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Bill Belichick Transcript 8/16: 'The team played with good energy and competitiveness'
BB: Well, after going through the film this morning there were a lot of good things and a lot of things we need to correct, kind of as expected. But I thought last night the team played with good energy and competitiveness throughout the game for all four quarters. We had a couple plays at the start and had some plays at the end, where we were able to make a stop at the goal line and run out the clock at the end of the fourth quarter. I thought they competed for 60 minutes. I thought we had a real good week of practice with the Eagles. It was really valuable for the progress of our team. The practices and the game combined, I would say probably were as productive as any week we’ve had with any team in training camp since we’ve been doing this. Coach [Chip] Kelly and his staff and the Eagles and their players, it was a real good working environment that was productive and competitive but not over the top where anybody was really put in any unnecessary risk or any type of after the whistle or cheap shots or anything like that, it was really good. This week we’re back working with ourselves. It will be a good week for us to get back into that mode because that’s the way it’s going to be for the rest of the year, and start getting ready for Carolina. There are still a lot of things we need to clean up on our end and continue to install and develop as we go through the closing stages here of the preseason. We need to make a lot of decisions, we need to take these last couple weeks. We have a cut coming up in a little over a week and then these last couple weeks to get our team ready to go for the 16-game regular season schedule. It’s a busy time for the coaches and players, juggling a lot of balls. It’s that time of year where we’ll just take it one day at a time and try to push through it.
Q: Wondering what you saw on a few plays after reviewing them that were maybe hard to see live. Who did you see jarring that ball free on the first Eagles play – Malcolm Butler or Dont’a Hightower or a combination of the two?
BB: Probably a combination of the two. I haven’t seen the TV copy, so I just looked at the coaches copy which is pretty high up. My eyes aren’t what they used to be, so. It looked like both guys were involved in it and I’d say both had a hand in it.
Q: Did you think the ball was out on Stevan Ridley or was his knee down? That one looked close on the TV copy.
BB: I agree it was close.
Q: And how about Julian Edelman on the sideline there? Did it look like he maybe got in?
BB: Yeah, it looked close. You can see some of the black pellets come up, but again, I haven’t see the TV copy. I just watched the coaches, but on the coaches copy it looked like a real close play.
Q: Can you talk about Jordan Devey and how he’s responded to the extended time he’s been getting on the offensive line? What have you seen from him?
BB: Last night Jordan worked at right guard and left tackle. He’s really played all positions along the line at some point in camp, but more at guard than tackle. I think he’s improved a lot from last year. He’s had a good offseason. He’s worked really hard. He’s a smart guy. His fundamentals have improved. His strength is better. His offseason program was very productive. Harold Nash and Moses [Cabrera] and their program, he really was able to take advantage of that and put himself in a very competitive position. He got a lot of snaps last night. We tried to give everybody a good look. Fortunately we had, I think it was over 90 plays or whatever it was – we had a lot of them, plus all the practices. We tried to give all these guys on the offensive line a good look. I think it’s a real competitive group. They all work hard. They all have shown up well from time to time. We’ll probably have some tough decisions there.
Q: Just to stick with the offensive line, we saw a few plays last night where it looked like you used an offensive lineman as a tight end. Looked like Nate Solder and Josh Kline both got to play that role. How do you guys decide which offensive linemen are best suited for that?
BB: That’s a great question. When we decide to do that, which with last night we only had one tight end really active for the game, so we were on a little bit on thin ice there. So yeah, it’s a good question because none of those players are really here to play tight end. They’re here to play center, guard or tackle, whatever the offensive line position or a combination is. So which guy we move to tight end, that’s kind of a function of who’s available, who would cause the least disruption in the offensive line, combined with which player has the best skills to play on the end of the line. I’d say it comes down to a combination of those two things. Ideally your sixth lineman would be not one of your starters who could come in and go out. But if it’s not him and it’s some kind of juggling where you put one of your starters out there, then you bring somebody in then that causes a little juggling on the line and a player has to go out to come back in at his position for a play and so forth. But we’ve done it both ways. It’s just trying to find the best combination of those. We’ve had a number of guys work at that spot – two last night, but we’ve used others and at times, as you know, in the past we’ve used defensive linemen like Mike Vrabel and guys like that. It just creates a little more depth for us and gives us the ability to manage the game, but there are some moving parts and we have to try to work those out.
