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Bill Belichick, Josh McDaniels, and Matt Patricia Conference Call Transcripts 12/29

Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia addressed the media during their conference calls on Tuesday, December 29, 2015.



Q: How much of a link do you see between Malcolm Butler and Brent Grimes in terms of their background and style of play?

BB: Similar backgrounds, coming out of college. I mean I would say the one big difference was Grimes, Brent was cut in training camp the first year and then I think he went to Europe and then he was on the practice squad and then he got hurt. Then all of a sudden whatever year it was – I want to say '09 – he had a big year and then he became a franchise player. He kind of bounced around in the league and Europe and all that for a couple years and then all of a sudden he became a franchise player and signed with Miami what was it, three years ago right? This is the third year we've played him. Malcolm is a little bit different than that, but Malcolm kind of was never released, was never in Europe, kind of came in and made a team and then this year it's been – other than the one play last year – but this year it's been much more of him becoming more recognized as a player, where it didn't happen quite as quickly for Grimes. As far as playing style and all that, it's a little bit different. You don't see Grimes in a lot of press coverage. He's more of an off corner, kind of like [Cortland] Finnegan, with a lot of quickness and reading routes and playing with a little more space and then closing that space, whereas Malcolm – I'm not saying he can't do that – he just hasn't done it as much for us and has been I'd say more productive up on the line of scrimmage. I'm not saying they both can't do both. It's not one or the other but just their style of play and maybe part of it is the system that they're in, but when you just watch them play you see one guy on the line of scrimmage and the other guy off I'd say most of the time.

Q: Jordan Richards got a significant amount of playing time last Sunday. How did he look to you? It looked like he showed up a little bit in the run game.

BB: Yeah, I'd say he definitely did. Jordan is a smart guy. He's well prepared. He works hard. He has a great approach to the game and fits in well with the team on all levels, very mature for his age and experience. But with Devin [McCourty] and Patrick [Chung] out, two guys that logged a lot of playing time, so it gave him an opportunity, but I thought he definitely showed up, made some tackles, was around the ball, knocked the ball loose. It was a good opportunity for him to play and I thought he got in there and played very competitively – not perfect – but it was good to see him go in there and perform well.

Q: With the Winter Classic at Gillette Stadium, it forced you to finish the season with two road games. What challenges does that present and did you have any input in the decision by Robert Kraft to try to bring the game to Gillette Stadium?

BB: Whenever the games are scheduled that's when we play them. We've got eight at home, we've got eight away, just like any other team. Every time we have a long week we have a short week. Every time we have a short week we have a long week. I'm just trying to coach the football team. That's my job. I don't really worry about all the rest of it. Whatever it is we deal with.

Q: Did Robert Kraft consult you before making a bid for the game?

BB: Look I just coach the football team. That's what I do. All the rest of it is not anything that's pertinent to this conversation or any other one publicly.

Q: How much have you seen Duron Harmon and Logan Ryan grow as a pair in the secondary over the last three years?

BB: Yeah obviously those guys have a great relationship and a prior one and that's a little bit unusual in the NFL. You don't see that a lot where guys that come out the same year end up with the same team. I don't know what the odds on that are but probably not great, particularly when they play the same position, being both defensive backs. But yeah they work hard together, they're around each other, but they have good relationships with everybody, too. It's not like they form a clique or anything. That's definitely not the case. They've done a good job of working in with everybody, but of course they go back further than other guys do in similar situations. It's all positive. They both are good.

Q: Did you envision that type of scenario working out when you drafted them? Did you think it would be advantageous?

BB: Well I think it's kind of obvious that that was a possibility, but that isn't the reason why we drafted them and that wasn't really part of the decision making at all. As you know, when you draft a player you don't even know if he's going to make the team, let alone both of them make the team. That's why you take them, but there is still a lot of work to be done. It worked out, but you never know how that stuff is going to go. It's just a residual thing, not something that … You don't make a decision with that in mind.

Q: With guys being injured at wide receiver, do you think Keshawn Martin has stepped up and taken advantage of his opportunity?

