HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
POSTGAME VIDEO CONFERENCE
September 13, 2020
BB: OK, well, I'll start with just how honored I am to have worn the patch today for Fritz Pollard. The criteria that they talked about was somebody who had overcome discrimination and racism and certainly Fritz Pollard fits into that category. S,o what he did, the courage that he showed as a player in the NFL and then later as a player/coach, and then later as – when he left the NFL and then after the NFL banned all Black players in I think it was 1934, he continued to work with professional football teams, all-Black teams and have them compete and they did very well. They just weren't in the National Football League. So, really honored to have worn this today and I appreciate the opportunity to recognize Fritz Pollard for all he's done and what now continues as an award that's given out and recognition that's given out for people that have done things along the lines of what he represented and what he worked so hard for.
But as far as the game, it's always good to get the first one, get the first win under your belt. I thought we got good contributions from all three units and we competed well. I thought the players were in good condition. I thought the conditioning was a big factor for us. That's a credit to their hard work, and we stepped up and made some big plays when we needed to throughout the game. Had a couple of tough calls there that didn't go our way that we had to overcome, but we did that. And the three turnovers and running the ball as effectively as we did and then coming back and passing the ball after we had run it, that was good, good balance that we struck there. So, it's good to get off to a good start, but tough week this week with Seattle, so we're going to have to turn the page pretty quickly here and move on. But, a lot of credit – really all the credit – goes to the players, and the coaches did a good job. It's a game that had some adjustments in it. Obviously, neither team had seen each other this year and so working out things during the game that come up or came up either on the sideline and players making adjustments to different looks that came up on the field and so forth. I thought that the players really handled that well, as did the staff.
So, after all of what we have been through for the last whatever it's been, however many months, it's good to actually get out on the field and coach and play. And the environment was different than what it has ever been before, but the opportunity to get out there and play and compete was good. Proud of the way these guys have handled everything. It's a great organization and a great group of players and coaches that I'm proud to be part of. They have really done a good job.
Q: Would you mind speaking just specifically to your impressions of Cam Newton and his debut with your team? Obviously he ran and passed well and I wanted to ask you specifically about that moment where on the second touchdown, rather than celebrated himself, he handed the ball to David Andrews for a spike and said to David, 'You spike it.' What did that say about him, if anything, to you and what is your overall review of his play today?
BB: Yeah, well Cam's been great for us. I didn't see the play you're referring to, but he's a very, very unselfish player. He's a great teammate. He's earned everybody's respect, really, daily. He just continues to do everything that he can to help our team and that's really all you can ask from anyone and he continually does that, puts himself last and puts the team first. So, I think he's done a tremendous job there and I thought he played well today. He hit a lot of passes. He ran the ball well. He led the team. He made some good checks and adjustments, so I thought that he did a good job. There's room for improvement from all of us, so I'm not saying it was the best executed game in the history of football, but we did some good things today in all three phases of the game. We're proud of that and we'll go back and work on the things that we need to do to get better, but I thought he did a good job for us.
Q: You always talk about not beating yourselves. This afternoon you only had three penalties – all pass interference penalties. Did you really harp on and focus on things coming down the stretch here these last couple of weeks before Game 1 of control the things that you can control? It seemed lack of penalties really helped you today.
BB: Yeah, it does. It always does. That's one of the things that when you make mistakes that are unforced mistakes, it obviously just gives your opponents extra opportunities and free yards and that kind of thing. It's really not – I mean, we never want to do that. There were a couple of close calls on the penalties. Not sure what it looked like, they were very close. And that's football. You're going to get some of those and you're not going to get some of them. But I think it's the ones you're referring to – the false starts, the too many men on the field, the lining up offsides, illegal motion, all of those kind of unforced errors – you just can't afford. It just gives your opponents too many opportunities. So, we've obviously always harped on those, but the players did a great job of staying focused and concentrating. Nobody's been able to play 60 minutes of football this year, but they went out and did it and executed well at the end on both sides of the ball and in the kicking game. So that's, again, a real credit to the players. But, yeah, certainly playing penalty-free or minimal penalties – that is always one of our goals. Glad we were able to do that today. The game got a little chippy at times and we didn't have any retaliation or personal foul penalties. The guys kept their poise there in a couple of those situations near the end of the game.
