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Bill Belichick Press Conference Transcript

Posted Dec 14, 2011

New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday, December 14, 2011.


BB: We've had a couple days here to really look at Denver; impressive team, been doing a great job. John Fox has them playing really well, they have a lot of confidence. They've made a lot of key plays at critical times to win a lot of games. Really, it's all three phases of their team are really impressive. They do a real good job on special teams - they have good coverage people, good return guys, good specialists. Offensively, they can run it, they have some big play receivers, the quarterback adds another dimension to the game. Defensively, they can rush the passer, they can cover, very athletic, fast, get a lot of turnovers on strip balls, strip sacks, take the ball away from you, [strip] running backs from behind, stuff like that. They do a lot of things well; it will be a big challenge for us this week. I'm sure there will be a lot of energy in the stadium. It will be a loud place to play, so offensively we need a lot of good execution. Defensively, we'll have to play disciplined against an offense that we're not really familiar with. Need a few good days of practice here to get ready to go.  


Q: I know you scouted Tim Tebow a lot coming out of school. How has he developed since then?  


BB: It looks about the same as he did in college. He can run, he can throw, he's got good poise, doesn't turn the ball over, makes good decisions.  


Q: You mentioned on Monday that you've faced guys like him before. Does he remind you of somebody that you have seen that can help you prepare?  


BB: I think there are some similarities to some guys we've seen, yeah. Everybody is different, everybody has their own style of play but I think there are some similarities.  


Q: Does it pose a problem that you don't have a quarterback on the roster that can simulate his skills?  


BB: I don't know another quarterback in the league who has Tim Tebow's skills. Michael Vick and guys like that there are not a lot of them running around. Yeah, we won't be able to get the same look that we'll get on Sunday, no question.  


Q: What are the challenges that your defense is going to face going up against such a quirky offense that isn't very typical?  


BB: They do a lot of things - they just do a lot of things well. They run the ball well. They have a little bit of an option game, they throw it well, play-action, throw the ball down the field to some big receivers who can go up and get it. It's no one man band; we'll get tested across the board. Everybody will have to do a good job. They can hurt you in a lot of different ways. [Willis] McGahee is having a great year, he's running well. They can run the ball inside, run it outside, throw it short, catch-and-run plays, throw it down the field. They have a well balanced attack.  


Q: What imprint has John Fox left on his team in his first year?  


BB: I don't know. You'd have to ask them. They're playing well, they're playing very well. I think they're well coached, which they always are with John. They've made critical plays in big situations.  


Q: A lot of focus on Denver's offense but defensively with rushing the passer, they provide a lot of problems there also, don't they?  


BB: They're very good, yeah, very athletic. Their front is athletic. The linebackers are fast. Of course [Elvis] Dumervil and Von Miller give great edge pressure. They're both strong. They're not just speed rushers; they can power those tackles back, come inside. Their linebackers are very athletic and fast. They've got [Wesley] Woodyard and of course [D.J.] Williams and they come and blitz and things like that. They're very fast on defense; they cover a lot of ground in a hurry. You've got to get your space while you can and make plays on them, because those holes don't stay open very long and the pass rushers, they're closing on the quarterback. Their defense is very good.  


Q: When was the last time you had to game plan against an option attack?  


BB: We see it from time to time. We've seen the Wildcat every week now for the last three years, some version of it. Teams have at least run it in the past. Maybe not necessarily in our game, but we've seen it in previous games. Just about every team has somebody that they can put back there in some type of Wildcat formation or they've done it within this year or last year.  


Q: So it's not going to be a big shock or something new this week when it comes to getting work in practice?  


BB: I think what Denver does is very good. It's not all…again, they have a good mixture; they have a good complement of plays. That's one of the things that they do, is they involve their quarterback in the running game, which is definitely a problem. But again, it's similar to a Wildcat type of, you've got the same, you only have so many guys out there. He adds an element to the passing game that some of those running backs that are back there playing quarterback in that offense don't, so that's a problem. Guys like [Michael] Vick who have a different style of play but [cause] some similar problems, running, passing, that kind of thing, defensively.  


