PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK CONFERENCE CALL
Q: What have you seen from Todd Bowles' defense?
BB:They have a lot of talented players, and it's kind of [Leonard] Williams for [Quinton] Coples, but it's really pretty much the same defense. They put pressure on you. There's a good amount of pressure with extra linebackers and then there are times when they bring secondary players as well. I'd say that's consistent with what they did in Arizona and even a little bit in Miami, so not really anything dramatically different from what we've seen from him in the past, but they are doing it very well and they have good players at every position, so that will definitely be a big challenge for us.
Q: Is Darrelle Revis playing as well as he has throughout his career? Is Bowles using him any differently?
BB:He's had some production, interceptions and recovered fumbles, plays like that. There are times when he's matched, [and] there are times when he hasn't matched, so I think that's probably a game plan thing. Obviously, they'll do whatever they think is best. I don't think anything dramatically different from what we've seen from him in the past. [Antonio] Cromartie, those two guys play off each other. There's not a whole lot that's dramatically different.
Q: With Darrelle Revis, does it benefit a player when they play for the Patriots and then go to another team and play against the Patriots? Does that also work the other way, where having a guy in the building, you know him better and can game plan better against him?
BB:Well, I think it's probably all of the things you just mentioned really. What we know, we know. What they know, they know. It comes up every week, so there are always players on our team or other teams that have been with other organizations – we've played against them, or they've been with us, or whatever it is, so it's really a weekly thing. And whatever we know about the player, we know about them. Whatever they know about us, they know about us. It honestly is basically every week, so it's not like we have a big conference or big meeting about, "This guy was here and now he's there." We could have that, we could go on and on about that on a weekly basis.
Q: What do you think of Brandon Marshall's impact on the Jets' offense?
BB:He's a big mismatch receiver. They get the ball to him in different situations, certainly single coverage. It looks like that's the matchup they will go to, really any time – first down, third down, red area. He's a big player, he's a physical receiver, he can go up and get the ball and he's a hard guy to tackle. I think he's done a good job for them.
Q: Do you plan on getting Brandon LaFell up to speed coming off the PUP list?
BB:Yeah, we probably will. We'll probably talk about that a little more today when we get with the trainers and see how the workouts went today and so forth. It's definitely something that we will be talking about now with players that are in that category, but we haven't made a final decision on that. But those are definitely possibilities, really all three guys.
Q: How do you look at defending their offense and Ryan Fitzpatrick?
BB:They've done a good job offensively. It definitely starts with the running game and [Chris] Ivory. He's done a good job for them and been one of the best backs in the league, runs hard, tough guy to tackle, really physical player. [Zac] Stacey has done a good job for them, too. Fitzpatrick does a good job, I mean he's obviously a smart player, uses his skill players well, gets the ball to all of them – [Eric] Decker, Marshall, [Jeremy] Kerley, [Devin] Smith, whoever it happens to be. The tight ends, they use them, too, so I don't think there are a lot of plays designed for Fitzpatrick to run, but he has run on a number of occasions for critical first downs, on third down, or has moved around to extend plays, so he's done a good job of decision making in terms of throwing the ball to open guys or extending plays, or running with the ball to convert when those opportunities weren't available. He's done a good job there. Overall, they've played good football, haven't turned the ball over much, they've turned it over a lot on defense, good in the kicking game, have gotten ahead and been able to keep their running game and play offense on their terms and have been able to, from ahead, rush the passer, run their blitzes and their pressures and that type of thing and put pressure on their opponents. So that's obviously not the position we want to be in against them. We don't want to be down 17 points and have to throw the ball every down in the second half and let them run and play-action and do what they want to do offensively. But they've done a good job of getting themselves into those situations. Offensively, they have a good balance – running game, passing game, use different receivers, use different pass concepts. Chan Gailey is a good coordinator and, through the course of his career, has modified his styles a little bit based on the personnel and the skills of the players that he was working with, so he's been able to utilize strong running game, play-action game, spread offenses, empty, downfield passing, intermediate passing, play-action, misdirection. He is a good complement of all of those things and he does a great job of putting his players in a position to use their skills productively, and it seems like all of the players he has do well in his system because he finds a way to get them to do things that they do well. They are very well coached.