Q: We saw quite a few defensive backs play a big role in today's game. How do you feel they performed and executed their various assignments throughout the course of the game?
BB: Yeah, well, we played a lot of people on defense, period. You're right, we did have a lot of defensive backs. I think we had 11 active for the game. And so we know that Miami was capable of basically putting four receivers out on the field on a lot of their snaps, which they did with [Mike] Gesicki and then the other three receivers. So, we were able to match up and also rotate through there so that we could keep everybody fresh. And so I thought defensively it's a lot better than the, whatever, 27 points we gave up last year to them. We played more competitively there, and had we not given up a couple of tough plays there at the end of the half and then at fourth-and-1, you know, we'd make the play on that and get called for interference. So, we could have had a little better day than we did, but overall holding an explosive team like that to 10 points is – that's a pretty good day's work. Plus to get three turnovers out of it from the defensive backs, that's good. I would just say that I really take my hat off to J.C. [Jackson]. I thought J.C. really competed well today. He showed a lot of mental toughness and a real competitiveness of the game, and then for him to make that play at the end just sealed the win, along with the run that we had there to get the first down to run out the clock. But the interception that J.C. had in the end zone, I thought he showed a lot of mental toughness and a high level of competitiveness in today's game. So, I just wanted to personally congratulate him for that because that was good.
Q: It looked like you guys took the field and wanted to be physical in the running game. More than any other thing, was that hard to gauge on how exactly that was going to go in this game? And how impressed were you with the ability of the guys to be physical up front?
BB: We had a lot of production in the running game in a number of different ways, but it was pretty balanced. We got the ball outside. We got it inside. We had multiple ball carriers: Julian [Edelman], Cam, the backs, and so forth. So, it was a good balance and the execution was good. Our offensive line I thought played well against a physical front. Miami's got some big, strong players in there and they had a couple of guys from the Patriots last year, and signed some defensive ends as free agents, so they have upgraded their roster there. But I thought we played very competitively against them.
Q. You are obviously someone who has seen a lot of football in your day, been involved in a lot of games. What was the atmosphere like in the stadium without fans there? Can you compare it to anything else that you've experienced in your football life?
Q. But nothing in terms of a game? What were your thoughts on the atmosphere overall? Was it strange, obviously?
BB: It's like scrimmaging the Titans or scrimmaging Detroit or scrimmaging the teams that we scrimmage. There are a few fans there, but basically there's no fans there. It's just the competition. And there's some energy from your teammates and your own energy, so it is what it is. But I mean, that's what it's like out there in practice. There's no fans in practice either.
Q: You were 6-of-11 today on third and fourth downs and 3-of-4 in the red zone. How pleased are you with the kind of production you got in those two areas? How much of it, too, is related to that balance you just spoke about? I think you had eight players overall with 25-plus yards of total offense today.
BB: No, that balance is good and those are the downs you've got to produce on, and, honestly, we should have been better than that. But, yeah, those are key downs to be able to stay on the field and be able to get the ball in the end zone, so we'll just keep working on those things and we'll be challenging them on it every week. But we were successful doing it today and ultimately that really helped us win the game.
Q. I wanted to ask you about the drive following the fumble. How much did it help to answer the way you did on the next drive?
BB: Yeah, that was, I thought, as usual, Josh called a great game. He brought our players, offensive players in great positions to make plays and we had a high level of execution from all the units offensively. So, but that was a big drive. It got started with Julian's run and the fourth down run, and so we had a number of key plays in that drive. But that was a big answer right there to take it from 14-11 to 21-11. So, ultimately, that was a key sequence in the game off the interception and running out the clock there with less than two minutes to go in the game. I mean, those are some of the real critical situations in the game.
Q. It looked like Chase Winovich played a bigger role in this game than we saw him for most of last season. What did he do over training camp to show that he could play a little bit more on early downs?
BB: I think Chase has been a good player for us and that he played well last year. We had some other experienced players last year, Kyle [Van Noy] and Jamie [Collins], and so there was just some other players playing ahead of him and now he's the most experienced player along with John Simon, so that shifted quickly in a year, but Chase has done a good job for us on all downs. When he played last year he was productive on a per-play basis and I thought he showed that today. But Chase has got good energy, he's in good condition, he's got good stamina, he's got speed, he's got power and he's a very instinctive player. So, I would expect him to be out on the field a good part of the time in all games.
