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New England Patriots Postgame Quotes 8/19

New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick, Quarterback Mac Jones and select players comment on their preseason game against the Carolina Panthers on Friday, August 19, 2022.

HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK

Postgame Press Conference
Friday, August 19, 2022

BB: Well, it was good to see our guys go out there and compete tonight. I thought that they in all three areas put on a good effort. Certainly there's things we can do better and clean up, but I thought there was progress. We had a good week here, a couple good practice days against Carolina, and then some of the guys that didn't get as many reps in practice got more reps tonight, so got a pretty good look at everybody. We'll look at the film here and see how things went. You know, another step in the process, and we'll just keep grinding it out here. Look forward to the week in Vegas, working with the Raiders and Josh [McDaniels] and the coaching staff out there. Just another opportunity for us to continue to build and evaluate our team. Feel like we had a good week here. Ready for another one.

Q: Mack Wilson has made a pretty big difference since he's come here. How has he looked in the last two preseason games for you?

BB: Mack has really come on through the spring and then preseason. When the pads come on, he's an explosive player, contact player, and adds speed to our team on both defense and the kicking game. Good to have him, and I think he's getting a little more comfortable out there each day, each game with the guys he's playing with, and the communication, things like that. He's been a good addition.

Q: Last week you described the process of finding an offensive play caller, you said you were in the middle of a process. It looked like Matt Patricia was calling all the plays tonight. Would you describe that process as somewhat complete at this point?

BB: No, it's still a process.

Q: On Kendrick Bourne, why didn't he suit up tonight?

BB: He wasn't available.

Q: The third drive offensively, what did you see that sort of got the offense into a better flow than the first two?

BB: Well, we just missed a couple plays on the first two. You know, that's football. I don't think there were really any big problems, just our execution and just – if we don't get that 1st down, then obviously it's a short drive.

Q: Just to follow up on that, to have that group cap it off on that third drive, how significant is that to just – I guess it was Mac, some of the players stayed on there, but to have his night end on that, how significant was it?

BB: Yeah, good to string some plays together. Wish we could have done that earlier, but it was good to finally get that done.

Q: As someone who very much respects special teams and the punting game, how do you feel that the special teams fared tonight?

BB: You know, we had our moments. Didn't do a very good job in the return game, punt return game. That troubled the gunners. Didn't handle the ball well. Anytime you don't handle the ball well, you're not going to have a good return game. Our coverage was okay. Made a couple field goals, missed one. Certainly could be better. We can coach it better. We can execute it better. But the punt return game was disappointing. We didn't really do anything on that. Got a break when they had an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and they added 15 yards on to the last return there, but it should be better, needs to be better.

Q: How would you describe the communication aspect between play caller and quarterback tonight?

BB: How would I describe it? Normal.

Q: Cole Strange played well into the third quarter today. What did you see from him?

BB: Well, again, for all the guys that don't have a lot of experience, certainly he would fall into that category, just the more playing time, the opportunity you get, the more they learn, the more they build their conditioning and see different things from the defense. Carolina did a nice job tonight of mixing things up with some pressure, some man pressure, some zone pressure, mixed the fronts up. They have a good defensive front, which is good for our offensive line to see. Obviously we had some guys out. But that gave some other players some opportunities. Again, the more snaps those guys get, the better they get and the more chance we have to evaluate them, and hopefully we'll be able to get our group together this week in Vegas and try to play with as many players as we can. There were several players that we would have liked to have seen out there tonight that weren't available. That's usually the way it is. But the sooner we get them back out there, the more consistency we'll be able to build.

Q: Was Matt Patricia calling the offensive plays the entire game tonight?

BB: Communication with the quarterback, yeah. As far as calling the plays, there's a whole 'nother process on that, but yeah.

Q: How would you evaluate how he did communicating plays to the quarterback?

BB: It was normal. It was fine.

Q: Is the process still between you, Joe and Matt when it comes to selecting the plays?

BB: No.

Q: So is it falling to anybody else or it's between you three?

BB: It's a process.

Q: Talk about what you've seen from Lil'Jordan Humphrey throughout training camp and tonight. Looked like he made some good plays in the passing game and in the kicking game.