BB: Yeah absolutely. Keshawn has done a great job for us. He got here and was starting to kind of get into the rotation and get some opportunities and all that, then he missed a couple games and that kind of slowed him down a little bit. But as he's come back and unfortunately as we've lost a little bit of depth at that position, that's been unfortunate for the guys that we miss, but it's given Keshawn an opportunity and he's really stepped in and taken advantage of that. Of course being in a system similar to ours in Houston, I'm sure that helped him to some degree. We've used him in different positions, really in all three receiver spots in our three-receiver groupings. He's been inside and outside, both on the strong side and the weak side, so he has good position flexibility. He's smart and he's also given us some plays in the return game. I think his running skills, running after the catch are good, and his running skills in the return game – both punts and kickoffs – which again it's not the easiest thing in the world to find a guy that can do both. It's not the easiest thing in the world to find a guy who can do either one but to find somebody who can do both, again particularly given the situation that we're in at that position – the returner spot as well – he's really come through for us there. He's been a great addition, great teammate, and everybody likes to work with him. He's alert, he's sharp, ready to go, competes hard, practices well. I think he's improved significantly, both in his kicking game, ball handling and also his offensive receiving work, route techniques, ball skills, adjustments and so forth. Even though it was a later starting time, his performance has just kind of improved every week, and I think there is a lot of confidence in him. He's been able to help us and I'm glad we have him. He's been a great addition for us.



Q: What have you liked about Keshawn Martin's play?

JM: Keshawn's really taken advantage of his opportunities. He works extremely hard, he prepares to know his part in the game plan very well and practices well. I think that he has demonstrated the ability to do the two things that we really tell our receivers they have to do, which is to get open and catch the ball. He's versatile. He can play multiple roles in multiple spots, which he has done in each game he has played in. He's demonstrated the ability to make plays under pressure and he's made some catches on third down and he's made some catches in the red zone. He's had to do some things for us, in terms of adjusting after the ball's been snapped. I really like the things that Keshawn's doing, really enjoy the person that he is. He's really a good kid, he works hard, he has a great attitude, he's bright and he's talented. We are fortunate to have him and like I said, he's really doing a good job of making the most of his opportunities that he's getting. We'll look forward to continued improvement and growth from him as we go through the rest of the season.

Q: Do you have insight on why the Patriots ran three trick plays?

JM: Most weeks, we usually have available to us, or at least think about some things that are a little bit out the box. Sometimes, those plays depend on a specific look by the defense, or a certain situation that you're hoping comes up in the game so that you can use it. On that particular sequence, it started with the flea flicker and we had an opportunity there to maybe make a play and we just missed on it. The reverse was right behind it and the Wildcat play was next and I think that it wasn't planned out that we were going to do those three things in sequential order. I think sometimes you're kind of just feeling the flow of the game. What you may or may not need offensively, whether that be jump starting the offense, what have you. I think that we just had a decent chunk pass to Rob [Gronkowski] prior to that so it wasn't like we hadn't moved the ball on that drive prior to that play but sometimes, those are things that you wanted to call earlier in the game. We didn't have that many plays in the first quarter and that was kind of the beginning of the second quarter and still kind of on our earlier calls that we wanted to give an opportunity to go and it just kind of happened that three of those happened to be in a row. That's generally how those plays work and if you have a bad look or it's not the right time to do it, then usually we have a way to get out of those types of plays.

Q: How do you go about expanding a player like Steven Jackson's role?

JM: I think that will start just with the work week. Steven had really two days of practice last week so I think that it's fair to say that we wanted to put him in a situation that was fair to him based on the preparation and the work that he had done prior to the game. This week will give us another three days of good work and experience and exposure to him and for him to the offense that will give us an opportunity to expand his role, hopefully during the course of the game on Sunday. Sometimes circumstances or the situation in the game could dictate what you have to do offensively. Hopefully, we are not in too many of those situations where we can't use our backs, use our tight ends, and use our receivers the way that we would hope to, or design it for the week that we are playing currently. Hopefully, the three days of practice are going to be good for him, good for us and get him more familiar with different things in the offense and the goal would to be able to expand what he feels comfortable doing, which in turn, will make us comfortable putting him in those situations under pressure Sunday in Miami.

