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Posts Tagged ‘Bill Belichick’
Tags: Bill Belichick, Danny Amendola, Wes Welker
Tags: Bill Belichick, Competitiveness, Friday, Game over, Game Plan, Michael Hoomanawanui, Rob Gronkowski, Wednesday
TB: Coach tries to always get us acclimated to the conditions. We’ve practiced in the stadium every Friday so it was good to be out there and try to simulate what it will be like on Sunday. It was cold today though.
Q: Can you give us a glimpse of where you are in your preparation on a weekly basis when you reach a Friday?
TB: You use all the time you’ve got, so it goes right up to game time. I don’t think you ever really let down or stop thinking about the game. Certainly I don’t. So the preparation started as soon as our game ended last week and you just try and put as much as you can into it and hopefully it is enough.
Q: Can you talk about the element of success this team has had with plugging in role players?
TB: Coach talks about doing your job and whatever your role may be, that is what you have to be able to do to perform your role. If it’s to be a third receiver, it’s to be a third running back, and you do your job as best you can. You know that whenever your number is called you have to go out there and perform, because everyone on our team is counting on you. Starting quarterback or the left guard or the nickel defensive back, every job is important and when you are called upon to do that, the expectations are to go out there and play at a championship level. This is a championship game and there is nothing more important this weekend. I think everybody who is active for this game understands the importance of their role and what they have to go out and do to be able to try to help us win.
Q: Can you talk about the heath of this team with everybody back at practice today and how important that is?
TB: The more healthy guys you have, the better it is for your team. We’ve been fighting injuries all year; every team has. It is usually a battle of attrition. We lost Gronk [Rob Gronkowski] last week, but we played games without him before, so the guys that step in to fill that void need to do a great job and it’s just the way it has gone all year.
Q: How was practice this week?
TB: It was perfect. There was not one bad play. No, there are always mistakes made and you correct them and you try to learn from whatever mistakes you make. I wish they were perfect, but not often.
Q: How do you know you’ve had a good week of practice?
TB: That is a good question, probably for coach Belichick; he is the one that always analyzes our practices. We try and go out and be consistent and go out and execute the plays that are called. A lot of times, you put in your first and second down plays, your third down plays, your red area plays. It’s your first look at them on Wednesday. Like today we put in the red area; it’s your first look at the red area plays. You go out and you see how you practice them. You see how they look. If they don’t look good, you make changes and make adjustments. If they look good, maybe you build on them. Maybe you don’t do anything with them. You put plays in, you throw plays out. That is the whole preparation leading up to the game, trying to understand the game plan, add a few things, take a few things out so what you are calling is the best stuff and the stuff that you have the most confidence in.
Q: What kind of role can an emotional story line play once the game begins?
TB: Well, it’s an emotional game and you have highs and lows of the games. I think what we try and focus on is our execution and stringing together play after play after play which allows you to score points or keep them from scoring points. Yes, emotion is very important. Hopefully you can use it to your advantage.
Q: Is there something that you learned in your life that makes you want to use every minute in your life to prepare to be the best you can be?
TB: I think it is just the competitiveness of what we do. I don’t think you really want to waste any time over the course of the week because when the game ends, the clock is ticking on the next week. I guess there is a competitiveness in the preparation against the other team and are we more prepared at the end of Wednesday than they are? Are we more prepared at the end of Thursday than they are? Are we more prepared at the end of Friday than they are?
Q: Is that the game or is that you? It seems like you have a little bit more of it. Do you think if you weren’t in football you wouldn’t have this competitiveness? I don’t think that is true.
TB: I don’t know. I am in football, so I try and use that competitiveness.
Q: Is it the person you are?
TB: It all comes back to the team. Hopefully there is nothing that I can do by myself on this team; I rely on everybody. I think it is the measure of our collective competitiveness to see how it plays out over the course of the week and the more competitive we are as a team. And certainly as a veteran player, you try to lead by example. You go out there and you lead by what you do in your preparation and your attitude, by your enthusiasm, by your attention to detail, by your awareness on the field, by the way you practice, by the way you are in meetings and at walkthroughs. As a team, the more guys you have doing those things that are positively influencing what we may feel may help the outcome of the game, the better we are going to be. I think that is the competitiveness that we try and put into every week. And you push your teammates and they push you. Hopefully by the end of the year you reach a pretty high level.
Q: What did you learn about your group of your tight ends during the first time Rob Gronkowski was out?
TB: There is always a level of comfort that you continue to get toward, toward the end of the season. Early in the year there are only so many practices that we’ve had, but at this point we’ve had over 100 practices so there is quite a bit of throwing that I’ve done to those guys in game competition where the awareness is at its highest and the execution needs to be at its best. Meetings, walkthroughs, whatever it may be, you develop trust that the guys that you play with are doing things the right way. I think Hooman [Michael Hoomanawanui] and Daniel [Fells] and Aaron [Hernandez] have really made that a strength. The depth of our team at that position is really a strength as opposed to last year where we had two guys on the roster. Now there were four and four that really helped us win a lot of games. It all comes down to this week. There is nothing that has happened in the past that is going to influence this week, so we need to be at our best this week.
