PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK CONFERENCE CALL
Q: What did you see from Jon Bostic, Jerod Mayo and Jonathan Freeny in last week's game?
BB:I think they all helped us. They kind of divided up some roles a little bit and some playing time. Jonathan Freeny and Bostic have both really played a big role for us in the kicking game. Jerod has a lot of experience. There were a number of things involved in the game relative to checks and adjustments and [Eli] Manning doing a lot of check-with-me at the line of scrimmage. We felt like all those guys gave us different strengths and also being able to spread out the load a little bit relative to defense and special teams.
Q: When preparing for a division opponent the second time, what tapes do you find most valuable – your previous games against them or their games after your first matchup?
BB:I think there is value in everything and it kind of depends on what you're looking for. If you're looking to see how a player like [Leodis] McKelvin, what they've done with him and how it's a new coaching staff and his role is a little bit different than what it's been in the past, and some of that is a function I would say of the other players they have – [Ronald] Darby and [Stephon] Gilmore – and what they do, so if you're looking for McKelvin you've got to look at the last two games. You're not going to see anything in our game for him, but our game definitely shows some matchups and some of the things and how Buffalo adjusted to certain things that we did, so I think really it all has some significance and again it sort of depends on what you're looking for. Probably if you could only watch one game it would probably be our game because that's a lot of them and a lot of us, but there are things in that game that probably won't have a lot of application this week, so you have to kind of filter those out of it.
Q: What are you expecting from the Bills defense this week?
BB:I think that there are certainly a number of examples of Buffalo doing a lot of different things. There are plenty of examples of them blitzing, there are plenty of examples of them with a three-man rush, so I think you've got to be ready for everybody to come or three guys to come and everywhere in between. They mix it up, even in any given game, there may be more or a higher or lesser frequency of one or the other, so you've just got to be ready and that's historically the way it's been playing against [Rex] Ryan. He's mixed it up and sometimes it's been more of one thing or other games more of another against us and against other common opponents, so I think we've just got to be ready for all that. [Corbin] Bryant has been playing a lot for [Kyle] Williams. They've also rotated those other guys in there, too – [Stefan] Charles, [Alex] Carrington, and sometimes when they bring IK [Enemkpali] in there they will kick a defensive end inside, so there have been some snaps of [Mario] Williams inside – Big M – and [Jerry] Hughes. He doesn't usually play inside on the line of scrimmage but sometimes he kind of floats around behind the ball, kind of on the second level where the linebackers are, and has blitzed from there or rushed from there. I'd say they've used a combination of guys there for Kyle Williams.
Q: Have their young defensive backs come a long way since you last saw them?
BB: Yeah, Darby is having a real good year, Gilmore – those guys have broken up a lot of passes. They've been thrown at a lot and they've certainly made their share of plays. They've done a good job for them.
Q: What have you seen from Akiem Hicks and Jon Bostic since they've been here?
BB: Yeah, I think all those guys have done a good job. They've tried to learn what we've asked them to do and they've spent extra time to go back and try to learn some of the basics and fundamentals of the defense, but from week to week we've been more focused on trying to get them the game plan for that week, which isn't everything – it's just what applies to that specific opponent. But ultimately it always helps if you can understand the whole foundation of everything. I think Josh Boyer with [Rashaan] Melvin and [Justin] Coleman, Coach [Pat] Graham with Bostic, and Coach [Brendan] Daly with Hicks – they've all put in a lot of extra time with those players. The players have put in a lot of extra time to get better. I think they've all been able to contribute for us. And there's probably more attention on Hicks because of the position he plays, but those guys have contributed in the kicking game as well as defensively. It's just an extension of their contributions, so that's all been good. I'm glad we have them. Glad we have them.
Q: Does your ability and willingness to change your game plan week to week help overcome injuries to skill players like Dion Lewis and Julian Edelman?
BB: Sure, that will definitely be challenging. Aside from all the X's and O's and all that, just the amount of timing that those players have with each other, with the quarterback, with Josh [McDaniels] the offensive coordinator and being able to have experience in doing a lot of those things, that's really hard to replace. I mean, you just can't do it. They've been out there taking a lot of snaps, a lot of reps and getting that timing and that execution right, and the other person just hasn't been able to do it. That's an element of it that we're going to have to try to obviously work on.
Q: Earlier in the year, they were using defensive lineman in a stand-up, linebacker-type role. Have you continued to see that or are they using them more as traditional linemen?
