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New England Patriots Postgame Transcripts 1/1

New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick and select players comment on their game against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, January 1, 2017.


(Opening Statement) - "I thought another real good effort by our team today. The guys were really ready to play, got off to a good start. Got contributions from all three phases - a lot of different guys, a lot of guys stepped up. Fourteen wins is a pretty good effort this year. I'm proud of what these guys did. (They) worked hard every week (to) come ready to play, play hard and play tough. Did a good job down here. It wasn't an easy place. We did a good job out in Denver a little earlier in the season, so good win today. It was a good win today. A lot of guys played well."

(What were your thoughts on the contributions of WR Michael Floyd, first the touchdown catch and the effort that he made there?)- "He has gotten better every day, just works hard. Obviously, there's a lot to learn in our offense and things we ask him to do, but he has gotten better every day and certainly helped us today."

(That play plus the block downfield [for] WR Julian Edelman. I don't know what you saw on that, but what were your thoughts on WR Michael Floyd's effort?)- "Good. Strong kid."

(What did you see in WR Michael Floyd to bring him in from Arizona? What did you see that you thought he'd be able to contribute to this football team?) - "He's a talented guy, a big strong kid that we did our work on and we felt comfortable with."

(Were you pleased with the way this team started - the way you got out of the gate real fast - being able to drive right down the field and put points on the board?) - "We did a good job moving the ball consistently. (We) had a couple penalties that stopped us, and we got stopped in the red area there twice in the first half, but we moved the ball. We've just got to do a little better job finishing those drives, but I thought the team was ready to go. We ran it, e threw it, we had good balance. A lot of guys - the receivers, the backs, the tight ends - really everybody was productive today."

(Can you talk about Dolphins Head Coach Adam Gase down here in Miami and what you think about what he has done with this franchise and his year this year?) - "I think he has done a good job. I talked about that during the week. I talked about it pretty extensively."

(What were some of the things that they did at the end of the second quarter offensively when they came down and scored the touchdown and then at the start of the third quarter that were giving you guys some problems?) - "They went a little up tempo there. That wasn't anything that we haven't seen before. They have good players. They did a good job. They just did a better job than we did. We missed a couple tackles, and they made a good run there to get into the end zone. They have a lot of good players, especially their skill players. They have good backs, good receivers."

(Turnovers have been big for the defense. What were your thoughts on DB Devin McCourty made the second one today and LB Shea McClellin on the scoop?) - "We've been after the ball a lot.  We had another one that we knocked out that we didn't get. Those guys have been hawking the ball, and we've had more opportunities. We got more guys around the ball. It seems like we're getting more. Logan (Ryan), good interception. Keep staying after the ball. It's what we've been doing all year, just keep doing it."

(Does this team exhibit a level of mental and physical toughness this year that you're happy with?)- "This is a very physically and mentally tough team, no question."

(Your thoughts moving forward now that the regular season is over with, home-field [advantage] and the postseason coming up?) - "We just keep grinding, keep getting better. There's a lot of things we can still improve on. We'll work on some of those this week. We'll find out who we play, and we'll start getting ready for whoever that team is. We have a good opportunity to work on some things - to get better at some things that we need to get better at - so we'll try to use that time productively to do it."


(I asked Head Coach Bill Belichick and DB Devin McCourty about mental toughness and blocking out little things, whether it be having to sit on an airplane, the heat coming in like that. Is this team exceptional in its ability to kind of narrow its focus about all the outside stuff?)- "Well, I think we've proven that we can deal with a lot of things over the course of the year. 14-2 is a good place to be. It's pretty sweet to come here and win. It's been a tough place for us to play and that's an excited locker room. To finish eight wins in a row too, with our wins, those are fun flights home and bus rides. It's been good. We've worked pretty hard, like every team does, and it's good to be in this position. We'll try to take advantage of this week off and get some good things accomplished. We'll be ready to play our best football no matter who we play."

(You guys had no ambiguity over whether or not you were going to rest a little bit, play a little bit, etc. You just went out and played as if this was any other week. Is there an advantage to doing that aside from just winning the game? Having that clear cut approach.) - "Well I think like I said the last couple weeks, we've talked a lot about last season and the way that ended. I think it's just important to keep that foot on the gas pedal. It was good; we started fast. They got a little momentum there in the second half and then 'Jules' (Julian Edelman} made a huge play, Mike (Floyd) made a huge block, that was sweet. It was great to get contributions from everybody, all the backs, all the tight ends, the linemen are playing great and the receivers are all doing a great job. Hopefully we can get healthy, be at full strength and be ready to go for whoever we play. They'll be a great football team. They'll have earned the right to be there and we'll see if we can get a win."

