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Tue., Mar. 31, 2015 11:55 AM to 2:00 PM EDT
Tue., Mar. 31, 2015 2:00 PM to 11:59 PM EDT
Wed., Apr. 01, 2015 12:00 AM to 11:55 AM EDT
Bill Belichick Conference Call Transcript
Q: Big plays on special teams have been a big part of the five game-winning streak, but special teams has given you good field position all year. Can you talk about the role special teams has played in field position and the big plays?
BB: We really look at special teams as being a third of the game. As you mentioned, the field position is huge – trying to start offensively on a shorter field or trying to play defensively on a longer field, as well as taking advantage of our scoring opportunities on the field goal team and making plays, game changing plays in the kicking game, which is one of our goals every week. Statistically, that field position edge eventually comes into play, not necessarily on any individual series or possession, but over the long haul. We all know the importance of field position and scoring opportunities and making big plays in the kicking game. I think that Scott [O'Brien] and Joe Judge, our two special teams coaches, do a great job of coaching the players and taking the young guys and improving them and watching some of our younger guys perform for us in the kicking game, as well as some of our veteran players and just bringing it all together. Of course, it always comes down to good execution by the specialists. We've had production by the return game here in the second half of the season. Our coverage units have been pretty solid all year but anytime you can turn the ball over, those are huge plays. We had the ball out a couple times in the Colts game but couldn't get it; it came out against the Jets, we capitalized on that and returned it. It's a challenge for us every week in that phase of the game. Miami is really good, they're well coached and they have a lot of big, fast guys that are physical. They work hard at it, they do a good job in the kicking game; good specialists. Our guys, Matt Slater has done a great job as the captain of the special teams with his leadership and making it a total cohesive unit even though it's six different units but it's still more players on all of them. He's doing a great job with that this year.
Q: What is your takeaway of Ryan Tannehill and how has he grown as a rookie quarterback to this point? When you face rookie quarterbacks, do you look at it as a chance to throw new things at a guy who isn't familiar with you guys?
BB: No, not really. I don't think we really spend too much time talking about what year the quarterback is or any of that type of thing. We just look at the way he plays and what their scheme is and how they try to run their offense and try to figure out what's the best thing we can do to defend it. I think that's a lot more the conversation and the focus than what year the guy is or anything like that. He's obviously a very athletic player. They run a number of plays where they move the pocket with him. There are plays where they don't move the pocket but he of course has the skill to run and escape – different but similar to what we talked about with [Jake] Locker, going back to the Tennessee game, that kind of fast and athletic. A guy that played another position in college; I think that speaks to his athleticism. He's shown a lot of poise throughout the whole season. With Coach [Mike] Sherman there, there's, I'm sure, good chemistry there and a good relationship and some carryover into what they've done in the past when he was with him at Texas A&M relative to reads or ‘check with mes' or offensive packages that they use, however they do it. It looks like there's a good level of comfort there. They're certainly not afraid to put the ball in his hands in critical situations and he's done a good job of delivering for them. [He's] done a good job with that team; he's a good player.
Q: It seems like Ryan Tannehill's familiarity with Mike Sherman has made it less jarring than a quarterback coming into a new system, hasn't it?
BB: That's a tough question to answer. I haven't been there so I don't really know all the details of that. I know Coach [Joe] Philbin has his system too from Green Bay and how much of that all marries together and is the same or what the differences are between that and what they did at A&M, I'm sure there are similarities but I'm sure there are some differences too. I'm not sure. But obviously Tannehill is a smart kid that can pick up things. You can see that because they change some of the things they're doing game plan-wise or formation-wise. Again, he handles things at the line of scrimmage frequently during the game: checks or audibles or adjustments in protection. You can see him doing those things. He definitely has a good command of the offense, no question about that.
Q: Tom Brady has 24 touchdowns and three interceptions. Did you ever dream that you would have a quarterback that took such great care of the ball and how important is that?
BB: I think we all know the importance of the turnovers and the turnover ratio as you mentioned and it's a goal for us every week. Tom has done a great job of it and has always made that a high priority of his personal execution as a quarterback. He handles the ball on virtually every play; even if he hands it off, there's still a certain degree of ball handling and ball security involved up until the point he gives it to somebody else. He works hard at that, he works hard at his mechanics, his technique and certainly decision making. He does a very good job at all those things. That being said, each week is its own challenge and just because things have been a certain way in previous weeks, they could always change. I think you have to continue to work on those things on a weekly basis, which he has and which I'm sure he'll continue to do to make sure each game we go into, our goal is always to play turnover free and to get them on the other side, whether it's on special teams or defense. Each week, it's a renewed goal but it's one that has to be reached or attempted to reach again. There's really no carryover from anything that's happened in the past that's going to affect it in the next game. As good as it's been, which is nice and probably has quite a bit to do with our record, going forward we're going to have to continue to work at it and probably work harder than we have in the past to make sure that we do take good care of the ball when we have it. And we're always looking for those opportunities when we can be disruptive on defense and special teams.
Q: Have you seen the instinctiveness of the defense – specifically the secondary with guys like Devin McCourty and Aqib Talib – get better as guys get more comfortable? Does that generally increase as the season goes along as players build trust and confidence?
BB: I think it can increase as the season goes along. I don't think that's a given or something you can take for granted. I think sometimes it depends on the people that are involved and the rotation and the amount of opportunity they get to practice, prepare, play and communicate together. I think over the last couple weeks, we've made some improvements back there: Steve [Gregory] coming back and as you mentioned, the move with Devin [McCourty] to safety and [Aqib] Talib, and Alfonzo [Dennard] switching sides with Talib coming back the past couple games. There are some moving parts there, but I think those guys have worked hard to try to improve it and I think there are some positive signs. We need to continue to do that. You know how quick and how fast the game is, especially at that position, just a split second of anticipation or safe reaction time can make the difference between making a play and giving up a play. Those split seconds are very hard to measure, but the difference can be the difference in the game. I do think that it's improving. I think it should continue to improve; it needs to continue. We have to really work at it, but that's everybody. It's not just the secondary: it's also the linebackers, the coaching staff and the preparation, the scout team – all those things. A lot of times, if your scout team gives you a really good look at a play in practice and then you get that play in the game, you can really almost build your timing and repetition or anticipation on, that can make a difference too. All those little things add up. I don't know where one starts and the other stops and the other starts, but they're all interrelated, they're all a function of the final end result product. We just try to incrementally improve all of them and hope that in the end the product improves.