HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
POSTGAME PRESS CONFERENCE
December 30, 2018
BB: Well, of course, it's good to win another division game. By winning today, that kind of helps us win next week. As usual, a tough battle here with the Jets. I thought we were able to put together a couple of good drives there in the first half. Obviously, Kyle [Van Noy]'s fumble return was a big place for us and kind of gave us a little bit of a cushion there in the second half. I thought we played hard. We had a good week and were able to finish the game on a positive note. Looking forward to continuing to play and, hopefully, we can play our best football going forward. I thought the guys really played hard today, didn't make a lot of mistakes, made enough plays to win. That's a good thing.
Q: Can you talk about the performance of your defense today?
BB: Yeah, I think these guys prepared really hard this week and we kind of – I mean, I know they were missing a couple of receivers there with [Jermaine] Kearse and [Quincy] Enunwa, but it kind of put some pressure on us to figure out how to matchup against what they were going to do. They used multiple tight ends and they used the backs. We saw a lot of two-back sets there with [Trenton] Cannon either in there by himself or as a second back. We had to adjust to some things like that but I thought we did a good job. Those guys did a good job. As you said, we got the ball off a couple of times and made a couple of big fourth-down stops. I thought they did a good job adjusting during the game and preparing during the week. We did a better job in the running game for the most part. We had a few, a couple of issues on the edge there, but overall made some big plays in the running game, especially when we had to.
Q: How much would you define and consider this game a complete-team win?
BB: Yeah, it was a good team win. We got contributions from every area. There's still room for improvement, things we can do better but certainly we're happy to win and happy to be moving on. We'll take it.
Q: What did you see from the efforts of Chris Hogan and Phillip Dorsett today?
BB: Yeah, those two receivers, it was an extra look for them. They did a real good job of blocking and getting open. We saw a decent amount of man coverage. The Jets mixed it up like they usually do but there were some tight throws that Tom [Brady] made, some good catches. Yeah, they did a good job. I thought Rob [Gronkowski], Dwayne [Allen], Rex [Burkhead], Sony [Michel], James [White] – we got contributions from really all of the skill guys. That was good.
Q: How proud are you of this team for taking care of their business these last two weeks and wrapping up a bye week next week?
BB: Yeah, they've done a good job and that's coming in here every day ready to go. No bad days, no I'd say bad practices. I mean, obviously there's always things to correct and so forth but they worked hard. They were ready to go. They put a lot into these last two games and we had good results. Yeah, the players did a great job. We have great leadership from some of our veteran players – the captains – but also other guys in all three phases. This was a big phase for us today in the kicking game. These guys are good on special teams and it was a big challenge for us. I thought our players really stepped up and met the challenge there. Obviously, it was good to have [Brandon] King back, but just as a unit we did a good job.
Q: How important was it to get this bye to have another week to get as healthy as possible?
BB: Well, what will be important is playing well and that's what we need to do, play and coach well the next time we get to play.
Q: Did you think Tom Brady and the passing game seemed more efficient today?
BB: Well, I thought we moved the ball. They did a good job in the running game. They played a couple of different fronts and certainly weren't going to let us run the ball like we did last week or even in the first game. We threw it more. We had to go to some alternative-type things. I thought our team did a good job of that. We threw the ball well, not perfectly, but well. We scored 30, however many it was, points. That's good.
Q: On some of the plays where Tom Brady was able to buy time in the pocket, does that tell you anything more than it was just a good play?
BB: Yeah, I don't know. There were a lot of plays out there today. A lot of them were good. Some of them could've been better. Obviously, there was a lot of good things, but there's room for improvement from all of us.
Q: The passing game was more of a factor this week than the running game. Was that more of a result of what the Jets were giving you or was that the plan from the beginning?