Q: Has your prior relationship helped with getting him acclimated in a short amount of time?

JM: There are really two things there. One, I know the person and I've worked extensively with him in that year so I have a comfort level with him. I think our offensive staff, we've talked extensively about that, so we kind of know him better than anybody that comes off the street that we've never really been exposed to. Secondly, he's certainly had exposure to the terminology and the verbiage that we use here so I think that that helps him to close the gap in terms of what he knows and what he doesn't know. He's well ahead of somebody that would come in here with zero experience in our system and I think that would definitely help any new player that would come in at this point in time in the year.

Q: Do you think Steven's experience allows him to get going immediately from a physical standpoint and what do you think about his ability to create yards after contact?

JM: Yeah, Steven's got a lot of experience. I think that can help but I also think that each year is a different year and you get your body and your mind prepared differently from one year to the next. You've got to go back through all of those things that get you ready to play and I think that's what Steven's doing now and then the preparation for each individual week is certainly different in its own right. There are a lot of things that will dictate if a player feels different or similar to a year he played in the past or not. I will just say he's a big guy, he runs hard, he's always run hard and those traits serve you well in terms of making yards after contact and hopefully that will continue to be a strength of his.

Q: How much more can you do to generate offense given all of the injuries and personnel changes? How much of a challenge has it been?

JM: I think that the first thing as a coach, our job is to really take the people that are available, that are healthy enough to play, and to continue to work on the fundamental aspects of the things that make us a good football team, or a good offense. Those things won't change. You'll never win a game running a bunch of trick plays and those kinds of things as the primary method of moving the ball and scoring points. We need to work hard as a staff. We can coach better and we can improve our fundamental execution in the game so that we're more productive whether it be running the football, protecting the quarterback, throwing and catching the ball in the passing game, converting third downs, taking care of the football, scoring in the red zone. Those are all things that we can improve on each week and each day that we go out and work and practice our focus is going to be on that. Those plays, there's a time and a place for all of them and you hope that when you call one of them, you get a look that you have an opportunity to have some success because they do give you a little bit of a boost and if you run them and it works, great, and if you run it and it doesn't work, then it's just another failed play. You certainly can't live on those so we usually try to go in and if there's a defensive look or something that we see that they give us an opportunity, then sure we will have some things available, and if not, ultimately the game and whether we win or lose or have success on offense, is going to come down to how well we execute and how well we coach and play on Sunday, and that's really what our major focus is going to be on going forward.

Q: Can you recall ever using the Wildcat in that form before what we saw on Sunday?

JM: I can't say that we've used it much in the past. I know that it's been done before here and I've done it maybe a couple times when I've been away from here. There are things that you certainly have to consider. One, you do take away some of the potential run-pass options, or a conflict that the defense might have to defend, with the quarterback back there and the ball in his hands first and so on and so forth. There are some things you could do there from the advantage that you can potentially gain if you remove the quarterback from the backfield and they have to remove a defender with him. You could potentially gain an added blocker, which is why so much of the college football game now with the quarterbacks being versatile enough to be the primary runner in some situations. It's hard to overload the box or the front so that you can outnumber the offense when he is the ball carrier because everybody else can then account for the people that are near the line of scrimmage and so you're always basically running a play where you have a fair opportunity to gain yards. I think there are a lot of things that you think about if you can get a predictable look or a defense and doing some of those things, sometimes that helps but there is also a give and a take to it, like you said. We're removing Tommy [Brady] from the backfield, which you don't like to do a whole lot because then, again, when he's back there you do have the opportunity for there to be a play-action pass or some other version of a play that they would have to defend on the defensive side of the ball.



Q: What kind of an addition has wide receiver DeVante Parker been to this offense now that he is becoming a little bit more of a factor?

