Highlights from Bill Belichick’s appearance on “The Big Show”
|01.04.10 at 6:04 pm ET|
Patriots coach Bill Belichick made his weekly appearance on The Big Show Monday afternoon and touched on a number of topics, including the regular-season finale against the Texans, the “terrible” condition of the turf in Houston and New England’s first-round playoff opponent, the Baltimore Ravens. Here’s the first part of the interview. (To hear the complete interview, check the audio on-demand page of The Big Show.)
How are you doing today?
I’m doing good, ready to move on to Baltimore here. Ready for the playoffs. It’s an exciting time of year to be involved in postseason play. We’re looking forward to it — it’s one of our goals. And now, it’s here.
On your plan for the final game, and if that changed when Welker went down with the injury:
No, not really. I’d say we pretty much played everybody and we got guys some experience, in normal situations and in some situations that they hadn’t been in — for example, Hoyer. I think that’s kind of what we wanted to do going into the game. Everybody played, everybody got a chance to get some work, of the guys that were active. And that’s the way it went.
On the possibility of Brady vs. Hoyer in that two-minute situation at the end of the game:
That’s kind of what we did.
No thought of Brady in there?
Yeah, well, Tom’s been in a lot of two-minute situations.
Was Maroney a healthy scratch, or was it to get the other guys more carries?
We activated the guys we wanted to play.
On the Ravens – how much time did you spend on Baltimore last week, or did you have an idea that was the highest probability of who you would play?
Not too much time formulating a game plan, but quite a bit of time getting ready for them and preparing for them. Watching the game. That’s the team I spent all my time watching, and you never know how it’s going to turn out, but [we] kind of played the percentages that the Jets would win and that Baltimore would beat the Raiders, and that sewed it up, so … we’ve seen a lot of them. And we have a lot of scouting work done on them. Today, we’ll start on the game plan, tonight and tomorrow, and have that ready when the players come in on Wednesday. But they’re, in a way, the same team we saw, but in another way, they’ve evolved like all of us have over the course of the season, and they’re solid I all three phases of the game.
On how they’ve evolved:
I think it’s a little bit by game. But they seem to be a little more balanced running and passing. We got a lot of passing — I think he threw almost 50 times against us, or whatever. I think it was 40-something. And Rice is their leading receiver with 70-something catches. They get the ball to everybody, obviously the backs and the receivers. Heap and spread the ball around. It seems like they’ve balanced it up a bit with the running game and with Rice and, of course, McGahee had a big day for them yesterday. Gaither is back on the offensive line, and they’re using Chester a little bit as a second tight end, and Yanda is playing a little bit more. It seems like they’ve gotten a little bit bigger. And their fullback has had a real good year for them, and that’s helped them in the running game, too.
On how the Baltimore defense has changed and what is the key in dealing with that in that they do a lot of strange things with their blitzes?
I don’t think they’ve expanded too much. I think they pretty much do what they do. I mean, they have a good package, and they have some variety in what they do. But they kind of run that every week. You’re going to have to deal with their different blitzes, different coverages, and they’re going to kind of check you out on everything. I think the biggest difference is the players, and that’s definitely a concern. It starts up front with Suggs and Ngata and Trevor Pryce and it goes to the linebackers with Johnson and Lewis and then goes to the secondary. Of course, it starts with Ed Reed and Landry, so you have to deal with the players. You have to get away from those guys in coverage with Foxworth and Reed and you have to block them up front. They do a good job all the way across the board. And they mix it up on you. They have a good mix of calls and I think they’re a good tackling team and they’re physical.
When you played them in Week 4, that was Welker’s first or second game back. Do you expect them — with the Jets having a good game plan against you two weeks before — do you expect to see a little bit more of their aggressive defense without Welker in there?
They haven’t been. I mean, they pressure, but not to the percentages that say, the Jets did, and that’s kind of held true all year. They’ve gone through some guys in the secondary — Webb got hurt, they still have Foxworth, but they’ve had some transition there at corner a little bit. It looks like they mix it up, but they don’t give you a steady diet, like sometimes the Jets are more inclined to do.
On the Ravens’ defense playing more zone than man:
Yeah, more zone, more blitz zone. With a mixture of man. Not as much man coverage as the Jets. I’d say the Jets are predominantly a man-coverage team, and I’d say the Ravens are more of a zone team.
Do the Ravens have a better front four than the Jets?
