HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, December 2, 2018
BB: Well, that was a great team win by our guys today. I thought we really played hard. Minnesota is obviously a good football team and they do a lot of things well. They're tough. We had a good complementary game. We covered kicks well, returned them well, had some field position there, moved the ball offensively. Would like to score a few more points but, again, give them credit. They're a good defense. I thought defensively we did a solid job. We turned the ball over a couple of times, forced some punts, had a fourth-down stop. Overall, I thought it was a good week of preparation and we came out there and played a good complementary game with all three units contributing. We had a lot of guys step up and play well. Hopefully, we can build on that going forward. It's a good win against a good football team. Minnesota's a good team.
Q: This was your 300th regular season game coaching the Patriots. How fortunate do you feel to be with one franchise for 300 regular season games?
BB: Yeah, pretty fortunate. It's a privilege to coach this team, to work for Robert [Kraft] and his family. We've got a great group of players and a great group of support people here. The assistant coaches and other people in the organization make my job easier. A lot of people contribute to what we do. I'm very fortunate to have a lot of good people around me.
Q: Why did it take so long for Josh Gordon to get involved offensively today?
BB: Yeah, he made a couple of explosive plays there. Caught a short pass and broke a tackle and then came open on the in-cut. It was really a good run by him after the first catch and then just matched up well. We had good protection. Tom [Brady] made a good throw on the touchdown pass, so the plays were well-executed. They just came back to back, so it was great.
Q: Prior to the second challenge we saw you and Adam Thielen exchange some words. Was that just two competitive people exchanging holiday greetings?
BB: Yeah, pretty much.
Q: We saw a few situations where you only had one down lineman defensively. How important was it to give Kirk Cousins some looks where he may not know who was bringing pressure and who wasn't?
BB: Yeah, I thought our defensive players, starting with the defensive coaches with Flo [Brian Flores] and B.D. [Brendan Daly], DeMarcus [Covington], Josh [Boyer], Steve [Belichick] – those guys did a real good job this week of disguising our packages on defense and with various personnel groups. The safeties are always a big key to that because traditionally they play deep so they were up. Sometimes they stayed up, sometimes they went back and the linebackers, you know, we moved around some up front. The defensive line and linebackers did a nice job of coordinating that, organizing it and then we got some good pressure, especially early in the game and then late in the game. It was just a real good team defensive effort. The coaching staff – give the defensive coaching a lot of credit there and the players for executing it. We were just trying to keep them off balance, force the communication. I thought the crowd was into the game. We had some crowd noise on third down and passing situations there at the end of the game, so we just try to make it tough on their offensive line and I think we had some success doing that. It was just great execution by the players and it was a good plan by the defensive staff.
Q: It was tied at 10 late in the third quarter before you guys made a stop on defense and followed up with a score, and then repeated that sequence again. How important was that span of time?
BB: Yeah, that's kind of what I was talking about with the complementary football of getting good field position from the kicking game, holding it on defense, getting the ball back for the offense. Hopefully, with good field position in the return game or on the punt return play, however it comes up. Then the offense taking advantage of that field position and being able to bang it in. Kickoff, good coverage, touchback, do it again – that's how you get a little run, by either turning the ball over or getting those complementary plays from the defense to special teams to offense where you can, as you said, get 14 points or whatever in a short period of time. Again, that's all the units doing their job, playing well together, playing good complementary football. It was a great stretch for us and it kind of carried us the rest of the way.
Q: How big was the defense on first and second down throughout the second half to keep Minnesota trapped in third-and-long situations?
BB: Yeah, they were huge. As we know, first and second down have a lot to do with third down. If you can make good plays on first and second down, it makes third down – I won't say easy – but easier. It's still tough, but you've got to, you know, when they're in those third-and-8's, third-and-9's, third-and-11's, I mean, that's a lot better than third-and-2 and third-and-3 when they can get you with everybody. Those are big stops for us. Incomplete passes. [Dont'a] Hightower made a play on a screen pass early, things like that that create some long-yardage situations. I thought our early down defense was good. It was competitive. They hit us on a couple of runs. Those backs are good. They run hard. They make a lot of yards after contact. They were tough to tackle and they hit us on a couple of 15, 18, 20-yard runs but they only got two or three of those, which we'd like to play those better. But overall, I thought we were competitive. As you said, created some long-yardage with both second and third-down-and-longs.