BB: Yeah, well, we didn't know what the Jets were going to do but they definitely did a good job of taking away some of the running and blocking angles and so forth that we might've been able to create. They simply weren't there. They did a good job in the running game. We went against some alternative runs. We were able to gain some yards running the ball and we were able to gain some yards passing the ball. Certainly more than we did last week. Again, if the defense plays us a certain way then we'll try to do what we feel like is best to move the ball and score points. I mean, that's really what it is every week in this league. It's good to get the ball in in the red area. I mean, that's something that we've left some points on the field at various points but today was better in terms of our red-area production.
Q: What did you think of the performances of Kyle Van Noy and Trey Flowers today?
BB: Well, I think we got a lot of good play from a lot of different guys. Certainly they were part of it. Deatrich [Wise Jr.] and [Danny] Shelton; Lawrence Guy has had a good year for us. He's played good really all year. [Dont'a] Hightower's done a good job for us. [Derek] Rivers had a couple of plays for us in there too. But in the end, our coverage was good and that gave our pass rush a chance to get there several times. The pass rush a lot of times is a function of the coverage, so it was a good defensive effort. Any time you can hold a team to three points in this league you've got to be happy with the way those guys played and we ended up scoring one on defense, so that's a good thing.
Q: Joe Thuney finished the season having played every snap. What kind of an impact does it have a guy like him with his consistency in there, and also having the starting five offensive lineman that you started the year with end it healthy with you?
BB: Yeah, well, that's huge. Again, those guys train hard. They work hard and, as you said, they take a lot of snaps, not only in the games but in practice. It's a very durable group, a tough group. Marcus [Cannon] missed a couple of times. Shaq [Mason] missed a couple of games. Those guys have been in there not only every game, but every practice and that helps our team because we get consistency and timing and so forth. Joe's had a tremendous three years of durability. We know with the time he missed in the spring, which obviously is less of a setback than it is during the season. We've had good consistency from all of those guys. Yeah, that's certainly a big help. Overall, our team has trained hard. I think we've been relatively healthy all year. I think that's a credit to obviously the players for the hard work they do, but Moses [Cabrera] and his staff. They do a good job of getting these guys and putting them in position where they can perform at a high level and also do it over an extended period of time. Hopefully, we can continue to do that.
Q: How would you describe the course of this regular season for this team? Do you feel like you got better each week or were there lulls?
BB: Well, there's some good things and there's some things that could've been better. In the end, we are where we are. Essentially we won next week because we won today, so we'll see who the next team we play is. We know whoever that team is they'll be good or they wouldn't be playing at this time of year. We're going to need to play our best game, all of us, play and coach our best game and that's what we'll all try do so we'll try and do the best job we can coaching, do the best job we can playing for whoever it is we play, and we know they'll be good. It's the NFL playoffs. That's where we are.
Q: What did you see from Trey Flowers today and was his pressure able to help generate the fumble that led to Kyle Van Noy's fumble for a touchdown?
BB: Yeah, Trey's given us great play all year. He's a tough matchup guy. He played left end and he also played inside today as he does in most games. He can match up on the tackles. He can match up on the guards and centers and that gives us some flexibility with some other players as well. He's had a tremendous year for us and he always does a tremendous job. Nobody works harder than Trey does. His toughness, his durability, his consistency and his ability to play the running game, the passing game and to play it in different positions – you don't see a lot of guys on the defensive line but he's done it and he's done it well and it's certainly helped our overall defense as well as whatever spot he plays. His ability to have versatility and move helps us in other ways too. He does a great job for us.
QUARTERBACK TOM BRADY
POSTGAME PRESS CONFERENCE
December 30, 2018
Q: How would you describe the rhythm of the passing offense today?
TB: You know, it was - how was it? I mean, certainly things we could do better, but good to win, 38 to 3, division opponent second time around, so just a great win. We needed it and glad we got it.
Q: It’s safe to assume you won’t be happy unless you win the final game of the year, but you personally, given all the work you’ve put in and the lifestyle and everything, what’s your sense of satisfaction having finished this season the way you did at 41?
TB: I don’t think too much about it. It just feels like I’m doing the same thing I’ve always done. So, it took a great team effort today and a lot of guys made a bunch of good plays. I just love being quarterback and love playing here and love winning.
