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Belichick Conference Call Transcript 11/3: 'Huge challenge coming up with the Colts'

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his conference call on Monday, November 3, 2014.

Q: On the play where you had the punt team on the field and then decided to send the offense out, I know you have to allow the defense to substitute in a situation like that, but Tom Brady was wondering why the officials wouldn't let the ball be snapped a little bit quicker. I was wondering what your take was on that. I also wanted to ask you about the challenge flag you threw in the fourth quarter and what went into that decision, with the risk of losing the timeout versus having first-and-goal from the one-yard line?


BB:** The challenge, I think that was the right call on the field, so it wasn't a real good call by me. I obviously saw him not – when he hit the ground and rolled into the end zone, I looked at that and saw that he didn't get touched there, but he definitely got hit on the way up. So then when he landed that was really the tackle. I thought the officials made a real good call on that. That was a poor challenge on my part. The other play, you have to ask the officials about that. I mean, obviously teams have the opportunity to substitute in the kicking situation, so when we thought they subbed, no problem. How much time is granted, that's at the discretion of the officials. I'd say the play wasn't very well executed on our end regardless of all that part of it. We just didn't do a good enough job. Again, that's really on me: not very good coaching, not very good execution. It wasn't done the way we wanted to do it. I have to do a better job of that. It's not good enough coaching.

Q: Looking at the role that Akeem Ayers played last night, he gave you a lot of time on the field. When you acquired him, is that something you felt like you had a pretty good certainty of, 'We can slide this guy in here and got some pretty good stuff out of that?' Or is that something that really came to life once you got him in the building?

BB: I'd say a little bit of both. Akeem played quite a bit his first three years in Tennessee. I think he was somewhere around the 80 percent playtime range, something like that. So he's been on the field a lot. He's played a lot of snaps, then not so much this year. Whenever you get a player that you don't know like that, it wasn't like when we brought Deion Branch in from Seattle or that kind of situation at all. We didn't really know Akeem, so we've had to introduce him into our system and work with him, practice with him and so forth. He's done a real good job. He's picked things up quickly. He's a sharp kid, works hard, very attentive, really wants to get things done right and tries to do them and communicates well with the defense. Part of that is us being familiar with him, him getting familiar with the defense, the players' communication, etcetera which, obviously, the defense was putting a lot of stress in that last night against [Peyton] Manning and the Broncos offense. I'd say it's a little combination of both. We'd seen him do it before, but not with us. There was definitely a gap to close here.

Q: What did you guys do to put Dan Connolly at left guard and Ryan Wendell at right guard, knowing the experience Dan has on the right side? What did you see that made you go in that direction? What do you think of the progress of the line overall over the past month?


Team photographer, David Silverman, offers his best from the Patriots-Broncos game at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, November 2, 2014.

BB:** Dan played guard for the better part of the year when Logan [Mankins] was out in whatever year that was, 2010. So, he's played all three spots. I think there are a number of things that went into that decision relative to those players, other players – much longer than what we have time for right now. But just suffice it to say, I feel like on all of our personnel decisions and all decisions on the team we try to do what's best for the team and each individual player, but ultimately we have to put the team ahead of the player and so we do what we feel is best for the team. And so that would be the case in every personnel decision and move is to try to benefit the team. Dan's done a great job of doing whatever we've asked him to do, whether it's play guard, play center, return kickoffs, play in the kicking game on field goal. Whatever it is, he's done a great job for us. How's it gone? I mean, we have our moments. Sometimes it's good, other times it could be better. We certainly need to improve in every area of our offense: offensive line, skill positions, running game, passing game. I think we've got a lot of areas that we can improve in. We'll work on those and individually all of our players and coaches, we can all do a better job. We need to do that. That will be our emphasis this week.

Q: I know we've asked you about the leap that Zach Moore has had to go through coming from a Division II school, but how have you seen Malcolm Butler handle the adjustment to the pro game? Have you seen anything out of him, especially over the last few weeks here? He's been active and getting some time for you guys.

