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Bill Belichick Conference Call Transcript 9/23

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Q: On Jacoby Brissett's touchdown run it seemed like he was able to get out of the pocket before J.J. Watt got into the pocket and then Malcolm Mitchell had a good block downfield. Is it fair to say that you executed a bunch of little things well on that particular play?

BB: Well, I don't think J.J. Watt really had anything to do with the play. He was on the other side of the line. I mean I don't think he would've had any chance at all. Jacoby just took the ball, kind of took one step back, gave a quick ball fake to LeGarrette [Blount] and then just went to the edge and it was timed out well with Shaq [Mason], who cut [Bernardrick] McKinney on the line of scrimmage and got him down, kind of knocked him off balance, and by that time Jacoby was already outside. So, once Jacoby got to the corner it was really a run all the way. There was no pass option on it. Once Jacoby got to the corner then it was, you know, [Jonathan] Joseph was tied up with Mitchell and then [Andre] Hal - the free safety - came over and missed a tackle. Jacoby cut back on him for the score. I don't think Watt had any shot at all, not on that play. He was on the other side of the ball.

Q: Is your ability to neutralize J.J. Watt's performances when you face him a testament to the execution of your offensive line and the game planning done by Josh McDaniels?

BB: Well, yeah, no I think Josh and Dante [Scarnecchia], Ivan [Fears], did a good job, game planned for the Texans defense. But there's no coach blocking Watt. Players have to do that and they did a good job of it and we did a good job of staying in front of him, blocking him with the proper technique. I mean he's very quick and long and can get around blocks in a hurry so you've got to be on balance and it's hard to get overaggressive or overextended on him or he'll just slip right by you. I thought our players blocked him with good technique. They played hard and they blocked him well.

Q: You mentioned last night that you had to install some new plays that you were only able to walk through as opposed to execute in practice. With a short week are you able to take some plays you think a guy might be comfortable with from college or outside of his time here in New England and install those into the game plan?

BB: Right, well for example on Jacoby's touchdown run, that would be an example of one of those plays. It didn't really have anything to do with him. It was just we felt like we could get what we ended up getting. We thought we could get outside and there wasn't really anybody left out there but the corner who was in man coverage and it's just a question of - once we got outside - it was just a question of when the free safety would get there or if an inside linebacker would be able to get there quick enough, but because LeGarrette flowed across the formation that dragged the linebackers with him and so there was, as you saw, nobody left. The timing of the play between Jacoby and Shaq was really perfect, which is remarkable considering the fact we've never run the play other than just a walkthrough. But Shaq cut McKinney down at the perfect time as Jacoby was getting outside of him. McKinney just didn't really have a chance to recover. So, that was an example. There were some other plays as well, but I think that's just more getting a good look in the walkthrough from the defense in this case. It was true on the other side of the ball, too, but getting a good look from the defense and explaining the play and just hoping the players can understand the explanation, do it the right way, and they did. So, a couple of those plays really helped us in the game.

Q: What did you think of Rob Gronkowski in his first action this season?

BB: I thought it was good to have him out there. He was obviously limited but it was good to have him back. We had a lot of guys like Rob that either were dealing with some type of situation or had been banged up in the Miami game and were struggling and fighting to get back. Really a lot of guys spent a lot of time in the training room this week and doing extra things to try to be out there. Rob was certainly one of them and it was good to have him back. Like I said, we had a number of other guys that kind of fell into that category that played but they were maybe a little less than normal just because of the short week and the tough Miami game. But they were out there competing and I think that was representative of our whole team last night.

Q: With the success that both Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett have had while Tom Brady is out, a lot of people are saying that the quarterback results for your team are just a product of your system. How do you view that dynamic?

BB: Look, we just try to go out there every week and win. Try to go out there and put the best game plan together with the players we have against the opponent we're playing against and win.

Q: With that position being so important though, do you often fit a game plan around that particular player's skill set as opposed to asking them to adjust to your game plan?