Q: What is it like looking back on your journey from college to now?
TB: I think this week I am just trying to focus on Baltimore. I don’t want to get too much into the past. My team owes my attention to be focused to the task at hand and that’s playing a great Baltimore team. Maybe in three weeks I will answer that.
Q: How much more preparation do you put in between the last practice on Friday and game time?
TB: Every minute. I think every minute. You just keep pushing through. You finish practice today and you go in and watch film on practice and see what we have to do better and that goes right through the night. Tomorrow morning we have meetings and that goes right through the afternoon and tomorrow night we have meetings and then Sunday mornings we have meetings. It goes right up until game time. It just doesn’t stop. You really can’t turn it off at this point.
Q: Of the four quarterbacks left in the playoffs, you are the only one that has won a Super Bowl. What do you think of that?
TB: I like to be playing this time of year. There is nothing more exciting than this. I certainly have had experience in these types of games, but it only really matters if you go out and play well. There was a time where I was inexperienced and we did pretty well. I think it is more of a matter of our execution and how we play opposed to anything that has been accomplished in the past. To me, at this point, with four teams left, we have to have a pretty good football team in all three phases. Certainly I feel like we have one of those teams. We played the 49ers [and] we’ve played the Ravens. They certainly have those teams. We haven’t played Atlanta, but I know they are one of those teams because I’ve seen them play on TV a bunch of times. We need to have a really strong team in all phases and all four teams that are playing now are all qualified.
Q: You had success winning Super Bowls early in your career. You’ve recently been to Super Bowls, but haven’t won. Does that show you how tough this league is and what are your thoughts on that?
TB: Believe me, I have thought about that a lot myself. It is hard to win the Super Bowl, no question. We have made it there, since I’ve been here, five times. It is hard to get to this point; it is hard to get to the AFC Championship game. You need a lot of things to go your way over the course of the year. I think we are fortunate to be in this game and have this opportunity. There are a lot of things that need to happen positively over the course of a long season to have this chance and I am glad we have it.
Q: How is Bill Belichick around this time when it comes to preparation? Is he the same or does he step it up a bit?
TB: He is very consistent. I think there is one thing you can always expect about coach Belichick: he is going to give you everything he’s got. Whether it’s this week, or you come to our passing camp in May, he coaches just as hard. And I think that is why we have been able to make improvements over the course of the year. Because it is not like, ‘Ok guys, this week is not that important.’ It is always like, ‘Look, this week is important because it is only going to build on next week.’ Hopefully we climb that mountain over the course of the long season and you get to a point at the end where you are performing as well as you have ever performed over the course of the season. Every team starts at the same place, so you don’t want to waste those days in May, because what helps in May gets you prepared for training camp. What you do in training camp gets you prepared for early in the season, early in the season can only put you in a good position when Thanksgiving rolls around. That is when you have a chance to make something of your season.
Q: Can you talk about the characteristics that define this rivalry?
TB: I think Baltimore has a great football team. They have had a great team for a long time. They are very good on defense, they are very good on offense, and they have always had good special teams. Their coach was a special teams coach, so the emphasis on those special teams units is always very high for them. We’ve just had a lot of great games against them and I think this one will be another great game.
Q: How important is your flexibility and patience against this defense?
TB: I think you always have to try and find ways to get the best play called out there on the field. You never want to snap the ball into what you feel may be a bad play. I think over the years I’ve gained flexibility with what my coaches allow me to do. I see certain looks and I know to get to a particular play that may be better. Sometimes it doesn’t always turn out that way, but those are the ones you go to the sideline and coach yells at you for changing the play. But when everything goes right, I think it is real positive for our team. That is part of the experienced part that really pays off; you’ve been in enough situations to understand what may work and what may not work
Tags: AFC Championship Game, Bill Belichick, Danny Woodhead, Devin McCourty, New England Patriots, Rob Gronkowski, Rob Ninkovich, Ryan Wendell, Shane, Tom Brady
BB: It’s good to be able to play in the AFC Championship Game next week. I’m really proud of our players; I thought they worked hard all year. Today was a big win for us. The Texans are good football team, they fought hard, they battled us all the way to the end. They have a lot of good football players but fortunately we had a bunch of guys step up today and make the plays we needed to make. It wasn’t perfect and there were certainly a lot of things we can do better but it was a good win. I’m happy for the players. I think they really earned it. They had a good week of practice. I thought they really did a good job preparing for this game. It was good to see us make enough plays here to win. We know Baltimore is tough. We had a great game with them down there earlier in the season. We know that will be a great battle. We’ll enjoy this one for a little while and then get on to the Ravens tomorrow.
Q: You lost Danny Woodhead and Rob Gronkowski early in the game. How much did that impact you?
BB: Hooman [Michael Hoomanawanui] and Shane [Vereen] stepped in there and both did a good job for us. Shane obviously made a lot of big plays but Hooman did a great job too, as he’s been doing for the last month. These kinds of games, you never really know when the dial spins, where it’s going to wind up, who it’s going to end up on. Those guys were prepared. Offensively we were able to move the ball, put up some points. It’s a credit to everybody to be ready.
