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Transcript: New England Patriots Conference Calls 11/6
HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
November 6, 2017
Q: What makes Brian Hoyer well-suited to step in and be the backup quarterback here? Is it more than just his familiarity with the system?
BB: Yeah, well we've had him. We know what he can do. He's been productive. He's been in a lot of big games and big situations. We'll try to get him ready to go.
Q: What does it take to get him ready to go? Does the fact that he's already played so much this year help him?
BB: Well, he hasn't played for us. I think we have a lot of work to do, but he'll work hard at it and we'll see where we're at.
Q: What are your impressions of this Broncos team and what are the biggest differences from last year, both offensively and defensively, now that they have a new coaching staff?
BB: Well, defensively they've been the top ranked defense in the league. [They're] good against everything - run, pass, third down, hitting the quarterback, do a real good job in the running game, put you in a lot of long yardage situations. Offensively, they're very explosive. C.J. Anderson has had some big runs. [Demaryius] Thomas, [Emmanuel] Sanders, [Virgil] Green had a big play against the Chargers. It's a very explosive team. The same thing in the kicking game; [Isaiah] McKenzie - a very explosive returner, [Cody] Latimer along with a long field goal kicker in [Brandon] McManus. They've got a lot of guys that can hurt you in a hurry. Obviously, a very experienced team, a veteran team, knows what to do, knows how to play, has some savvy. We'll have to do a good job in all areas.
Q: How is the time during the bye week divided? How much of it is spent looking back at the past eight games and how much is used to look forward to the second half?
BB: Probably about pretty evenly. I'd say both get looked at - some things that we're doing and looked at Denver, tried to get the jump on them. I'd say it's a combination of both.
Q: With you now being one win away from tying Tom Landry for the third-most wins in NFL history, I was wondering what your background and thoughts are on Coach Landry?
BB: I didn't really have a lot of interaction with Coach Landry. I'd say most of it is kind of through [Roger] Staubach, stories that he would share, that type of thing. But I really haven't had a lot of interaction with Coach Landry.
Q: What were your thoughts on him as a coach?
BB: Well, he brought in, I would say, both offensively and defensively had two unique systems. I spent quite a bit of time in Detroit with Ed Hughes who was in the Dallas System for a long time. When he came to the Lions in 1977 I basically learned the Dallas system, so the protections, the passing game, the running game, the philosophy, the shifting and motioning, so forth. Offensively, they had quite an extensive volume of offense. They were predicated on a lot of complementary-type plays, plays that fed off of each other, that looked the same but weren't the same. Defensively, they ran the flex defense, which they were really the only team in the league that did that when I came into the league and that was very difficult to prepare for because it involved - first of all, even practicing against it was hard because practice players weren't familiar with it, weren't used to doing it, so it was hard to get a good look at it. The things that they did with the flex and the package they had off of it was pretty challenging, especially if you weren't playing them twice a year and you weren't really familiar with it in their division, and they had great players on offense. They had great players on defense. Looking at Gil Brandt and the job that he did with the personnel, he certainly should be in the Hall of Fame based on his contributions to this game and contributions to the personnel and scouting side of it. He'd probably be the first guy I would put in there. The combination of the personnel that they had, and the coaching, and their system and their I would say, development of it, development of younger players through the system, which at that time without free agency they had the ability to take a little bit extra time to get those players to fit into their system. But it was very well thought out, very disciplined, and then when I coached [Everson] Walls at the Giants he talked a lot about the Dallas system defensively, so that was kind of where I learned about the defensive side of it and learned about the offensive side of it from Coach Hughes.
Q: What are the challenges involved with doing one of these extended road trips where you stay on the road following an away game? Has the past experience of it helped at all with planning this trip next week to Colorado Springs?
BB: Yeah, I mean we'll get to that next week. Right now we're really focused on getting ready for the Broncos and going out there and competing against them this weekend. We'll kind of worry about next week, next week.
Q: Don't you have to take care of all of that type of stuff this week regarding logistics and what not?
