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December 14, 2007
Parking advisory for Pats-Jets game
From the Patriots:
With the potential for winter weather, fans are advised to take weather conditions into consideration by leaving early and using extreme caution on the roadways.
Gillette Stadium parking lots will open at 8 a.m. Stadium gates open at 11 a.m and kickoff is at 1 p.m.
Stadium officials are asking fans to be patient approaching the stadium, entering the lots and entering the stadium.
ALL FANS ARE strongly encouraged to Park in P10 or P11.
From the North, stay to the right and park in P10.
From the South, stay to the left and park in P11 or P10.
TRAVEL BY TRAIN
Avoid the roads by taking the train from South Station or Providence.
Tickets are $12 for the round trip and may be purchased for cash only. No other Commuter Rail tickets or passes may be used. Coolers and backpacks will not be allowed on the trains. No personal possessions may be left on the trains. Trains will depart Foxborough 30 minutes after the conclusion of the game. For more information about attending Patriots games via MBTA, log onto their site at www.mbta.com/riding_the_t/patriots or call 617-222-3200 or the ticket office info line at (800) 543-1776.
Posted by Shalise Manza Young at 11:56 PM | Permalink
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Transcript: Defensive coordinator Dean Pees' Friday press conference
How will losing Mike Wright affect your guys?
Obviously we’ll miss Mike, just like Rosie [Colvin]. You’re always going to miss a player. He’s a versatile player for us and has held some different spots for us. He was getting better all the time so obviously we’re going to miss him. It’s kind of like what we’ve always said and how we’ve always kind of been here - and how you’ve really got to be everywhere - it opens up the door for someone else, whether that is Le Kevin [Smith] or whoever it might be. We’ve got to adjust and somebody else has got to step up and take his spot.
How is that going to affect your rotation? Is it fair to say that some of the guys you have been trying to rest a little bit are going to have to play more?
It just depends. It depends, again, on Le Kevin and the versatility because he’s been working hard and he’s got some versatility too, so we’ll just have to see how the rotation goes. I can’t guarantee… I can’t really tell you one way or the other that they’ll play more because Le Kevin won’t or Le Kevin will play more. It just kind of depends on how well he plays and comes along. [That] will give us that flexibility.
Will you be able to play as much 4-3?
Whether we play 4-3 or 3-4, we’ve always kind of traveled with the same number of defensive linemen, so generally that doesn’t make a lot of difference what form we play.
What about Adalius Thomas in the 4-3? He played end in the Colts game. Can you envision more of that, or was that just a specific package?
It really depends on the [opposing] team and what all they do. It really is more of a tactical question that I can answer based on a particular team because you just can’t play the same front, necessarily, against somebody that maybe shifts a lot or doesn’t shift a lot. And [it depends on] how many checks are going to be involved. There are a lot of things that go into it. It would be too hard for me to answer quickly. We could do it in some situations and not in others so there’s always that possibility.
Bobby Petrino was a college coach for a long time and he left the University of Louisville and went to the Atlanta Falcons. He recently left the Falcons after 13 games. Having your background in college football, why do you feel it’s a tough transition for coaches like Bobby Petrino and others we’ve seen come from the college game, and then go back?
I don’t think it is necessarily a tough transition. I think it’s all up to the individual. If it was a tough transition for him, I can’t answer that. He has to make all the decisions based on what he thinks. I didn’t feel it was a tough transition. Maybe that was because of the players I had and because of the organization I’m with [or] whatever. I’ve felt really comfortable from the day that I came from college football to here. I think to blanket all college coaches into one and say they are Bobby Petrinos, or to couple all guys like me that don’t feel like it was a hard transition -- I don’t think you can do that. I think it’s really on an individual basis whether a guy has a hard time with it or doesn’t.
I understand that you probably didn’t have much knowledge of it, but what did you think when you heard about Petrino’s departure?
The only thing I would say because I don’t feel like it’s my position to ever criticize anybody or condone anybody for what they do. My first thought was that it puts the Atlanta Falcons in a very awkward and tough position with three games to go. It’s one thing if you get fired; they made that choice to fire you with three games to go. But when you leave with three games to go, I feel like it puts the players in a tough position and the organization in a tough position. But again, I don’t know all the facts. I don’t know why he did it so that’s his personal decision.
Did it require some soul searching for you when you made the jump?
