Belichick Talks About
Patriots head coach answers media questions about preparing for Indy
(On the gameplan against the Colts and if there have been any changes.)
BB: I think you're always changing it. You're always
kind of fine tuning it. As you go through the week, you take a look at what you're
doing and you go back and maybe try to find more of those situations or take a
little closer look at it.
(On when preparation for this game [Against
the Colts] begins)
BB: I think in the offseason you look at, really, all 13 of your opponents, right? We're playing some teams twice. The teams that you don't know, that you haven't played before, like Tampa and Carolina and Atlanta and those teams this year, you are kind of starting from scratch. You look at three or four games from last year against teams that are similar or that you think are the best games to look at. So defensively, you would look at teams that would play a similar scheme to ours. Offensively, you might not look at the same games. You might look at teams that might offensively have something that's more comparable to what we're doing. Maybe watch a couple of division games against those teams because you know that the teams that are playing them kind of know them better than anybody else. Then you look at the games that you've played, like this year it would have been Pittsburgh and Indianapolis in the division games, you take the information from those games from last year and kind of take a look at that because when you get done with the games, like last year we got done playing the Jets, we got done playing Pittsburgh or we got done playing Indianapolis, we were onto the next game. We never really went back and really thoroughly broke those games down. It's a combination of looking at the games that we play... the scouting report for say Pittsburgh, all of the games leading up to the Pittsburgh game, then adding the game that we played against them into it and 'Okay that's kind of the new information on Pittsburgh. How did it turn out based on the report and the information that we had?' Then you look at the new teams. If you play a team in the preseason like New Orleans, then you kind of do the work up to them but then after that preseason game, you probably take a little bit more time to really analyze that game rather than worry about the next preseason game or the team that you don't play and sort of try to prepare ahead a little bit. That's kind of how the whole process works. So, yes, we look at every team. Absolutely. We look at every single team that we play. We try to know the personnel. We try to have a basic understanding of their scheme and if they played us then how did those games go? What was the matchup like [against] us relative to the other games on the scouting reports and other teams.
(On the timeline for installing the gameplan when players are missing practice due to injury)
BB: We have a regular routine and we touch base periodically based on that regular routine. And, if there's a change, if something happens, a guy walks in and he has the flu and he has a 102 degree temperature and he's basically sleeping in the training room, then [it's], 'Okay. All right that's new. That wasn't like that last night when we left, so here is the situation with him. He probably won't be able to practice today or he's not feeling too good now. I'll check back with you at noon. Maybe he'll be going by that time. It doesn't look that bad,' or whatever it is. It's kind of periodic through the week, but then if something happens that's a change, 'This guy has a sprained thumb. We sent him down there to get an x-ray. You know what? It's broken. Here's where we are now.' That's kind of how it works.
(On the difficulties involved installing the gameplan when the return of key players is still unknown)
BB: You could practice somebody all week and then you still have to have somebody ready for everybody. That's what you do. You go through the week. If a guy can't practice, 'Well, okay if he's not in there, this is who would be in there. Whether it's a DB, a linebacker, a running back or whoever it is. So then as you get to later on in the week, some guys practice early in the week and they end up not going at the end of the week, something happens, or vice versa, as it gets closer to the game then you have a smaller timeframe to deal with it. Sometimes you know more. Sometimes it goes right up until game time. But if it goes up to game time, whenever that person wasn't in there practice during the week, whoever was, then that's probably the way it's going to go. There are a couple of guys who are pretty much out of the game so they're pretty much eliminated, but the rest of them, will be a lot of game time decisions.
(On making the decision to dress players who may not play very long due to injury)
BB: That's where you sit there on the day before the game or two days before the game and try to figure out where your depth is or where you want to have greater depth. And who knows how that is going to turn out. It's like buying insurance. You don't know where you're going to need it. We've seen situations when something happens early in the game, now you're playing without a player for essentially the whole game that you were planning on having. That's the worse situation that you could be in. So if you're going to be in that gray area, you want to stay out of that one. In other words, you're going to the game saying, 'Okay this guy maybe can play, but I just don't think he can play very long. He's probably not going to last very long. If he does play, well now he's at the game, okay, now he's out and now you're playing the whole rest of the game without him.' That's a bad situation to be in. If you feel like that's a high percentage chance, then you're probably better off inactivating him.
(On who the emergency running back is on the roster)
BB: Last week it was [Corey] Dillon. It's whoever is active. It's whoever is active.
(On losing players to injuries in the game)
BB: Look, if you lose one player at any position, normally, you have a backup for that player. Once you lose two players in any position, you're not going to have it backed up cleanly. You're going to have to scramble somehow or other. So if you take two players out of any position on any team, there's going to be some problems. Two tackles. Two centers. Two inside linebackers. Two corners. Two tight ends. Two anything. Two of anything and you're in trouble. Now, you might lose two corners and you can still field a team, but in terms of your nickel and dime defenses or stuff like that, I don't care who you are. You're in trouble. If you have enough depth to withstand two injuries at any position other than quarterback, which is the third quarterback, if you can withstand two injuries at any position, then they're going to be other positions on the teams that are going to be dangerously thin. But that's the way it is with any team. When you go through that, when you start talking about losing two guys, you can't back up two guys. You can have a name, but you can't really do it without it just cutting yourselves so thin somewhere else.