Q: What are some of the skills that make a guy more fitted to work at the end of the line in that position?
BB: Well, in the running game you have to be able to block the end of the line of scrimmage. So, blocking the outside linebackers, blocking defensive ends, blocking the stunts that come out there, and then of course the mental part of it is a little bit different too. The tight end flips sides, from left to right, and the numbering of the plays changes and so forth. Whereas when you’re just playing one position, whether it’s right guard or right tackle or whatever it happens to be, a guy’s always in the same place and he doesn’t move and you get used to a numbering system or terminology that’s more consistent and stays the same for those guys all the time. But when you’re a tight end and you’re moving, then one time you’re on one side and one time you’re on the next side. And the terms in the running game and the passing game, whether it’s running plays or protections or possibly routes, not an extensive route tree but possibly routes, those get into some more learning. The wheel starts to spin a little faster when you add that volume in addition to a regular line position. So there’s some learning, there are some techniques that are different. The further away from the line of scrimmage you are, it’s different from guard to tackle, tackle to tight end. There’s just more space, further way, you see different things and it’s a little bit different. And footwork, the ability to block the edge, whether it’s in the running game or pass protection, dealing with faster, quicker players, which are usually guys that are lined up there on the outside as opposed to the guys that are lined up over the guard. It’s a little different look and a little different skill set of the people that you’re blocking.
Q: On the Stevan Ridley fumble or a play similar to that where the referee has ruled the player down, do you count that as a minus for that player because it was so close to a situation you want to avoid? Also, I believe Steve Beauharnais has led the team in tackles the first two games. Is that a fair assessment of what you've seen out of him so far in training camp and what he's brought to the defense?
BB: I'll start with the second question first. I think that stats can be relevant certainly, but I also think they can be misleading. There is a significance to them. I'm not saying that. But, I certainly don't think by any means do they tell the whole story and there are a lot of players that do their job very, very well without having a lot of big stats and there are other players that that have some stats that are a little bit circumstantial and again, don't tell the whole story. For us, the evaluation is the evaluation based on the total number of plays, the overall performance of the player in those plays and we break it down specifically and then try to instruct the player on what he did well and what he needs to improve upon and what happened on each individual play relative to him doing his assignment and executing it – knowing his assignment, knowing what to do and then executing it. That's kind of how, if I could summarize it – I don't think statistics themselves, whether they be on offense or defense, by any means tell the whole story. I’m not saying they're meaningless. It’s somewhere in the middle there. We always talk about ball security, taking care of the ball. There's nothing that correlates more to winning and losing than turnovers, so that's always a high priority for us. We never want the ball out and on the other side of the ball defensively and in the kicking game, we always try to get it out. Sometimes when we get the ball out, we don't recover it or sometimes when we get it out they blow it dead but we always want to try to do that. The same goes true for the offensive side of the ball. We don't want plays where they end up with the ball, whether they're ruled in our favor or not. Guys that have an interception in their hands but drop it or plays where the ball gets away from us, whether we recover it or it goes out of bounds or they recover it, those are all plays we're trying to avoid, obviously. They do matter. So do the ones that, same thing on defense, the plays that we get out, we don't get them all but the more we get them out, the more we'll get, so they are significant.
BB: Well, most of the time when Logan and Kyle were in there at safety – I mean first of all, the Eagles were in multiple receiver sets the majority of the game. There were some plays where they were in two tight ends and two wide receivers, but even in those situations a lot of the times the tight end was a very good receiver, more of a pass-receiving tight end. A lot of their two tight end formations really played like three receivers and one tight end. Even their three receiver sets kind of played like four receivers because they still had a good tight end in there. That inside position that Logan and Kyle played, I would say relates more to the nickel position that they play in sub defense than it does to the safety position in a regular defense against a two receiver set. I'm not saying that there isn't some application of both but because it's a multiple receiver team that nickel position, the slot guy, could either be on that receiver or he could be playing some type of zone coverage more like a safety. It's against that type of personnel group that we've done it; a lot of other teams in the league do it too. So it's not really nickel but it's not really your regular defense, it's a little bit of a hybrid there to try to match up against the multiple receivers that that offense has on the field. I think they've both done a good job with it. Logan's played some safety for us in the past, so has Kyle. They’ve both played that position – that fourth defensive back. It's not really anything that's that new to them. It definitely has a lot of carryover for them from when we are in our nickel defense and they play in the slot.