The following is this afternoon's media Q&A with Patriots coach Bill Belichick at Gillette Stadium, beginning with his opening remarks. (Hit "full entry" for the complete transcript):
[There is] not really a whole lot new here from last night. We got back late, watched the film and we will get the players in and go through some corrections. [We will] try to improve as we go through the week. There were certainly some good things in the game that we talked about last night. There are a lot of things that we need to continue to work on. But, overall I thought the players played hard. They made some plays that they needed to, especially in the fourth quarter. So, that was good. We are happy to win and know that we have a lot of work to do. We need to continue to do a better job. The Jets played hard. They gave us some problems. There were some things that they did a good job on, that we need to do a better job on, obviously. Thatís where we are at today.
Q: Did Wes Welker and Matt Cassel develop a relationship in the preseason and did you see some of that carry over into yesterdayís game?
Belichick: Again, Matt got a lot of work with Wes, [Jabar] Gaffney and all those guys in the preseason. He took quite a few snaps both in games and in practice. I am sure that helped him. He had a couple nice plays, one that we missed - where they didnít quite see it the same way. Thereís always some room for improvement. We had him wide open on that one little, short crossing route in the middle when the Jets blitzed. We just missed connection. If we had hit that one it would have been a good gain. There is always more room to work and improve on that. That first, third down - Matt hit him right in stride and Wes was able to pickup 15 yards after the catch. So, that was good too.
Q: When Wes catches those wide receiver screens, technically itís a pass. When you go back and look at the play do you put that in the passing or running category?
Belichick: I donít know if it does matter. Regardless of where you put it, it is still the same concept of trying to get the ball to the perimeter for one reason or another. All teams do them, so wherever they go; they are part of what the defense has to defend. If you can get the ball out there to a good player with some space, then thatís something the defense has to be concerned about. We have been on both sides of that ourselves. I thought Wes went out there and made a good run both times in the first quarter and at the end of the game on that 4th and 3. He got hit almost at no gain at the line of scrimmage and then he was able to push forward, get the first down and let us run out the clock. I think itís a compliment to the running game and also a compliment to the deep passing game because if the defenders donít come up and get on you then it creates more space for the runner to make some yards or break a tackle. Like, what happened when he got it down there in the first quarter.
Q: Where the short passes and screens part of the game plan or was that a byproduct of Matt Casselís play?
Belichick: The Jets play a lot of deep field coverage. They rolled over the top of Randy [Moss] almost the whole game, other than a few plays and one of those plays was when Matt threw down there to Randy. When they gave us the opportunity to do that, we tried to get the ball down the field and we had a good chance on that one. When they donít, I donít think you want to be lobbing the ball down there to Kerry Rhodes when he is roaming back in the deep part of the field. We have seen that before and those plays donít usually end up the way you want them to. They did a good job of taking some of those deep plays away. We hitched some short ones and we missed some that we wouldíve liked to hit. We had a couple chances to hit some other plays that we were just a little bit off on and that would have made a difference in the score.
Q: On kick returns. Did the field position affect your play calling?
Belichick: No, not really other than when you get into certain areas in the field. You have certain plays or a preference to certain plays than others because of the area on the field, or maybe a tendency of what they do. Like, what they do when youíre inside your 25, versus what they do when youíre at midfield, versus what they do when youíre at their 30. That changes from team to team. So, there might be a big preference for what you want to do in those areas. In terms of managing the game, itís a lot easier to move the ball 50 yards or sometimes 15 yards into scoring position than it is to move it 60 [yards]. Thatís the advantage of field position. This was a big field position game yesterday and I thought that in the kicking game, our special teams units and Brad [Seely] - they did a great job. Kickoffs were pretty much [Stephen] Gostkowski. But, the one they did bring back, we got them on the 20. We had good punt returns and they really didnít have much on the punt returns. Chris Hanson had the one that went out of bounds for 50 and 9 yard net and the other two were touchbacks on the plus 50ís. So, I think our field position in the punt return game was good and our field position on kickoff coverage was real good. The shorter distance you have to go, the higher your percentages are that you are going to get some points on the board. I donít think it really affects the play calling, no.
Q: Is 18 rushing first downs a target number for you?
