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Transcript: Bill Belichick Conference Call 10/30
Q: When you watched the Chargers' first field goal attempt, could you tell if Lawrence Guy got a hand on it?
BB: Yeah, he did. Yeah, I think you can tell by the way the ball fluttered there it went off course. But, yeah, he said he got it and I think he got it.
Q: So that's consecutive weeks with a field goal block. What is your thought on the field goal block unit being able to produce those results?
BB: Good. Those guys work really hard, they give great effort. With all the rules that have passed that make it so difficult to get any kind of pressure at all on a field goal, those guys have taken advantage of what are the remaining opportunities, probably before they find some way to take those out to put pressure on that kick.
Q: Is there still a chance that Malcolm Mitchell could come back from IR this year?
BB: Yeah, I don't know. We'll have to see how it goes. There's still a lot of football left. Guys that are eligible to come back - I mean, that could potentially be eligible to come back or working hard to trying to get better - they're improving, so we'll just see where all that takes us. I don't know.
Q: How much improvement have you seen from Kyle Van Noy since he arrived last year to be able to move around the defense and take on different roles?
BB: Yeah, Kyle's done a great job for us of doing that. He's showed a lot of versatility, leadership, done a great job as a signal caller with the defense, so he's been a real valuable player for us in a multiple number of roles. He's been excellent.
Q: Lawrence Guy and Cassius Marsh had shown the ability to block kicks before they joined the Patriots. Is that a bonus when you acquire a player, on either side of the ball, and he can also make key plays on special teams? Or is that part of the consideration when you evaluated those guys before acquiring them?
BB: Well, I mean, just specifically the kick blocking, when you put that team together, you try to put together players on it that you feel can have a chance to be productive in the positions that you put them in, whether that's rushing with power, rushing with length, using their quickness to get through a gap - whatever it happens to be. So, you take the players that are available and you use the best ones. I don't think you assign a player or draft a player, bring a player onto your roster because he's a field goal blocker. I mean, he's got to be of more value than that, which there is with both those players. I mean, they both have a significant role on defense and Marsh has a significant role in the kicking game in some of the other phases. So, again, not saying it's not important because it is important, but as far as a roster spot, I think that would be a luxury that I don't think teams can afford.
Q: Beyond accuracy on field goal and extra point tries, how valuable is it to have a placekicker that can pin teams deep on kickoffs?
BB: Right, yeah. Again, the kickoffs, that's an important play. In a lot of cases, as it relates to the field goals, I mean, there is no kickoff if you don't make the kick. So, kicking the ball through the uprights is No. 1. Kickoffs is not to say a distant second, but it's definitely second to kicking it through the uprights for the kickers. But, both plays are important. Our kickoff coverage unit certainly has benefited from the excellent kickoffs that Stephen [Gostkowski] has given us all year, so not only the location, but the hang time. And, he's put a lot of pressure on those returners when they catch the ball right there on the goal line, 1-yard line, whether to bring it out or stay in. You know, they're looking down, they're trying to make sure they make the right decision instead of being aggressive sometimes with catching the ball and looking at the blocking scheme and so forth. So, there are a lot of little things that come into play there, but Steve's done a good job of all those and our coverage team has taken advantage of those opportunities and created the good field position for our defense. So, there's nothing better defensively then going in there on a long field and having them backed up. We just defensively have to do a good job to take advantage of that.
Q: Was the decision to leave Stephon Gilmore off the game day roster a medical or coaching decision?
BB: Well, we listed him on the injury report the way we always do. We make those designations on Friday and then based on where things are on Sunday, then we make the determination. I think, when he's ready and able to play and able to do everything, then I'm sure he'll be able to help us. We're working towards that point. We're getting closer and we'll see when we get there.
Q: How do you feel Rob Gronkowski has responded to the work load he's been given?
BB: Good. Rob's worked hard, he practices hard and yeah, he's done a good job for us in there.
Q: With a player like Rob who is so involved on every play, how cognizant do you have to be of his usage and his ability to finish out games strong?
BB: Well, again, we have to try to do what we feel like is best for the team, so that's what we try to do - take a lot of things into consideration. That's playing time, plays, assignments, personnel groups and so forth. So, we just try to make the best decisions that we can for the team. I mean, if I knew what play any player was going to be injured on, we'd take him out for that play. I don't know how we could know that in advance, so there's no way to ensure or predict that, but again, I think if a players' in good condition and he's trained well and he's physically and mentally ready to play, then a very, very high percentage of the time, those guys play. But, occasionally things happen and unfortunately that's part of football.
Q: Do you know if Chris Hogan avoided a serious injury yesterday that would threaten his season? Do you have that information?
BB: No. When we give our injury report next week, we'll include all the players on it that need to be included on it, like we always do. So, you can be sure that anybody that should be listed on the injury report will be. I don't know which players those will be, but that's what the injury report is for.
Q: Did the Chargers bring a safety down in the box for a majority of their plays on defense? If so, was that unusual or something you guys had to adjust to?
