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Bill Belichick, Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia Conference Call Transcripts 12/13

Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick, Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels, and Defense Coordinator Matt Patricia address the media during their conference calls on Tuesday, December 13, 2016.


Bill Belichick, HEAD COACH

Q: What should Cyrus Jones done differently on his muffed punt return and do you still have confidence in him going forward?

BB: Right. Well, of course once the ball hits the ground we don't want to be near the ball and have that hit us. That goes for everybody, but yeah, look, in general, the same thing I said last night. We turned the ball over three times and that's three too many. So we've got to do a better job of coaching and a better job of playing to eliminate those turnovers.

Q: But in regards to Cyrus Jones specifically, how would you assess his play and what is your level of confidence in him?

BB: Yeah, on the ball that hit him the returner, I mean any punt returner, once we don't field the ball then we have to get out of the way and keep it from hitting us. Yeah, that's a fundamental thing. But relative to ball security, I mean we all have to do a better job of taking care of the ball. We turned it over three times and all of those players and all of the other players - we've got to do a better job of it. We've got to coach it better. We've got to handle it better.

Q: What do you see from Cyrus Jones on the punt return unit that allows you to continuously put him out there?

BB: Yeah, well again, we have confidence in all of our players. We've seen [Matthew] Slater fumble before. We've seen [Tom] Brady throw an interception before, too. We'll always do what we feel is best for the football team based on the situation and the particular game and what we're dealing with.

Q: How helpful is it to have running backs like James White and Dion Lewis that can line up outside of the formation as receivers when your depth at receiver is limited?

BB: Well, I think our backs have been productive for us when they've had an opportunity, which they were last night. That's really what good backs do, is they're able to make yards on their own. They're able to make plays with the ball in their hands. That's what makes them valuable along with good ball security. We had those from all three of our running backs that played offensively last night and that's good. That's what we need.

Q: You went into last night with only really three full-time receivers active on the roster. Have you been in a situation like that before with numbers that low and can that affect your game plan at all?

BB: Well again, I think that's pretty common in the National Football League every week, that there will be a position somewhere along the line that you don't have the type of depth that you'd like to have for that game or within that game. You have to have alternative ways to - well you have to find a way to deal with it - how you're going to back it up or use a different grouping or whatever it happens to be. It happened on defense last night when we had two players at corner who were out for a period of time and you have to make those adjustments. Fortunately they came back, like Chris [Hogan] did. When you have a 46-man roster you're going to have to deal with it somewhere. So wherever it is then you find a way to deal with it. Is it challenging? I mean, I don't know. It's like that every week at some position, or positions I should say, and then it can happen during the game, too.

Q: What are some of the things you saw overall from your special teams units last night?

BB: Well, I would say it's overall pretty similar to what we could say about our whole performance on offense, defense and special teams. We had our moments. We did some things well. You mentioned some of those. We missed an opportunity to down the ball with good field position. I'd say we missed some opportunities in the return game. We were close on a punt rush, but didn't have a lot of production in the return game in the end. I thought the onside kick recovery was obviously one of the big plays in the game, probably the most important play of the game on special teams, even including the blocked field goal because of when it happened. I mean, that play is always a critical play. I thought our punt protection against a good punt rush and field goal rush team for that matter, our punt and field goal protection were both pretty solid, which is as I said, a real challenge against that team; Baltimore. Nobody's blocked more kicks then the Ravens have in recent years. There were good things and there were individually a lot of good things even on some of the plays that didn't go well. We've just got to keep working at it but that was a good special teams unit that we faced, and as you said we made some, they made some. We'll just keep working to make those plays. That group works hard. The unit works hard. I thought our three specialists gave us a lot of good plays.

Q: What did you see on film on Chris Hogan's long touchdown and how did he get that wide open?

BB: Yeah, I got a pretty good look at it during the game. I talked about it after the game. It was somewhere there between [Matt] Elam and [Eric] Weddle. The play-action was to the other side. Either the safety was supposed to come over. Either Weddle was supposed to come over or Elam was supposed to carry him. I don't know which it was but something happened there and the play-action might have affected the safety coming over. But in any case, it's a little bit of a - I mean it looks like an easy play - but it's really a little bit of a tough read for the quarterback and the receiver when a coverage kind of breaks down like that, is how to read the coverage based on our rules that we have for running against a single-high safety or a split-safety look. It kind of wasn't really either. So as a receiver you just have to be decisive and take the read that you think it is. It's a little bit of a dirty read and fortunately Tom [Brady] saw it the same way and so, you know, it's a case of taking advantage of an opponent's mistake and in this case we were able to do it. It's a great play by Chris [Hogan] and Tom, good protection. They made an error. We were able to capitalize on it.

