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Bill Belichick Press Conference Transcript 10/28

Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Friday, October 28, 2016.

Q: With Marcell Dareus returning to this game, what kind of a different look can he along with Kyle Williams give this defensive front?

BB: Yeah, I mean those are two great players. Yeah, two great players. Kyle [Williams] is very active on everything. He's quick, he plays with good power, great motor, good pass rusher, good in the running game, a productive player. Marcell [Dareus] is big, strong, athletic, hard to knock off the ball, plays on his feet. I mean they're both really good.

Q: Will their presence, Marcell Dareus in particular, significantly affect how you approach their defensive line?

BB: I mean he's one of the best defensive tackles in the league, so you know, I mean look – you can't change the basic X's and O's, but who you're blocking is different depending on who that person is that's there. So technique or maybe how – I'd say it's more of a technique thing. I mean sometimes you get a little more or a little less help depending on what the priority is on a particular play, but he's good.

Q: How did Dion Lewis look out there on the practice field for the first time yesterday?

BB: Well, he's been out there doing things with the training staff for a long time, so this is the next step.

Q: How hard did he have to work to get back to this point?

BB: Dion [Lewis] work's really hard. I think nobody works harder than Dion.

Q: What have been some of your impressions of Woodrow Hamilton in his time here?

BB: He's learning. He's got good size, runs OK, raw, a little different than some of the things that he did at Mississippi. But he's learning, he's getting better, he's got a long way to go but making progress. He's done enough to move himself into position where he's been active for some games, played in some games. We'll just keep going with him.

Q: How did they use him in college at the University of Mississippi?

BB: Well, they rotated a lot. I'd say his play time was probably less than 50 percent two years ago. He's played several different positions on the line. Last year they had him playing kind of an unusual sort of two-gapping style, for lack of a better word. The year before he was a rotational player, more on the nose if I remember right. It looked like they changed either their scheme or they had a couple of different schemes which were pretty different for him. It wasn't like he just lined up and did the same thing over and over again over the last two years. He's got some skill, has some development to go, has a lot to learn technique-wise, hands, block reactions, pass rush technique, those kinds of things, but he's a good guy to work with.

Q: In Week 4 they ran a few plays from the wildcat formation. How much time do you need to prepare for that wrinkle in their offense despite the fact it may not be used often?

BB: Well, that's what they do. Between the wildcat, the unbalanced line, the kind of two different option packages, that's kind of what they force you to do. They sprinkle those plays in, they make you work on them, but they also have I'd say some of the more conventional plays but they also have the speed sweeps and things like that, reverses and quarterback runs that are wildcat runs but it's a quarterback that actually runs the ball instead of a running back or wildcat guy. So they have a lot of things like that that force you to make adjustments even though they're essentially running the same play but they get to it in different ways. Again, whether you want to call them wildcat, unbalanced line, option, but all of those things; they all kind of fall into the same category. And with them you're not going to see anything like 30 times. You're going to see they have five of these, six of these, five of these, six of these, maybe eight of something else, maybe two of something else. But that's kind of what they do. Yeah, it definitely stretches you and forces you to prepare for those things that you're going to get a handful of times in the game. You might get them more if you don't stop them but that's what they do and they're pretty successful at that because they do force teams to eat up a lot of practice time working on things they're going to see only a couple of times but then they're on to something else.

Q: When you go into a game pretty light with depth at a certain position what goes into deciding who will be the emergency backup at those positions?

BB: Yeah, whoever has worked there. It could depend on what the game plan is or what the role is. Sometimes when you put a player into that position you realize that you're not going to ask him to do everything that you ask the player that normally plays the position to do. So if we have to make this personnel move then we'll be limited in these certain ways and 'Here's how we'll work around that,' or maybe we don't work around that. It depends on what it is. But that comes up somewhere in every game and certainly if you lose a player within the game – I mean it's one thing to sit here and talk about it on Friday. It's another thing to talk about it Sunday afternoon at 2:00 o'clock when somebody's out and now it's an unanticipated move if you will and then 'Ok, here's the next person we'd put in but what if something happens after that?' And then where it really gets [difficult], I would say the higher degree of difficulty comes in the situational defenses depending on what your depth is but things like goal line or you're dime or sub-defense and then of course in the kicking game where one guy – I mean you have 66 spots on special teams, right? [You have] 11 in 6 different units so that's 66 players. You can't have 66 backups so you've got to have one guy that might backup four or five things, and then if something happens to somebody then that one person say gets plugged in then once you have that second injury if it happens during the game then it's a real scramble. Sometimes it affects your game plan and sometimes you put the player in and you can run your game plan but sometimes you're limited in what you can do. So for example, if you put an offensive lineman in for a tight end you'd have to change some things in the passing game, maybe in protection, maybe not in the running game possibly or vice versa. If you put another receiver in the game maybe you can run the same passes but you lose that blocker if it was a tight end. You just have to work around that.

Q: Along those lines, if you see an opponent going through that sort of problem with depth at a position during a game will you try and test that or exploit that, or do you simply stick with your game plan?

BB: No, I think that – no, we definitely try and do that. We try to take an assessment of the team by the time after you've had time to do it – let's call it the end of the first quarter just to pick a time. How's it going? It looks like they're having trouble here or it looks like so-and-so isn't very affective or maybe a player will come off, a defensive back will come off and say 'So-and-so, I don't think he can run,' or 'I don't think he has the stopping quickness that he had the last time I played him,' or whatever. Yeah, they tell us that. A lot of times they see it before we do. Sometimes if we know about it we try to have people on our staff that observe that and kind of take an assessment of where they are to confirm it with the players. Maybe there's something you can do about it, maybe there isn't, maybe it's just that individual matchup of how that person plays them that can be used to some advantage as opposed to some big scheme thing like 'Ok, this player's limited in something. What play do you want to run?' Maybe it's less of that and just more of 'Ok, we're competing against this player. This looks like a weakness today. Here's how individually we want to block him or defend him,' or whatever the case might be. 

