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Bill Belichick Press Conference Transcript

Posted Nov 7, 2012

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday, November 7, 2012.

Q: Did you watch any of the election coverage last night?

BB: No, just the final score.

Q: At this point in Tom Brady's career, how much can he improve as opposed to just sustaining what he's already built up to this point?

BB: I think he can improve a lot. He works hard at it every day, every day there are things that we talk to him about for that week or from the previous practice or whatever it is. He's always very anxious to hear them; he has a lot of his own ideas, he has things that he feels like he or we can do. I think there's always room for improvement for all of us.

Q: Does he surprise you with the things he is able to do at this point in his career?

BB: He’s been doing them pretty consistently here for awhile. He's been pretty consistent.

Q: His numbers so far are outstanding. Are you happy with the way he played in the first half?

BB: Yeah, but there are things we can all do better. We’re 5-3 so there are things we can all do better.

Q: You have a lot of players in the secondary that can play multiple positions. Do you envision that when you sign and draft guys or is that more of a fluid process?

BB: I think it varies. Some guys you might expect that they can play more than one spot. Maybe you’ve seen them do it in college or the other team they were with, whatever it happens to be. Other guys, maybe not but they have the physical characteristics to be able to play more than one position. Some guys can do that easily and some guys can’t. Sometimes playing a couple positions is hard for some players and for other players it’s not. If a guy hasn’t done it, I’m not sure you actually know the answer to that one until you ask him to do it. If he’s done it before, at least you can evaluate that and have a sense of how he handled it.

Q: You have said Devin McCourty is a guy that can slide back and forth but you’d like to be consistent. What is it about him and the way that he plays that allows him to do that?

BB: I would say he’s pretty good at everything. He’s a good tackler, he’s fast, he’s instinctive. He has a good feel for the game wherever you put him in terms of leverage, angles, decisions, that kind of thing. He’s smart. He has the mental flexibility to go back and forth between assignments and that kind of thing.

Q: Is he a good communicator? He seems to be but you can’t judge it from someone waving their arms around. He seems to communicate the alerts well at that safety spot.

BB: Yeah, and at the corner spot too. Devin works hard, I think he has a good understanding of what that particular defensive play is, what that entails. I’d say he’s not a guy that has a lot of excess communication. He’s concise, he’s to the point, ‘Here’s the call, here’s what it is,’ instead of some guys, ‘Watch out for this, watch out for that, this could happen, be ready for that.’ That’s good but Devin is more, ‘Here’s what we need to do, here’s the alert on this, here’s the check, this is our adjustment on that,’ and just get to the point and do it. It’s a different kind of communication maybe than some other guys but I think it’s good. He does a good job back there.

Q: As a coach, it must be indispensable to have a player out on the field that is articulating what you are thinking rather than a player giving the wrong alerts and delegating the wrong responsibilities. How frustrating can that be?

BB: Alerts are just what they are, they’re alerts. I don’t think you guess and say, ‘This is going to be the play.’ You’re alert for it. I don’t think there’s anything lost really in saying to the defensive line, ‘Be alert for the quarterback with a hard count trying to draw you offside,’ if it’s that type of situation. If he doesn’t do it, I don’t know what the big downside is. I think being alert for it is having more awareness, particularly in that situation. I think it’s really hard to predict the exact play they’re going to run and the situation but we know that these are the three or four things that they like to do based on formation or down-and-distance or whatever the tendency happens to be. So, if you’re alert to one of those three or four things, there’s probably a pretty good chance that if they stay with their tendencies, you’re going to get it but it doesn’t mean they can’t do something else. It doesn’t mean that’s the only play you’re playing, you’re just waiting for this one thing to happen and then when it doesn’t happen it’s a lost play. You’re just alert for it.

Q: Obviously you do your homework on a player before acquiring him, but what checks and balances do you put in place once the player arrives to allow that player to succeed under your guidance?

BB: I think each player is different so it would be a different conversation with every player. We draft them, we sit down with each guy when he comes in. We sign a player, we sit down with each player and talk about him specifically and individually. Each guy is different so it would depend on who the player was, what the circumstances were and so forth. It’s different for each guy.

Q: Are the Bills a different team from when you last played them? Are they improved from what you’ve seen on film?

BB: I think they’re doing a lot of things well. They lead the league in punt returns; they lead the league in kickoff returns. It looks like they’ve changed up a little bit of their defensive scheme in the last couple weeks. They added a few wrinkles. They still have a lot of good players on the defensive side of the ball. They stripped the ball from us really three times in the first game. We had five interceptions last year so they’re a ball hawking team. They’ve done that really well against us. Offensively, they scored 28 points. Some of those were set up off of turnovers. They have a very explosive offensive skill group of players – running backs, tight ends, receivers, quarterback is athletic. I think they’re a very talented team, they’re well coached. I think Chan [Gailey] does a real good job offensively of keeping you off balance, using his personnel and attacking each defense that he faces individually but to a point where you know you’re being attacked. They do a lot of things well and they have a lot of good players.

Q: What are they doing specifically defensively that’s different from when you saw them in September?

BB: They’ve jumped into a couple different fronts, they’ve mixed their coverages a little bit differently. I’m not saying it’s revolutionized the game of football, but I’m saying relative to what they were doing that we had seen. Playing maybe a little more base, maybe a little more nickel. I don’t know if that’s how they’ll play us or not. Again, it’s really hard to say. Just because they’ve done something different against another team, we might get a lot more of it or we might not get any of it, I don’t know. But just watching it on film before we played them the first time and watching them on film this time before we play them, I’d say more base defense, more nickel, some variations in fronts, a little more pressure.

