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Bill Belichick Press Conference Transcript: Marcus Cannon works hard and he's improved a lot

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during a press conference on Friday, December 12, 2014.


Q: What are your thoughts on the way Marcus Cannon has played this year and the role he has served – first few games at left guard and now playing third tackle? **

BB: Last year he had an opportunity to play a lot. I thought he played well. This year he gives us a lot of depth at a key position. It's always good to have him on the field. [He] works hard, a very athletic guy, tough.

Q: How much has he worked at his technique since 2011?

BB: Marcus works hard, yeah. He's done a lot of different things for us. He's improved a lot.

Q: There's a report that you guys have signed him to an extension. Is that anything that you can comment on?

BB: Yeah, I don't really talk too much about contracts. Right now, I'm worried about Miami.

Q: There was a report in The Washington Post today regarding Jonathan Fanene and Dr. Thomas Gill. I wanted to give you an opportunity to respond.

BB: Yeah, that case has been over for a long time.

Q: When it comes to the Dolphins and Ryan Tannehill's running ability, he doesn't carry the ball for a lot of attempts, but when he does he's pretty effective. On that option running play where he can hand it off or keep it, is there a key for your defensive linemen in terms of being able to limit those big gains he's been able to pick up?

BB: Well, yeah. I think you just have to do your job. It's like running a reverse though. It's hand it off, hand it off, hand it off, hand it off, hand it off 30 times and then keep it once. But he does that. He's done it on fourth down, he's done it in some critical situations or he's done it when it's been wide open and he's gained a lot of yards on it. No, it isn't something if they ran the play a lot, it probably would look different than, again, like a reverse. He does it infrequently and it kind of catches the defense overplaying the zone part of the play [and] then he's able to get that little edge to get the first down or in some cases, they just let him go and he runs out there on air. There's got to be discipline to do our job. Somebody's got him. I don't think anybody is not taking him on that. It's just a overplay something else or kind of forget about him and there he goes.

Q: Does that temper or limit your pass rush? Do you have to be less aggressive in some respects?

BB: No, it's the same as – it's different, but it's the same as – like Denver, when Coach [Mike] Shanahan was there and they ran the boots. Instead of closing down on the backside to make the play on the run, you have to check the quarterback in case he boots it out there and they run some type of crossing pattern or outside route or whatever it is and you lose contain on the quarterback. So, if you stand there and watch the quarterback then you lose that player in the running game. If you chase the run then when they boot it you have nobody on him. It's kind of the same thing, except instead of trying to pass the ball a lot – but they do throw it, but he'll keep it and run it. Those Shanahan kind of plays are what Baltimore does now. It's letting the quarterback outside with nobody on him. It's the same thing, but it's a little bit different. So that gives you a way to control the extra guy in the box. So if you have six blockers against seven defenders, the quarterback keeping the ball, whether it's on a keep or a bootleg, controls that seventh guy so now you're back to six-on-six. It's part of that whole system.

Q: A couple of the defensive players singled out Sealver Siliga and the enthusiasm he brings. Have you seen that from the beginning? Have you seen that every practice and game?

BB: He's got good energy, yeah. [He] likes to play football, likes to practice.

Q: Is that kind of trait –

BB: I'd say we have a lot of guys on our team that I would say that about. I wouldn't put him in a category of one of three guys or anything like that. But he brings it, it's good, we love it. But so do a lot of other guys. I'd say the thing that's unique about it is he hasn't been doing it for a while. It's good to have him back out there, good to have another guy that brings that. We just haven't seen it in a little while, that's all. I wouldn't say there's really anything different or anything that a lot of other guys don't do. But him doing it is new because he's hasn't done it in eight, nine weeks, whatever it was.

Q: There are players on both sides that are on the teams now that didn't play in the first matchup. How do you think Reshad Jones has changed Miami's secondary? It sounds like he's changed the way they play.

BB: He's a good player and he's a physical player. He's a strong safety and that's kind of the position that he plays. It's kind of interesting because when we played them in the first game, he was out but [Louis] Delmas played strong safety. So Delmas was the strong safety, [Jimmy] Wilson was the free safety. Now with Delmas out it looks like, I would imagine Wilson would go back to safety, which is what they did at the end of the game last week and kind of what they did against us because Jones and Delmas played together in preseason – Jones played strong, Delmas played weak. When Jones went out in our game then Delmas moved down and Wilson went in. Then that's the way it was for four games. Then last week when Delmas got hurt, then Wilson went back in. I'd say the bottom line is we've seen either Delmas or Jones at strong safety and Wilson at free safety. So we haven't really seen both those guys on a field together. I mean, we haven't, but a lot of other teams have, the other 10 teams or however many it's been, nine teams. It's kind of interesting how that's worked out. I would expect that we would get Wilson back at free safety which is what we saw in the opener which is, like I said, what they did the first month of the season when they didn't have Jones and Delmas took Jones's spot. Now it looks like Jones is kind of probably going to stay at his spot. We'll see Wilson there and then if Wilson plays the nickel back, which is what his role was when Delmas and Jones were in there together, then Wilson was really a nickel back. If they did that then they brought [Walt] Aikens in at safety.