Q: Is there anything that has made Chris Ivory more effective this year?
BB:He's always been effective, in my opinion, and it's going well and they keep feeding him. He's done a good job. I'd say he's a guy who gets stronger as the game goes on. He's probably had more production in the second half than he's had in the first, so I think there is an element of that, whether that's him or the line or whatever, but he runs hard all of the time. He's hard to tackle in the first quarter. He's hard to tackle in the fourth quarter. He's an excellent back and will be a challenge for us.
Q: What do you think of Danny Amendola's increased production this season?
BB:Danny's been very solid for us all year and really every day, whether it be OTAs, training camp, practice, games. He's in great condition. He can run all day. He's done a good job for us in the return game. He's done a good job for us offensively. Blocking, he's really made some great blocks. He's helped spring some guys for some big runs. He's done an excellent job on third down. He's done a really good job as we use different formations, he's a versatile player, smart, makes very few mistakes. He's been a very dependable player for us in really everything we've asked him to do and nobody works harder or practices harder than Danny does. He's out there every day ready to go, eats well, and has had a lot of versatility for us. He's doing a good job.
Q: How do you try to incorporate new guys to your system while also maximizing and utilizing their skills initially before they get a grasp for the scheme?
BB:That's a good question. I think what you really try to do there … I mean first of all, every coach tries to do that. I don't think any coach says, "OK, here are this player's skills, let me ask him to do something completely different." I don't think that's really what you try to do. I think there's kind of two ways you can go about it. One, you can have a system that is pretty flexible and you take the skills of the players that you have available and put them in the situation that fits them and your system is flexible enough to do that. Or maybe you have a less flexible system, a system that has fewer variables, and you find players to do very specific things in that system. Here's what we need this position to do and so you find somebody who can do those things. Here's a different position, this is what the requirements are for that. We find somebody to do that. I mean obviously the better player the better, but you do it in a realistic way so that you feel like you can find whatever it is. So there's a blocking tight end or a receiving tight end, or a blocking fullback or a receiving fullback, or an inside runner or an outside runner, or whatever the offensive system is – and the same thing is really truly on defense – and try to find a player who will fulfill that role. I would just say in Chan's case, it appears to me that he has pretty good breadth to the system. They are able to use a lot of different players – players who play the same position, like a guy like Marshall or a guy like Kerley, whose skills are different but they have a role and they have a productive role in the offense. Or Ivory or [Bilal] Powell or guys like that. They are able to use them in different packages or use them in situation plays that really make it hard for you to defend those players because of the things that they are being asked to in those aspects of the offense. So both ways can work. It is just a question of adapting the personnel to your system or adapting your system maybe to the personnel, and there's a little bit of that in everything, but I think that the needle can move a little further one way or another depending on what kind of philosophy you want to favor, if that makes any sense.
Q: Is a player's ability to perform effectively without fouling valuable and what makes Devin able to cover so well without doing that?
BB:Absolutely, absolutely. Devin has many, many attributes, many things going for him. He has some length, but he's fast and so I think a lot of players when they don't have that kind of speed, or they are not confident in that kind of speed, try to sometimes do things to impede the guy they are covering from running full speed, whether that's grab them, arm bar them, cut them off, that kind of thing. Players that really have that makeup speed, which is a relatively rare trait but one that is very desirable, those guys are maybe behind by a step but there's not as much of an urgency or a panic to try to grab the guy because they feel confident enough that they will be able to catch up to them and make up that step. But when you feel like a guy is a step faster than you and he's pulling away, then there's more of a natural tendency to do that. Devin has very good speed. There are not many guys that run better than him at any position, offense or defense, and so he has the ability to cover a lot of ground, whether that's in the deep part of the field, you know ranging over the top of a play or chasing a guy in pursuit or chasing a guy on a vertical route. I'd say most of the faster players have less of those kind of penalties than the guys who say don't run quite as well.
PATRIOTS OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR JOSH MCDANIELS CONFERENCE CALL
Q: Do you think about positioning Rob Gronkowski in different ways so it becomes harder to defend him?
