Bill Belichick on The Big Show: Albert Haynesworth ‘day by day,’ ‘impressed’ with Chad Ochocinco
|08.15.11 at 6:50 pm ET|
Patriots coach Bill Belichick joined The Big Show from Gillette Stadium on Monday afternoon for his first weekly interview of the season on Patriots Monday. Belichick touched on the first preseason game last Thursday, what to expect for the second preseason game, second-year wide receiver Taylor Price and how it has been evaluating talent due to the lockout. Also, Belichick discussed Albert Haynesworth and Chad Ochocinco joining the team and possible new looks on defense this season, among all other things Patriots-related.
(To hear the entire interview, click here.)
Here are the highlights from the interview:
ON THE FIRST PRESEASON GAME: It was [different] leading up to it, but in the end we just went with what we felt like we could do and it was probably less than what we had in some other years. It was OK. There were a lot of things we need to work on, we take those out and try and emphasize them and work on them.
WHAT THE TEAM NEEDS TO IMPROVE ON: I think some of the things we need to do better is number one taking care of the ball offensively. We had the ball out five times, they fumbled five times. A couple of times they blew us down and it didn’t really count as a fumble, but balls were loose. That was an emphasis for us this week. Also, getting the ball. We only had one turnover, and of course that was by a receiver, so we have to do a better job of turning the ball over defensively and forcing fumbles, holding onto interceptions, things like that. I didn’t think our return game was very good. Taylor [Price] had a good return, but that was nullified by one penalty and they could have had another one called as well. So, we didn’t get much out of the return game. Those are a couple things. Of course we had some execution on plays that you can imagine was a little less than ideal. I think we can hopefully coach that and learn with it and do it better the next time around.
ON OCHOCINCO JOINING THE PATRIOTS: I can’t really speak to what happened with players and what happened with other teams and situations. I evaluate them on what they’ve done here. Chad has worked really hard, he has done everything that we have asked him to do. He is in excellent shape, he starts early, he stays late, he practices hard. It is a new offensive for him, he has put in a lot of time and effort to work on it and get it down with the other receivers and Tom [Brady] with the coaching staff and [wide receivers coach] Chad O’Shea and [offensive coordinator] Billy O’Brien. He’s worked really hard and I’ve been impressed with what he’s done so far.
ON HAYNESWORTH NOT BEING ABLE TO PRACTICE: First of all we have a number of players who haven’t participated very much so far and of course that is disappointing. We’d like to see all of them there. I do think they are all working hard to get back and are getting better. I think we are closing the gap there.
I think Albert has been great since he got here. He has worked hard, and done more than what we have asked him to do. He has put in a lot of extra time and extra effort to try and get back on the field, to study and catch up on things from a playbook standpoint that he is a little bit behind on. He is working hard to get back out there and I am sure he will be out there as soon as he can. We are looking forward to having him.
ON HAYNESWORTH POSSIBLY PLAYING IN THURSDAY’S GAME: It is kind of a day-by-day situation. We’re just taking it one day and a time and seeing how it goes. As I said he is definitely making solid progress as are our other injured players that aren’t out there. I think everybody is getting closer. Every day, two days, we go out there and try it and see how close they are and if they are really ready to play or if they need a little bit more time. I think we are getting to that point with several players that we are pretty close to turning the corner, so we will just have to see whenever that is.
ON SEEING MORE OF YOUNGER PLAYERS: I think that is a big reason why we played the game as we did play one group for basically the first half and then another group for the second half. They got quite a bit of extended playing time. We were able to evaluate them series after series, their conditioning, stamina, their ability to process information, make a mistake and come to the sideline and correct it and go back out there and do it the next time, see if we can get it right and do it better, things like that. It was a longer period of playing time for fewer players is what it ended up being.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN THE SECOND PRESEASON GAME: We will evaluate all the players and do what is best for the individual players and the team. Some of the guys that didn’t play as much last week will play more ‘¦ in order to get a good look at everybody some of the players that had playing time last week will get less playing time this week and vise versa. We will do it on an individual basis and what we feel is best for that player and at the same time build up some continuity with our units so it is not just a mix match type of thing. We want to get our players playing together, but sometimes that isn’t always possible.
ON WIDE RECEIVER TAYLOR PRICE: I thought he responded very well, Taylor did a great job of catching the ball. He made a couple of tough catches inside and after with the ball in his hands he made a nice run on the hitch pattern outside where he he broke down the sideline for whatever it was, a 50-yard gain. I think Taylor really showed up, kind of like he did last year in Miami at the end of the season where he got a chance to play and made some plays. He has had a good camp. Hopefully he can keep putting those plays together, and have some consistency.
ON HAVING FOUR DOWN-LINEMEN: I certainly think there is a lot of carry-over between our nickel defense and some of the things we were doing on early downs in a four-man front. We have had a lot of experience in a three-man front and we felt like in the first preseason game and in a number of our practices that we wanted to emphasize that and work on it and improve our techniques both in sub-nickel situations and also in early downs. We wanted to get some experience on that, get it on film and corrected and be able to improve on it. We will continue to do that. We also know how to run an off front and I am sure we will get to that.
ON COACHING A 4-3 BASE DEFENSE: It is definitely some new techniques, well I wouldn’t say they are new techniques but rather techniques we’re using more frequently than we did in the past. Just a little bit more of an upfield charge and playing more on a shade of a linemen rather than head up. With all that being said the thing I was pleased with in the game was even though we got creased three or four times in the running game, issues at the run force or inside trap plays, that kind of thing we were able to get on the sideline, draw them up, get them straightened out and when those plays repeated later in the game we handled them better than we did the first time around.
ON NOT NAMING A DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR THIS SEASON: I just think the responsibilities on defense everybody’s got them. I don’t think titles are all that important. The coaches that return from last year Patrick Graham, Pepper Johnson, Matt Patricia, Josh Boyer, I think they did a good job last year. Brian Flores is also assisting us on that side of the ball. I feel good about the coaching staff, they work well together and have a variety of responsibilities and they all contribute to the coaching of the players, game plans and all that. Everyone has a job to do and hopefully collectively we can do it well.
ON THE SHORT WINDOW TO EVALUATE TALENT: We got a late start that is the big thing. We started late — probably the first week, eight or nine days of training camp a lot of it was putting our team together. We brought in people that weren’t with the team last year, we signed some free agents, our draft picks by the time they came in a week had gone by and we made a couple of trades. So the acquisition of some players, we also released some players that were with us at the end of last year, so it took us about a week just to get our roster a little more set than what it was when we started camp.
I think also there is a big learning curve with the rookies coming in. It took them a little while, and of course the veterans hadn’t done it in six months and the coaches hadn’t coached it in six months. It took all of us a good amount of time to get back in a groove and a routine with guys that couldn’t practice and a week later some of those guys could practice even though they were here for meetings. The whole thing was that first week was really hard to get the most out of those practices. I think after that first week we got into a flow after that and we’ve got a lot more done since then.
ON THE APPROACH OF SIGNING PLAYERS: I think what has happened in the last three weeks has been while we’re in training camp we’re having to do a lot of things that we usually do in free agency in April. March and April is a time where you visit with players, you give them physicals, you talk to them and kind of get a sense of where they would be if you had them in your system, whether you actually sign them or not. That is just a part of the process. Of course we weren’t able to do that this year so when training camp started there were a lot players out there that are still available and really the question is, is where are they physically and in terms of their career but also contractually, but those are all free agency things that usually get taken care of the spring. We have had to do it over the last three weeks, we have been bringing in players every couple of days at all positions just to know where we would go if we had the urgency that we needed to sign somebody.