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Bill Belichick Conference Call Transcript 8/14

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his conference call on Friday, August 14, 2015.


BB: After watching the film this morning, I think we probably saw about what we expected to see. Individually, there were some good things, and there were obviously things we need to correct and improve on. I think there are a lot of things that we've worked on in practice that showed up positively in the game. There were some timing issues and some execution [issues] and some breakdowns that we all have to do a better job on for all of us – myself, the coaching staff, all the players – that we got off to a start in terms of game action. We all have a lot of things to work on. There are a lot of things that we need to do a better job with, but we have some basis now, a foundation to build on. We're all at a certain point, and we can see that and work forward off it to higher ground. So, we'll make the corrections today, talk about some situations, try to put ourselves in a position to do some things better than we did last night, [and] at the same time, move ahead with some more installation, situational football and a lot of other things that we still need to cover before we're close to being ready for the regular season. We've kind of got a long week here between the Thursday to Saturday game. We'll have a few days where we'll have an opportunity to evaluate our team against another good football team, good competition with New Orleans. But in the meantime, we have plenty of things that we need to do prior to that, and that's what we'd be focusing on.

Q: On fourth down on Green Bay's first two possessions, you were able to stop them, and then on the third possession you held them to a field goal. What did you see on film that encouraged you about your third and fourth-down defense?

BB: I thought, with the exception of a couple of plays, overall our pass coverage was competitive and our pass rush was competitive. We just didn't do a good enough job on - we let a few drives get extended with penalties, with a couple conversions on second-and-long, so we never got to third-and-long. But, overall in those situations, we covered fairly well. The quarterback had to hold the ball, scrambled around two or three times, got a little pressure on a couple of those plays. We also lost contain on a couple of them. It starts with having coverage. If receivers are wide open, it doesn't matter how much rush you have, they're probably not going to get there, so you have to do a good enough job to force the quarterback to hold the ball and give the rush an opportunity to get there, and the rush needs to get there in the right amount of time so that it forces the ball out on time and we don't get into extended plays. Some good things, some things we can improve on in all those situations, but I thought, overall last night, our coverage with the exception of probably a couple of plays was pretty competitive against a pretty good passing team.

Q: I know how much respect you have for Aaron Rodgers. As a teaching tool for your young players, is that something you work on in terms of mental toughness?

BB: I think it's a great opportunity for our team defensively. They were out there for a quite a bit. It would probably be the equivalent of close to a half of a regular game – it was 30-some plays. Certainly with a quarterback the caliber of Aaron, any mistake that you make is a problem. He was able to take advantage of some of our coverage that maybe wasn't as tight as it needed to be in certain situations. There were times we didn't do a good job in our overall coordination of the pass rush, and he escaped the pocket relatively easily. That's really just more of a communication and discipline of our pass rush against that type of a quarterback. We needed to do a better job than we did. He exposed some things and those are good learning situations for us. That same type of thing could come up and the quarterback [could] not take advantage of it, so you get a little bit of a misconception that everything was OK on a play when really it wasn't. We'll get to see that again this week with Drew Brees and practicing against Brees. However much he plays, I don't know, but at least on the practice field I'm sure it will be a similar thing that if we show our coverage early, if we don't do a good job on the pre-snap, if our coverage isn't tighter, competitive enough, if the pass rush isn't balanced and gives them an opportunity to extend the play, then that will cause us trouble. This was a great opportunity for us to play against one of the top, if not the top quarterback that we would play against and that'll be true again this week with Brees and it'll be true the following week with [Cam] Newton, who brings a different element to the game, but another [quarterback] at a very high level. And then finally with [Eli] Manning, however much he plays in that game. But again, those are four different, but very high quality players at that position, which will get our defense and particularly our pass defense as much of a challenge other than scheme-wise – I know we're not getting over-schemed in these games – but in terms of the quality of the player and the execution, I don't think we're going to run into four guys much better than these four.

Q: You signed Rufus Johnson to a future contract back in February. He comes from a small school, so how did you guys become interested in him, and what skill set do you think he brings to the team?

BB: Rufus was in Cleveland when Mike [Lombardi] was there, so that definitely gave us a little bit of insight there as it did with Eric Martin and as it did with Dion Lewis. So when those players were available, you're right, the tape on Lewis because of the injury and Rufus just because of not having a lot of exposure, we had a little bit of insight into those players because Mike had seen them on a daily basis in Cleveland. Rufus has a lot of things going for him – he's got good size, he's athletic, he's long, he's got a good level of power, needs a little seasoning, needs some experience, needs some playing time. He got quite a bit of that last night and I'm sure every time he's out there, every snap he takes is a good learning experience for him, something that will help him improve. And he's worked hard; he's a hard-working guy.

Q: Are kickers different from other players in that they're not really building up to the season; they're already game ready? Just wondering how impressive that field goal was last night, even though it was in mid-August.

