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New England Patriots Postgame Quotes 12/3

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and select players comment on their game against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday, December 3, 2023.


Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, December 3, 2023

BB: Some missed opportunities here today. I thought all the guys played really hard. We moved the ball, but we're on a long field. Just really didn't do a good job of field position. Couldn't play the complementary game that we needed to play. Chargers did a couple times, got their six points, and obviously that was enough. Just got to do a better job – we've talked about it all year, making plays in critical situations that we need to make. That's really about it. Multiple plays you can point to on that. In the end, just obviously wasn't enough. We've got to find a way to make those.

Q: Bill, with your offense being inconsistent, was there any talk between you and your coaching staff about possibly going to Malik Cunningham as a change of pace, as a spark?

BB: We did what we thought was best.

Q: With the offense, just how do you explain what's continuously gone wrong here for this group?

BB: Just tried to do that. Sorry that wasn't good enough.

Q: What went into the decision to start Bailey Zappe over Mac Jones?

BB: I thought he deserved it.

Q: Was it something that he did, or do you feel as though Mac hasn't delivered on what you were hoping to get?

BB: I think he deserved it.

Q: Do you feel as though organizationally you've left Mac down a little bit? Third year, first round quarterback, now he's on the bench?

BB: Just try to put the best team we can out there every week.

Q: Hi, Bill. We saw Tyquan Thornton get a little more into the offense today. He had one play that worked out, one that didn't. What did you see from him today, and what more do you want to see from him?

BB: I'd like to see all our skill players be more productive when they get the opportunity to do that. It's obvious.

Q: How surprised are you at the lack of production from the offense?

BB: I don't know.

Q: What do you identify as maybe some of the missteps that have contributed to the offense not producing this season?

BB: I just answered that question.

Q: I guess I'm trying to figure –

BB: That's end of the season review. We're talking about the game. Game is just over. Happy to talk about the game. I made my comments on it. I'm not going to get into a full season review. If that's what you're asking, then no.

Q: I think the reason I was asking is because it's just hard to fathom how the offense has dipped from where we saw it at the end of last year. This is the way we communicate with you to fans who are curious with the same question?

BB: I just told you what I thought about the game. We moved the ball, didn't make enough plays to score. We got into scoring range and weren't able to convert those into points.

Q: With the offense struggling, was there ever any consideration to putting Mac in the game?

BB: We did what we thought was best in the game.

Q: Players have mentioned it's a team game. They're professionals. They signed up for this. But on a human level, what do you say to these guys when they have three pretty incredible performances and the team isn't able to pull out a win? How do you keep those guys motivated and engaged?

BB: I think I just answered that question. Come to work every day, do the best that we can, try to get better. That's what we're going to do.

Q: Bill, what led you to believe that keeping Malik Cunningham on the sideline for the entire game was in the best interests of the team?

BB: We had times where we got things going. We wanted to try to stay with what we were doing.

Q: You mentioned Bailey Zappe deserved to play, in your opinion. What did he show you to earn that responsibility?

BB: He's worked hard all year.

Q: So was it just until recently that he had shown you that he deserved the job, or was that something that he may have deserved earlier than today?

BB: I said that he's worked hard all year, and I thought he deserved a chance to play. We made that decision last week.

Q: Why not make that move sooner in the season?

BB: Because we gave Mac [Jones] the opportunity to work through his progression with the offense. Obviously we hadn't had a lot of production. I thought Bailey deserved a chance to play, so he played today.

Q: Bill, do you want to stay here and keep coaching the Patriots?

BB: I'm looking forward to this week, getting ready for the Steelers.

Q: Down 6-0 with seven minutes to go, you're on the 30-yard line. Did you consider going for the field goal there to try to cut it to 6-3 instead of going for it on fourth down?

BB: Kicking conditions weren't great out there today, especially on those long field goals. They were tough in pregame. So, no, we thought we had a better chance – I think it would have been a tough kick.

Q: Is Bailey Zappe going to start on Thursday?

BB: We just finished the game.

Q: You said before –

BB: Yeah, well, we just finished the game. I didn't even start on Pittsburgh yet.

Q: Was there a specific plan for Malik Cunningham coming into this game when you did elevate him?

BB: Plan for Malik if we put him in there, do the things that he does and be ready to go.

Q: If you guys had gotten into the red zone, would he have entered the game?

BB: There's a million hypothetical questions that we could talk about. What happened, happened.

