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Belichick won't be forced into a 4-3 or 3-4 hole

Posted by Monique Walker, Globe Staff  August 4, 2011 04:05 PM

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FOXBOROUGH -- Patriots coach Bill Belichick wrapped up his press conference moments ago and spent a good bit of his time diminishing the need to define a defensive alignment as a 4-3 or 3-4.

Belichick was asked about a perception that he prefers to run a 3-4 defense. The conversation eventually led to answer you may have heard before when it comes to picking an alignment. Belichick pointed out he has been part of championships where the teams ran a 4-3 (in 2001 and 2003).

"... I think honestly I think that's something that is a media fabrication," Belichick said. "There are a lot of different alignments out there. You see 4-3 teams use odd spacing; you see 3-4 teams use even spacing. ... You've got 11 players and you can put them in various positions. Whether you want to put them on the pre-game depth chart as one thing or another, is I think a little bit overrated. You play different fronts, different spacing and then you teach the techniques of your defense.
"That is what's consistent: techniques that are taught in different defensive systems whichever ones you want to talk about are consistently in those systems and those teams go from a three-man line to a four-man line or a four-man line to an odd-spacing line ... or whatever you want to call it, they'll continue to play the same fundamental techniques that they've been teaching for the entire year for the most part. That's what teaching defensive fundamentals of football is about. ... "

So does that mean he recruits versatile players for a versatile defense?: "I think there's certainly a lot to be said for flexibility, but I think there's also a lot to be said for playing at one position. I think a player who plays one position very well, there's a lot of value to that. A player that plays multiple positions at a good level -- maybe not as quite as good as the guy who is playing one position at a higher level -- that versatility is worth a lot as well.
"... We've had plenty of good players who did just one good thing. ... They never did anything but play one position for a one time. ... Football teams are comprised of a lot of parts and certainly a lot of


A few other comments from Belichick are below, including information about the signing of rookie offensive lineman Nate Solder. He was the last of the Patriots' 2011 draft class to sign.

On Solder: "Nate signed, so we'll have him in today. It's good to have all the draft choices signed, and we're looking forward to getting as many people out there on the field as we can. We are taking another step here. It's one day after another trying to improve on the things we did yesterday. We're seeing some steady improvement, but we still have a long way to go. We'll just keep grinding it out. ..."

On holding joint practices with other teams for training camp?: "At this point, no. We're here for the foreseeable future but we'll see how it goes later on in camp."


News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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