Q: Can you talk about what you guys need to do better to finish drives offensively?
BB: Well, the first thing would be to get fewer penalties. We're going backwards too many plays, so this is two weeks in a row we just have too many penalties. We've got to eliminate that. That's obvious.
Q: And what about the inefficiency in the red zone? Is it the same problem?
BB: Yeah, well I just told you. It starts with that.
Q: Adam Butler seems to be taking on a bigger role defensively. What sort of progress have you seen from him in his second year?
BB: Yeah, Adam works hard. He's a good player. He's a versatile guy. He does a lot of different things for us. Plays on the nose, plays on the guard, can play on the tackle, plays on the punt return team. Whatever we ask him to do in a particular week for the game plan, whatever the role is, he's a very adaptable, versatile player that has, I'd say, multiple skills. He's got length. He's got some quickness. He can play inside to outside and he's a smart player that can handle a lot of different assignments. He's a guy that's a movable part for us. He gives us versatility and flexibility in our defense.
Q: What made Jason McCourty the right man for the assignment of covering Adam Thielen for most of the game, and how would you evaluate his performance today?
BB: Yeah, well we'll take a look at it on film. Again, I thought overall our secondary played well. I don't think they had a lot of yards throwing the ball. Some of that was obviously the rush. Some of it was the coverage. Overall, it was, I'd say, competitive team defense against the passing game. Yeah, I'm sure we'll look at it. I know that we gave up a touchdown to Thielen that was really – we screwed that up. We ran into him on the coverage. It wasn't Jason's fault. We just didn't execute the play very well. I thought overall our secondary played well, so you can certainly put Jason in that box.
Q: Was it impressive to you that Josh Gordon stayed engaged in the game mentally for the second half despite not playing a huge role in the first half?
BB: Look, I think everybody goes out and plays hard. Again, we don't know where the balls are going to go. We don't know what coverage they're going to be in. They did a great job of mixing up the coverages. Certainly gave us a lot of split-safety looks, changed some of the reads that we had. When they didn't play split-safety coverage, we were able to throw the hitch out there. He broke a tackle on, I don't know, who was it – [Marcus] Sherels? Whoever it was out there. They did a good job of taking away our outside receivers with a lot of split-safety coverage for a while and then when they changed, then we were able to change.
Q: Tom Brady reached 1,000 yards rushing tonight. Do you have any thoughts on that momentous occasion?
BB: Yeah, that's really important to us. It's great.
QUARTERBACK TOM BRADY
Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, December 2, 2018
WIDE RECEIVER JOSH GORDON
Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, December 2, 2018
Q: How excited was it for you to get involved more in the third quarter?
JG: It was great. You know, I just had to be patient. I think that's just how the flow of the game was going. We all let it play itself out. It was great to just get an opportunity, make a play and the rest of it was just fun.
Q: Did you get a sense of why you didn't play quite as much or get as many targets in the first half?
JG: You know what, no. I didn't really question the game plan, I just went along with it. It seemed to work in our favor, and the coaches, my trust is in the coaches. I think they trust me. So, it worked out for us.
Q: This is your ninth game as a Patriot. Does this feel like your new home with your new team? Are you starting to get past the introduction stage with this team?
JG: Yeah, I think so. It felt like home a long time ago. The atmosphere is very welcoming. It took me a little bit to get acclimated to the area. Other than that, it's been pretty smooth so far, and that's due in part to the facility, the organization, just everybody helping me along the way.
Q: You have been on the receiving end of Tom Brady's 500th touchdown pass in regular-season play and today's 579th touchdown overall, which ties Peyton Manning for the all-time record. Is there any special significance being on the receiving end of two historical passes like that?
