Q: How much you say the team needs the break you have now?
BB: Every short week has a long week and every long week has a short week. 16-week schedule, 17-week schedule with the bye week, we all know that when you play on a short week, there’s a long week with it. Or if you play on a long week, there’s a short week behind it. We’ll just take it as it comes, nothing we can do about that. We’ll just use the time that we have to try to improve our team. I think we all need to do that so that’s what we’re going to try to do. I don’t really see it as a break, it’s not like we’re going to go to Hawaii for a vacation for a week or anything, that’s not really it. We just need to keep working.
Q: How hard has it been and how hard will it be for you to stay patient as you wait for guys to come back?
BB: I think each week in the NFL is its own week. Every team goes through that. You have certain players that aren’t available to every team. You kind of lose guys and get guy back. That’s the NFL. I’m sure every team in the league is going through that to some degree. We’ll do what we always do with it. Guys that are available, we’ll get them ready to play. The guys that aren’t quite ready yet, we’ll work with them and try to rehab them and get them back as quickly as possible. Once they’re back, we’ll start integrating them back into practice and game plans. That’s the way of life in the NFL.
Q: In a 16-game season, I imagine patience isn’t a word you can use often because there needs to be urgency with every game.
BB: Yeah, every game, sure. We have 16 games, that’s it. Every game is an important game. We’ll do the best we can with every game. Whatever we have to deal with, every other team is in the same boat.
Q: There was a report last night that your contract has been extended. Can you talk about that?
BB: I don’t talk about my personal contract situation, I’m sorry.
Q: Are the rookie receivers where you’d expect them to be at Week 2 in the NFL?
BB: I don’t really have any expectations for any rookie players. We just coach them from the day they get here. We try to get every player to improve and just get better and learn our system and become a better football player in the NFL. That’s a process. Some guys go at different rates, I’ve learned that through a lot of experience. Some players start quickly and fizzle out. Some players start slowly and come on strong. Some players are more steady than others. You really don’t know that until their rookie season is over, what the rate is or how it’s all going to turn out. You just take it day-to-day, get better on a daily basis and teach them all the things that you can teach them, get them the practice time you can practice them with, correct all the mistakes and keep moving forward. That’s what being a rookie is in the National Football League. It’s a great learning experience every day, every week and hopefully at the end of that rookie season, the player has accumulated a lot of knowledge and experience and is able to use that as a good springboard the rest of his career.
Q: The offense seemed to have a hard time extending some drives last night. Were there any similarities to the difficulties on third down?
BB: It’s never good to be in long yardage. But they weren’t all long yardage situations. Overall offensively, everything, we can improve in every area: running the ball, passing the ball, red area, third down, making the big plays in the opportunities that we had. All those things, that’s what we’re going to work on. We’re going to work on everything.
Q: Did you like the way
BB: We didn’t have a lot of practice time, most of it was walkthrough and just preparation but I thought our entire team prepared well for this game. It was a short week, quick turnaround, big game, we knew it was going to be a tough game but I think all the players came in here and had a great attitude about being early, staying a little late, doing a little extra, being attentive and diligent in their preparation. As I said, it wasn’t a perfect game, but I thought the effort and intensity, what they put into it was very good; all week and last night for 60 minutes.
BB: I’d say that’s definitely the way it unfolded.
Q: You had a lot of opportunities where you got guys behind the defense and a big part of his game is his speed. Was there any thought to giving him a shot and send him deep?
BB: Look, we did all the things in the game, whatever they were, that we thought were best at that time or in that situation. We did what we thought was best.
Q: You have a history with left-footed punters. Why do you like them so much?
BB: You know, I’ve been asked about that before. I think it’s a coincidence really. I don’t go into it with an attitude like, ‘We have to have a left-footed punter.’ I know it’s been that way. Lee Johnson was here when I got here. We had Tom Tupa at Cleveland. Tom didn’t punt in the NFL, he punted in college and we brought him in and he became our punter. Of course he punted for us here when I was at New England in ’96. He was an excellent right-footed punter. I coached Dave Jennings at the Giants and he’s one of the best punters that ever punted in the NFL. I had a long relationship with Sean Landetta as well; that’s another good right-footed punter. I don’t really have any preference toward left-footed punters. I know it’s worked out that way, I can’t deny it. But, I’ve also had the opportunity to coach and be with a lot of good right-footed punters too and I was more than happy with them. I loved Tupa, loved Jennings, loved Landetta. Even going all the way back to when I was involved with the special teams at Baltimore, with David Lee and at the Lions with [Herman] Weaver and John Stufflebeem who we brought in who ended up with a long career in the Navy and didn’t play professionally other than in training camp. They were all good right-footed punters too. I would say coincidence.
