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New England Patriots Postgame Transcripts 12/24

New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick and select players comment on their game against the New York Jets on Saturday, December 24, 2016.


BB: Well, that was a real good day for us today. I thought our players did a real good job. We played good,  complementary football. We got contributions from all three phases; offense, defense, special teams. We had some good field position on the turnovers and our offense was able to take advantage of that. Just a real solid week and solid performance here today. I thought our guys did a good job. Everybody contributed. We had a lot of good play from all three areas. It's a good way to go into tomorrow, get a chance to relax here for a little bit and then wind it back up for Miami.

Q: What have you learned throughout your years of putting together a football team that has helped you become one of the select few head coaches with 200 victories with one franchise?

BB: I don't know. We've got a good staff. We've got a lot of good coaches on this staff. They do a great job and we've got a lot of good players. Players win games. I've been fortunate to have coached a lot of good ones.

Q: How important were the turnovers you were able to create today?

BB: Yeah, there's nothing that correlates more to winning than turnovers. Number one is points, number two is turnovers. We were able to get them today and we were able to convert them to points. A missed field goal that they had, which isn't a turnover but is kind of like a turnover, and then we were able to convert that as well. So you take those plays and that's a huge chunk of the game.

Q: How important is James White to your offense?

BB: Right. Well James [White] has been a productive player for us. His last two years he has done a lot of things, some critical third-downs, some big plays, some long runs. All of our backs were productive again today - LeGarrette [Blount] and Dion [Lewis] and James and that's kind of the way it's been. We have confidence in all of them. Whoever has it usually does something good with it. That was a big play for us before the half, the interference and then the flag route to the back, the deep pass to the back. Tom [Brady] made a good throw to him and James ran a good route. That was a big momentum play for us.

Q: What went into the decision for Malcom Brown to not enter the game until late in the fourth quarter?

BB: All of the decisions are coaching decisions.

Q: Have you been sending the message to the team to keep a sense of urgency down the stretch here?

BB: We try to do that every week Ben [Volin], believe it or not. We try to be urgent. We try to win every week. We try to do that every single week.

Q: How important does Malcolm Butler continue to be as he forces more turnovers for your defense?

BB: Well, the big thing when you get those opportunities is to take advantage of them. He made two good catches today. It looked like Elandon [Roberts] made the play on the run, knocked the ball loose. Malcolm [Butler] recovered it which was good, but yeah, when we have opportunities to get the ball we've got to capitalize on them and get them. There was a big fumble recovery last week that Jonathan Jones had. It was kind of a 50-50 ball that he came up with. Plays like that, when we have those chances we've just got to capitalize on them, whether that's catching the ball or recovering it. Yeah, but he had a big day on turnovers today.

Q: How significant was the play where the Jets decided to call timeout to try and get the ball back before your final drive of the first half? Following that timeout there was a completion to Julian Edelman and then the big pass interference penalty down the field.

BB: Yeah, sure, without the interference we probably don't score. Maybe we get a shot at a field goal, a long field goal, but that's a big field positon play. I don't know, what was it - 50 yards? It was a lot. Then once we had that then we still had the two timeouts so we had a couple of opportunities to take a shot at the end zone. The key thing for us was getting the first-down. We ran it twice and then hit Julian [Edelman] for the first-down so that kind of gave us a chance to - I think we were on about the 30 maybe; somewhere in there. So we needed about another 40 yards really to get into field goal range; 35, 40 yards. Then we got it all on one play. Yeah, that was obviously a big swing for us at that point of time.

Q: How good do you think this team is with situational football?

BB: I mean every week is a new week. It doesn't really matter what we did this week, last week, or some other week. Next week it will be totally different, different team, different situations, probably different plays. 

Q: What did you see from Michael Floyd in his snaps today?

BB: It was good to get him out there. He's had three practices with us. [He gets] better each day, so you know, he had a chance out there to play some, to hear the calls. Hopefully that'll be better this week and we'll just see how it goes. I'd say we're going in the right direction but we've got a long way to go.

Q: How pleased are you with the effort of your offensive line today and how much time they gave Tom Brady to throw the ball?