BB: Sure, yeah. We have people in our organization that have been working on it, are working on it. I mean, it's like going to Mexico. You just don't jump on the plane and go to Mexico. There's a lot of planning that needs to go into it. Logistically it's a very challenging trip. So yeah, there are a lot of things like that. But that's really not where our focus is right now. We'll get to that when we get to that.
Q: There seems to be less of a gap between the teams as a whole this year in the NFL. Is that evident on film when you watch an opponent or is that kind of overblown?
BB: Well, I don't have the numbers right off the top of my head. You can go back and look them all up, but basically half of the games in this league are decided by seven points or less. A quarter of the games are decided by three points or less it seems like every year. You have eight divisions. Again, I can't remember exactly what the numbers are but I know that over the past few years there are a number of teams that were in the playoffs one year, that weren't in the playoffs the next year, that weren't in the playoffs the previous year that won the division that year. It's got to be somewhere near half or it's a pretty strong number. It's not just like one team. I think the competiveness of this league from week to week, from month to month, from year to year is very, very high. A lot of times it's not even who you play; it's when you play them. When you play a team at one point in the season and when you play a team at another point in the season you're not really getting the same team. That could actually be from week to week, too. But certainly teams go through phases where they're playing well and then sometimes things happen and it drops off a little bit, or vice versa, a team looks like they're not - the Chargers last week; they lost their first games and then came back and played very well and are playing really good football. To me it seems like that way every year. It seems like that way every week to be honest with you. It doesn't really matter who you play. If you don't play well then you're probably not going to do well. A lot of times it comes down to the final possession or the final play. That's the way it's been for most of our games this year. It just seems like that's the way it normally is for me.
Q: What have you seen from Shea McClellin's abilities as he works to get back healthy and do you expect to have him available this weekend?
BB: Well, Shea, like he always does, Shea works hard. Shea's a smart football player. He has a lot of position flexibility both athletically and mentally with his experience. We'll see how it all plays out, see how it all works. He works hard and can do a lot of different things on defense and in the kicking game, so we'll see how it all goes.
Q: You mentioned last week that in the last game you were a little light on the defensive line and that the linebackers were able to supplement some of that lost depth. How important is it to have guys like Kyle Van Noy or Shea McClellin that can kind of help fill in those gaps?
BB: Right. Well, that's kind of the way our linebacker group is and has been going back the last couple of years. We have the guys like Akeem Ayers and [Chris] Long and guys like that, that have been here in addition to the guys that are here so they're somewhere between linebackers - [Dont'a] Hightower - linebackers and ends, have some versatility. So, that's kind of what the makeup of that position on our team consists of to some degree. Yeah, that's one of our ways that we can build our depth there.
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR JOSH MCDANIELS
November 6, 2017
Q: What have you noticed from Phillip Dorsett since he joined the team? How is he progressing with the scheme?
JM: Yeah, Phillip - he came in and didn't really have a whole lot of extra practices from camp and the spring, like some of our guys or most of our guys did. He just kind of got thrown in there, and he's really doing a good job of working hard, working extra with Coach [Chad] O'Shea. Chad's doing a great job of trying to get him caught up on some of the things, the foundational things that you need to be able to go from one week to the next and feel like you're not learning a new offense every single week. Phillip's a smart kid, he works hard, he's got a good work ethic, good attitude and he's continued to work at playing different spots and being ready to go when his opportunities come up. Hopefully, that will continue to progress as we go through the season. I know that's what he wants. I know that's what we want, and we're looking forward to that.
Q: What have you seen in the growth of Jacob Hollister this season?
JM: Jacob works hard, he's very attentive in meetings, and when he has his opportunities, he learns one way or the other from them, as most young players do that want to get better. You know, whether it's a rep he takes and it's a good, solid rep in terms of technique and fundamentals and then he tries to make that a habit, or there's something to coach or correct and he can understand that the reason why we want him to do it a little differently and maybe more detailed in certain things that he does. His attitude is great. His work ethic is really good. He does a great job on the scout team, also. He takes every rep and tries to make the most of it, whether it's on our offense or whether he's trying to show for the defense, and all of them count. We watch all of them, we coach all of them, and he's been a steady guy that's really tried to make the most of the chances that he gets. Hopefully he'll continue to get more as we go through the year.
