HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, August 29, 2021
Opening Statement: It was, I think, another good learning night for us here. Saw a lot of guys competing tonight, competing for playing time, competing for jobs. It was impressive to see on both sides. Kind of like last week, this capped off a really good week for us with the Giants practices and then tonight. It's a good opportunity over the course of that time to really see everybody, give everybody a chance to play and compete against good competition, against another good football team. I look forward to seeing the film and seeing how things turned out, but I feel like we made progress through the preseason. Still, there's more work to do – obviously, that's clear – but (we're) heading in the right direction. We'll just keep grinding and just kind of see where this takes us, but (we'll) start to turn our attention towards regular season games now. I know everybody will be looking forward to those – those will be coming up soon.
Q: With that in mind, moving ahead to regular season games, have you made a decision on who will start at quarterback in the regular season opener?
A: No, we still have a lot of decisions to make.
Q: What are you hoping to see in the next couple of weeks of practice before that first game from the quarterback position to help you make that decision, whenever the time comes?
A: We'll be focused on preparing for Miami, so that's what we'll do.
Q: It seems like (Tight End) Devin Asiasi has had a productive stretch in practice and then more time. Would you say he's turning into (inaudible)…
A: Once he has been able to participate, he's definitely made good progress. There was a period of time there at the beginning that he wasn't able to practice, but he's gaining ground. Still has a long way to go. I'm sure there are some good things tonight and there were some other things that we probably need to work on – that's probably true for everybody – but it was good to see him make a couple big catches and just in general move the ball. In the second half, that was good offensive output running and passing.
Q: What have your impressions of (Defensive Lineman) Chase Winovich been since he's gotten back out there?
A: I think similar to what we just talked about with Devin. It's good to have him back out there, he's been able to get back to work and get his timing and improve his techniques and fundamentals in the game, so it's been good. Again, still has a way to go, but (it's) way better than it was three weeks ago, so that's good.
Q: After last season, was it important to win in the preseason this year?
A: It's important to win in the regular season.
Q: What goes into the decision to determine how much some of the top guys both offensively and defensively would play in a game like this, given you have this long stretch now before the regular season? Did you feel like just a couple of series was enough for them?
A: Again, we look at it as a composite. So not just this game by itself, but we have the practices that went with it and so forth. In the end, we tried to do what we felt was best for the team, best for each individual player. Sometimes, those weren't the same, sometimes they were. Then ultimately, we had to make our choices about playing time, both in practice and in games, to try to let the guys do things they needed to do, but also be able to evaluate things, as well. It's always a balance on that.
Q: How important was that hit by (Cornerback Joejuan) Williams on the goal line to help set up the eventual pass rush by (Linebacker Josh) Uche and then the interception by (Defensive Back D'Angelo) Ross, just getting them stopped there as far as a teaching moment?
A: It was a great teaching moment, definitely. Every yard, every inch is important and if you keep them out, at least you make them run another play and something can happen – we can make a play, they could fumble the snap, they could make a mistake or whatever. The more plays you make the offense run, the better chance you have defensively and you're going to make a play somewhere. So, that was a good teaching lesson and a good opportunity there that we took advantage of. D'Angelo made a good catch on the ball and made a good stop on the play after that on the goal line run. Then, (Giants Quarterback Daniel) Jones gave us an opportunity and D'Angelo made a play. That was great.
Q: There was a moment during the two-minute warning where (Offensive Lineman) James Ferentz kind of pulled everyone in the huddle separately and gave them a hug. Seemed like kind of an appreciation moment – I don't know if you saw it or what you draw from that.
A: I think I missed it. I was probably over there yelling at the officials.
Q: How tough is it to cut players? In the past, have you ever wanted to cut someone and had your assistant coaches talk you into keeping a player and change your mind?
A: Sure. I mean, there are always conversations about the roster. Having been a position coach and a coordinator at other points in my career, I recognize and understand those points of view and I want them to give their opinions and so forth. But as Coach (Bill) Parcells taught me, ultimately that's my decision and I do it with the help of our coaching staff, our personnel department, the people involved there. There are also some other things that are part of the decision-making process, the salary cap, things like that, that there's some relevance – I'm not saying that's the decision, but they're relevant. Then, you deal with injuries that, again, as a position coach or a coordinator you might not be fully aware of, particularly if it's a position outside of what you're coaching and how that could affect the team and so forth. There are always hard decisions and it's always tough no matter who the players are, that each of the teams has to release – we're at 80, (then) 53…(it's) 27 players for every team or put them on some kind of list or whatever. But, every team is going to have to release players and that's always hard when players have come in and have done the best they can and given you everything they have. There are some players that you're going to have to say we don't have a spot for it, but I think we all knew that when we signed up for it. I've been on waivers a few times myself, so I'm familiar with that process. That's part of the competitive nature of pro sports
QUARTERBACK MAC JONES
Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, August 29, 2021
Q: Did the preseason go the way you expected it to go?
