In Patriots coach Bill Belichick’s afternoon press conference, he said the defensive lapses his team displayed in a 38-17 loss to the Saints Monday night were mostly “correctable.”
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Bill Belichick: “After watching the film from last night, it was about the same things we talked about after the game. We weren’t as competitive as we needed to be on offense or defense. I thought we were at least competitive in the kicking game, but it wasn’t nearly enough. New Orleans clearly was a better team last night. They did things a lot better than we did and that was pretty obvious. We have to make some corrections. I’m sure we’ll see some of the things we saw last night again and do a better job on those and turn the page here and get refocused on the Dolphins. It’s a short week, but this time of year there are a lot of teams going through that — playing on Thursday nights and Thanksgiving, those kinds of things. A lot of us have been through that, and we have it and other teams in the league have it. It’s a quick turnaround, but not as quick as some of the other ones, so that’s just something we’ll have to work through like everybody else does. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get on track here, have a good day of preparation tomorrow — with the coaches tonight and tomorrow with the players — and get ready to go down there to Miami.”
When you looked at the tape from last night, how much of what happened on defense looked correctable and how much of it was the Saints physically beating you guys?
Belichick: “I would like to think most all of it is correctable. I mean the majority of the yardage that we gave up was on a handful of plays. I think they had eight plays for over 300 yards or something like that, not saying all the rest of them were great, but anytime you give up that much yardage on a handful of plays it’s bad. But if you can find a way to correct those plays and not give them up all at once, you would be a lot more competitive out there. So the big plays were clearly the biggest problem we had on defense. Like I said, I’m sure we’ll see elements of those types of plays soon because of the trouble we had with them last night. That really hasn’t been a major weak point for us last year, but it certainly was last night. Did they do a great job? Sure and I’m not taking anything away from them, but we’ve got to do better than that.”
Drew Brees was 10-for-10 with 3 touchdowns on first down. Is there any explaining that?
Belichick: “I think I just did. We gave up big plays in the passing game and one in the running game. We didn’t coach them, play them and defend them well enough.”
Sammy Morris said the Saints were a little more intense last night, did you see that as a problem?
Belichick: “I felt like the team was ready to play. I thought we came out early in the game and played competitively. I know they hit that first pass, but we had a couple after that. We stopped them in the red area, had another good series defensively, moved the ball offensively. I don’t think that was a problem early in the game. As I said, they executed, and ultimately coached and had their team better prepared than I did. And the players played better than our players played in that game. I didn’t think intensity, effort and all that was a problem. It was just they made some big plays and made a lot more than we did.”
Was it a difficult decision to not play Shawn Springs?
Belichick: “Well, as I have said many times, if we had the opportunity to take all of our players to the game, we would take them all and I think they would all have a role in the game [except] the backup quarterback. We’re not able to do that. We are able to select 45 and we select 45 that we feel will give us the best opportunity that week, given all the circumstances and information we have for the game. That’s the way that decision is every week. Last night, it was no different than any other game. If we could take 50 players to the game, we would take 50 players and I’m sure they’d have a role and they’d contribute, but that’s just not an option, so we have to go with the ones we select.”
[On the defenses’ chemistry]
Belichcik: “I would say overall when you look at a 10- or 11-game evaluation that there are a lot of positives there and a lot of the problems we had last night weren’t problems that occurred in earlier games or they were very infrequent. Last night, giving up big plays was a huge problem and it’s something that really hadn’t occurred anywhere close to that level during the entire season as, for example, it did last year or the year before. We were giving up a lot more big plays defensively than we’d given up this year, prior to last night. Look, after a game like last night, are there problems? Well, it sure looked like it last night. There were a lot of problems. You could probably start anywhere you want. But over the course of year I wouldn’t say that’s been a continual problem. We’ve got to do a better job than we did last night, try to correct those things. I think everybody played and coached has some responsibility and accountability for it and I will certainly accept mine. I don’t know if there’s anybody that has much more experience than I do, but that wasn’t good enough on my part of anybody else’s part last night.”
[On the defense giving up points]
Belichick: “We play against good offenses every week – good players, good quarterbacks, good receivers, good running backs, good blockers. So we’ve seen that every week and that’s always a challenge defensively. I have confidence in our players, our coaches and our scheme and I think we’ve been competitive defensively all year. Not that we’ve been perfect by any means. We’ve had times where we’ve had some problems like any defense have, but from a league-wide basis I would say we’ve been pretty competitive, but we weren’t last night and I know we can do a better job than that and that’s what we’ll work toward.”
Last night, did you feel like one bad thing led to another bad thing?
Belichick: “I think there could have been an element of that. I think I would agree with Vince’s [Wilfork] comment on that that we probably didn’t do a good enough job of moving on to the next play. We might of let a previous play or two … You’ve got to learn from those plays, certainly plays that happen early in the game. They are significant because the team could come back and do it again, but at the same time you’ve got to be able to learn from them, put them behind you and move on – good or bad. I would say I probably would agree that we didn’t do a great job of that last night, that there might have been a residual effect on some of the plays that happened earlier in the game affecting, more than they probably should have, of how we played plays later in the game.”
Do you have any reaction to the news about Charlie Weis and is there any interest on your part to bring him back to Foxboro?
Belichick: “Well, I’m disappointed for Charlie, and his family and all the people they took out there with them. Of course, I go back a long way with Charlie and we have a good friendship. I talk to him on a pretty regular basis, so I’m disappointed for him on that level. But right now my focus is on the Miami Dolphins, and getting ready to go down there and play a tough division game on the road. That’s where I’m at right now. There are going to be situations like that — there have been every year — where things happen on other teams and on other coaching staffs or player rumors and so forth. Anything along that nature is something that would be addressed at a later point in time. It’s not anything that is on the front burner at all.”
[On the Saints offense]
Belichick: “I think, yeah, they have a good offense. I said that going into the game and I’ll say that after the game, they have a good offensive system. I think Sean Payton does a great job with the scheme of the offense and they have a lot of great players and that’s across the board at every position — on the line, skilled positions, tight end, running back. Absolutely, they are challenging on every front defensively and I give them credit for the production and the way they played last night. I’m not taking anything away from them. I still know and feel that we’re a better defensive football team than the way we played last night and we have to do a better job than that. And we’re going to face other offenses that have, maybe not as many, but certainly a high level of offensive playmakers and talent like we saw last night. And we have this year, so we just got to do a better job than that. It starts with me, assistant coaches, players, all of us. We’ve all got to do a better job defensively and offensively for that matter than we did last night. There’s no other way to put it.”