Q: What do you think of the job Bill O'Brien has done with the offense and specifically today?

BB: I think we all need to find a way to be more productive, and that's what we're trying to do.


Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, December 3, 2023

Q: Sum up the game today.

BZ: Some good things and some bad things. We had a chance there at the end. Defense played great. Offense, it starts with me. I've got to make plays towards the end. I've got to throw better balls. I've got to make the balls catchable, especially in conditions like today – wet ball, wet hands. I've got to throw the ball better. It starts with me on the offensive side in getting things going.

Q: You mentioned a couple of weeks ago how coming in kind of cold later in games made it tough to get a rhythm going. This week, seemed like today you were the main guy. Did that give you confidence in this game? It seemed like you were taking some shots out there and trying to get some things done downfield.

BZ: It was a little bit different, of course. But like we always say here, you've got to be ready no matter what the circumstances are. Whether you're coming in third quarter or you're starting the game, whatever the coaches tell you to do, you've got to be ready. Just got to get ready for Steelers this Thursday.

Q: I know you guys don't like to make excuses, but how tough was the weather to play through today?

BZ: I mean look, both teams have got to play through it. I mean, yeah, it's not ideal, but you've got to deal with it. Like I just told Mike, it starts with me. It's a wet ball, whatever. It's hard to catch, I've got to throw better balls. There's no excuses, like you said. You've just got to play better.

Q: Bailey, you did a good job today obviously extending plays. What's the line in a game like today, where points are at a premium, between extending plays and taking sacks? On that second drive, you guys are at the Chargers' 38 and maybe field goal range, you take a sack on third down and a sack on fourth down. What's the line between trying to extend the play and in a game like that, saying I can't take a sack here?

BZ: Yeah, that's totally on me. Like you said, I've got to understand where we're at on the field. I have to understand that we have points, and I have to understand plays – it's done. There's nobody open. I've just got to throw the ball away. I just tried to do too much, and that's on me.

Q: What specifically did you like today, and what did you think you need to improve moving forward?

BZ: I think we did a few things good, run game, pass game. Some things I need to work on is of course what we just talked about, understanding when the play's over with, not taking a sack when you know you're in field goal territory and you can get points. Just things like that. Like I said previously, that falls on me. I've got to get better at it. I've got to get back and watch this film and get ready for Thursday versus the Steelers.

Q: I think you expressed some positivity about practice, what you were seeing in practice earlier this week. What have you noticed changes between practice and getting on the game field for you guys?

BZ: I would say that, given the circumstances that we're in, there's no division in our team. Everybody comes to work every day. Everybody pushes each other. Defense pushes offense. Offense pushes defense. I think, as long as we stay this way these last five games, things will start going in our favor. We just have to keep working.

Q: The defense has allowed 10, 10, and 6 points. You've lost all three. I know this is your first start, but do you feel like the offense is letting down the defense based on how well they've been playing?

BZ: Yeah, our defense is great. Our defense is playing phenomenal. Like I've said multiple times, it starts with me as a quarterback on the offensive side. I've got to do better. I've got to get us down there. I've got to get us in an opportunity to score points. Taking sacks and doing all those things isn't doing a good job of doing that. I've got to throw it better. I've got to make smarter decisions. Once I start doing that, then we'll start scoring points.

Q: I was wondering, you targeted Tyquan Thornton for some big plays today. What did you see from him?

BZ: Tyquan is a great receiver. We have a great receiver group. We have guys that can go down there and catch the ball. You've just got to give them a chance. There's some times where I need to throw a better ball. Like the deep one to Tyquan, I need to throw it better. I led it too far. Maybe if I throw it six inches shorter, that's a touchdown, he's catching and running it. We've just got to keep grinding. Those guys are doing phenomenal. I've just got to get them the ball.

Q: Having the full week of preparation, the full preparation, your immediate reaction, is it more of a missed opportunity for you today getting a chance, or is it still a learning experience?

BZ: I would consider it both. We didn't win, so I would technically clarify that as a missed opportunity. Of course it's always a learning experience no matter win or lose, there's things you can look back on, good and bad that you can learn from and grow from. I think that's what I'm going to use today as and just grow with it. Whatever the decision is next week, then get ready to play Steelers.

Q: Bailey, you made it through the game without any turnovers, didn't move the ball as much as you wanted to. Just how do you think you can build upon that heading into the Steelers?