Q: Was there anything specifically that stood out that made Malcom Brown's safety possible?

BB: Well, it looked like what happened was when we moved the front that the guard, [Vladimir] Ducasse, instead of blocking Malcom [Brown] blocked down and so that left Malcom just kind of standing right there in the hole. The fullback had to take him. I don't think that's who the fullback was assigned to. I think he was assigned to block the linebacker and the guard was assigned to the tackle, but you know, it's tough in that situation. Offensively when the defense stems late, you're in the end zone, there is a bunch of crowd noise, the ball snapped and there is a missed assignment or a little bit of hesitation or indecision. The defense can gain an advantage there, so again, I think that was one of those plays probably that the Ravens made an error in their blocking or their communication or whatever happened. I'm not sure exactly what it was, but however it turned out so they ended up having to put the fullback on Malcom and Malcom had already gotten a lot of penetration by the time the fullback got to him. He was already across the line of scrimmage and then that pretty much blew up the play. That's what it looked like to me. Again, another opportunity for us to take advantage of an error by our opponent; being aggressive and playing good football. We had a chance to do that. We made some errors that they took advantage of and those two plays that you mentioned I'd say were probably plays that went the other way for us.

Q: How important was it to stick to the running game against a stout defense like the Ravens and what did you think of the performance of that unit overall?

BB: Well, the Ravens are a good - they're a good run defense, as we've seen all year. They have good schemes. They get their safeties involved so they're hard to block sometimes with an extra guy and so sometimes its hard for the receivers to get in there and block them because of their alignment or because they drop down late or they show like they're coming down from one side and then they spin it and come down from the other side. You just can't get them. And then they have some very good players out there that are hard to block. [Timmy] Jernigan's hard to block. Obviously [Terrell] Suggs is hard to block. Brandon Williams is hard to block. [Michael] Pierce gives them some good snaps in the running game. So you know, it's a battle in there to make some yards and there's some tough yards in there that some of those three and four-yard runs, I mean they don't look like highlight plays but second-and-six looks a lot better than second-and-nine and those are important plays in the drive. The bottom line is they're a hard team to run against. They do a good job. I thought we hung in there. We tried to grind it out and stay with the running game just to keep chipping away and for the most part we went forward. [We had] a holding penalty that set us back, but again, generally speaking - two of them I think - but generally we went forward and that's good. Again, some of those runs the accumulation of them can pay off later on in the game and it also helped our play-action. We were able to create some big plays with our play-action passes to our receivers and tight ends and some of the check-downs to the backs. Even if you run it in there and aren't making a ton of yardage sometimes the yardage on the plays that go with that, some of the play-action passes or misdirection plays or flea flickers, a play like that, the opportunity with those plays comes from the running plays that have set them up or they complement them. I think that's kind of how we have to look at it, how those plays in the offense tie together relative to overall production. Not just if a team wants to stop the run, they can stop the run, but they give up plays on the play-action passes then that kind of offsets it or vice versa. When you throw it for 400 yards or whatever it was, some of the passing game is set up by the running game. Again, it's just trying to play complementary football when we can.



Q: How do you find the fine line of going with a run call when the passing game looks red hot at times?

JM: I think you just have to understand that it all works together. Offensive football is very complementary. One thing leads to another, one thing plays off another. One thing is effective because of something else that you may be doing or that the defense has to defend. I think you have to have patience if you're ever going to try to set something up, you need to have enough patience to give it time to be set up. Sometimes there are times when that can tug at you a little bit because maybe you think you're having some success with something else or some other concept in the game plan, but if you take a big-picture approach and understand that it all kind of fits together and complements the other things that you want to do, then you have to try to stay committed and balanced and give yourself a chance to be productive in multiple areas of your offense whether that be the running game, passing game, play-action, screen, draw, personnel groupings, tempo, whatever it might be, because they all can help the impact of the other areas of your offense. 

Q: Are there times during the game when you're not setting anything up, you're just play-calling based on the game situations?

JM: I think each game is its own entity. I would say there is always a chance that there's going to be a time in the game when you say, 'I don't have enough time left to try to be setting things up at this point,' and you just try to make the best play call you can every single play the rest of the way. I think there is definitely a point in the game when that could happen each week. 

Q: What have you seen from your backs and your offensive line in the running game that has allowed you to execute in closing moments?

