Q: With your playoff position already set, how are you approaching this game? Belichick: We approach it the same way we approach every other game. The 49ers aren't a team we are very familiar with. We haven't played them since 1988 or whatever it was. So there isn't much carry-over between those games. We are just doing all we can to get ready for the 49ers who have a lot of personnel and schemes that we aren't familiar with and we have a lot of catching up to do. That's how we approach it. Q: What about your players? Does the approach change for some of them? Belichick: Players job this week is the same as every week. To be prepared and get ready to play. Q: What about Tom Brady's approach? How much do you play your star quarterback in a meaningless season finale? Belichick: I plan to have every player ready to play and just like every game we will do the best we can to try and win the game, whatever it is. And how we play the players will be determined by how the game is going. Q: Do you rely much on statistical analysis to evaluate a game plan? Belichick: Some. Not a lot. You keep and eye on it and take it into consideration but not a lot. You know, my experience has been that if the statistical tendency is that high then you are able to recognize it just through normal film study and so forth. Sometimes you do miss it and the stats point it out. But for the most part you just try to understand what your opponents are doing and how you want to set up against it in case those numbers or tendencies get broken, which a lot of times they do. Q: Do you have a formula for doing things that is a lot different than other teams? Belichick: I don't know what other teams use. We don't really in this league help each other out and exchange information and all that. Everybody kind of does their own thing. I'm not sure what everybody else does but our staff has been here for quite a while and we are familiar with how we do it but we haven't had a lot of other people come in from outside organizations and talk about how they have done it. Q: What's your approach for evaluating players? Belichick: We have a different set of criteria for each position. Those are what we call our major factors. And then we have other criteria which are other factors but not as major as the major ones. Then we take a composite and then a final grade. Q: How does that fit into your football philosophy? Belichick: We just try to do what we think is best for our football team. That's a moving target. Where we are now is not where we were a year ago or two years ago. I'm sure we will be a different place in the future, so you just have to look at the situation we are in and look at our options and do the best we can with those options. There is no exact formula we feel like we have to follow. It's not so much the decision as it is the timing. All those play into it. Q: Do you start looking into the draft immediately after the Super Bowl? Belichick: Well the draft is an ongoing process. It doesn't really stop or start anywhere. Once you are through with the '04 draft than the '05 draft has begun and you start to assemble the stuff on the players and now we are getting into the phase where some juniors are going to declare and some aren't. You have injuries throughout the course of the year that affect players and their status, so you know it's all-year long. For me it's hard to not do anything and just jump into the pool and start swimming without any real knowledge of anything so I try to at different points in the season familiarize myself with some of the players and so forth. When the season is over and you go into the combine and everything I'll have some background in the overall process. Q: What do you see in the 2005 draft class? Belichick: Well I think it's way too early. We don't even know who is in the draft class yet. Every year at this time, by the middle of January, a certain number of juniors will enter the draft and that will have a significant impact on the depth and quality of the class. A lot of times some of those guys are high picks. So it's too early for that. Q: Tell us about getting Tom Brady in the draft. Belichick: Well, we took him in the sixth round, so it wasn't like he was the first overall pick. But Tom was a guy coming into the draft that had a lot of things going for him. You know he's smart and had a great work ethic. He has a good presence on the field and he has improved a lot since we got him. He has worked hard and he's improved in a lot of different areas – his mechanics, his overall body strength and certainly his understand of defenses and recognizing and decision making. It's a credit to how hard he has worked and how much he has invested into the position. Some of it was in place and a lot of it was improvement and development over the past 5 years. Q: What kind of adjustments have you made since the last time you were a head coach in Cleveland? Belichick: You know, it's a totally different situation. Every head coach of every team is different. I'd say you are looking for two things: one maybe is to delegate more things in the organization to more people and more members of the staff, and probably secondly, to spend more time on things that aren't directly related to the X's and O's of the team but are related to the team. Some of them being off the field or other managing type of issues. It's not a technique or a play but other things that involve players and it's the teamwork and function of a football team as one entire unit but that's not X and O related. Q: How much has your owner, Robert Kraft, helped in the development of the team and organization? Belichick: In a big way. This is an organization and franchise that five or six years ago the facilities were depleted. The stadium was in poor shape. The weight room, the offices, you name it, were all substandard in the NFL or even any decent college program. That's all been upgraded tremendously. He's put a lot of resources personally into the team and organization. Our facilities are about as good as can possibly be. He's pretty much given me everything that I have asked for and everything that I felt we needed in operation to build a winning football team. I think that has been a big step and big reason why this organization has gotten the things done that they need to get done competitively. Q: Do you feel the nicer facilities help you in attracting free agents? Belichick: Well I don't know about attracting free agents. I don't know that it's that big of a deal. We aren't on the big wining and dining basis. I do think on a day-to-day basis players are coming in everyday to work. Whether it's in the meeting room or the weight room or the classroom or the practice field, the more efficient you can be than the more you will get done. So I do think it's important in those areas. I'm not sure any free agent has picked a team based on a weight room or size of his locker. There is a feeling as to the priorities and what is being done so that players are doing their job to be successful. I hope that we can convey that to somebody who is looking at our facility. Q: What does a team like the 49ers have to do to model its cap situation after your team? Belichick: I don't think there are any big secrets. Every team in the League can go to any resource and get any information on any team. All those salaries and everything is posted through the league and I don't think there is anything specific or earth-shattering there. We just try to do what is best for our football team. There are a lot of other successful teams in this league and their decisions are based on what is best for their team and whether that would or would not be right for the next team? Who knows? You have to make the decisions that are best for your football team and what makes our team better and what does not. It's not set up around any model. It's doing what we think is best for our football team. Q: How much teaching do you do? Belichick: Well again that is a hard question for me to answer. I'm not sure how much anybody else does, whether I do more or less or the same as any other coach. I really don't know. What we try to do is get our team ready to play, we try to prepare them. We ask the players to work hard and be physically and mentally ready to go and that's what we try to do, however it's broken down between the players, the assistant coaches, the head coaches, trainers, weight trainers, etc. I mean it all gets distributed. Everybody pulls their weight. Everybody does their job and, you know, no one can do any one else's job. Somebody else can't be the head coach. I can't be the trainer. I can't be the quarterback. The defensive coordinator can't be the special teams coach. Everybody has to do their job. That's how we try to approach it. I try to do what is in my framework where I can help the team. I have a good staff, and that extends beyond the coaches to a lot of other people in the organization that do a great job. They are all a part of it; we all have ownership in it. Q: Would you consider, in this final game, maybe dividing up responsibility on game day with the coaching staff differently? Belichick: No. We're just going to try to do what we normally do, and keep trying to do it a little bit better. Q: How important is it for you to emphasize that? It has to creep in a little bit to the back of guys' minds that the game has no bearing on the playoff seeding or anything like that. Belichick: Look, the importance of practicing and playing now is to continue to get better to build our performance to the highest level we can get it to because that's where it's going to need to be, and that's as clear as I think we can make it and that's what it is. So, it's an opportunity for us to do that. I don't think we want to not take advantage of the opportunities that we have, whether it be on the practice field, whether it be on the game field, the classroom, wherever it is. You only get so many of them. We're trying to get to a point. If we can make progress to get to that point, then it's worthwhile to put the effort into it and try to get there. So, whether everybody's buying what I'm selling, I don't know, but that's what we're selling. That's what it is. You can slice it up however you want to, but that's what it is.
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