BB: I think that they're competing. It's not perfect. One of the things that helps the passing game is the running game and so it's a lot easier to pass protect when the defense has got to deal with the running game, too. But our pass protection has been generally good. The running game has been productive. There's been balance there. We were able to get some balls down the field today, the big pass to [Julian] Edelman, the pass to James White, the pass to Malcolm [Mitchell]. It was interference, but we made some plays down the field so that changes the way the defense has to look at things, too. When they give us those opportunities, if we can take advantage of them then that's good. We had a couple of three-man rushes, the scramble to Edelman. I think it was the three-man rush on the wheel route to Edelman over in front of our bench. It was about a 30-yard play. Just being able to take advantage of what the defense gives you. If they clamp down on the short routes you've got to be able to throw it behind them. If they're trying to stop the run then hopefully that gives us more time to pass protect and create levels in the passing game. Good complementary football, everybody doing their job. The offensive line certainly did a good job of that.


Q: Who were you pointing to after the touchdown pass to Martellus Bennett?

TB: That was personal, Tom [Curran] - my family. I had a big Brazilian contingent here today, so they wanted me to represent a little bit. It was nice. 

Q: Can you talk about the way you were able to spread the ball around and also find guys open down the field?

TB: A lot of guys made plays today, so it was nice. Matt [Lengel] got his first touchdown pass. That was pretty cool. I would say he really wasn't the first option on the play, but he sprung free and it ended up being a big play in the game. Between guys like that and then the usual suspects, we made some plays down the field. I thought the ones before halftime were pretty big because they gave us some good momentum going in there at half. There was the [pass interference] and then the play to James [White]. The defense played great, got us the ball a lot. It was a great win. We played in some tough conditions and we showed some mental toughness. It was a great win; 13-2 is pretty good. 

Q: Can you talk about the play where you had to scramble and circle back around and ended up finding Julian Edelman?

TB: Yeah, that doesn't happen very often. I definitely need to work on ball security, though. That ball was too loose. But it was a good play. I thought everyone stayed alive. It was good protection. It bought me some time, and then I kind of doubled back and then found Jules [Julian Edelman] and we ended up scoring on the drive, so that was a good play. 

Q: Can you talk about the play when you found Martellus Bennett in the end zone?

TB: Yeah, that was a good play by Marty [Martellus Bennett]. The ball went up there nice and high for him. He does such a good job of high-pointing those plays. He got his feet down before - we were tight there at the back of the end line. We talk about that play a lot. It's really his ball or nobody and he made a great play, so it was good to get him on the board. 

Q: Have you at least had contingency talks with Bill Belichick about your participation next weekend?

TB:  No. We were pretty focused on this week. It was just a quick six games before these last two games and the schedule has been pretty tough. We have eight days before we play Miami, but I expect to go out there and try to be at my best.

Q: How important is it for you to go back to a player after a drop - as when James White had a miscue and then you went back to him a short time later for a touchdown?

TB: Yeah, I have so much confidence in those guys. We all make physical mistakes. I miss plenty of throws and you drop passes. That just happens as a receiver and as a running back. I think more it's just - I think James [White], for example, has gained so much confidence of everybody over the course of his time that I have no problem going back to him because he always finds a way to get open and he always comes down with it. Just like what happened, he came down with it. That was a big play in the game. Everybody wants to make every play but it just doesn't work like that.

Q: Can you talk more about the mindset coming into the game, the mental toughness you talked about, and how you guys were approaching this?

TB:  Yeah, I think it went back to the Denver game. We won that game and we got on an airplane and we said, 'Look, we're finishing strong. We're putting the pedal to the metal.' Last year we didn't finish strong and we didn't like the way that things ended. We need to keep playing well down the stretch. Different guys are contributing and all phases of the game are contributing. It's been a lot of fun. Thirteen wins is pretty good. We've got to try to finish strong though next week. 

Q: How important is it for you to get in-game work in with Michael Floyd and what can he potentially bring to this offense?

TB: Yeah, it's important because you never know. He's one injury away from going in and being in there every down. I think just him getting acclimated to being in the huddle and play calls - he's been with one offense for a long time and our offense is quite a bit different than that. It's just getting him involved and seeing, like we said earlier in the week, what kind of role he can carve for himself. Just watching him over the years, I have a lot of confidence in him and hopefully he can add something. But that will all be determined by him and the work he puts and the work we put in together as a team and collectively as an offense.