JG: I did not know that stat line, but it must be fate, I guess – I won't say coincidence – but it's great to be on the receiving end of it. [I am] extremely humbled to come out here every Sunday and get a chance to play, let alone with Tom Brady, the greatest to ever do it. So, to be a part of history with him? I can't really even put the words to describe what that means to me. But, it's just great to have the opportunity.
SAFETY DEVIN MCCOURTY
Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, December 2, 2018
Q: How were you guys able to slow down Adam Thielen tonight?
DM: I thought we just had a great game plan of what we kind of wanted to do at times, doubling him and trying to take him away. I think even coming in, they kind of know when you look at our defense, one thing that we pride ourselves on is coming in and not letting your best guy beat us. The guy has I think almost 100 yards in every game, so that's a win, and I also thought J. [Jason McCourty] did a great job of different times where he was matched up on him, one-on-one, of just making it tough. He still made the one touchdown catch, I would say, between me, J and Steph [Gilmore] was the one play if we could get back. We knew what was coming so that would be one play we wish we could get back. I thought as a group just great execution against a guy that we knew was going to be tough all game.
Q: Minnesota tested J.C. Jackson a couple of times down in the end zone. Can you talk about his development and the challenge that he had today starting and playing against that offense?
DM: We have fun with J.C. He's the guy that in practice he makes the one-handed interceptions. Whenever he's on the field, like today, he didn't get a pick but he was around an interception and we keep telling him like, "When you get out there, we're going to help you as much as possible, get you different information, and then once we tell you, just go play ball. We all have complete confidence in what you've been doing in coverage and how you play." I think we're starting to feel it that he knows we believe in him. We know he's talented and can play and we've got his back. Just to see him out there executing, not just tonight, but all week in practice. We had him in some tough situations where we were counting on him to make plays sometimes by himself with no help and he showed up. He had been doing that every time we gave him an opportunity to be out there. It's like having a little brother out there succeeding each team he comes out there. I love having him out there.
Q: How much does it help the secondary to be able to control their passing attack when they are in third-and-long situations?
DM: Yeah, I think that was something we talked about. Not allowing them to just pick up first downs on first and second down or get 5 yards on first down and 3yards and now we're in all the third-and-shorts. I thought that enabled us to really get into our disguise and what we wanted to do from a defensive standpoint, whether it was second-and-long or third down. Some of the things we were able to do and disguising helped us out in the secondary a lot. And then, like always, when our rush is getting there like that we can play free. We can play fast in the secondary and that definitely showed up tonight.
Q: How important was the open-field tackling, especially for Jason McCourty, against Adam Thielen tonight?
DM: Oh, it was big, especially once it got to that time in the game and he's catching 5-yard passes and J.'s tackling him right away. It was, I think, second-and-20 and then third-and-15. You catch two 5-yard passes and we're off the field. I thought that was key and that was something we talked about. They have an offense that has a lot of guys. Obviously, Thielen and [Stefon] Diggs get talked about a lot, but whether it's [Ameer] Abdullah getting in, or [Dalvin] Cook, or [Laquon] Treadwell, or [Aldrick] Robinson, any of those guys are able to make explosive plays. We all talked about being able to tackle them in the open field and then everyone getting to the ball.
Q: Are you seeing Jason McCourty play at as high of a level as you've seen from him throughout his career?
DM: Yeah, I think the biggest thing is he's getting to play in big games. He's getting to do a lot. The guy runs in the locker room after each win. He's jumping up and down. He's yelling. He just said he tied his career high of wins in a season. I think when you're able to play here in all of these big games and the spotlights on and you play kind of how he's been playing his whole career, people just say like, "Oh man, he's playing great football," but he's played great football before, even last year in Cleveland. When you don't win, no one really cares. I'm just happy for him for one, his play, but his leadership. You talked about J.C. Jackson – like he's a guy that's talking to J.C. every day. Keion Crossen, he's talking to him every day, Duke Dawson. Like, he's come in and brought a presence in our corner room and our secondary of just leadership and leading by example that I think has been great and doesn't happen often where we get a free agent, a guy that comes on a one-year deal and is able to kind of have that leadership that fast. It's been awesome just to see him do that and then also be my twin brother.