A: Yeah, I think we came together and just played well towards the end, but it's the preseason. We got a lot of work to do and it's cool because I know last year, a lot of guys obviously didn't get to have that experience as a rookie. I think it's great regardless of even how you play, just getting a chance to be out there with your team, learning your teammates and watching how the older guys do it. I think that's the best thing you can do. Watching them was really beneficial and then getting the experience in the games.
Q: How much more comfortable are you now compared to a month ago?
A: I think all of us are more comfortable. You get live reps with the new team and you work on the things that you want to work on each week. But you know, as every week goes by, you just try to pick one thing to work on, and I think we have a lot to work on. It's good because we have a little bit of time, but we're kind of just going to move on from the pre-season and take it for what it's worth and just keep pushing forward.
Q: As you move on to the regular season, what is your expectation on what your role will be for the opener?
A: Right now, just like I always say I'm focused on today. I think there's a lot of stuff I can clean up. I held the ball a little too long at some point today, but I'll work on that. When the next day comes around, I'll watch the film and figure out what I need to do better, but I'm here to play any role that I can play and, help any way I can. I'm going to be ready whenever my time comes up. We got work to do and we'll get the things fixed and then we'll just keep rolling.
Q: A couple back shoulder throws to guys today, how comfortable are you starting to get with receivers?
A: I think that's something that's good to have in your back pocket, but you don't have to do it every time. You need to just figure out when to do it and when the right time to do it is. That's kind of just a feel thing with the quarterback and the wide receiver, running backs and tight ends. You can do it to anybody who's catching the ball. I think we've worked on them in practice too, which helps. We do them a little differently and I think it's good to just get them in live games so they can get a feel for them.
Q: I don't know if you saw that clip, but (QB) Cam (Newton) was pretty determined on the sidelines to get that (high five) from you.
A: I saw. He showed me the video. I didn't hear him or see him and then I was like 'Oh my bad', but that's Cam for you. He's happy, and he's a great teammate. So, I'm happy to be in the same room as him and just learn from him, because he's a great dude.
Q: During the last practice on Thursday and then tonight Cam's obviously been the first quarterback out. Are you still preparing as though you could potentially be the starter?
A: Yeah, I've learned at a young age to just prepare like the starter. You don't have to be the starter, but you have to prepare and get into your routine. That's something Coach (Belichick) talked about today. 'Hey, we're going to, you know, be in the stadium again, just getting your routine.' That's kind of what I did. I just eat the same thing I eat every game day and go about my business. Then you kind of get into a routine and that's how you can get into a flow. I think the older guys do a good job of it and the young guys, I think each week try different things to just try and get in a good routine. Hopefully when the season come around, which is now, the real games, we can adjust our schedule again and find out what works for us.
Q: What did you see on the touchdown to (WR Isaiah) Zuber?
A: It was a good catch. I had plenty of time to throw it. He did a good job holding onto the ball. They came back around again, and I took the hitch. You got to read your keys and stick to your rules and plays will come like that. So, I pretty much just focused on that.
Q: Do you think you've played well enough to be the starter?
A: I've gotten a lot of opportunities to play, and I can improve on everything that I want to improve on. I think just learning from (QB Brian) Hoyer, Cam, Jarrett (Stidham), anybody I can and just listening to (Offensive Coordinator) Josh (McDaniels) and his coaching, there's a lot of work to do. But I think I've made progress. Honestly the only thing that matters is today. And then tomorrow I'll focus on tomorrow. I think the past is the past and we're kind of moving onto the new season here.
Q: You've talked about the veterans; you've talked about Cam and you've talked about Hoyer, what has it been like learning from these guys as this process is going forward? Plus, with all this asking you questions about, you know, possibly being a starter.
A: I think it's been good. There's no bad business in our quarterback room. We're all trying to help each other. And obviously I played in college last year and I've never played in the NFL. So, I'm here to learn from, from Josh, from Cam, from Hoyer, from everybody. They've seen a lot of football, whether they played or was a backup, they've seen a lot of NFL football and they've been a great help to me. And I hope that I can help them whenever they ask for it. If I see something or I have to do something for them, I'll do it, because I'm trying to be a great teammate. So, it'll play out how it's supposed to.