Q: Did Rob Gronkowski break his arm again?
BB: I’m not sure.
Q: Did he go to the hospital?
BB: I just walked off the field, I don’t know.
Q: How big was Devin McCourty on the opening kickoff?
BB: Yeah, it was a huge play. Devin has done that a couple times for us. He has great speed, tracking [Danieal] Manning down. Obviously Manning did a great job. They had used him on kickoff returns all year until last week. He led the league in Chicago. We have a lot of respect for him; we knew what he could do. We didn’t do a very good job of it most of the time, but that was a huge play by Devin to really end up saving [four] points. The defense went in there and had a big stop on the sudden change on the big return. That was really a huge series in the game. [We] didn’t get off to a good start but at least minimized the damaged and held it to three points.
Q: Was there any question whether Rob Gronkowski was ready to go?
BB: He wouldn’t have played if he wasn’t.
Q: Do you have any regret in playing him, seeing as he has the same injury as before?
BB: The doctors handle the medical decisions.
Q: Can you talk about Rob Ninkovich and what he means to the defense?
BB: Rob has been really productive for us all year. He’s had a great season. His production is right up there at the very top of the league at his position. He’s made big plays for us in the past – sacks, strips, fumbles, recovered fumbles, tackles for loss, all that. We know he’s got good hands. He’s had many interceptions before; made a great play there. We blitzed from the outside, he dropped down inside, got underneath the route and really made a great catch on the ball. It was high, tough catch but Rob’s a good athlete. He makes it look easy; he catches the ball well. That was a huge play for us, big stop and we were able to convert that into points offensively. That was a big key play in the game for us.
Q: What did you do schematically to control J.J. Watt during the game?
BB: I think you have to give credit to the guys up front. It’s not about ‘Xs’ and ‘Os’ – somebody has to block him. Whether it was Dan [Connolly] or Wendy [Ryan Wendell] or Logan [Mankins], of course he moves around a little bit and then when they stunt, he could end up on the tackles; Sebastian [Vollmer] had him a bunch. Whoever has to block him, just has to block him. They run games and they move him around a little bit. He’s a great football player but the credit goes to the players. It’s not blocking him on the chalkboard, you have to get out there and block him. The credit goes to the offensive line and the backs. The backs did a good job reading the holes and getting through there. We tried not to dance around. We found some daylight and Stevan [Ridley] and Shane [Vereen] hit it. That’s good execution there in the running game at times, too.
Q: Can you talk about Tom Brady passing Joe Montana for all-time playoff wins?
BB: Of course Tom has meant a lot to us since he’s been here. He started winning playoff games the first year he really got a chance to participate in them. Tom is a great competitor. He had a great week of preparation as he always does for every game but especially the playoff games. He’s our leader and we all follow him, we all respect him and he led the team today, along with a lot of other guys but he certainly did his job, as he’s done many times before. There’s no quarterback I’d rather have than Tom Brady.
Q: Can you talk about Shane Vereen? You guys had him outside a lot. Did you see a mismatch with the linebacker or did you just want to get him in space?
BB: We used some different formations to try to move some people around. As Tom [Brady] usually does, he finds the best matchups depending on the route and the coverage and so forth and getting the ball to the guys that have a good opportunity to win on those routes. A lot of credit goes to Tom for finding him but also to Shane for running good routes, catching the ball in tight coverage, running after the catch, all those things. Obviously it’s something we worked on during the week. When Tom saw matchups he liked out there, he was able to take advantage of it.
Q: It looked like you matched up Aqib Talib with Andre Johnson. How beneficial is it to be able to match up a corner with a receiver like that?
BB: It was a great battle; it’s two good football players. Johnson is a great receiver. He’s arguably one or two all-time, he’s tremendous. He’s big, fast, has great hands, good route runner. Aqib competed with him every down, just like he did the first half of the first game. That’s two good football players and that’s a battle. We didn’t give him a lot of help. Johnson caught a few but Aqib battled him pretty well there. It was a good matchup.
Q: Can you talk about the job you did on third down?
BB: We had him in some long yardage situations, which are good. We had them in the third quarter in a couple long yardage situations before Rob’s [Ninkovich] interception let them off the hook. Third down starts on first and second down. It just comes down to team defense – good pass rush, good coverage and keeping the yardage longer by playing better on first and second down. I thought we did a good job in the running game until we got to the last drive in the second quarter and [Arian] Foster hit a couple long runs to the weak side on us. They scored right before the half. Because we were able to hold off a few of those runs, that put them in some third-and-long situations. It was good team defense; I don’t think it’s any one guy. Third down obviously is critical for us and our red area stop was big too.
Q: You did a nice job on Arian Foster. Is he quite different from Ray Rice who you’ll have to deal with next week?