Q: I don't know if you saw the exchange between Bill Belichick and Adam Thielen, but how nice is it to see your coach get fired up sometimes?
DM: Yeah, I thought the coolest thing was KV [Kyle Van Noy] had Bill's back right away. He jumped in Thielen's face, but I love when we get in games like this, just going back and forth. I've talked to Thielen a bunch of times off the field, a great guy, but everybody's out there battling and it's all about sometimes football comes down to a yard and we're out there on fourth-and-1 fighting for a yard. Obviously, as a defense we all thought that was a fourth-down stop, but it is what it is. Bill's fiery. We see it every day, so I think it's probably a lot cooler for you guys to see it.
RUNNING BACK JAMES WHITE
Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, December 2, 2018
Q: The Vikings tied the game at 10-10 and it seemed like the offense responded with a quick-count drive. How much was there a change in approach that you noticed as to how you guys attacked at that time?
JW: We just needed a sense of urgency, just take the momentum back over. So, we knew once we got the ball back, we need to score a touchdown. So, we had a few big plays, or Josh [Gordon] had a few big plays there, and we got in the end zone. It was exactly what we needed.
Q: What has Josh Gordon brought to the team? We saw he wasn't really involved up to that point and then it sort of changed pretty quickly.
JW: Yeah, I mean, it happens like that sometimes. You might not get the ball at first, but then, when your time's called, I mean, I think we have a lot of guys like that. They're ready to make the play, and he made some big catches for us and kind of changed the game a little bit.
Q: In the first half, two of your first three drives were very long drives and you got 10 points out of that. Plus, you had a long drive in the fourth quarter for the go-ahead score. What do those long drives mean to this offense? In years past, this was very much a quick-strike offense. It seems like you are very good at keeping the ball away from them now.
JW: Well, I mean, they have a good defense and that's the type of defense they are. They're going to make you drive the ball down the field. Every drive's not going to be a three-play drive with a touchdown, so you've got to be able to string those drives together, and whenever you can do that, once you get the ball in the red zone, you need to score touchdowns. You can't just turn those into field goals. So, that was something we always emphasize.
Q: What was it like to have Rex Burkhead back in the backfield with you?
JW: It's always a plus to have more weapons back there. He's a good football player, can catch, run, block. He makes plays on special teams, too. So, I'm happy for him to be back out there and he'll continue to help us out.
Q: Can you expand on Tom Brady getting 1,000 yards rushing? Did you know on the field when it happened?
JW: No, I didn't know at the time. I was reminded after the game, but it's pretty cool for him. I know it took a while to get there, but still a great accomplishment. I mean, he's broken all type of records and did all type of things, so definitely happy for him.
Q: How happy were you for James Develin to score two touchdowns as part of the running back group?
JW: I mean, it's awesome. Not many teams use a fullback across the league. We are one that does, and he makes plays for us, not just blocking – he catches it, he's getting touchdowns. So, I mean, it's definitely well-deserved for him. He works hard for us each and every week at fullback, on special teams – just does whatever needs to be done. So, he's a great player and a great teammate.
Q: As often as you guys ran screen plays today against Minnesota, what does that do to a defense like theirs? They obviously have a lot of guys that can get after the quarterback. Whether you have a big play or not, what is the residual effect it can have?
JW: It could slow down their rush a little bit. You know, a lot of those are good pass rushers and they're trying to get to the quarterback, so it could slow them down or just kind of give the offensive linemen a break versus that aggressive pass rush. So, I mean, we didn't do as well on every single one of them, but I think they still helped us out in the end.
PLAYERS IN THE LOCKER ROOM
Rex Burkhead, RB
(On how it feels to get hit again for the first time)
“Yeah, that always kind of welcomes you back into the game. Whenever you get out there, get the ball back into your hands, get a feel for it. It starts to come back quickly, and that was a great opponent that we faced so that was a big win for us.”