MP: Yeah, I mean absolutely. I think if you take a look at the skill positions, in particular the wide receiver position, [Jarvis] Landry draws a lot of attention. He's an outstanding receiver, definitely a go-to player for them capable of some amazing runs, run-after-catch ability is outstanding. He's an extremely hard guy to tackle, has a great stiff arm, unbelievable quickness, big receptions, big plays, run after the catch like I mentioned. He's got over 1,000 yards receiving. He's a huge, huge target and huge problem in the passing game and really they'll use him in run situations, too, so he draws a lot of attention. And what they've been able to find in Parker now is another guy that can push the ball vertically down the field, a guy with great speed, good size, can go up and get the ball, great body control and has just become another threat in the passing game. [He's] another guy that does a great job of running with the ball in his hands and can get those big gains downfield and makes really good plays. Once you start taking away one guy then the other guy opens up opportunities for them to make plays, and he's really stepped up to that ability to get that done. Kind of the combination with the running game, which you know obviously they do a good job with that with [Lamar] Miller, and getting the running game going and opening up the play-action pass game so now the downfield deeper throws – play-action type passes and the intermediate routes that they run – become open and [Ryan] Tannehill has a very strong arm so he can get the ball all the way all over the field. Those guys downfield have made a lot of plays.

Q: How do you think Logan Ryan and Duron Harmon working together can help you in your defensive calls?

MP: I think just in general talking about specifically those two guys that have a long history together, they know each other very well, they're very good friends, they work together both on and off the field very well. When you have players in a situation like that, that they have a longer history and background with each other then I think it's easier for those guys to get on the same page. It's quicker for those guys to understand each other from that standpoint, just in general. But what I would say is that in the back end and how that relates to football and how that relates to the game, all of that has to do with just preparation. Those guys are two extremely hard working guys along with everybody in our back end that works very hard to compete. I would say those guys, all of those guys on the back end when we go out to the game being on the same page together and being able to make those adjustments is something that all of them have to be able to do.

Q: What did you think of the performance of the run defense this past Sunday and what needs to happen to potentially tighten that up?

MP: I think it's our same process every week. We go back, we look at the run game, we look at the passing game, we look at third down, we look at the red area, we look at all the different areas of the field and we're constantly trying to make improvements. Some weeks it's better than others and some weeks it's not as good as others. Certainly we'll go back and try and correct some of the things that we saw during the game and we certainly try and correct them during the game, which we got some of that done as we were going through but it's the same process for us every week whatever the stats say. We're trying to improve it every week. For us it's always going to come down to playing with good fundamentals and that's what we always stress, and trying to do a good job with our techniques, and understanding where we've got to go and how we want to play those plays. That's always a starting point every week that we're trying to do, play with good pad level and try to do a good job with our technique so that's really the focus of what we're trying to get done.

Q: Do you think this has been a breakout season for Jamie Collins and how was he able to earn a Pro Bowl berth despite missing a portion of the season?

MP: We're certainly excited for all the guys on our team that were given that honor, but we really focus on the team aspect of it and those guys are out there working together. There are a lot of your teammates on the field that allow you to be a good player and allow you to be able to make some plays. It's the great thing about football, it's all 11 guys on the field working together that we really focus on. I would say in specific with Jamie, just in general, like I've said many times, the guy is very hard working. He's a very smart player, really tries to improve himself every week and get better and he's still learning the game, still learning our defense, but really does a great job. [He] has a good mix of athletic ability and power and speed and strength that we try to utilize as much as we can on the field. He's just continually trying to work, but I think it's a combination of his teammates around him that help and that's the good part of what we do and why we play this sport. It's about the whole team.

Q: In regards to your response about the run defense, were you implying that fundamentals and technique were two areas the defense was lacking in this past Sunday?

MP: Like I said, it's the same every week. Whatever the stats are the stats are, but we're always trying to improve our technique. We're always trying to improve our fundamentals. Those are the two points of emphasis we make every week and whether we do them well or we don't do them well, there's always room for improvement. There are weeks where the stats may say one thing and we're playing with really good technique and there are weeks where the stats may say another thing and we're not. Again, for us it's about breaking it down into fundamentals and just taking a look at what we're doing well and what we're not, and it's the same regardless.

Q: If the stats are misleading us in the media then would you say the performance by the run defense was acceptable?

MP: That's not at all what I'm saying. I'm not happy with the loss at all. We're trying to improve and we're looking to get ready for Miami and hopefully have a better performance out there on the field and go down there and get a win.

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