BB: They’re both great backs. Foster is fast, he’s really fast. Not that Rice isn’t, unfortunately we’ve seen the back of his jersey a couple times. Foster does a good job of hitting the crease and he gains a lot of yards with his speed running away from people. Similar to Chris Johnson, I’m not saying that fast, but that type of guy. They’re different; they’re both good.
Q: You seemed to rely on Wes Welker a lot early in the game. It was a big catch down the sideline.
BB: Yeah, it was a great catch. Wes is a tremendous receiver, a great competitor. Again, we felt like at times there was a good matchup with him in the slot. He did a good job in there. Again, Tom made some good throws. Wes is quick, he’s tough to cover. Tom had some good weapons to work with and he was able to move it around and get it to a bunch of them. I thought we had good balance offensively, overall it was pretty good.
Q: Another matchup with Ed Reed next week. How much do you look forward to playing him?
BB: I don’t look forward to it at all. I’m glad we’re [in the game] playing him, let’s put it that way. Ed is a great football player. Ravens have obviously an outstanding team – defense, special teams, offense. They’re good all the way around; very well coached. We thought they were as a tough as anybody we played all year. We had a great game with them down there at the beginning of the season. Now it comes back to a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship Game. We know it will be tough and hopefully we can play our best game next week.
Q: It looked like Arian Foster was short. What was told to you?
BB: That it wasn’t short. I thought we had the ball out there in the third quarter on that fumble and they ruled forward progress so we couldn’t challenge the play. They ruled him down by forward progress. That was a tough call. Then the fourth down call, which we were able to stop them on the following sequence, but still, that was a huge play there. I thought when his elbow went down, the ball hadn’t crossed the line but evidently they didn’t see enough evidence for that. Those were a couple calls that…one we would have challenged but we couldn’t because it was forward progress. And the touchdown catch, the official right on the spot thought it was moving and called it incomplete and then that one got overturned. You’d have to ask the officials exactly what they saw but that’s kind of what we saw.
Q: How would you describe this playoff ride you’ve had with Tom Brady?
BB: I don’t know. I think right now our focus is just happy to win this game and get on to Baltimore. We can reflect back on some other years some other time.
Q: The Ravens are on an emotional high. Do you try to match their intensity emotionally or is it all ‘Xs’ and ‘Os’?
BB: They’re a great football team, they’re well coached. They have a lot of outstanding players; they have some great veteran players. They have guys that can score, guys that can rush, guys that can defend, guys that can return, guys that can cover. Look, that’s why they’re here. When you’re playing at this time of year, each game gets tougher, each game gets bigger. I think the Ravens certainly showed how physically and mentally tough they were to go out there and come from behind and beat Denver in a tough environment. That showed a lot of character, resiliency and toughness. Our game with them this year, our game with them last year, went down to the last possession, the last play, however you want to look at it. Our other games with them over the years have usually come down to that too – the final possession or sometimes the final play – even going all the way back to ’09, unfortunately not the playoff game but in the regular season. That’s what we’re going to prepare for this week – a tough team, mentally and physically, that has a lot of talent, that’s very confident. They’ve gone on the road and won. I don’t think that will phase them. We just have to go out there and play and coach better than they do and that will be a big challenge but that’s what we have to do.
Tags: American football plays, Bill Belichick, Derrick Martin, Justin Francis, Miami, National Football League, Rob Ninkovich, Trevor Scott
Q: How significant is the shutout? Is it as good as it gets for you guys or is there still room for improvement?
MP: I think absolutely you’re always looking for improvement. Obviously you’re happy with the effort and excited for the players. They’re the ones who did all the work on the field to achieve certain goals, but certainly when you go back and look at the film, there’s a lot of things we need to do better, improve on and work on and that’s really what we’ll focus on, obviously more so than just the scoreboard there. But, you know, it was a good effort by everybody out there. I think guys really tried hard and did things we asked them to do and we’re pleased with that, but there are certainly some areas of improvement that you can really take a look at and say, ‘We really have to do some things better here because they just weren’t good enough.’
Q: Bill Belichick said the defensive pressure yesterday was a group effort. Can you talk about that? Also, can you talk about the individual production of Justin Francis?
MP: Yeah, I think that’s probably the same question. Coach hit it right on the head as far as the great thing about what we do is obviously a team effort. When you look at the bottom line stats and you see one particular player with high numbers, I don’t really think that tells the whole story. If you take a good look at the game and what actually happened during a particular play, you’ll see that there’s a lot of other factors that contribute to maybe a player making a play on that particular situation. You can single out anybody with stat numbers yesterday but if you take a look at the group effort, it was really what we were looking for. You can certainly see situations where the guys in coverage in those situations did a really excellent job to allow the pass rush time to get to the quarterback and then you can see situations where the pass rush was able to get to the quarterback, which allowed the cover guys to not have to cover as long. So, I really think it was a good, collaborative effort, along with the same thing for the run game, where one guy may be making a particular tackle or a particular play, but what you don’t see is the other guy that has three guys on him at one time [and is] eating up a bunch of blockers [which] frees up another player. That’s the beauty of the sport and that’s really what we strive for in a team effort so I think that’s what we’re talking about when we have successful plays like that, where we get a good particular play but really there’s a lot of other factors that go into it.
