PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
October 11, 2013
BB: We're winding it down here today. As I said at the beginning of the week, New Orleans really does a good job in every area of the game; they're a tough team to prepare for. We'll keep grinding through it here the next couple days. We'll try to do as much as we can, get all our bases covered and be ready to go on Sunday. We're looking forward to the challenge and the opportunity. It's a good football team coming in here.
Q: What is Andre Neblett's skill set?
BB: He's got some experience. He played at Carolina, Tampa. He was here preseason, [we] played against him and it was good; good playing strength. He's played a decent number of plays over the past three years; a couple hundred plays a year type of thing, so he's got some experience.
Q: Is he more a three-technique?
BB: Played in both.
Q: Nose in the three-technique?
Q: Is there a number you can put on the number of offensive personnel packages the Saints have?
BB: I'd say all of them. Pretty much anyone you want to – you name one, they use it. Linemen playing tight end, all the big people packages, all the skill people packages, two backs, fullback [and] two halfbacks. You pick one out, they've probably shown it.
Q: Can you put an actual number on it?
BB: We've seen – any combination you want to say, we've probably seen it. They've certainly featured some more than others: a lot of two backs and two receivers and one tight end on early downs, some two tight ends, one backs, two receivers, some three receivers, one back, one tight end and then all the other groupings. They mix in a lot of other groupings with that. I'd say those are the three main ones.
Q: Does it seem like Austin Collie has been able to pick up what he needs to know and would be able to contribute if needed?
BB: We'll see. It's a process. I think we're definitely gaining ground. Austin is definitely gaining ground. Chad O'Shea, our receivers coach, has spent a lot of time with him, a lot of extra time. I think it's coming. We'll see how close we feel like we are this week. Today will be a big day, we'll review everything, go through some situations, kind of put it all back together. We'll see how things go today and make some kind of decision on Sunday. I think that will be part of it.
Q: You've given up far fewer pass plays of 20-plus yards than you did at this point last year. Can you point to the stability in the secondary? Is it just those guys and the cohesion they have or are there one or two things you can point to?
BB: Well, it was an awful lot of the beginning of the year last year, it was at a torrid pace, which got a lot better once we got further into the season. Those numbers decreased, whether part of that was Devin [McCourty] moving to safety, better overall defense, better communication, I don't know. But the first half of the year last year, you could compare that to anything and say it was a lot – any year, any team, any other comparable period, I would say that would be a lot. That's always our goal: we never want to give up big plays defensively. Make them drive the ball, make them earn their yards, [not] give it up in big chunks, which will be a big challenge for us this week. But that's our objective every game, every year, every play, honestly.
Q: How unique is it for New Orleans to have two running backs who are so talented in the passing game?
BB: Yeah, they've been very productive in the passing game. Some of that is the quarterback is using them, plus their vertical threats that they have which creates some space for the backs. It's hard to get on the backs when you have the guys that they have in the passing game. Drew [Brees] does a good job of getting them the ball. They're both good. [Darren] Sproles is a dynamic player, but [Pierre] Thomas is very underrated. He's been a very productive guy too. Yeah, they're both good.
Q: How about their use of Jed Collins, the fullback. Do they use the fullback a lot?
BB: Yeah, sure. As I said, that's their leading group on early downs – two backs, one tight end and two receivers, with him as the fullback, as their leading…so yeah, they use it quite a bit. He does a good job. He catches the ball well, blocks well, seems like a dependable player, guy they count on at the point of attack on a lot of plays. Yeah, I think he's a guy that doesn't get a lot of publicity but he's a solid player for them that has a good role and helps a lot of other things go. Yeah, he does a good job. He does a good job in the kicking game too, kickoff returns. He's a key guy for them there, with [Darren] Sproles, in terms of being a point of attack guy on some of their returns, their blocking patterns. He does a good job.
Q: Do you have any concern with the work of your team doctor?
BB: I've already talked about that.
Q: Did you?
Q: When did you talk about it?
BB: We'll get you the quotes, if you don't have them. But as it relates to our medical people, we have confidence in all of them and they do a good job.
Q: How much do you see them using Ben Watson?
BB: We've seen him. They use everybody.
Q: What do you see from him?
BB: The player we saw when he was here.
Q: What skill set does he show? Is he used more of a blocker, pass catcher, both?
BB: He's in there on really all situations. He's in there when there're two tight ends, he's in there when there's one tight end. Sometimes it's [Jimmy] Graham; sometimes it's him. It's more Graham, but he's in there too. Whatever the play is, he does it. If he blocks, he blocks. If he's out, he's out. If he pass protects, he pass protects. I'm sure they have a pattern to it, but it's not like you can really count heavily on, 'Well, this is what he's going to do when he's in the game.' I don't think you can say that.
Q: As you've studied them, have you noticed any marked difference between their games at home in the dome versus outside? They looked pretty efficient last week.
BB: They look pretty good all the time. They're a good team.
Q: You're one win away from passing Chuck Noll. You got a chance to coach against him in his final season. What is your level of respect for his body of work and what it was like to go against up?
