aiken has. And they’€™ve both missed some time, as we know. Of course, the tight ends and the backs. Kevin has always been productive for us. It’€™s kind of a little bit by formation, the personnel group that’€™s in there. We have other options to throw to. In the Carolina game, Ben had the big catches in that game as well as the interference penalty that set up the score. I think Tom can usually find someone who’€™s open on every play. He really loves to throw to Randy and Wes, but he doesn’€™t mind throwing to anybody else either. He doesn’€™t discriminate.

Did the success of the running game open up the play-action yesterday?
The play-action has been good for us all year. I think it’€™s complimented our running game well. I think the offensive coaches have done a good job of tying those together, our runs and our play-action, so that we kind of feel like the defense is stopping one, they really shouldn’€™t be able to stop the other one. Not every pass is successful, but that helps our running game. Not every run is successful, but sometimes, that helps our passing game. And I think that we do a good job of game-planning that and setting it up.

Not a lot of deep ball attempts ‘€” was that part of the game-plan or was that something Jacksonville showed you in their coverage?
They played, as they usually do, a decent amount of split-safety coverage. So you know, you’€™re right, there weren’€™t a whole lot of opportunities on that. Then, as the game went, there weren’€™t ‘€¦ it just didn’€™t work out that way. There were times when we had deep balls called and we ended up throwing the ball short. Could we have called more? Maybe. But we felt like the execution of the game was going pretty good. We were in a good flow. We were mixing the run and the play-action with some manageable third-down situations ‘€” third and 3, third and 4, a couple of third and 1’€™s. And really, that’€™s a great way for the game to go.

On the defense ‘€¦ guys like Meriweather and Sanders really stepped it up.
They were huge. I agree. Meriweather’€™s play on third down was really a terrific play on the reverse. Not only did he make the tackle, but he made a big hit right there on the sticks and he kept them short of it. Then, on fourth down, we got some penetration from Ty Warren and Adalius and that kind of kicked the ball out to James and he made the tackle on it. Ty only played, Ty Warren only played a handful of plays ‘€” four or five plays, whatever it was ‘€” but the plays he was in there for, he really had an impact on. The game got to the kind of a point where we tried to take some plays off of him, and then, fortunately, we were able to get ahead and it became more of a passing game and we didn’€™t need to play him very much. But the plays he was in there for were really good plays. And Mike Wright showed up again with some good plays this week too. But that run defense early in the game after they kind of came off the goal line, to be able to stop them there and kind of make them feel like it’€™s not going to be an easy running day, I thought that was important.

I know you’€™ve talked about doing what’€™s best for the team when you’€™re dealing with a situation like Sunday’€™s game, but is there a fine-line here for a coach trying to maintain the rhythm of what you’€™ve been building, and at the same time, making sure that you get your guys healthy and as close to 100 percent as possible?
I think there’€™s always a fine line about doing what’€™s best for your team. You want to make the best decision, but it isn’€™t always clear-cut. There’€™s different arguments for running the ball or throwing it or blitzing or playing in coverage, you name it. There’€™s a million of them. So we’€™ll see how it goes this week. We just want to make sure that we make the corrections from the Jacksonville game, try to improve in the areas that we need to get ironed out, and things that we did well, make sure that those are re-emphasized and re-inforced. And continue to do those and we’€™ll prepare for this week as we get into Houston. We’€™ll continue to do that tonight and tomorrow.

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