BB: Again, they mix it up. They give you different looks and honestly even if they haven't done something in recent weeks it's almost more dangerous than if they have because you know they have it and you don't know whether you're going to get it or not. You have to be ready for all that. As I said, they've done some of that with Hughes with Kyle Williams being out, so they've done some of that with Hughes, but we've seen it with other guys in the past, too – Big M [Mario Williams] and even [Marcell] Dareus and guys like that. Look, wherever they are we're going to have to block them. They can move them around and put them in different places but we're still going to have to block them and make sure that we identify it. But that's part of what they do to create some challenges for the offense, the offensive line, the quarterbacks and kind of not making it so predictable as to who's going to be in coverage and making the quarterbacks read it post-snap and so forth.
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR JOSH MCDANIELS CONFERENCE CALL
Q: How has Danny Amendola grown and emerged in the offense?
JM:Danny has always been a dependable guy in his position. He always learns his responsibilities and is ready to go at any point in time that we need him in the game. And there have been a lot of games where he's played more snaps, and then there have been some game plans where, based on circumstances or what we thought was best, it was a little different. But Danny's attitude is tremendous. I think he's grown more and more comfortable in our system with the things we ask of him. I think his trust level with the quarterback has grown and gone forward every year that he's been in our offense, and I think that his performance always gives us tremendous confidence to continue to use him more because every time we've asked him to come through for us in critical situations, Danny usually does a great job of that for us. We have a lot of confidence in him. He has a lot of confidence in the things we ask of him, and I know he'll be ready to take on any added responsibilities or challenges moving forward here.
Q: Has there been a concerted attempt by Tom Brady to improve his deep passing game? Have you seen that in the last two wins?
JM:I don't think we've made any different type of effort to do it or force the ball to a particular area of the field. I think that Tom is always looking to work on different areas of his game and improve in any way that he possibly can from the beginning of the year to the end and then throughout the offseason. And I think that doesn't surprise me that he would identify different things through the course of the year to work on. I think more than anything, it is opportunity meeting execution. So if they present the opportunity to do something, whether it be throw it outside the numbers, inside the numbers, short, deep, whatever it might be, I think that when you see that and the coverage allows for you to throw the ball there and the reward and the risk is probably in our favor, then I think it comes down to our overall level of execution. And we've been fortunate to hit a few of those here in the last few games. But off and on throughout the course of the season, we've had a lot of production in different ways getting the ball downfield, whether it be to the tight ends, backs or receivers. So it's obviously something that helps any offense. If you're presented with the opportunity and you can make those plays, it makes life a lot easier. So we'll continue to try to work on them when they come up and when they present themselves.
Q: Do you think that Amendola will relish the opportunity to fill in for an injured teammate since he has been on the other side of that situation in the past?
JM:I think it's important to understand that there's nobody that's going to go in and just take Julian [Edelman's] place, including Danny. Danny's role is going to be filled with things we feel good about Danny doing, and then there might be some other people who are going to need to do some things that maybe we haven't asked a whole lot of them as well. So I think that all our players, Danny included, would understand and respect the opportunity to go in there and maybe carry and handle a little extra burden, but any time that you incur an injury to a player as versatile as Julian or Dion [Lewis], it's never going to be one person's responsibility to go in there and make up for that production. So it's our responsibility to try to take all the players that we have and move the ball on a consistent basis, take care of the ball and protect it and score points. So whatever formula we think is the best to do that, we're going to try to do that from one week to the next. Danny certainly will play a role in that, but we've got a lot of other guys that are going to play a role in doing that as well.
Q: What have you seen from Cameron Fleming?
JM:Cam has had a great attitude, and whatever we've asked of him, he's been prepared. [He] studies very hard, works extremely hard during the week. And look, going from right tackle to left tackle and doing that from one game to the next is not an easy thing to do, especially if you don't have a lot of experience to rely on. So really, I think he did a really good job of learning what we needed him to learn and playing tough and competing in any role we've given him so far this season. And we look forward to his continued efforts to help us in the different roles that he may play going forward, but it's certainly been a lot of good experience for him, a lot of good repetition. I'm sure he's learned a lot, and he's went in there and he's competed and played well and helped us win a lot of important games.
Q: What is the working relationship between you and Coach Dave DeGuglielmo like?