Q: How much self-scouting do you and your staff do in determining whether a player has a 'tell', or some kind of pre-snap indicator that gives away what they might be doing on a play?

BB: Right. Well, I think that's important. One of the best places to start is with your teammates. So we work against each other each day and what a good teammate will do, a defensive player will tell an offensive player 'Hey, I can tell when you're pulling. I can see your depth,' or 'I can see whatever it is,' or vice versa. An offensive player would tell a defensive player 'I can tell when you're blitzing,' or 'We see a man coverage stance or a zone coverage stance. In zone your feet are here. When you're in man it's a little bit different. Your hand's a little bit different,' or whatever it is. I think a lot of it starts on the practice field or our coaches who work against each other, the receiver coach with the DB's [defensive backs] or DB's with the receivers or whatever it is. We'll do that.

Q: Is there big value to having that cleaned up before going into a game?

BB: Look, I think if one of our players can pick it up you've got to assume that one of their players watching film can pick it up. If it's a stance or a mannerism or whatever it is, something, and I know that the quarterbacks and Josh [McDaniels] do that with the secondary or Matt [Patricia] and the defensive coaches will do that with the offensive coaches especially in training camp but even sometimes in the scout team stuff. We talk about what the quarterback saw. How did he know this was going to happen or somebody tipped it off or defensively how did the defense know that this was going to happen? Well because they're not threatened by something else. We haven't run this kind of complimentary play to it and that's why it's being overplayed by a guy in practice or that kind of thing. So we definitely try to watch ourselves but I think on the practice field or on practice film, however you want to call it, that there's a good give-and-take there between the staff and the players to try and help each other. I mean look, if we know what the play is that doesn't really help us, right? I mean what's it going to be the next time we don't know what the play is so we're better of telling you 'Hey, you're tipping off the play,' because realistically that's the way it's going to be most of the time. We're not going to know what the play is.

Q: How much does Trey Flowers playing strength benefit him and does that maybe make up for his lack of size?

BB: His playing strength and his length for sure. [He's] a player with long arms so he's able to keep the defenders off of him. It's definitely an asset for him, especially playing at end against the offensive tackles. His arm length is probably comparable to most tackles he plays against and a little bit longer than some of the guys he plays against inside. He's got good strength but his length is good even though his height doesn't quite reflect that. His overall length is pretty good.

Q: How hard has he had to work to get back and contribute this year after his injury last season?

BB: Trey [Flowers] has worked really hard. Again, the good thing for Trey was it happened early last year so he was able to really by the end of the season – December to early January – be pretty much rehabbed so that he was able to start the offseason program and jump in there and have a real good spring, be full-go for the spring, training camp and really he's been out there I'd say every day or it's got to be really close to it. I don't think he's missed much if anything. So as opposed to doing surgery at the end of the season to rehab it into the spring to maybe being ready for camp but then having missed all of the OTA days – not missed them – but not able to participate and so forth, and not having the confidence in the start of the season that you would have if you just – I mean if you go through an offseason program from Day One – offseason program, OTA's, training camp – then you're confident. If you start at some point there in that cycle then there's a certain period of time where you've got to gain your confidence that you're able to do things that everybody else is out there doing. In his case I think that helped him, having all of that done kind of early and being able to move on to next year. It's kind of different but like a [Michael] Williams scenario this year. It's bad, unfortunate, but the fact that it happened in May instead of November is better for the following year.

Q: How have the new injured-reserve rules in regards to when you can bring a guy back affected your approach?

BB: It really hasn't. Yeah, it really hasn't. I mean we're fortunate we haven't had a lot of situations to deal with. The ones we have [had] have been pretty clear cut and if we have an option to bring those players back then we'll look at it at that time. We'll just have to see how those – like I said – we only have a couple of guys in those situations but the guys that are there we'll have to see how they come along and evaluate how it goes. But I think it could have a big impact, but it just hasn't. And now we're halfway through the season so for something to happen at this point kind of the rule doesn't really apply, if you will. So we're pretty much, I mean I guess it could because we have a bye week in there, but we're getting to the point where the rule is really not going to have much application and we'll only be dealing with the players that have already been given that designation.

Q: What have you seen from Kyle Van Noy that tells you he is ready to play this Sunday despite not having much time in your system?

BB: Well, it starts with he's played [in the league]. A player like himself or [Barkevious] Mingo or somebody like that, it's different than bringing [Woodrow] Hamilton up off the practice squad who hasn't played. I mean you can see those guys play and it's a question of them really getting enough confidence in them and their teammates have enough confidence and familiarity and communication with their teammates so that they can go out there and perform effectively. It's not going to be perfect. There's going to be other bridges to cross but you feel like it's at a point where the player can handle it, the player is confident, his teammates are confident. You can't have all the players out there wondering 'Does this player know what to do? Do I have to tell him this? Do I have to tell him that?' I mean you can't play like that. Certainly there are times where you can help each other out but you can't go out there trying to do the other guys assignment all the time. Once you get past that point, you feel confident with it, then you go do it. Sometimes you have to do it sooner than you want and maybe that means you have to trim back some of the adjustments or communication if you don't have any other options. If the players just not ready then you have to play to the level that you feel comfortable playing.

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