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New England Patriots Postgame Quotes 8/10

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and select players comment on their preseason game against the Houston Texans on Thursday, August 10, 2023.


Postgame Press Conference
Thursday, August 10, 2023

BB: Again, good to get that first game under our belt there. Certainly there's a lot of things we can improve in. I thought there were some positives in the game. Take a look at the film here, take a little closer look at it. But defensively played pretty competitively. Then offensively too many long-yardage situations, couldn't get a run on third down. Didn't have a lot to show for our offensive efforts until the last drive of the game. Good to see those guys compete out there. Just a step in the process here. We'll get back to work here tomorrow and keep grinding going forward.

Q: Can you speak to what you saw from Malik Cunningham tonight?

BB: Yeah, did a nice job. Showed some poise out there, some toughness. Moved the team. That was nice. Did a nice job.

Q: We didn't see a lot of Malik Cunningham at quarterback throughout the first couple weeks of training camp until the last few days. Is that something he showed in those few practices that made you want to give him a look at quarterback or was that the plan all along?

BB: He's been working at those spots all week.

Q: How difficult is it for a player who's preparing at a different position to go in at quarterback and have to manage the playbook and the huddle without as much experience as the other players on the roster?

BB: Yeah, I don't know. That's his opportunity. He's done a good job with it. He's embraced it, he's worked hard, he's improved a lot as a receiver. Snaps he's had at quarterback in practice and tonight, he's done a pretty good job.

Q: What has your impression of been of Keion White this summer?

BB: He's getting better. We'll have to look at the film on the game. Yeah, Keion has improved all through the spring, in training camp here. See how it went tonight. Seemed like it was all right.

Q: In terms of Demario Douglas, we saw him return a punt, get a few snaps on offense, but not a big workload for him. What goes into your decision in getting him suited up for just a few snaps? How do you decide how a rookie is going to get in and out pretty quick like that?

BB: Again, the play time is kind of based on how the practices have gone, so... Guys that have gotten more work in practice got less time in the game. Guys that got less work in practice got more time in the game so we could evaluate everybody.

Q: How would you rate Bailey Zappe's job tonight?

BB: We'll take a look at it. Didn't turn the ball over. Thought he had some good throws. There's some tough situations, some long yardage, there's some pressure. Take a look at it.

Q: Anthony Firkser got to play tonight. Talk about what you saw from him.

BB: Yeah, look, I can't sit here and give you a rundown on every player. There's a lot of plays going on out there. I can't do that. Firk has had a good spring with us, a good camp with us. He has shown up positively. Smart kid. Catches the ball well. Good to have him out there.

Q: You mentioned some of the pressure that Bailey dealt with. Is it difficult to evaluate his night tonight because of the situation with the pressures and having guys in his face?

BB: Yeah, well, I mean, we're dealing with some injuries on the offensive line. But the guys that were in there got some experience. But, yeah, it's tough for the backs. It's tough for the quarterback. Yeah, we didn't have a lot of space on the offense for the most part tonight.

Q: Over the last couple seasons we mostly saw Jalen Mills at cornerback. What have you seen from him at safety?

BB: Yeah, Jalen is an experienced guy, played safety. Played all the positions really in the secondary. Played the nickel, played the corner. Played safety at Philly. He played safety here for the first year for the better part of – I think all the spring, then a little bit in training camp. He's a smart, versatile guy. Played all those positions in the NFL. Gives us some good versatility and experience at different spots.

Q: I think we saw Marte hanging out with Steve for a lot of the game. Do you have a sense of what they were working on or what he was doing? Was he logging plays?

BB: Yeah.

Q: Why is that valuable for him when he's not playing?

BB: Hear the call and follow the game. Somebody's got to do it, so we let him do it.

Q: Is that a unique thing for him?

BB: No, somebody's going to do it. Player that's not going to play in the game, that's a way to keep them engaged and involved.

Q: Looked like you guys went tempo offensively in the second series. Anything you or Coach O'Brien were trying to achieve or see there on that drive?

BB: Yeah, no, I mean, we've mixed that in from time to time all year, so... Yeah, it's not a big thing.

Q: Anything you saw on that drive as you went tempo that you feel like you learned in a game setting?

BB: No. It's just more of the operation. Experience of the operation.