JM: We feel like it's our responsibility in those types of situations to finish the game on offense with the ball by getting as many first downs as we need to get. Our offensive line, our tight ends, our backs, James Develin, our offense in general I think feels very confident about trying to be aggressive and physical at that point in the game and running the ball for as many first downs as you can, or as you have to. We always talk about trying to be a tough football team and I think there is no better measure of your toughness on offense than your ability to run the ball when the other team knows you're going to run it. Our guys have really tried to embrace that challenge. We haven't been perfect in that situation for sure. There are certainly times when we could have done better and we work hard to try to do that, but I think our guys have a great attitude, a great mindset, a great approach in that situation and want that responsibility. Last night, I thought they really did a nice job of trying to close out the game on offense by running the ball for those first downs. 

Q: How much do you trust LeGarrette Blount in game-closing situations based on his ability to hold on to the football?

JM: I couldn't trust him more. He does a great job of taking care of the ball; always has. It's been a strength of his game since we've had him. He's a guy that works hard at his ball security. He practices it each week, and that's got to be the number one thing when you're talking about giving the ball to somebody in those critical situations is that you've got to trust that they're going to come up with it at the end of the play and never give the opponent an opportunity to take it away. Our number one goal in any type of a four-minute offense situation is to protect the football and LG [LeGarrette Blount] has certainly done a nice job of that. 

Q: What have you seen from Shaq Mason in terms of what he has going for him that makes him sort of a unique guy? Also, as you start to turn the page, what types of challenges does the Denver defense present?

JM: Yeah, Shaq [Mason] is a guy that has worked extremely hard coming off some nicks and bumps and all the rest of it last year. He's worked to get back in and really be a strong contributor and a consistent performer for us. His attitude has always been very good. He works extremely hard at his craft. Dante [Scarnecchia] has done a tremendous job with that whole group, getting them to play well together and getting each man to improve in his fundamentals and his technique. I've said that numerous times that they couldn't ask for a better situation than to have Dante Scarnecchia as their position coach. Shaq practices hard, it's important to him, he loves the game of football. He enjoys competing and playing, he's tough, he can really move, he's got great agility. I tell him he's got built-in leverage because he's not the tallest guy in the world, so that gives him an added advantage in terms of being underneath people and ultimately, playing the offensive line position, that's really the most important thing. You've got to win with leverage and pad level and Shaq has done a nice job of that. He's matured, he understands the pro game, he's more comfortable in our system this year and I think we're seeing that in his play. And then Denver - this is a tremendous, tremendous challenge. Coach [Wade] Phillips has always had great defenses. Their players play extremely physical, fast, aggressive; never out of position. They rarely give up big plays. They're at the top of the league in basically every category. They can rush the passer, they can create turnovers; they're very difficult to throw the ball against. They create negative plays in the running game. They're one of the best teams in the league on first down which means they're ultimately one of the best teams in the league on third down, and then playing in Denver is always a huge challenge with the noise as an added element for them. We have a lot to digest in a short week and our guys will be excited to get in here and get started tomorrow on them. They've got great players, they're well-coached, it's a hard place to play, and we've got a lot of work ahead of us. 

Q: Would you consider taking an interview for the Rams head coaching position after the season?

JM: I'm really not - I've already spoken my piece on that. I have a short week to get ready for a great opponent and I'm focused on the Broncos. I know there are a lot of things going on out there but my focus and my attention is going to stay right here in the building on the team that we have to get ready for and how we can prepare our team to play the best they can on Sunday. 



Q: What are your thoughts on Jonathan Jones and his ability to stay ready for that instance when he was called upon?

MP: So, Jonathan Jones. I think he did a great job of stepping in. He's a guy that, for us defensively, someone that has a critical role for us on the special teams that we know on the active roster, game day roster, is someone that is going to have to be able to step in and play for us defensively. He's ready to go week in-week out. He takes the practice reps necessary. I think what we've talked about as far as your depth on your team during the game on game day, you have to be ready to go. There are situations that come up whether it's offense, defense, or special teams, guys are either in or out, injuries or whatever occurs. So he's a guy that prepares really hard. It's something that we noticed I would say going back to training camp. He's a smart guy, he does a good job with communication and he's one of those guys - and you have special teams players that are part of your defense that primarily play a role on special teams that can learn the defense and play the defense at a high level without a lot of practice reps. Those guys are really valuable. He's just one of those guys that we're ready to go with him if we need to and in some cases we'll put him out there because of whatever the situation may come up. He does a good job of communication. He tackles well. It's part of what helps him in all the phases that he does and he's got good speed. [He's] just a guy that's working really hard to understand what we do and a guy that's really ready to go if we need him and when we need him. And again, we roll those guys in and out regardless of situation so he has been in there sometimes, too.

Q: Why did you decide to go all in by blitzing six rushers midway through the fourth quarter? What was the key to making that play work?