Q: Are Brian Dawkins and Champ Bailey still playing at a pretty high level in the secondary?  


BB: Yeah, sure.  


Q: They don't lose much?  


BB: They do a good job. [Andre] Goodman, [Champ] Bailey do a nice job outside. [Brian] Dawkins, he missed a little bit of the game last week, but he's still a very experienced player, smart, anticipates well, gets a good jump on plays, as do Goodman and Bailey. Goodman in the Jets game, third-and-five play and he undercuts the return route to [Plaxico] Burress and runs it back for a touchdown, stuff like that. They're savvy players, they have a lot of experience and they take advantage of it.  


Q: With Tim Tebow's unorthodox mechanics, is his good accuracy for long stretches, especially in the fourth quarter, surprising?  


BB: I don't agree with any of that. I think his passing is good. It was good in college; he was a very productive passer in college and he's thrown the ball well in this league. Throws it good short, throws it intermediate, can throw it deep. He's got some very good throws, as good as anybody that you want to put in there.  


Q: Is he more accurate on the move than standing straight up in the pocket?  


BB: He can hit them in the pocket; he can hit them out of the pocket. There are plenty of examples of both.  


Q: Matt Light got off to a little bit of a slow start this year with the lockout rules and everything, but it seems like he's had a very consistent regular season and faced a lot of challenges.  


BB: Yeah, absolutely. Matt has played very well. He's had a solid year. He missed a little bit of that first week of training camp but after that, he's done everything that everybody else has done. Real experienced player that's seen a lot of football, seen a lot of good guys out there, competed well. Matt works really hard every week to be ready to go. He's a very good competitor, smart guy, has good technique, has a lot of experience out there. We'll need it this week. Those guys, they do a good job.  


Q: When you face teams that have bookend pass rushers, two elite pass rushers, does that put more of a challenge on your tackles because you can't cover up just one side? Does having two guys present a bigger challenge?  


BB: It seems like every team has good pass rushers. If you have a good pass rusher, you do things to try to make it hard for the offense to do things to slow them down - different fronts or different combinations or blitzes or something that takes the guy away who might be able to help him. Now he has to block a blitzer or they move the front around. They don't make it easy for you. Run games, bring him inside on games, you're trying to help from the outside in, rush them inside. Try to help from the inside out by sliding. If you put a guy rush inside and eat up one of the guys who is trying to slide to him, then you can't get there on the slide and the guys end up getting singled anyway. There are different ways defensively to try to keep the offense from getting help if you know exactly how they're trying to get it. You can usually slow that down.  


Q: How creative do they get with Von Miller? Is he a guy who is in just one spot?  


BB: No, they move him around some. They move him around some. Occasionally they line him up inside and he really presents a problem for the centers and guards in there because of his quickness. Normally, he's on the outside. He's got the whole…he can run the edge, he can come inside, he's very quick and athletic, but he's got good power and he's a really strong player too. You just can't sit back and wait for him to make some kind of athletic move; he'll run them over. He's very good in pursuit. He makes a lot of plays downfield after the ball is thrown. He'll chase a guy down, for five, six, seven-yard gain and try to strip the ball as he's tackling him. He's not out of a lot of plays.  


Q: Zoltan Mesko had a good punt at the beginning of the game last week. How would you assess his play this year?  


BB: He's built on his rookie year and he's done a real good job for us. His holding has been very good - not that it was ever not good, but it's gotten better. He's really worked hard on that. Again, punting is so situational. You don't just sit out there and bang it away; you've got rushes you have to do deal with, you have field position, wind conditions, things like that. His situational punting has really improved. There are still some things that he can do better, but I think he's taken a solid jump from his rookie year in terms of his overall mechanics and also his situational awareness and being able to execute different types of kicks in different situations. Again, the holding is also part of it too. You don't want to overlook that. He's a big part of the field goal operation.  


Q: Is the altitude factor in Denver overrated? Is there anything you can do to prepare for that?  