JM: Yeah, Jacob gives great effort at everything he does. He's not quite as big as those other two guys and hasn't had as many opportunities to do that, but he's very willing. He's a tough kid, so he'll do whatever we ask him to do to the best of his ability. We're confident in that. That position usually entails doing a lot of different things, whether it's blocking, pass protection, route running. Those types of things are all part of that position in playing in our offense, so Jake's trying to improve in all of them.
Q: What are the challenges of playing at Denver when you are calling an offense against that defense? What effect can the crowd have on that?
JM: Well, from our perspective, the defense is the most challenging part. That's an exceptional unit that's been exceptional for a number of years. We know that that's who we're playing against. You play against the opponent, not the crowd or the weather or anything like that. But, like all road stadiums and road games, you have to deal with noise on the road there, and you've got to do a good job of handling your snap count and not creating penalties for yourselves and putting yourself in long-yardage situations. Obviously, playing well is what matters. If we do a good job of going out there and trying to play well and actually accomplishing that, then you usually have an opportunity to control how bad the noise actually gets. But, the defense is the thing we're focused on. We've got to do a great job of preparing for a really, really tremendous unit from front-to-back, from back-to-front, however you want to look at it. They're really talented, they create a lot of problems for you, and playing in their stadium on the road at night, I'm sure it will be loud and that will add to the challenge. But, we've got to have a great week of preparation, go there and try to play the game the right way.
Q: How much focus do you guys put on trying to create spacing in the red zone? Is that an area of the field where you just have to get used to executing in tight quarters?
JM: Yeah, there's less room down there, that's for sure - just the nature of the field. You've moved the ball or the ball ends up down there in the red area, and you don't have as much field to work with in terms of vertically stretching the defense. They're obviously going to squat and kind of sit there near the goal line because they're not going to let you get it across very easily. So, that's just the nature of that area of the field. You always try to create as much space as you can with whatever scheme you're using against their defense, but at the end of the day, execution usually wins down there. We've got to do a better job of designing things that we can have success with, and then we've got to execute them against good teams, week-in and week-out. That's the difference between kicking field goals and scoring touchdowns most of the time. So, [you have] got to stay on track, avoid negative plays and penalties when you're down there because long-yardage situations are even worse when you're inside the red zone. Hopefully, if we can stay on track and then do a good job of executing and improving as we go throughout the course of the season, we'll have more success moving forward than we have in the past. So, it's a big point of emphasis for us. Obviously, we're playing a really good defense this week that will challenge us in every area of the field, including the red area.
Q: There have been a few red zone plays where Tom Brady would throw a pass and it was unclear who he was targeting because there were a few receivers in the same general vicinity. Is that a result of players reading the defense and running to a certain area, or is that scheme? Is there something else that they should be doing to react and create better space for themselves down there?
JM: I'm not really sure exactly what play or plays you're referring to, but if there's ever too many of us in the same area where we're trying to throw the ball, you can place the blame on myself. I mean, we don't want to design things like that. Hopefully, I can do a better job of putting us in a position where we space the field properly and give our guys an opportunity to win their matchups if that's what it is or spread the zone if that's what the team happens to be playing. No, you want to have a well-spaced out group offensively, and again, it comes down to execution and design. When those things come together and we do them well, generally we'll give ourselves an opportunity to have success.
Q: How do you think Dwayne Allen is progressing in this offense? Do you ever sense any frustration from him due to his lack of receptions and productivity?