(In your 17th season here, can you talk about your motivation going into the playoffs? Is it something you have to rediscover every season or is it something that has just stuck with you throughout your career?) - "I think every year just presents different challenges. I think you learn different things over the years. I think you take what you learn and just try to apply it the best you can. Seventeen years is a long time and it's just good to come down here and win. This has always been a challenging place for us, for one reason or another. We just found a way to beat a good football team. They are a playoff team and if they win next week then we'll play them again, so we'll see how it goes."

(WR Michael Floyd, can you talk about Michael and how he's come in during such a short period of time and trying to fit in? I guess you target him today for the first time with the touchdown pass and the big block. Just talk about Michael coming in here and trying to fit into this organization.) - "To come in at this point, like I said, is very tough. There's so much installation that's already been done, we've talked about so many coaching points and there's really not the time to make the mistakes anymore. He's a veteran, he's played for a long time and I think he's played in some meaningful games. Today, that was an unbelievable touchdown and the block was awesome. He got open on the slant. I had him open on another one but the pass got knocked down at the line of scrimmage. He's done a great job. He's put a lot of time and effort in. Jacoby Brissett has done a great job helping him out, you know to take extra time with him and really nail some things down. He went out there and played with a lot of confidence and it's great to have good players. That helps everybody."

(You've been down this road many times before. What do you like about this team to give you guys a chance to get where you want to go, relative to the other ones you've been on? You know what those teams have had to get you where you wanted to go.)- "All those years have been different so that's the thing about football, you've got to put the work in every week. Just because you win this last weekend doesn't mean anything two weeks from now. We'll be watching next week and some team is going to win and will look really good and you'll go, 'Oh my God, we have to play those guys?' You've just got to go put the work in. You've got to put the same effort in every single day. There is an urgency that really starts with (Head) Coach (Bill) Belichick. He walks in every day and says, 'This is a big day. We've got to accomplish a lot of things today. You know it's boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. These are the keys to win. Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom.' The guys have to embrace those. You've got to understand what your role is. You've got to go out there on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and practice that in whatever conditions are out there on the practice field. Then you go in, you talk about it, you try to correct things and then Friday, at the end of the week, you put together the plan. Saturday, you talk about it and review it. It's just a marathon. I think this team showed a lot of mental toughness that they can do it week-in and week-out at a consistent level. That's what it takes. Any team can go 8-8. You win one, you lose one, you win one. You lose and you're like, 'We've got to get it going.' I think our coaches do such a great job of getting us going when we win. To say forget about last week, we've got to move on. That game's over and we've got to learn from it and we've got to take the things that really helped us win and we've got to build on those things. These are the types of things we did that we're going to lose. We've got to learn from those. It's good to not have to learn from the losses. 14-2 is a tough thing to do. I think it's very cool for this team to accomplish that."

(How much momentum does it give the offense when the defense forces a turnover and gives the offense good field position?) - "It was great. They've been doing that a bunch the last four or five weeks. Getting a lot of turnovers and getting us in great field position. That's got to be the key a few weeks from now. We've done a good job with that this season, protecting the football. We're going to go into a sudden death game where that's what it's going to come down to - possessions, scoring points and taking advantage of our scoring opportunities. We did a good job of that today when we got some turnovers from our defense. We took advantage of it, moved the ball down the field and scored some points. That's going to be really important in a few weeks."

(How disruptive was yesterday? The delay, not getting down here until later and having to scrap some plans?)- "I think it was just an adjustment. We were sitting on the runway for a long time. Usually Saturday night is an important night for our team and for our offense to get together and review everything. We just didn't have a chance to do it since we got in so late, but it was still good to win. A lot of people took advantage of the time and got some extra rest on the plane. we watched a lot of film. When you get six hours on the plane as opposed to three, you can double up your film time, so I think that's an advantage. You just take what you get and try to make the most of it."