Q: Do you have any New Year’s resolutions?
TB: Less interceptions, more touchdowns. That would be it.
Q: How important was it to get the bye week?
TB: You know, we had a great opportunity for it and just glad we could close it out. You’d hate to have that opportunity and not handle what we needed to handle and just glad that we did. It just ended up being a great way to finish the year – won two games at home against our division opponents after two pretty tough losses, but showed some resiliency and we’re going to need it going forward. We’ve got certainly a lot of things to learn about ourselves, a lot of things we can improve on and see if we can win a game here in two weeks.
Q: You guys have had the bye for nine-straight years now, but considering the up and down with this season, is this one any more satisfying?
TB: I mean, they’re all different and they’re all hard to compare and so forth. Like I said, 11-5 is nothing to be sad about. I mean, we fought pretty hard and put ourselves in a decent position here, and now we’ve got to go try to take advantage of it.
Q: How different does it make the game for you while you’re out there when the defense performs like they did today in order to kind of spot you some points and also to keep it competitive?
TB: Yeah, they played great. They’ve been playing great, and this is the time of year to do it. It’s playing against a team that – I thought everyone fought pretty hard this week and realized how big of a game this was. There was nobody taking their foot off the gas pedal. We started pretty good, had a good lead at halftime. Wish we’d have had the short yardage there before the half and maybe got some more points on the board, but just a good way to finish the game like we did. That was a good way to do it with scoring and getting the turnover. That was pretty sweet.
Q: How important was it for you to not only play precision football, decisive football, but to also get everybody involved – Rex Burkhead, James White, guys like Chris Hogan and especially Phillip Dorsett who really hasn’t had much time with you on the field, and even Rob Gronkowski on the play that got called back? It seems like everyone is getting up to speed now.
TB: Yeah, that’s what we’ve got to do. I mean, to be a good offense, everyone’s got to touch it, everyone’s got to be involved in the offense and run it, throw it, throw it to everybody – the receivers, the backs, the tight ends. Everyone blocks in our offense, and that’s what makes it tough to defend. If they’ve got to defend everything, I feel pretty good about where we’re at. If they don’t have to worry about something, it makes it pretty tough on everyone else. So, glad we were able to score the points we did today. We’re going to need more of that in a couple weeks.
RUNNING BACK JAMES WHITE
POSTGAME PRESS CONFERENCE
December 30, 2018
Q: What is the significance of winning today to earn the first-round bye?
JW: It’s definitely a big win for us, winning decisively for one of the few times this year. I think offensively, defensively, on special teams, I think we played complementary football and it’ll definitely be a big help having a bye week, let some guys heal up and definitely got to be ready to go once we step back on the field.
Q: Can you talk about the touchdown pass you caught in the first quarter?
JW: Just winning my one-on-one matchup, just trying to win it in any situation that we have. It’s something that we stress all the time and just catching the ball and having open space and just finding a way into the end zone. Good play-call, good throw from Tom [Brady]. We just need to score in the red zone and that was a good start to it.
Q: Nobody on this team has known Phillip Dorsett as long as you have. For a guy like him to see his snaps reduced as the season has gone along but to perform the way he did today, what does that tell us about his commitment to the game and the team?
JW: I mean, he’s a great team player, always stays motivated, works hard during practice whether he’s getting reps with first team, scout team, he’s out there running – you know he’s fast, he’s running fast every single play, catching the ball, making plays. And then whenever the opportunity presents itself on game day, he goes out there and makes plays. His number was called on today and he was definitely a big help for us. He’s been like that ever since I’ve known him and he came through for us.
Q: How important is it to have such a strong running back group heading into the playoffs?
JW: It’s awesome, we have a great backfield. We’ve got Sony [Michel], Rex [Burkhead], myself, everybody can catch, everybody can block. Coach can call any play no matter who’s in there so it keeps guys fresh, the defense kind of has to pay attention to who’s in there and I think it helps our offense as a whole. We have a lot of playmakers and like I said, defenses really have to gameplan for us and kind of find out who they want to stop.