JM: Yeah, Dwayne continues to work hard. Again, there's a lot of ways to be productive. It's not just statistically in terms of catches or rushing yardage or what have you. There's a lot of things that happen during the course of plays that allow others to have success. Dwayne's certainly embraced his role and continues to work hard and give us everything he has in the all the different areas that we ask him to do it in. Those things will come over time, I'm sure. Again, we have a lot of guys that are out there on every play, and there's only one guy that's going to get it on each snap. Like I said, he's doing a good job in terms of embracing his role and factors into the running game, pass protection, does some other things to help others get the ball and move the football offensively. He's been unselfish since he's been here, he's got a good attitude and we're glad Dwayne's here.
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR MATT PATRICIA
November 6, 2017
Q: How difficult is it to find players who can play on the edge as well as off the ball?
MP: Well I mean I think we've had those guys that have played those sort of positions here for a lot of years. I think even going all the way back to some of the guys that I coached early on here in the linebacker room, guys that could play on the edge or inside. I mean Mike Vrabel played outside, played inside and sometimes guys like Tedy Bruschi could move around also. So we've always kind of had those guys that have been able to be inside or outside or linebackers in general. There's not everybody that can do that but I would say those guys do a good job of understanding the different positions from a conceptual standpoint. I would say that from an evaluation standpoint of who can and who can't a lot of it just depends on what we're in or what we're asking them to do. Not everybody can do all the things that a guy like a [Dont'a] Hightower can do or a Vrabel can do so you're going to ask them to do what they can do. I think being ready to go and having depth through the positions like that is important for us and something we try to utilize when we can.
Q: What has stood out to you from Trey Flowers that has allowed him to make the progression he has in his first three seasons in the league?
MP: I think what stands out first and foremost about Trey is his work ethic and his work attitude. I think from day one that he walked in the door I would say that he's a guy that really tries to pay attention to the details, someone that really works hard to understand the game both on the field and off the field. He's certainly someone that is on the practice field after practice, before practice, during training camp, trying to get extra reps of whatever skill set it is that he's trying to work on that particular day whether it's his run technique or his pass rush ability or whatever the case may be. So I think that's first and foremost what stands out about Trey is his work ethic and his approach to how he handles himself as a professional and to getting better. The classroom is the same. For him I think it's something that he works extremely hard at and for a guy that can do a couple different things for us. His understanding of what we do, I think it's along the natural progression. There's not that many guys that just come in and right away, on the whole if you look at everybody, that just play all the snaps immediately. So he's a guy that falls into that category. Someone that's worked really hard to try to earn himself some play time on the field and has shown the consistency to be out there as much as we can get him out there and put him in those positions. I would definitely say his work ethic and the way that he approaches the game is great.
Q: Is there any level of concern with Trey Flowers increased playing time?
MP: Yeah, I mean it's hard to really pinpoint anything specific there other than the fact that week in week out it's going to be different as far as what we're doing and what we're trying to get done. I think from the standpoint that you're trying to win the game that week and do whatever we can to put everybody in the right position to win. There's been years, again, where our ends have never come off the field. There's been years where we've had the ability to move guys in and out of positions based on things that we're doing and certainly what we're trying to do is just based on the game plan for that week. It's just really something for us it's probably specific by the week of what we're trying to get done and what're we're doing from a defensive standpoint. Like I said there's guys that play all the time, there's guys that play once in a while, there's guys that rotate in and out and all of it is just trying to be in a mode to put ourselves in the best situation to win that week.
Q: What do you see from Brock Osweiler now as opposed to his first stint in Denver? With Mike McCoy, are they approaching this game differently or are there some similarities that you can use from your experience against him both back in Denver and Houston?
