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New England Patriots Postgame Transcripts 8/11

New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick and select players comment on their preseason game against the New Orleans Saints on Thursday, August 11, 2016.


BB: It's always good to get that first win under your belt. This team has gone through a lot of practices going all the way back to the offseason program in April, and then the OTA's and minicamp in the spring, whatever it's been, 12 practices this year plus all of the other stuff. So, it's good to get out on the field and compete in a game. I thought we did some things the way that we kind of try to want to do them. There were some other things that we obviously need work on, but that's part of the process. The Saints are a good team and they're very competitive in all areas. I feel like we got a good look at a high level of competition and got a good evaluation of some of the things that we're kind of doing OK, not great, and some other things that we definitely need to shore up. We played a lot of people. I think there was a good amount of playing time for a lot of guys so we'll see how all that looks in the next day or so when we really get a chance to break down the film, but it's good to get out there, good to get going, and again, really a good week for us in terms of the practices and then the game tonight against the Saints. They're a real good team. [I have] a lot of respect for Sean [Payton] and the organization. [They're] really good to work against. We got a lot better here the last three days. It was very beneficial for us.

Q: What are your initial thoughts on Jimmy Garoppolo's performance?

BB: We'll take a look at everybody. There are a lot of people out there. I don't want to try and make an evaluation without really looking at it.

Q: Did you think there were some good opportunities in the first half to evaluate some situational football aspects?

BB: Yeah, two minute, some long yardage, we had some short yardage, a couple of fourth downs, two-point plays, so yeah, a lot of situations came up for our team, the coaching staff, the players, for all of us to really work off of and coach off of, so that was good. We had a lot of plays in the kicking game. There was a good balance between kickoffs and punts. A lot of situational football and then we saw a lot of the basic matchups that I'd say you kind of want to see, so that part of it worked out well.

Q: Were you pleased that you were able to create some takeaways with making any turnovers yourselves?

BB: Always. Right, anytime we don't turn the ball over that's a good thing. Defensively, we got the turnovers. We got the two touchdowns so that's kind of 14 bonus points. It's hard to count on that in a game. In the end that really ended up being the difference in the final score. It was a great job by the defense to not only turn the ball over but converting it into two touchdowns, so those were obviously huge plays for us. Offensively, they [Saints] had their hands on a couple of balls. They didn't get them but there were a couple of times where we need to keep the ball out of their hands. But the returners, we had two rookie returners back there. I thought they handled the ball well in kicking situations. Again, there was some good things to work with, some good things to coach from.

Q: How beneficial was the humidity tonight in helping to get in some extra conditioning for guys?

BB: Yeah, I thought that was good. We had a good level of heat. There were it seemed like just a good amount of longer drives on both sides. There were times that we were out there for eight, nine, 10 plays defensively and then there were a few times when we were out there for eight, or nine, or 10 plays offensively. Those longer drives are really where players build their conditioning; they build their stamina, so it was good to have a few of those. I think the players themselves could see after three, four, five plays, you know OK, but then at nine, 10, especially when you're running off the field with substitutions like you have to do against the Saints to matchup against their offense or what we do offensively, using different personnel combinations. You combine that running on and off the field with a longer drive [and] I think that was definitely a good evaluation of our conditioning tonight and I wouldn't say it was bad, but it certainly can be better. We need to continue to work on that. Tonight was a good night for us to see where we're at on that front.

Q: How much were you able to learn about Trey Flowers last year as a rookie with how much time he missed and what have you seen in this training camp?

BB: Trey's had a good spring and a good camp so far. We didn't really get to see a whole lot of him last year. He fought through an injury and really couldn't be as effective as what he wanted to be, so we ended up having the surgery done on the early side so he was actually able to get into the spring quicker than guys that would've had it, say, at the end of the season so he was ahead of them by three, three-and-a-half months, whatever it was, so he was able to be a full participant in the offseason program, full participant in the spring workouts, so I think the fact that he went on Injured Reserve so early last year is benefitting him this year because he's had a full year of training and a full year of the installation and all the preparation going into the season. It's good to have him out there. He's done a good job for us when he's had an opportunity to play. He played some in the kicking game. He's got obviously a lot of things he has to work on, too. But he's shown up pretty much daily in one way or another with some positive plays. He's a hard working kid so hopefully it will continue to get better.

Q: Do you have any update on Malcolm Mitchell and the injury that he suffered?

BB: No.

Q: Were you happy for Tyler Gaffney to finally get into the end zone with all of the adversity he has gone through?