JM:I think you always try to put the offense in the best position to make good plays, which usually requires us to move multiple people around and give them an opportunity to impact the game in a lot of different ways. Rob is certainly one of those guys we try to do that with, but I'd say we do that with a lot of our players. We rarely line up in the same spot for long or for too many plays in a game. We try to do the best thing we can based on what the defense is doing, so as long as we're operating efficiently and we're trying to do the right thing based on how we're being defended, we feel like all our players that are on the field can do some good things for us. And we're just trying to make positive plays, stay ahead on down and distance and convert on third down and in the scoring area. And he certainly is a significant factor in all those areas. We try to do a good job of putting him in position to make the plays that he can make, and in some games certain guys are going to get the ball maybe more than others. And some of that does have to do with how we're being defended.
Q: Is it a concern when he doesn't get as many touches?
JM:I think Rob is very unselfish. And look, if it comes to him 20 times in a game, he would try to make 20 plays, and if it doesn't, then he's going to do his job on each snap. And he did a great job of blocking the other day. He obviously impacted the game in the passing game catching some critical passes for us on third down and down there in the red zone. Certainly, we're going to keep trying to put him in position to make a huge impact in the game because we know what kind of player he is.
Q: What is the overall scouting report on the Jets defense? Are they doing anything on defense that might not necessarily jump out at people?
JM:Well, first off I think this is a tremendous group from front to back at all three levels. They're extremely well coached. We have some familiarity with some of the guys on their staff. Coach [Todd] Bowles does a tremendous job of putting together the scheme, getting the players to play it the way he wants it played, and they just do a great job of being in position and being aggressive and trying to take away, limit some of the things you try to do well offensively. And that's why you see them being so efficient on the defensive side of the ball. I mean they're in the top two or three in basically every single category in the league. The front has obviously got a lot of great players. We've played against most of these guys before, save for Leonard Williams who just got there and is already making a significant impact and contribution, but I mean [Muhammad] Wilkerson, [Damon] Harrison, Williams, [Sheldon] Richardson, [Leger] Douzable, I mean, [Quinton] Coples, [Calvin] Pace – they have a lot of different guys in that front who can make life difficult for you in the running game and in the passing game as well. I think David Harris is extremely talented and has been for many, many years. [Demario] Davis is a guy who's a younger guy for them on their defense, but is a tremendous inside linebacker alongside of Harris. Good cover guys, they both blitz well. They're tough, very physical. And then the secondary, I mean, there's whatever number of superlatives you want to use you can use them. [Darrelle] Revis is obviously a tremendous player. We were here with him last year, and we know what kind of player he is. [Antonio] Cromartie, we've had a long history of playing against him when he was in New York the first time around. He's obviously a very talented player. [Buster] Skrine is a guy who we had a little exposure to when he was with Cleveland, but he's a very talented guy who comes in and plays inside in their three-corner package and their nickel group. [Marcus] Gilchrist is a very talented guy in the middle of the defense, and [Calvin] Pryor is a young guy who continues to get better. So [there are] challenges at all three levels of the defense. The scheme is tremendously difficult. They put a lot of pressure on you with their blitz packages, but I think the thing to me that stands out is how well-coached they are, how disciplined they are. They don't give up many big plays. It's very difficult to find guys out of position. The communication seems to be seamless between the front and the back end, and they just make it very difficult for you to stream together a lot of good plays. And I think that goes back to the way that they're coached. It's a tremendous credit to those guys on that side of the ball, and they've got a lot of great players over there, too. So, it's going to be a huge challenge for us, and we're going to look forward to getting started with the guys here and head into the Jets week.
Q: What have you seen from Danny Amendola? Have you seen his level of comfort rise this season?
JM:I think Danny's gotten better and better every year we've had him. I think he's, you know, he's healthy. He works extremely hard every single week in practice to improve little things in his game. He had a very, very productive offseason, very, very good training camp, and again, it starts with taking care of himself, his body. He's out there every day. He's working on his craft. He's improving in a lot of different areas. He's always been a dependable catcher of the football, and we count on him to do a lot of different things. Certain games, he may play a little bit more than others based on how the game goes, but Danny is always ready to do whatever we need him to do. And whenever we've called Danny's number, he usually comes up big for us, so we depend on him a lot. He's been a very accountable player for us, and his contributions the other night weren't surprising at all.
Q: How much have you noticed Tom Brady's ability to extend plays improve over the past couple of years?
