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Bill Belichick Press Conference Transcript 12/31

Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick addressed the media during his press conference on Thursday, December 31, 2015.

Q: Bruins hat?

BB: I'm ready for that Winter Classic, yes sir. What's that – going on 'Snapface'? Get that on there – good. I'm pretty excited.

Q: How was it having Claude Julien at practice yesterday?

BB: Great. I love Claude. He's a great guy. I think we probably have a lot in common just in the way we coach and look at the game and look at the team and things like that. I mean I don't know anything about hockey, but it's a pretty simple game – put the puck in the net. No, I love Claude and the job that he's done.

Q: What have you gathered from Claude that makes you say you're similar?

BB: Just our conversations about it over the years.

Q: Does the bye week play any role in the decision of which players to play this week?

BB: Not really, no. We're in a one-week season right now.

Q: How would you assess the work Dave DeGuglielmo has done with the offensive line this season?

BB: I think overall our staff has done a great job – everybody working together, each of the units. We've had a lot of young players at that position, had some movement there. We've worked through it but we've had to work through something pretty much everywhere somewhere along the line, so I wouldn't single anybody out in particular. I would say the entire coaching staff has done a good job of dealing with whatever it is they have to deal with, get the players ready to play and manage whatever situations we've had to manage throughout the course of the year going all the way back to training camp or even OTAs, where we had positions that were short or new players coming in that we had to work in on pretty short notice, things like that.

Q: When you have young players playing integral roles early in the season, what challenges does that present the coaching staff?

BB: Well there are new players on the team every year, so there's nothing unprecedented about that. It's the same thing with every other team in the league.

Q: Dekoda Watson was back in the locker room yesterday. Can you tell right away when someone like him and Steven Jackson, who have been out of football for a while, are in football shape?

BB: Well I think being in condition is one thing, being in football shape is another thing. Look if there wasn't any difference, then why are we practicing, why are we training? There is definitely a gap there, so it's just a question of closing the gap as best we can. Both those players have a lot of experience, which works in their favor, but they've both been out of football for a while, which works against them, so we'll just try to balance that out.

Q: What made you interested in bringing Dekoda Watson back?

BB: He's got a lot of experience. He was here in our system through the spring and training camp so it's not like we're starting from scratch with him. There's a familiarity with him and some of the other core guys on special teams in terms of the calls and communication, blocking techniques or coverage lanes and things like that. There is definitely a base to build from there.

Q: Do you see any leadership qualities out of Steven Jackson?

BB: Yeah, I think the main thing a player can give in terms of leadership is to do his job and put the team first. That's really what it's about. I mean I don't think we need any team speeches from anybody. I don't think that's what it's about. But for everybody to do their job, to do it well, so their teammates can count on them, for a player to be dependable and consistent, I think that's great leadership and that can come from a rookie, it can come from a 10-year veteran, it can come from a practice squad player. And that's really what it's about – it's about doing your job, doing what the team needs you to do. There is nothing more you can ask for at this time of year than that.

Q: Have you felt like Steven Jackson has exemplified that?

BB: I think he's trying to do what we ask him to do. He's working really hard at it both on and off the field, and I think it's improving. But that's what every player needs to do. I wouldn't say any player doesn't need to do that, and any player who isn't doing that isn't helping us as much as they can help us. That's what I expect, and I think that's basically what we're trying to do.

Q: How impressive is it that he was out of football for so long and then was able to play a handful of snaps in Week 16?

BB: I don't think we would have brought him here if we thought that he wouldn't have a chance to play based on practice. He didn't play the week before, so it kind of was two weeks of practice if you will – well a little over a week just in terms of our association with him. But I mean look I don't think it's unprecedented. I'm not saying it isn't hard or challenging but again you're talking about a guy who's played a lot of football, who has a lot of experience. I think if you asked a player who didn't have that it'd be too much. In his case I don't think it is too much and I think he's going to get better every week.

Q: Does it say a lot about his work ethic that he was able to stay in shape while away from football for so long?

BB: Yeah, but more than that I would say it was just his diligence in learning the playbook, learning his assignments, communicating with whether it be a quarterback or the line and blocking schemes and protections, things like that. Those have all – I mean that takes work, it takes effort. You've got to build those relationships and that communication and I think he worked really hard at that and continues to. So, that's good.

Q: What's your approach to two-point conversions? In Sunday's game, the score was 17-12 and you chose to kick the extra point. Was there any thought to going for two there? Was there any thought to going for two before overtime?

