| December 11, 2007 »
December 10, 2007
Transcript: Bill Belichick's Monday press conference
[There’s] not really too much different from what we talked about yesterday after the game. I’m proud of the players. I thought they executed pretty well against a real good football team. We made some big plays offensively and had a couple drives there when we needed them. Pittsburgh blitzed us a lot. Really, it was almost all blitz. It was a blitz-a-thon the whole day. Defensively we played better in the red area and the goal line, made a couple [of] big stops there. That helped us. Special teams, we had the turnover there that we couldn’t take advantage of, but it was a heads-up play by our punt team - James [Sanders] and Larry [Izzo], and those guys. [We] got a good return there from Chad [Jackson] to answer their first score. [There were] certainly some things we could have done better in that phase of the game, but I thought we had some plays when we needed them. The team played with poise, played hard. It was a physical game. I’m sure we’ve got a lot of sore guys in our locker room today, or tomorrow, whenever they come in, and I’m sure Pittsburgh does, too. It was that type of a game. We’ll try to put that one behind us and move on. We have a couple of games in the division here coming up. Obviously the Jets, who we saw quite a bit of last week in watching them play Pittsburgh, so we know what kind of football team they have and the job they did against the Steelers. That was an impressive win. So that’s where we’re at today.
Randy Moss said he was lobbying to you and the rest of the coaching staff since he got here to let him throw. How did he convince you?
Randy can throw. He made a nice play there where he - after he dropped it - picked it up and slung it back to Tom [Brady]. I think Tom put it well that Randy threw him the ball better than Tom threw it to Randy, but no, he’s got a good arm [and] can throw the ball. It was just a play we’ve had in for a little while and yesterday [we] had a good opportunity to run it. It was well-executed, though. We didn’t really plan on Randy dropping it, but he did enough to kind of help get everybody over there when he threw it back to Tom. There was just nobody left on the back side. And Jabar [Gaffney] did a good job selling it. It was 10 yards behind the defense. Those plays are always great when they work.
You utilized Chad Jackson in the kicking game to field punts. How do you think he did and what was the line of thinking in using him there?
We thought that was the best way to utilize the personnel in the game. I thought he did a good job. There are some other things that could have been better, like the kickoff return. We handled the ball a little bit cleaner, but I thought getting the ball back up to midfield after they scored was good. I thought he made a good catch on the punt that was a short ball. I think if he could have kept his feet there might have been a big play there, but at least it didn’t hit the ground and roll 20 yards like it usually does when you don’t catch it. So there’s some good things; there’s some things he can keep working on.
Obviously the offense made some big plays, but the defense did, too. There’s a couple I’d like you to talk about. One was Vince Wilfork’s sack - he talked about how he had picked up a call that Ben Roethlisberger made and kind of anticipated it. Also, on the fourth down stop that Rodney Harrison made on the goal line, he talked about having remembered seeing that play before and anticipating that.
I think Vince’s comment on his play is a lot more than I can add. That’s the kind of game within a game that goes on out there on the offensive and defensive lines where you’re just lining up that far away from the other guy for 50, 60, 70 plays, whatever it is in the game, and picking up a call or a stance or a weight-distribution or the way a guy kind of looks. That’s stuff you just don’t see on film and it’s hard to - As a coach, from the sideline, you just, that’s the kind of thing - I know Vince is a smart guy. Vince picks up a lot of things. We talk about it when he comes over to the sideline, you know, about, “I can read this, I can read that,” and he’s right. He can read it, and he’s right on those things, so it doesn’t surprise me that that type of thing happens, because he’s very astute and he’s got enough experience to know when to take a chance on it and when not to. I think he [exhibits] very good judgment on that. The fourth down play was - Mike Vrabel did a great job at the point of attack. He kind of pushed the wing back and when [Hines] Ward got the ball he couldn’t really cut up and would have had to give more ground to get outside. Rodney had him in man-to-man coverage, so when he trailed him over and took the hand-off, he kind of was in good position to make the play, as long as the ball got held up a little bit, which it did, but I think that had a lot to do with Vrabel pushing the line of scrimmage back and Ward kind of had to throttle down. Then there wasn’t much space for him to work in. Usually you get a guy, you get the ball guy in a little bit of space and you feel like he can make a yard one way or the other by just squirting through there, and that’s high-percentage football. Mike and Rodney both did a good job on that. Rodney made a good tackle on it. But yeah, after we got past the first series, that first long drive that Pittsburgh had, our third-down defense was better and our red area defense, we were able to make a couple of plays there, too. Those were good situational downs for us on the defensive side of the ball and that helped us, like I said, once we got past that first series.
