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Bill Belichick Conference Call Transcript: 'Brandon [Browner] really works hard'

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during a conference call on Monday, October 27, 2014.


Q: On the timeout in the first quarter, was that because of the kickoff? Did you prefer to kick with the wind if you scored on the third down play? How much did you think the wind was a factor? Secondly, what were your first impressions of Akeem Ayers? **

BB: I think Akeem did a good job this week of coming in and getting acclimated [to] everything: new town, new team, new terminology. There wasn't a whole lot of carryover from the system that he was in to the system that we run. So, I thought he did a real good job of making that transition, playing in the kicking game, playing on defense and just getting the game plan, the scouting report, the whole transition. It was a lot in a few days. I think he handled it well and helped us in the game; saw a few times. Yeah, we were on the one-yard line there, inside the one, so if we would have scored there then we would have had the kickoff with the wind. Of course, it didn't work out that way. The wind, I thought it gusted, so there were times during the game I thought it was more of a factor than others. It wasn't a constant, just a steady factor. It kind of came and went at times. I think it was more a factor in the kicking game than in the passing game though.

Q: When you finished the first half with that big lead, you came out up tempo on that first drive and scored quickly and maintained that sharp focus. How important is a drive like that in the context of the game and also moving forward? It was lopsided at the time, but was it just to keep your foot on the pedal?

BB: Right. Yeah, I think the players did a good job of that. We hadn't run a whole lot of empty in the first half. It was something we went into the game with, we thought that it might be a good time to sprinkle it in there and probably something they weren't talking about too much at halftime. Really, especially in situations like that, I don't think you focus on the score. You just focus on the next play; just try to play good football, do your assignment, do a good job on each play and at that point I think the message to the team and the team is kind of, players talking to each other, the message was, 'Don't worry about the score. Just go out there and do your job and play good football.' They did a good job. That was a good drive for us.

Q: The strip-sack in the second quarter, it seemed like obviously Dont'a Hightower got there and there were a lot of guys around the ball. What did you see from looking at it again, from the coverage on that play and how the secondary contributed to all those guys getting there?

BB: On the strip-sack, Hightower, High came in there and went over [Matt] Forte, and got to [Jay] Cutler. Cutler was still on his feet, had the ball kind of in both hands, but down low, not really against his body. Then kind of at the same time, it looked like [Dominique] Easley and Zach Moore both swiped at it. It looked like to me Zach kind of got Cutler's right arm and I think Dominique got the ball and it slid out there. Rob [Ninkovich] made the smart play by getting on the ball and then getting up and just as he was getting up, [Kyle] Long kind of dove over the pile there and he hit Rob, but Rob was already off the ground. Had Long hit him just a split-second sooner, if any part of Rob's body was touching the turf other than his hands and his feet, then he would have been down by contact. They ended up reviewing that. But Rob did a real good job to get up quickly, kind of keep his balance even though Long hit him. Rob was already up, started running and I think our players reacted quickly and blocked and were able to kind of shield off I think it was, I can't remember, it was [Jermon] Bushrod maybe and it might have been [Josh] Morgan. I thought, obviously good play by Hightower getting the penetration [and] making the sack, but an alert play by Zach and Dominique, both trying to get the ball, even though the quarterback was already tackled they were trying to go beyond that and try to get the turnover. Easley, I think he got his, maybe his left wrist and pulled it away from the ball and then it dropped out. Rob was alertly on it. That was kind of the way I saw it. The coverage was OK. I don't think Cutler had very much time to really work with. Hightower was on him pretty quick right up the middle. Coverage was, we were on our guys, but the rush happened pretty quickly.

Q: Brandon Browner was pretty open this week about wanting to improve his conditioning. Now that he has two games under his belt and is rounding into form, how do you think he looked yesterday and how has he gotten better the last week or so?

BB: Brandon really works hard. He works extremely hard on the practice field. We saw that all through training camp and all through the spring and through training camp. He's got good instincts and knows the defense. We ask him to do a lot of different things. Yesterday he was outside, he also came in, was on [Martellus] Bennett in coverage in certain situations. [He] did a real good job of tackling. I think there were a few tackles there on Forte, the big third down stop; he's a good run-force player. He does a good job in all the situations. I think his on the field work ethic has never been a question. He just, unfortunately, missed a little bit of time there at the beginning of the year, but he's worked very hard and the hard work is paying off. The more he's played the better, just like anybody else, the better the techniques are and the better your timing, confidence, reaction time and so forth. That's just been a byproduct of both practice and in-game opportunities.

Q: With regard to Tim Wright, I know he wasn't with you guys last year, but many of his career touchdowns have come in the red zone. Other than his size, is there anything else you can point out that he does well in that area to get free?