BB: Well, of course the player's talents are important. They're the ones that win the game. Who do you think goes out there and runs the ball, and blocks, and tackles, and throws and catches? It's all of the players. Who else does it besides them?

Q: Do you think the running back group is a well-conditioned group based on the fact that when they've needed to they have been able to run the ball for positive yards and help chew up clock?

BB: I do. I think that the entire team has conditioned hard and I think that's reflected in the way that we've been able to make some plays at the end of games that we need to make, but I think our conditioning is - guys have worked hard on it. We've pushed them hard, they've responded, they've trained hard and they're ready to play 60 minutes. And that's obviously what it takes in this league. Our first two games really came down to the final play so that's mentally being able to concentrate, communicate, execute, make right decisions. Physically being able to do the things physically you need to do at their positons, so yeah, the offensive lines done a good job of that. It's a well-conditioned group that works hard and does a lot of extra things.

Q: Do you think some of the players keyed off of the energy that Jamie Collins brings to the field and were some of his big hits an indicator of the type of energy that he plays with?

BB: Yeah, absolutely. It can be a contagious thing and Jamie's an impact hitter. He's got a lot of explosion, a lot of power. He can certainly deliver a solid blow, and he's long, and he's athletic, he has got good range. So yeah, he's a good player. He brings a lot to our team both in his talents and also in his playing style and his aggressiveness and ability to do whatever we ask him to do. Whether that's playing zone-coverage, playing man-coverage, rush the passer, play on the end of the line, play in the middle of the line. With [Dont'a] Hightower out he's had a lot of communication and play-calling responsibilities and he has not only handled those well, but it hasn't affected any other parts of his game; that added responsibility. Yeah, he has given us a high level of play.

Q: He has expressed in the past that he hasn't loved wearing the green dot on the helmet that makes him the signal caller on defense. Is his ability to do that now while not taking away from his other responsibilities a sign of his maturity and growth as a player?

BB: Well, look, when you sign up to play football it's a team sport, and all of us have to give up a little of our individuality or give up a little bit of what we personally like for the good of the team. And that goes for every player and every coach that's a part of this. If an athlete wants to do his individual thing then play an individual sport. Be a swimmer or play tennis or go do whatever you want as an individual sport. It's no problem. Team sports are team sports. All of us end up doing things at some point that maybe you'd rather not do, you'd rather have somebody else do, you'd rather do something that you're good at but you have to do something that the team requires you to do. Again, I'm not saying about the play-calling thing. I'm just saying in general that's what team-sport is. That's what football is. You put the team first. You do your job. You put the team first. You do what the team needs you to do to win and that's what our team does. That's what our players do and I have a lot of respect for them. That's why they're on the team because they have that attitude. I don't think there's anybody in this organization, player or coach, that everything's exactly the way they want it to be. Some things are and some things maybe you don't want to do but you have to do them because they need to be done and it's your job. You want to be part of a team then that's part of the responsibility you accept, and I would say not only accept but embrace and understand that's what it is and you do it. A lot of people who don't understand team sports maybe can't relate to that. I don't know. When you sign up for football that's what you sign up for.

Q: Can you speak on how well you thought Jonathan Jones and Matthew Slater performed on punt coverage last night and how big of a factor that was in the game?

BB: Well, I mean that's what their job is and that's a great thing when they can do it then really the other people on the team don't have to cover. Again, part of that is going back to just team football. I mean they do a good job. Slater and Jones both do a good job out there. They work well off of each other, which there's a lot of coordination with those two positions relative to each other and also the rest of the coverage. But that's all part of Ryan [Allen] doing a good job with the placement on the ball and helping the gunners so they know where the ball is and they know how to get to where the ball is, putting the ball up in the air so that there's enough hang time for them to get to it. And obviously especially last night, protection was a definite issue for us as many times as they tried to rush the punter. Again, the whole punting play, unless the ball goes out of bounds, the whole punting play is really a well-coordinated, if it's done right, a well-coordinated team effort between the protection, the punter and the coverage unit. If the gunners can get down there and make the play before the rest of the interior people get down there then that's great. That saves you a lot of - I'd say those guys - a lot of coverage responsibility. We know that's not always going to happen although we hope it happens as much as possible, but then those guys have to cover the field in their lanes and do their job. But yeah, Jonathan and Matthew have done an excellent job for us in that and kickoff coverage and also in the punt return game. So, Jonathan has been a really good addition to that core group of special teams players.