Q: You talked about Devin McCourty’s tackling. How is Alfonzo Dennard doing in the running game and how vital are your cornerbacks to that in your system?

BB: I’d say it’s pretty important to us, [yes]. Tackling is an important criteria for every position but especially the secondary, that’s kind of the last line of defense. If the nose guard misses a tackle then hopefully you’ve got some guys behind him. If you miss a tackle in the secondary, there aren’t a lot of guys left. You can’t expect the nose tackle to run him down either. I think it’s definitely important. Alfonzo, he plays strong. He has good playing strength, he’s a tough kid. Tackling is on the positive side for him.

Q: Is there an art to cornerbacks recognizing the run right away. Is that something you teach?

BB: Sure. That’s all about recognition and then playing with leverage, taking the proper angle on the ball carrier, making sure you take care of the responsibility that you have and push the runner to where your help is. Then of course it’s finishing, getting the guy on the ground. That’s ultimately what every defensive player’s job is going to come down to is getting the guy with the ball, getting him on the ground. There are plenty of fundamentals and techniques in that too but there are all the things that lead up to it and run force communication and coordination with the outside linebackers, safeties, defensive ends, whatever depending on the defense that you’re in, the personnel that’s in there, all that’s critical. When you don’t have it right then they don’t really have to block anybody, you kind of block yourself or you don’t have that area defended and it looks like high school – guys jog around the corner until he gets tired.

Q: You have Myron Pryor on PUP, will today be the day to start the clock on him practicing?

BB: No.

Q: Same with Jake Ballard?

BB: Correct.

Q: The bye week is a change to recharge. Do you see that in the players when they return?

BB: I think we all feel it, sure, [yes].

Q: How does that translate going forward? Are you seeing it in the meetings and on the field?

BB: Attentiveness, energy, receptiveness to new ideas or the new game plan, new adjustments, things that are going to be moving parts to the week. Sometimes, let’s face it, we all get mentally tired. It’s a long season, it’s a lot of practices, a lot of meetings, a lot of everything. Sometimes it drags a little bit. You give the players the information, they’re hearing it. Sometimes it’s absorbed a little bit more with more attentiveness than others. Hopefully by the end of the week everybody gets the picture but there’s a little bit of rolling away there, sometimes.

Q: Did facing a division opponent off the bye allow you to do more self scouting because you are so familiar with the opponent?

BB: I’d say it’s pretty normal. I think whenever you have a bye, whoever you’re playing next, you spend some time working on your self-scouting and things you need to work on and then you get a jump on whoever the next team is that you play. I don’t know how much further ahead you can get than that. I think if you’re ahead this week then you’re ahead next week and you’re ahead the following week until it eventually catches up to you, like a Monday night game or some circumstances start to level it out and then you get into the normal week. I think if you’re ahead this week, then you should be ahead next week, at least from a coach’s standpoint.

Q: It is very rare to see you inside. Is that a result of the wind and the difficulty to be productive in the wind outside?

BB: Yeah, I’d say that’s accurate. It doesn’t look like that’s going to be the forecast for Sunday, although who knows. We’ve dealt with plenty of wind and a decent amount of rain this season. We’ll try to get some timing and playing conditions will be a little more game-like that we expect it to be. I’m not a meteorologist so I’m not sure how that’s going to turn out but it looks like it’s going to go through.

Q: Have you been able to pinpoint why recent games against the Bills have had such big swings?

BB: I think that’s one of the explosive parts of Buffalo’s game is that they’re able to go on runs and we’ve seen it before, where they’ll go 14, 17, 21 points and they go on a run. Of course that comes with big plays on offense, big plays in the kicking game, turnovers on defense. You just can’t relax against this team because they’re so explosive. They can take the ball away from you, they can score in the kicking game and they’re certainly capable of scoring from pretty much anywhere on the field offensively, whether its with [C.J.] Spiller, [Stevie] Johnson, [Donald] Jones, [Scott] Chandler, Fred Jackson, pick a guy. They’re all dangerous and of course [Leodis] McKelvin in the kicking game. They’ve blocked a lot of kicks, field goals in particular with [Alex] Carrington and [Marcel] Dareus and McKelvin coming off the edge on that. You send your team out there, you think you’re going to score and they block it and then they’re scoring. Kyle Williams is another big play guy. They have enough guys that if you’re sloppy around them, [Jairus] Byrd, like Arizona was, [took] a couple away, turned that game that it looked like Arizona was going to win into a Buffalo victory. It just doesn’t take much. They have very explosive offensive and special teams units. They take the ball away on defense and create big plays on that side of the ball too. Like you said, if you’re not alert and you’re sloppy with them, they’ll make you pay. I think we’ve certainly been the victim of that, as have a lot of other teams. We have to do everything we can to not let that happen.

Q: You went on a big run against them last game. How did that come about?

BB: Turnovers.

Q: But to get the turnover and then go down the field. Was it just getting in a flow?

BB: We didn’t score on any of the turnovers but we turned the ball over and then offensively we capitalized on the field position. Turning the ball over is half the battle and then capitalizing on it is the other half of the battle. That hasn’t been a great strength of ours all year but it was in that particular game. We have to do a better job of that when we do get the turnovers. We’ve been fortunate to get a pretty good number of them in the first half the season. We have to convert them into more points than we have. That’s another thing that we can definitely improve on here.

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