New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick met with the media Wednesday morning at the team’s hotel in Indianapolis as the team continued its preparations for Super Bowl XLVI on Sunday night at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The transcript was provided by NFL Communications.
(Opening statement) “So we are through with yesterday. It was a good day for us as a coaching staff to regroup and look at Monday’s practice to see where things are at. We are looking forward to getting back out on the field today and cleaning some things up from Monday. Moving the week along, this will be a regular Wednesday, Thursday and Friday for us from here on out. Hopefully, we can take those days of preparation and be ready to go.”
(on how Julian Edelman’s workload will be split up) “Julian will be ready to go on everything as he always is. Based on game plan, and how it goes, we’ll see how that all turns out. He will be ready for all three phases.”
(on if TE Rob Gronkowski will practice Wednesday) “Rob is doing better, so we just have to see where he is today. I think he is making improvement and getting better every day. We’ll just take it day to day and see what he is able to do today. I’m not sure.”
(on the Patriots’ tight ends) “When you draft a player, you take the qualities that he has. That’s why you take him, obviously. You see how it all works out. Until you’ve really had a player in your system and in your offensive and defensive system, it’s hard to know exactly what he can do, because of what you are asking him to do. You can see what he can do in another system, but usually what the other system asks him to do is different from what you will do. Whether it’s mental adjustments, route adjustments, coverage adjustments, formations or whether it’s a technique. When we drafted them, we thought both Aaron (Hernandez) and Rob (Gronkowski), they both had good skill sets, they were both productive in college in the opportunities they had. They were in both systems a lot different than ours. We thought they were skill players that we wanted to work with. How it turned out was something that developed once they got here. It wasn’t something we could see that far in advance. They do complement each other. Both guys work hard. They really compete on the practice field on a daily basis. I think they learn from each other. They are both good. They both have good techniques. They know what they are doing. They have good pad level, good balance and all of those kinds of things. One guy sees the other player do it, and he can take some of those points and put it into his route or his blocking, whatever it happens to be. They work well together, and they communicate well. Tom (Brady) works well with them, and there is a good flow there. (Patriots tight ends coach) Brian Ferentz has done a good job with those guys the last two years taking those two young kids and all of the things they have to do in our offensive formations – blocking, pass receiving, split out in the backfield, on the line of scrimmage, in motion. We ask them to do a lot of different things. They are smart guys who work hard and been well-coached.”
(on status of T Matt Light and his role at left tackle) “Saw Matt yesterday afternoon and last night. He is doing better, so we’ll see how he is today. Hopefully, he’ll be able to do a little bit, at least, and get out there. Matt has been a real solid guy for us at left tackle since we drafted him in 2001. He’s gone up against a lot of great players playing on that left side. He’s battled them. He’s tough, and he’s smart. He has real good technique, footwork and hand placement. (Assistant head coach/offensive line coach) Dante (Scarnecchia) does a great job coaching those guys. Matt’s worked really hard to perfect it. I’m sure Tom (Brady) has a lot of confidence playing behind Matt, as he’s had for over a decade. Matt really gives us solid play out there. From time to time, we’ve used other guys there. (Sebastian) Vollmer has played there a little bit, and (Nate) Solder played there some this year, particularly at the beginning of the year, and in training camp. Matt’s held that down for a long time. He’s done a great job.”
(on how the Patriots simulate the Giants defensive front at practice) “They (the Giants) have great quickness up there as well as power. Those inside guys can really knock the line of scrimmage back. When they move (Jason) Pierre-Paul and (Justin) Tuck and those guys inside in passing situations, they have great quickness in there, too. (Chris) Canty is a long guy, and he is slippery in the pass rush. They play strong in the running game. Of course, their ends are a good combination of power, speed and athleticism. We try to move our guys around a little bit, and get them to play like the Giants play. I don’t know if anybody can play like the Giants play. They have so many talented guys up there. We do our best to simulate that. They try to bat some balls down, even in 7-on-7 when there is no pass rush. We get some guys up there at the line of scrimmage to try to distract the quarterback, and bat balls down, things like that, because they are good at that, too.”
(on WR Julian Edelman and the plan to develop him) “We saw Edelman as a good athlete. At Kent State, he played in the Mid-American Conference, and he played against some good level of competition, for example, Ohio State. I think they opened with them that year. You could see Julian was tough and quick. He made a lot of plays. I wouldn’t say he had an inordinate amount of blocking in front of him. At times, he was kind of on his own against two or three guys running the dive option and things like that. We really didn’t think he was a quarterback prospect, but we thought he was tough, quick, good with the ball in his hands and a guy who had a real good desire to learn and improve. We thought he could be a punt returner, kickoff returner, wide receiver and slot receiver. That’s where he started off. It was a big transition for Julian, going from being a quarterback to playing a receiver position and also returning kicks, which he hadn’t really done before. (Special teams coach) Scott O’Brien really worked with him in the return game as well as the coverage game, kickoff coverage, things like that. Chad O’Shea, our receivers coach, spent a lot of time with him as a slot receiver, and he expanded that role to where he plays on the outside some because Wes Welker gets so many plays in the slot. We got into some injury situations, and his skill set as a slot receiver carried over to the same skill set that we look for in our slot corners, so we started to use him some there in 1-on-1 after practice. He has a knack for it, he picked it up quickly, Again, he’s a smart hard-working guy. If you ask him to do something, he’ll work really hard to get it right and try to do it. He developed a little bit as a defensive player this year, especially when we had some injuries. He had more play time – I think his first game was against the Jets – about a third of the way through the season. He takes a lot of plays in practice on both sides of the ball and the kicking game. He is in good condition, and he’s tough, smart and works hard. Those are the things he has going for him. He has good hands.”
