Official website of the New England Patriots

replay
Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Thu Apr 15 | 02:00 PM - 11:59 PM

Bill Belichick Press Conference Transcript 10/23

BB: Alright, regular Friday crew. How are you guys doing?

Q: What have you seen from Logan Ryan's development this year? He started playing in the slot and then moved outside. 

BB: He's done all those things for us in the past. He's a versatile player – he's played inside, outside, a little bit of safety, played in the kicking game. Smart kid, works hard, tough, good tackler. 

Q: What is the biggest adjustment moving from slot corner to outside corner?

BB: It's a whole different world, but he's done that over time. Logan works hard. He's been a dependable player for us. I think his improvement is, like a lot of guys in his category, incremental. It's not like it's a big jump from week to week. He contributed for us as a rookie and he's done it for three years.

Q: Do you usually see versatility show up early in most players' careers, or does it take a while to show up?

BB: I think it definitely would vary from player to player. The more you work with a player I think the better feel you get for that. I probably never would have thought that [Jabaal] Sheard would have played as well inside as he has, just because I'd never see him do it. But since we've had him, he's done a good job for us inside. He's done a good job for us on the right side as well as the left side, so no reason to think he couldn't do it, but just didn't know that he could because he had really only been in one spot for four years in Cleveland. I'm not saying that's right or wrong or in any way being critical of them but until you work with a player and put him in different positions … We've done that with some players, moved them to different spots, it hasn't worked out well at all and just leave them where they are. That's OK, too. 

Q: Is that something you just decided to try in training camp?

BB: Look, we only have so many players on the team. This isn't like college where you can have two or three backups at every position and can take 90 players to the game or whatever it is. No, we have to build our own depth with injuries and our 45, 46-man roster, game day list. We can't have a backup for every guy. There are not enough players. So, we have to have some type of versatility, some type of roster depth for any given game and over the course of the season with all the different things. Each team has its own characteristics that we play and there may be more of a priority in one area one week and another area another week, and having players that are versatile that can shift into those areas of need is important. 

Q: Eric Decker plays in the slot, but he seems like a taller, longer player than some of the smaller, quicker guys we've seen play that position. How does that help him?

BB: I think it's just different, but I think those are the two you've identified, those are kind of the two categories you see. [Marques] Colston from New Orleans, [Mohamed] Sanu from Cincinnati – those guys are bigger, longer guys that have a different skill set than the Troy Browns or [Danny] Amendolas or whoever. You get the guy that is in the offense, or you fit your offense to that guy, however you want to look at it, to what those skills are. But you see both of those. Some weeks you see the bigger slot guys, maybe more vertical players, bigger, stronger guys, better blockers, and other weeks you see guys that are fast, quick, work well in those short areas, kind of returner-type player, like [Jeremy] Kerley is for them. So they've used both of them in there. They're very different and they challenge you differently defensively, both with the matchup and the things that they do and the skills that they have. But again, that's kind of the way it is every week. Each player has his own characteristics and they're not all the same. We have to deal with blocking tight ends, we deal with fast receiving tight ends, we deal with skillful receiving tight ends, we deal with big receivers, small receivers, quick receivers, fast receivers, possession receivers that are physical. It's the NFL. Everybody you've got in there has got skills. They're not all the same, but they have skills you have to deal with or they wouldn't be playing in this league. 

Q: Do you feel like the Jets move guys around more than other teams? Or are there teams where terms like slot receiver and outside receiver don't apply?

BB: Again, every team is different. But I said all week that Coach [Chan] Gailey I think does a very good job of utilizing his personnel wherever he's been, whether that's in Pittsburgh or Buffalo or Dallas or the Jets – wherever it is, he's always done a good job of that. He's taken his players and put them in positions where they can be productive and utilized them in an efficient way. That takes into consideration a lot of players, a lot of different teams, a lot of systems, a lot of games, but I would say in general that's a characteristic that they've shown and it's certainly true this year. 

Q: How has it looked in practice for Brandon LaFell in terms of bringing him up for this Sunday's game?

BB: We'll see. Like we always do, we'll kind of look at things after today's practice, after Friday. Sometimes it goes longer than that, so we'll just have to see. 

Q: What did you think of Cameron Fleming's performance last week going from the practice squad to the active roster to right in the thick of things?

BB: The good thing for Cam was he did that last year. Cam is very intelligent, very smart, works hard and he's a very diligent guy, so as a rookie he was always in that situation. There were times where he was thrown into it. He had been in it this year, and it's the same thing. So, I'm not surprised, but I think he did do a good job without taking a lot of reps with that group and playing pretty much three quarters of the game at that position against some very good pass rushers and good players out there – [Erik] Walden, [Robert] Mathis and those guys. So, I thought he did a good job. But he's done it for us before, and that's why everybody is important and every role is important and you just never know how it's going to go, but he definitely answered the bell. 

Q: A lot of guys have talked about how difficult it is to tackle Chris Ivory. When you're facing a physical runner like that, is it just a question of numbers and getting people to the ball?

