Monday, October 6, 2008

Belichick, Patriots settled in on the West Coast

Bill Belichick held a conference call with reporters today from the San Jose area, where the Patriots will spend this week in preparation for Sunday night's game against the San Diego Chargers. Among the topics discussed:

On the three big interceptions the Patriots made in the game:
"They were big plays in the game. The first play, the 49ers were trying to take a shot down the field. They tossed it up there to Delanie Walker and I thought Brandon Meriweather made a real good play on the ball. He batted it away and fortunately it came back down in his lap when he landed on his back. On the second interception, Rodney (Harrison) got a good read on J.T. O’Sullivan and made a good break on the ball. It came down and it was kind of the same thing. It got broken up at first, ricocheted up in the air and he was able to finish the play for the interception. The last play was a third-down play on a crossing pattern where O’Sullivan scrambled out of the pocket. I think he was trying to make something happen on fourth down. It went through Rodney’s hands but fortunately Deltha (O’Neal) was right there behind him. From a field-position standpoint, it would have been better for us if we hadn’t intercepted it, but it’s always good to see the ball end up in our hands at the end of a play, so we’ll take it."

On Matt Cassel's long touchdown pass to Randy Moss:
"It always helps to score on a big play. I think that forces the defense to respect you and it opens up some other things. It’s not always possible, but I think you always like to throw a couple down there to at least let them know that you are thinking about it. We did that or tried to do it. Some plays it went down the field, and some it didn’t. But we had some deep passes designed as we always do, to try and test the defense on all three levels - the short, intermediate and deep level. It’s great to have it all happen in one play like that. Matt did a nice job of stepping up in the pocket. They had a free blitzer coming from the backside with Tarell Brown coming off the corner. Matt stepped up and put the ball right on the money, and Randy ran through it. It was a big play for us, one that you always like to see. It’s always good to see it all happen in one play."

On adjustments to the Patriots' third-down defense:
"In yesterday’s game we used different combinations in our sub-defense. Some four-man lines, three-man lines, two-man lines and at times we only had one defensive lineman out there -- Jarvis (Green) or Mike Wright. That was probably more of a game-planning week thing than a bye-week thing. It was something strategically that we felt we would want to run this week against San Francisco. Those guys did a good job, although we had several players that really stepped up in some of those passing situations. A lot of them third down but some of it was two minute in the fourth quarter -- Jonathan Wilhite, Terrence Wheatley, Gary Guyton, Pierre Woods and Jarvis Green. We had a number of those guys, including Brandon Meriweather, come in and play well in passing situations and be productive for us. The bottom line was we were able to do a combination of things. One was get ahead in the game and two, do a decent job against the running game. Those two factors helped to push it toward a passing game and more of a one-dimensional game. So we really only defended one thing and that helped us on third down and on fourth-quarter, two-minute situations."

On injured running back Lamont Jordan:
"He came in and got treatment today. We will have to see how he is later in the week. We didn’t practice today, and we won’t practice tomorrow. Everybody is just walking around today. We’ll see where everyone is when we go out there and get on the practice field later in the week. But he looks like a pretty quick healer."

On the running-back situation with Kevin Faulk, Laurence Maroney and Sammy Morris:

"With the running backs and our offensive game plans, you know those change and fluctuate week to week and even sometimes within the game. Depending on how we have our personnel grouped for a particular game or the situations that come up, it could be different players doing the same thing or it different players doing different things on a week-to-week basis. We will just take that as it comes. This week will be San Diego. We will try to set up the best combinations that we feel like will give us the advantage against the Chargers. We will see how it goes the week after that. Really, it is a game-plan thing week to week as to how some of those things mesh together. But I thought the backs ran well yesterday, the line blocked well and we had a good solid day running the ball. That was encouraging all the way around.

"To follow that up, I don’t think if you had told me that Kevin Faulk’s role in yesterday’s game was going to be to score two touchdowns from inside the five-yard line, I don’t think that’s what anyone would have envisioned happening in the game. But that’s the way it turned out. You never really know how those opportunities are going to come up or how those situations are going to break, or what personnel groupings will happen to be in there in certain situations. Its really more players being ready and able to capitalize and take advantage of the opportunities they get and their overall ability to execute offensively in different situations. You just never know which ones are going to come up. You just try to prepare for them and execute them when the time comes."

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