(On the offensive line creating holes)
“Yeah they are unbelievable; you know they work hard every single week. The versatility they have to allow us to do multiple things is really their biggest advantage honestly. You got guys like that who fight their tail off every single play and it’s going to help you out.”
(On showcasing the diversity of this offense tonight)
“Yeah I think that is what’s great about this offense. We have guys who can do multiple things and line up anywhere and hopefully when your number is called, you step up. That’s what I try to do, whatever role I have I’m just trying to make the most of it.”
Adam Butler, DL
(On there being a point he knew it was a great day for the defense)
“I would say after the first play, man. Elandon Roberts set the tone for the entire game. I don’t know if you felt it, but I could already feel the shift from the first play. That big hit was very important. I felt good after that.”
(On doing the dirty work and getting a sack today)
“Well that’s one of the dirty works that paid off this time. I was just able to pull myself through and he held on to the ball just one second too long.”
James Develin, FB
(On his two-touchdown performance)
“It was awesome, though I really have to give all the props to the offensive line. All I did was get the ball and follow those guys and fall forward. They did a really awesome job all game, they were paving open holes all game. Those guys are a bunch of dogs, and I’m blessed to work with them.”
(On how many times he has dreamt of having a game like this)
“Honestly, I’ve never dreamt about a game like this. This is the first time I’ve ever thought about it. I know my role, and that is to get these other guys in the end zone, but it’s a really cool experience to get in myself. I’m thankful for the coaches having the confidence to call those plays, and thankful for our offensive line doing a great job opening up holes.”
(On being considered an honorary lineman)
“Those guys are the best. Like I’ve said before I’m just really lucky to go to work with those guys. I’m honored that they call me an honorary offensive lineman, that’s really cool, but you know I’ve got to give those guys all the props.”
Julian Edelman, WR
(On the team’s ability to stretch the field)
“It was good. I feel like we left a lot out there, but we got to get better and go to Miami which is a place that we struggle and get a win. That’s what we’re going to be doing.”
(On the win)
“It’s a good win. They’re a well-coached team with a lot of talent and it’s a team that you don’t know coming in. We played them well and got the win. It’s definitely good; anytime you get a win in the NFL, it’s good.”
Trey Flowers, DL
(On the team)
“We have to keep on working. We’re not where we want to be, but we’ll just always continue to climb, continue to grind, and get better each and every week. It’s not getting any easier, so we just have to stay on top of it and continue to climb. I think a lot of guys are coming together and just want to get better. We understand the urgency we have now. Now it’s time for real football and to be on our ‘A’ games.”
(On if this week was a special week for him after having a child and getting a sack)
“It’s always special when you bring a child into this world. It’s actually my second. Being able to go see my child born and then to come back and be able to play the game that I love and contribute, it’s always a blessing.”
(On the defensive performance)
“It’s just a lot of guys buying in and understanding that it’s not just one position here or just one thing you’re doing on this play. If they give us a different look, we can change it up. A lot of guys are just on top of the game plan and the playbook. When you have a lot of guys that are smart enough to learn different things, you can do things like that and be effective.”
Stephon Gilmore, CB
(On how motivated the cornerbacks were for this matchup)
“We were motivated, we knew it wasn’t going to be easy. We had a good week of practice and we were prepared and we came out and showed it today.”
(On what it takes to defend the deep ball as well as they did)
“Lot of hard work during practice. We knew they like to throw the ball a lot, so we knew they were going to throw the ball. We were just prepared, the coaches put us in positions to make plays and we just took it from there.”
Duron Harmon, DB
(On the overall game performance)
“We knew it was going to take a great defensive effort just to put this team in a good position. We knew we had to come ready to play and accepted the challenge to play as hard as we can. There are things we are going to try to build on and obviously the tape won’t be perfect, there are always things that we have to continue to work on. Overall though I think we did a good job with playing as hard and staying focused.”