BB: That's certainly a good place to start. There are a lot of backs in this league, you put them in one-on-one situations and it's tough, it's a tough tackle. You're probably not going to make them all. The less space you give them, the less space they have to run in, the more you can gang tackle them and get more defensive players to him, the better off you are. That's obviously always the case. But Ivory does a good job. He's fast, he's got good speed, he can get the ball outside, he's a very powerful downhill runner and he's got good vision. He makes guys miss, too - he's not just all power. He's got a lot of power, but he's got good speed, good quickness and good vision, too. He uses his blockers well. He's a good back. 

Q: Have they used a lot of play action off his running?

BB: They have a good mix in their offense of everything. Yeah, I think Chan does a good job of forcing defenses to cover everything. They can get big. They can run with power. They spread out and go empty. They do a lot of things in between - moving pocket plays, drop back, traditional drop back, play action, again moving players into different positions, so you can't know exactly where they're going to be all the time, creating different matchups and that type of thing. I'd say it's all of those, a combination of all those things. But yeah, play action is definitely a part of it, absolutely. 

Q: The forecast is potentially calling for rain. I know you're not a weather person - we've been down that road before.

BB: Right, and we're not going down it again, either.

Q: Do you even mention it?

BB: No. 

Q: Is it more of a game day thing?

BB: I'll leave that to you. I'll leave that to you. We've been in everything. Whatever we get, we'll deal with it. There isn't anything we haven't practiced in. I mean, no snow this year, but we've done it in the past, too, so whatever it is it is. 

Q: The offensive line seems very physical every year. Is there anything you see about this year's group that's any different?

BB: It's a lot of the same, the same players. But yeah, I agree, they ran for 200 yards against us last year. They do a good job. [Nick] Mangold is a really good center, a veteran player, smart. I'm sure he sets the table for everybody. You've got big, strong players in there. The tight ends are good blockers, the fullback, strong runner, a couple strong runners. [Zak] Stacy has done a good job, too. The running game, it's not one guy or one blocker. You've got to get all of them. They've made yards inside, outside, they've made them left, right, up the middle. The quarterback has made yards running with the ball. We're just going to have to do a good job all the way across the board. We can't cover five gaps and leave one open. That's no good. So, everybody's going to have to do their job. We're going to have to play all their blockers. We're going to have to do a good job of tackling. That's why they lead the league in rushing. They have good backs and they have good blockers and they have a good scheme. 

Q: It seems like Josh Kline has gone from one of the younger guys to one of the more experienced guys on the offensive line very quickly. How is he handling that role?

BB: I'd say he's definitely stepped up. We've asked him to do a lot of different things in terms of playing both guards pretty much in every game. He's played both sides. He's also taken a lot of snaps at center. He's taken on a lot of responsibility in terms of the assignments and he's played well. I think there is definitely leadership element from Josh in there, particularly in terms of making those interior line calls or helping with the identification of defensive personnel, particularly on third down, who's who and how are we treating different looks depending on what protection we're in or what plays we have called. There are some moving parts, some variables that his experience has been valuable. Not taking away from the other guys, from David [Andrews] or Shaq [Mason] or Tre' [Jackson], but he's done a real good job. He's been a big part of that, especially in a couple of the earlier games, the first two, three games, he was almost always in there. Whoever the other player was, whoever the other guard was changed, but he was usually always on the field at one spot or the other, and his experience and recognition and knowledge and identification was good for us. I think as we've gone along, those other guys are starting to catch up a little bit, but of those four players, he clearly has the most experience. He's done a really good job both on and off the field, in the meeting rooms, in the classroom, walk-throughs, his presence and stability and confidence – I think that's helped the whole group. 

Q: Did he play outside at tackle in college?

BB: A little bit, but not in this league. He's been an inside player.

Q: Do you recall a player that has played well at tackle, guard and center? How rare is that?

BB: I'd say it's rare, but I think there are probably a lot of players that can do it – you just don't ask them to do it. Like [Logan] Mankins obviously played guard for us, we always had him as a tackle, but we never needed him because our tackles were very durable. I'm sure he could've played center. So, there is one, just to pick a name. We had that at Cleveland with Steve Everitt – guys that could have played multiple positions, but you have them at the primary positon, or maybe it's one of two positions and you're not really looking to move those guys around. Hopefully you have enough players, enough depth that you're not juggling that. [Cameron] Erving was a good example last year, kid out of Florida State, played a lot at left tackle and midway through the season they moved him to center. I think those are probably the two hardest positons to play on the offensive line, so it'd hard to imagine that he couldn't play guard given the fact that he played left tackle and center, but I think there are other players that had they been asked to do that, they probably could have done it, but there are not many teams that would take a starting left tackle and move him into center. It's not a move that's commonly made. But there are probably more guys that can do that than have done it, but you don't see many that do it, I agree. 

