Bill Belichick and select Patriots players spoke to the media on Thursday, just over a week before they play the Giants in the Super Bowl. The following quotes are from transcripts provided by the Patriots.
Belichick on the familiarity with the Giants: There's no team that we're more familiar with in the NFC than the Giants. We've played them every year for a lot of years, I don't know — twice in '07, and this will be three times now this year. A lot of those games are preseason games, which isn't quite the same as playing division teams twice during the regular season, but still there's a familiarity. You're keeping up with a team year after year as opposed to a lot of the other teams we see in the NFC every three years, four years. There's a gap and there's usually a lot of changes. At least with the Giants, there's kind of an annual review of that team, even though it's in preseason. This year it was a little different because we had them on the regular schedule, so we looked at the preseason game a little more closely than we normally would that game because they were on the regular schedule. I don't think it's a like a division game, but we know them a lot better than most of the NFC teams that we play against."
Belichick on TE Aaron Hernandez: "Aaron is a real smart guy, so from a learning standpoint he's very good in terms of assignments, alignments, assignments — that's a big part of our offense — what most teams do as far as their tight ends, that's where a lot of the 'formationing' comes from. Along with a lot of different linemen come different assignments, different techniques, different depths, whether he's on the ball, off the ball, whether he's split out, whether he's in close. A lot of the passing concepts are the same, but if you move people around, then you have to run the passing concepts from two or three different spots. One time you're the 'X,' one time you're the 'Y,' one time you're the 'Z,' one time you're the 'F,' whatever it is. He's a smart player, he's versatile athletically. He can do a lot of different things from a skill standpoint. He has the mental flexibility to have a lot of different assignments. When you put all that together, you have good versatility."
Belichick on MLB Brandon Spikes: "Brandon comes from a good background, good program, good defensive background. Like every other college player, what he saw in college and what he sees in the NFL are not quite the same thing relative to option offenses and the skill level of quarterbacks, particularly the intermediate passing game, things like that, different types of play-action that we see relative to what colleges do, for the most part. That's been a big learning experience for him, but Brandon's a very instinctive player and he catches on quickly. He just kind of knows where the ball is and sometimes it's not exactly the way you would coach it in terms of the keys and what his footwork and steps and all that would be, but he has a good ability to find the ball and know where the play is — the interception he had last week, the one he had last year against the Jets on a similar type of play."
QB Tom Brady on RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis: "Benny, since the day he got here, he's worked extremely hard. He really kind of broke through in '08. He got a lot of opportunities there and really took advantage of them. He's always done that. He runs hard, he's tough, he's smart, catches the ball well, blitz pickup is really good, he's got great vision, he's hard to tackle. It's great; he's very consistent back there."
Brady on the Giants' pass rush: "They can rush the passer. There's no doubt about that. In playing them before, you understand that they can — they strip-sacked us on our own 10-yard line or something like that when we played them last. They get a lot of turnovers. They put a lot of pressure on you with their front four. They have a big, physical group that plays really well together. You watch them play against the 49ers; they played a great game defensively. They gave up two points against Atlanta, which was on a defensive score. They're a great football team; they have a great defense. Every time we play them, it's ... you talk about their defense, their pass rush. It's going to be a good game — we have our work cut out for us."
CB Devin McCourty on playing safety: "Honestly, the biggest surprise, I think, is just looking at the field. I think I've said it before, just the different angle and a different vantage point and view I have looking at the field compared to when I was at corner. So making that adjustment and trying to be more vocal and relaying a bunch of things to the guys, whereas when you're at corner, you're not really talking as much, but at safety, trying to make sure everyone is on the same page."