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January 10, 2008
Transcript: Bill Belichick's Thursday press conference
How are we doing today? [We’re] winding down on our preparations here, try[ing] to get all the situations covered and be ready to go on Saturday night.
Can you talk regarding the safeties a little bit for Jacksonville?
I think, well of course they’re new from last year, Deon Grant was an outstanding player for them, did a good job, but [Reggie] Nelson is a kid that we did a lot of work on coming out of Florida. [He’s a] fast, real athletic guy, has a lot of range back there, has made a lot of plays for them. I can’t think of the strong safety’s name, 26? I think it’s Sam [Knight].
Yeah, Sammy. Real experienced player, we played against him a lot in the past. Of course he was at Miami, very instinctive guy, he’s around the ball a lot, reads the quarterback well. They’ve been very productive. It’s a good secondary. [The] corners are good, [Terry] Cousin comes in as the third corner and both their safeties are back. They don’t play a lot of six DB’s, mainly five. Those five guys do a good job and they’ve got good depth out there at corner with [Scott] Starks and Aaron Glenn, so it’s a good secondary, good young players, too. [Jamaal] Fudge has played some for them in safety, too.
If you were preparing for an opponent and you only had two tapes to choose from, one tape when they won and one tape when they lost, which tape would you choose?
It would depend on who the team was. I think that win or lose, it sometimes comes down to one play or two plays or something. You could get a lot more out of a tape that had more relevance to you, win or lose.
What’s the hardest thing about playing left tackle and in particular, what strengths does Matt Light have that let him succeed there?
Probably the hardest thing at left tackle is having to block the athletic rushers that come off that side, which is usually where the other team’s best -- or most athletic rusher, maybe not their best rusher -- but usually their most athletic rusher [is]. The left tackle has got to block a very athletic guy out there in the pass rush and then he’s got to block big guys like [Paul] Spicer this week or other guys we’ve seen in our division in a running game that are 300-pound guys, 290 or whatever they are, and block them in the running game. So it’s a combination of being athletic enough to block the athletic pass rushers and being big and stout enough to hold up against the big guys in the running game and on the power rush. Usually you don’t get a lot of help over there because most teams are right handed and most teams put the passing strength to the right side, not always, but generally speaking most teams do, so it’s a little more -- pretty challenging over there in terms of blocking those athletic guys.
Is there anything in particular that Light has been able to do there?
I think Matt does a good job. He’s not the biggest guy, but he’s big enough. He’s not the most athletic guy, but he’s athletic enough. There are probably -- I’d say he’s in the upper echelon in both of those categories, but there are probably some left tackles that, if you went to the Indy Combine test results, would test better than him. There are some that are bigger than him, but I think he has a good combination of mental toughness, technique, size, athleticism, quickness, to be competitive against a lot of different types of players out there, which he sees and he does a good job forcing the running game. He’s competitive on the pass rush against power, against speed, and he’s a good technique player. He doesn’t just have a lot of bad plays where he just takes a bad set or is late out of the stance, or over sets the guy, or those kind of things, so he’s pretty consistent. He’s been consistent since he came here in ’01 and he started playing left tackle for us as a rookie, so he’s had a lot of consistent and good performances over there. That’s a tough position to play.
Which particular challenges do you expect to face from the Jacksonville running back tandem and do you expect to see anything different than what you’ve seen so far?
As far as what? New plays, or what are you talking about? You’d have to ask them. I don’t know what they’re putting in, but those backs are good. Fred Taylor is one of the best running backs in the league. He’s got as a great combination of quickness, power, vision, he’s a very good technique runner and I think he’s got exceptional vision. He finds and sees holes as well as any back we play. He’s got the speed to go the distance, he’s got the power to run over people and he’s got the quickness to make defenders miss in the hole. He breaks a lot of tackles. He’s good in the passing game. [Maurice] Jones-Drew is a little different style of runner, but very effective. He’s a very powerful guy for his size, has great lower body strength, runs through a lot of tackles, has good speed, can go the distance. We saw that in the kickoff return last week against Pittsburgh, saw it against New Orleans, saw it against the Colts. [He makes] long runs, very good in pass protection, he’s probably as good a pass protector as we’ve seen this year for his position [at] running back, plays a lot on third down, catches the ball out of the backfield, runs good routes, [he is] hard to tackle when he catches it, good screen and draw guy. Both of those guys, they’re not good, they’re real good. Fred Taylor is as good as anybody we’ve faced. He’s outstanding. I mean [LaDainian] Tomlinson is obviously a great back, I’m not saying that, but he’s been more consistent and had more production, but Fred Taylor has got a lot of good plays, a lot of them.
You talked about Maurice Jones-Drew and his blocking. Have you told your linemen to make it a point not to underestimate him, shown them the block he made on Julius Peppers?
[Shawne] Merriman, Julius Peppers, put on any film you want; he blocks every week. You don’t have to go to one play. You can find it every week. He’s a good third-down back. He does a good job for them. He protects well, catches the ball well, and they give him the ball on some third down running plays and he’s a threat to pick up the yardage there, so yeah, he does a real good job. Those two guys are outstanding. They’ve got good depth in the backfield. Greg Jones has made some good plays for them back there. He’s a good fullback. [LaBrandon] Toefield, I know he hasn’t gotten a chance to play a lot, but when he has he’s been effective. It’s a good group.
Can you comment on the five players who made All-Pro this year?
[I’m] happy for all of them that made it. More importantly is what our team is trying to accomplish. I congratulate all of the players on all of their individual awards, but it’s really secondary to what our team goals are right now.
You talked about working on situations. Is there any particular situation you like to teach that’s kind of a favorite?