Q: How did you think Bryce Baringer did with the punt game? He was in there for the first half.

BB: Yeah, again, we'll take a look at it. Yeah, I don't know. I mean, we'll see.

Q: Wondering is it more of a progression now or is it a big jump between this past week and next week when you go to Green Bay?

BB: Every day is an opportunity, so just try to make the most of every opportunity. Whether it's practice here or practicing against Green Bay or Tennessee or playing the games or whatever it is. Just try to get the most out of it we can to help get our team ready. Take it as it comes. I don't know how hard or easy it is. Whatever it is, just try to get the most out of it.

Q: On the turnover where Keion White was in the backfield, what did you see from how he played that play where they had a fumbled exchange there?

BB: Looked like he was just unblocked off the edge. Running him off the ball. Yeah, I'm not sure exactly what happened. I mean, looked like he just came clean, though. Thank you.


Postgame Press Conference
Thursday, August 10, 2023

Q: Talk about the pass with Tyquan Thornton.

BZ: The play that was called, he had a MOR, a mandatory release vertical go route. They just so happened to cloud that side. For us it's like a whole shot. That's kind of my set when I was going in. I was waiting for the corner to squeeze down on the out. I was able to put it up there and give Tyquan a chance to go up there and get it. He made a heck of a play. It was nice to see him go up there and get it. That's props to him for that.

Q: What is the message here after the game? Obviously, I would assume offensively probably not as productive overall as you would want, but how would you break it down, Bailey?

BZ: Yeah, I mean, like every game there's goods and bads. The good part about it, we're in preseason still. Come tomorrow we can watch film. We can learn from the bad and improve on the good stuff. It's not always as bad as you think and it's not always as good as you think when you go back and look at the film. That's the good part about it. We get to go back tomorrow and get back to work.

Q: From practice more than tonight, the sidearm stuff, it seems like you're kind of experimenting. What is the method behind that madness?

BZ: Yeah, you got to keep up with the new trends around the league, I guess. Yeah, that's something I worked on in the offseason, with QB Country, the people I train with. Just being able to throw around guys, instead of trying to throw it over, try to prevent knockdowns or incomplete balls. Just being able to move in the pocket. Really just throw it around guys. That's as simple as it can be. Just trying to get it as easy as I can to the receivers and let them do what they're best at.

Q: Take us inside the quarterback room. You guys are a team and everybody is competing for a spot. When Malik [Cunningham] came in, he did well. You were happy for him. Take us inside that room.

BZ: We want what's best for the team. We want to win no matter who's out there. Malik came in and did a phenomenal job, had a really good drive. Scored the only touchdown of the game. Did really good in both the run game and the pass game. It was really nice to see him do that. Especially his first game in the NFL, to be able to go out there and kind of put the jitters aside and play like he did was really good to see. I think like everybody, I'm sure he had those little nerves, little jitters the first play or so. As the drive went on, you could see he got comfortable with it. To be able to see him score a touchdown and how excited he got, was really good.

Q: You've been asked about working with Bill O'Brien this year. What was it like being in a game in between series and the communication, the conversations you had? How would you describe going through a game experience, talking to Coach O'Brien, Evan [Rothstein], about what you saw out there?

BZ: Yeah, I mean, I think everything went good. We always talk about clear, concise communication. I think that's something that we really try to pride ourselves on. That's big, especially from the quarterback to the offensive coordinator. Being able to see things, they have a different view on the sideline than we do on the field. There's sometimes when I come off the field and he's like, 'Hey, how did you see this?' and I can tell him, 'I saw this guy, he slooped a little too far. They had too many guys in the box, so I went this way instead of that way,' so that's always a big part of after the series going into the next series, kind of hashing things out like this is what is going on, this is the front they're giving us, these are the pressures, these are the runs that we feel like can really exploit the defense. That's kind of how the conversations go, like, off the field after a series going into the next one.

Q: How would you characterize your relationship with the rest of the quarterbacks in that room, including Mac Jones?

BZ: I mean, I think the quarterback room, like I said, we all want to win. That's the main objective of everybody on this team. We want to do what's best for the team. I mean, that's pretty much as simple as it can be.

Q: You got to play with Anthony Firkser tonight. Talk about what he brings to you guys, especially as a veteran.