(On Bill Belichick and Adam Thielen)
“It takes a lot for Bill Belichick to say something to you. It just lets you all know how passionate he is. Not many people see that emotion from him a lot but it lets everyone know how passionate he is not only for the game but for his players. We appreciate it and only get to see that every once in a while.”
(On importance of taking it one game at a time)
“It is extremely important just based off of the fact that we have seen what happens when we don’t go out there ready to play and are not focused. We have been down that road before and the good thing is we have a group of guys who understand what it means to win, take it one game at a time and one play at a time.”
J.C. Jackson, DB
(On his feeling on the start of his career)
“I just felt like I was ready. I prepared all week and I knew I had to come and make plays with the team depending on me.
(On his ball skills)
“I was a receiver coming out of high school. I just moved to DB when I got to college so I am a receiver for real and got receiver hands.”
(On the secondary’s performance)
“As a secondary, I think we played great tonight. We had good communication and everybody came and competed. There is always something to build on each week though.”
Jason McCourty, CB
(On team’s overall performance)
“I think from a coach’s standpoint we did a really good job of disguising our plan and then guys going out there and executing. We talked all week about disguising, mixing it up and trying to make it tougher. We discussed certain calls that we were going to have help with and other times not. Even with our zone calls we made sure to make it look as much like something else and then go from there. We just had to go and compete and stay on everyone. As a defense today, I feel like we played well and I am really proud of Jonathan Jones for getting in the game and making a huge tackle. I feel like coming here and being in this locker room, those are the type of things that it is all about. No matter what guy is called on, we have to step up for another and play our hearts out.”
(On the importance of film study)
“It is huge for me no matter what offense you are playing against it is just everything. Just getting in there and watching from an overall standpoint of what the offense is doing and how we can disrupt the QB. Then from an individual standpoint of sitting down, turning that [tablet] on and studying my match up.”
(On making adjustments throughout career)
“I feel like every opportunity I get out there and learn something new to do different or make better. Every time we go out there and practice, every time I get off the field and get to the sideline we all try to make each other better. Whether it is Flo [Brian Flores], whether it is Dev [Devin McCourty] or someone saying something to me to help me with disguise, zone draw or whatever the case may be. I said that when I first got here, whatever is asked of me, I am going to go out there and try my hardest to execute it as much as possible. Throughout the course of the week, I am watching film and practicing as well as I can.”
Cordarrelle Patterson, WR
(On the defense playing well)
“Oh man, that [Minnesota] offense is crazy over there. The defense did a hell of a job stepping up when we needed them to. They only had 10 points. The defense always showed up at the end of the day. I’ve got so much respect for those guys.”
(On going up against former teammates)
“Honestly, I don’t know. It’s my first time ever playing against my former team. I was just going out there and playing football like I’ve been doing my whole life. I wasn’t trying to talk junk and I have no regrets. I was just going out there and having fun.”
(On Tom Brady getting his 1,000th rushing yard)
“We’ve been talking about it for like six weeks now and he finally got it. I am happy for that guy and he works tremendously hard. You just see the games and the practices, but you don’t see all the hard work that guy puts in each day and night.”
(On James Develin having a big game)
“Oh man, he’s the player of the game in my eyes. He stepped up big. He’s always blocking, lead blocking, third down, first down, whatever. His name was called and today he got the opportunity to carry the ball a lot, and he did a hell of a job.”
Kyle Van Noy, LB
(On the team getting better at disguise)
“I think as we get closer and closer with the time ticking down to the end, we’re getting better as a group. Everybody is comfortable in their role now and focused. We’re ready to go.”
(On the defense)
“I think we have some of the best secondary players in the league. They don’t get noticed enough. I feel like it’s led by [Devin] McCourty and [Patrick] Chung and then you got one of the best corners in the league right now, if not the best, he’s the best in my opinion, in Stephon [Gilmore]. He’s playing really good football for us right now.”
(On sensing the Vikings’ confusion)
“You could tell that they were having a tough time reading what we were doing. We executed really well as a defense. The offense played really complementary football tonight and special teams did their thing tonight as well. It was just a good team win.”