BB: Yeah, I think that's a real good question. I think those two guys are different, but also very similar in the, I would say, gap from where they were when they came to our team in – well Zach ahead of Malcolm, but only by a few weeks – but when they came to our team in the spring and their progression through the spring, training camp and halfway through the season. Yeah, I think there was a huge gap for those guys in terms of everything really, all the things that we've talked about. It's everything. They've both really worked hard and been diligent about it. They've been on the field virtually every day, not missing reps, continuing to improve and get better, but with a long way to go and still a long way to go. But they've accomplished a tremendous, their accomplishments have been tremendous given how far back they've come from in terms of experience and knowledge and technique and program – everything: level of competition, you name it. They've really both competed very well and closed that gap considerably. But they still both have a long way to go. Malcolm, as you said, had some time last night. He's had some production for us this year and also in the preseason games when he had opportunity to play more. He keeps working to get better and we have good competition in the secondary. We'll just see how it all plays out. It may play out differently from week to week, I don't know.


Q:** Special teams played a big part in the game last night. We haven't had a chance to talk to you about Scott O'Brien and Joe Judge in terms of the work they do with those units. What are your thoughts on what they're doing to help those units be successful?

BB: Yeah, Scott and Joe do a great job. They work really hard. They coach every player: the guys that are playing, the guys that aren't playing, the guys that are on the look teams every week, the guys that are on the practice squad. I think that all collectively helps us. Even the guys that we're working against are getting better, which makes the guys that are playing work harder and get better and so forth. We've integrated some new guys into those units. I mean [Jonathan] Casillas had a real good night for us last night with his play on the special teams: tackles and coverage and return units and protection and so forth. Guys like that, Ayers last week on the punt team, this week. It's all those, all the above. Working with, bringing on guys with less experience, new guys, our veteran players. We've gotten good production out of those guys, guys like [Matthew] Slater and [Brandon] Bolden and [Julian] Edelman and Tavon [Wilson] and Chris White, all those guys that have been, [Kyle] Arrington, that have been big core guys for us all the way through, and other guys that have come in and supplemented that. Obviously Steve [Gostkowski] is hitting the ball really well, at least field goals last night, but overall he's had a very consistent year. Those guys do a great job. I'm really, really lucky to have both of them on the staff. They do a tremendous job.

Q: What's the plan for this week?

BB: We could use a month if we had it. There are a lot of things we need to work on. I think there's a lot of, there's obviously a huge challenge coming up with the Colts, playing in Indy and playing a great football team. They have a good team. But just in general, there are so many things that we need to improve on fundamentally, scheme-wise, in our different units, three, four guys working together on different things. There are a lot of areas that we need to address and will address. We have players that are in various stages of either coming back from injury or new to the team or being brought up from the practice squad or whatever their situation is, we have a number of guys that have fallen into that category that we need to continue to work into the system and have them elevate their play and timing, communication with their teammates so that we can have better production and more efficiency. There are things that we need to look at as a coaching staff. [There are] some things that are going well, but they're not going to last forever. We're going to have to find other things to do. [There are] some things that aren't going well that we're going to have to improve on and so forth. We have a lot of work to do. We'll get as much done as we can here and then be ready to go out to Indianapolis. We know that's going to be hard.

Q: How valuable is the time, especially for the three new guys in Ayers, Alan Branch and Casillas, given that they now have a week to kind of get caught up to speed a little bit without having to worry about a game on Sunday?

BB: Yeah, I think it's definitely a great opportunity for them and a lot of other guys, too. As I said, guys that have come up from the practice squad in recent weeks or guys that are even on the practice squad that maybe [are] a day or two or a game away from being out there and playing like they have been. So, yeah, all that. It's important for even the guys that have been playing together. We've had some changes on the defensive line, some changes at linebacker, we've certainly had some changes on the offensive line, we've had changes at running back. We've had fewer changes at receiver, but still some there. There's just a lot of, there's still a lot of moving parts on our end that we need to sharpen up and the guys you mentioned, yeah absolutely, they're probably at the top of that list. But there's a lot of, just about everybody else is part of it, too. We, to be honest, still feel like we left a lot of points on the field last night in terms of our overall execution offensively: missed guys in the deep part of the field, dropped the ball, couldn't convert on short-yardage and then some of the same things on defense. We were fortunate that we had some third and fourth down stops and plays, which those included red area, but we gave [up] a lot of yardage in the passing game. There were a lot of open receivers. We were fortunate that the running game for Denver wasn't like it was the last couple times we played them. We did a more consistent job on that, but there are a lot of things that we need to tighten up. Really, it extends to everybody. Like the guys you mentioned are obvious, but I think it extends to everybody, including the coaching staff. We have to do a better job of helping the players play better, helping the players get in better spots so they can be more productive. That's part of our job. We all have a lot of work to do.

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