JM:I think all of our, we have a great staff. And Dave does a great job of preparing his players. He's certainly had to prepare a lot of different guys to play a lot of different roles in the last two years, and he deserves the credit for that. As a staff, we communicate on a daily basis about what's best for our offense, what's best for our team, what's best for our players individually and how we can maybe put them in positions to continue to be successful on a daily basis and a weekly basis going forward. We're always trying to help the players in any way that we can, and if there's any way that I can help a coach or a player, I hope that I'm always looking to do that and be a resource for them as they are for me. It's just a very open working relationship around here. Our staff does a great job of communicating with each other and a tremendous job communicating and preparing their players. So I think that there's a constant flow of dialogue, and we're always looking to try to find a way to potentially make something better. And hopefully we can continue to do that going forward.
Q: How helpful is Tom Brady's demeanor in situations like the game winning drive last week? What did you see in the last pass play to Amendola?
JM:I think that those situations in the game, which usually determine the outcome or have a chance to at the end in the two-minute offense, they usually come down to preparation and communication and execution. And I think that Tom has obviously got a tremendous amount of experience running those two-minute drills and being a part of them and does a great job with his communication to the players, which is obviously an important aspect of that because we have to go quickly. And then his overall preparation and understanding of what may happen defensively and what we need to do and what we expect, and then to be able to do all that stuff in a hurry-up mode and then ultimately execute once the ball is in his hand, like I said, it's all those things wrapped into one – experience, preparation, communication and then execution. And it takes 11 guys, and he'll be the first one to tell you that. He did a great job of getting us to the line quickly and getting the drill run the way we need it to be run and made a lot of critical plays – the fourth-down play, the last play, there's another one in there that we needed for a conversion. So a lot of guys had to do a lot of good things well, and Tommy has had a lot of experience doing that. We always feel comfortable and confident when he's in that position. And then the last play was, you know, as you said, they blitzed up the nickel back there, and Danny and Tom were on the same page and made a good throw and a catch. Then Danny obviously made a good move and gained us the necessary yards to put us in good position for Steve [Gostkowski] to attempt the kick. So a lot of people did a lot of good things at the end. And we were fortunate to make enough plays to get in down there, and then Stevie made a great kick.
PATRIOTS DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR MATT PATRICIA CONFERENCE CALL
Q: How would you characterize Malcolm Butler's competitiveness?
MP:Well I would definitely say Malcolm – one of the things that he definitely is – is competitive. I think that was pretty evident for us going back to last year, and just coming in as a free agent and knowing that you've got to go out and compete every day in practice and show up and make plays, try to stand out a little bit. That was something we definitely saw from him early, his ability to compete, his desire to compete, his intensity with that which served him well. Certainly [you] want to be competitive out there, want to be obviously into what we're doing and everything, so he's definitely that.
Q: What do you remember about how Tyrod Taylor was able to get the Bills offense back into rhythm in the fourth quarter during the last matchup?
MP:Yeah, it definitely was an issue for us. His ability to get outside the pocket and create plays, extend plays, [he's] an extremely explosive, dynamic athlete. This guy is very fast. He's very quick. He can elude defenders not only in the pocket but out of the pocket. He can make plays with his feet if he's running the ball, which is part of the problem with the run game and then with the passing game, his ability to either scramble and run or scramble and throw is something that we've got to make sure that he doesn't do. Certainly part of his skill set is his ability to do that and it's a big problem if you look at our game, a lot of the games and just any game in general, where he has the ability to do that and make plays. He can really hurt you.
Q: Have the Bills done any kind of redesign with Tyrod Taylor and their offense to get some of their weapons more involved, in particular LeSean McCoy and Sammy Watkins?