BB: Yeah, you bet. Tyler, of course, we knew two years ago in the 2014 season that he wouldn't play that year. Last year, unfortunately, he didn't get very far into training camp again but nobody worked harder than Tyler. He's there early, he stays late, never complains, always does extra, and so it's great to see him have an opportunity this year. He has had a good year all spring and in training camp and has done a good job for us, and then got a chance to play tonight and had some positive plays tonight. Yeah, happy for him, happy that he's out there and got through the game and can just keep building on tonight's performance.


Q: Were you able to approach this game with the mindset of a starter as a dry-run for the first four games of the regular season?

JG: Yeah, I always go in with that mindset, though. Like I said earlier this week, your guess was as good as mind on who was starting and how much we were playing and everything. Just having that mindset is always good, and it came true tonight. 

Q: Can you walk through that first near-touchdown pass to James White?

JG: He made a tremendous play. Actually, a lot of guys made tremendous plays on that. The linemen got downfield, had some nice cut blocks and everything, and it was a well-designed play. I thought he was in, personally, but tough call. 

Q: How tough is it to see Malcolm Mitchell go down with an injury after having made some great plays out there?

JG: I don't know what the injury is exactly yet, but it didn't look very good when he was walking off the field. He was playing well, so hopefully he'll come back as soon as possible and keep rolling.

Q: As the play improved from the first to second quarter, what was the demeanor like on the sideline in between that time?

JG: Yeah, it wasn't our best start, no question. We started a little slow, which we never want to do, but that's going to happen sometimes. You're not going to always start the right way and it's just how you react to that. It was a good experience tonight just being put in a difficult situation and then just seeing how the guys responded, how everyone responded. I think we reacted in the right way. 

*Q: What are your thoughts on how things went with the guys that were out there tonight? *
JG: You never know who you're going to get in the preseason, that's just how it is around here, but we do a great job at practice of mixing and matching all the guys. You get a little bit of experience with everybody and I think everybody came out to play today. It was a pretty good result. 

Q: Were you running with a little bit more adrenaline tonight, and when did you finally feel like you could settle down a little bit in the game?

JG: Hopefully I got a little faster, but I don't know. It just kind of happened. We settled down after a series or two. Like I said before, we started a little slow which you never want to do, but it was just kind of everyone as a whole. I think we reacted well to the slow start. 

Q: As the first half continued, how did your pocket presence change?

JG: Having those guys up front, it's a comforting feeling. Those guys do a great job pass blocking and run blocking, and they did a tremendous job at both tonight. That sack, it wasn't a good one. I take responsibility for that; that was my fault. But just stepping up in the pocket, like you said, that's a huge part of it, and just being able to avoid those edge rushers. 

Q: Can you discuss the play on the scramble for a first down when you took a hit instead of sliding, and also the play when you sent a pass over the middle before Stephen Gostkowski's first field goal?

JG: The scramble play, it didn't make the sideline very happy. But it was fourth down, and I don't know, the football player inside me kicked in, I guess. In the future, I'll hopefully slide in that situation, but I wanted to get the first down. The throw over the middle was just an error throw. It was just a bad decision, can't make it and won't do it in the future.

Q: Do you view these preseason games as more important than the practices?

JG: I wouldn't put any more importance on it than practice. In practices, you get so many reps. It's different, I guess. The situations out here, they're live. You don't know what the situation is going to be on the next play. You don't know what's going to happen, a turnover, whatever it may be. Whatever the situation is, in practice, a preseason game, regular-season game, whatever it is, you've got to treat them all as important. 

Q: At this stage in the summer, are you happy with where you are in your development in terms of preparation for starting the regular season?

JG: We still have three preseason games, so it's hard to judge, but I think we're going in the right direction. As an offense, as a team, we've got to take it one day at a time, one practice at a time and everything. We'll be where we want to be by the end of the preseason. 

Q: How do you feel about your own overall development specifically?

JG: I think I'm working in the right direction. I said earlier this week, there's plenty of things I could work on, little things here and there. That's just part of being a quarterback. There are a lot of little things here and there and you want to be the best at your craft.

Martellus Bennett, Tight End

*(On his first game in New England) *
"It felt good. Just get out there and get acclimated to things going on. The process of being on a team here and the way the game day goes. The logistics of it all. Getting in and out of the huddle and playing in this stadium with those lights and getting used to that. So it was pretty cool."

*(On his work with Jimmy Garoppolo) *
"I was just trying to get open as much as I could. I don't know if he was looking for me or whatever, but I was just trying to get open, help make plays for him and do my job. He's doing a great job with just finding whoever is open. I don't know if it's anything more than that. I was just trying to get open for him."