BZ: Yeah, biggest thing is for the quarterback position is not throw interceptions. We were able to do that today, but we weren't able to score points. We've got to score points, and that starts with me, and that starts with, like I said, just making smarter decisions and just growing in the things that we did good today and learning from the things that we didn't do good. It's a short week, but we'll get after it tomorrow and be ready for Thursday.


Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, December 3, 2023

(On Bailey Zappe leading the offense)

"Yeah, I mean look, I think he did a good job, right? Obviously, there's a lot to work on, but I appreciate the way he came out there and competed. Obviously, I've sat up here the whole time and said it's not one guy, so we all have a lot to do better on all three levels. We've just got to find some way to make some plays."

(On the frustration level for the offense and the team in general)

"Yeah, look, I mean, it's a very simple game. You've got to score points. You've got to score points to have a chance to win. You can boil it down to whatever you want, but at the end of the day, it comes down to points. We've got to find ways to generate more points, and that's 11 guys being consistent every play, right? Like I've said, I believe in that, and it takes 11 guys each play. We've just got to find a way to generate points, especially here on a short week."

(On the team's motivation)

"Look, I mean, me personally, right – I'm nine years into this thing, 31 years old. I can't do this forever, and it's not like any other sport. You can go play pickup basketball; you don't play pickup football. So, you don't know how many opportunities you're going to get to play this game. Injuries, guys' health scares, whatever, outside health stuff. You just don't know what opportunities you're going to have. So, I think for me personally, you get to go play this game and play with this group of guys. I think there's a lot of guys that look at the game like that, right? At the end of the day, you're playing for the respect of yourself, the respect of your team, the respect of this team, the organization. So, I think there's a lot of reason to go out there and compete every week, and guys have different why's. Some guys play for whatever – money, fame, whatever it may be. Some guys play because they love the game. There's a little bit of all of that. But, I think you always have something to play for. I think if you're going out there without something to play for, it's probably time to move onto something else in life."

(On if he has to collect himself before speaking on behalf of the franchise first and if the losses are taking a toll)

"No, I mean look, it's part of my job. I signed up to do this, right? So, I think I try to come out here and represent this organization as best I can; I try to do that when I play. Look, the seasons are long no matter what. When you win, they're long and when they're over, you can take a deep breath. When you lose, they're long. So, it's obviously a different year than I've ever experienced. It is frustrating because of how much you put into it each week. You toll away at it each day, but that's my job; that's what I'm supposed to do. It kind of goes back to the reason I said kind of why you do things, the day I decide that I don't want to put in that work, get up early, lift, do all these things, watch film, all that, it's probably time for me to hang it up."


Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, December 3, 2023

(On the level of frustration for the offense)

"Yeah, it's frustrating. Very frustrating. I'm frustrated, I know we're all frustrated. We've just got to keep going, keep competing. I'll tell you one thing, I'm going to keep competing and keep trying to be my best, keep trying to be better and try to be the best version of myself I can for this team."

(On his motivation over the rest of the season)

"Motivation? It's this game, man. I love this game. When we sign up for 17 of these things that are guaranteed every year – I'm going to tell you one thing, is I'm going to go out there and compete the same and give the same amount of effort that I would no matter – if we were in first place. I know all those guys in that locker room will do the same. You know, we obviously haven't been able to finish these games well, but obviously we're close and close games. I mean, defense is hanging us in there, we've got to be better offensively and score some points and find a way to get a win."

(On what Bailey Zappe brought to the offense)

"He did a great job. He's played some games, obviously hasn't started a game this year, but he did a great job. Had great command, was good in the huddle, good with alerts too and different things. He got comfortable and was able to make some plays for us."


Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, December 3, 2023

(On playing in the difficult conditions)

"We're ready and prepared for any kind of situation. For God's sake, we're in Foxborough; we get all types of weather out here. So, it was a great opportunity for us on defense to find opportunities and find ways to make sure we got the ball back into the offense's hands. So, I hope the boys know that we gave our all out and I'm proud of each and every one of them."

(On his leadership and his track from where he was at the beginning of the year to now)

"I know we lost a lot of guys from injuries, but this is the league. We're next man mentality. It's on guys like you said, myself and guys like Pep [Jabrill Peppers] to step up the challenge or step up to the opportunity. But our standard on defense is high. We strive for perfection. Every week, we're at each other's throats because we're trying to make sure that we're dialed in, focused and prepared to execute any type of play or any type of situation."

