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Q & A with Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick

    <span>              <span style="">Question: The last time you guys played here it was a pretty big win for you in the Super Bowl. Now the Patriots are coming back known as the team of the decade. Will you pause for a moment of reflection when you walk into the Superdome to think about all that's happened since then?  

Bill Belichick: I'm sure for a moment there's certainly a lot of fond memories for Super Bowl 36 there, but the Saints will bring it back to reality quickly. They're a really good football team and it's nice to reflect, but really there's so much in front of us in getting ready for the Saints, it's a big job here. I think we're going to have to turn our attention to that. We already have very quickly.

Question: How different is this Saints offense than any other Saints offense you've faced this year?

Bill Belichick: It's pretty special. They have a great combination of coaching, players, diversity. They put a lot of pressure on you in all fronts. They use so many different people. They line them up in all different spots. It's really hard defensively to match up to the scheme and then on top of that you have a lot of great players that can make plays, running backs, tight ends, receivers, everybody, quarterback. They are a very experienced team. There are no rookies on the offense. They've all been there before and have some experience in the NFL. They don't make many mistakes. They make you go out there and beat them and execute against them. It's very difficult to match up against the players and the scheme.

Question: When you look at Drew Brees, do you think he's reached the status of a Tom Brady or a Peyton Manning yet?

Bill Belichick: I don't know. I really can't rank them. He's a great football player. He's done a tremendous job down there for New Orleans. The last three years, he has more attempts, completions, touchdowns, more yardage than anybody else in football, so I don't think there's too many people you can put ahead of him. He's done an awful lot and he's won a lot of games. He's a top quality quarterback. The other guys you mentioned are pretty good too, but they're all up there together in my book.

Q: In 2007 when your team went undefeated in the regular season, how difficult was it to keep your team focused week in and week out?

Bill Belichick: In this league, every week's a challenge. We're facing a huge one this week with the Saints. Every week's a challenge. Every team has good players and good coaches. They work hard. They keep getting better. If you're not ready to go every week in this league, you won't be happy with the results, so it's a very competitive league. You're not playing down like you are in college to the competition and stuff like that. All these teams are good and they all have a lot of talent. You better be ready to go every week.

Question: I believe in one of your earlier press conferences this weekend when you were asked to compare the Saints and the Colts, you thought the Saints were a better balanced team. Do you stick by that? Why do you say that?

Bill Belichick: I just said I think they're more balanced offensively. They have an outstanding running game. The Colts were a more pass-oriented team. They were real good too. I just think the Saints are more balanced in terms of their run-pass ratio with the different running schemes they present, the time you have to work on the running games defensively and the production they've had with it, they're more balanced than the Colts are.

Question: Ever since I've covered Sean Payton here, he's talked about using the Patriots as a model for what he wanted to do here. He's mentioned it several times and now you guys are here playing them when they're 10-0. I wondered if you knew about that, what you thought about that and if you could reflect on what you think he meant by that?

Bill Belichick: I think you'd have to ask Sean exactly what he's referring to. He'd know better than I would, but Sean, I've always had a lot of respect for Sean, starting with the job he did with the Giants and in Dallas and then I had an opportunity to spend a week with him out at the Pro Bowl after the 2006 season. We got a chance to spend some time together under less pressure hanging out at the Pro Bowl. It's not a regular season or playoff type of game, so I got to know him well and we spent a lot of time together. I think he's a really sincere guy that comes from the heart. There's not a lot of fluff and B.S. on top of it. He's really down to earth, humble, sincere and a man that I really respect. I respected what they did in that season. I respect what they do now. We had a chance to spend a whole day out there on a fishing trip and it was a lot of fun. It was relaxing, it was very insightful. From where that franchise was, when he got there and everything they've been through and how much they've had to overcome and rebuild, not just on the team, but in the community and so forth. I don't know what Jim Haslett went through at the end there and how difficult what it was. I think what they've been able to accomplish from the top right on down has been spectacular really. They have a great football team. There's no ifs ands or buts about it. They have a great football team. They really haven't been in a competitive game all year. They're basically running out the clock in the middle of the third quarter most of the time. There were a couple scores that were really close at the end, but the games really weren't that close. They've just been dominant in all phases of the game, returning kicks, covering kicks, offensively, turning the ball over on defense. 29 turnovers is…I don't think most teams get 29 turnovers in practice during the year. They're at 29 turnovers halfway through the season. Gregg (Williams) and Sean, they've all done a great job down there. You can't say enough about them.

Question: It sounds like you're ready to concede right now?

Bill Belichick: I've seen a lot of teams and we've played a lot of games where. They're as good as anybody we've faced. There are no weaknesses. The players are good. The coaches are good. The schemes are difficult. They're playing at home. It's Monday night. There will be a lot of energy in the dome. We know we have our work cut out for us. Look, nobody's really been that competitive with them. I know the Dolphins were ahead at halftime, but again, by the fourth quarter, they're running out the clock in that game too. They're a strong, explosive team.

Question: What has Kevin Faulk meant to the offense and over the years meant to the team?

Bill Belichick: Kevin's been great for this football team and this franchise. He's one of the real leaders on our team. He has a great attitude. He works hard. He's respected by every single person on the organization that he comes in contact with. He just brings so much to the team with his attitude and of course his performance, his attitude, his work ethic, his toughness, his dependability. He's a guy that you can just always count on to do the right thing and do it unselfishly for the good of the team, doesn't look to get a lot of credit even though he deserves it, wants to be part of a good team and he's contributed a lot to us. I don't know where we could have been without him the last nine years.

Question: Can you talk about what you saw in David Thomas when you drafted him?

Bill Belichick: Dave's a smart guy with a real good work ethic. He catches the ball well. He's a versatile player that can do a lot of things and Dave works hard. I have a lot of respect for Dave and the time and the effort and the dedication he's put into trying to improve as a football player and he's certainly done that.

Question: Is trading Dave and how he's played a mixture of being happy as well as regretting that move?

Bill Belichick: We did what we felt like what's best for our football team at that point and the players that we have playing at that position we think are good players too. You just can't keep everybody on your roster sometimes that you want to keep. I thought Dave was a good player when we drafted him. I think he was a good player when we traded him at the beginning of September and I think he's a good player, but I think we have other good players on our team as well and sometimes it just comes down to managing your roster and the numbers that you have. You just can't afford to keep everybody.

Question: You last brought your team here in a neutral setting for the Super Bowl. What kind of climate do you expect here on Monday night?

Bill Belichick: I'm sure it will be pretty awful. I'm sure that the Saints will have the great support that they've always had down there and the fans will be behind them as they should be and we'll be in a real hostile environment. There won't be a lot of Patriot fans in the dome on Monday night. We know that. That's usually the way it is when you go on the road. That's just another part of the challenge we'll have to face, not just the team, but the noise and the hostility and all that. We'll have to play through all those elements as well.

Question: What are you doing to prepare for that loud crowd?

Bill Belichick: Again, believe me we don't get a great reception when we play the Jets, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh or Denver either. We've been yelled at before. That's for sure.

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