MP: Yeah, just kind of part of what we saw during the week where we want to just - we got some calls that we used and trying to get some pressure situations where we think we can get them called. I mean really it's - the players just did a great job of the execution I think as far as trying to get a good pass rush and the guys in the coverage aspect really did a great job. Those are some really hard personnel groups that we saw out there from Baltimore and some formationings [formations] and things like that. It's difficult to get the difference between five and six and sometimes that difference is maybe just a slight adjustment by a particular player so the details of that are kind of sometimes a little bit variable depending on what we get formationally. I would just say in general it just was a situation where we were trying to be an aggressive play and saw maybe we could get some pressure and the guys I think just executed well out on the field. But it's a really hard look, hard formation that they gave us on that so it's a little bit tricky sometimes to get those called but thought they did a good job. 

Q: Rob Ninkovich ended up with the sack. Was he one of those variable players who made a split-second decision to add himself to the rush?

MP: No, I mean I think he's part of the front on that one so he's in a good situation as far as just being able to go.

Q: Have you been able to see Shea McClellin use his athleticism more as he gets more comfortable in your schemes?

MP: Yeah, I mean obviously the blocked kick there - that was great. That was a pretty unbelievable play so I think that speaks for itself. I mean just defensively I would say for us, like I think I had mentioned maybe a couple weeks ago, we're just trying to build. So each week getting guys on the field that are playing together in a more conducive role and getting used to playing with each other. So obviously [Dont'a] Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, Shea McClellin, Elandon Roberts, those guys from a linebacker standpoint, just being able to communicate fast and quick and when you can do that I think you can play faster. It starts with communication because as much as things might move around from a scheme standpoint or an offensive standpoint, the quicker we can get our recognition in and the quicker we can get our communication in then obviously the faster those guys can play. I think those guys play fast, they play hard. You see them really trying to hustle and Shea is certainly along those lines. He's a very cerebral guy, he's very smart. He studies very, very hard. [He's] really trying to understand what we do and I think it has improved. That's where we're trying to go with it, is to get it where he really understands it and I think that's where we're working the right direction. We have just got to keep going. There were certainly a lot of plays out there that we could've been better on and we should be better on and all that stuff is what we're building towards. 

Q: What do you see from the Denver Broncos offense that could present challenges to your defense?

MP: Yeah, I mean excellent question. That's what we're - we're into these guys right now. You know, it starts at the top. Coach [Gary] Kubiak does an excellent job with this offense and this offensive philosophy. I think it's one that has proven all of the places he has been - Houston, at Baltimore, obviously at Denver. He and Coach [Rick] Dennison do a great job of implementing their offensive system and I think it's one that is really system-based. It starts with the quarterback. They're really trying to give the quarterback a good game plan where he can go out and execute fairly quickly and well and not put too much on his plate. They're going to run their run game which is a heavy-based, stretch-zone type of scheme where they're going to try to create space in the defense and get the ball downhill. [They're] really just doing a great job as far as using their personnel. So [Devontae] Booker, the back, is very quick. He's athletic, he's big, he can get downhill. [Justin] Forsett, obviously signing him, is someone extremely familiar with this offense so they'll rely heavily on that. They love the tight ends so [Virgil] Green and A.J. [Derby] will be in there quite a bit. They definitely will use them in both the run and the passing game. And then obviously the two wide receivers are a huge, huge problem. [Demaryius] Thomas and [Emmanuel] Sanders are two of the best in the league. Big - you know, Thomas is big, long, does a great job on the deep balls, has got great hands. I mean he makes some unbelievable catches. For a young quarterback who's doing a great job of just getting the ball where it has got to go, when you have receivers like that you can take some chances and you can put the ball up even if you have some double-coverage situations or really good coverage. You can put it up there and those guys will go make a play. Sanders [is] obviously extremely explosive, extremely fast. Just a great player. So this offense, this offensive scheme, Coach Kubiak, they do a tremendous job of preparing each week and running the offense in a very controlled fashion which gives them the chance to control the game, control the clock, get the ball downfield. They take their vertical shots, they'll stretch you horizontally, they'll use the run game to set up the play-action game. Now the boot game, which gets them out of the pocket, [Trevor] Siemian does a great job of finding those guys. Really a lot of the times on those boot plays you see a lot of teams just kind of get rid of it quickly. He does a good job of getting the ball downfield on those type of plays and they're getting those chunk yardages where they're being able to move the ball. So we've got to be able to handle all of those situations that come up. Then obviously there are some things there too where the quarterback has some ability to change the play at the line of scrimmage. We saw a little bit of that last year. We've seen it this year on film where they can identify what we're in and get themselves in a better situation. So we're going to have to really, really do a great job of getting ourselves ready to go here.

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