JM:It's definitely shown up, and he's worked extremely hard to do it. He deserves all the credit for that. He puts in a lot of time and hard work on that part of his game in the offseason and in his daily and weekly routines, incorporates those types of things. And for a guy who that was never something that people talked about being a strength of his game, he's certainly been a guy who's been able to make some plays in that area in the last few years that have really, really been productive. A lot of them have been in the red area and some on third down, but he just, his will and drive to get better in an area of his game that he didn't feel like was as productive as he wanted it to be, is really where that stems from. Whether it's drill work or strength and conditioning or just change of direction drills, those types of things that he does, and he's made it a focal point of his ability to try to make some plays when people play us certain ways and give him some time to move in the pocket. So he's definitely improved in that area. It's been a big benefit for our offense, and he's creating a lot of big plays in his own way. He's not going to run very far in terms of carrying the ball, but in his own ways, he's made a lot of big plays doing that and extending plays in the last couple of years.
PATRIOTS DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR MATT PATRICIA CONFERENCE CALL
Q: What have you seen from Chan Gailey's offense thus far?
MP:Well, I think it starts with the running game. I think that's what they've been able to do is really establish a very obviously strong run game behind [Chris] Ivory, mixing [Zac] Stacy and [Bilal] Powell in there also. Ryan Fitzpatrick is a quarterback that can really handle a lot of different things from reads and pre-snap looks, control an offense and really he's a smart quarterback. The run game is where they start, their offensive line – to give credit to them – they're doing a great job up front blocking and creating holes. Ivory runs extremely hard, he comes downhill, he's very fast, he's got great speed to the edge, he can get open in space, he makes a lot of guys miss tackles, so it doesn't take much for him to get through the line of scrimmage and burst into that second level and really hit that third level pretty fast. It really starts for them with the run game, which then has kind of opened up the passing game, their ability to get the ball downfield, use [Brandon] Marshall and [Eric] Decker with the play action game off the run game and kind of create a lot of space in that intermediate to deep zone. I think Chan [Gailey] has done a great job of, you know, exposing that and building off the run game and distributing the ball.
Q: What kind of impact has Brandon Marshall had on Eric Decker?
MP:Yeah, I think, you know obviously you're talking about two great players. Brandon Marshall creates a huge matchup problem from his size, speed, catchability, his radius. He's obviously on track right now, he's had four straight 100-yard receiving games. [He's] very dangerous with the ball in his hands after he catches it. There's a lot of confidence from the quarterback – the quarterback will throw it up to him and has a lot of confidence that he'll come down with it and make a big play whether he's throwing the deep ball or the back shoulder, you know, whatever the route is I think he's been a guy – they've worked well together. They have a lot of high trust and then you know just a really strong player for them. I think what that's done is obviously draws a lot of attention to him, creates a lot of opportunity for Decker, who is another outstanding receiver. [He's] does a good job, he's another big-sized guy, good size, good length, good speed. He's a very savvy guy who can get open. They'll move him around a little bit. He'll play in the slot and just does a good job on the inside passing game there, too. I think those two are great complements to each other. They're obviously both very good players and you try and take one away and the other one's opened up or you take the other away and the other one has an opportunity and when you combine that with the run game and some of the other skill players that they've had in there, you create a lot of problems.
Q: What have you seen from Ryan Fitzpatrick this year that has allowed the Jets offense to be successful?
MP:Yeah, I mean, he's been in the league quite a long time, has a lot of familiarity with us, so he's done a good job against us, very competitive guy, very smart quarterback. He's probably a better athlete than everyone realizes. He's got good speed and athleticism and can move around in the pocket. I think one of the huge stats that they have right now is just the fact that they've given up two sacks on the year. He's getting the ball out very fast. He's doing a great job of reading the defense, getting the ball to the appropriate player, obviously getting them in the right run play when it is a check-with-me system that they can run and just being really smart and controlling the offense. [He] hasn't really put them in a bad situation and they're building confidence here as they go through from the offensive line to the quarterback to the skill guys. He's kind of the centerpiece of it, and he's doing a good job of getting the ball out, getting it to his players, distributing the ball around and making things happen. Really, really competitive, very solid good quarterback, so we've always had our hands full with him.