BB: I think there is definitely an element of timing and consistency with the kickers, and like every other player pretty much in this league, anybody can go out and there's enough talent for almost all the players in this league to go out there and make a highlight-type of play. That's why they're in this league – they have that type of ability. It really comes down to consistency, and training camp and preseason games are an opportunity for all our players, including our specialists, to build that consistency. I just don't believe in judging players on one play. I know that's what a lot of other people like to do, but I don't personally believe in that. I think it's a bad way to evaluate players, or a team for that matter. There is going to be a lot of kicks in the season, a lot of punts, a lot of snaps, a lot of punt returns, kickoff returns – all those plays – and preseason games are an opportunity for us to work on our timing and consistency at those positions and that's what those players do. It was a good operation. Steve [Gostkowski] made a really good kick last night, but if it hadn't gone that way, it wouldn't be the end of the world and there will probably [be] one that doesn't go that way just because our timing and execution overall in any phase of the game is not where hopefully it will be in weeks going forward. It's part of the process and it's part of what training camp and preseason games – the value of those for the building of your team and timing and consistency. There are going to be some good things and there are going to be some things that are not so good. Either way, I don't think it's the end of the world. You build on the ones that are good, you correct on the ones that don't work out as well. And there are going to be those, and you try to learn from those and improve it. We've had highlight plays in practice and we've had plays that weren't very good, and we need to improve those. It's a long haul. There is a lot of work to do, a lot to digest. I wouldn't personally overreact to any one or two plays good or bad, one way or the other. There's a lot more to it than that.

Q: James White had a strong second half, particularly after he got dinged up. What did you see from his performance?

BB: I think James has had a real good training camp. He's a versatile player that has shown the ability to play on all four downs, does a good job in the passing game. Green Bay ran a number of blitzes with their multiple blitzers, one or more than one guy – a lot of two-man linebacker blitzes, which usually forces somebody besides an offensive lineman to be in there on the protection, usually a back but it could be a tight end, whoever it is. But he had an opportunity to pick up the blitz, make some catches, handle the ball a little bit. I thought he did a good job in the open field of making a couple players miss and gaining some extra yards. So, it was [a] good step for him. He really didn't get a chance to play very much last year after preseason, and James has worked hard. He had an opportunity to handle the ball a little bit last night. Again, still a long way to go, a lot of things that he needs to work on, but he definitely showed up with some positive plays. Again, hopefully he can build on those going forward, and find a way to contribute on all four downs for us. That's what we need and that would be his value for us if he can do that.

Q: How did you think Jimmy [Garoppolo] handled the two-minute warning right before halftime? Also, how do you think he did in the pocket? He mentioned last night he'd like to get rid of the ball quicker.

BB: The two-minute warning, they had the ball at the two-minute warning and then we stopped them and we got the ball back with less than a minute to go if I remember correctly.

Q: How did he handle the situation right before halftime to get three points on the board?

BB: I thought all things considered, he did a pretty good job with it. We used all our timeouts in the first half. I used a couple of them on defense and then we lost another timeout right at the end of the half there where the trainers went out onto the field to look at James White. So, we didn't have any timeouts, which that's a whole [different] story. But given the fact we were out of timeouts with 20-some seconds – I forget what it was, like 25 seconds or something like that when he got sacked – we were trying to run a third down play, which we would have needed to get out of bounds on because we were out of timeouts. And then when the clock wound down and it was apparent that if we had snapped the ball and run a normal play, we probably would have run out of time, so we would've had to score a touchdown on the play or the half would have been over. I think Jimmy did a good job to recognize that situation. Whether we should or shouldn't have been in it, that's really not the point. The point is once it came up, I thought he handled it well. I thought it was [a] good, quick decision on his part to give us an opportunity to attempt a field goal at the end of the half. Steve came through on a 56-yard kick, but the other alternative would have been to snap the ball, run a play, and then the half would've been over. So he saved us three points on that. What was the other part of the question?

Q: The other part of the question was, how do you think he did in the pocket? He mentioned last night he'd like to get rid of the ball quicker.

BB: Obviously, there are a lot of things we could work on [when] you get sacked seven times – that and throwing for interceptions. We could protect better. We could certainly do a better job of getting open and giving the quarterback somewhere to throw, times we could make quicker decisions in terms of getting rid of the ball. So, yeah, there are things all the way across the board that all of our players could improve in and all of our coaches can improve in, too. We ran several plays multiple times. We weren't going to go into this game running 75 different plays, so we repeated several plays, as they did. That's kind of common, too. A couple times Green Bay did a good job of recognizing those plays – they'd seen it before, they jumped it and we didn't really have probably a great play in those situations, either. So, again, it's a combination of things. There's room for improvement for everybody, but the most important thing is not turning the ball over and not giving up field position that would take us out of field goal range and things like that. That play at the end of the half was kind of marginal. We were almost out of field goal range, but fortunately we were able to be close enough to kick it and as I said, I thought his play to stop the clock and give us a chance to at least attempt a field goal was absolutely the right play as the clock was winding down there.

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