MP: Trevor has done… over the course of the season, you take a look at the role he’s had and the opportunities he’s had when he’s been able to deal with them, he’s really tried to develop and come along. Obviously he was available for us and did a good job for us in the first game versus Miami and it just steadily improved throughout the season. Like all the guys on the defense, hopefully throughout the entire season, you get to this point and you’ve done a good enough job to improve yourself week by week and that’s really what we’re trying to do. Trevor has certainly done that and become more familiar with the system and communication and the different things that we’re trying to do. Obviously we have a situation like we had yesterday and guys just have to step in and go and that’s what we prepare for every week.
Q: After watching the film, how good of a coverage scheme did you have yesterday, particularly with having some guys out there who are not usually out there?
MP: I think it kind of ties into what I said before. There are plays that you take a look at where, ‘This is doing well and this isn’t as good as you want it to be,’ and then, ‘This is really good, so that kind of makes up for the other part of it.’ As far as the guys who are out on the field, we played with who was available and who was ready to go. That’s the great part about the guys we have on the defensive side of the ball, they’re truly professionals that work hard every week to prepare themselves to play no matter where they are, basically, what they would think they would be in a standing depth chart. At any particular time in the game, they have to go in and perform and perform at a very high level. That’s what you get in the NFL is those guys that have to step in and step into those roles and be productive. For the most part, we were able to generate that out of some of those guys that played in different positions that they haven’t played or just not as much as they played throughout the course of the season. In general, we try to do the right things in coverage. Obviously there’s always room for improvement there with some of the different looks we saw form the Dolphins. Give them credit for what they do and there were some tough looks in there and we tried to battle though it and like I said in some particular plays where we might have had an instance where it was a harder coverage, coverage communication call, whatever the case may be and the pass rush made up for it or there’s a case where the pass rush was not there quite as fast and the coverage made up for that and gave us an opportunity, so it was a good job of those guys working together to handle those situations in those areas as they came up.
Q: Some Patriots fans may not know a lot about Derrick Martin. What would you tell Patriots fans about him?
MP: Derrick Martin is an extremely high energy, true professional that comes to work every day and just brings a tremendous attitude of going to work and having fun and just really studying and being disciplined. I think he’s a guy that, again, another guy we had to throw out there or put out there and you feel confident he’s going to do his job to the best of his ability, at least be in the right places at the right time and really try to communicate and do what he’s asked to do. It’s good to have those guys on your team that maybe necessarily don’t get all the reps but that can step in and just be able to function at a high level. It’s just a guy that obviously has been around a little while that knows how the NFL works and is a just true professional from the standpoint of he’s going to be able to get mental preparation in the classroom and on the field and put himself in a situation where, if he has to go out and perform, hopefully he can do it at a very high level.
Q: What is your evaluation of Jermaine Cunningham from yesterday? How did he perform in his return after missing four games?
MP: I think obviously the situation for Jermaine, came back and tried to go out and play hard and certainly was out there doing the things we were asking him to do. I think it’s like any player that has a little time off or is away from the game for a while, you just have to keep working to improve and hopefully build on that performance the following week or whenever it is that you play. So certainly, he’s going to have to come back in and keep working hard to get himself going again, but it was a good job by him of being ready to go when he got back in the building.
Tags: Baltimore, Bill Belichick, Head Coach, Houston, Josh, Josh McDaniels, Miami, New England Patriots, Wednesday
BB: Well, we’re going to go through the Miami tape today, look at some corrections and talk about some of those things. We’ll start moving ahead to any of our next potential opponents and also just some things that we may need to work on on our end. As I said yesterday, I thought the players did a good job yesterday given the situation, the conditions and all that. Miami is a good football team that’s been playing well lately, but we were just able to go out there and make a few more plays than they did yesterday and play for a good 60 minutes. [It was] a good, solid game in all three phases and that’s what we needed to do. We helped ourselves and the other things that happened helped us. That was good, but most importantly, we went out and helped ourselves. That’s really what we needed to do.
Q: What’s your appraisal of the work that Josh McDaniels has done this year in his first season back with you guys?
BB: Full season, yeah. I do think that the end of the season last year was important. It was good because it gave him an opportunity to see and interact and be involved first hand [and see] where we were with some of those guys. Some of them weren’t here when he was here before, so that was good. Josh, he does a good job in all areas: player evaluation, scheme, technique, play calling, getting everything coordinated. He does a good job. I’ve been really fortunate with Charlie [Weis], Josh, Billy O’Brien. We’ve had really good offensive coordinators here along with the rest of the offensive staff, because they all do work together on it. There are a lot of things that they all contribute in addition to the coordinator. He’s done a solid job for us. He’s meant a lot, as all the assistants have. The staff has done good job this year. They’ve worked hard. I think we’ve improved as a team. That’s really what you need to do, especially in this league. Through training camp, you’ve got to improve through the course of the season and you have to be a better team at the end than you re at the beginning. I think they’ve worked hard to do that.