MP:I'll just go ahead and hit them all for you. Start with the quarterback, we just talked about him. I think he's also got a lot of confidence in the offense right now. He's obviously had half of a season to build and to develop in the system so he's doing an outstanding job of controlling the offense. You see some check plays at the line of scrimmage – some plays where he's kind of identifying what the defense is doing and can change things. You see the reads that he's making that have been improved both in the run game and the passing game. He's a big threat in the run game as well so that gives you another level and dimension to the offense that you have to defend. When he gets out in space he's going to make a lot of people miss and he really turns those plays, when he gets out into space, into some pretty dynamic plays. He makes a lot of people miss. He does a good job of running with the ball and creating big plays. That's first and foremost. LeSean McCoy is playing very, very well right now in both the run and the passing game. This guy is dynamic. He's explosive. [He's] very quick, very fast. [He] can take the ball to the edge and can cut it back on a dime. He's got a great jump-cut. His ability to make people miss in space is the best in the league. This is a guy that's been very productive for them, a guy that looks obviously like he's healthy and at full-strength and very dynamic so they're doing a good job with him in the run game, mixing him in with the running but also getting him in some plays in the passing game, get him out in space, let him use his ability where he can make some people miss and shake off some defenders out there, and obviously looking for matchup situations where it's beneficial to their offense and try and take advantage of that with him out of the backfield. [Karlos] Williams is getting a lot of time right now. This guy is an extremely good running back, very powerful, has great speed, can get outside to the edge and can turn plays into big plays very quickly. [He's] another really good player in the passing game, [with] his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and get vertical into the defense quickly and create big plays and score. I think they've got a great complement in the backfield with those two guys along with the quarterback and really kind of from a standpoint of trying to defend that, you have some problems and some conflicts there which has really allowed their offense to get going. From a run game, from a backfield standpoint, those are three really dangerous guys that you've got to defend. In regard to [Sammy] Watkins, I think [he's] obviously a guy who has come along and produced some really good numbers and some explosive games where he's a big factor in what they do. You've got to do a great job defending him. You can really see from a wide receiver standpoint his development from his releases to his routes, his ability to beat man coverage, his ability to find space in the zones and his ability to go deep, all of that is definitely improved and he's really kind of developing from that standpoint. [Charles] Clay and [Robert] Woods, Clay being a huge part of their offense right now and probably one of the more favorite targets for the quarterback and really trying to push the middle part of the defense with him and getting the ball vertical. Then obviously Woods also being one of the top targets and the guy that's a problem from the route running ability, his ability to get open and he's got great hands and just does a good job of [getting] the feel for the defense and creating space to create plays there, too. They're rolling right now from an offensive standpoint and really doing a good job using all of their strengths to the best of their ability.
Q: What have you seen from Akiem Hicks since he arrived here?
MP:He's come in, he's working really hard. He's trying to learn our system. He's been here for a little bit so I think he's really starting to understand our techniques and the style that we play and things that are from a responsibility standpoint – what he's got to make sure he handles from a defensive tackle position. I think as far as that group is concerned – as many of those guys as we can get in and contribute and play – I think it helps us from a defensive standpoint. It allows us to get some different looks and some different rotations in there and keep guys ready to go for the entire game. [He] certainly helps from that standpoint. He's trying to improve every week from what we're asking him to do. Certainly as a defense as a whole we're always trying to make sure we get the run game stopped and he's another big body we can put in there for the run and with the passing game, too, understanding how we've got to attack, the pass rush, and try to affect that standpoint of the game and understanding the different things from a game plan standpoint that we're asking him to do.
Q: In regards to their offensive coordinator Greg Roman, what's the difference for you facing a guy when you've had one game of tape of his work with that team like you did in Week 2 as opposed to having half a season's worth? How valuable is that body of work that you now have to study?
MP:You obviously have to look at all of it. He's an outstanding coordinator. He does a great job of using those players that I just spoke about in different positions, in different roles. He's got a very good system in place that incorporates those guys, but he also has a big element of game plan offense where he's going to attack us maybe a little bit differently than what he's shown in some other games and he'll have some stuff for us that will be game-plan specific for our defense. He does a great job of that and understanding how to attack our weaknesses and what areas to go after. Certainly you love to have the extra film and being in this part of the season, being able to see kind of how they develop and how they've grown as an offense with him as the coordinator, plus the players that they have and the players that are out there on the field. We were fortunate enough to play him before previously when he was at San Francisco which gave us a little bit of experience with him and then again obviously playing in the second game of the season. He's an outstanding coordinator. I think he really fits very well with what Rex [Ryan] and his message that Buffalo is trying to incorporate as a team and just kind of how they want to play the game. [He's a] very difficult guy to go against, really does a good job of game planning against you and understanding what you do as a defense and trying to attack that and using his players that he has in the best position to do that.
Q: How important is it for a coach to be able to motivate his players and how do you in particular try and go about doing that with your guys?
MP:It's like I say every week, I'm extremely lucky to have the group I have. I think they work really hard. I don't think you have to do too much to get them to understand the importance of what we try and do week-in and week-out. They buy into the system. They buy into our philosophy of how we've got to work week-in and week-out. They do a great job of just coming to work every day, getting the information, trying to go out and execute it and preparing very hard to play the game. I just give them credit for their approach and their ability to be professionals and to attack this every single week with kind of a refreshed look at it and really understand what we're trying to do week-in and week-out. I maybe feed off them a little bit more than they feed off of me.