BB: Yeah, he's made some plays for us since he's been here. He's a big kid that is tough and has very good hands and is kind of a big receiver, tight end-ish type of guy, has a good feel, very good instincts in the passing game, handles himself well in the middle of the field with linebackers under him, over him, in between him. Kind of does the right thing there and helps the quarterback out and is a big target. He gets some tough yards after the catch. Did a decent job blocking on some of the perimeter plays. Then he showed up in the kicking game. That was a player that we got late, wasn't with us in the spring, signed him in July, or late June, whatever it was. He's coming off an injury last year, but he's come in, really worked hard and made a very positive impression here. We're glad we have him.

Q: Mac has described some of the frustration he's had to date in the preseason and training camp. Do you feel like confidence wise he needed to see the type of success he saw on that third drive, or is that not related to his growth?

BB: It's always nice to do well. That's always good. But I don't think Mac lacks confidence, no, if that's the question.

Q: Understanding you don't want to tell us much about the offensive play calling situation –

BB: I never said that. I mean, don't put words in my mouth. I never said that.

Q: I'm not quoting you, I'm just gleaning –

BB: I appreciate it. Just trying to get the record straight here.

Q: How aware or not aware are your offensive players about this process?

BB: I don't know. Ask them.

Q: With Kendrick Bourne, do you anticipate him being available in Vegas this week?

BB: I expect probably all of our players to be available this week with maybe the exception of Wilkerson. We'll see what happens, unless somebody walks in here with something today, but I think we should be pretty close with everybody. Hopefully. We'll see how it goes.

QUARTERBACK MAC JONES

Postgame Press Conference
Friday, August 19, 2022

Q: How important was that third drive for you to come out of here feeling in a good spot?

MJ: Yeah, it was a little bit of a rocky start, but that's kind of how it goes when you haven't played for a little bit. You've just got to continue to play, and the guys on our team, we came together, kind of operated, didn't freak out or anything, just carried on and get our mojo back and keep everything going forward. It was a good drive, and the game is 60 minutes, and right now a lot of the younger guys are getting a chance to play, which is great. We understand how long a 60-minute game is, and I think that was a good learning lesson of 'all right, let's keep playing here,' and when we get into the season, we'll have a lot of chances to play those games out and continue to grow, whether it was a good first drive or not.

Q: What have you noticed is the biggest difference between playing as a rookie and entering a game as someone with a year under their belt?

MJ: Yeah, I think as a rookie, you're out there just trying to do your job and play your role and kind of just do exactly what you're supposed to do. Now, with a little bit of freedom and a little bit more experience, it's obviously good. But at the end of the day it's football, and it's the same game that we've all been playing since we were little. It was just good to get back out there. I know it's a long season ahead, so it was good to get the feet wet again and continue to grow from that.

Q: Your scoring drive went across the end of the first and early in the second quarter. Was the original plan for you just to play the first quarter and sit out the rest of the game or did Bill [Belichick] and Matt [Patricia] talk to you and say we want you to finish this off, we want you to score on this drive?

MJ: There wasn't any like timetable or anything. I just knew I was going to get a chance to play. So I just went out there and did that. Like I said, it's the preseason, so we want to get a lot of players looks and stuff. I got a chance to go out there and work with the offense and kind of get everybody on the same page here, and that's what it's all about.

Q: Can you take us through the pass play with Nelson? You guys have obviously hit a few of those in practice. How nice does it feel to hit it in the game?

MJ: Yeah, it was good. I think it was a good play call. He went up and made a good play, and I had plenty of time to throw it, and by that time we were moving the ball a little bit, so that was a good explosive play for a touchdown drive. That's important for putting points on the board. It was a good catch, too.

Q: Along the line of the question that was just asked about the continuing drive between the first quarter and the second quarter, at the end of the first quarter, I noticed you go by the bench not to talk to anybody and grab a ball and start working out. Was that in your mind you didn't want to talk to anybody about coming out, you wanted to stay in? You just didn't feel -- you wanted to make sure you stayed in?

MJ: I have no idea, I knew I was going in -- they didn't tell me I was out yet. I just always do that before any drive, throw a couple passes, five or six, and then when I feel good, I know I'm ready for the next drive. So, I've done that since I was five years old, and I'll continue to do that.

