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Bill Belichick Conference Call Transcript 9/14

Q:  What improvements have you seen from the Dolphins in the last year?

BB: Well, they were pretty good the last time we played them. We really couldn't do much in our final [regular season] game last year against them. It's a team that's added a lot of athletic might…added a lot of quality talent to the team, defensive linemen, players in the secondary, linebackers, offensive linemen, running backs…so it's a good, talented football team. They're always strong on special teams and that's certainly the case this year. [Jakeem] Grant has been impressive there. Of course we know what [Jarvis] Landry can do returning the ball. They're very strong up front defensively, as they were last year, and they have a lot of explosive players on offense. Coach [Adam] Gase has a good system that really gets everybody involved - the backs, the tight ends, the receivers; they do a good job of making you defend everything. Defensively, they're just hard to move the ball against. Other than the long play we had last year when James White broke a tackle, we barely had 100 yards in total offense. It's a very talented group and a physical, tough football team.  

Q: What has the peace of mind you've got from Jimmy Garoppolo over the past few years been worth to you?

BB: I don't know. We try to get as many good players as we can, try to coach them and get them to play as well as we can. That's what we do at every position with every player, so it's no different for him or anybody else. 

Q: When did Jimmy Garoppolo first start to earn your confidence on the practice field?

BB: He was a good player when he got here. He's worked hard and he's improved every day since he's been here. It's gone all the way back to his initial rookie minicamp. 

Q: Adam Gase said that across the league, teams have leaned more towards a ten-yards-and-under passing game - why do you think teams have gone in that direction?

BB: I don't know. I think there are a lot of good offensive players, a lot of good offensive coaches, and a lot of good defensive players. I think each week, offensively, you just try to find the best matchups you can and try to find a way to be productive offensively. Certainly, with the quality of defensive linemen that are in this league, and particularly, the ones that are on Miami's team, it's hard to stand back there and hold the ball all day and wait for a lot of plays to develop as opposed to getting the ball out before they get to you, risk negative plays and getting strip sacked and all of that. Teams that have good pass rushes make it tough to hold the ball and extend plays. 

Q: How would you compare your defense this year to those of the past?

BB: I have no idea. We've played one game; we have a long way to go to see how this team performs and how each unit performs. 

*Q: What is your perspective on some players around the league deciding to take a knee during the national anthem? *
BB: The only team I'm really worried about is our team, the New England Patriots. I can't worry about everybody else or what everybody else in the league is doing. It's not my job and it's not my responsibility. I have enough to handle right here trying to coach and get our team ready to go, so that's what I focus on, the New England Patriots. 

Q: You've had a lot of success with slot receivers over the years - what makes a good slot receiver?

BB: It's a little bit of a different game in there, different than the perimeter, obviously a lot of different coverages. You have guys outside, guys inside, guys behind you, so a lot of different things can happen to that receiver, and of course it all depends on what the offense is doing, what type of route that player is running. There are different teams that do different things with that type of athlete, so therefore, there are different physical makeups of guys that are in there. For a slot receiver, part of his job is a function of what the team asks him to do, but they have to deal with more coverage, options, variations; there's a lot more blitzing with the player on the slot than it is with the perimeter players, obviously, because they don't have a spot to go. There are a lot of adjustments there and you just have to deal with more people. It's a little bit of a different game in there and it's a little bit of a different game defensively, too. You have help closer to you in various spots, depending on what the coverage is and what you do out on the perimeter - whatever help you have on the perimeter is usually some distance away, other than a couple of specific coverages, but if you take those out, the majority of the time, that help is further away than what it is inside. There are just some different elements of the game. 

Q: Does a good nickelback have to be good in traffic?

BB: Yeah, definitely has to be able to deal with more people. That's the difference between playing safety and corner. Again, you're closer, there's a lot more people in the middle of the field, a lot more people that can get to you, a lot more things that can happen. The nickel corner is similar to the safety in that he's dealing with a lot of those elements in the middle part of the field. He's more of a coverage player than sometimes the safeties are in that position where they can be more zone players. It's a little bit different but there are certainly some similarities having to deal with more bodies. Again, your help is closer, you have more route combinations, you have more people that can get into your area, or in man coverage, the receiver you're covering has more route options going inside and outside from the middle of the field than a perimeter receiver does. There are definitely a lot of differences there. 

Q: In what ways can an organization help a very injury-prone player improve in that area?

BB: Obviously, every player has his own specific personal situation in terms of his particular personal health, body composition, playing style and everything else, so that's all pretty individualized. It would depend on the player, what type of injury, what his role is, his age, relative to training and rehabilitation. There are a lot of medical questions there that I'm not involved with that would be way over my head. I'm not a doctor, so some of that is obviously done on the medical side of it. From a coaching standpoint, you just try to get the best care and help to every player you can in your organization in whatever way that is, which could be in a lot of different ways. But certainly the medical side of any organization, it's their job to care for the players and there's nothing more important than the health of the players on your team. There are important components for all of us, but again, each player is different. Even if it's the same injury, they're different players and athletes, and we're all made differently, so it's very individualized. 

Q: What are your thoughts on the skill sets that Byron Maxwell and Kiko Alonso bring to Miami?

BB: [Kiko] Alonso is really a productive player. We saw him against Buffalo his rookie year. He led the team in tackles, he's got great speed, range, covers a lot of ground, sideline to sideline, good inside linebacker that can probably play Mike or Will, depending on what you want him to do. Of course the Dolphins have a very good Will linebacker in [Jelani] Jenkins, so playing him inside and Jenkins Will, if you will, certainly makes sense. [Byron] Maxwell is long; we played against him at Seattle. He's got good length, good size, a very experienced player; good ball skills. You certainly can't be sloppy with your routes or sloppy throwing the ball around him or he'll make you pay for it. He's got good instincts and he's a productive player with good anticipation and skills; a smart player. 

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