Q: What skill set do you see from Michael Floyd and what assets does he have?

TB: He's a big, physical player that competes hard for the ball. You've got to love that about receivers. You go out there and you put it up there and you've got a big guy who goes up and tries to bring it down, so he's got to have opportunities to do that and we've got to find ways to try to keep getting him the ball. 


Q: How much of your mindset had to do with wanting to finish the season strong?

DM: A big part of our mindset. We just know it doesn't matter. I think everyone wants to talk about home-field advantage and playoffs and stuff like that. We just know the most important thing as a team is playing good football, and that's going out, like I said during the week, executing during practice, playing and practicing at a high level. That gives us a chance to come out here today on Saturday and play well. We see it work. We go out there and have a good week of practice and then we come out here and play well so I think all across the board as a team, we know that, we understand it. It's up to the older guys and the leaders to make sure we stick to it, especially on a week like that where it's Christmas and the holidays, and we did that. It showed today. 

Q: Can you expand upon the appreciation of what Bill Belichick has been able to do during his time here in Foxboro as he reached his 200th career win with the Patriots today?

DM: I really can't. For me, I just feel fortunate to come into an organization and play for a head coach starting as a rookie and just learning every day from him. Coming in here in a similar setting like this with all of us in the room sitting there and you just need to listen. You just come in with an open mind and your ears open and hear just the different gems he has for us each week going into the games. Overall, whether it be him showing a clip from another game, it might be about the offense but you learn football just sitting here in this meeting room. I'm sure it's a great Christmas gift for him and I think it's quite the accomplishment, but hopefully we can keep adding on to that number.

Q: What is it that you guys have been able to do lately that has led to an increase in the number of turnovers you have been able to create?

DM: That's not fair, we've got to let you guys break that stuff down. You all will figure out how we're getting turnovers now compared to earlier in the season, so I look forward to you telling me during the week why we're getting turnovers now. 

Q: How nice is it to be able to turn the ball over and give your offense good field positon?

DM: It's huge. It really turns the game. You come out, you get an early interception and get the offense back on the field. Malcolm [Butler] scoops up a fumble in the backfield in the Jets' territory, we score there and it just turns the game. E-Rowe's [Eric Rowe] pick going down the sideline, that play goes two ways. It's a long catch for them that gives momentum, or you kind of break their back with that big interception. We've talked about it throughout the year, just getting these turnovers and how much it will help us, and we're seeing the benefits of it. We're keeping points off the board which is the most important thing for us, not letting teams score. Those turnovers either get them out of field goal range or get them out of the area to score a touchdown. 

Q: Having not given up a touchdown in two consecutive weeks now, what does that mean for your defense?

DM: It's sticking to the blueprint. Next week will be a different game plan, playing against Miami - a team that always plays us tough; a division opponent. That's definitely going to be a tough task, but once the coaching staff figures it out and comes in and tells us the game plan, what we need to do to go out there and win, we've got to just stick to it. I think nothing has helped us more than turnovers, third down and red area. We've continued to focus on that throughout the week and picking up on the little things when we can take advantage of an offense and we've been able to do that. We've just got to keep it going. It's going to be a tough task next week but I think we'll be ready to go when the time comes.

Q: Have you been saving that A Christmas Story t-shirt the whole season?

DM: I just picked it up, actually. Trying to get in the Christmas spirit so I figured it would be a nice touch for today.

Martellus Bennett, Tight end

(On his touchdown)
"We ran the same play against Carolina in the preseason and missed it; so it just shows how far we've come with building our chemistry."

(On the quick start)
"Every time we get turnovers we just try to score points and take advantage of those situations, because it's very hard to take the ball away from the offense. The defense went out there and played very well, and special teams did a great job giving the defense good field position. We just want to score points whenever we get the chance."

(On Matt Lengel's first touchdown)
"I'm very proud of any one of my teammates, and Matt has been doing everything he can to contribute. That's a ball that we never really throw, and you always have to be ready for that. Matt's been ready to go all year and he's been working really hard ever since he got here, and I'm super proud of him. I'm just excited for the guy; it's a great Christmas present for him." 

