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Bill Belichick Conference Call Transcript 9/18

New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his conference call on Monday, September 18, 2017.


Q: What went into the decision to start Eric Rowe at cornerback across from Stephon Gilmore in that first defensive package?

BB: Yeah, well, there are a lot of things that go into it, but that's what we decided to do.

Q: What were your thoughts on the play of Jonathan Jones, specifically at cornerback?

BB: He had some good plays, had two good pass breakups where he did a real nice job of playing the ball. There are some other things that could have been better, but I thought he competed well and played hard on defense.  

Q: What variables go into being able to execute successfully the way you did at the end of the first half, with Brady's scramble and then setting up a field goal with seconds remaining?

BB: Right, well, there's a couple things that could have happened on that. The first would have been if we had gotten the first down on the play, then we could have clocked it on first down and, I think, had plenty of time to kick the field goal. When we didn't pick up the first down, we had already made - I mean, obviously, another option would have been to throw the ball away or throw an incomplete pass so that the clock would have stopped and then send the field goal team on. That, obviously, didn't happen. So, before the play, we made the decision as to whether or not we would go for the field goal if the clock was running or we would run another play offensively if the clock was running because we wouldn't have enough time to get the field goal team on. So, we have to make that decision before the snap so that we know what to do, so if we were going to run another play offensively, then the field goal team wouldn't go on the field and we would just line up and go for it on fourth down, as opposed to trying to get the field goal team on, which takes just a few seconds longer. So, it's a close call, close play, but I thought the players did a good job. The offensive team got off the field. The field goal team got on the field. We had time to set up and have a clean operation there, so they did a good job on that.

Q: What were your thoughts on how the offense performed on third down yesterday?

BB: Well, we had our moments. We did some good things. There were other things we can improve on, so we'll just keep at it, but I thought there were some positive things.

Q: It seemed like you averaged about third-and-7 over the course of the game. Is there a reason you had more success converting on third down early in the game, or was your 50 percent conversion rate more a result of needing longer yardage to pick up a first down?

BB: Right. Well, there's no doubt that first and second down have a lot to do with third down. So, you just look at the numbers in the league, the conversion percentages on short yardage are different than medium yardage and they're different on long yardage, so there's definitely a correlation there. A couple of the third-down stops were in the scoring territory where we ended up with field goals instead of touchdowns, so those third downs in the red area, which are tough to convert because of just having less space to work with, and that kind of field position, that's a little challenging, too. But, I mean, New Orleans changed things up on us. They mixed the coverages and they ran some three-man rush, they ran some five-man rush, four-man rush, mixed in a little bit of zone. So, we hit them on some and we didn't, so that's usually the way it goes against a team like that that will do a good job of making adjustments and changing it up on you. We do that ourselves. Sometimes they hit, sometimes they don't. They don't all hit. Hopefully they don't all miss.

Q: What are the challenges of defending a pick or rub route by the goal line?

BB: Well, there are certain fundamental things that you have to do. You have to do them collectively as a team. You have to work together because there's more than one person involved on running those plays and defending those plays. And, if you don't execute them well, if you don't play the technique properly, then you get beat, and we've got to do a better job of coaching it and we have to play it better. It shouldn't be nearly as much of a problem as it was. But, we obviously aren't coaching it or playing it very well.

Q: When Tom Brady catches the opposing team with 12 men on the field, is that a team tendency you can see on film? Or is that something you entrust to Tom to recognize?

BB: Well, sometimes you can get a sense of the team's substitutions from when you send a scout out to see the game live. In all honesty, plays like that - a lot of times, the films that we get, the coaches' copy, you don't get to see the whole play. It happens before, a lot of times, it's captured on our film, so as an example of the play yesterday, you can't fully see what happened on the coaches' copy. You have to go to the TV copy or a different view than what we saw. You can get it from live scouting. It's hard to get it from film scouting. Sometimes you get a feel of that during the game of how the substitutions - how quickly or not quickly your opponents are matching and so forth. Really, it's more a feel for the quarterback and knowing what personnel group we have on the field. Are we changing group? Because if we already start somebody on, then that really limits our ability to run a play like that. So, a lot of it just depends on what we're in, what we have called, so then what our options are for the next play. If we do elect to go fast, what happened on the play before? If it's an incomplete pass down the field, then that's one thing. If it's a running play where everybody's kind of around the line of scrimmage, that's another thing. If it's a short pass, it could be like a running play or it could not if a receiver was going deep. There are a lot of different things that can factor into that. I think the main thing is just offensively being alert, all the players having an understanding of what could happen and then, if it does happen, making the right quick communication and operation and decisions on the field when the ball is snapped, because you don't really know where your opponents are going to be when you run a play like that and everybody doing the right thing. Obviously, that isn't the result we were looking for on the play, so it was fortunate for us that they did have 12 men on the field. That's not really the way we want the play to end up, regardless of whether we quick snapped it or not.

Q: Do you have any clarity on the severity of Rob Gronkowski's injury?

BB: No, I don't have any updates. We'll put the injury report out on Wednesday like we always do and follow the procedures that are outlined by the league.

Q: How does Deatrich Wise's length help him as a pass rusher?

BB: Yeah, well, Phil [Perry], I think that the length can be a good thing for a player if he knows how to use it and he plays with good leverage. It can be a bad thing if long players play high and let other players play with better leverage and get underneath their pad level. It's a potential opportunity, again, if it's used properly with good pad level, leverage and technique, but it could also not be a good thing if it's not used properly and just gives the blockers a bigger target and just isn't effective. Deatrich's worked hard on the techniques that Coach [Brendan] Daly's been working with him on, both in the running game and the passing game. There were certainly some positive things that showed up yesterday and even last week. I still think there's a long way to go, a lot of things that he can improve on. But, if he continues to work hard at it like he has been, then hopefully each week we'll be able to see some improvement and better techniques and better fundamentals in all of the different areas of the game - not just pass rush, but the running game and playing combination blocks and all the different sorts of things that come into really the heart of the issue, which is playing with good pad level, pad level leverage and technique.

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