Q: At this time of year, with so many guys being let go, Josh’s experience must make him a head coaching candidate. Do you feel like he’s a strong head coaching candidate and is there anything you can get into logistically in terms of what would happen if he is contacted?
BB: Whatever the rules are are the rules and we of course abide by the NFL rules and policies on everything. That’s pretty clearly covered by the league. As far as any other situation, I really couldn’t comment on any other team or situation. I have no idea what somebody else is looking for or what their criteria are or what their situation is, for that matter, as an outsider. So I really have no idea who would do what somewhere else because I just don’t know enough about wherever else it is that we’d be talking about. As I said, I think Josh has done a great job this year along with the entire offensive staff and the other coaches involved: defense and special teams coaches. I think the coaching staff has done a solid job, but as it relates to him, he’s done a solid job. How that fits into some other situation, I have no idea.
Q: Can you expand a little more on the course of action for this week? Is there room at all for self improvement, or is this week dedicated to covering your three potential opponents?
BB: I think it will probably be a little bit of a combination of both things. Where the emphasis will fall is to be determined. That’s something that we’ll talk about as a staff here today to kind of plan for tomorrow and then on Wednesday when the players come back in. I think heading into this weekend, one scenario was that today we would be getting ready for a game this coming Sunday, so we were prepared to do that if that’s what it was. That’s not the case now, so we’ll kind of reevaluate where we are and what we feel like would be the most productive things for our team: practice, meetings, or other things we can do, the way we break things up and look at them and so forth. And we’ll try to find the ones that we feel like could have the biggest impact or are the most important, or the ones that we can actually have an ability to change at this point and work on them. That’s something that we’ll have to determine probably today and certainly as part of our schedule tomorrow before the players come back in on Wednesday.
Q: Obviously the three teams you could play are teams you’ve already played. Does the fact that you played Baltimore much earlier than Houston make some of that irrelevant? Does the further away from a game you get make that information less useful or relevant?
BB: Yeah, I think that’s true. There’s certainly a lot more information on Baltimore since we played them than there is on, say, Houston since we played them. And Indianapolis would fall somewhere in the middle. Again, as we talked about last week, we have people in our organization who are always kind of the advance people, whether it’s scouts or coaches that are moving ahead. The coaching staff is always focused on the current opponent or the current situation. Even in training camp, it’s the same thing where we’re working on things in training camp, but we still have people who are advancing our early season opponents and so forth. It’s still kind of the same thing. We have people working on those things and at some point they will come into play for the coaching staff and the players, but at some point it will also just be a preparation until we know who we actually are going to be matched up with next week. So it’s little bit of both there, but definitely Baltimore, of the three teams that we could play next, is the one that we – there’s a lot more information since the time we played them and that definitely needs to be analyzed.
Tags: American football plays, Bill Belichick, Breaking Bad, Defense (sports), Houston, Justin Francis, Rob Gronkowski, Rob Ninkovich, Tom Brady
BB: I thought it was a real good performance by our team today. Those guys really did a good job. We had a good week of practice. They were obviously ready to go today. The players played well. We got good contributions from all three phases of the game and had a lot of guys step up and make plays. I don’t want to single anybody out; there were so many guys that contributed. It was a good solid effort; proud of our team. The results are what they are. We’ll see how it goes here going forward. Hopefully this will be a good game that we can step off from and keep working to improve and get better in our next outing.
Q: Were you aware of the Houston-Indianapolis result going into the game?
BB: Yeah, we got the score before the game. We can’t really worry about what everybody else is doing. We have to do what we can do and whatever else happens, happens.
Q: What went into the decision to play Rob Gronkowski today?
BB: He was ready to play.
Q: Would he have still played if Houston hadn’t lost at one o’clock?
BB: He was ready to play.
Q: For a guy who just got a first round bye and wrapped up a division title, you don’t look overjoyed.
BB: We wrapped up the division a month ago.
Q: But it’s pretty good news to get the bye.
BB: Whatever it is, it is. When we have to play, we’ll play.
Q: How big of an advantage is it to not have to play next week?
BB: I don’t know.
Q: Your defensive front did a good job today – you had a season-high seven sacks. Can you talk about their effort today?
BB: They did a good job but it’s team defense. Guys were covered, the quarterback had to hold the ball, they helped the pass rush. Guys rushed well, guys covered well. When the receivers are open, it doesn’t matter what your pass rush is. If you make the quarterback hold the ball then that helps the pass rush. It was good team defense. We did a good job in the running game. There were some long yardage situations and of course we got ahead in the game, that obviously made them have to throw more so that worked in our advantage too. It was good team defense today. Again, I couldn’t single anybody out. The guys in the back end played well, the guys up front played well. It was a big turnover to start the game, put us in good field position early. Of course, Dont’a [Hightower] jumped on that fumble down there on the goal line which we had several fumbles against them in the last game and only recovered one so it was good to be able to get that one.
Q: Justin Francis played well too.
BB: Again, I think some of that is overrated. There were several times when one guy came in and flushed the quarterback out and somebody else got him. If we get him as team, we get him. But they all did a good job –Justin, Chandler [Jones], Vince [Wilfork], Brandon [Deaderick], Kyle [Love], Trevor [Scott], Rob [Ninkovich] – they all did a good job.
