Q and A with Bill Belichick

<p>Friday's press conference with the coach of the New England Patriots. You can see his comments on the game, the players and the upcoming challenges when the Patriots play the Pittsburgh Steelers.</p>

BILL BELICHICK (BB): Just to start off, I would say it's a privilege for the team and the organization to be involved in this AFC Championship game. We have tremendous respect for the Steelers. They're the toughest team we've played this year. They play hard, tough, physical. They play great defense, they run the ball, and the quarterback has done a wonderful job for them. As you know, we've altered our travel plans a little bit. We're coming out tonight due to the storm warnings in Pennsylvania. We'll be leaving in a little while and we'll be out there tonight.

Q. The game against Pittsburgh on the 31st of October when Ty Law got injured, your response was "We have trust in our system. We just need to do better in our system."

Can you talk about the system and what are some of the key tenants of the system.

(BB): I think any time -- at that point it was our sixth game. That's ten weeks. A couple more weeks of training camp. That's basically half your season. I think as much as possible you don't want to make changes that will involve all 11 people.

It's a lot easier if you can keep the other 10 guys the same and plug somebody new in there, whoever it is, and have him do what everybody else is doing. It's hard to change the system and adapt to a whole new set of plays when you change one guy. I think that's what I was referring to.

Q. What are just some key elements that maybe highlight the system itself?

(BB): Well we are a multiple defense, and we play different coverages, man zones, combination. What we have in our repertoire, we have, it's been in since training camp. That's what we have. That's what we do.

Some of it is used in some games more than others, depending on the opponent and situation. I feel like it's a fairly comprehensive system that gives us flexibility in situations.

Q. The exercises you've done in the last four years, have you grown accustomed to it?

(BB): No, it never gets old. It's an honor to be here, it's a lot of hard work. We had our 92nd, practice today. We started training camp roughly six months ago. It's been a lot of hours, a lot of energy, it's all really to get to this point right here, so, it's satisfying, but, you know, we still obviously have a lot to do, but in order to be here, just to get to this game has been a big accomplishment, and so from that standpoint, no, it doesn't get old.

Q. There's guys in the locker room that haven't done this, but there's a large contingent that has. Is there any kind of advantage to that working to a high pitch on Sunday?

(BB): I think experience is always a plus. Guys or players that have experience, I think that's something they can draw from and give to other players that don't have quite as much. In the end it comes down to which team plays better football on Sunday and can execute and doesn't make major mistakes.

They have players that haven't played in the games before. We have. I think in the end it will come down to the team that operates the best and executes the best.

Q. How did you say your week was?

(BB): It was kind of a normal week for us. We were off Monday and Tuesday and had a normal Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. We're leaving a little bit early here, but otherwise normal. We have some familiarity with Pittsburgh. We played them earlier in the season.

It's sort of like a division game where you play the team a second time. There's still a lot of work to do. They're a tough team. We've put as much as we could into it. We've got a little over 48 hours to keep working on it.

Q. Can you contrast the difference between Bettis and Staley?

(BB): You know, they're both -- I think, Alan, they're both very good runners, they both have a lot of patience and power. They make more yards inside than outside. They're hard to tackle. The biggest thing the Pittsburgh running game has is patience. The backs do a good job getting up to the line of scrimmage. If there's not a hole there, they can see the entire line and the way it's blocking, and then sooner or later something is going to develop.

It's just a matter of time until there's a crease there, and when they see it, they pop through it. I think they're both very similar in that respect. We saw a lot of Duce in our game, and Bettis came in and finished us off. I think they both have a similar running style, both big powerful blocks that are tough to tackle because of their size, power and body lean.

Q. Talk about Tedy Bruschi and the role he will play on Sunday.

(BB): I think it's going to take team defense. I don't think any one guy is going to stop the Steeler offense. Tedy's a good football player, he's tough, he's physical. He's a hard-nosed guy, he reads the running game well. He's got a lot of experience in there. It will take a lot more than one guy.