Quarterback Cam Newton
POSTGAME VIDEO CONFERENCE
September 13, 2020
Q. Wondering if you could just describe the atmosphere out there today. How it felt to get the first game under your belt today.
CN: It was different. It was great for the team to find a way -- well, things showed up that we would not have expected, as we knew and things showed up that we did kind of expect. So one of the coaching points for the game was to be accessible to in-game adjustments and that's what it pretty much came down to. Getting a win like that, that's not necessarily pretty at times. That's good for the overall team character and I think we just got to keep building from this.
Q. You mentioned earlier in the week that your excitement level would be at a thousand for this game when you were out there. What was that moment like stepping on the field, the excitement level, the performance you put in, a couple rushing touchdowns? What was today like for you out on the field and getting back? As you mentioned, you were out for an entire year.
CN: It was relatively picking up right where I remember the game to be, so to speak. I think it was just a feeling process, I think more so for me as well as Josh [McDaniels], coach Bill [Belichick] as well as Josh, to understand who they have and what I have. So all in all, and obviously, Josh has been calling plays the same way for a long time, so now knowing with the dialogue that we had on the sidelines, it was unbelievable, just him being transparent as well as myself being transparent on how we can attack this defense. They had a lot of things that we went over and they tried to disguise a lot, but at the end of the day we made the adjustments and we executed.
Q. At the end of the game it looked like there was something going on between you and the Dolphins. A video showed that they might have grabbed one of your chains. And then the follow-up there is that there was another view of you kind of touching your hamstring on the sideline. So I was wondering what happened after the game with that as well.
CN: It wasn't nothing. It was a competitive game on both sides. You just have to realize who we're talking to and just keep everything in the game. I realize I was talking to a person that's known for doing stuff, so it wasn't characteristic of myself to keep going back and forth. But, yeah, at the end of the day it's football and for me, no matter who it is, I play with a competitive edge and I expect the other team to have a competitive edge as well and at the end of the day anything outside of that it's just all about respect. So I don't disrespect nobody and I wouldn't want anybody to disrespect me, but yet at the end of the day we got the thing that was most valuable today and that's the win.
Q. Did they take your chain off? Is that what happened there?
CN: I still got my chain. I got two of them. You can see now. They were reaching for my chain, though. They were reaching for my chain. And I think that kind of got up under my skin, but yet, through it all, I do not want nothing to be taken away from a great team game that we did have and I don't want to be selfish to kind of focus or dwell on that. I think for us as a team or me personally, you know, a lot of tempers can flare and I was just teasing with coaches letting them know that College Park almost came out of me. But, yeah, through it all, man, it was just all fun and games and it was expected.
Q. I wanted to ask you how it felt for you to be leading a different group of football players, really, in the heat of the game, if that felt different, how you felt just sort of being at the lead. And in particular, I wanted to ask you about what led you to hand the ball to David Andrews on the second touchdown to allow him to spike it? What led to that and why you did that. Thanks.
CN: Well, for one, this is the new normal and I think it's time for everybody, including myself, to realize this is what it's like. I think it came full circle today and -- for me to just kind of realize that I'm a New England Patriot and I'm just going to embrace this whole moment.
And as far as the touchdown, Dave is a person who was kind of in my boat, a person that has been out of football, and for him to enjoy that just as much as I've been enjoying just being a witness of how he works, how he, his whole presentation, how he shows up each and every day, how he practices. And he was the first person that I saw, so I knew he would enjoy that. A lot of times, having your hand on the ground, you don't necessarily get the recognition that's deserved. But none of what happened for me today would not have happened without those big guys up front.
Q. After the N'Keal Harry fumble and then the subsequent Dolphins scoring drive, that was pretty much the first time you guys had faced adversity. They had some momentum. It was a one-possession game. To go down there and score that fourth-down conversion and then Sony Michel to push it in, was that the first time you felt like you guys responded to adversity, and how big was that drive?