Q: Last week when Marcus Cannon went down, did you give equal thought to using a tight end or using a guard? What goes into that thought process?

BB: I'd say it starts during the week. It starts on Tuesday when we look at potentially what are the players that are going to be available, who's going to be active for the game. Sometimes we have a pretty good idea who that's going to be and sometimes we don't. Whatever the case is, we take that information and work it from there, so if we know who's going to be active, then we practice those backup moves, whatever they are. So, whoever the backup right tackle is practices that. Whoever the backup right guard is, center and so forth, whether that's another player who's already on the line, which when you only have seven players, that could definitely be part of it, sometimes you go into the game with your five guys and the other two, they are the plug-in guys and nobody else moves. But sometimes that's not the case. If you go into a game where you're not sure who the active players are going to be because you have game time decisions looming, then you practice those contingencies. If this player is at the game, here's how we're going to do it. If this player is not at the game then that's how we're going to do it. It's the same thing at every positon. Honestly, I think it would be pretty irresponsible if we got a player hurt and then we had a meeting on the sideline like, "What are we going to do?" Now is the time to talk about that, not in the middle of a game. Now, when you start losing multiple players at a position, if you lose two players at any position, on any team – that's an issue. I mean, two of anything with anybody, pick any team in the league, I doubt that wouldn't be an issue. Once you start getting into that area, then you've got to think about kind of what's our emergency move? How do we get through this? Maybe it's not so much who would play there, but what you could actually do with that person there, how you would manage the game, what you would call if you got to that point. Third quarterback, third tight end, third right tackle, third defensive end, third safety – third anything – if you're going that far down the line, it would be an issue. It would be an issue. I'm not saying you couldn't handle it, but it would be an issue. Some more than others, but I would say everything … You don't go into the game thinking about losing two guys at the same position. When that happens, that's a difficult situation. And particularly in the kicking game because now you're talking about that's 66 players on special teams – kickoff, kickoff return, punt, punt return, field goal, field goal rush – that's 66 players. That means you have to have 66 backups. I mean, you've got to have it. So, this guy is out on this team, who is going in for him? You've got to have somebody. It might be the same guy for five positons, but you've got to have somebody. OK, now you lose two guys at the same spot, again two anything – two safeties, two corners, two linebackers, two whatever they are – and they're going to be playing the same players in the kicking game. You're not going to have your middle linebacker as your gunner, so if you lose two gunners, you lose two gunners. If you lose two interior punt protectors, you're losing two interior guys on the punt return, you're losing two frontline blockers on the kickoff return, you're losing two interior, so the multiples in the kicking game, I can tell you from experience having been a special teams coach, you're really talking about making some adjustments. Like I said, it's hard enough to lose one because you're looking at 66 plus 66. You start dropping down below that, then the opportunity to even give that guy reps at that position when you get 11 guys on the field, whoever that guy is, just getting him out there is one thing, him having reps at what he's doing is probably that would be a dream I would think that most likely didn't happen during the week. So, those are tough. Lose two long snappers, lose two punters, lose two anything – that's pretty challenging. But special teams, people don't realize how difficult it is to just manage the roster in the kicking game because there are a lot of guys you can just eliminate from special teams. You don't seen any offensive linemen on the kickoff team, you don't see any defensive linemen on the kickoff team, you don't see any quarterbacks, other than the kicker and the punter, so you can take probably 15 to 20 players and just eliminate them from a lot of those teams. So now you're working with a much shorter list. And what that total number is, is one thing, but realistically what that number is, is it's another ball game. So you start talk about how many players you actually have and then you're looking at 66 spots minus the field goal team, you start looking at 66 spots and then who backs those 66 spots up and then who's behind them. 

Q: If you start seeing Brady running out on the kickoff coverage team, you know you're in trouble.

BB: But I'm telling you though, when you're a special teams coach and you lose that first guy, like alright so this player is out, now we make our move on the punt team, on the punt return team, on the kickoff team, on the kickoff return team, maybe the field goal rush team or wing on field goal, whatever it is, OK. Now, if something happens to him, who's the backup on the next play? And again you don't know when that's going to happen, so you could be sitting there on third down and there's the guy out there and now he hobbles off the field on third down and now you're out there on punt return or punt team or they score and now you're in a kicking situation. So, forget about all the X's and O's, forget about all the situational things that come up in the kicking game, the one-play-type situation things, all the other things, personnel management on special teams is a huge part of the responsibility of that position. I know that's a lot more than you wanted to know about this. We could make that long answer even longer if you really want to. Joe [Judge], Scott [O'Brien], those guys, and Joe as Scott's assistant or Bubba [Ray Ventrone] as Joe's assistant, those guys, you've got very little time to work fast and a lot of times you're trying to make those substitutions and a guy might already be on the field. Somebody is out, alright what are we going to do, and you look out there and that guy's out there playing defense or he's out there playing offense or he's with the coaches about to go in or out in those situations, and kind of getting all that straight. 

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content

Advertising