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Transcript: Bill Belichick Press Conference 1/17
BB: It is always a great privilege to be a participant in this [AFC Championship] game. Take a lot of pride in competing for the AFC Championship this weekend. Jacksonville is a great football team. I have a ton of respect for [Doug] Marrone and what he has done throughout his career - competing against him in Buffalo when he was in our division and now in Jacksonville. The entire organization, Dave Caldwell, Tom [Coughlin] and the coaching staff, players, working against them this summer in August was a really good experience. We certainly got a lot out of it. It made us a better football team. The competition was good. Doug and his staff, Dave and the entire organization were great to work with. That r¬eally helped us. That was a long time ago. I don't think it has all that much to do with this game, but it was certainly a big part of the early part of our season and getting underway. Really in watching the Jaguars over the last two and a half days intensively, they are really good at everything. Offensively, they are at the top of the league in a lot of categories - points, yards rushing, points after turnovers and yards per completion. All of these guys have a big completion average. Defensively, again, top of the league in everything, starting with turnovers, sacks, negative plays [forced] and points, you name it. They are very good in the kicking game. They are aggressive. They have a good return team with [Jaydon] Mickens and [Corey] Grant. They have a good coverage group, good specialists. They are very aggressive. They have run fakes. They do other things that are a little bit unorthodox to keep you off-balance in that phase of the game. It is really a solid team all the way across the board. The running game has a lot of variety to it. It is very good. Between the backs, the quarterback and his role in it, it is very challenging. As I said, all of the receivers are high average per catch guys and so are the tight ends. When they throw it to them, they gain a lot of yards. That is a big challenge, too. They have great depth in their backs. They are all good. They are all explosive. [Leonard] Fournette obviously has had a great year, but when he went out last week against Pittsburgh, [T.J.] Yeldon came in and did a great job for them. Whoever is in there is going to be a problem. Like I said, the offense is a problem, the defense is a problem and special teams is a problem. That is why they are playing. They are good at everything. Good players and good coaches, a strong football team.
Q: Considering Tom Coughlin's history against the Patriots, who people are giving credit for helping bring the Jaguars along, is that a concern? What are your thoughts on that?
BB: I don't know. I look at the team, and it is a strong team. As I said, they are good in every area. Whoever is doing exactly what down there, you would have to talk to them about that. I don't know. I just know what I see on the field, and it is a very good product. I am sure they are all contributing to it.
Q: In what ways do you think Blake Bortles has progressed as the season has gone along from when he was here in August with the Jaguars to now the last two weeks in the playoffs?
BB: He's played well. He's got a very high rushing average. When he carries the ball, he carries it productively whether that's to scramble or on designed runs. He throws the ball efficiently like he did in the Pittsburgh game. He makes good decisions. He's a big, strong tough guy that's hard to bring down, hard to tackle. He's god a lot of good receivers, good tight ends, good backs. He's got a lot of weapons. A good offensive line. Offensively, as an entire unit they are very productive and they are very well balanced. He makes it all go. He's the trigger man that makes it all happen. They do a good job.
Q: You just acknowledged that they are good at everything they do. Is there anything that they don't do well that you think you can capitalize on?
BB: I think we're going to have to play our best game of the year.
Q: With the closing speed of the linebackers, how quick do they get to the guy with the ball?
BB: They run well. [Paul] Posluszny in their base defense and then [Telvin] Smith and [Myles] Jack on all downs - they are always in there. They cover a lot of ground. They are fast. More than fast though I would say they are instinctive. The find the ball, they anticipate plays well and they get a good jump on the ball. They are good tacklers and they are good at stripping the ball. Everybody is good at stripping the ball - their whole team is. Their front guys, their linebackers, their secondary - they are all good at taking the ball away with strips, interceptions, tipped balls and so forth. That's why they have so many of them. They are a very explosive group on defense. They can score when you have the ball and that's always a very threatening thing. Not only can they take the ball away but they can take the ball away and score. I think that speaks to the explosiveness of their team.
Q: In all your years working with Tom Brady, what has impressed you the most about him?
BB: Tom is very consistent. He is this year. He always is.
Q: On Sunday, the first drive of the game the Jaguars went for it on fourth down. What has been your impression with how aggressive they are?
BB: They do that. They've done that multiple times during the year very successfully. They've done it offensively. They've run several fakes in the kicking game on fourth down. It's a four-down game and we're going to have to stop them on all four downs.
Q: Does Jacksonville's aggressiveness underscore the situational awareness and preparedness not only for coaches but for players?
BB: Especially this time of year, I think we've seen a number of games that have come down to one situation, one play, one or two individuals involved in a play in that particular situation. Absolutely. I'm not suggesting that it's reckless in any way. I think it's very well calculated. They have been very successful at it. It puts a lot of pressure on their opponents, it's helped them win a lot of games and they are good at it. I'm sure they will keep doing it.