Q: Is Jacoby's speed on the field maybe not necessarily reflective of his time-speed in the traditional combine measurements seeing as he was at the lower end of the spectrum in some of those measurables?

BB: Right. Well you know the time-speed is always a tricky thing because time-speed isn't football speed. When you run a 40-yard dash there's nobody in front of you, nobody's going to hit you. It's just Point A to Point B, and there's something to be said for that. Football's in a lot of cases not like that. So, a players running a ball or running full speed covering a kick or running the ball and there is people in front of him and people trying to tackle him, it's a little different speed than running a sprint on the stop watch. We look at that more as competitive speed and when you see competitive speed in a game, whether that's scouting in the draft or watching a competitive NFL game, sometimes competitive speed takes over for a little bit for what the time-speed is or isn't. We've seen a lot of fast guys not be the first guy down on kickoff coverage. We've seen a lot of guys that aren't that fast be the first guy down on kickoff coverage and so forth. And there are some players, Lawrence Taylor was one that however fast he needed to run he ran and caught the guy. It didn't matter what that guy's time-speed was. It didn't matter what Lawrence's time-speed was. If he was behind him and he had to catch him, he caught him. So again, there's just another element to that. I don't think there's any doubt about Jacoby's athleticism and his physical strength and stature. I would say his speed is not slow. I don't know whatever the next adjective is, but I certainly wouldn't call it that. He's got long legs. He eats up a lot of ground. He certainly showed enough speed on that quick sweep play on the touchdown run that we needed for that situation.

Q: Did the blue-on-blue uniforms last night bring back any memories of when Lawyer Milloy asked to wear the blue-on-blue in 2002 and how that game turned out?

BB: Yeah, how three in a row turned out. It was brutal. Yeah, I mean I wish that was all there was to it. Just put on a new pair of socks or change uniforms or something like that. It's a lot more to it than that. I mean I can't even tell you how excited I was about the uniforms last night. That's really incredible.

Q: How instrumental has Jerry Schuplinski been in helping get Jacoby Brissett ready to be a starting quarterback for your football team?

BB: Well, we have a number of coaches on our staff, and as you know, staffs are a little bigger now than what they used to be. I'm personally not a tremendous fan of big staffs, but I think with the way the league is now with a lot of the limitations that we have from a coaching standpoint and in order to develop younger players then you have to have people to work with those players and give them extra attention, or explanations, or examples of whatever t happens to be to help them improve and grow. So there are a number of guys like that on our staff like Jerry, like Cole [Popovich], like Mike [Pellegrino], Steve [Belichick] did that for a while and so forth. Nick [Caley] did that a little bit last year as well as the other position coaches, so there are times where guys work with certain groups of players while other coaches work with other groups of players. The priorities and the level that the players are at is just different, so we again, try to use our time as efficiently as we can and that sometimes means dividing the groups of players so that they can be the most productive. You've seen us do that in practice as well; if two groups of players are working at the same time, one groups working on one thing and another groups working on another thing. Sometimes we feel like that's just the best way to get things done. But you know, Jerry has spent a lot of time with Jacoby and Josh [McDaniels] obviously spends - well Josh spends a lot of time with all of the quarterbacks - but again there are times where when Tom [Brady] or Jimmy [Garoppolo]'s going to be the starting quarterback that sometimes the second quarterback, whether that was Jimmy a couple of years ago, last year, or Jacoby this year is on a little different scale in terms of their preparation. 

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