BB: Yeah I mean I think to me the two-point conversion really doesn't come into play until later in the game. The two-point try in the first quarter, there is so much football left to play that again, I would not say never, but I think it would be a very small percentage of the time that it would really be a factor. For me the factor would come at the end of the game when you have limited possessions left and then how you want to look at those opportunities – the opportunities of two versus one – how many more possessions are left in the game. But in the end ultimately it comes down to how confident you are about the play in that situation. If I was 90 percent confident about the play, maybe we would do it in the first quarter. If you feel that good about it, why not do it. The success rate on that is – I don't know what it is – but it's basically a 50-50 proposition. It's in that ballpark. But yeah, we considered it. We talked about it. In the end I think there was enough time left that it looks good if you get that point and then if you didn't the way the game played out you needed that point to tie the game. There are some calls that could go either way. I would say those are the ones that kind of could. At the end of the game, that was another one. We had two timeouts so even if we hadn't made it we still would have had a chance to get the ball back with timeouts and a deep kick and all that and only needing a field goal. By kicking the extra point we felt like we ensured overtime assuming that we could stop them, which puts the pressure back on them again. They've got to either get a first down or we get the ball back with timeouts and a chance to score, which could have happened if we didn't have the interference penalty on third down. If that play, if there is no penalty there, we have the ball back with two timeouts with good field position, then that puts us in the driver's seat in that situation. But yeah I think you could make an argument for a two-point conversion there.

Q: In both situations?

BB: I think you could look at the Cleveland-Denver game was a good example of Cleveland went for two, didn't make it, next play 80-yard touchdown, and now that point ends up being – because there are now a couple of extra scores that maybe you don't think about are going to happen there in the middle of the fourth quarter or whatever it was – now all of a sudden that point looks a lot differently than it did without those extra scores. You get a quick score after that and now that kind of changes things. You've just kind of got to be careful about ... The more scores there are, the longer the game goes, the more that point can hurt you. With less time, fewer possessions, you need the point to either tie the game or to get into position to get the score tied and there aren't many opportunities left so maybe you take advantage of that and do it. But again if there is enough time left then there is a cost to doing that.

Q: Would you not look at the two-point conversion chart until a certain point in the game?

BB: Yeah, I would say I don't think it really comes into play until a certain point in the game. Like I said I think if you went into the game and felt like OK we feel like 90 percent about our two-point play here and use it the first time you score, it probably wouldn't make any difference if you score first or they score first. If you feel good about the play, might as well run it, unless you wanted to save it for the situation that you're talking about. Yeah, to me it's an end-of-the game chart. It's not a first-quarter chart.

Q: Will you bring in multiple two-point plays for that type of situation or are those plays similar to what you would run in short-yardage situations?

BB: It would depend on ... I mean first of all, fundamentally you have a basic philosophy in that situation, whatever it happens to be, which I think that's changed a little bit with the new rule, making it a potentially defensive play as well. I would say in the past there were a lot of teams that would run a gadget play or a play you've never seen before in that situation – some razzle-dazzle kind of play – and if they hit it they hit it and if they didn't then they didn't. But now you do something you've never done before and you end up turning the ball over or it gets stripped or whatever, it could cost you on the other end, so I think you see a little bit less of that or I've seen a little bit less of it. But I'd say that's water under the bridge. So you have your basic philosophy but then whatever information you have on that particular opponent that week, how they play two-point plays depending on how many of them you've seen, probably not too many, but maybe you have a history on it or just in general how they would play in that two-to-three-to-four-yard line range – whatever you have on tape, whatever evidence you have, then you would probably set up your game plan based on that. If that's what a team calls on third-and-goal at the three or third-and-goal at the two, it's probably what they're going to call in that two-point situation. It's probably going to come from that type of menu.

Q: Do you ever pay attention to coaching changes at this time of the year?

BB: Yeah, I would say it's really disappointing. I mean Chip Kelly to me is a really good football coach. I think he does a great job. I think he's done a good job with that team. It's disappointing to see. Or Josh [McDaniels] in Denver – there are a lot of examples but pretty much everybody is on a one-year contract in this league. I don't know how you build a program in one year. Chip is a great coach. He'll end up somewhere and he'll do a great job there. I'd say a lot of the players that were on the Eagles that are no longer on the Eagles aren't really doing too much for anybody else, either.

Q: Does it make you appreciate the situation and stability here?

BB: Yeah, it's the best situation in the league. But it is disappointing to look at coaches like Coach [Greg] Schiano or Coach [Mike] Shanahan or Coach Kelly or guys like that. But I mean look I'm not there, I'm not a part of those programs. I just know those guys are good coaches. They do a good job. I have a lot of respect for them.

Q: How long do you think it took you to insert your program here? Do you feel like it took a couple years?

BB: Yeah, probably '03.