Malcolm Butler, Cornerback

(On the game)
"This is the type of game that any player would want to force three turnovers. It was overall a great win. We played good defense, our offense took advantage of all their opportunities, and I'm just glad we got the win."

*(On his two interceptions) *
"I just had the mentality to make sure I didn't drop any balls this game and it didn't happen. I struggle with the Jets, there's something about the Jets, but I'm just glad to get the win."

*(On the defense playing well) *
"Once you start doing good things week in and week out you start to conquer teams. Creating the turnovers and not letting them score is us playing good football overall."

(On not shutting out the Jets)
"You have to take what you can get sometimes."

(On whether the Patriots are playing their best football at the right time of the year)
"Most definitely. You definitely don't want to peak too early in the season."

(On the secondary playing well)
"We always believed that we were a great group, and we still feel that way. Week in and week out we come in and grind and go out there and try to execute the game plan."

(On the defense playing better than at the start of the season)
"We try to create more turnovers, and play with a sense of urgency."

Michael Floyd, Wide Receiver

*(On being familiar with verbiage in New England) *
"Well that was seven years ago with Charlie [Weis], my freshman or sophomore year in college, but I would say about 60 percent of it is something that I remember. So that helps me a lot and also the other wide receivers in the room, they really help me out because they know the ins and outs and the details of every route and every run play. They help me out if I have any confusion."

*(On importance of game reps versus practice reps) *
"Well I haven't played in two weeks so I'm learning a whole new offense now. I think the players that I have around me make me feel comfortable out there. They make me feel good and if I have any confusion or problems out there, they help me out for sure."

(On participating in game today)
"It does feel good; it feels great. The capabilities and goals that they have on this team is great and I'm happy I'm on this team and can contribute whenever I can."

Matt Lengel, Tight End

*(On his touchdown) *
"I just lined up and it was the way I could see the safeties. I tried to do everything necessary in my route to make sure I got open for Tom [Brady]. I'm just glad I could come through for the team."

*(On what he was thinking when he turned and saw the ball coming on the touchdown catch) *
"I feel like when you're in the moment, things are a lot slower. It's not until after where you kind of enjoy it. But, I turned and saw the ball and tried to revert back to everything I've learned and ever known since second grade playing football. Just catch the ball, secure it, and make the catch."

*(On if this game's success is representative of a lot of hard work and preparation) *
"Yeah, that's what I try to do. I try to come in and do everything necessary that I know is going to help the team. That's all I wanted to do and when I came in here, that was my goal. Just come in and help the team in any way I could."

Eric Rowe, Defensive Back

*(On the team's emphasis on forcing turnovers) *
"We've been putting that emphasis on it since week one. We knew in the beginning of the season we weren't getting as many, but now we kind of kept with it during practice, making it a huge emphasis and now they're coming in bunches. It's at the right time too, towards the end of the season. When we get one, we're all excited because it's a momentum swing and we get Tom [Brady] the ball back. Then again, after that we want another one and we just have the mentality to keep going after it."

*(On his confidence in the defense) *
"A lot of confidence. We're playing really good ball, complementary ball, the pass rush is getting there and the back end is holding up. It goes hand in hand with the sacks and interceptions, so it's not just all me covering; it's the pressure from the defensive line forcing it out quick. I have a lot of confidence in this defense right now."

James White, Running Back

*(On if his touchdown catch was redemption for the pass that he dropped) *
"Well you just have to make the catch the first time. But, I was able to make up for it."

*(On the offense starting off fast and the benefits of everyone clicking) *
"We always want to get off to a fast start no matter who we are playing. Most teams want to play ahead in the game. We started off fast and just kept running."

*(On how important it is to not have hiccups on offense when the defense is also hot) *
"It is very important. As an offense, we never want to turn the ball over and we never want three-and-outs. We just want to string drives together, put numbers on the board, and play a complementary football game. Special teams [played well] and the defense created a lot of turnovers. It was a great team effort today."

(On if last season is on his mind coming into this game)
"Last year helped me a lot. I learned a lot and got the opportunity to play a lot of football. So I just wanted to build off of that and become a good overall football player [whether it's] running the ball, catching the ball, blocking, or doing whatever I can when my number's called."

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