(on if he shared QB Tom Brady’s disappointment with his AFC Championship Game performance) “I think when we all look back at that game, all of the players and coaches, we all can look back and say that there are a couple of things we could have done better, things you wish you could have had back. I certainly feel that way. I certainly could have done a better job from a coaching standpoint in several areas of that game in terms of our preparation, our play-calling, that kind of thing. But you always feel that way. I don’t think that’s anything unusual. You go out and play competitively, and there are going to be a lot of things you will be happy with, and there will be some things you look at and will be disappointed in yourself with. I don’t think that’s unusual. I think Tom does a good job in his preparation every week. He is one of our hardest workers, certainly one of our best-prepared players. I think you get from Tom a consistent effort on that every single week. It’s not up and down. I meet with Tom at the beginning of the week, and he always has seen all of the film, as much or more than I have going back to previous games. I’m sure he will be well-prepared for Sunday’s game like he always is, and he will go out there and do his best like he always does. At the end of every game, we can always all look back and say, ‘I wish I could have done this better. I wish I could have done that better.’ That’s just competition.”
(on the Patriots’ personnel turnover during the last four years since Super Bowl XLII) “I think there is a pretty high level of turnover throughout the league over a four-year period, no matter what team you go to. You can look at the team we are playing, they have a few more guys than we do. Not all that many. I think that’s common in the league. After four years, you are going to see that kind of turnover. We certainly knew at the end of the 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006 range, right in there, we could certainly see a lot of our key players aging. We knew, sooner than later, we would have to replace some of those players. We ended up replacing quite a few in the last couple of years, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. That’s just the way our team was. We won a lot of games with those guys in the 2003-07 stretch in there, but it doesn’t last forever in football. Somewhere along the line, young players come in, and old players move on. That was the timeframe in the last couple of years, particularly on defense. We’ve had some turnover on the offensive side of the ball, too, particularly at the running back position in the last year. Last year, we had guys who were well up into their 30s in that position, and you know that’s tough when you have that kind of age at that position. Some players we’ve drafted and other players we’ve brought in, however they got here, it doesn’t really matter. Look, this is a young man’s game. The young guys coming up are putting pressure on the veteran players, and I know at some point, they are going to push them out. You just have to try to remain competitive by bringing in good quality talent, let them compete against each other, and take the best players. We had a lot of competition in training camp this year. There were a pretty large number of players who didn’t make our roster who played throughout the league this year, and some of them played at a good level. In the end, we kept the ones we felt were best for our football team, and we’ve played with those.”
(on contributions of G Dan Connolly, RB Danny Woodhead and RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis) “They have contributed a lot, as have a lot of other guys who fall into that category, too. Our personnel department, our college department with guys who are not drafted, we spend a lot of time and effort on those players. We really pull through all the guys. We try to find the guys who fit our system and who we feel like we can develop into players, not that we just that we want to bring to camp to take some reps as part of training camp, but really try to look at players. In our system, number one, if they have enough talent, but number two, if they work hard and if they are smart and they can take coaching, they can improve. I’ve always felt like if a player can understand what you are telling him, and if he has the concepts and the aptitude to understand what you are coaching, and then he works hard at it, then he’s got to improve. That has got to happen. A player who can take coaching, who can understand football concepts, who will work hard, has to improve. And if he has a good talent level, then hopefully at some point, he will be able to improve to utilize the skills he has in becoming a productive player. In general, those are things we are looking for. Again, our college scouts after the draft, and our pro scouts, whether there are players that other teams have released, or as we go through the preseason, we look at other teams’ rosters and get a sense of which guys are on the bubble and which guys may be released, and really try to work hard on those players. Then if they actually become available, like Danny Woodhead is a good example of, then if they do hit the market, we know we have to get on them. Usually, there will be pretty good competition for those players, too, especially after a week or two in the early part of the season if teams sustain injuries in certain positions. I know those guys are going to get picked off pretty quickly. Sometimes being able to get on them and keep them, like Kyle Arrington is another good example of a player who was released and came to our roster, and who was on our practice squad. There was some competition from other teams to sign him off of our practice squad. Had we not brought him up, he would have probably have signed with somebody else. If you have a player on your roster, even though he is not quite ready and you feel like he is going to contribute, then you have to make that decision on whether or not you can put him on your team and carry him a little while, even though he is not ready because you think there is an upside to it or whether you just have to let him go, or not be able to do that, and go with the guys you have relative to your roster situation at that current time. There is a lot of juggling on the roster, particularly in the early part of the season, and Nick Caserio, our personnel director, and Jason Licht, our pro personnel director, do a great job of that on a daily basis. We update that stuff daily. We stay on top of it. We work out a lot of players during the course of the season just to see where they are at physically and get the medical information on them, and see if we need them and they are ready to go. Those guys get a lot of credit for staying on top of it in those areas.”