Q: Because of the personnel decisions you have to make?

BB: No, just because of everything. You have to change the culture. You have to change the ... I mean normally one coach is different from the previous coach. You don't see a lot of whoever the first coach is, the second coach is kind of the carbon copy of the first coach, the third coach is kind of a carbon copy of the second coach. I mean you rarely see that. The coach that comes in usually has a different philosophy than the coach that left, so you have to try to implement that philosophy. That means you're going to turn over a high percentage of the roster because the players that the other coach had don't fit the new philosophy, so a lot of the players are going to have to change in part because of the philosophy and probably in part because of the scheme. Those role-type players, now that role is not needed in the new scheme and a different role is needed, so you get different players, and then just getting your team acclimated to doing things the way that the philosophy of the new program. You're going to have to go through a lot of tough situations – tough games, tough losses, tough stretches in the season, whatever it happens to be, to build that up over time. It doesn't happen in training camp. I mean look training camp is training camp, but those games don't count. Even in the early part of the season, you might have some tough games, but it's not like playing in January, playing in December. It takes some time to go through that. I don't think there is any shortcut to it. I know there are a lot of other people in the league that think there is, that after two weeks all of a sudden everything is going to change dramatically, but I'm not really part of that, I don't buy into that. So, I mean we won in'01. In '02, we had a lot of issues. '03 – that was a good football team. '04 – that was a good football team. So I don't think there was any doubt about ... '01 wasn't the best team, but that team played the best, so we won. But I think we saw in '02 more of probably overall where the '01 team was. Just the '01 team played great when they had to in critical situations in big games and that's why they won. You can't take anything away from them. They deserved it because they were the best team. But it wasn't the case in '02.

Q: Did you give any thought to practicing inside this week?

BB: I wouldn't think about it for very long, no. Maybe a couple split seconds. That's not who we are. It's just really not who we are. Whatever we're in we're going to eventually play in, so we'll go out there and deal with it, work through it and at some point it will help us. It probably wouldn't be this week, but whenever it is it is. Whatever we get, we get. That's what we expect. That's what we're used to. That's what we're going to do. I don't think anybody expects anything else. If they do, they're going to be disappointed.

Q: David Andrews went from an undrafted rookie to a starter and now he's in a different role coming off the bench. What's your take on how he's handled that changing role?

BB: I think David has been ... I mean first of all he's done a tremendous job to come in here as an undrafted player to be thrust right in the middle of the action from basically day one or the third practice of training camp – whenever it was when Bryan went out. And he did a good job in the spring, too – I'm not saying that – but to take every snap, to be there and be as dependable and consistent and as good as he's been is a tremendous accomplishment for him in terms of what he's been able to do. It was good to get Bryan [Stork] back. Bryan is a good football player. They're both good players, and they both kind of play the same position. It is what it is. But he's handled it good. He's ready to go every day. He's alert, asks good questions, on top of it, makes very few mistakes, dependable, consistent, tough. I'm so glad we have him on our team. And he's ready to accept whatever role it is. Last week he was on the wedge on the kickoff return team, did a good job on that. I think that will get better because he's a hard working guy who is smart and has good basic football instincts. I don't see any reason to think that anything he does won't continue to get better. He's always prepared and does the best he can.

Q: Have you ever skated?

BB: Oh, yeah. I mean we didn't have a lot of ice in Maryland, but skated at Andover, skated Wesleyan. I played in the old huff-and-puff league when I was in New Jersey with the Giants.

Q: What's the huff-and-puff league?

BB: Oh you know it's like 30, 40-year-old guys playing at midnight – it's the only time you could get ice time – drive 45 minutes to go out there and fall around and slash each other. I wish I could have played hockey. That's a great sport. It's fast, lot of action, contact, skill, speed. I mean football, lacrosse, hockey – they all kind of have those elements of contact, speed, skill in variant forms, but I think they're all exciting. There is a lot of correlation between hockey and lacrosse, too – kind of defending that same space where you can go behind the goal, you can go in front of the goal, and you're centered around a point. Like you are in basketball, you're defending a point whereas in football you're defending 53-and-a-third yards. It's a lot different when you've got to defend a line as opposed to a basket or a goal or just a small space. It changes the defensive and offensive [strategy] because everything is funneled to that one [area]. And of course you've got the goalie that is so critical to those sports. That adds another dynamic. We've had a lot of conversations about that. That's really the big difference in terms of football and defense and defense in basketball or lacrosse or hockey or those goal-oriented sports where you're defending a point as opposed to defending a lot of width.

Q: Thanks, Coach.

BB: OK, thanks. Happy New Year – see you in Miami.

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