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Devin McCourty and Matthew Slater Press Conference Transcripts 10/26

Patriots Defensive Back Devin McCourty and Wide Receiver Matthew Slater address the media during their press conferences at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday, October 26, 2016.



Q: What are your thoughts on the Buffalo Bills?

DM: They're playing good football. Obviously they came in here and beat us and played really well that game and just continuing to run the ball really well behind [LeSean] McCoy, even [Mike] Gillislee getting in there and Reggie Bush now playing a little bit more in different roles. We knew they had a good football team. They started off slow to begin the season but they got rolling after coming in here. The things that we knew they did well, they're continuing to do it. I think everyone knows they're going to run but they still go out there and run the football against everybody. That and trying to stop Tyrod Taylor is still a big task. 

Q: Is there a sense of revenge because of what they did the last time they were here?

DM: I guess so. I mean we want to win. I guess you can call it that if you want. 

Q: What's so tough in particular about playing in Buffalo?

DM: [There's] not many fans that aren't rooting for Buffalo there. Probably one of the more hostile places that you'll go play. I don't care if it's 1:00 p.m., Monday night game, the fans come ready to support their team. It's never easy for us going there; it's always a tough game. We expect no different. We know they're going to be ready to play. We're going to get their best shot. They should be very confident from the way they came in here and played us on the road. Now going there, at home, it's not going to be any easier and we lost last time. We're going to [need to] have a really good week of practice and go out there and be ready to go. 

Q: Does it prepare you better from playing at Pittsburgh and now coming to Buffalo? Going from one hostile crowd to another?

DM: Yeah, I think it helps. I think going on the road last week in Pittsburgh, knowing how hostile it is, how tough it is to win there, and going through that it definitely helps. Now it's how can we continue that? How can we use what we learned from going to Pittsburgh and use it this week? It's not going to be a big difference if we don't apply what we've learned and use it for not just this week, but all the rest of the games we have on the road as well.

Q: How much is this game a case of 'The better team wins that day'?

DM: It's going to be whoever executes. It's a team we play twice a year, every year. You know we already played them once a month ago. There's not going to be many things that you come out and say 'We're going to be able to do this, they don't know about it'. Eventually the game is going to settle in and both sides know exactly what both teams want to do. They know how they want to play us. We know how we want to play them. It comes down to whoever executes. That has to be our goal and we feel that starts today going out there and having a good practice. We're really focusing on that and trying to be ready to go Sunday.

Q: Can you talk about the importance of getting off the field on third downs this week?

DM: Yeah, it's going to be very important. They're a team that, like I said, they like to run the ball but they also like to control the game in the passing game. They have vertical shots. I don't know what [Marquise] Goodwin's status is going to be but Goodwin, and now add in Justin Hunter, those are vertical guys that stretch the field. They know how to use [Charles] Clay. They know how to throw slant routes to [Robert] Woods, they know how to take control of the game. Getting off on third-down helps us not give them as much control. If they can go out and move the ball down the field, convert on third-down, have lengthy drives, keep our offense off the field, and either punch it in or kick field goals, I think that's what every offense wants to do. You want to control the clock and control time of possession and they're equipped to do that. If we don't get off the field on third-down and we have to stay out there on the field and see [LeSean] McCoy and Tyrod Taylor the whole day, just trying to stop them in every situation is going to be really tough. 

Q: Tom [Brady] mentioned at his press conference that his mom thinks he's the fastest player out on the field. How would you rate her evaluation of Tom Brady?

DM: That's a great evaluation. Your son should always be the best at everything on the field. 

Q: Do you ever hear Malcolm Butler talk about interceptions or the idea that 'I want to get that number up to higher and higher totals'?

DM: Honestly, I think it's everybody in the secondary. We all want that. It was good to see Malcolm [Butler], he's had his hands on a few balls this year, just to bring that in and get that interception because it was huge. Obviously an interception but an interception in the red area takes points off the board. It was a key play and then throughout that game he just kept getting his hands on the ball. That's usually what you need to start picking up those interception numbers. I'm happy he's happy about getting them and it helps us. 

Q: Have you found that in your career that sometimes all it takes is one [interception] and they can snowball?

DM: Harold Nash used to always say that to me. You get one and they just come in bunches. Nothing will help us more as a defense, too - turning the ball over, getting an interception. That will be key for all of us to get involved into what Malcolm [Butler]'s got brewing. 

Q: Coach [Bill] Belichick said at his post-game press conference that 'If you catch them in practice you catch them in a game.' How important do you find that to be as a member of the secondary?

DM: It's key but Bill [Belichick] preaches that. That's everything here. Practice execution becomes game reality. We probably hear that hundreds of thousands of times throughout the season. He harps on that so obviously it comes down to catching the ball in practice because you don't get many of those opportunities in the game, you might only get one or two. Just always trying to take advantage of that. That echoes across everything that we do in practice. 

Q: How important is discipline this week because of what happened here in the last meeting?

DM: That's always key. I think we're a team that does a good job of turning the page. What happened last game really doesn't matter. All that matters is going out there and playing well and trying to get a win. Discipline is something that we always talk about. That's how you create winning football plays and you don't hurt yourself. We try to pride ourselves on being a disciplined football team and it'll definitely show up Sunday like it does every week.  

Q: What is it like for you in the secondary dealing with trying to contain Tyrod Taylor in the pocket and potentially giving him extra time to throw?