Belichick: Not really. We never really talk about that. We talk more about scoring points. You have seen us play. We throw it 25 times in a row. If we rush for 21 first downs, that could be good too. It depends on what the game situation calls for, how theyíre playing you and what their opportunities are. We played Minnesota a couple of years ago. We knew we werenít rushing for 18 first downs against them - not the way they played it. So, thatís not what you do. Sometimes, you get opportunities in one area and you try to take advantage of those. Sometimes, you get them in another area. But, we have never been a team to say, Ďwe have to throw this many passes. That guy has to catch so many. That guy has to run so many. We have to run this many of those play.í I just donít believe in that because you donít want to force something that isnít there. You donít want to run the ball where there is no place to run it. You donít want to throw it, where there is no place to throw it. There has to be better plays to run than where they are. [We try] to go where they are not.
Q: Can you elaborate on Stephen Gostkowskiís play?
Belichick: He had a great day. He hit them going both directions. He kicked the ball well. I thought he did a good job on the field goals. The Jets are a good field goal rush team too and I thought he got those kicks off quickly, with good elevation. Of course, they were straight. He did a terrific job yesterday. It was a good operation with Lonnie [Paxton], Chris [Hanson] and Steve. It was pretty much a one-man show there, kicking it out of the back of the end zone. You and me could run down and cover them.
Q: How did you think the offensive line played?
Belichick: I thought we had our moments. I thought it was competitive and we had our moments. They gave us a few problems and I think we game them some. [Kris] Jenkins is a force in there. There is no doubt about it. They are a good pass rushing team. Their outside linebackers, between [Calvin] Pace, [Bryan] Thomas and [Vernon] Gholston and David Bowens, a little bit too. Also, Shaun Ellis and Kenyon Coleman - we know about them. They have a good rotation and a good group of guys in there. [They have] good outside rushers and good blitz packages with [Kerry] Rhodes. They brought him a couple times. I thought our line stood up to them and did a good job at times. Other times, it could have been better. But, I think thatís what you are going to get against that type of a team. I donít think you are going to see anybody knocking Kris Jenkins 5 yards off the ball every play. You just donít see that. We got him a few times and obviously he got us a few times.
Q: Did Matt Cassel and the offensive line do a good job adjusting after those sacks?
Belichick: I donít think there were a lot of adjustments to be made. We had him picked up. By the time the route developed and by the time the quarterback was trying to throw the ball, there just wasnít enough time to get it off. We just didnít keep them out long enough relative to the length of the patterns. If the patterns had been shorter, we would have probably been able to hit them. If the blocking had been a little bit better, than we would have had a little more time to throw. But, it just didnít time up right. We just didnít do a good job on those plays. But, it wasnít like there was something where we came off the field and thought, ĎWow, we havenít seen that before.í It wasnít that kind of a situation. We had them. We just didnít have them long enough. When David Barrett got him, he was really in coverage on that play. But, when Matt stepped up in the pocket, the guy he was covering was part of the protection and Barrett came off onto him. Thatís where his sack came from. We just need to do a better job, overall, in the passing game of timing out the protection for the length of the pattern or depth of the pattern and getting the ball out of there on time. There were several other plays in the game where there were free rushers that had a straight shot to the quarterback but the ball was gone before they got there. Those shorter routes were designed so if they did blitz, we would get rid of the ball before the rusher could get there. That happened three or four times.
Q: Did you get a sense that the veterans on defense took particular pride in this win?
Belichick: I would like for our players to take pride in every win and I think that they do. I think you take pride any time that you play well. If you play well individually in your unit, I think you take a lot of pride in that. Whether thatís how many points you give up, if you make a goal line stand, make a stop in the red area - you definitely take pride in that. I donít think our team approached our game defensively any different than they approached the Kansas City game or any game last year. We always want to go out there and play good defense, believe it or not. Thatís what we work all week for. Our job is to keep the other team from scoring. To go out there, stop them and get the ball back for our offense. Thatís what we try to do every week and the players take a lot of pride in that - like they should. They are very excited and enthused when we do that, which we did yesterday. I didnít see that it was different than any other game. When you hold a team to ten points, thatís something to be proud of. You make some plays on defense to keep them out of the end zone or to turn the ball over - those are plays as a defense that you have to be happy about. On the other hand, on the flip side of it - you give up a 54-yard pass, give up a couple 20-yard runs, or let them toss the ball to the receiver with no one [covering] him - then those are the ones you want to fix.