(The importance of your offensive line this year and the improvement that group has made, particularly today, the heat, the circumstances out there throughout. It's a big difference form a year ago this time in terms of protection.) - "They've done an incredible job. I think they've just, I can't say enough good things about what they have accomplished as individuals, as players, and collectively as a unit. Marcus (Cannon) and Nate (Solder), and how great they've played and on a consistent basis. Shaq (Mason) and Joe (Thuney) and then Dave (Andrews) was kind of the ring leader. He just brings such great energy and enthusiasm and he's had a great season. They've had a great year. They've had a great … (Offensive Line Coach) Dante (Scarnecchia) is just the best coach, the best offensive line coach in the NFL. He does a great job with all of them. Ted (Karras) got some action. 'Flems' (Cameron Fleming) did a good job when he got in there. 'L.A.' (LaAdrian Waddle), he's been ready to go, just hadn't gotten the opportunity. It's been great to see all of them contribute. The run game's been great. (We're) throwing the ball well so protecting the … protection's been great so they've had a great season."


(On the impact of turnovers) - "Defensively, we've been talking about that all year. Sometimes we get in those long drives, the offense is making a couple plays. If we can just get a turnover late in that drive, it changes everything. We really had two opportunities today. The forced fumble Shea (McClellin) up and then Malcolm (Butler) forced a fumble if we could have got on that, that would have been huge for us. They made some plays, but when you get off on a turnover it just changes the game."

(How important is it to be part of a team and to have a team that has a mindset where they're not going to be daunted by little things, whether it be the heat, having to sit on the plane, field conditions, a game that doesn't have a lot of baring on who you are? You guys seem as if you block things out, is that an ability you developed?) - "Yes, I think I hit on that earlier this year when Jamie got traded and different things happened and, as a team, we just talk about if it doesn't end in winning, whatever it is, if it's not pushing us closer to our goal of winning that game, we just have to throw it out the window. We have to block it out, focus on what it takes to win and like you said, coming here yesterday and sitting on the plane, everyone was wondering what was going on; but we get here, meetings are cancelled tonight, we're going to meet tomorrow. Alright, we move on. We meet tomorrow, wake up, meet, alright, let's find a way to win this game. Everything in the game is like that. You get out there, you get off to a good start, they make a couple plays, let's see what we have to do to win. This team is very mentally tough and it shows. We just have to keep pushing forward. Now, it's win or go home, so we really have to lock in on our mental toughness and try to play our best football."

(Coming into this game RB Jay Ajayi had a lot of yards after contact, the receivers a lot of yards, big plays after the catch - how important was the tone you set early on, in terms of tackling and not allowing those things to happen?)- "It was huge. 'Matty P' (Defensive Coordinator Matt Patricia) hit on it all week. The X's and O's are important, but the key to this game was going to be tackling. There were going to be plays that were short and we couldn't do anything or Ajayi was going to get a hole and come through. We had to get as many guys to the ball and tackle, and we did that for the most part. The times we didn't do it, they made us pay for it. It's going to be key going forward. Any team we really play, a lot of the teams left in the playoffs, have guys who can create plays on quick throws or running plays. It's been our focus all year. We just have to keep tackling well and trying to get as many guys to the ball."

(What were the field conditions like out there? It seemed like a lot of guys were slipping.) - "Yes, we were slipping a little bit. It was a little moist. It was something Bill (Belichick) talked to us about just from, he watches everything, from seeing some of the college game that was here Friday night and then knowing they were going to re-sod it and do different things. We came and tested it out in pregame and then it just, it was what it was. It was picking the right cleats that you felt most comfortable in and playing with your feet under you. It's not the first time we played on a ground like that. We play in the rain, all those different things. It was just about keeping your feet under you and planning and doing the right things."

(What have you noticed from WR Michael Floyd. I know obviously he plays on the other side of the ball, but what have you noticed from him in his time with the team and contributions today?) - "Focus. Since he came in, he's just trying to learn as much as he can, practicing hard every day and it paid off today. He made some plays, obviously the touchdown was huge; but that block he made on 'Jules' (Julian Edelman) touchdown, everybody on the bench went crazy. He's fitting in well, just doing the little things, working hard. Everybody talks about Patriot Way but that's what it is, following the guys that are here and just doing the little things to get better each day."


(What did you think of WR Michael Floyd's block on the WR Julian Edelman touchdown?)- "I thought it was excellent. It was a great play; guys are making plays in different ways and that's an extra 50 yards because Julian's not that fast [laughter] so they were probably going to catch him, so that block was a big play for us. We needed something to happen right there. Julian read the blitz and then made a good play and then Michael made an excellent play. Michael is a really strong receiver. We noticed that from the day we got here, I told him to come over here to the tight end spot but he was like 'No.'"