I can’t state that New England was not a real long discussion in my mind and I don’t mean that negatively toward Kent State. I just felt like having the chance to come this organization was… I felt like it was a great opportunity. There were a lot of things involved in the decision, but that was an easy decision. That took about two seconds to call my wife and say, ‘I’ve already accepted the job.’
So you were leaving?
We were leaving and she knew it. She knew I only had to talk to Bill [Belichick].
Knowing what we know about the linebackers in that room and how they like to give each other hell, I’m guessing that with an Ohio State guy like Mike Vrabel that Kent State has to have come up at some point.
Mike is from Kent. His house, his home where he grew up is in Kent, Ohio. He went to Akron to high school, to a Catholic high school, but he grew up in Kent so we’ve gone around and around with that stuff. I’m from Ohio; my whole family went to Ohio State, except for me. I’m a Buckeye-guy, not by choice, but they didn’t recruit me. I didn’t have any choice.
I want to ask you about Eugene Wilson. Obviously, injuries have limited him a little bit this year, but how much has his decrease in playing time been health-related, or is it something else?
I think it’s quite a bit. I would say that he certainly has not been healthy and he’s been working hard to get back. He’s doing well. He’s had a good week of practice. But I would also say that James Sanders has played himself into a position where it could have been a rotation had there been an injury or not. But I think all three of them were playing well and Eugene was hurt so that made the decision a little bit easier.
Posted by Art Martone at 1:37 PM | Permalink
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Transcript: Bill Belichick's Friday press conference
We got a little work in the snow yesterday. That was interesting, but [it’s] just part of the preparation for playing at this time of year. You never know what you’re going to get, but most importantly, [we’re] spending as much time as we can here getting ready for the Jets and all the different scenarios and problems that they present. So we’ll kind of wrap it up here today, putting it all together with the situational stuff and review the things we did on Wednesday and Thursday and be ready to go on Sunday afternoon.
What concerns do you have for the fans coming out if there’s really adverse weather conditions, as they’re predicting, on Sunday? Is there any chance this game could get called off?
I have no control over any of that. That’s way, way beyond me. I’m just the coach.
You’d play in front of nobody?
You’d have to talk to somebody else about that. I’m just trying to get the team ready to play. I don’t know between . . . I know that the league handles that, our security people, our . . . I don’t even know who makes those decisions, but certainly not me.
What’s the coldest [game] you’ve ever been in? I know in Cleveland you had some cold ones.
I’d say one of the coldest games was the Giants playoff game against the Bears, ’85. It was cold that day. It’s always cold when you get beat 21-0, I can tell you that, though.
Was that worse than that Tennessee night game?
The score has a lot to do with how cold you are. It’s never really that cold when you’re winning. It’s a lot colder when you’re losing. It could be 20 degrees and feel like 80 below, depending on the score.
The AFC Championship game against the Colts -- it got pretty cold that day.
You’re talking about the Indianapolis game? Again, the score has a lot more to do with how you feel than I think the actual temperature. I’m not sure if that was the coldest game, the Chicago game, but 21-0 - Like I said, it felt like it was 80 below.
What were you able to work on yesterday in practice?
Everything. We had our normal practice, just practice started [with] very light flurries. It was pretty pleasant out there. By the end of practice there was significant accumulation on the field, wet ball, ball-handling, playing in the snow, field-awareness, lack of lines, alignment - The whole depth and…The field, [there] are no markings, so just spatial relationship of the goalpost and the stadium, the field and just landmarks that you have to kind of estimate at when you don’t have those markings there.
Given the possibility that it could snow on Sunday, did that work out nicely for you?
I don’t know how it’s going to be on Sunday. [If] you listen to four forecasts, you get four different versions of it. Sooner or later, maybe we’ll play in it. I don’t know. Maybe we won’t, but we’ve practiced in rain, wind, snow, night, afternoon, morning. There’s things you can learn from every experience and practice [and] game, so there’s some we got yesterday. Whether it will have application on Sunday or not, I don’t know. I’m not really worried about it. If it does, it does. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. Maybe it will some other time. I don’t know.
Speaking of ball-handling, since you’ve been here you’ve averaged 25 turnovers per season. This year, you lead the league with 10. To what would you attribute the dramatic drop off and the excellence with which you handle the ball?