Q. Talk about playing against the team that's number 1.

(BB):Steelers are very tough to run against, they've always done a good job in the running game. They mix up their fronts. They're a strong two-gap team in the line of scrimmage. I think coach LeBeau and Coach Cowher have done a great job of complimenting the different techniques on the defensive front. We have to do a good job of blocking and running. It's tough.

We'll have to be at our very best to execute the plays. I certainly hope we can run for more than 6 yards. They're not going to give you anything.

Q. What particular skills does Corey have?

(BB): I think he'll run the way he's run all year. He had over 116 yards. He's got a good vision, he's a good runner, he's broken some long runs, I think he's got quickness and elusiveness in the open field that he can get some yards with power, whether it be tough yards or breaking tackles.

Q. Has he made more progress during the week?

(BB): That will probably come down to a game-time decision. Richard won't start, but we'll see where he is.

Q. Do you take great comfort having a kicker who can kick under pressure, but knowing what the conditions are on Sunday, do you take some comfort in that?

(BB): There's no kicker I would rather have than Adam. He's proven himself in cold conditions.

I think the whole unit on the football team has had a good year, done a solid job. We have a lot of confidence in them. That's the way you have to feel. The only reason they're out there is to score points. I'm sure the conditions will be challenging against Pittsburgh, and we'll all have to deal with them then.

Q. Coach, you talked about the experience factor, they've got a rookie quarterback. Do you consider these guys risks anymore?

(BB): No, not really. We're into our 18th game. That's a lot of snaps. I think everybody at this point is no longer a rookie. They're really into their second year. Some guys have more experience than others.

Most guys have seen pretty much what they're going to see all year. Randall has gone up against a lot of different receivers, Ben has seen a lot of different conferences, a lot of different looks. It's not the third game of the year, those guys have seen a lot of football at this point. I think they have a pretty good understanding, and they can execute their system.

Q. This is really only his first run through the playoffs. Is he sort of like in the same boat as they are?

(BB): I don't think that's even close. Two years ago we had five in a similar situation within in the league, a dozen years, never been in the playoffs. Last year was Fauria. They play like veterans. I know they're excited to play in the game, particularly after a long career of not being in them. That's a similar situation that Corey is in. They're tough, hard veterans. They have been through the wars, and I'm sure Corey will be, the same way he showed that last week.

Q. What did you like about Vrabel that made you acquire him?

(BB): We thought Mike would be good for a 3-4 defense. That's what we were going to play in the '01 season. Mike played defensive end at Ohio State. Pittsburgh drafted him, I thought it was a good move. We watched Mike in the games of Pittsburgh. He had limited playing time, and a little bit of trouble with some injuries there.

For the most part, he was primarily on special teams. I thought he played very well. He was playing behind a couple guys that were pretty good, and didn't get a lot of opportunity to play. I think our situation offered him a little more opportunity on the defensive side of the ball, but he's been a good pass rusher for us in sub situations. Again, that goes back to his background in Ohio State.

He's been productive in the kicking game and linebacker and shown his versatility playing on the offensive side of the ball at times.

Q. Does anything stand out about your initial meetings with him?

(BB): I think what he was looking for, we could provide, and what we were looking for, he had those things to offer, so I think it was a good situation for both parties, and that's always good. You want to be -- you want to talk to players who you feel have a role and can contribute to your team, and the player wants to see the team that he's going to and picture himself in a role that he wants to be in. I think in that particular case, that those two kind of fit together.

Q. Bill, how much does the change of schedule matter, arriving tonight versus tomorrow?

(BB): Not a whole lot. At this point in the season we have been through 92 practices, a lot of walk-throughs. We'll have to adjust it a little bit, but I think we can handle it. We'll have our normal meeting schedule tomorrow. Maybe we'll do the walk through in the hotel. Or maybe we won't do it at all. I don't think that's a big deal. We didn't do it last week.


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