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Bill Belichick Press Conference Transcript - 12/11/2015

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Friday, December 11, 2015.

Q: Whitney Mercilus seems to be a guy that has been very active and productive for them.

BB: Yeah, he's done a good job – athletic, got really good speed off the edge, plays in regular and sub situations. They move him around a little bit, but he's an athletic guy who runs well, good pass rusher, plays the run well. 

Q: Do they have a lot of versatile guys like that?

BB: [John] Simon is like that, too. Yeah, I'd say he's a different type of athlete, different type of player, but they do similar things with him. He plays defensive tackle in their sub at times. They put a lot of speed and athleticism on the field on third down where it's [J.J.] Watt, [Jadeveon] Clowney, Mercilus, Simon, [Brian] Cushing – they kind of all are pretty athletic, have a lot of team speed in their dime package. A lot of times those five guys just cover the five offensive linemen in various configurations. They're not always in the same spot, but they cover those guys. They rush, they cover, but it's a pretty athletic group.

Q: What will you need from James White these last four games?

BB: We need everybody's best every week. It's no different.

Q: What can he contribute?

BB: James has done a good job for us on all three downs. He's a good pass protector, he's smart, got good run skills, catches the ball well, has played in and out of the backfield. He's done all those things. Whatever we ask him to do we'll need him to do it well like we always do.

Q: Over the course of Romeo Crennel's career, are there traits of his defense and do you see those in this Texans defense?

BB: Yeah, sure, they're a good fundamental team. Their fundamentals and techniques are good. They don't do a million different things. They certainly do enough. They do enough to keep you off balanced. They do things that complement other things that they do. They're a good fundamental team. Their gaps, their force, their coverage, their leverage, their adjustments – you've got to go out there and beat them. They're not going to make a lot of dumb plays to make it easy for you. You're going to have to go out and execute to beat them. 

Q: How would you characterize the style of his defense?

BB: They've played different fronts or different coverages, but I would categorize it as whatever they're doing, they're fundamentally sound, they're well coached, they're a good technique team, they play with good leverage, they play hard, they're strong, they're physical. 

Q: How closely aligned is your defensive philosophy with Romeo Crennel's? Is he the coach that you've spent the most time with?

BB: It would be close. It's got to be 20 years – Giants, Cleveland, here, New York, back here. Yeah, I mean he's certainly one of them. Romeo is a great person, great guy to work with. He and I worked on special teams in New York and then defensively, he was the defensive line coach in 1990, moved up from special teams when Mike Sweatman kind of moved into that role. He did a lot of great things and he was great to work with and we always had a great working relationship. He and Al Groh and I, we were together a lot. He does a great job and I love working with him. He's coached linebackers. He's coached special teams. He's coached defensive line. He's been a coordinator. He's been a head coach. He's had a lot of experience. Played for Jerry Glanville at Western Kentucky so little different type of background there but relevant, coached with Coach [Bill] Parcells at Mississippi Tech and obviously all the NFL stops, so he's got a great background, great work ethic, lot of experience, has got a lot of poise and it's hard to get him really … He stays very poised and composed and at the same time he has a lot of energy. He can really motivate players and teams well. He has a great relationship with the players. [It's] a long, long list of strong points and not too many on the other side of the column.

Q: What traits does Leonard Johnson have that made you want to work with him?

BB: Leonard is young, he's played quite a bit of football, has started games, played inside, played outside, has some versatility. We've worked against him in our Tampa practices and so forth, played against him, but it gives us an opportunity to take a look at him. It's not a position that we have a ton of depth at, so we'll see how it goes

Q: You have a lot of respect for Greg Schiano in terms his football acumen.

BB: Definitely. 

Q: Is there something with the way he coaches defensive backs that you particular like? When I say that, I'm referring to Devin McCourty, Logan Ryan and Duron Harmon and now Leonard, who he coached.