Q: What's made Jones good at that strong safety spot?

BB: He's a big guy; a big 215-pound guy; runs well. [He] has a lot of experience at that position, he's been in their system and knows the defense well, which they do a lot of different things and they disguise and all that. I'd say he's pretty comfortable there. He's a good blitzer, he's good in the running game and he runs well. I mean, they signed him to a big contract. They obviously like the guy and like the things he brings to their team, I'm sure in other ways too.

Q: Do they use him on tight ends much in coverage?

BB: Yeah, a little bit. You know, in our game they really, they put [Jamar] Taylor on Rob [Gronkowski]. They played more dime. They're really more of a nickel team than they are a dime team with [Jelani] Jenkins and Koa [Misi], whoever the two linebackers have been, because those guys are kind of shuffled in and out too based on who was healthy. They do use him some. They use Delmas some. Against us they used a little more dime in the first game with six DBs, which they haven't done a lot of that during the year, but it has showed up. But he definitely can run with tight ends. He's got good speed and he's a bigger guy. He's, like I said, 215 or whatever he is. He's a big, strong guy.

Q: A few guys said yesterday you took the opportunity Rob Gronkowski gave [from his photo shoot]. Was that too good to pass up?

BB: We're really spending a lot of our time on Miami. That's really what we need to be doing, is focusing on the Dolphins.

Q: Earlier in the week Josh McDaniels was talking about the difference between goal line offense and what the defense gives you, which is really just one look. What are the differences between being right at the goal line as opposed to be further out in terms of what you see from the defense?

BB: I'm not really sure the context of the question. I think, first of all, it depends on who you have on the field. Like, who do you have out there on offense? You see anything on the goal line from teams that put closed formation, three tight ends or two tight ends and an offensive lineman or whatever that goal line grouping is, that's one thing. Then there are teams like Miami or we've done it plenty of times where you're on the one-yard line and you have a third-down type of grouping out there. Defensively, look, when you call defenses for the most part, you're matching up against the offense. If they put three tight ends out there, you're not going to call the same thing as you'd call if they put four receivers out there. I've coached a lot of defense. I just don't think that's the way it works. So if they put three tight ends out there, you're going to match them with whatever you would match a team that has that or something similar. If a team puts three receivers, a back and a tight end out there, maybe you could live with that, but most likely you would match it with a different group. What you see depends on what you do. if you put a lot of big people out on the field, then yeah, I would say most teams have a much smaller defensive package, as they should because the number of times we see that over the course of the year defensively is probably less than 20. Probably the number of times that we run that offensively is in the same neighborhood. Yeah, you have a lot less defense against that grouping than you would have against another grouping.

Q: That was his context. On the first drive of the game when you were down there, I asked him about what kind of looks a defense can give you and what kind of options you have.

BB: They usually have whatever that personnel group is for them. Then I would say normally one or two, three at the most I would say – their main look and then a variation of it or possibly two variations of it depending on how far they want to go with it. Some teams just play on thing, but usually there's a little bit of a changeup to it. I'd say that's pretty normal for most defenses. That's what we do. That's what Miami does. That's what San Diego – yeah, I'd say that's probably what most teams are going to do, play one or two defenses for that type of grouping.

Q: Rob Gronkowski said recently that when he was a younger player, Tom Brady pushed him a lot and was hard on him at times because he wanted to make him better. In terms of older players pushing younger players, are there a handful of guys on the team now that will do that? How important is it to a team in general to have that kind of relationship where the older guys are making sure the younger guys are doing what they're supposed to do?