CN: That was big. That was big. Coach Bill always talks about being mentally tough. So at that time we knew it was favorable for us to be mentally tough in that situation, not allowing the moment to be too big for us. That's just a feel-thing. I'm just glad that those guys still trust in me to have the ball in my hands in that particular situation and for the offensive line to sell out like they have done, man, over the last, not just today, but over the last couple of weeks, man, we have just been becoming a very tight knit group that each and every opportunity like we had today is just going to keep making us better.
Q. Today you rushed the ball for 15 times and that was the second-most in your career. What did that mean to you and do you feel like you proved something out there?
CN: I just wanted to win.
Q. I wanted to take you to some of the key points of the game. Obviously, your touchdown runs, but also in short yardage, you guys, whether you had the ball or Sony or whomever, weren't stopped in those situations. What does it mean to you personally to make those conversions, and then also to see the team succeed when it's kind of these got-to-have-it moments.
CN: That's what we call situational football and for us it's all about responding. One of the keys to the game for us is for us to win all situational football, and all situational football situations doesn't necessarily come in the last two minutes of a game. We did feel at some early parts, parts that I could remember, early on, we had an opportunity to put them away and we didn't, kept them lingering. They had some momentum, but we did respond. I could have played better, clean. But just to see Julian [Edelman] making the plays that he's made, [James] White and the offensive line stepping up, the defense coming in clutch with three interceptions that we didn't get no points off, those things is we just got to get better, keep working towards as we get prepared for our next game.
Q. There was some video. It looked like they were, showed you holding the back of your leg and maybe even limping a little bit. How do you feel health-wise coming out of this game?
CN: I'm great. Everything's good. Trust.
Q. Your 75 rushing yards were the most by a Patriots quarterback in a long time. Just curious, do you know Steve Grogan, by any chance, or do you know of him and the history with him and the Patriots?
CN: I do not. I do not.
Q. Wondering what the atmosphere was like in the locker room after the game.
CN: It was great. It was what you would have expected it to be. I'm just so blessed to have this opportunity, man, to, number one, be affiliated with an organization. Knowing that in itself is a blessing. To get a win, that's another added plus. But, yet through it all, this has been a strenuous, long process for me, and yet through it all, it's just been gratifying, and I just had such a sense of gratitude to the New England Patriots and to this team, just to give all that I could possibly give and hell or high water, finish today at this particular time with us having, going home with a win.
Q. Bill Belichick was saying how you made a lot of the right checks and reads at the line of scrimmage. I think we talk about players getting into a rhythm during play, but were you in kind of a really good rhythm at the line of scrimmage with a lot of your checks and the way that you were seeing the field before the snap?
CN: I honestly, I was just doing what I was asked. We had a great week of practice. And as far as my preparation, it helped me out come game time.
Q. You talk about response, and you guys came out in that third quarter, right out of the gate you did the eight-play drive that you guys got a score. How important was it to come out of the locker room and get ready and get everything going and put everything in the right, go ahead 14-3?
CN: That was big. We was just trying to create some type of space because they were lingering for a long part of the first half, and those are kind of cheap points, so to speak. There was a missed opportunity with the field goal, but yet through it all it could have been a 10-point swing without their offense even touching the ball. But yet we controlled what we could control offensively. And just to give the whole team confidence, from special teams to even defensively, when you go down there and you respond or you score early in the second half, no matter what the score is, whether you're down or up, it just gives your team that added boost of momentum.
Julian Edelman, Wide Receiver
(On David Andrews returning after missing last season)
"David Andrews has worked extremely hard to get back from what he had to come back from last year. It feels like he hasn't even missed a beat and that just shows you the kind of player, teammate and captain he is. He's worked his tail off to come back and help lead that line and it was awesome to see him out there and compete."
(On what it felt like to win today)
"Going out and playing a team in a division, under the circumstances that we've had to deal with as a whole league – going out there and making plays here and there – there's always things you can do a lot better but any time you can out and win a division game, that's a huge feat. The only stat that really matters is the scoreboard at the end of the game. It was good to get a dub and looking forward to getting back to work and trying to compound and build off that."
(On playing without fans)
"Honestly it reminded me of the times I was back at the College of San Mateo, my junior college. It was a full love of the game type mentality out there. You could hear the other guys, everybody could hear each other. It was about going out and playing the game that you love. It was obviously unfortunate that we don't have any fans. That energy and getting to go out there in front of 75,000 people is amazing but it brought you almost kind of back. It was weird. It brought me back at least to high school, junior college, college – my college, we didn't really sell out that much so it felt like that."