Q: Is the spin different when you talk about a left-footed punter?
BB: It’s totally different, yeah. It’s like facing a right-handed pitcher or left-handed pitcher. It’s backwards, it’s totally different. But, the basic rotation of the ball is fundamentally the same, it’s just backwards. If you were able to flip that over which you can do, just like on a camera if you were able to flip that over, it would be like a right-handed golfer or a left-handed golfer, the mechanics and everything are the same, it’s just reversed.
Q: Is there any reason why you prefer punters to be holders in the field goal operation?
BB: You want your best holder to be the holder. I think that the key thing in the NFL now is just with the opportunity of your specialist. Again, the game has evolved from when I came into the league. Most teams had kicker, most of the punters played another position and I would say all of the long snappers played another position, either center or linebacker or tight end or whatever it was. Then punters became pretty much specialized so every team carried a kicker and a punter. Occasionally you had a guy who could do both but that was more the exception than the rule. Eventually, teams started going to just pure long snappers. Like Steve DeOssie, who came into the league as a linebacker/snapper, kind of ended as a snapper and was one of the best snappers in the league. He was part of that transition and in that era where teams went and committed fully to a long snapper that played no other position. You’ve also seen that now in college. Most college teams have a pure snapper as well as a pure kicker and a pure punter. I just think that when you have that situation, if your punter can hold, then the amount of snaps and time that those guys get to practice together, work together, meet together, watch film together, watch slow-motions films, concentrate on the technique as opposed to the backup quarterback or somebody like that who has a lot of other responsibilities. It’s just a time – if your holder can be your punter, then the amount of practice time, consistency, preparation time that those guys have together just so out-weighs what it would be with any other player – receivers have been holders. Then you go through the whole thing, if it’s a position player like a defensive back or like it was back in the ‘60s, a Jimmy Patton or a receiver and something happens to them, now whose your backup player because those guys are regular players. Not only do you have to replace them at their offensive or defensive position, you have to replace them in the kicking game so it just cuts into your depth. Back when you had 36, 37 players, that was a whole different ballgame. Everybody doubled up in one way or another. I think that’s the way it is on most teams. Most teams punters are the holder and the snappers are the snappers and kickers are the kickers. That’s the way it is in college so we’re recruiting players that are in that very specialized phase themselves.
Q: Has it always been like that since you’ve been at the Patriots?
BB: Yeah, I think even going back to, not the Giants because Dave [Jennings] didn’t hold and Sean [Landetta] didn’t hold but ever since then, [Tom] Tupa held at Cleveland and so I’d say from somewhere in the early-‘90s that that was more the norm. Prior to that, some did, some didn’t. Danny White held for Dallas for years and so forth. There was kind of that transition there from maybe ’85 to the early-‘90s. I’d say by around ’95 or so, it was pretty much one snapper, one kicker, one punter on every team. Also as the roster numbers have creeped up as well, that’s made it affordable. When you’re down in the 30s then it’s a lot tougher to carry one of each of those; that slices into your roster pretty good. The rules have made it much easier to do.
Q: Did the game tape reveal more positives than you thought it would walking off the field last night?
BB: Well, walking off the field was a big positive. Anytime you win a division game, anytime you beat the Jets, that’s a big positive. We did some things well. Some plays that didn’t look good in the game, didn’t look good on tape but other parts of them looked good, there was just something that went wrong. Some things, plays that were good, there were other parts of the plays that in all honesty didn’t look so good. Had things gone a little differently on those plays, we might not be talking about them as such good plays. That’s usually the way it is. That’s why a lot of times I say after the game, ‘I really have to look at the film.’ Because it’s so true, you can’t watch all 22 guys. You see one part of it and it looks good or it looks bad but then there are a lot of other things going on that you’re maybe not sure exactly how those went. I think we have plenty of positives from the game but we certainly have plenty of things that we need to work on in all three phases of the game, including coaching and playing. Again, the preparation this week was challenging but we need to do a better job on that as well. Hopefully we will.