No, not really, because you don’t know what is going to come up. You never know what it is going to be. Last week was very unusual: in the Pittsburgh-Jacksonville game you had three two-point plays -- two from the two and one from the 12. Usually if you have one two-point play in a game that’s a lot, and there were three of them. So depending on which side of that play you’re on, whether you’re running it or defending it, you get that situation. We had the hands team in the Giants game. To go back to the Pittsburgh-Jacksonville game, Pittsburgh has got the ball with three minutes to go. Making a first down probably seals the game or comes close to ending it, and Jacksonville gets it back, and they try to get a field goal to win. So, again, it depends which side of those situations you’re on, but you know you could be trying to run out the clock, trying to score, trying to onside kick, trying to recover an onside kick, trying to get a two point conversion, trying to stop one. There are so many of them, and those big plays can come in the first quarter, they don’t have to come in the fourth. But there’re a lot of those one-play situations at the end of the game that you have to prepare for both sides of the situation, and who knows what’s going to come up. [We] wouldn’t want to feel like we’re going to work on this one thing and hope that comes up. Your chances are [that] some things might come up once a year and then you keep waiting for that one situation, it’s one play in the whole season. There are a lot of other ones that could be just as important that will come up. So you have to be ready for all of them.
How close is Nick Kaczur to being ready, in regard to his foot?
We’ll get the injury report after practice today. He practiced yesterday.
How tough is it mentally to blow a big lead on the road in a hostile environment like Jacksonville did and have to bounce back pretty quickly?
I think in the National Football League you’ve got to be ready to play 60 minutes every week. I think every team knows that, so whatever the score situation or conditions are, you play for 60 minutes, whichever side of it you’re on. And that’s what we better be ready to do. That’s what the competition is in this league. There’re a lot of close games, a lot of them come down to one possession, a lot of them come down to the final possession, a lot of times the final play, so you just have to be ready to go for 60 minutes every week. I think every team knows that, prepares for that, and that’s they way you have to play the game. It doesn’t matter which end of it you’re on.
With the left tackle again, is the nature of the position such that if you make a mistake it’s going to get a lot more attention than a success would get praise?
[It] depends on how much attention you want to give it, I guess. Anybody else on the line can get beat. A quarterback can make a bad throw, a receiver can drop a pass, a running back can fumble. You tell me which one you’re going to give more attention to. I don’t know. They’re all -- Mistakes are mistakes. Coaches make bad decisions. Defenders miss tackles, drop interceptions, miss tackles. I don’t know, you tell me which is worse and which gets more attention. If they’re bad, they’re bad. If they’re good, they’re good.
When a quarterback like Tom Brady is able to play as consistently as he has, is it any more a result of the left tackle than of the other guys on the offensive line?
Certainly each individual has an important role in the group and then the group as a whole is important. They’re pretty intertwined. I don’t know really where the individual stops and the group starts. It’s a lot of interwoven parts there, especially on the offensive line cause all five of those guys have to be on the same page. Those five have five people they have to block in the running game and the passing game. And after the snap they can come in a lot of different combinations and stunt and twist and go all over the place. So in the end, those five have to handle whichever five people it is, however you’ve got it schemed. So the way that group functions as a unit is critical and then, of course, each individual block along the way is critical. They’re both important; you can’t really have on without the other.
What’s the biggest strength of the Patriots offensive line?
Biggest strength? I don’t know. Again, like we talked about with the left tackle, it goes across the board. What’s the play? What are you trying to do? You’ve got to do a lot of different things. We’ve seen a lot of different things from the defenses. We’ve seen teams play a lot of pass rushers that are linebackers and defensive ends, we’ve seen all big guys in there on early downs, we’ve seen blitzes, we’ve seen two and three-man rushes, we’ve seen all different stunts and combinations in there. So sometimes you’ve got to block movement, sometimes you’ve got to block size and power, sometimes you’re pulling out there on screens, sometime you’re trying to block the guy that’s 350 pounds lined up four inches away from you. They’re all different challenges across the board. Some you win, some you don’t, but you’ve got to be able to battle all of them at those positions, and that’s the challenge of playing the offensive line. It’s not like it was back when I came into the league, where the right guard would line up across from the left tackle and they’d block each other for 60 plays. You just don’t get those kinds of match-ups any more. There’s a lot of moving parts and you get different plays were your combinations are different, schemes are different. You just get a lot of different match-ups. I think that’s what makes it hard now on the offensive line. Everybody’s got so many different match-ups, so many different jobs to do, it’s hard to just isolate and say this is all this guy has got to do. He’s got 20 jobs and they’re all hard, especially against good players. Sometimes it’s just as hard to block a little, quick guy as it is to block a big, powerful guy, depending on what the skills are and what the play is and what you’re trying to do.
You mentioned 60 minutes a lot. Is that a hard message to get across to your players, that one small play in the first quarter is as important as later in the game?
I think that’s something that every coach talks about from junior high school football to the NFL and all the spots in between. I don’t think you ever don’t talk about that. It’s a lot easier said than done, but that’s-- In this league it’s so competitive. Everybody’s good, every team has good players and good coaches and guys who can make plays. It doesn’t take much to, if they have a little bit of a half a step or an edge or whatever, for them to make a play. You’ve really got to be at your best all the time, because if the other guy is a little bit ahead of you for whatever the play is, you could be in trouble. I think everybody is aware of that. We all talk about that; doing it, and being focused for 60, 70, 20, however many plays you’re in there for and all the situations and all the things that come up. It’s very challenging because there are great players on the other side of the ball, too. It’s not just competing against yourself, like an individual sport. You’re competing against other competitors and other schemes and there’re a lot of moving parts. Sometimes it isn’t that you’re not focused, it’s just that the other guy wins and that’s part of it too, but you certainly want to be ready to perform for 60 minutes in this game, in the National Football League, especially this time of year because you’re getting everybody’s best.
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