Q: There was a moment at the end of the game when you were standing next to Cam and it looked like he was making you laugh. What are those moments like when it's just you two?
A: It's great. I think we just have good conversations and he's a big mentor for me. At the same time we can still have fun kind of just talking, you know, we're human, so we're not going to be serious all the time. But, he's a funny guy and yeah, he's got some good jokes. I just like to have a good conversation with him.
ADDITIONAL PATRIOTS PLAYERS
TIGHT END DEVIN ASIASI
Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, August 29, 2021
Q: What was it like to finally get out there consistently in this game?
A: It felt good to get out there, get those reps, a couple catches. There's definitely still some more room for improvement out there, for sure. But I think it's something to build off going into the season.
Q: On the back shoulder ball from (Quarterback) Mac (Jones), what was going through your head there, and how do you anticipate that he's going to put it there?
A: Just reaction. I'm not assuming it's coming back shoulder or anything. I'm just expecting the ball, so I'm just out there, just to react and react to the ball. He put it in a good spot, (I) reacted to it, made a good play on the ball.
Q: Can you just talk about your progress from the beginning of camp when you started on the COVID-19 list to where you are now? Do you finally feel like you're making plays on the offense?
A: Oh, definitely. I think every week is a step forward, just getting reps on the practice field and during game day, as well. Every week I'm looking to take a step forward in my game, become more reliable to my coaches and then just stepping out there and doing what I know I can do, so it feels good.
Q: How much from (Tight End) Jonnu (Smith) and (Tight End) Hunter (Henry) have you been able to kind of incorporate into your own game?
A: A lot. They're the big bros, guys that I look up to obviously (with) what they've done in the game and their ability and what they can do on the field. Each and every day I try to take something from them and try to apply it to my game. It's good to have them. It's great to have them in the room, so I really love that.
Q: If you were the head coach, how difficult would it be to decide who's the quarterback of this team?
A: I can't speak on that because I'm not the head coach. I mean, I know we have a couple of great quarterbacks back there and at the end of the day it's the coach's job to evaluate and make those decisions. Me, I'm just here to do my job, here to take care of my assignments and be reliable on the field.
Q: You played a lot with Mac tonight. What are your thoughts on what he's done this preseason?
A: He's great. He's a great quarterback coming in. I like his confidence already and the way he conducts the huddle out on the field, it just gives all of us confidence when we step out there on the field on a Sunday night – and even on practice day. Just building that chemistry with him each and every day on the practice field and try to build on that going forward.
Q: What'd you think of that back shoulder ball from Mac? You were able to kind of twist to make that catch there. What's going through your mind when you see that one coming in?
A: Like I said, just reacting. I don't know where the ball is coming when I'm going out for a route. I just know the ball is going to be in the air and I have to react to it. It's something that we've been working on for a while now and I'm glad that we hit it.
Q: How would you describe the accuracy of Mac's passes?
A: He's accurate. I mean, he goes out there and I think he shows it on a consistent basis. Obviously, nobody's perfect, but at the same time he works each and every day. I see him, how he comes into the facility, how he carries himself on and off the field. He's about his business. So, that's something that I expect.
Q: After the later start to training camp for you, how important was last week in Philadelphia? Because you've gotten so many extra reps in practices and in the game because of the tight end situation, were you able to carry that into this game?
A: I think just in that situation, I just had to step up and fill the role. We went down a couple of players, but at the end of the day, we just got to step up and fill the role and go out there and execute on the field. So, that week definitely helped me out, obviously going from minimal reps to a lot more reps. But I think every week is playing into it, you know what I'm saying? Every week I'm taking the approach of getting better and improving – you know, it's never a perfect game. So, you go back, look at the film, evaluate and then just apply it to the next week going forward.
LINEBACKER MATT JUDON
Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, August 29, 2021
Q: What are your thoughts on finishing up the preseason and turning the page to games that matter?
A: They count now for real. We are really going to keep a track record of all the games that we play from here on out. I'm not just going to get a couple of snaps and then just watch the whole game. So now, we've got to prepare more than ever and make sure we're ready for any situation and every occasion that arises.
Q: How much has (Patriots Linebacker) Josh Uche picked your brain this summer, and what do you think about his development?