On your first scoring drive - your second possession - there was a play where Laurence Maroney surged ahead for 10 yards and Moss came out of nowhere and sort of bashed Ike Taylor. Do you think Randy was setting a tone of, “You can be as physical as you guys are. We’re going to be physical, too”?
I think our receivers overall have done a good job blocking - better than we’ve done in some other years in the past. I’m not saying it’s perfect, but I think they do a pretty good job. I thought yesterday in particular they did a good job of blocking - Jabar, Randy, Donte’ [Stallworth], Wes [Welker] - they all, I thought, did a good job of blocking downfield. There were a couple of times when, like Randy peeled Taylor off the pile [and] did another time on a swing pass to Gaffney. Donte’ had a couple good blocks in there. Gaffney had a couple. Welker had a couple too, so they did a good job of blocking for each other and blocking downfield, but I think overall they’ve done a pretty good job of that this year. Like I said, better than probably overall what we’ve had in the past for awhile. It’s a good part of their unselfish play and it helps everybody else out. I thought the offensive line on that particular play, Laurence stayed on his feet and showed the kind of strength that he had. Logan [Mankins] and [Dan] Koppen and those guys were kind of in the pile. They just kind of kept pushing, too, and like you said, before you know it, two yards became 10.
Is there any formula that you use with rotation of you defensive linemen?
No. No, we try to utilize them, but it’s not in any set formula. Sometimes it’s by personnel groups, you know, nickel or dime, kind of like we do on offense when a certain back or a certain tight end will go in with a certain group of wide receivers, where we have a name for that - Group A, Group B, Group C. You go in on your group, and we do that sometimes on our defense, too, as it goes from our base defense to some of our sub-groupings. Then beyond that, there’s just a normal rotation and that’s done very unscientifically, based on what we feel like. It could be a variety of reasons, but what we feel like is the time to make a change or just substitute or roll them in. Sometimes it’s a function of what’s going on in the kicking game as well as on offense or defense. I know the question was about the defensive line, but really it rolls into every grouping on the team.
So you can make those on the fly based on the flow of the game or whatever?
Oh, definitely. Definitely. And sometimes the players make them on their own, although we don’t do a lot of that, but occasionally a player will come out because he has a sore something, something got hit on the play before or whatever and comes out, then he’ll go back in. So sometimes it’s that too, but we’ll substitute based on -- some weeks it’s down-and-distance, some weeks it’s the personnel they put it, sometimes it’s just to kind of give our guys a little bit of a break. Sometimes we know a certain player’s going to be in on one group, so we sub for him in a different group to try to balance out the reps and sometimes we feel like a certain situation is more important than another one, so we want to make sure we have our players in on that situation. Then if we’re going to rotate it would be in a different situation. So to answer your question, there’s no set formula over the course of a season. There may be a set formula for one particular game, but that fluctuates, too.
What is your impression of the Jets? Last year they were a playoff team, this year . . .
My impression of them was in the Pittsburgh game they played very well. And they beat
Pittsburgh. I haven’t seen yesterday’s game, but we watched the Pittsburgh game pretty carefully because we were watching Pittsburgh. We’ll get rolling on the Jets this afternoon and into the week. They did a good job against the Steelers.
Obviously the events of the first week of the season will be rehashed this week leading up to the game. What will be your approach this week and will there be any extra motivation for your team?
We’re going to approach it like every other game.
Just the way we’ve done all of them -- come in, look at the film, get together a game plan, try to figure out the best way to attack and defend them. Try to win.
And extra motivation?
We’re going to do the same thing -- we try to win every week, believe it or not. It may not look like it at times, but we do. We try to play our best game out there every week and we try to win every week, so we’re going to try to win this week.
Is there a point where you weigh the bigger picture against individual games?
Well, right now that doesn’t really come into play so I’m not going to worry about it and we’re not going to talk about it. We’re going to try to win the next game.
It appears from the outside the approach has always been to play each game independently.
