Q: You’ve had to use a lot of your depth at defensive end at different times during the year. What is your assessment of the group when called upon?
BILL BELICHICK : Overall, it’s been pretty good. We’ve gotten contributions from a lot of different guys in a lot of different areas – first down, second down, third down, some in the kicking game, some guys playing outside, some guys playing inside. It’s been a pretty versatile group and overall they’ve given us as a group, good production. It can always be better but it’s been pretty good.
Q: What has Chandler Jones brought to the defense?
BILL BELICHICK : He’s a little bit of a bigger guy, size-wise relative to everybody else, Rob [Ninkovich], yeah length-wise and overall weight-wise, so a little bigger body over there. He’s an athletic guy, he’s been productive. He’s made some plays for us in the running game, the passing game. He’s been instinctive. He still has a lot to learn and a long way to go but he’s a good football player.
Q: Is what Shane Vereen did last week what you expected when you drafted him? Do you expect him to have a bigger role this week?
BILL BELICHICK : I think when Shane has had an opportunity, he’s been pretty productive for us, going all the way back last year to the Kansas City game, plays like the Jet game and this like that when he’s had an opportunity. All of our backs have been competitive and productive. It’s hard to single out one over another. Woody [Danny Woodhead] has been productive, Stevan [Ridley] has been productive, Shane has been productive. It’s hard to have all of them in there at once but whichever ones have been in there, they’ve all done a good job and performed well. At times we go into a game with different packages or different groups of personnel. Sometimes it depends on how the game goes as to which group winds up being in there more or how it goes so I can’t answer that question. I don’t know, he might. I’m not sure what anybody’s role will be, we’ll have to see how it goes. One thing about Shane is he works hard, he’s smart, he’s well prepared and when we’ve called on him, he’s come through for us. I’m sure he’ll do the best he can to put himself in that position again this week.
Q: What are some things a rookie defensive end has to learn to make the jump, whether that’s year one to year two or year two to year three?
BILL BELICHICK : I think most all rookies make their biggest jump from year one to year two, that’s not always true at the quarterback position, although I’d say it probably usually is if the guy is playing. I just think it’s everything. Any rookie that comes into the National Football League, instead of being the best guy on his team and probably the best guy on the field or one of the best guys on the field in college is now just another guy. They’re not the biggest, they’re not the strongest, they’re not the fastest, they’re not the most experienced. They’re pretty much back at the bottom of the totem pole for most part, certainly in terms of experience and technique and lot of times in physical skills too. These guys just train harder, they’re older, their bodies are more mature, especially in the interior line positions. You see that a lot, offense and defensive linemen. There’s physical development, there’s a lot of technique, there’s a lot of room for growth for all those guys. You learn by doing it and you learn by training hard and building your body up. I think that’s something that all those guys, no matter what position they play, they almost all need to do that or they certainly can improve on it.
Q: What did you learn about the tight end group as a whole the first time Rob Gronkowski got hurt and was out?
BILL BELICHICK : I think it’s kind of what we talked about with the defensive end group. We’ve had a number of different guys there and different games and different opportunities. I think overall it’s been a pretty productive group for us in total. However it shakes out, whatever they’ve been asked to do, whether it’s run block, pass protect, catch passes, whatever it happens to be, they’ve been productive for us all year. it’s been a variety of different guys, different situations, but kind of the same thing that they’re all prepared and ready to go. However the game unfolds, however it plays out, then they’re ready to step in and take advantage of whatever opportunities they get. I’m sure they will. It’s a good hard working group that has been dependable and pretty consistent for us all year.
Q: Do you see using pace and speed used more strategically in the NFL than you have before?
BILL BELICHICK : I don’t know. Going back to when I was a kid, I watched Johnny Unitas do the two-minute drill it seemed like every week. It’s not like that’s something brand new to football.
Q: What about using it strategically in the middle of the game?
BILL BELICHICK : Buffalo did that in 1990 when they ran their K-gun offense for three or four or five years, whatever it was. Nobody ran it faster than they did. They got the ball snapped with 25 seconds left on the clock. I think we’ve seen that in and out of the NFL for awhile.
Q: What are the drawbacks to going out and playing that way?