BB: I think Tim's got a lot of things going for him as a receiver. He's got length, as you mentioned. That's a big asset in the red area. It just gives the quarterback a bigger target. He's got length, he's got good hands, can catch the ball away from his body. He's got quickness and can separate, [he] doesn't need a lot of space to get open. [He] doesn't need to build up his speed and all that; he can get in and out of breaks pretty quickly. [He's] a big target with good hands, good catch radius. He's a smart guy and he has a good understanding of the passing game. He played receiver in college. Last year, obviously his first year in the league, was a very productive one in Tampa. He got a lot of game experience and good coaching down there. I think all those things are positives. Tim works hard. He's always one of the first guys in, works hard on the practice field, takes a lot of scout team reps and that's been good for him, too. We've seen a lot of good tight ends this year – Bennett yesterday being another one. Tim took a lot of reps this week giving our defense a look at Bennett. I think things like that have helped him, too. As I said, we've seen a lot of good tight ends this year: [Charles] Clay and [Kyle] Rudolph, saw one in Kansas City, [Scott] Chandler in Buffalo. You know, all those weeks in practice where he's not only running our plays, but running the opponents' plays, good players and getting a lot of opportunity to work on the passing game in those situations, too.

Q: You talked about Akeem Ayers getting caught up on terminology. Does the terminology issue with a new player getting acclimated get magnified when an offensive player gets acquired? Is there more volume involved in an offensive playbook?

BB: Look, for every offensive play, you've got a defensive play. So, I don't know that one is bigger or harder or whatever more than the other. As a defensive player, every time the offense does something, you have to react to it. The good thing about the offense is at least you can control what it is you're going to do. You know what play you're putting a guy in there for. You know what play you're going to call. Yeah, there are multiple things that can happen, but he doesn't have to learn every single play. He only has to learn the ones that he's in there for. I think you have some control over those. Whereas defensively when you go out there, you don't know if they're going to be in empty, I-formation, play-action pass, three-by-one, two-by-two. It could be anything. I think that defensively – there may be more plays on offense, but there are more things you have to defend on defense. So in the end it's probably about the same. But again, we try to have Akeem ready to do certain things more than others. But when you go into a game and you only have five linebackers like we did yesterday, you have to be ready to play in every situation. It wouldn't take too much to have to do more than that. He ended up playing primarily in sub situations, but like I said, it wouldn't take too much for that to change. I think going forward he'll get more opportunities and become more familiar with other parts of the defense – regular defense, goal line, short-yardage and things like that. We'll see how that goes. But I think for his role yesterday, which was primarily in our sub defense, that he did a good job of getting a lot of that right. Certainly there are some things we need to work on. He'll learn from yesterday, but I thought he did a good job.

Q: How did you think Danny Amendola handled punt responsibilities? Is any part of that trying to lighten Julian's workload? Secondly, with the trade deadline tomorrow, what are these next 30 hours like for you and your staff? You've pulled off a trade in each of the last couple years before the deadline.

BB: As far as the trade question goes, I think this is a lot different than at the end of preseason when you're coming into the 53 cut time. You're focused on your opening game, but you're also focused on your roster and [so] is every other team. There's a lot of player movement at that time, as there is, I'd say through the first few weeks of the season on every team. Whether it's practice squad or roster moves or trades or signings or however it turns out. It's not really like that now. I think every team is probably dealing with some type of injury situation. They've lost players since the beginning of the year one way or another. There are probably guys on the roster, you see the injury report come out every week, I mean team has guys that are questionable or doubtful or out or whatever. There are fewer guys and when you have fewer guys it's harder to, I'd say, trade them. You're less inclined to give away guys that you have at this time of year than maybe what you are at the beginning of the year when you can't keep them all and that type of situation. If the opportunity is right and there are some conversation at this time of year about that, if the circumstances are such that a team does have depth or there's another reason they think they can help their team by making a move then – I would just say those situations, those opportunities are a lot fewer than they were at the beginning of the year. It's just a lot different than that. I wouldn't say it's all that hectic right now. We're focused on getting ready for Denver. Nick Caserio and his staff on the personnel end of it, if something comes along and it's something that we think would be worth considering, then we'd talk about it, but I wouldn't say that there's real heavy back and forth communication throughout the league on big trades. I'd be surprised if that took place on any team. It's just not that common this time of year. Could it happen? Yeah, there could be a couple trades. But it's a lot different than what it is at the end of training camp.

Q: What are the benefits for him and the team with the rotation of Marcus Cannon at the various tackle spots throughout games?

BB: I think all three of those guys are good football players. They've all played tackle at a good level. They've all started and played well in this league. They're good players. I think they all deserve to play. I think they've all played well enough to continue to deserve to play. We have confidence with whoever is in there. They all bring many positives to their positions: Sebastian [Vollmer], Nate [Solder] and Marcus. So, whichever one of them is in there, he brings positives to the position. I don't see it any differently than the receiver position or the running back position. Guys we've put on the field are on the field because they're productive and they help the team. I'd say the same thing about those three players.

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