Q: How happy are you with Tom Brady’s passing today and the run game last week, that you have the perfect complementary offense going into the postseason?
JW: Yeah I mean you just have to find ways to win football games. Sometimes it’s running it, sometimes it’s throwing it, you’ve just got to find a way. It doesn’t have to be pretty, I think we have a great offense who can run the ball one week, throw the ball next week, do both, whatever it takes. I think that’s what we’re trying to do, we’re not trying to be pretty, we’re trying to go out there and we’re trying to win.
Q: What was your urgency like on offense after that first series where you punted?
JW: Well that was my fault for kind of ending that drive, I should have caught the football. We had started off pretty well and then I dropped the ball, I kind of slowed the momentum. Once we got the ball back, just keeping that foot on the gas and just trying to make plays and scoring and that kind of gave us momentum for the rest of the game. For myself, definitely have to start better to help the offense.
PATRIOTS PLAYERS IN THE LOCKER ROOM
David Andrews, C
(On the team’s progression throughout the season)
“I think we just try to get better each week and each week is different. It’s never the same thing. Teams are going to have different game plans and are going to do things different than what you studied all week. It was a good team win today and I thought for the most part that we played pretty well.”
(On the importance of having a playoff bye next week)
“Essentially it’s a playoff win, so you have one less game. I don’t know what it’s like doing it any other way. I’ve been very fortunate to be a part of this organization and these great locker rooms. We’re very fortunate and just got to make the most of this week, get some rest, focus, take a step back to look at yourself and what you can do better and really gear up to go. This is a big push and this is what you play for right here coming up.”
(On the pass protection this week)
“I think we challenge ourselves every week. We got to try to throw a wall in front of our quarterback. I thought for the most part today that we did that. There’s always stuff that we can do better and that’s what we strive to do each week. It’s always a challenge and it’s just going to be more and more challenging here coming up this week. It’s the NFL playoffs now, so you got to get ready to go.”
Adam Butler, DL
(On his strip sack play)
“So [Sam] Darnold, he’s known for making plays on his feet or extending plays. Our cornerbacks did a great job of covering and making sure he couldn’t throw it. The defensive ends did a great job of containing him and making sure he couldn’t roll out. He came back into my area and Trey [Flowers] got him around his feet. The pocket closed really quickly and he had no choice but to throw it. So I just stuck my hand out and got a piece of it, and we were rolling.”
(On Derek Rivers getting his first career sack)
“Oh, I’m glad. We ran a great game. He came around and I was not about to let that center come off and get him. You know, because that’s my guy and you know I have to look after my guy. So I’m proud of him and I’m glad for him.”
(On the defensive unit stepping up and playing well)
“I think we’re just playing more physical. Up front and in the back end too. We’re playing more aggressive and more confident. We understand the offenses.”
Phillip Dorsett, WR
(On the different pieces and touches players on the offense were able to get)
“I feel like when everyone gets involved, the offense flows. We put a great game plan together when it came to getting everyone involved, getting everyone touches, and I think it worked. I think it’s easier for Tom [Brady]. He makes it look so effortless when the offense is like that. They tried to stop the run so we knew we needed to pass the ball and Tom did a great job of spreading it around.”
(On the importance of catching the first ball to come his way to get back in the flow of the offense)
“Yeah I think that’s for anybody. For running backs it’s just getting that first touch, for wide receivers it’s getting that first catch just to get acclimated to the game. It’s a huge confidence boost for anybody, even for Tom just making that first throw. It just gives you confidence throughout the game.”
(On if he’s ready for an increased role going forward)
“Yeah, the way I go about my day is that I prepare like a starter all the time. So when it comes, I’ll be ready. I just continue to prepare, nothing changes and you just keep grinding.”
Julian Edelman, WR
(On how it feels to officially secure a first-round bye)
“It’s nice, you get a little time to heal up. You get some time to self scout, to really look at the regular season things you did well, things you didn’t do too well, and try to really improve those types of things. You get a little time away from it to get ready for a battle.”