I don’t know. Turnovers are really . . .when you look at them at the end of the year, it’s usually not one common thing. It’s usually a combination of things. But I think number one, the credit of that goes to the players. Those are the guys that handle the ball and they take care of it, including the kickers, snappers, all of the specialists, returners. That’s definitely a part of it, of the ball-handling, too, and those guys actually have the tougher ball-handling situations - especially the returners. But in the end, it’s the players’ ability to secure the ball and their dedication to protecting it. There’s some turnovers that are just… When you watch the play, you say, “Well, there wasn’t much we could do to prevent that.” There are other ones that you could do more to prevent, and so you just hope that every player will do everything he can when he has the ball to secure it and take care of it. There’s going to be some plays where a defender comes in and has a perfect hit with his helmet right on the ball and there’s enough pressure on the ball that will probably jar it loose from just about anybody. And then there’s other plays where there’s almost no pressure on the ball and it comes out. The same thing with interceptions. Sometimes the defenders make great plays and you look at it and say, “Boy, that was a tremendous play.” And then there’s other times you look at it and say, “Boy, that could have been prevented with a better route, a better throw, better protection,” whatever happened on that particular play. You try to avoid the ones that are just careless.
Conversely, have you looked a lot of film and seen your players do things -- whether it’s protect the ball, cover it, switch arms, whatever it is -- to prevent turnovers?
Yeah, I think there are times where I think our players have shown good ball-awareness and security. We definitely pointed that out. There’s other times where it hasn’t been so good. Sometimes that’s resulted in a problem; sometimes it hasn’t. Just because there’s careless ball-handling, as you well know, doesn’t always mean the ball’s going to come out, but the more of it you have, the higher percentage it is that sooner or later somebody’s going to hit it or you’re going to mishandle it and it will be a problem, so we’ve tried to cut those down as much as we can. It’s not perfect, but we do have an awareness of it, and I think the players do a good job of - generally speaking - do a good job of taking care of the football. And defensively, we try to capitalize on our opponents when they don’t take as good care of it.
What kind of trickle-down effect does it have on your team, particularly the defense, when your offense takes such good care of the ball?
Defensively, you always like to be on a long field and just play the percentages. It forces the offense - if they don’t get it all on one big play - it forces them to execute more plays throughout the course of the drive and statistically we all know that the further away they are from the goal line, the lower percentages are that they’ll score touchdowns, field goals [and] points. That doesn’t insure anything. Defenses give up long drives and they give up big plays, but statistically speaking, on a percentage basis, that field position works in the defense’s favor and conversely, putting the offense on a short field works on the offense’s favor - over the long haul, statistically. It definitely is important. Field position is always a critical thing. Especially - we had a situation come up the last few weeks at the end of the half where one first down, a few yards makes a difference between a field goal or a scoring opportunity at the end of the half. You can score at the end of the half and then there’s 1:30, 1:40, whatever left, and with good field position you or the other team can be right back in scoring position in a hurry. A few yards makes a difference then between a long field goal attempt and a Hail Mary into the end zone, which is a lower percentage play.
In the offseason, was it a point of emphasis?
It’s always a point of emphasis.
Well, more than usual? Was it something you said, “This has got to come down,” more than other years?
I don’t know. I don’t know, but it’s always a point of emphasis. It’s not anything that was glossed over, we don’t care about or [is] just lip-service. It’s a point of emphasis every year and whether you are good or bad the year before, it’s still important the next year, so we look at all of our turnovers. It’s part of what we do at the end of every season. We look at our turnovers in the previous year [and] analyze them. Defensively, we do the same thing. We always look at the teams who lead the league in those categories - fewest turnovers on offense, most turnovers on defense - [and] try to see if there’s any kind of trend or correlation or any thought or idea that might come up that we could utilize. Maybe it’s just seeing another player, his technique of getting the ball out or situations that he looks to get the ball out, if one player’s causing a number of turnovers - something like that. Like Ed Reed. We took note of him [last] week, playing him. That was more of an offensive thing, but defensively in the offseason that’s the kind of guy that you’d take a look at. He’s involved in a lot of turnovers and [we’ll] try to look at him. Kerry Rhodes is another guy like that. [He] shows up on the ball a lot. Some players are instinctive to do that but there’s also some technique involved in coming up with the ball, verses other guys who make a lot of plays but maybe don’t turn the ball over as much. But that’s part of the offseason study we do on an annual basis. It’s not, we’ll do it this year, we didn’t do it last year - We do it every year.
Last offseason when you were looking to add wide receivers, what were you look for specifically, and when did you realize the receivers were really going to click with Tom Brady?