Q: With the great strides that Rob Ninkovich has made and I’m sure you don’t have a diagnosis on him yet, but what’s your feeling on having a player like that go off during the game?
BB: We’ll see what it is. I don’t know, we’ll see what it is.
Q: Can you talk about your team’s toughness? This team seems to be a tough team – it was cold out today with less than ideal conditions and it seems like you’ve been tough all year long.
BB: Yeah, it was certainly good today. It wasn’t too good a couple weeks ago when we handed the ball away the whole game or the first half of it anyway. No, it was good today. The conditions weren’t easy but the players handled them well, they handled the ball well for the most part. We dropped some balls but overall we took care of it. Didn’t turn it over, that was good; tackled OK, so I think our overall execution on today’s game, in a lot of areas given the elements and all that, was good. Hopefully we can do that on a consistent basis.
Q: Can you talk about Rob Ninkovich’s versatility? It seems like he does so many things that other teams need to use multiple players to do. How valuable is that?
BB: He’s mainly played defensive end this year but he’s also of course played in the kicking game and at times he’s played some linebacker. But he’s done that before in the past for us. Yeah, it’s pretty common. There are a lot of guys in the league that can play linebacker but then go to rush on third down. We’ve been in four-man fronts so he’s been rushing most of the time. He’s a tough kid. He’s very competitive and he’s got good versatility. His ability to help us in the kicking game as well as defensively over the years, including this year, is pretty valuable too. He does a good job.
Q: It seems like your defense has really made progress over the course of the season. Today you didn’t have some of your guys and you still played well. Do you feel good about where they are now at the end of the season?
BB: I don’t know. We played good today. We’ll see what happens the next time we play. Every week is its own challenge so we’ll see how we do against somebody else or what that matchup is. Today they did a good job. Anytime you can hold a team to no points in this league, you have to be doing something right
Tags: Bill Belichick, Denver, EverBank Field, Jacksonville Jaguars, New England Patriots, NFL, Patrick Chung, Tavon Wilson, Tom Brady
New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick addresses the media at EverBank Field following a regular season game versus the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, December 23, 2012.
(On the game)
“It’s always good to win. We got off to a slow start, but we made some plays to get back into the game right before the half. There’s always more work to do, but we have another week to work on things before we head into the playoffs.”
(On the defense)
“We had some pressure and we had pretty good coverage. We didn’t want to put ourselves in that situation, but fortunately we were able to bail out of it. It was a lot like the Denver game—similar situation–but we made the plays we needed to make to win. Defensively, we had good compound coverage and prior to that were able to knock the ball out a couple of times.”
(On the defensive backfield)
“They did a good job. Marquis Cole played the inside nickel position for us, Devin McCourt moved back to the outside and Patrick Chung and Tavon Wilson moved to the inside, so we had a lot of moving parts in the secondary back there. Overall I though they did a good job back there.”
(On the team’s slow start)
“Obviously, not what we wanted. They gave us a little different approach offensively, but we made some adjustments. Once we kind of saw what they were doing, our players and coaches got a better look at it and I think they did a good job. They started the game off with a little different style. They got the advantage on us, but eventually we settled down.”
(On the Patrick Chung penalty)
“I’ll have to take a closer look at it, I don’t know what he could’ve done.”
(On Tom Brady’s protection)
“We don’t design plays for him to get hit, we try to protect the quarterback. That’s part of football, guys get hit.”
Tags: Aqib Talib, Bill Belichick, Brandon Spikes, Indianapolis Colts, Jason McCourty, Patricia, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tiquan Underwood
Q: Now that Aqib Talib can officially be with the team, what your thoughts are on him?
DM: You know, we look forward to it. Wednesday he’ll get here and we’ll get to get out there and practice and he’ll be a part of the team, so it will be a big week for us. A big game versus the Colts, just to get another guy out there that you know is a good player, it will be exciting. We’ll have to draw some chemistry and go out there and play well this weekend.
Q: Do you have any background with Aqib Talib or have you watched him play and have an opinion on how he plays?
DM: No, I don’t know much about it. I’ve seen him play a bunch of times. He’s a solid player. He’s a very good player. I’m sure he’ll be able to help us in a lot of different ways.
Q: With his acquisition and your production at the safety position, do you get the sense that the safety position is one you will play more now?
DM: You know, here, anything is kind of possible as far as guys playing different positions. Like I said after the game, I’m getting more and more comfortable at playing safety the more snaps I get. Coach [Head Coach Bill Belichick] is always telling me to be ready to play safety or corner, whatever the team needs me to do. Each week I think it could change; it could stay the same. However Coach Belichick sees that and Coach Matty P [Patricia], however they want to go about it, that’s how I think we’ll have to do it and go from there.
Q: After the game, Ryan Fitzpatrick said Brandon Spikes can be a ‘punk’ sometimes. What do you think about that?