*(On how practice relates to games) *
"Practice snaps are just as important [as] game snaps because you prepare for the game at practice. You practice how you play. I was just working at being consistent and then doing the same things in practice as in games. Just trying to grow as a player here and as a person. Just about developing consistency from the practice field and taking what we practice to the game."

Trey Flowers, Defensive Lineman

(On getting into the backfield and making a hit)
"It felt good. Since I was young, I've always loved contact so when the lights came on and it was live, it felt pretty good."

(On the scoop and score)
"We practice it every day before practice so I just took the technique to the field."

(On whether the hard work in practice paid off tonight)
"I put a lot of pride in my work and put a lot of pride in the work and technique I do, so just to go out there and prove it and let it come to action felt good."

(On the front seven)
"We were very strong up front and a lot of guys got after it. We put a lot of pressure on the quarterback and that was the main goal."

(On whether he channeled "The Waterboy")
"Yeah, I think he did one of those [sacks] in the movie so I was trying to do my best impression (laughs)."

(On his last touchdown)
"It was in high school. It felt pretty good. It was nice. I give all the glory to God. Having him let me be able to play this game and go out there each and every day and work on my technique and work on my craft."

(On whether Jamie Collins set the tone with his interception return for a touchdown)
"No doubt. When he got that one, there were other fumble and turnover opportunities, so I just said I need to do my part and I'm blessed I was able to do it."

Tyler Gaffney, Running Back

*(On how it felt to get back into game action) *
"It felt great. It's been a long time coming. I've been working with these guys for the last two years. It felt like a lifetime, but to get back out here and to get a win for your first game back is great."

*(On his thoughts after scoring on a 44-yard touchdown run) *
"There wasn't a lot of thinking. It was just a big blur to me. It was a very surreal moment. I've played one year of football in the last four years. It's been great, these guys have been great. I mean that run was a good run, a good easy read. The line did a good job to get me started again."

*(On what he saw on his touchdown run) *
"Everybody did their job. From the front, it was just a cutback and the backside made their blocks. We've been working on that in practice and it comes out and executes in the game."

*(On being alone once he reached the second level of the defense on his touchdown run) *
"I was just as surprised as you. I was running, probably holding my breath like I typically do, but it was wide open and you can't ask for a better hole to run through."

*(On if playing in tonight's game felt like a long time coming) *
"Yeah, I have [gone through a lot]. It has been a long time coming. It's been two years. Two years of rehab that I've been here. I feel like I've lived here for the past two years with rehab every day, meetings, watching the guys. I think that's helped myself grow and come along two years later."

*(On how he has grown as a player) *
"Patience. It just humbles you in life. The thing you love the most and you came out here as an aspiring rookie and you get that taken away and then you finally rehab and come back and get that taken away again. It's a long time coming. It's been 730 days or something. Whatever it's been, more than two years, but these guys have been by my side and cheering me on as much as you can for an IR [Injured Reserve] guy, but I felt welcomed back as soon as I was ready to go again."

Chris Long, Defensive End

(On how he's fitting into the schemes around here)
"I feel like I'm excited to learn every day. There's a lot to learn. There's a lot to figure out as far as how to best help the team." 

(On playing on a defense with this much play-making ability)
"Anytime the defense can score, it's a real game changer. For the entire team, it's a little bit of a lift so ball disruption, creating turnovers – that's always an emphasis for everybody, so anytime you can do that it's a good thing."

(On his performance tonight)
"I was alright. I mean, it's the first preseason game so you're never pleased. There's good plays and bad plays. That's why we're out here, to try to improve. No matter what year this is for you, it's your first game in almost a year so there's a lot you need to work on."

*(On the defense creating turnovers) *
"Turnovers are key, they're always key. They're a big lift for the team and that's a big deal. Creating turnovers is huge. It really does sway the outcome of a game so anytime you're able to score on defense, it's huge and when you're maybe able to do it multiple times and create multiple turnovers, that's big."

Nate Solder, Tackle

*(On the mindset of the preseason) *
"The way I look at it is that I try to prepare as if that's the most important game you've got. You've got to do everything you can to get ready, and then you've got to go out there and perform. I evaluate everything that I did, I try to learn from everything that I did; the footwork, hand placement, teamwork. [It's] everything that we look at because we have bigger challenges ahead of us."

*(On his overall thoughts of the game) *
"The overarching issue I know [was that] I gave up some pressure. The guy had a sack on me. So that's stuff that I need to work on. Those are the things that I'll take away that I need to improve. I don't take anything for granted. That's not what I want to do and it's not how I play. So I've got to improve."

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