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Wed., Aug. 24, 2016 12:00 PM to 2:00 PM EDT
Wed., Aug. 24, 2016 4:00 PM to 11:59 PM EDT
Thu., Aug. 25, 2016 12:00 AM to 11:55 AM EDT
Bill Belichick Conference Call Transcript
BB: We've dug into Atlanta here pretty good the last day and a half. They're an impressive football team. They have a lot of, good mix of good, young players along with experienced guys, guys that are very proven in this league. I think they're solid in all three phases of the game. They do a good job offensively, certainly throwing the ball with [Matt] Ryan and his receivers and tight ends. They have a good scheme, they have a lot of good players. They know what they're doing; they really know how to attack defenses. They're very productive there. [Julio] Jones is a very impressive player, strong after the catch, makes a lot of acrobatic catches and is a hard guy to tackle, can take a lot of short plays like their tear screens and under routes, things like that and turn them into big plays and long runs. [Harry] Douglas does a good job for them in the slot, Roddy White, [Tony] Gonzalez. They have a lot of weapons. Their backs run hard. [Jacquizz] Rodgers is very athletic; good runner, good receiver, [Jason] Snelling. They have good players at that position too. Defensively, they mix up their scheme quite a bit. They give you some different looks and bring pressure from different spots, different guys. Blitz zone, blitz man pressures, they have a good combination mix of zone and man coverages. They don't just sit in one thing all day. Their secondary, their young corners, [Desmond] Trufant and [Robert] Alford have done a good job for them. Experienced safeties, of course, Asante [Samuel], we know what kind of ball hawk he is out there. They have good speed underneath at linebacker; they have good team speed overall, can run well. Well coached, good program, I have a lot of respect for Thomas Dimitroff, Mike Smith and the staff down there. I think they do a real good job. It's a good football team. They've been in a lot of close games. All three games really have come down to the wire. We've seen them go right to the end and play in tough situations in all three weeks here to start the season.
Q: You got some production on Sunday from Brandon Bolden and LeGarrette Blount. When all the running backs are healthy and available, is it almost preferred to shuffle them in and out to give each guy some touches and some time and keep everybody fresh?
BB: I think there's something to be said for that. Some of that just depends on our game plan and what groups that we have in, what we're trying to do. I think that all those players are good players, they're productive players. They have, I'd say, a little different skill sets. I don't know that each of them can do all the things that the other ones can do, but they have strengths of their own that we can or try to highlight. But certainly having a good, fresh guy in there that we're confident in that can be productive for us is a good situation. I think no matter which guy is in there, we have a lot of confidence. They all can be productive and I think their skill sets are a little bit different from each other's but they're productive with the ball in their hands. They can run, break tackles and gain yardage in the running game and in the passing game.
Q: If you have an opinion, has your opinion changed at all on the currency that Thomas Dimitroff gave up to go up and get Julio Jones in the draft now that you've seen his development for two years?
BB: I think Julio has done a great job for them. He's an excellent football player, period. As a receiver, he's got good strength, good speed, good ball skills, he makes some acrobatic catches and goes up and takes the ball away from defenders, he's strong after the catch, he's a tough guy to tackle. He's also very good in the running game. He's a good blocker, he's a guy that will go in and get linebackers or safeties in the running game probably about as good as anybody in the league. It's not just his receiving skills, although they're very good, but I think he's a complete football player. I know he's a tough kid and a hard worker and it's great for their program. I'm sure that they're very happy he's on their team. He does a good job in every area.
Q: How have you seen the familiarity on defense, with only one new starter in Tommy Kelly, help the defense in the first few weeks?