MP: Well with Mike, starting with him, I think he does a great job with all the offenses that he's run and obviously going back to the Chargers when we played him out there a couple years ago. He does a really good job of understanding the weapons that he has as the players that he has around him and trying to utilize those guys to the best of his ability and get them the ball. Certainly Brock is someone we played against a couple times and a guy who has had some success against us. He's a big guy, does a good job of keeping his eyes downfield, he's tough, he's strong in the pocket. We've definitely had some good hits on him and he's bounced up and really been able to stand in there and make some decent throws and read the coverage and get the ball to the right guy. So I think for a player who's moved around a little bit, been in a couple of different systems, had a couple of different coordinators, he's a guy that can step in at any time and be productive. Obviously at the game with Philly [he was] getting back into the swing of things. I think he's got a great cast of players around him that they're going to utilize. It's very difficult for us to go out to Denver and play. It's an extremely hard place. It's a great environment if you love football but it's a hard place to play if you're the opposing team. So he's going to be able to use that to his advantage out there and be able to put themselves in a particular play or scheme based on what we do. I think C.J. Anderson is running the ball extremely well right now with [Jamaal] Charles. You'll see him in there. Obviously, [Devontae] Booker and those guys that have been able to rotate through on tape. So the run game is great for them. He'll use that to his ability to slow the game down and control it. Then certainly the skill players, [Demaryius] Thomas and [Emmanuel] Sanders, obviously being two great wide receivers for them that are very, very dangerous. This is an explosive team that can really hurt you at any time so you've got to make sure that you're fundamentally sound there. Then I think what they've done a good job of is with the tight ends and I think that's always something that they've used well when we've played them whether it's [Virgil] Green or [A.J.] Derby and get the ball to those guys and have a matchup that they like. They'll formation you a couple different ways to try to get a particular matchup that they then can get the ball out to those guys in space. Very dangerous team. Very explosive team. I think Brock does a great job of managing that and getting the ball to the guys that he needs to get it to in those situation. Using the run game which obviously has been great for them this year. I think that'll be a huge challenge for us out there.
Q: What have you seen from the Broncos offense over the last five or six games versus the first two games in terms of what has inhibited their ability to score points on a consistent basis?
MP: Well you know obviously you give credit to some of the teams that they've played. I think those guys have played them pretty well but I mean this offense moves the ball pretty well. I think one of the things for us is going to be exactly what you said - trying to do a great job of keeping them out of the end zone, which is what we try to do every week. It's a very difficult task but having so many guys back and guys that for their system falling back into place where they play and creating enough problems for you defensively is really where I think they're back to or getting back to right now. Osweiler along with his ability to move, he stands in the pocket and he's tall and he's long and he can take those tough throws inside but he also has the ability to get out. [Trevor] Siemian obviously is another guy who is a really good athlete. [He] can run for a first down, get out of the pocket, move around, extend plays. I think those are the situations that they will get to and that we've got to be ready to handle where now those skill players get those matchups that they want and maybe an extended-type situation where now they can get the ball to them in the red area. Again like I had mentioned, their backs and tight end those are big keys for them also. Some of the matchups that they get there they can take advantage of, especially when they get the tight ends on the back side and singled-up coverage in situations like that. So I think, again, they've been able to move the ball. I think they've been able to control the game. I think, again, when you're out there in Denver it's a different deal certainly for us where we're going to have to be able to play that type of game and prevent them from scoring down in that red area.
Q: You've mentioned a couple times the words "different" and "difficult" relating to playing in Denver. Can you extend on what you mean by that?
MP: I just think, again, we've always had some tough games out there. They've played us extremely well when you're at home and you've got to travel out to Denver. For our situation that's a tough place to play - just the environment and the atmosphere. It's what it is when it's on the road but we deal with it week in week out. But I think they have a great fan base out there that really gets behind the team and those guys play well at home in those situations against us. That's the difficult part. Like I said before, if you look at this team and what they can do and the weapons that they have, it's definitely - they create some big challenges for us. Like I said, [C.J.] Anderson is running the ball extremely well. They have a great change-of-pace guy with [Jamaal] Charles and [Devontae] Booker in there also. [Demaryius] Thomas who's obviously one of the better wide receivers in the league. He's a big guy, he can go get the ball, he can jump up and go get it. Then [Emmanuel] Sanders who's a big problem. He's a versatile route runner. [He] does a good job of finding space. He can catch the ball on the move and create big plays. The skill positions - these guys do a great job at that. Read