I’d say the Ravens front four is probably as good as anybody’s. They’re very big, they’re physical. It starts with Suggs and so, a lot of times, they get all the pass rush they need out of him. Pryce is effective. Ngata is a big guy in there, Johnson rushes a lot off the edge. They have good rushers, but they’re big and they’re very physical, and it’s kind of a different pass rush. It’s not the speed rush of an Indianapolis, but it’s a powerful rush. They push the pocket. They push people back and they’re very strong against the run. They’re a good technique team. When they want to rush they can rush. When they want to sit on the line and play two-gap and play run technique, they play run technique.
The big and physical part sounds like their offensive line too. They are big and physical in the run game.
They’re very strong at tackle with Gaither and Oher. They’ve moved Yanda in a little bit at guard for Chester, and they’ve gotten a little bigger there. And, of course, Grubbs is a good guard, one of the best guards in the league. They’ve got a good blocking fullback in Le’Ron McClain. I think all of their backs run hard. They’ve used Chester a little bit at tight end, so that it’s not all on Heap, and Heap can do his thing, which is block some, but also do more in the passing game.
On how the Ravens have become Ray Rice’s team offensively. Is he like Brian Westbrook?
I think similar in that way — style-wise, he’s a much more physical runner than Westbrook. Westbrook, I’d say, is a little shiftier and more of a space player, kind of like a Kevin Faulk type of a player. Ray Rice is physical. He can pound the ball, he can get downhill a lot like the backs we’ve seen here in recent weeks, like D’Angelo Williams and the Buffalo backs like Jackson and Lynch and Thomas Jones from the Jets. Guys like that. He can run the ball tackle-to-tackle. That isn’t really Westbrook’s thing. Not that he won’t do it, but I don’t think that’s really his strength.
Was there any problem in Houston that turf?
The turf down there is terrible. It’s terrible. It’s just inconsistent. It’s all the little trays of grass and some of them are soft and some of them are firm and they don’t all fit well together, those seams … some of it feels like a sponge, some of it feels real firm and hard like the Miami surface. One step you’re on one, the other step you’re on another. I really think it’s one of the worst fields I’ve seen.
Remember those days when we used to have those arguments about the fields out here (at Gillette Stadium)?
And that field was terrible too. The good thing is it was consistent. Where it was soft, it’s soft. Where it was slow, it was slow.
Would you like to see the FieldTurf uniformly across the league?
No, not necessarily. I just think whatever the surface is, there’s a lot of good surfaces. Just whatever it is, if it’s good. I think the worst thing for a player is when it’s inconsistent. When you take one step and you get one feel and then the next step is a different feel, or like you have some of the old Astroturf fields, all the seams where the zippers would come up and the turf would start to turn over and you’d trip over it or it would give — you think you’re going to plant and it’s going to hold and then it gives, that’s a problem. Or you think it’s going to give and it doesn’t, and then it grabs. And that’s where a lot of non-contact injuries occur. Like, for example, the one we had on Sunday, which was a noncontact injury.
On Welker making the same cut he’s made before, only this time he’s injured:
For the level of play we have in the National Football League, I think consistency on the field would be priority No. 1. We talk about players’ safety, about hits and all that and that’s certainly an area that should always be addressed. There’s nothing more important than player safety. To me, player safety starts on the surface that we play on.
On the old baseball fields as part of football fields:
When you have the baseball field, you get the dirt infield and then you put the sod over that, and those were problems. We had that when I was in Cleveland, in Baltimore … a lot of the old baseball fields, you’d have the sod, which goes down which is soft, and it didn’t take in the infield like the rest of the surface did. You’d be going from a firm surface to a soft surface. But again the thing about that was kind of confined to that one area. Whereas on the field in Texas, you had those little trays — they were four by six feet or whatever the size of them is, but literally would change from stride to stride. I just thought it was … I mean, when I walked out there before the game, I was surprised at how … the lack of consistency of the field. And then, you had certain areas like the end zone or the area there in the middle of the field where the logo was that were very spongy. It was almost like a mini-trampoline. You could just sag in.
Was it wet?
Oh, yeah. They keep that stuff outside, and then they wheel it in there. I don’t know how they do it. That’s not really my thing. I just know when you walk on the field and you go from area to area and it’s different and it’s not consistent, that’s not what we usually see. We might see hard field, we might see soft fields. We might see high grass, we might see low grass. But it doesn’t fluctuate like it does on that field.
Someone said you were on the field before the game. Were you concerned about it before the game?
Yeah, absolutely. I said I walked out there and I thought it was terrible.
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