BB: I have tremendous respect for Coach Noll. Yeah, he was one of the great coaches when I came into the league in '75 and for the next 15 years. I had the opportunity to coach with several coaches who were at Pittsburgh with Coach Noll. Some of the things that I learned from them, or about him through them, whatever you want to call it, and of course competing against him. When we were at the Giants, we played them every year in preseason. It seemed like every year, maybe we might have missed one but it seemed like we usually played him in preseason so we played him on a regular basis. Of course in Cleveland, they were in the division, as you mentioned, that first year that he was there. I have tremendous respect for Coach Noll and his whole program there. They were an excellent team and they were a good, sound team, a team that you always, as a coach outside of Pittsburgh, always tried to look at what they were doing and learn from it: their fundamentals, their technique, their scheme, which wasn't overly complicated but it was very sound. When Nick [Saban] came to Cleveland, who coached with George Perles at Michigan State when they ran the Pittsburgh defense, the 4-3 defense, Nick brought a lot of those ideas and concepts to Cleveland. Nick and I kind of merged there with some of the things that we had done in New York, some of the things that he had done as the defensive coordinator under Perles at Michigan State, which was the Steelers defense and so forth. So that was another great opportunity for me to really gain knowledge of that system without actually being there. When I was in Detroit, Rollie Dotsch was there, who was at Pittsburgh for a number of years. I think that their program, what they did there schematically and all was very, very good. Coach Noll and his approach to the game, his consistency, his level demeanor and the consistency that they had, I thought was always exemplary, right at the top of coaches that I tried to learn from and take things from them. I don't know how much was him or Bud Carson or Perles or where one stopped and the other started, but the whole combination of what they did there at the Steelers I thought was pretty impressive. Going against him every year, as a defensive coach against their offense, when I was with the Giants through all those years in the '80s was also always a good, it was a great experience because they were so well balanced, they threw the ball down the field, they ran the ball, they had a good balanced attacked. I think I learned a lot from the outside, looking at that program that Coach Noll ran. Bill [Cowher] really kind of had somewhat of a continuation of that, even though they changed defensively to his blitz-zone package but a lot of the things that they did fundamentally there, especially on the offensive side of the ball, with Dick Hoak there in the running game and all that, it was a couple decades of stuff really that was a carryover from Coach Noll and the consistency that they had all the way up into this century, the 2000s. I don't know when Dick retired, but when Coach [Ron] Erhardt was there, there was still a lot of carryover from some of the things that Coach Noll established. But as far as the other part of it goes, I'd say my focus is really on this game and whatever win it is or isn't, it's not really that important right now. Whatever wins we have had [are] because players have played well. I'm not out there throwing any passes or making any tackles.
Q: The Saints players have talked about how Sean Payton has made a huge difference for them on game day. What does he do on game day that is so difficult for any coach to go up against?
BB: I don't know, you'd have to talk to their players about that. I've only played against him a couple times. But as I said, he's a good coach, they do a good job. They're aggressive, they attack the field, they're well prepared and they have a good team.
Q: Is he hard to deal with from a tendency standpoint?
BB: I don't know. They have a good package, he's a good play-caller. I can't think of any good team that doesn't have tendencies. Maybe I'm missing something there, but I don't think I could name one good team, in any sport, that doesn't have tendencies. That's how you're good, is you do things well and they do that. So, do they have tendencies? Yeah. But they have enough balance and enough ways to complement what they do that you still have to defend everything. I can't think of any good team that doesn't have pretty strong tendencies. If you look at any good team, you think, 'Alright, well this is what that team does.' If you can't think of anything that they do, in all honesty, it's probably not a real good team.
Q: Bill Parcells called him an indiscriminate play caller. That was posed as one of the challenges of facing him.
BB: I think he's a good play-caller, I'm not saying that. I think there are a lot of things that they do, that they do well, that they continue to do. But they also have complementary plays off them, that if you just gear up for one thing, you're going to be caught light somewhere else. You'll have to ask Bill about that, I'm not sure. Again, I don't have a lot of experience with Sean. He called plays for Bill for I don't know how many years in Dallas. I'm sure Bill has a lot better idea of his game day play-calling than I would have any concept of.
Q: What kind of mismatches does Marques Colston create?
BB: He's a different kind of slot receiver, similar to Vincent Jackson who we see in Tampa when they put him in the slot. We've seen that from time to time. Some slot receivers are bigger, physical guys that create that type of mismatch. Other guys are quicker, short-area, explosive guys that create that type of matchup in there. He's definitely a big guy that can get down the seam. He had a big play against Tampa that put them in position to kick the field goal to win the game. Those are the kind of plays that he can really hurt you on: vertical plays, crossing routes, flag patterns, seam patterns, things like that. He's not as much of a run three or four yards and run return routes and things like that to get open. I'm not saying he can't do that, but his thing is he's more of a vertical receiver down the field. His size and his ball skills are a tough matchup, no question. Again, each team has its own type players and through the course of the year, we'll match up against fast guys, big guys, quick guys, push-off guys, get open with technique – everybody has their own skill set. That's the challenge every week, of matching up against whatever individual skills that particular team's players have. But I'd say similar to Vincent Jackson, that type of concept of that player in the slot is similar.