(On his assessment of the defense's performance)

"Like I said, I'm proud of the guys on defense. Is it good enough? I believe so. But it's not our standard. We're going to make sure that – it's a short week, so we've got to prepare quick and get ready. So, we can't really dwell on this game too long, and we've got to get ready for Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh has a strong offense, and come tomorrow, we'll correct those mistakes that we had today and move on."

(On defining how the defense could play better)

"If we're looking for perfection, we don't want to see a score on the board. I know we held their offense to no touchdowns, but we don't even want them to score field goals. That's the mentality we have as a defense; we take it personally when they get past our 50. Those are the type of guys that I love playing with. I'm proud of each and every guy that got to run out on the field and do their job."


Jabrill Peppers, DB

(On the frustration level)

"We have got to play better complementary football. We just cannot play well on one side of the ball, whatever phase that is. We gave up a big punt return that got them in scoring position, then being aggressive got them in scoring position. As a defense, our job is to negate the lead."

(On how they stay together as a team)

"We are going to stay together. We have high character guys, we are no stranger to adversity. Everyone here has faced tough times in their life. This is not nothing, but we are all competitive and we are powerful men. What we are putting forth right now just is not it."

(On the playing conditions)

"Whatever it is it is, we play in it. We practice in it, we are going to play in it. Hopefully we can use it as a home field advantage especially when teams like the Chargers play indoors and usually nice weather games. As a defense we love that, the worse the weather the better, we embrace it."

(On how the defense stays focused)

"The standard is high. From a man, to a man, we know what we have got to do. Play for the man next to you, we don't ask for much but your best. We have got to do more, we have to get some more takeaways, we have got to start scoring on defense. We are going to find ways to rectify the situation and make it right, but right now we are just not doing enough."

Tyquan Thornton, WR

(On how Bailey Zappe did today)

"I feel like Zappe did well. He went out there and played well. Got the ball out of his hands, gave us an opportunity to make plays and I feel like we have to execute better as an offense, everybody do your job. Speaking for myself too as well, I feel like we left some plays out there. I feel like he did well."

(On what they need to improve)

"I would say consistency. I feel like we are not that far away. We just have got to make more routine plays, go out there and execute."

(On the frustration of missing the big play)

"Yeah definitely frustrating, I wish I could get that one back. Just to make that play for our offense, I feel like we really needed that. I have got to do better at my job just to make that routine play."

Ezekiel Elliott, RB

(On how his bond with Rhamondre Stevenson has grown throughout the season)

"It's grown well. I've known him since he got into the league. We're the same agency. Just a guy I've known. Being able to come up here and play with him we became way better friends."

(On the effect the rain had on the game today)

"I don't think it really had any emphasis on it at all. Think it made us run around a little bit more."

(On the frustration level as an offense)

"Super frustrating, not being able to go out there – defense holds them to six points and for us not to be able to go out there and put us anything on the board is tough. I feel bad for those guys on the defensive ball they've been playing. Good defense week after week. We've got to figure out how to make more plays on offense and give them some help."

Jalen Mills, DB

(On losing despite holding the Chargers under 10 points)

"I mean, it is what it is. I've learned in this league, once the game is over there's no point in cussing, no point fussing, no point being mad, this and that. The proof is in the pudding. On to the next. It is what it is."

(On if it is disheartening to lose despite playing well defensively)

"No, we pride ourselves as a unit. When you guys come in here in the off-season, come here during camp and hear us say 'I'm playing for my brother', 'I'm playing for the guy next to us', those words aren't just words. Those are actions. You guys are seeing it. We are playing for each other right now."

(On the frustration level)

"I can only speak for myself. I'm not frustrated at all. It's about the work at the end of the day. When things aren't going right, regardless of whatever side of the ball it is, you've just got to rely on your motivation, rely on the guy next to you and it's day in and day out."

JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR

(On offensive struggles)

"We're just not executing plays that we should have and not putting ourselves in position to put points on the board."

(On the team's defensive performance)

"Honestly, I give it up to our defense. Regardless of how it's been going for us on offense, they've been doing their job, doing their thing, and they stopped a high-powered offense like the Chargers and only gave up six points."

(On team morale)

"At the end of the day, this is all who we got. These are the guys in here, this is who we're going to rock with, players, coaches. It is the ultimate team sport."

(On improving from today's game)

"There's a lot of things we have to build on, get back in the lab and get better. It is a short week, and we should get our bodies healthy and get ready to play against Pittsburgh."

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