BZ: Yeah, Anthony is a great tight end. He's really great for our tight end room. I think we have really good depth at the tight end room, and many of the rooms as we have on the offensive side of the ball. Firk has been like everybody, improving every day. Getting better route running, catching, just like everybody else has this training camp. I think he's done really a really good job like everybody else has in that room. I'm really excited about the tight end room this year. I think we have a lot of great guys in that room.


Jahlani Tavai, LB

(On how he would describe the first preseason game from the defensive standpoint and being somewhat of a signal caller for the defense)

"It was a lot of fun. A lot of the guys had a lot of those jitters the first game, especially the younger guys, myself included. But it was fun to just go out there, run around again and just make plays."

(On the fires in Maui, Hawaii)

"I'm not sure if everybody saw, but there's a big fire out there in Maui. I've had a lot of family and friends who lost their homes in the fires and a lot of like – I don't know. It's a big tragedy right now. A lot of people lost their lives and I'm just trying to bring awareness to it. There's a lot of GoFundMe's, I'm trying to get a lot of donations: clothes, diapers, whatever we can get our hands on, to send out there. So, as much as I can do, I'm going to do. But, yeah, it's tough being out here and you're so far away from the island. You can't do much but just pray. So, right now it was nice to be out there to play football because it got my mind off of that and allowed me and the other guys to just go out there and have fun, you know? Not think about what's going on out in the world, but just be free and play football."

(On playing with his brother Justus and what he's telling him)

"Shoot, it was exciting to see him run around today. I know he had a nice play out there in the third or fourth quarter. But I'm literally just telling him to have fun, you know? It's football. It's what we've played our whole lives. I know it's at a higher caliber, but it's 11-on-11. You're either going to have a one-on-one or a double team regardless. But, if you have that one-on-one, there's no reason for anybody to even think about trying to block you. So, he's just going to have to look at the tape, go over it, see what his mistakes are and just build on what he started today. So, today's literally his foundation, and he can go from wherever after that."

(On whether he feels five padded practices were enough to feel prepared for today)

"Like I said, it's football. We've been doing this our whole lives. It doesn't matter if we have padded practices or not. We have to go into every practice as if it's a game situation. So, even if we don't have pads, we have to put in the details. We have to know what's going on. Everything is situational, you know? So, it's on us as professionals to go into every practice as if it is a true game. So, we have to stay low pad levels, striking, everything. So, that's what practice is for."

Jalen Mills, DB

(On setting a precedent and leading by example for the younger players)

"This whole offseason, starting from April until the start of camp, even up to now, to this game, we've been talking about building a foundation. I think me as a veteran guy – granted it is a preseason game, but to a lot of the veteran guys, the lights are bright still, they don't know that it's not a full stadium – but you can be a little anxious. I think just me with my presence, being here multiple times and then going out and showing them that we practice hard enough, and those same plays that we make at practice you can make in the game. Just go out there and trust yourself. I think that was the message that I was trying to send, is just go out there, be yourself and make plays."

(On his position in the secondary in the post-Devin McCourty era)

"Honestly, it's wherever Coach sees fit. I can play in the slot. I can play strong safety; I can play free safety. I can blitz off the edge. I can do a lot of different things, so I think it's just about trusting Coach to put me in the right position to help this defense, make plays and help the team win games."

(On Christian Gonzalez's debut)

"We talked about that first tackle that he had on the sideline. He told me it woke him up a little bit, but he said he needed that. But I think Gonzo, he had a pretty good outing. I really didn't get to see too much of him because they were running the ball a lot, of course. But, with Gonzo, he's the same thing: put him in that bucket with those young guys. This whole rookie class coming in, working hard each and every day, asking questions and striving to get better."

(On the read for his interception)

"I was actually in man-to-man with the tight end. He was in the backfield, though. It was a longer down and distance, so I kind of showed a two-high look. I think it was Myles Bryant who was next to me. Once the tight end kind of chipped and released through, I knew that I could take him from depth, but I just kept eyes on the quarterback. He just so happened to look to his right and my left, and I was able to get underneath the route and intercept the ball."

Christian Gonzalez, CB

(On his first taste of the NFL)

"It was good, had a lot of fun to go out there with my teammates and just try to get better each day. And there is so much more that I can learn. Ready to get in tomorrow, watch the film, and get back to work."