Q: Question about the scramble play before the touchdown in the second quarter. Was that a designed play, or if not, what did you see that set you off?

MJ: No, it was not designed, it was just a pass play. Yeah, there were people open, but they played very soft off, so I just kind of found my way and got positive yards and got down.

Q: It seemed like last week there was a picture in your locker from that Bills playoff game at the end of last season. When you see that photo every day coming into the facility, what does that do for you?

MJ: Yeah, I've always been a big fan of having motivational stuff in your locker. My dad actually -- the two things that he's always showed me is the poem "Man in the Arena" and "If" by Rudyard Kipling. Those are the two that are more important to me. But, I've always done that, and that's last year, but I think it's motivation to just come in here and work every day. I do love the two poems a lot. That's a big shout-out to my dad because he kind of gave me those when I was probably like six years old and kind of explained everything to me, and as I grew, I continued to just enjoy that. Actually the "If" poem was in Wimbledon, so that's where he learned about it in the locker room in Wimbledon. So that's pretty cool.

Q: It seems like the offense has made progress in terms of just communication with each other on the field. How would you characterize the communication tonight in the game setting?

MJ: Yeah, it was good. I think just kind of a different perspective in the preseason. Obviously not playing every snap, so it's cool to see the game from a different perspective and listen to the coaches and help the young guys. I like to let them play and do their thing because that's how I kind of like to be, too, just go out there and play and save the tape for the game film the next day or whatever. But, I can always give tips, and the communication between the coaches and assistant coaches is great. I think that is something that we've made a lot of progress in: just positive, next-play mentality versus maybe dwelling a little bit.

Q: First game where you have Matt Patricia in your ear calling plays. Joe Judge helping out on offense with in-game action. How was that having them kind of coach you up, and how excited did that get you for the regular season?

MJ: Yeah, I think Matt, he's done a great job. He's one of the most brilliant people I've ever been around in terms of football knowledge. Between all the coaches we have, they've done a great job preparing us. He's really starting to get a feel for it. That's the thing, he's just growing each week and making sure that we can stack good days together. He's very easy to talk to on the sideline, very easy, laid-back kind of type coach but he demands a lot, and I respect that about him. Hopefully we can grow for a long time.

Q: Talk about what it's like working with Lil'Jordan Humphrey since he came over?

MJ: Yeah, I think L.J. is a beast, and when he got signed here, I remember I texted him and asked him if he wanted to come catch, and he immediately responded and found a way to make it out to where we were and came to our throwing session. He's a grinder. He's a big dude. He's great on special teams, too. We have great receivers, and it's great to see them all get a chance to catch the ball and run. He's a big body type receiver, and that's a good addition for us.

WIDE RECEIVER NELSON AGHOLOR

Postgame Press Conference
Friday, August 19, 2022

(On the work it took to get good chemistry with him and Mac to have success)

"A lot of work and a lot more work to continue to be done. We're just working every day. But there's a lot of work to be on the same page and speak the same language but we keep going."

(On Mac Jones' confidence heading into his sophomore season)

"I think he's in the right place right now. He's getting better every day. I think he's a guy that approaches every day with a certain level of focus and professionalism to be the best he can be."

LINEBACKER JA'WHAUN BENTLEY

Postgame Press Conference
Friday, August 19, 2022

(On the starting defense getting to play)

"It was great to get back out on the field in front of our own crowd, get things going especially on the defensive side of the ball. Right now, we're just looking to string it all together. It was good to get back out there though like you said, using your words knocking the rust off. It's good to be out there with our fans and everything, getting the atmosphere – especially since we've been practicing against these guys for a little bit but to be on the game field was definitely a plus for us."

(On being the leader of the linebacker group)

"Obviously I guess I'm kind of like the eldest statesman in the room, but we have a lot of great leaders in our room which is kind of something we pride ourselves on. Guys that are able to take a lot of responsibility and be able to take charge if needed of not just the linebacker room but the defense as a whole. But it kind of comes with the territory, you look to do things the right way and just try to give and be a light that people could follow, especially being here for a little bit. I take that role."