DM: We've got to get on the receivers. It's not just with the initial drop back. We're going to try to do a good job containing him and still pressure him but the guy excels at it. He excels at moving around the pocket, escaping. So we're going to go into this game and say 'He doesn't make any plays with his legs moving around and buying time.' In the secondary we understand that it's covering guys throughout the whole play, understanding that once he starts moving around we've got to get on guys. No matter if it's zone, man-to-man, eventually we have to match on a guy once he starts moving around back there. We know he does that well and we know the receivers know that. It's a little different but we saw that last time we played them and we've had that challenge a couple times this season with quarterbacks that have that ability and just trying to match on guys and cover them up. 

Q: It has been 15 years since you have been swept by a division opponent. In your opinion, why have you guys been so good at that not happening when so many other teams can't do that?

DM: I just think turning the page, realizing it's a new week, understanding what you need to do. Obviously you watch the game you had before and you learn from it. So just realizing it's a new week, it's a new game. No matter what happened last week or last time you played a team, you just have to go out there and execute for this one Sunday to go out there and win. I think it starts with our coaching staff. They do that and they bring that to us every Wednesday. Whatever the game plan is, whatever we need to do to win the game, that's the focus and it's not about everything else. I think that helps us. Like Bill [Belichick] always says, having good players always helps. 


Q: How did your event to benefit those affected by Hurricane Matthew go last night?

MS: It went great. We had some great support. I'm really excited about how it turned out. We'll find out today final [donation] numbers but better than we could've hoped for.

Q: What does it mean to you to be able to put on that event and give back?

MS: It means a great deal. I feel like - I've said several times - I feel like being a professional athlete in the NFL you're blessed and you have a lot of resources that a lot of people don't have and you see lives being affected by something like Hurricane Matthew, people trying to rebuild, they've lost everything they've had and to be able to give up your time, give up your resources to try and help them find a fresh start definitely means a lot to me and my wife and my family, so we were really excited about last night.

Q: Reports have stated that your wife is a better bowler than you. Is that true?

MS: Those reports are false.

Q: What is the challenge of going into Buffalo and dealing with a special teams unit like theirs?

MS: It's a difficult place to play. Their fans are great. They really get behind their team and they've been playing really well now so we know it's going to be tough to go in there. In the kicking game Lorenzo Alexander - yeah, he leads the league in sacks obviously - but he's still an elite player in the kicking game. He hasn't come off any phases there and they just have a lot of guys that buy in. Similar to us; a lot of guys buying in. Obviously [they have] starters playing in the kicking game. Brandon Tate's doing a tremendous job so it's going to be tough for us, and I think in the first game it was a little bit back and forth so there was some good and then there was some not so good. So we've got some things that we need to work on and hopefully we'll be ready on Sunday.

Q: Does the game played against the Bills earlier this year play into this week at all?

MS: No. That was that game. It's got no bearing on this game. We're just going to focus on going out and playing football. They came in here and did what they needed to do the first game and we didn't have an answer for them, so hopefully we can keep that from happening again.

Q: Has there been any talk this week to the team about keeping your composure and making sure that none of their pregame stuff plays into the game?

MS: Well, I mean we've always got to be able to keep our composure out there. Football is a game of high emotions, as we've discussed several times, but you've got to be able to control those emotions. Ultimately the only thing that matters is how you execute between the white [lines]. Last time they came out here and out-executed us regardless of what went on before the game. They beat us so hopefully, like I said, we can do enough to prevent that from happening again.

Q: Tom Brady mentioned that he may be a little fresher at this point than usual. Is there a silver lining to Tom missing four games since he may now be a little fresher?

MS: Well, if he feels fresher that's great. I know Tom [Brady] does a great job of taking care of himself regardless of the situation, and obviously as I've said we're thrilled to have him back; his leadership and the way he's elevated everyone's play around him. But if he says he's fresher, then hey - that's great.

Q: What is different about going against an opponent a second time in the same season?

MS: It's tough. When you play a division opponent, especially year after year, they know your strengths, they know your weaknesses. There's not a whole lot of surprising. You're not going to surprise them with something you do or you're not going to drastically change what you do physically all of a sudden, so I think it really comes down to execution and knowing what you have to do and being able to try and go out there and execute it because these guys know our personnel. We know their personnel and it's going to be a hard football game.

Q: What are your thoughts on Brandon Tate as a football player?

MS: Brandon [Tate]'s a tremendous player. I have a lot of respect for him having played with him, knowing how he works, knowing how he prepares, knowing how he views the return game. And you don't last in this league for as long as he has without having some great qualities about yourself, and Brandon's got some great qualities as a returner back there. He knows what he's doing, he knows what to look for, he's smart, he makes good decisions with the ball in his hands. So he poses a lot of problems and he's a strong runner. He's hard to tackle so we've got to be ready for him. As you said, he's got it rolling right now. I think he's playing really well so we have to do a good job on him.

Q: As a special teams captain is it your role at all to talk to Stephen Gostkowski when he is struggling and let him know he has support?

MS: I don't necessarily think it's my role. I've stated before that I think we all have a job to do and the number one focus needs to be on every man doing his job. I have a lot of faith in Stephen [Gostkowski]. He's a true professional and he's been doing this for a long time and it's not by accident that he has ended up in his 11th year with everything that he has accomplished. Stephen, along with every other guy on this team, we support them. We stand behind them. I don't think much needs to be said between Stephen and I. We've had several conversations over the years about these types of situations and it is what it is. It's football and things like this are going to happen. Everybody just needs to focus on doing their job and certainly I need to do that as well.

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