A: Shoot, probably too much man (laughs). If I keep teaching him, I'm going to be up out of here looking for a new team. But I think he's just progressing and he's coming into his own player with just how many positions he plays on the football field. We can line him up inside, we can line him up outside, we can line him up off the ball. As he gets more reps, and repetitions and looks, and different schemes and stuff, I think he's just going to continue to grow and continue to be a good player. But I don't think I have anything to do with that, I think it's all him. He puts in the time and the effort, and he's reaping the benefits.
Q: Is it fun with all you guys, (Patriots Linebacker Dont'a) Hightower, (Patriots Linebacker Kyle) Van Noy, Uche, (Patriots Defensive Lineman Chase) Winovich? I mean, you've got a lot bodies.
A: Yeah, I think it's going to be a very interesting year for us at the linebacker position, just (with) what we can do and how versatile we are. So, we're just going to go out there and show it all.
Q: I know he's young, but have you been impressed by (Patriots Defensive Tackle) Christian Barmore on his ability to get pressure on the quarterback, and even to kind of keep you guys clean, so you can do your thing?
A: I think Barmore is going to be an amazing player in this league, just the physicality that he brings. When he starts to learn the game more, and not saying that he doesn't, but it's a different level. As the more reps he gets, the better he looks. He starts to see stuff. He just has a natural feel to the game. I know he's young into football as well, so I think he's going to be another good player for a long time.
Q: You've been around a lot of players in your time. Can you tell me about (Patriots Safety) Devin McCourty, and what it's been like being around him?
A: Devin, ah man (laughs). He's our defensive leader though, hands down without a doubt. He breaks us down after every practice. He just speaks so highly to the defense, and I'm not just saying this stuff because he's right here. If he had never seen this interview, or never was in here, I would say this stuff. He knows the game, he's seen so many plays in this league. It made him go bald (laughs). He knows how to have fun, but he knows when to get the defense, and make us focus and lock in. When it's time to execute, he's right there. But, when it's time to laugh and joke around, and be light, he's the catalyst for that as well.
Q: Speaking of Devin and some of the Patriots veterans, one of the things we see from those guys, even when they're not playing in preseason games, is how they root for the other guys who are out there in the waning minutes, waning seconds. (Patriots Cornerback) Shaun (Wade) helps break up the two point try. You guys run down the sideline, and you were right there. Can you speak to the camaraderie of the team, and also just that that close-knit mentality that the team has even in a game like this, a preseason game in the last seconds?
A: When you are around this league for a long time, you see a lot of bodies come in and out. Every play that's made is an actual NFL play that's made. Even if we're on the sideline and we don't have our helmets on, or we're not going back out there, you're still locked into the game and you watch players. You watch them, you watch how they play. I think players know other players better than anybody else. So, when they're there out there making those plays, and they're out there still playing, it would kind of be messed up because maybe some of those guys grew up watching me, or watching Dev, or watching the Patriots, or wherever we were at. We get the opportunity to give that back to him. We are watching them and rooting them all on, and just wanting to be successful in anything they do.
SAFETY DEVIN MCCOURTY
Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, August 29, 2021
Q: On (Patriots LB) Matt Judon
A: (Laughs) He's a good guy. We've had to teach him a lot. I don't know if you guys know, Grand Valley State, so not a lot of football is played there, but somehow this guy's made it and we've taught him a lot. But all jokes aside, he's brought good energy. I think I said it in the spring, maybe, when you have a guy that comes in here, obviously a high paid free agent guy who's had a lot of success in the league and we get over to that hill, which, you know, guys coming from other teams, they kind of wonder where is (Head Coach) Bill (Belichick) running? Like what are we about to do? And we all had kind of finally got here in minicamp and this guy's running with the skill, but not just running like ten yards behind – because I've seen guys do that and I'm meaning, it's cool, but you can run another side and lose by 10, 15 yards, but he's like actually competing, talking trash. I think that set the tone for the rest of the team because I'm sure he could tell you, you get to a new team and it's like how's this going to work out? He's kind of come in and just been himself and I think that's been the best part of it. Obviously, off the field stuff was important, but you guys have seen it through the first three preseason games what he's done on the field and how that's going to make a huge impact on the defense, you know, pass rushing, but also his ability to play multiple things in our defense. Him, (Patriots LB Kyle) KV (Van Noy), (Patriots LB Dont'a) High(tower), (Patriots LB Ja'Whaun) Bent(ley) – I think having that group and they've been able to go be in there together, do different things, gives us a lot of versatility. If I was playing quarterback I wouldn't know—is he an end, is he outside linebacker, is he blitzing through the a-gap? So I think that makes us a better football team and we've just got to continue to build on those things. You know doing it in the preseason is great as we're building, but now when it gets real it's real bullets. It's not just a quarter or a half. It's sixty minutes of football. It's conditioning. It's mental conditioning. It's all of those things factored into one. I'm excited to take the field with this team and to start this journey.