(On playing in a game with Cam Newton for the first time)
"It was awesome. We went out there and battled and got a dub [win]. He made some big plays and it was cool to witness that on his side. We've been on the other side, and I think he's beat us both times we went out there and played. He's a stud and he brings an energy, he's fun to play with. I'm looking forward to compounding and building off this and fixing the things that we didn't necessarily do well and adding to the things that we did do well and keeping it going. It was fun to finally get out there and play with him, along with all the other new teammates. Little J.J. [Taylor] out there making plays, N'Keal [Harry] made some plays, DB [Damiere Byrd]'s out there. It was good to go out there and see what the 2020 team's about. We didn't get to see that necessarily in our preseason against other people. It was definitely fun and it's something we can build off of.
(On his end-around run)
"It was a counter end-around and no one was there. I tried to get up field and make some yardage and try to get out of bounds. He hit me a little late. It was something that our coaches probably were keen on seeing how we were handling things here and there with certain motions and that was a good play call by Coach [Josh] McDaniels and the team."
Devin McCourty, Defensive Back
(On the defense coming away with three turnovers, including one in the end zone)
"Oh it's huge, something we talk about every year - year in, year out. If we can take the ball away it will help us get wins. And today, winning the turnover battle is really what led us to victory and is something we got to keep a heightened awareness out each week. Going out there and just attacking a football. It's never easy in this league but you have to catch the ones that come to you, and have to just apply to pressure whenever someone's carrying anything. We talked about the difference and it was good to see us be able to execute that today."
(On the anthem and standing as a group in the end zone before the game)
"I said it during the week; anthem wasn't a big deal to us. If you follow the Patriots, especially us as players, we've done a ton of work off the field and I know things have happened in the league. People are now catching up to what [Colin] Kaepernick talks about to what Malcolm Jenkins has been doing with the Players Coalition. But I feel like we've been doing our work and we really don't want to fall into trying to do something to keep up with everyone else. We want to continue the work we've been doing off the field, continue to meet with grassroots organizations to make a change in the community we're in and overall throughout the country. So, that's something that we've talked about of locking in and trying to get more people involved in what we've been doing. But for us to anthem, you know, we just didn't feel that anybody in our community would gain anything about what we do with the anthem. It's all about the work for us."
(On the changes to the offseason and the Patriots culture)
"Just about what we had to do. I think it was new for every team in the league or college, call it with the virtual meetings in the spring and coming in and starting with virtual meetings again, before we can get into building and, you know, all of the COVID stuff we've had to deal with. But I think the culture around here, as always, control what you can control and all the other stuff it is what it is. I think that quickly became what we talked about. No one complained about having to get tested or about having to wear a mask or any of that. We just locked in on what we can control and what was going on during training camp, each day trying to get better. Trying to lock in on what the coaches have for us. Like, that's what we discussed around here and I'm sure every team talked about that and you know I don't know what every team did, but I would say for us, that's what has helped us prepare to be out there for game one and we just got to continue to do those things as we go on a really tough challenge next week ago to Seattle."
David Andrews, Center
(On Cam Newton giving him the ball to spike after the touchdown)
"It was awesome, and you know you have to love watching that guy play the game and seeing all of the work that he has put in. I am super proud of him and we had some fun out there today."
(On importance of playing hard in their season debut)
"We wanted to have a balanced game plan, while going out there and being aggressive and physical, and I think up front we have a good group of guys that work really hard and have worked really hard in training camp for this exact moment. It is all a building block and I am proud of the guys for the way that they worked out there today. We can learn a lot from this game and keep improving but it was a good starting point that we have to keep building on."
(On how it felt to return to football after being out last season)
"I think about this time last year when I didn't know if I would ever be able to step back on a football field and then I think about what happened this spring and what we're still dealing with, and I really didn't know when the next time I would step back on would be so I am extremely grateful to get to play this game. God has been good to this kid from Georgia and this game has been really good to me, so I am just extremely thankful."