(On how it felt to finish the regular season with a long drive capped off with a touchdown catch)
“It felt good. Anytime you can have a methodical drive you take time off the clock, you played out the situation, and then we capped it with a touchdown. It’s always nice, but there are definitely a lot of things that we didn’t do so well. We still had some penalties and some blocking stuff that we have got to do. We have to watch the film and learn from it but it was definitely good to go out and end the regular season like that.”
(On if there is a different level of intensity with the playoffs coming up)
“Yeah, I mean you either win or you go home and you watch. Our coaches do a great job of keeping us in the present. Really this week is about us, go out and try to do everything you can to tighten things up. Our job is to come in and have a great effort, be attentive, and go out and do it. That’s what we’re looking forward to.”
Trey Flowers, DL
(On finishing the season with a career high 7 1/2 sacks)
“I get better each and every year, but for me it’s not all about the numbers. It’s about how I affect the game as far as helping my team win. Anytime I can create plays to put my team in position to win, I’m all for that.”
(On the team’s defensive performance)
“It’s definitely coming together. It’s one of the things that we have to build ourselves on and it starts in practice. We go from the practice field and bring it to the game field with execution on Sundays. It’s just one of the deals that you have to play your top football at this point of the season going against some great teams. You’re going to have to be able to execute well on Sundays.”
(On the importance of having a playoff bye next week)
“It’s one of the things that we can allow ourselves to recoup physically and mentally. It’s just an extra week to get ourselves together and that’s always important.”
(On the team scoring a defensive touchdown)
“We pride ourselves on creating those big plays and putting our whole team in position to win the game. Anytime we can score with the offense on the sideline, it’s always exciting.”
Stephon Gilmore, CB
(On getting different matchups every week)
“It’s fun. It’s a big challenge and every week is different, so you got to alter your game depending on who you’re covering. I enjoy it every week.”
(On the importance of keeping his hands active throughout the play)
“That’s what you try to do. You try to be physical with them and fight them to the end. Some players you play certain techniques on and you try to win every snap.”
(On the team forcing three turnovers and allowing three points)
“It was big and that’s what we need to do from here on out. We have a lot of work to do and a lot of football to play.”
(On setting a new career high in deflections and passes defended)
“It’s big. It’s a lot of hard work with my teammates and coaches pushing me. Coaches put me in position to make plays and I got to keep it up.”
Rob Gronkowski, TE
(On today feeling like an up day)
“It was definitely an up day, and I would say it was an up day overall for the team. Everyone playing well, the defensive played super great, and then the offense was going down and making those drives. What was huge was the final drive we did to complete that. You know, we’re up 28-3 and we go down, it’s the fourth quarter at the end of the regular season. We just go down and make a drive and put up points, which was tremendous to do. A good team win overall.”
(On getting the bye in the first round of the playoffs)
“The bye is huge. It’s huge. That was basically a playoff win right there. To get that win today, now we don’t have to play next week. It basically won us a game for next week. So we got a bye, rest up, get the mental part and physical part. Clean up the bumps and bruises, because every game you’ve got those. So it’s always good to have that and you just have to treat it the right way and take advantage of it so we’re ready to go when it comes to playoffs.”
(On hearing the noise the media makes about struggling teammates)
“Being here for a while now, many years, I’m pretty sure I’m used to ups and downs like we were talking about. But, it’s part of the game and it’s part of the process. You just have to ignore the noise and you have to stay focused. Everyone within the locker room just has to keep putting our heads forward and keep looking to get better every single week, and that’s what we’ve been doing. One huge thing too is we’ve been sticking together. When people are down everyone’s been coming together, everyone’s been lifting each other up, and we’ve just been staying strong together. I believe it showed just how strong we are as a team through the end of the season.”
Duron Harmon, DB
(On Bill Belichick’s complimentary reaction to the team’s effort)
“It just says that we got some guys that are fighters. We just continue to fight no matter what the situation is. We came in each week and worked hard and try to be the best that we can be for Sunday.”