(On what stood out about the game)

"Everything really. Just the atmosphere, the speed, getting out there and just playing with the vets and seeing it how they see it. Teaching me ways to go throughout the game and things like that."

(On if the game seemed too fast or if he was too comfortable)

"I don't really think I was too comfortable or the game was too fast. I feel like it was a good learning experience for me. Like I said earlier, just ready to get in tomorrow and watch the film and see what the coaches think about it and how we can learn and grow for next week."

(On his impressions of Malik Cunningham)

"Yeah it was real fun to see him come out there and just ball. It was fun to watch that. Super nice guy, always talking, real high energy. To see him be able to go out and do that was a lot of fun on the sideline for us to see that, I am happy for him."

(On the forced fumble)

"Yeah it was just a route, covered it, and went in and was trying to attack the ball. That's something we preach on and things we want to do, and kind of went along with it."

Tyquan Thornton, WR

(On his high-point reception)

"They were playing Cover-2 so I just went up, good pass from [Bailey] Zappe, went up and high-pointed the ball. That's something that I have been emphasizing, just making contested catches and coming down with big plays."

(On how his 27-yard reception felt)

"Yes, it definitely felt good. Been emphasizing making good catches so it feels really good to see that play come alive."

(On working with Bailey Zappe tonight)

"I feel like it was a good experience. Like I said before, it felt good just getting out there with the whole unit. Going out at full speed, competing at a high level, getting better."

(On his progress through training camp)

"I feel like we all have been getting good quality reps. We have all been getting better, working at a high level, working on small fundamentals."

Keion White, DL

(On his first preseason game.)

"It was a good experience. Definitely have a lot that I need to learn and take from the game. Obviously I reserve all the rights to comment on it until I watch the film and assess it for myself."

(On some of the goals he had coming into the game.)

"Just play physical. I can fix all the rest of the stuff, technique and everything obviously needs to be corrected. Just play a physical and dominant style of the game was my main focus today."

(On if he accomplished his goals)

"I tried my best. I tried my best to do what I set out to do every day."

(On what was going through his head on the fumble)

You see ball, get ball. Kind of just make a good football play, ball on the ground and I went to dive for it."

(On what he hopes to grow upon as he looks ahead to Green Bay)

"Just being able to play faster. There were a lot of times where I was just trying to dissect a little too much. I just needed to play fast, put my hand down and go."

Malik Cunningham, QB

(On if he knew that he would get playing time in the fourth quarter)

"Yes sir. We had talked about it during the week, Coach told me, so I knew I had to be ready at some point."

(On how it felt to play quarterback in the game)

"It feels good. I mean tough player, I'm a team player, so whatever the coaches need me to do, I'm going to do it for the team. That's what happened, Coach told me to go to quarterback, and we had no touchdowns, so I told the o-line, the whole group, that we were going to go down and score and that's what we did."

(On what it meant for him to bring an offensive spark to the game tonight)

"It felt good, I mean at times they were bringing a lot of pressure. They had a good defense, had a good scheme, so I just feel like my running ability gave us a little more options on offense to open it up so they didn't know if we were going to pass or run. That was pretty fun."

(On if it is difficult to be playing both positions)

"Is it difficult? No, I feel like I'm a very clever, smart kid and the coaches have been doing a good job with me, explaining, breaking it down, helping me learn. The quarterbacks, the receivers, all those guys have been nothing but help to me, so I appreciate them."

Andrew Stueber, OL

(On what type of jolt Malik Cunningham gave the team)

"He's a young kid. He's a fast kid. He's a great player. We all work so hard during practice every day. So, we're always ready, always next man up. Everyone's working hard and working together in practice. So, he was ready and went out there and did what he practiced. It was good to see."

(On Malik's Cunningham's touchdown)

"We all got excited out there. You saw him give the ball to Jake [Andrews] and he spiked the ball. We're all excited to see another man succeed and do well. It was a great offensive unit out there and a team effort for the final push of the drive. It was great to see him score."

(On the Texans defensive line)

"They have some great players on that side. I tried to work on my technique and what I've been taught here. We have a great system, great program, and coaches and if you do what they tell you, with good fundamentals and great effort, you'll get the job done."

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