Q: Was it good to get Kevin Faulk back for Matt Casselís first start?
Belichick: Itís good to have Kevin back. Itís great to have him back. Kevin has made a lot of big plays for us through the years in the kicking game, on offense, running the ball in as a receiver and in pick up. He had some big ones again yesterday and I thought his punt returns were excellent. They gave us great field position. He handled the ball well. That was a problem and something we didnít do that well against Kansas City last week. There were too many balls on the ground and we missed some opportunities. Kevin did a good job on that. It was great to have him back there. Both the field position plays and a couple of plays he made offensively in the first pass of the game, the screen pass. It was a nice run by him. It was an excellent play by Billy Yates coming over to get David Harris, to keep him out of the play to get Kevin started. Itís always good to get Kevin back. Sammy [Morris], LaMont [Jordan], Heath [Evans], Laurence [Maroney] - they all contributed yesterday and I think our depth in the backfield paid off for us in that game.
Q: The front seven seemed to get consistent pressure on Brett Favre.
Belichick: That was the problem. Sometimes, we had some pressure and he was elusive and got away from it and nailed us with some plays. Getting pressure is part of it. But, containing him and keeping him from having the play go too long - we have to work on that a little bit too. Not just getting pressure but keeping him confined so he canít run around and make some of those loose plays.
Q: Those big plays, were you satisfied with the front sevenís play?
Belichick: I think it can always be better. I donít think you ever, as a defensive coach think, thatís the best we can do. You always feel like there are other things that you could have done a little bit better. I think we all feel that way. There were times we had good pressure on them, times we had some pressure and let him out and other times didnít have enough pressure on him. You can coach it better, play it better and, hopefully, do a better job on that going forward. But, it wasnít terrible. I have seen a lot worse but there is a lot of room for improvement.
Q: How important was it for Matt Cassel to have his first win on the road in a division game?
Belichick: Itís good to win in this league anytime. Itís good to win at home. Itís good to win on the road and itís good to win in the division. When you win a division game on the road, thatís a big win. I think itís good for Matt, good for our football team and good for everybody. I donít know how you measure it or what price there is on it. But, it is good for everybody and itís good for your football team. [Weíve] worked long and hard for that - going back to all the work youíve done all year and you work for your 16 game regular season schedule. You really work for those division games, which count more than the other ones. They all count a lot but when you donít play very many games and you have six division games, than that is as big as it gets. Itís good for Matt. Itís good for our football team and itís good for everyone.
Q: You always say the players are the ones who win games. Keeping that in mind, after losing your starting quarterback - that challenged everyone, including your coaching staff. Was getting a win like that rewarding for your coaching staff?
Belichick: Again, itís rewarding to win any game in this league. Itís hard to win. Itís hard to win in the NFL. So, when you win - I know I appreciate it and I think everybody else does too. You put in a lot of work; a lot of preparation and you have to make a lot of plays in the game to win. You canít win a game on one or two plays. Youíve got to make well over a 100 in one way or another. Itís the players who win it. Theyíre the ones who went out there blocked, tackled, caught, ran and kicked. They deserve the credit because they earned it. Theyíre the ones that make the plays that enable us to win and thatís the way I feel about it. Without them, there is no team. You canít have a team without players.
Q: A lot of fans thought that you couldnít be as good of a team without Tom Brady. Did yesterday prove that this is a team that can be as strong with Matt Cassel?
Belichick: We showed yesterday, that we were better than the Jets on that one day at 4:15 yesterday afternoon. I donít think that has to do with the Miami game. That will be another challenge this week. We will see what we can do against the Dolphins. They are a team thatís improved a lot. They have certainly improved their offense and their offensive line. I have a lot of respect for Chad Pennington. Their defensive system that they put in, what they ran in Dallas. Itís like the San Diego system that coach Paul Pasqualoni coaches. Theyíre solid there. They have big play guys in the return game like [Ted] Ginn. They are a dangerous team. They are a tough team and they will hit you. Thatís our challenge this week. We were good enough yesterday. Whether it is good enough this week against Miami remains to be seen. We have a lot of work to do before we are even close to ready to play them. I donít know what yesterdayís game means or says other than what happened yesterday. This week is this week and we have a whole new set of challenges against the Dolphins. Thatís what we have to get ready for.