Absolutely. And that’s exactly right. That’s what it is. I mean, people try to make more out of it than that, but that’s all it is. Just try to play this game for what it is.
Is there a benefit to that approach, even when there isn’t anything tangible at stake?
I don’t know how to approach the game any other way. We’re playing a team this week, so what should we do, talk about some other game? What’s the point in that? Talk about something that happened a month ago or last week or that might happen sometime in the future, which is so unpredictable -- it’s hard enough to predict what’s going to happen a couple of days from now. To think about, well, this is something that might happen a month from now…So, we don’t spend a lot of time on that. In fact, I would say zero.
For instance, Anthony Smith’s comments obviously gave everybody a little extra juice. So what happened with the Jets won’t provide any extra juice?
What happened yesterday was a function of our players executing some plays better than the Steelers and some plays not as well. There’s no points for any quotes that were or weren’t in the paper. [The] plays that we executed well, we gained yards on. The plays that we didn’t, we didn’t gain yards on and there were some of both. The plays that we executed well on defense, they didn’t gain too many yards. There were several plays that we didn’t execute very well - they gained plenty of them.
You don’t feel that the fallout from that Jets game has an impact at all on the rest of your season?
I’m telling you that we’re going to approach this game like we approached the last one and the one before that. That’s all I can tell you.
Did Smith’s aggressive nature towards the run allow you to scheme play-action plays a little better over the top with him?
Those are plays that are part of our offense, so we run them. We’ve run them in the past. I think that’s the decision that the defensive backs have to make, is whether they want to try to come up and help in the running game or whether they want to stay back, create more space in the running game and defend the deeper part of the field. But I think that the offensive line and the ball handling and all, it was good action. It sold the play pretty well and Randy - You’re talking about on his second touchdown? - He came out and put a good move on Taylor, held him outside and beat him to the post. I’m not sure really whether the safety was supposed to be there or not. I mean, I’m not sure exactly how they were keying or playing the play. You’d have to ask them that. Whether Taylor had him all the way or whether he was getting help, I’m not really sure. That’s something that only they could answer.
You talked about the Jets over the Steelers and how impressive it was. Given the nature of that win, are you surprised they haven’t had more performances like that?
I think I have a lot of respect for the Jets [and the] Jets players. They have some outstanding players and they played very well against Pittsburgh. I can’t tell you what happened in all of the other games. The only games I really am familiar with are our first game with them and then this Pittsburgh game because of the amount of time that we spent watching Pittsburgh last week. The rest of it, we’ll catch up on the next couple of days and try to be ready to go when the team comes in on Wednesday.
You’re facing a pretty stiff penalty. Are there any lingering feelings you harbor towards the NFL or . . .
I’m trying to get ready for this game against the Jets. That’s what I’m trying to do.
You have Jackson returning kicks. Is there ever a point where the division of labor can make players better at specific tasks? Is any of the logic to dividing the labor and not having Ellis Hobbs returning as much?
I think that -- sure. When you take your 45 players to the game, you decide how you want to go into the game, how you want to distribute all of the different jobs that have to be done amongst those 45 players. And a lot of times when you make the decision on the final roster that’s taken into consideration, is how you want to break it up. And whichever player you decide is your 43rd, 44th, 45th, whatever it is, then basically what you’re deciding is that that player has a more important role than the 46th, 47th or 48th. And that’s not to say - If we could dress those guys, we would dress them, and we would play them. They wouldn’t just dress, they would play, but you’re limited so you have to decide how you want to do it and it’s hard to take players to the game - the quarterback and back-up linemen fall into a little bit of a different category in terms of the utilization, because of the position that they play. They don’t for the most part play in the kicking game and things like that, so truly they’re insurance players, but you have to balance your depth on offense and defense with the plays that you need guys to do on special teams and all of the different situational plays that come up. That’s how you decide on your roster, on your final 45-man roster - if you have a choice. Now there’s some weeks where you only have 45 healthy guys and those are the ones you take. But if you have more than that, which was the case for us last week, then you have to decide which ones you’re going to take and how you’re going to distribute those jobs.
Can the fact that Jackson returns kicks make Hobbs a more effective defensive back?