(On Jahlani Tavai during training camp and preseason)

"A great player, a great player. Jahlani came with us kind of in the middle of last year and he's been great for us. We just look for him to just constantly get better, but he's definitely on the right track. He's a hell of a player as well as off the field a good person to have in the locker room, so shoutout to Jahlani."

(On what opposing offenses should look out for with the Patriots defense)

"Everything. I wouldn't want to sell ourselves short on anything. But as far as our preparation, you would hope as a defense that the offense is considering everything that you do, everything that you pride yourself on, which I would say for us is a plethora of things. Whether it's running, tackling, good run defense, good pass defense, obviously you want to be perfect in everything but that's not always the case, so you just look to pride yourself on a lot of good things and make sure you do a lot of great things, well at the end of the day. But as far as an offense views us, I would hope they game plan on everything about us."

LINEBACKER MATTHEW JUDON

Postgame Press Conference
Friday, August 19, 2022

(On the first-team defense getting action for the first time this preseason)

"It's just a little start of what we plan on building on. It's just the first building block. We had to go out there and kind of see what we got and move around and hit somebody other than our own team. So it's just the first building block but we have a long way to go."

(On Anfernee Jennings' performance and getting better every day)

"Just that, just that. He's taken what we apply in meetings, in film and everything and he's using that and using those tools and putting those in his toolbox and he's using it in the game. He made a couple inside moves. He had a couple nice outside rushes he's using to get to the quarterback. But he's building on everything and every day in camp. He's looking really good."

(On if the defense is faster and quicker than last year)

"It really didn't matter what we had last year. It's a whole new year. So if we're looking faster and quicker we thank you. But right now we just, like I said, it's just a building block. We have to continue to do this through the rest of preseason and day by day. So right now we try to move fast and we try to come down hill. We're trying to hit so if that's how it looks we appreciate it."

(On Josh Uche having a sack tonight)

"Shoot, Josh had a sack, D-Mitch [DeMarcus Mitchell] had a sack, Ant [Anfernee Jennings] had a sack, Wise [Deatrich Wise] had a sack. Everybody out there. We're rushing, that's what we do. We're trying to create a competitive edge and we're all out there trying to better each other and that's competing. So when I get a sack or when Uch [Josh Uche] gets a sack or when AJ [Anfernee Jennings] get a sack or whoever get a sack from the edge or on the D-line we all celebrate with one another because that just means it's the next person. They're going to have to start double-teaming him and a lot of us are going to get a single block. But Uche is having a good camp and I love to see it."

(On if the defense can be more aggressive this year)

"That's how we want to play. We want to play a downhill mentality. We want to be aggressive. We want to attack the line of scrimmage and knock it back. So with speed and smarts you got to do everything within a defense, but when we're moving fast and we're executing that's going to happen a lot."

RUNNING BACK / WIDE RECEIVER TY MONTGOMERY

Postgame Press Conference
Friday, August 19, 2022

(On the importance of being multi-dimensional)

"I just pride myself on doing my job. If I have to run the ball, I'm going to run the ball. Whatever is required. When I have to catch the ball, I'm catching the ball. When I have to beat a guy on a route, I'm going to beat a guy on the route."

(On how it felt to score a touchdown)

"It felt really good, I'm not going to lie. Being on the outside looking in I'm very honored and I feel like it's a privilege to be a part of this organization. I was very happy I have a good group of teammates around me, a good group of coaches. It's my first touchdown, I don't care if it's preseason, since 2018. I'm just happy to be getting opportunities."

(On how he feels he's coming along in the passing protection responsibilities)

"I feel confident in my abilities and confident in coaching, confident in my teammates. Pass protection is part of the running back's job and is something I've been able to do in the past. So I expect to be able to do it here."

PLAYERS IN THE LOCKER ROOM

David Andrews, C

(On offense's progress throughout the game)

"I think we knew we could do it, we just had to put it together. Little things here and there. We were starting off pretty good, playing the game – just kind of fizzled out, but then we put that one together, it felt good, and we put together some other ones. So, we'll look at the film here, and correct and move forward for next week."