(On how Heath Evans has done so far)
BB: He's pretty smart. He's come in and picked things up pretty well. Again, offensively, their system down (Miami) there is quite a bit different than ours, [Scott] Linehan's system. There isn't a lot of carryover there, but he's a pretty smart kid and for throwing him out there with really minimal preparation, relative to a lot of other players, he's doing the right thing most of the time. Now he's getting a little bit of help, in the huddle, [Tom] Brady, or somebody will remind him about this or that. But still, he seems like a pretty sharp kid.
(On preparation for getting new guys ready for skilled opponents [like Freeney])
BB: Well, I think the best thing that you can do is to try to simulate those types of situations in practice. Whether it was Trevor Pryce. Whether it's Sam Adams. Rod Coleman. Freeney. Jason Taylor. Whoever it's going to be, if you're playing against Jason Taylor, or Dwight Freeney, then you try to take somebody you're playing against, that is similar, that would have a similar playing style to them so they can kind of get used to them and you take that player and show them this is sort of how that guy plays. That's one of the things we do on Wednesday when we go over with the team, like you say to the defense, 'Okay here's the plays we have to stop in the Colts running game. Here's the plays we have to stop in the passing game.' But, we're also talking to the offensive players and saying, 'Look, and here is how you're going to run these plays. You see how [Marvin] Harrison runs this route? You see how [Edgerrin] James runs this play? You see how Tarik Glenn blocks this play? Okay, well when we run that play in practice, you see how that's going to look, that's the look that we need you to give us. This is the way Freeney rushes and this is the way that [Nick] Harper and [Jason] David, this is the way they cover. One guy jams. One guy plays from off. One guy plays inside technique,' or, 'Everybody plays outside technique when they play this certain coverage.' We try to coach those guys up so that they can give the team the picture when they're running the plays. We do that with any player like that, like a Freeney or a James or a Harrison or Dallas Clark or whoever it is.
(On Getting Kaczur ready to play Freeney)
BB: You can get another player on your team, especially a practice squad guy or somebody like that, the guy who is running Eric Moulds is not as good as Eric Moulds. And the guy who is Dwight Freeney is not as good as Dwight Freeney. The guy who is Trevor Pryce isn't as good as Trevor Pryce. Again, you try to simulate it the best way you can and sometimes you take your best players and put them in there and say, 'Rosie [Colvin], get in there on third down today. We want you to be Freeney. We want you to give us look on Freeney,' or, '[Willie] McGinest, we want you to be Aaron Schoebel for a few plays, just to help get the guy ready.' Maybe he'll stay after practice and work with him. But it's always that way. Who has Marvin Harrison sitting around on the practice squad on their team?
(On having starters play on the scout team)
BB: Everybody plays on the scout team. Some guys play more than others, but everybody is a part of that and you can see that out in training camp. What we do that in training camp, Brady is out there, they're all out there. There's no class system on that. If it's time for us to run the other team's plays, then we all run them. If we don't have 11 guys in the huddle then we all run a lap until we can get 11 guys in the huddle and get out there and give them a good look.
(On how some players look better on the scout team than others)
BB: Let me put it this way, I think there are some players that are very good at running plays off cards. 'Here's the line. Here's the arrow. Here's where I go,' and they look really good doing it. So you watch them in practice saying, 'Wow, this guy looks pretty good.' So now, you start giving him a few more plays of your stuff and then everything slows way down and it doesn't look that good because there when you call the plays, you don't know what's going to happen.
(On how to prepare for the Colts when they know what to expect)
BB: That's what you get into when you're familiar with an opponent. The 'we know that they know that we know that they know that we know.' But again, don't forget there's a lot of moving parts out there. It's not like we're in the same play against their same play 50 times in the game. If they run a play a lot, like a running play, they might run it four or five times. If they run a passing play a lot, they might run it three or four times. So there are a lot other plays and it's the same thing with us. We do something a lot, maybe we do it five, six, seven times. So a few things will match up, but maybe it only matches up once or twice per game. This defense against that play. The next game the same defense against the same play, a lot of times it's different plays against different defenses or different formations, something that changes it a little bit and then of course when you change personnel then you have different people doing it, sometimes that plays a little bit differently.
(On whether the week runs smoother from a coaching and teaching standpoint when playing a familiar opponent)
BB: I think you kind of start from a little bit of higher ground, but again the problem is that they've played you a number of times and they know where the problems are. They know what they've been successful doing and where they can put real stress on you. So, don't go into the game and just say, 'Okay, they're going to run these plays. We're not going to have any problems with all of this stuff.' You go into the game saying, 'Here's where they hurt us the last time. Now what are we going to do about that? Here is where they hurt us in the passing game. What are we going to do about that? If we try to play this, then we have problems over here. Okay, maybe we can take that away, but now we have some problems in some other area, the passing game. Okay we're going to go back and take Harrison and [Reggie] Wayne and we're going to double them. What about the screens? They hurt us on the screens in the last game. Okay, we're going to take these screens away. Okay we want to be want one-on-one on Marvin Harrison all day?' What you end up doing really is you have kind of have a mixture, because with a team like the Colts you can't stop one guy. You can't stop one thing. 'This gives us a little bit help here. That gives us a little bit help here. That gives us a little bit help somewhere else,' and hope that you can hit a few of them right and when you're wrong you hope the damage is minimal. But you know that there's going to be certain plays that, 'They have this play on and we're in this. We're going to have some trouble here.'