DM: Honestly, I don’t have much on that. I like to think that everyone has their own opinions. That’s on him I think. The biggest thing for us is that’s a division opponent; we play them twice a year each year, so for this season, we don’t have to worry about playing them again. I think we just need to move forward how we move forward. To me, every player, every person, is entitled to their own opinion.
Q: Any unexpected calls after your big play yesterday? I saw you kept the ball; did you do anything special with it?
DM: No, just the usual: A bunch of my friends always text me after the games. We’re kind of close, especially with my brother [Jason McCourty] and Tiquan Underwood, we all kind of talk after every game. So, nothing really big. I keep all my footballs. Hopefully someday my kids will have some fun playing with them.
Q: You will let them play with that one?
DM: They’ll probably play with it behind my back anyway
Tags: Bill Belichick, Buffalo Bills, Devin McCourty, New England Patriots, Tom Brady
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?
Q: Same with Jake Ballard?
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?
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
Tags: Bill Belichick, Brad Smith, Buffalo Bills, New England, NFL, Super Bowl, Volkswagen, Wes Welker
Q: What did Bill Belichick say to the players at the start of the week meeting to set the tone for the Buffalo Bills?
VW: Basically, not much because for one, this is a division game. Every division game is tough. So we understand that as the players and we go over the things we need to do to hopefully win the ballgame. It’s always tough against a division opponent, no matter what the guys’ records are. Division games are always played tough and we understand that. Our main thing is how well we can prepare for Sunday. So we’ll see how that goes. Hopefully we can get a good week of practice in and things work out for us later on down the road.
Q: OK. But did he say anything specifically about Buffalo in the initial team meeting?
VW: He told us what we need to do to be successful for any opponent, not just the Buffalo Bills. That’s how we start all of our meetings – what we need to do to be at our best come Sunday and then from there we go onto a game plan. There’s no magic wand he waves over us. It’s basically talking about things we need to do to be successful and if we don’t get it done, we’re going to have problems. That’s how all of our meetings start.
Q: Last year the Patriots made it to the Super Bowl with the 31st-ranked defense in the league. Is that amazing to you?
VW: We don’t even pay attention to last year. Every year is different. 32 teams in the league every year change personnel, change coaches. You’ve got players new on this team, so we try not to dwell in the past. Just like the Super Bowls we’ve won – just keep the past in the past and the future in the future. So moving forward, that’s all you have to do. It’s a one-week game every week. This week it’s the Buffalo Bills so all of our focus has to be on the Bills and the Bills only.
Q: Right now the defense is ranked high against the run. How do you think the defense is playing?
VW: As a whole I think we can play a lot better. But our goal is to get better each week. That’s our goal. Buffalo has a great ground attack and their offense is very explosive. They are one of the teams in the NFL that can put up some points and put up some big plays, through the air and on the ground with the backs they have. We’re going to have our hands full defensively to try to slow these guys down, but we’re up for the challenge. Hopefully it will work in our favor but they definitely cause a lot of problems we have to deal with.
Q: Buffalo had a lot of long plays against the New England defense last game. Has that been a topic of discussion this week?
VW: If we don’t give up big plays, the defense can be very, very good. That’s one of the things we have to get better at – stop giving up big plays and stop hurting ourselves. And like I said, they’re a team that can strike from anywhere on the field – in the air and on the ground. We have to do a better job of that this time around because that game was close. We got a couple turnovers in that game that basically led to points on our end. But without those turnovers, you’re looking at a different ballgame so we definitely have to minimize the big plays on our defense.
Q: What do you think the reason for the Patriots defense is for giving up so many big plays?
VW: That’s our focus, our focus. The times we give up big plays, we are not on the same page and our focus level is not where it needs to be. That’s one of the areas we need to get better and I think going forward, we’re going to have to get better in that area. If we don’t, we’re going to continue to have problems. But I think the guys are working hard to fix those problems. In the past few weeks, we’ve kind of moved in the right direction with that, so hopefully it will continue this week.
Q: What do you see from Brad Smith and the Bills running the Wildcat?
VW: Yeah, they run some. Whatever we have called and whatever our checks are, we’ll check to and everybody has to be on the same page. It really hasn’t been a problem ever since the first time we saw it against the Dolphins. But Buffalo, they do definitely run that and they have the personnel to actually run that so whenever we see it, we just have to react and play to it.
Q: Can you comment on your viewpoint on how tough it is to cover Wes Welker and how he keeps rolling along?
VW: Well, I don’t know how tough it is to cover him because I play with him and I don’t have to play against him so that’s something you’d probably have to ask one of the Buffalo Bills, seeing as how they actually have to cover him so that’s better for those guys.
Q: How much do you appreciate how he is able to continue play at a high level?
VW: We have a lot of playmakers and he’s definitely one of them. For both he and Tom [Brady], the more they’re on the same page, the better it is for all of us. But, Tom has a lot of outlets, not just him. So we try to play team football, but those two alone can ruin the game for anyone so I’m just happy to be playing with both of them.
Q: If they dropped you into a zone dog could you cover him?
VW: Absolutely [Laughs].