(On tonight's performance and watching film)

"I thought we got the running game going a good bit. I don't know what the final total was, but I know it was over 100. We have to clean up the penalties. There's some other things to clean up. They did a lot of different blitzes and things like that, so that'll be good to see: things they were doing and how we handled it. We'll go from there and move forward."

(On Rhamondre Stevenson, Damien Harris, and Ty Montgomery)

"Super fortunate. My whole career here, it seems like we've always had a great running back room. A lot of guys that can do a lot of different things. Got them going a little bit here in this game. Felt good. It's always good when you feel them go off behind you and go for a good little run."

James Ferentz, OL

(On the offense's performance tonight)

"Like any game, there was some good and some bad. We will come in and take a look at the film and see what we need to improve on. It is still the preseason so we have a long way to go."

(On if there is a greater sense of urgency in this preseason with there only being three games)

"Yes, it is hard to look forward especially when you are in training camp. We have to review what we just did then go out to Las Vegas and have a really productive week."

(On the third drive with Mac Jones and what that does for the team's confidence)

"Anytime you hit a big play and you're excited, it is crucial to any successful offense so to get those going is always great. All credit goes to Mac for a great throw and then Nelly [Nelson Agholor] with the great catch and finish."

Damien Harris, RB

(On getting the momentum going in the third offensive drive)

"It's about making positive plays. Moving the ball down the field. The ball moving forward. That's what we try to do every time we step on the field as an offense. That's what we try to go out there and do. We try to go out there and have positive plays and try to push the ball in the right direction."

(On Kevin Harris)

"He's just another guy – like all the other guys on our team – that just comes in every day and works incredibly hard to improve and do whatever they can to make this team better. We've got a lot of guys that come in and do that and I think that creates a good nucleus to have a good football team. If everybody keeps coming in here putting their best foot out there and showing up to work every day, ready to work and improve, I think that can make for a really good team."

(On benefits of preseason games)

"It's an incredible opportunity for all of us to be able to step on the field and do what we love and do what we dreamt of as kids – at a professional level. As I said earlier, it's about getting acclimated to the speed of the game again. None of us really played any real games since last year until the preseason starts, so just getting back out there, sharpening our tools, seeing what we need to improve on and do better, and trying to get better and improve as a team throughout camp."

(On getting the offense going during the third drive)

"It's just about going out and making positive plays. Obviously, when you don't go out there and do that, the next time you step on the field, that's what you want to do. I mean, anytime, regardless of if you make plays or not. Every time you step on the field as an offense, it's our job to move the ball down the field and try to score points. Whether it's the first drive or the last drive, that's the focal point of what we want to do as an offense. So, we want to continue to try to do that every time we step on the field."

(On differences between first and second preseason game)

"That's what camp is about: improvement, individually, and collectively as a team. Throughout this process, that's what we've tried to do every single day and we just need to keep building, keep improving, and keep making steps in the right direction."

Matthew Slater, WR

(On his assessment of Brendan Schooler's and Lil'Jordan Humphrey's performance on special teams)

"Yes, it was fantastic. I mean, both of those guys have done a great job since they got here. They both have been working really hard. That play that Lil'Jordan made was fantastic, and then Schooler is just bought in to playing the kicking game. He understands what his role is in terms of that and has been a sponge just by asking so many questions and learning so it has been great to see that transition to the game situation."

(On Myles Bryant returning kicks for the first time since 2015)

"It has been great. He looks like he has a lot of confidence back there, he's making good decisions with the football in his hands and we just have to do a good job of giving him space. That is our theme for returning this year, let our returners keep going so they can use their abilities in the open field. He's doing a great job and all returners are doing a great job, we just have to keep working at it."

(On Bill Belichick being critical of special teams tonight)

"The goal, even if it may not be a realistic one, is to be perfect. No one understands that standard better than Coach because he has established that standard here. For us, we know there are going to be things that we need to clean up from the night but like I said, I think we made some positive strides."

(On if there is a greater sense of urgency in this preseason with there only being three games)

"I think you have to have a greater sense of urgency since you've only got three dress rehearsals. These games are really important and I don't know if people really understand the importance of getting your timing, gaining confidence, playing with your teammates in game situations, communication and all of that is important. We don't have as many chances as we did before, so I think we have come to work with some good urgency.

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