BB: I'd say the natural – look, in the passing game, the guy who holds the ball really is the ball who controls the passing game. Even as a coach, you can call whatever play you want, but the guy who is throwing it is the guy who really has to make the decision and run the passing game. So it all needs to go through his eyes. I think any good quarterback is really the guy to communicate with the receivers of, 'This is what I'm seeing on this route. This is where this guy is. Here's where I'm thinking you're going to go.' Of course there's a two-way street on that, with the receiver saying, 'Here's what I'm seeing, how do you want to do this?' so they can get on the same page. But I mean in the end, the quarterback, he does that to all receivers. Whether it's Tom or Vinny [Testaverde] or Bert Jones or any of the other quarterbacks I've been around, I'd say that's how it works. Yeah, and sure, Tom is good at that. 'He has a great understanding of the passing game. He has a lot of experience. He certainly would be one to tell Rob, 'Let's do this, do that,' or 'Here's where I expect you to go on this type of look.' So, yeah. But I think that's pretty normal in terms of who is telling who what to do. On the offensive line you usually have a guy that is sort of the vocal guy on the offensive line too, similar to, ''Look, this situation, here's how we're going to handle it. We're going to do this, you have to do that, I'm going to do the next thing,' however it falls in line. I think that there are certain – it's the same thing defensively. The signal caller, whoever that is, it could be a safety, it could be a linebacker, it could be both, it could be two linebackers, maybe one guy with the front, another guy with the coverage, however you set it up, you kind of have the same type of chain of command on that side of the ball too. Somebody has to make a decision, somebody has to tell somebody what to do. Of course, if it's an experienced player like [Jerod] Mayo or Brady or somebody like that, then you have the whole, that person and their personality plus the position and the communication process that needs to happen. But I would say, you know, Rob has been – he's had three coaches. I think all the coaches have pushed him. I think Brian [Daboll] has really done a good job with him this year. I think Brian's really pushed him to do things this year at a higher level than he's done them before just because he has more experience, he has more of background, a better understanding of a lot of little things. I think Brian pushed him, Coach [George] Godsey pushed him, Coach [Brian] Ferentz pushed him, again in different ways: blocking, receiving, pass protection, red area, all those things. I think it's probably a combination of those. But certainly the quarterback is the driving force in the passing game, no question about that.

Q: Does that take some work off the coaching staff when you do have older guys who are experienced and able to help some younger guys?

BB: I think the bottom line is just everybody being on the same page. Just, everybody has to be on the same page. I think as you work longer with a certain player and you develop a rapport and a communication pattern and a respect for each other, that we all understand that it's a little bit different. Some guys see things one way; some guys see them a little bit differently. I'm not saying one is right or one's wrong. The bottom line is for us to all see it the same way together. I've coached hundreds of players and they're not all the same. Some guys can do one thing and they have a hard time with something else. The next guy, the other thing comes very easily to him and the thing that came easily to another player comes very hard to that guy. So as you're coaching that guy and he tells you, 'Look, I know what you're saying, I just don't see that. I just have a hard time with that.' Well, OK, then let's try to work it this way, or maybe we don't call that play or we don't run that type of a pattern because the way I'm seeing it as a coach isn't the way you're seeing it as a player and we have enough other plays, let's run something else. Or the player might say, 'I really like this concept. I can see this and anticipate it better.' Maybe that's not something that is a big part of your offense, but OK, that's a concept that's very comfortable to him. Maybe you run that concept a couple different ways so the defense can't see that it's coming, but you have a couple different ways to get to it and it's something that he's comfortable with and he executes well. There's always that kind of modification with players and particularly quarterbacks or on defense, it's the same thing. Once you kind of get the guys and there are some things, like I said, there are some things they can handle and there are some things, sometimes they have a hard time with. I've coached linebackers, you could be three-on-three like, 'Us three got those three and however it goes, we can sort it out.' and they could get it, it was never a problem with all the different things those three receivers could do, whoever those three guys were. Then I've coached other teams, you run 10 of them, we probably would get two out of 10 right. Somebody would come free or would be late going to a guy [and] he would be open. We just couldn't do it so you don't do it. You lock one guy and then you go two-on-two. But sometimes you have to find that out, what one team could do or what one group of players could do. Sometimes it's experience, but sometimes it's not. Sometimes it's just the way that a guy, what he sees and what he's able to process. It's a good question and it's something that's not, I don't think there's any textbook answer to it, at least it's not in my experience. It's just something you have to learn as you go. I think the communication between players and players, coaches and players, but the bottom line is however we do it, we all see it the same way, we all understand it, we all know what we're going to do if they give us a problem, we all know what we're trying to beat. What's our answer when they take it away? Make sure that we don't turn the ball over, we don't have a bad play, we turn somebody loose. How do we make the best out of not a great situation? What do we want to call it against? It's a good play, but it's not a good play against something we don't want to run it against. Maybe there's a way to just run it on terms that we want to run it on. I think all that plays into it. Long answer to a short question.

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