BILL BELICHICK : It’s pretty obvious. You can’t substitute people and change formations and do a lot of shifting and motion and running guys on and off the field every play and get matchups when you’re running to the line and snapping the ball as fast as you can. Am I missing something? If you want to run guys in and line up in a formation and shift and see where the defense is and motion and make them adjust, it’s a whole different type of offense. There’s plenty of merit to that too but you can’t do that if you’re running to the line of scrimmage and snapping the ball as fast as you can.
Q: Of the nine head coaching openings, eight went to guys with offensive backgrounds. That is something cyclical?
BILL BELICHICK : I have no idea. You’d have to talk to those teams that hired them, I have no idea. I’m just trying to coach our team and get them ready to play Baltimore this week. I really don’t know what anybody else is doing or why they’re doing it. I think you have to go ask them.
Q: What kind of leadership has Matthew Slater shown on special teams this year? How can that help after a week like last week on special teams?
BILL BELICHICK : Yeah, Matt has done a great job for us. He’s taken that role…in my time here I’ve been very fortunate to have two outstanding, I mean exemplary, players at leadership positions on special teams with Larry Izzo and Matt Slater. I thought that really when we had Larry that that was, there’d never be another one like that, that that was so rare and Matt’s different than Larry but I think in his own way equally effective. Matt’s really, he’s tremendous. His attitude, his work ethic, the example that he sets, the way he interacts with his teammates in a really good way. I don’t know that a player could do anymore than what he’s done for us in that role for the last several years, probably since after his second year. He’s embraced his role on the team, he’s been very good at it and he e makes other players around him better. I think that’s a great compliment to him and the job he does. He’s smart, he’s well prepared, he works hard, he has good skill, good talent, he’s tough, he’s a good playmaker for us. I could go on about him all day. We’re lucky to have him on this football team. He does a tremendous job for us.
Q: Can you talk about the rivalry that has evolved between the Ravens and the Patriots in the last few years?
BILL BELICHICK : As I said at the beginning of the week, we have a lot of respect for that organization. Steve Bisciotti, since he’s taken over the ownership, Ozzie Newsome, the general manager, John [Harbaugh] as the head coach and their respective staffs, they do a great job, year in and year out. They win a lot of games, they’re in the playoffs, they win playoff games. We’ve had some great battles with them – we’ve won some, they’ve won some. Most of them have come right down to the wire; very competitive. They’re a tough, hardnosed football team that’s hard to beat. We respect that challenge and we know that’s what it will be on Sunday. We know we’ll get their best, they’ll get ours. Both teams have had a lot of success, both teams have a lot of confidence. It’s a great matchup. They’re tough and they do a great job from top to bottom, all the way through their organization, from their owner to the backup guard. I think they’re solid in every area of their organization. I have a tremendous amount of respect for the Baltimore Ravens and all the things they do. They’re great competitors and we know we’re going to have to play our best game of the year this Sunday. That’s what we’re going to try to do.
Q: Last week, you were really excited to get the playoffs going. What’s the mentality this week?
BILL BELICHICK : It’s been good. It’s been a good week. I think we’re kind of back on a normal week, playing Sunday to Sunday. I think the players have done a good job this week. They’ve worked hard to get the scouting report and new information on the Ravens, practiced well, I think we’ve had good energy. I think the team is excited to play. If you can’t get excited for the AFC Championship Game, I don’t know what you can get excited for. This is what we’ve worked all year for, this opportunity. I know that everybody wants to make the most of it. I think the attitude is good. We’re looking forward to playing a great football team and going out there and knowing we need to play our best to beat them but that’s the way it should be.
Q: Kevin Faulk and Matt Light are both honorary captains. Once they’re former players, is that it as far as them having a role to help your team?
BILL BELICHICK : No, we have good interaction with those players. I know a lot of our current players are in contact with them. They come around from time to time. It’s always great to see them. It’s great to have a living memory, a very vivid one, of guys who contributed an awful lot to this franchise, both on and off the field, both as players and the leadership roles in particular that those two guys have had. You can go on with the Troy Browns and there’s a long list, but those two in particular had great careers here. It was a privilege for me to coach both of them.
Source: New England Patriots Media