Q: Was there a point where you were saying you can't wait because of the way last year ended? And then you bring in, like you said, all the new players and the rookies and everybody seems to be mixing and it's a little bit different, obviously, than last year. What is the anticipation at the start of the season?
A: Yeah, I think anytime you finish a season how we finished the season last year and I'm sure the Giants felt the same way. You know, knowing (Giants Head Coach) Joe Judge and how he is and his makeup, of going down to the end of the season and the season just not ending the way you want. I think we saw that in these last couple of practices with them—just the excitement and the energy from both teams by let's see where we measure up. Like, let's see how we are. We're going to get a chance to come out here and compete for the last game. You know you're putting all that work in for an opportunity to go out there and play week one and beyond and I think that's our focus. Obviously, week one is big in this league because it's the build up, it's anticipation, but it's also the realization that we're not just prepared for week one. Everything we're doing, that's to play a season and then try to have a successful season. So, I think anytime you take a team like we had last year—we all spoke about it at the end of the year—things were going to be different. And they've been different. We got new players in here and we just got to continue to build. I like what we have. I think we have enough that's right here in the locker room, but we just got to go out there and keep competing, not worry about, especially this time of year, worry about what's going on outside our building. Don't worry about, you know, who has opinions on this and that, and just come in, listen to our coaching staff, believe in the organization, and just come in and compete.
Q: We're back in New Jersey and you're repping a fellow Rutgers alum with your jersey tonight. Can you tell us about the jersey you're wearing and what made you decide to wear it, your relationship with (US Women's National Team Forward) Carli (Lloyd)?
A: Yeah, I never got the chance to know Carli Lloyd, but I think the cool thing about being at Rutgers was we didn't have many successful seasons prior to a lot of people being there, but I think each individual who had great success stuck out. You look at Carli Lloyd, a Jersey girl, who's gone and competed at the highest level, but also been the standard at that level, has been a captain, Olympian, World Cup Championships, all of those things. So I know I watched her a lot and not knowing a lot about soccer, but just watching it cause Carli Lloyd went to Rutgers. So, her announcing that she's going to retire after a couple more friendlies, it was a great time to come back to New Jersey and represent a Rutgers living legend. You always hear people say give people their flowers while they're still here, so I know I've learned a lot from just watching her compete and doing that at the highest level year-in and year-out.
RUNNING BACK J.J. TAYLOR
Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, August 29, 2021
Q: How are you doing? You were busy tonight – kickoff returns, punt returns, running the ball. How did you think it went tonight?
A: I feel like it was a decent day. A lot of things to work on, a lot of things to improve and just getting better each day. That's the plan.
Q: You went through this last year as an undrafted (player) and ended up on the roster eventually. What are your thoughts this year as you sort of know the time on the calendar, where the roster goes from 80 to 53 (players)?
A: It's still a stressful time. I've just got to make the days count and stay strong in my faith and just leave it up to God at that point. It's not my decision. I can only control what I can control.
Q: How important is it every day to make sure you show them your versatility in the different things that you can do to help the team?
A: That's what we get paid to do. You've got to go out and do your job and make something happen, because it's 11 guys out there and you've got to show what you can do.
Q: What are your thoughts on (Quarterback) Mac (Jones)? You guys have played a lot together, we saw you guys connect a little bit. What has stood out to you?
A: His leadership. He's came in he's been a great leader. Keeping us motivated, talking to the guys and just holding himself to the highest that he can.
Q: You had a punt return tonight that sparked a drive. You have had opportunities of late to do that, how much have you embraced that opportunity?
A: I'm just taking every opportunity that's given to me. They're asking me to do something and I'm going out there and just trying to prove a point and show that I can play. That's it.
Q: How do you handle those situations when you're chipping? When you're way out, there's a clip that we saw where I think it was (New York Giants Defensive Lineman) Leonard Williams, maybe tonight, you got him pretty good and kind of knocked him off of his feet. What's your mentality as you're looking to give somebody a shot before you go into your route?
A: Either to hit or get hit, that's the only mentality I have is give a blow or take a blow. You choose what side you want to be on.