BB: I would say it's pretty standard. Somewhere around 90 percent - I mean, depending on what down and distance we're talking about here - but on early downs, over 90 percent [have a] single high safety. The other safety, or depending on the formation, but their basic philosophy defensively is to put one more in the box than you have, whether that's man or zone, which is the way that Seattle plays it, which is the way that Atlanta plays it with [Dan] Quinn, which is the way that Coach [Gus] Bradley played it at Jacksonville, and that's pretty much what we saw yesterday from Los Angeles. So, however many guys you have, they're going to have one more. And, if it's a three-receiver set, that could be the safety, it could be the nickel back, but they're going to have another guy down there, one more than you have, with a six-technique on tight end and everybody else in a one-gap, gap-control defense. That's what they do. I mean, whether it's over or under, it's still the same principle, and it's mostly over. It's the same principle defensively. I don't think that's going to change too much from that general system of defense.
Q: Is there value is sticking to the run, even when you might be outnumbered? For example, on the second drive, Dion Lewis had a couple of stuffed runs, but you kept with it. Is that because it helps you to give the threat of the run to open up other things, like the touchdown to Gronkowski?
BB: Well, I mean, most of the teams we play are going to put one more player in the box than what you have offensively. That's a pretty fundamental way of playing defense in this league. Not saying it's 100 percent, but it's by far and away the majority. So, we're going to see that every week. We have seen it every week. We're certainly going to see it next week, without question. I mean, that's the way it's going to be all year. So, you know, we didn't have very much production in the running game - three yards a carry. I mean, even though the numbers are what they are, when you run the play, there's one or two players in the front that really aren't in position to make the tackle, so in the end, you have enough blockers to block the people at the point of attack. I mean, look, you can't get everybody. You've got a ball carrier and you've got a quarterback, so that's nine against 11. So, you can't get a hat on every hat on the field, but you can get a hat on a hat at the point of attack in the running game. In the end, you have to block them. At some point, a good back needs to gain some yards on his own and break a tackle or make somebody miss on a player that's not blocked. So, we've got to do a better job of running the ball, period. That's coaching the running game, designing the running game, blocking the running game, running the ball and all the other things associated with it. [We] need to have more production than what we had yesterday or, I'd say, what we had overall over a period of time. We need to get more out of it.
Q: With the trade deadline coming up, is it important to have a good working relationship with a front office you might be negotiating with? Do you find yourself exchanging calls with front office people you may know a little better, or does that not play a huge factor in your opinion?
BB: Well, generally speaking, I think there are some teams that most teams aren't going to be involved with - you know, probably their direct competitors in this type of a situation. Not saying it can't happen, I just would say that's a little more unusual. I mean, beyond that, some teams you have more conversations in the league with them than others, but in the end, I'm sure personnel departments in the league are doing the same thing. You look at your roster, you look at the players who are not on your roster - whether they're on your practice squad or whether they're on some other team's practice squad or whether they're not on anybody's team - and you put together a list of players that, if you had a need arise, would be the group of players that you go to. And, in conjunction with that, you look at the rosters of the other 31 teams in the league, and based on what you know, other information that you gather, the inactive list every week and the play time, you can start to see which players have a diminished role in another team's system, for whatever those reasons are. And, a lot of times if a team has a need in an area and they match that up with another team who's not making a player active that the team with the depth issue feels like that player could give them depth, well then that's a potential conversation. It doesn't mean it's going to happen, but that's a potential conversation. So, for example in the [Akeem] Ayers trade with Tennessee a couple of years ago, Akeem wasn't getting much playing time down there, was inactive for - I forget however many games it was, but it was for a couple games - and when we inquired about him or they mentioned it to us, however it went - I mean, look, if you're making a player inactive every week and you can gain something in return on a trade, then maybe there's something to talk about there. I don't know. So, again, every situation is different, every team is different, every player's situation is different. I mean, there's no go to the book on trades. OK, chapter one, here's how it goes. It just doesn't really work that way. It's a very fluid situation. Things can change literally in a period of minutes, and I mean, that's the world we live in, and there are a lot of things in that situation that are out of our control, out of any team's control. I mean, anytime you're trying to exchange players, you have to find somebody else that you can find the right or fair exchange with that both teams feel is fair so that they'll do it. So, that's, I would say, in this business, not the easiest thing to do. There's a lot of learning and communication and system pick up or familiarity that plays into the whole player exchange, so in a way, the player that you have that knows the system, knows what he's doing, knows everything that he needs to do in your system has a good value to you. That's what you put all the time and training into. So, if you get another player that doesn't have that, there's got to be enough to offset it or enough of a need to go through that. So, each one's different. I wouldn't try to read too much into any of it. I think trying to predict what's going to happen this time of year is - I don't have any idea. I'm sure a lot of the other experts out there do, but I don't. So, you just take it as it comes. If it makes sense and it works, then great. If it doesn't, it doesn't. Read