BB: Best thing we can do is play well. We've gone out there and played well and won. We've gone out there and not played well and haven't won.  


Q: Is it the strangest home field advantage that you'll face all year - the air being thin?  


BB: Both teams will be breathing the same air.  


Q: You often hear that the defense has someone to spy the quarterback. Is that concept something that you agree with or is that overstated when you hear that talked about by analysts?  


BB: Depends on what the defense is doing. If they assign a player to spy the guy, I don't think it's overstating it; that guy is spying. If they don't, then it's probably overstated.  


Q: From what you've seen from the Broncos this year, how much have defenses done that with the quarterback?  


BB: They've seen it some, they've seen it some. The teams that, whatever they do, they basically do what they do and then they might have some modification or variation off it, but it's still - if you watch the Bears, it's still the Bears' defense. If you watch the Jets, it's the Jets' defense. You watch Kansas City, it's Kansas City's defense. Not every play is a pass play. Not every play the quarterback scrambles on, so sometimes things will be called and you're not really sure what they would have been if that would have happened. The only plays you can really evaluate are the ones that actually get to that point. If it's a running play or if it's an option play or it's something like that, I have no idea whether they're spying or not.  


Q: What makes a good spy if you were to adopt that?  


BB: You need somebody that can tackle the quarterback. Depends on what the quarterback's skills are. I don't know if you want to spy [Ben] Roethlisberger with the same guy you'd want to spy Michael Vick with. It depends on who the player is. There's no point in spying him if you can't tackle him. Whatever those skills are, you probably better find somebody - if you're going to put him on him, you better find somebody that can do it.  


Q: What are the pros and cons to using a spy?  


BB: If you can get it done, then hopefully that eliminates that player as a runner. But you're playing with 10 players, then you have one less guy to do whatever else you need to do. It just depends on what your priorities are.  


Q: Is there any negative impact on the defense when you do that?  


BB: Yeah, you have one less guy. You can't cover a receiver and spy the quarterback at the same time. You either spy the quarterback and don't cover the receiver or you cover the receivers or cover a zone and don't spy the quarterback.  


Q: Have you used Rob Ninkovich in that role before?  


BB: We have a number of different players that we could do that with.  


Q: You have a few guys that have dressed but not played in games this year. Is that a result of injuries or is that a result of the extra roster spot now?  


BB: I would say it's just the way it's worked out. Sometimes the players we dress are the ones that are healthy, which if everybody is healthy, it might not necessarily work out in those numbers. Sometimes I think we have more players than we need at certain positions, but at least those players are healthy. If it ever got to that, at least they could go in there and play - there's no sense in dressing a player that can't play. I think our distribution, if everybody was healthy, that the numbers at different positions would probably have been different than they were in some games but we dress the players that are healthy.  


Q: Have the Broncos been a tough team to face over the years?  


BB: It doesn't really matter about what happened in other years. This is a new team and it's a new coach out there. They do things differently than they've done them in the past, so it doesn't really matter. They're good right now. They're playing well. Again, they're strong in all three phases of the game. They're well coached, they have a lot of good players, they're playing with a lot of confidence, and they're playing well. Damn right, they're a tough team to face. I don't really think the '87 team has anything to do with this game, in all honesty, I think it has no bearing on it whatsoever.  


Q: How does having a guy like Dane Fletcher back help your linebacking corps?  


BB: It gives us more depth. Dane does a lot of things for us in the kicking game and defensively. It's good to have him out there. He made the opening tackle last week against Washington on the first kickoff, made some plays for us defensively. It's good to have him back - versatile guy.  


Q: Any updates on how Brandon Spikes and Patrick Chung are doing?  


BB: Doing better. Yeah, they're doing better.  


Q: With Patrick Chung, is that a matter of being cautious with his foot or something that is taking longer than anticipated?  


BB: When they're healthy, they're ready to play. If they're not ready to play, then they're not ready to play. Is that a medical term? I don't know.  


Q: On the final practice squad spot that is open -  


BB: Sterling Moore. We signed Sterling.