(On having no fans in the stands)
"There we're definitely moments where I was like 'Woah,' but it was obviously new to all of us… we have never really run out onto the field without any fans, heck even in peewee there were fans, but I liked the way we went out there and competed and played the game. In some ways, it brings the game back to why you started playing, just to love playing the game. There's no fans, it is just a bunch of grown men playing a kids game."
Ja' Whaun Bentley, Linebacker
(On the first hit of the year)
"I was excited, I mean just running out on the field and being back in Gillette and all that kind of stuff was exciting just to be out there. And obviously, being able to hit again, hit someone who's not actually your teammate and things like that, is definitely a huge step, as it as it is every single year. Hitting somebody with a different-colored jersey on is always big. So, today was definitely exciting to get football started again, so huge step for us."
(On what it was like to play with no fans in the stands)
"It was different, different for sure, but it was nothing that we didn't expect. I guess everybody kind of knew that the fans not being there would be the biggest difference this year. So, huge adjustment but obviously we adapt to it. Adapt and keep moving. So, for sure different, to answer your question."
(On the defense creating three turnovers)
"I mean you always hope you always hope to get turnovers as a defense. It's always a goal to get as many as we can. Today we got three. We just love to keep striving to try to improve and continue that trend."
Nick Folk, Kicker
(On having an odd preseason, joining the team late and how he felt today)
"Yeah, I mean, getting here, nothing really on that front. Working with Jake [Bailey] and Joe [Cardona] all last year, the end of last year, really obviously helped, and just kind of kept a normal routine. As far as the [missed] kick today goes, just didn't hit it right into that kind of wind, it was a little different down there. I just didn't hit it super clean. But the extra points, again, those aren't gimmes anymore, so happy with those. And happy about the win."
(On the length of kicks and if it builds over the course of a season)
"No, that kind of has nothing to do with it, it was well within range. We make those all the time out there, so that was really nothing on that front."
Stephon Gilmore, Cornerback
(On the play of the secondary to force three interceptions)
"That's one thing we preach every day – to turn the ball over. We had a lot of turnovers. I think we played pretty good, but I think we still have a lot of work to do. We left some plays out there and we've got to study the film, learn from the film, and move on to next week."
(On their defense against Ryan Fitzpatrick)
"I think as a defense, we fed off each other. He's a good quarterback, he's seen a lot of coverages, he's been in the league for a long time. Just trying to play with good technique and trust our teammates and make plays when they come our way."
(On his interception)
"I just played with good technique, kept my leverage and I ran the route for him. I saw the ball before he even saw it and was able to make a play on the ball. It was good leverage, good technique and a play that we needed. Happy to make that play."
(On if he expected what route was coming before the interception)
"No, it's just what I do every game. Play with good technique, play with good leverage. He was kind of in a tight split – undercutting the route, you know. Just seeing the ball, I was able to see the ball because he ran the entire route, tried to break back out, that's a thing I study. Keep my leverage and make plays when they come my way."
(On contributions from Joejuan Williams and Kyle Dugger)
"They come in, they work hard each and every day. Joejuan, I'm proud of him. He comes in and competes every day. I have a lot of confidence in him, he's a big guy that can play the line of scrimmage and I'm proud of him. He's got to keep working and learning and getting better each and every week. Kyle, he's a young guy coming in with ears listening, he's an athletic guy, can make plays. I'm happy he's on our team, he's going to help us win some games this year.
(On the importance of bringing their own energy with no fans)
"It was big for us. We had to bring our own energy. We're used to fans being here, but it is what it is, the situation. We knew we had to bring our own energy and feed off each other and make plays for each other. I think we did that today."
(On if the defense set the tone for the season with their play)
"We've still got a lot of work to do. We made some plays, we could have done better in some situations. We've just got to watch the film and get better. It's only game one so we've got a long season."
James White, Running Back
(On what went right in today's game to have such success on the field)
"I think it always starts off with the offensive line, they did a great job with blocking and establishing that we can run the ball this early in the season. We wanted to play physical and I thought we did that. We obviously still have things to work on but it's a great start."
(On Cam Newton's ability to run the ball)
"I mean that is what he has done his whole career, so I expect nothing less. He is a big physical guy and when the ball is in his hands, he is physical and is able to get a lot of yards out of it so that is a bonus for us."