Patriots coach Bill Belichick spoke to reporters via conference call this afternoon about yesterday’s 34-27 loss to the Houston Texans, injuries and the upcoming playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens. To read the full transcript, as provided by the Patriots media relations department, click the “full entry” button at the bottom of the post
Belichick’s opening remarks: “Now that we know what we have this weekend we can definitely turn our sights and put our attention on Baltimore. We?re playing Sunday at 1 o’clock. It’s a team we had a great battle with earlier in the year, real close game, came down to the last possession. We have a lot of respect for the Ravens from top to bottom ? Steve [Bisciotti], Ozzie [Newsome], John [Harbaugh], their staff, their players. They had a tremendous year last year. They went to the conference championship game and they’re back at it again. It’s good to be in the playoffs. We look forward to competing for the AFC Championship, this bracket here. And we’re looking forward to Sunday’s game against Baltimore. We’ll watch the film from today, turn the page on that and now we just head for the Ravens.”
Your defense has made pretty good strides in the last couple of games and yesterday they gave up the second most yards in the season of any game. How much of a concern is that to you?
Belichick: “Every time we go out, we want to play well. But right now our focus and concern is on the Ravens.”
How concerned are you about the passing game?
Belichick: “We want to do the best we can in every phase of the game – offense, defense, special teams, kicking the ball, covering them, returning them, running the ball, stopping the run, playing both sides of the passing game and all that. We want to try to do as good a job as we can in everything and this week the matchup against Baltimore will be a challenge on every front on that. We’re going to have to work hard. We know it’s a big challenge and we’ll do the best we can to meet it this week.”
What’s the most important thing for a rookie to know at this time of year when it comes to the level of football, the difference between regular-season football and postseason football?
Belichick: “Just everything’s at a little bit higher competitive level, just like it is going from passing camp to training camp, and training camp to preseason games to the regular season. It’s just another jump up in competition. All the teams that are playing now are good. No matter who you play, they’re a good team or they wouldn’t be here. You have to understand how good everybody is and it’s a one-game season.”
Can you talk about how Julian Edelman has developed this year?
Belichick: “Julian’s made a lot of progress from where he’s started from the beginning of the year back in the spring after we drafted him. A year ago at this time, he’d never played receiver. He was a college quarterback and he’s come in and made a good adjustment at that position. He’s worked hard at the return game and he’s really picked up a lot offensively at the receiver position, considering where he started from.”
Can you give us an injury update on Wes Welker?
Belichick: “I really don’t have any update on it. I know he’s being examined this morning.”
Wes Welker was out for two games this season. Do you change your offense when a guy like Welker is out?
Belichick: “We haven’t made a game plan yet for the Ravens. We’re just kind of getting started on them after coming back last night and watching the film here. What we decide to do this week offensively we haven’t even determined yet. That will be some part of the discussions we have in the next couple days, about how we can best deal with Baltimore’s defensive system and players and what we can do on our side of it to attack them in the most efficient way. We really haven’t done any of that yet.”
What was your reaction to see Wes go down and see the way he reacted?
Belichick: “Well, I felt badly for him. He’s had a great year. It’s unfortunate to see any player have an injury. Wes is a great competitor. And I’m sure that – whatever it is – he’ll work hard as he always does to bounce back.”
Do you think having Vince Wilfork and Ty Warren back will help your run defense?
Belichick: “As I said earlier, we haven’t really set up
anything for Baltimore yet. But whatever we have, we’ll try to do the
best we can to be competitive against the Ravens. They have an
excellent running attack. They have two real good backs, a good
offensive line and a good complimentary passing game to go with it. You
have a lot to defend there with their offense, their scheme and their
players. We’ll work hard on that this week, certainly stopping the run
will be a priority against the Ravens, but, as I said, we’ll have other
things to defend, too. So the players that we have to do that we?ll all
need to do a good job.”
How difficult was it to decide who to use and who not to use at the game yesterday?
Belichick: “The players that were at the game yesterday, we
played all of them. They were in there in different situations and
different playing time opportunities, so we do that about the way we
wanted to do it. So I think everybody got an opportunity to do things
in the game and hopefully those experiences will be beneficial to them
down the road.”
The Ravens throw a good amount of screen passes and you guys have
been very good against the screen. Can you talk about the challenge
about defending that play?
Belichick: “Screens are complimentary plays to the passing
game. They’re designed to take the edge off the pass rush, so it
depends on what defense you’re in and what type of screen they run. The
principle of the play is to separate the defense – to have some guys
rushing the passer, and have other guys in coverage, and throw the ball
in that in between area with some blockers ahead of them. Whatever your
system is you have to have a way to deal with that. It’s very
challenging with backs like [Ray] Rice and [Willis] McGahee, [Mark]
Clayton and guys like that. They get them the ball in space with a
couple blockers ahead of them and you could be looking at a lot of
yardage. Those are always dangerous plays and plays that you’ve got to
work hard on to both recognize and play correctly within the context of
the defense because they’re really true team plays, everybody’s
involved in those it’s not just one guy that can stop the screen.
You’ve got to have a coordinated defense against that. They do a good
job and it will definitely be a challenge.”