(On where the Patriots defense currently stands for the playoffs)
“We are still trying to get better and at the end of the day that is always the goal, to be better than you were the day before. We have a lot of good guys and a good group but we just need to work on staying focused and being better. If we make sure to do that then the team will be better and we will be better than we were today for the next game.”
(On keeping momentum during the bye week)
“It is important to just stay focused and to best position myself in between games. At the end of the day I think it comes down to playing good football. I think experiences are overrated; you can have as much experience as you want but if you don’t go out there and play good football it is not going to help you. Playing good football is a key right now.
Chris Hogan, WR
(On his New Year’s resolution)
“To be as good a husband, dad and teammate as I can be.”
(On today’s win)
“We talked all week about treating this game like it’s a playoff game. I thought all three phases really played hard today and played off of each other and guys made a lot of plays.”
(On recording six catches for 64 yards today and building confidence heading into the postseason)
“It’s great. I was able to take advantage of some opportunities today and hopefully I can continue to build off of that.”
(On the importance of having a first-round playoff bye)
“I think it’s great. It’s essentially like winning a playoff game. I’m really happy about it for this team and now we get this week to focus on the Patriots, ourselves, and kind of work on things that we want to continue to work on for the postseason and get healthy. I think that’s a big thing and we’ll be able to really rest up and prepare for the upcoming weeks.”
(On Tom Brady’s performance today)
“We all kind of took it upon ourselves and knew we were going to come out here and try to play the best football we could and Tommy always comes out here with awesome competitiveness and he always wants to do his best. He played great today.”
(On the difference in the team’s play at home versus on the road this season)
“I think it’s tough to win in this league regardless of where you are, but obviously anytime you get a chance to play at home - using the crowd and the familiarity; you get to keep your same schedule and same routine – I think that helps a lot.”
(On the balanced offensive attack)
“I think it’s awesome. We have a lot of guys on this team that get the ball in their hands and make a lot of plays. It was great that we got to spread it around today and I think it’s something that we can hopefully continue to build off of continuing forward for the postseason.”
(On getting the passing game more involved after last week’s run-first approach)
“It’s kind of one of those game where the running game is there. We were able to run the ball well, we were able to pass the ball well today and we are just going to continue to work on both phases of the game so that we’re firing on all cylinders heading into the postseason.”
Sony Michel, RB
(On some of the highlights of his season so far)
“The wins, all the wins we’ve got together and even some of the losses. We’ve learned so much together, we stuck together. It’s been a great experience.”
(On approaching this game like it was a playoff game)
“It’s going to be competitive just like each and every week that I’ve played here. Just have to be ready to play this game, execute, and be ready to know that they’re coming here to give us their best.”
(On finishing with over 900 yards rushing in 13 games)
“It’s something that I can work off of. It can kind of give me an overlook on how much work I’ve put in. Just like coach says, what you give is what you deserve. There’s so much more yards out there on the field, but I’m just excited that we’re in the position that we’re in right now.”
Kyle Van Noy, LB
(On feeling of making it all the way through the regular season)
“I love this. This is good and this is everything to me. I love playing in the playoffs. Anytime you get a chance to go for a championship it is huge. There are other teams that are going home so you cannot take the wins for granted. A lot of people think 11 and 5 is not good here but the reality is it is good enough to get second seat and be in the playoffs so we are prepared for whatever and ready as a team.”
(On how it feels being a part of a team that has such hard work ethic)
“We have created an atmosphere that you don’t want to let the guy next to you down and we all take that to heart because we all see that next guy working hard and then you want to work just as hard for him to make sure you don’t let him down.”
Deatrich Wise Jr., DL
(On postgame feeling)
“It is a great feeling to go out there and dominate a line of scrimmage and not allow any runs to get out. That is my job and just what I am supposed to do.”
(On using his arm length to his advantage)
“It was not always something that I knew how to use. Players like Trey Flowers, Lawrence Guy and Malcom Brown taught me how to use my arms and how to get comfortable with it.”