Q: The last time you played the Jaguars for the AFC title, it was an interception in the end zone and a scoop and score from your defensive backs that essentially iced the game. Do you have any specific memories of those plays or that game?
BB: It was a great game, a great win. But it was a long time ago and I don't think it really means anything right now.
Q: What are some of the common characteristics or traits of a Tom Coughlin led team?
BB: That's a tough question to answer. Doug is the head coach and I think he's done a great job down there with that team. What exact role Tom has, you would have to talk to them. I don't know.
Q: What do you see from Calais Campbell? Does it all start there with that Jaguars defense?
BB: He is a great player. He does everything well. He is hard to block in the running game. He has a lot of length, which is a problem for blocking any inside player. He plays outside and he plays inside. He is a problem both places. He is a good pass rusher. He has quickness. He has power. He is a good field goal blocker. Wherever he is on the field, he is a factor. He runs well and pursues well. A smart, instinctive player. Reads screens, draws and plays like that you try to use to slow him down or take the edge off him. He is quick to diagnose those. He is a great football player.
Q: How do you think the acquisition of Marcell Dareus has impacted the Jaguars run defense?
BB: It is just another good player on their defense. They have a lot of them. They have a lot of them up front, and Marcell is another great player. He has great size and quickness. He runs well. He can rush, is hard to block - hard to rock in the running game and hard to block in the passing game. It is a defense that has a lot of good football players, a lot of guys who are hard to block. The ones we have talked about are all right there at the top of the list.
Q: Trey Flowers is still a young player, but how have you seen him come into his own in a leadership role with some of the other players at his position?
BB: Trey does a great job for us on the field and off the field. He is a very hard worker, one of the first guys in, last to leave. He puts in a lot of extra time. I think his example of working hard, learning the game plan - he has certainly learned a lot or had to do a lot of things here that he didn't have to do in college assignment wise. He has embraced those and tried to do what is best for the team that we need him to do. I think that attitude has carried over to some of the other players who see that and take his example as an example of leadership and doing what is best for the team. Trey is a great teammate, one of the most respected guys in the locker room. The example that he sets throughout the day from the time he gets here until the moment he leaves is always positive.
Q: You have a team with a lot of players who have been in the AFC Championship Game before, but how dangerous can inexperience be, especially to a team like this that also has a lot of young players who haven't been in this spot?
BB: I have never talked about experience so I don't really think it is a relevant conversation. I think the team that plays well on Sunday, that will be the team that is victorious. I don't think experience has anything to do with that.
Q: Your players said you tell them in the locker room that experience means nothing.
BB: Well, it doesn't.
Q: Why not? Why do you not think experience helps?
BB: Because we are talking about how the teams are going to compete on Sunday. That is what is going to determine the winner in that competition. It is what happens Sunday, not what happened last year, two years ago, five years ago, 15 years ago, 1996 or whatever it is. Those games don't make any difference, with all due respect.
Q: What have you observed in the friendship that has developed between Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and QB Tom Brady? What does their relationship bring to the team?
BB: They both do a good job, a great job. Josh is a great coordinator. Tom is a great quarterback. They have been very productive for us. I think you would have to talk to them about their individual relationship. I don't think it is really my place to comment on that. They have both done a great job for the team over a long period of time. I have a great relationship with both of them and am very fortunate to have both of them in the organization working with me and for me.
Q: The Jaguars seem to be a team heavily motivated by bulletin-board material. Is this a week that you might stress to your players not to say anything the Jaguars could use as motivation?
BB: What we need to do this week is have our best week of preparation and go out and play our best game on Sunday. That is really what we need to do. Hopefully, we will be able to do that.
Q: With Malcolm Mitchell and his status, was it just a situation where just time ran out and there was too much ground for him to make up?
BB: I don't know. He is not activated so make it whatever you want to make it.
Q: What stands out about Yannick Ngakoue, particularly his ability to produce strip-sacks?
BB: He has a great motor. He is a great, really good edge rusher. He has a great get-off, a great first step. He wins a lot early in the down with his get-off, but he has a tremendous motor so even when he is blocked, he is still not really blocked because he plays relentlessly. He plays with a very aggressive and non-stop effort - seeing him making plays 30, 40, 50 yards downfield sometimes chasing the ball so it is not just rushing the passer. I know that is what shows up in the stats and it is what everyone wants to talk about, but he makes plays, like I said, 30 or 40 yards downfield on a screen pass that maybe don't show up in the stats but to me they are more impressive than some of the plays he makes behind the line of scrimmage. He plays hard. He is quick. He is a smart player. He diagnoses and is very instinctive. He sees things well. He has a tremendous motor. Read