Again, I think it’s a question of breaking it up. I’m not sure exactly how to characterize what the benefits are, but there’s some - I agree with what you’re saying, to a point. I’m not sure what the percentages are and how exactly it breaks down, but yeah, I think in theory if you have one guy out there doing everything - returning all the kicks, playing all of the plays on offense or defense, covering all of the kicks - that maybe if he played a few less plays than he might be more effective on the ones that he’s playing. I think that there’s some truth to that. I’m not saying that’s the case in every situation, but I think there’s some truth to that. And again, it just depends on - Sometimes you’d rather have the guy possibly returning kicks and playing less plays on offense or defense. It just depends on your make-up as a team and what you feel is the most advantageous for you as a team, or maybe in one particular game. Maybe it’s not the same for every game.
Now that you’ve had a chance to look at the film, how did Eugene Wilson look? It’s been quite a while since he’s been out there.
I would put Eugene in the same category I probably would put most all of the players in: They did some good things; there’s other things that could have been better. There’s always plays there, but it’s good to have him back.
Did he seem pretty fluid? I know he’d had the ankle for awhile.
He hasn’t been on the injury report for a couple weeks, has he?
Before the game yesterday there was a banner play that offended a lot of Patriots fans. Does it upset you or frustrate you that there’s a perception outside of New England that your wins or tainted or the season is tainted by Week 1?
I try to control the things that I can control, and that’s what I’m going to do -- coach the team, get them ready to play, get them ready to go. That’s what we have control over. [We] can’t control what else is out there.
Posted by Art Martone at 2:46 PM | Permalink
| Comments 0
JIM DONALDSON: Good times are a thing of the past
At least good starting times are.
Whatever happened to ``Sunday at One?"
With the decision Monday to push the starting time for New England's Dec. 23rd game with Miami at Gillette Stadium back to 4:15 from the originally scheduled 1 p.m., the Patriots now will wind up playing just one of their final nine games -- and only 2 of their last 13 -- at what for years has been the traditional starting time for NFL games.
The last time the Patriots had a 1 o'clock kickoff was Oct. 21, at Miami. Three subsequent games were switched from 1 o'clock starts -- Nov. 18 at Buffalo, which was delayed 'til that night; this past weekend's game with the Steelers, switched to 4:15; and now the Dolphins game, leaving the Jets game this Sunday in Foxboro as the only 1 o'clock start for New England in the final 2 1/2 months of the season.
The Pats played the Eagles and Ravens at night, and games with Washington and Indianapolis always were slated to kickoff at 4:15.
The only other 1 o'clock starts for New England this year were the season opener at Giants Stadium against the Jets and home games against Buffalo (9/23) and Cleveland (10/7).
While there is a compelling angle to the New England-Miami matchup because the Patriots are trying to go undefeated while the Dolphins are trying to avoid a winless season, it figures to be a one-sided game for that very reason, which could prompt viewers nationwide to find other diversions on the Sunday before Christmas.
Posted by Jim Donaldson at 1:27 PM | Permalink
| Comments 0
Pats-Dolphins flexed to 4:15 p.m.
The NFL has just announced that the New England-Miami game in Week 16 has been moved back to a 4:15 p.m. start, to be aired on CBS.
That means that this week's game with the Jets will likely be the final 1 p.m. game of the season for New England.
NBC has selected the Minnesota-Washington game as the Sunday Night Football that week.
Posted by Shalise Manza Young at 1:12 PM | Permalink
| Comments 0
What's up with Belichick's new look?
Patriot's Coach Bill Belichick abandoned his customary grunge look (right) for a shiny, puffy jacket (left) in yesterday's game.
Some Patriots' fans might have looked twice before recognizing the guy in the headset directing the Patriots from the sideline during yesteday's game.
Sure, that was the same Bill Belichick who has guided the Pats to an undefeated season so far, but where was the customary -- maybe even lucky -- hooded sweatshirt?
Survey: Tell us why Belichick replaced the sweatshirt for yesterday's game.
Posted by Jack Perry at 9:17 AM | Permalink
| Comments 0
Download today's Sports cover
Today's Sports cover highlights the Patriots win over the visiting Steelers as the Pats continue their undefeated run. Also, read how Providence College cruised past Brown in a men's basketball game at the Dunkin' Donuts Center.
Posted by Rich Lee at 7:18 AM | Permalink
| Comments 0