BB: I think that's always a positive. It's always good when players have played with each other, particularly in game situations. Certainly in each of the three weeks, but especially the first two, we saw a number of things that took some adjustment on the field that were either new because we hadn't seen them before or they hadn't shown them before or just the newness of playing against new coordinators and new offensive styles and systems and that kind of thing. A lot of times you just have a second or two defensively when the offense comes out of the huddle and they get lined up and put a guy in motion or they line up in a different split with the receivers, a bunch formation or put the back at a different location and you just have a second or two there to make a quick decision as to how you're going to play it and communicate it and then those two or three people, whoever they happen to be, have to all be on the same page and understand it and anticipate it hopefully before it even happens, that's the best way to do it. Those things all come with experience of playing together and communication and all that. That's definitely something that over the past, I'd say, two years now, going on three, that even though we've added some new people last year like [Dont'a] Hightower, Chandler Jones, Aqib [Talib] coming in in the middle of the year, there's still a pretty good group of players from '11 and '12 and now '13 that now have played a lot of snaps together. This year has been good all the way through the spring and in training camp. Really most all those players have missed very little time, they've been out there on a regular basis, so they've continued to get better but they've also been able to work with their teammates on a consistent basis because they're all out there together working at the same time. That's how you improve and I think that's been a big benefit for us. It's great for one guy to be out there, but the guy he's working with, if that person doesn't happen to be out there, then you lose a certain amount of anticipation and communication and that type of thing that you can really move ahead on when it's the same guys are doing it continuously.
Q: You haven't allowed a point in the fourth quarter yet this season. What does that say about your ability to play well in key situation late in the game?
BB: It's been good so far but we'll see. As we all know, you're only as good as your last game. What we did against one team doesn't necessarily mean that will happen against the next time. It's starting all over again this week against a very good offense, a very explosive offense and a very experienced group. These guys have been doing this for a long time with a lot of the same players, a lot of the same coaches and system and so forth. It'll be a big challenge for us but it's been good that we've been able to finish games where we've made stops at the end to either get the ball back or keep the Jets or Tampa from scoring at the end to close the gap and get into an onside kick situation or that kind of thing. That's been good. It's something that we've preached and work hard at. We'll see whether we can continue to do it again this week. It's always a new challenge but to this point it's certainly been a positive that that group has played well for 60 minutes.
Q: What is Julian Edelman's value on punt returns, beyond the yards he gives you on the return with his ability to catch the ball and maintain ball security?
BB: Yeah, it's huge. As we all know, nothing will turn a game around quicker than a turnover in the kicking game – blocked kicks or muffed kicks – because there's so much field position involved in those plays. Julian has done a good job, for a guy who never returned punts in college, came in and learned the skills of reading the flight of the ball and the spin. Of course we get challenging conditions here through the course of the year in terms of wind and weather. That's a big part of it. Certainly he had a good mentor in Kevin Faulk in terms of learning how to watch another guy who is very good at that do that. Our special teams coaches, Scott O'Brien and Joe Judge, do a good job and work hard with him on that every day. Then Julian works hard at it, he's really become good at it. He's become an experienced player at that, which wasn't the case when he started. His confidence and his experience and his consistency at it is huge. For a guy who has never played the positions that he's playing in the NFL, he's developed and become pretty good at them.
Q: The Falcons ran the ball well last week. What are some things Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling do well? What are some of the things that Sean Weatherspoon and Kroy Biermann brought to the defense and how do you see the Falcons adjusting without them?
BB: I'll take the second question first. That was really just one game without them because they both played in the second game and then they missed the Miami game this past week. It will be interesting to see how that evolves. They signed a couple linebackers and then they played the kid, Paul Worrilow, the rookie free agent from Delaware, defensively in some of their sub packages, it looked like for Weatherspoon. They still have a real good pass rush, obviously with [Osi] Umenyiora and their defensive tackles inside, they're active in there. It will be interesting to see how that evolves. We'll have to keep our eye on that because now they have a couple other options having signed [Jamar] Chaney and [Omar] Gaither. They have a lot of players in the secondary and I'd say possibly they could get into bumping one of them down because they've got good depth at the corner and safety position as well. I'd say Rodgers has been really impressive, as he was last year. He's a good back, he's got very good quickness, he's a hard guy to tackle, he's good in the passing game and in the running game. He has good balance, he breaks a lot of tackles and he can also make people miss. Snelling is a bigger kid with good power, also has good balance and good strength. He's another challenging guy to tackle. Both of them are pretty good in pass protection. They can both handle the ball, catch the ball. Because there's so much attention obviously focused on Julio Jones and [Harry] Douglas and [Tony] Gonzalez and Roddy White, sometimes those guys are on screens and check downs and crossing routes and things like that and end up with good opportunities [and] they really take advantage of them. They've done a good job. Their skill players are very good – quarterback, running back, tight end, wide receivers, slot receivers – they've very good across the board. Read