BB: I haven't really thought about that. Look I think Coach Schiano is a great defensive coach and he's really coached all the positions – line, linebacker, DBs. He's had a lot of extensive work with defensive backs and I think he does a great job with them, but I'd say the overall way that he presents his program, the way he runs his program, runs his defense, teaches and so forth, that that's all a great part of preparing players either in a similar way that we do it or when he was in college prepared them to come into our program with some changes but minimal maybe compared to other teams. We've had other players – Justin Francis, [Steve] Beauharnais, guys like that and others – guys that aren't DBs. But he certainly does a good job with that group. Obviously he likes players who are disciplined and well prepared and have good communication skills and good awareness, and I'd say all the players that we talked about fit in that category – Devin, Duron, Logan. I haven't spent a lot of time with Leonard but those guys, like we talked about before, they know what the three-technique is doing – basically – but they know what the three-technique is doing which there are a lot of secondary players that I don't know if they really know what a three-technique is. But these guys have a good understanding of the overall defense and the concepts and why one thing impacts another and that's a good thing. I'm not saying it's mandatory but it definitely helps. 

Q: When you bring somebody in midseason, does their ability to play immediately depend on the position they play?

BB: Yeah, no question. When I was Cleveland we signed Mike Tomczak off the street to come in and start at quarterback. That's hard. That's a lot different than signing a place kicker or a snapper the day before the game to come in and do that skill. And there are a lot of guys in between. When we had to bring Brian Kinchen in after Lonie Paxton got hurt, yeah it's a change, it's an adjustment, but it's not like a starting quarterback when it was Mike Tomczak. It depends on the player, it depends on the position, it depends on some of the other circumstances surrounding your team and the opponent that week and so forth and so on, but you have to do what you have to do. Each situation is different, you try to look at it and make the most of it, prepare the player the best you can for what he's going to have to do that week, whatever that happens to be. And sometimes you don't know – something could happen in the game that then shifts things a little bit in a way that I'm not saying you don't anticipate but you didn't have time to work on those. 

Q: With the Rutgers guys like Logan and Duron, who have played together for a long time and know each other very well, they seem to be playing more this season than the last couple.

BB: And [Jonathan] Freeny, too – I think he was roommates with Devin.

Q: Do you think their background with each other helps?

BB: Yeah, sure. There's always a level of trust when you've been with somebody for a longer period of time. I'm not saying there's not that with other players. It would be the same thing with the coaching staff. Coaching with Romeo for all those years – not that there wasn't a level of trust and a level of communication and reciprocal arrangement with other coaches on the staff – but when it's somebody that's been there that long and you've been through so many things with, it's nobody fault but you just experience more and some things may come up that the two of you can relate to that maybe somebody else can't relate to because they haven't experienced those same things. So, I'm sure that's true. 

Q: In terms of third down defense for the Texans, it seems like historically good is almost too strong …

BB: No, I don't think it's too strong. Since '03, right?

Q: Is there anything they do in particular on third down that has made them as good as they are?

BB: It's team defense, really. They do a good job all the way across the board. They rush well. They don't blitz a lot, but they blitz enough, and they have a good mixture of three or four coverages. They cover well, and they rush well, and they're very I'd say smart and aware. When you don't play a thousand different things, it's a lot easier to as a team see and recognize certain things because you're kind of in the same spot a lot, as opposed to each defense is different or each offensive play is different. You're kind of more focused on what you do on that play whereas when you kind of do the same thing, when you have a lot of reps at the same thing then there's a point where you're pretty confident in what you're doing and now it's being able to recognize the split, how the receivers are located, are they switched around, is the back wide, is he tight. You have more time to kind of focus in on some of those things. So I think that they're very aware. They play good situational football. They have a good pass rush. They cover well. Their safeties are really corners. [Andre] Hal was a corner at Vanderbilt. They use [Eddie] Pleasant in dime, so they have six defensive backs and then they have five guys who rush, including Cushing in that. He rushes a decent amount of the time, not like the other four do, and then they have one player who is really, really hard to block no matter where he is, so that's a big mismatch wherever they put him, and they usually put him in a mismatch position like where they think they can get pressure with. A combination of all those things, they do a good job.

Q: Yesterday J.J. Watt announced he had a broken hand. Do you have to remind your players that he is still J.J. Watt – don't let the broken hand fool you?

BB: We've got to be ready for everybody. I'm sure he'll compete hard. Look I don't think anybody is 100 percent at this time of year. They'll all be out there and they'll all be playing hard.

Q: You got Rob Gronkowski back out at practice yesterday. How was it to see him out there and how did he look to you?

BB: We'll list on the injury report whatever his situation is. 

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