(You finished the season with a little over 700 yards, set a new career high in receiving touchdowns. How much fun is this first season with the Patriots been?)- "It's been cool. I just go out there. I don't get too many of the balls but when I do, I try to catch them all. So that was one of my goals. coming into the game, I was like 'I need to get at least 32 yards,' and I got 33, so I was like 'Alright, you guys can continue to throw the ball wherever you all want to.' (Laughter) You set goals and 650 yards doesn't sound as good. It's like, 'Oh, yeah, 700 (yards). It was a good year so it was cool.' Every ball, every yard counts, especially when you get to the end of the road, so it's cool. I'm in Year 9 and the season is basically over besides playoffs, but I'm going on my 10th year and I'm still being able to make strides in my numbers and different things as a player." 

(The touchdown you had across the field on play action, they didn't hit you at the line of scrimmage. When they don't jam you, when they don't chuck you there, do your eyes light up knowing you're going to get on those guys very quickly?) - "Yes, I mean anytime I get free release it's always much better than having a nine-technique right outside of me and then a point. It's always hard to get a release on different routes. If I get free release, I feel like I can just run and do whatever I want to do on my routes and really set them up. When they bang you, it's a lot of respect; but these defensive ends, I know playing the Dolphins that they don't really do that. They just want to get up the field and rush, so they're not really touching you like when we play 3-4 teams or if they're in an 'under double,' their Sam (linebacker) doesn't really chuck the tight end, so for the most part, I knew I was going to get free releases for the game."


(You're the number one scoring defense in the NFL and on top to that, to really dominate the way you guys have in the past two months…what does that mean to you guys?) - "It means a lot. We work really hard to try to perfect our game and we definitely have some things that we need to fix. But knowing that we're doing pretty well on the defensive side because usually this is an offensive team is pretty special."

(You managed to force 14 turnovers in the last six games collectively as a defense. How much energy can you guys play off of off when you force turnovers at that kind of rate?) - "It's exciting seeing the guys get the ball and being able to put the offense in the short field. We get excited and we go for it. That's a point of emphasis every day during practice, and I guess the practice habits are going to the field in the game."

(What's the message from Bill [Belichick] and just inside this locker room as you guys gear up for a week off and now know that it's one and done football?) - "Honestly I'm not expecting a week off. I'm ready to go practice next week and we don't know who we're going to be playing against but we have to go work on ourselves and do a little self-scouting and self…scouting basically just make sure we get all the p's and q's down and make sure we come to this playoffs in the right mindset."


(The touchdown catch-and-run just to run through four or five different defenders take us back to that play and what you remember from that.) - "First to start off with a pick play by (Chris Hogan). He set it up very nice where the defender had to go over the top and I just haven't been in there in a while, so I wanted to get in there today for sure."

(Talk to me about the CB Tony Lippett play too, the big play. WR Julian Edelman takes it down the field, you saw Lippett, take me through the big block when you took Lippett out.) -"That's just doing the extra stuff to get the job done for other guys. I thought maybe Lippett might have been able to catch him. So I was just making sure it was a legal hit so I wouldn't get that mail, that little paper in the mail, $10,000 or something like that, so I think it was a pretty legal hit."

(With everything you've been through in the last month, is it nice to be able to jump in and contribute really significantly today for the first time? Talk to me about where you have been in the last month and the opportunity that is in front of you right now.) - "I'm in a good place. I'm not looking back at the past. It's all about moving forward and I'm glad that I'm here and the people around me. I feel wanted and that's a good feeling."


(How does it feel knowing that you guys took care of your own business?) - "It feels good. The good thing about this schedule is we got to right a lot of our wrongs that we messed up on last year. I think the difference with this team is when they were driving and they had momentum we were able to get those turnovers. Devin's (McCourtey) play pretty much sealed the game. Last year we weren't able to get that and we kind of let this game slip away which may have cost us in the end. I think this year we finished a little better which was our motto. We stepped up and made those plays. Big players made those plays - to help us seal this game."

(You guys finished at 15.6 points a game, the best NFL scoring defense since 2013. What does that mean to you?) - "It's something we were mindful of fur sure. I'm not going to lie to you. We wanted that. We felt like we were constantly slept on all year. Doubted all year. So for a group that didn't have a lot of great players and gave up too many passing yards and didn't really create enough turnovers, to be the best scoring defense in the last four years I think speaks for itself.

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