We go through the same procedure every year in the offseason. We look at our team and look at the options we have to improve our team at every position. We don’t narrow it down to anything; We don’t exclude anything. Every player that’s available, we consider. Some of them we tried to add to our team and were able to, and some of them we’ve tried to add and we weren’t [able to]. And that includes players that are on our team at the end of the season who are not on our team the following year - some are signed to free agent or whatever the classification is. Each year you try to build your team [and] make it as strong as you can. Whoever you think can help do that, you try to work it out with them. Sometimes you do, sometimes you don’t. It wasn’t a conscious effort to go out and do this or do that. It was trying to upgrade our team, which is the same thing we do in every season. Those guys have come in, they’ve worked hard - Randy [Moss], Wes [Welker], Kelley [Washington]. Jabar [Gaffney] was here last year; Chad [Jackson] is coming off an injury - But those guys, they’ve come in, they’ve worked hard, they’ve learned the system, they’ve played different positions and they’ve continued to get better, from all the way back in the spring camps, to training camp to practices and games here during the preseason and regular season. I don’t think there’s any one day where you say, “Oh, wow. This is good or not.” You just try to keep working every day, try to keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep improving. There’s a lot of things in the passing game we still, we always need to work on. You have to work on them every week, so it’s a continuing process.
Can you expand on Chad Jackson and his importance on special teams last week, him coming off the PUP and having an impact in that regard?
He’s done that for us before. He’s returned kicks, punts and kickoffs. He did it in college. He’s a big kid, [he’s] got some size, he’s fast, runs well with the ball in his hands, made some plays in the passing game on run-after-catch plays. We have a number of guys that have done that for us through the years. The past couple of years we’ve had a number of guys return punts [and] kickoffs; We’ve done it this year - Willie [Andrews], Wes, of course Ellis [Hobbs]. Laurence [Maroney] did it some for us last year, Chad. Depending on what the situation is and what everybody’s role is and how some other things on the team are working out, sometimes we try to break those responsibilities up and sometimes we don’t.
How does the injury to Mike Wright affect the defensive line, and how has Le Kevin Smith progressed at nose?
Well, we have right now one less player there, so we hate to lose Mike. Mike’s done a good job for us [in] both the regular and sub-situations. He’s played inside and outside. He’s got some versatility. Le Kevin’s done that, too. [He] just doesn’t have quite as much experience. He’s improved a lot over the last year and half, two years now. He’s played outside, he’s played inside, he’s a smart kid [and] he runs well. He has some size and he’s gaining experience. If he gets an opportunity, I’m sure that he’ll be ready to try to take advantage of it. He’s worked hard here for a couple of years and maybe somewhere along the line here he’ll have an opportunity to take advantage of all of that.
Do you see any similarities between Wes Welker and Troy Brown?
Well, sure. There’s some obvious [things]: Both play in the slot, they’re similar-size kind of guys. I think they each have their own playing style, but they both have been productive in that position, in the slot position. Both return kicks. So, sure.
I saw on TV somewhere they were breaking down your post-game handshakes. They had you in slow-motion and stuff. Why do coaches always shake hands after the games? Is that a league-mandated thing or tradition?
It’s not any rule that I’m aware of. So I would say, yeah, it’s traditional. I mean, not in any formal way, though.
Could you do without that this week?
I think we’ve talked plenty about that. Right now our focus is on the Jets and the game, and not on the high-fives and cartwheels and back flips.
Junior Seau talked about his first game in snow, verses Cleveland. Do you remember the first game you coached in the snow and maybe the outcome?
I remember the ones here pretty well. Buffalo, we played in the snow and the Oakland game. Those are the two, those are really the two snow games. The Miami game, there was snow in the stands but there wasn’t really much on the field. It didn’t snow during the game. And the Colts game.
What about at the Giants?
The Giants, I don’t think we really had too many snow games there that I can remember. I might be forgetting one, but I don’t think so. I mean, there’s an element of moisture like you have with rain, although it’s certainly not rain. And then you have an element of - depending on the accumulation - snow on the field, which is different, but similar to a muddy field. You could have some footing issues, you could have some ball-handling issues. But again, in the end, whatever the conditions are out there, the team you’re playing is the team on the other side of the line of scrimmage. That’s who you have to beat. It’s not like golf, where you’re hitting the ball into the elements. There’s somebody on the other side of the line of scrimmage. You have to block and tackle, cover and defend and all that. It’s certainly a part of the game, I’m not saying that, and it’s a factor, but I don’t think it’s [as] much of a factor as the execution of your team against your opponent. That’s who the real opponent is.
Posted by Art Martone at 1:37 PM | Permalink
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