Patriots coach Bill Belichick said the Patriots “looked at” receiver Plaxico Burress in the offseason, but he did not provide any detail as to how serious the interest was during a media conference call today.
“We did look at him in the offseason just because of his general availability as we normally do – look at all the players that are not connected with a team,” Belichick said.
Burress signed with the Jets, who play the Patriots on Sunday at Gillette Stadium.
“We look at everybody. Obviously, you don’t get everybody. Some things come together, some don’t. We’ll work with what we’ve got. They’ll work with what they’ve got, see how it goes,” Belichick said.
Belichick also discussed how he’d evaluate Burress’s role on the Jets.
“He hasn’t played in awhile until this year and I think there’s plenty to go off of this year. He played quite a bit in preseason. Of course he’s played here during the regular season. I think kind of what we normally see from him – strong, physical guy, [who] can go up and get the ball. Even if he’s covered, he’s really not covered because he’s capable of going up and taking the ball away from the defender. [He’s] good down the field, good on the catch-and-runs [and a] hard guy to tackle.”
Here’s the rest of the Q&A, as provided by the Patriots’ media relations staff.
What do you see from this latest version of the Jets?
Belichick: Well I think it’s kind of the typical Jets team – real good on defense, real good in the kicking game [and] explosive on offense. They have a lot of guys who can gain a lot of yards in a hurry – receivers [Plaxico] Burress and [Derrick] Mason, of course Santonio Holmes, [Dustin] Keller, [LaDainian] Tomlinson, [Shonn] Greene, they’ve got some new guys like [Joe] McKnight and [Jeremy] Kerley that haven’t played a lot but when they’ve gotten in there they’ve been pretty good too. It’s a lot of guys to get ready for – [D’Brickashaw] Ferguson, Pro Bowl guys on the offensive line. They’re a solid team. As usual, good in the kicking game, real strong on defense, good scheme, good players. We have a lot to get ready for this week.
Taylor Price was active last week, how much further along is he? What have you seen out of him in practices? Is he someone who could get a chance to get in there?
Belichick: Yeah, we’ll see how it goes. Overall, our receiver group has been pretty productive. Taylor, when he has had an opportunity to play, has been productive as well. I think all those guys know that they’ve got to be ready to go, take advantage of their opportunities, there’s good competition at those positions. We’ve been able to put several different guys out there and they’ve all been productive. Guys know when they get their opportunity they have to make the most of it.
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When you’re looking at the Jets, I can’t remember how many games they had Nick Mangold. Are you looking at the film of the run game and how they protect with him in there or without him in there?
Belichick: We watch all their games and we prepare for all the players on the active roster every week. We all know that can change in one play or at least the game anyway, who’s in there and who isn’t. We have to be prepared for all of them. We’ll do that – study him and study all the other guys on the roster too, whichever ones they decide to play, there’s nothing we can do about that. We just have to do our preparation, whoever we get – know their strengths, know their weaknesses and how we want to try to play them.
After all these years you’ve played the Jets so many times – do you get a little more excited or focused preparing for Jets week?
Belichick: Well, it’s a division game, so of course it’s a big game – all the division games are. This is the next one, so we’ll put everything we’ve got into this one. Then when it’s over, we’ll take a look at it, move on and put everything we’ve got into next week. Obviously, it’s an important game, we’ll do the best we can this week to maximize our preparation opportunities and be ready to go on Sunday.
Does the playoff game from last season factor at all in the preparation or is that too far removed?
Belichick: No, we’ll look at all the games from last year and all the preseason games and all the regular season games – we’ve seen them all. Of course, in the offseason we do all our offseason data reports – that’s really when you go back and you can really spend time on the previous years games. You take what you have, the information, what you gain out of that or ideas or whatever and you look at this year’s stuff and you factor that into it and you come up with a game plan – figure out what you want to do.
For the players who would have been a part of last year’s playoff team, do you want them to factor in any emotion for how last year ended or would you rather they strictly focused on this season?
Belichick: We’re mostly just trying to go out there and play well on Sunday. That’s what we try to do every week. We’ve won plenty of games in the past, we’ve lost some. Those games really don’t have much bearing on this one.
It looked like Dan Connolly pulled on a couple of running plays. I can’t remember if Dan Koppen used to do that. Is that something that Connolly is able to do or had you done that before?
Belichick: Basically what you do on the offensive line, on a running play you have, I don’t obviously have a play, but you have so many players to block so many players. You have three to block three or two to block two or four to block four at the entry point of the play. Based on how the defensive line – what you anticipate they’re going to do after the snap, if anything, you have different blocking options. All three of those can just go get our guy. Or two guys can block down and one guy can pull. Or one guy can block down and the other guy can pull. There are different combinations depending on where you’re trying to enter the defense. Really a lot of that is based on the front and the way that the defensive line is aligned and possibly what we think they’ll do from that alignment. A lot of that is done at the line of scrimmage. When we call a play in the huddle, there are times that we don’t even know if we’re going to be pulling or not – it would depend on their alignment. How can we best get those three guys or those two guys, or whatever the play is that we’re assigned – if that makes any sense. I’m not trying to get too complicated here, but it’s really just a matter of numbers and blocking people. Part of the play will be blocked one way and the rest of the play, you have to get a defensive lineman or two defensive lineman and one linebacker, or a defensive lineman and two linebackers – based on their alignment, what’s the best way to get to those guys. Whoever the center is, it wouldn’t make any difference or whoever the guard is, it wouldn’t make any difference. It’s more based on the play and the alignment of the defense on that particular play. Then that call is made at the line of scrimmage by the offensive line.