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New England Patriots Postgame Transcripts 8/18

New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick and select players comment on their preseason game against the Chicago Bears on Thursday, August 18, 2016.


BB: Well, once again, I thought tonight was a little bit of an up and down night. We did some good things. We improved on some things from last week. [We] need more consistency in several areas I think we need to work on, so we'll do that. It seemed like once we got going a little bit there in the second quarter we were able to get off the field a little bit defensively, move the ball offensively, score some points. I thought the drive at the end of the half was a well-executed drive; good situational football there offensively. I thought we played much better in the kicking game. That was a big point of emphasis this week and I thought the players responded to that well. Our coverage was much improved. There were some positive things there to work with tonight but we just need to have another good week here. This will be obviously a different week for us, not having a team to practice against like we've had the last two weeks. Getting ready for Carolina will be a different type of preparation week for us, which we will need to do a good job on since that's the way it's going to be the rest of the season. [We're] making progress going through camp and obviously still have a ways to go.

Q: What did you see from Jimmy Garoppolo tonight?

BB: I think Jimmy's been pretty consistent through camp. We'll look at the film and take a look at everything tonight, but again, taking care of the football and taking advantage of our opportunities offensively. If the goal line had been the 3-yard line we would've scored two more touchdowns but it wasn't, so finishing those drives is an area we need to do better in, but had we done that we'd be looking at a lot more production offensively than what we actually had. You get up there in the 30's where you'd like to be. I thought it was a decent performance by everybody offensively. Again, it's hard to evaluate each player when you've got 11 of them out there running around all at the same time. I like us taking care of the ball and not turning it over and creating some field position in the kicking game or the turnovers that we had defensively. Those things all bode well.

Q: You said in a pregame interview that you would play all three quarterbacks. What led to the decision to go with just the two?

BB: I made a decision before the game to just play Jimmy [Garoppolo] and Jacoby [Brissett].

Q: How did Jimmy Garoppolo respond to the sudden change of finding out he was starting?

BB: Well, that's part of football. Things happen that are unexpected. He's been prepared for that since the day that he got here. I think all of our players are. Sometimes things happen and they change and you have to adjust to them. On offense, for the quarterbacks, we refer to that as an audible.

Q: Do you have any update on the report that Tom Brady injured his thumb before the game?

BB: I made the decision for him not to play tonight.

Q: What have you seen from Anthony Johnson throughout training camp?

BB: This is a week that he was able to get back on the field and get more reps in practice and play in the game. We didn't see very much of him last week. He was out prior to the New Orleans game, so some of the players that didn't play as much against New Orleans played more against Chicago. Some of the players that played more against New Orleans played less against Chicago, so I want to try and take a look at everybody and he would certainly fall into the category of 'Not much against New Orleans and more this week', but there were other players that it was flipped on. Again, personally, I don't see that as any big signal to anything. It's just when you get an opportunity to take a look at the player then you take a look at him.

Q: What have you seen from AJ Derby in his development?

BB: AJ has had a solid and pretty consistent several months for us here, going all the way back to the spring, to the offseason program, to OTA's, mini-camp, training camp. He has shown up every day, he's improving, he's a young player that only played the position for a short amount of time, basically a year down in Arkansas, has a lot to learn, has a ways to go, but has some skills to work with. He's a smart kid, eh works hard, and he's gotten better. He's making some plays for us in the kicking game, some tackles, in coverage he has caught the ball and blocked competitively. He's done some good things.

Q: Did it seem like the running game was more consistent tonight with more four and five yard gains as opposed to last week where you had some long runs but more negative plays as well?

BB: Yeah, I think you characterized it perfectly. It was more consistent, more consistent plays, whereas last week we had, whatever it was, six or seven negative runs. We had a couple of longer ones that kind of made the yardage look OK, but when you put those negative runs in the drive you end up in long yardage and cant convert on third down and give the ball up and it really starts with the negative runs. Always our number on goal is to keep the ball moving forward, to make forward progress, to obviously stay out of long yardage by making positive plays. I thought we did a much better job of that this week. There were a lot of three and four yard plays that weren't highlight looking plays but kept us in second-and-medium, third-and-medium, third-and-short. That being said, we still need to do a better job on third down conversions, but they were a lot more convertible, if you will, this week than some of the third-and-13's and 11's that we had last week.

Q: Can you talk about Cyrus Jones's big interception that followed your first touchdown drive and how that kind of catapulted into some momentum going into the half?

BB: Yeah, that's a big play for us. Really that's when you have an opportunity to go on a run in football, is the score, have good kick coverage, get good field position, and either get the ball back in good field position or turn it over and be able to convert that to points. We ended up starting the second half with the ball so that was another scoring opportunity. I think we got a field goal out of that on the first drive of the third quarter, so we were able to string some points together consecutively there, which is obviously what we want to try to do. But the turnover was good. Cyrus made a good play undercutting the route, obviously has good hands, made a good play on the ball and set the offense up. It was good complimentary football for us; good defense, good offense, good special teams, good defense, good offense, good special teams. Hopefully we can play like that more consistently.

Q: Were you concerned at all about allowing 11 quick points defensively?

BB: We didn't start off – I mean really we didn't do much in the first quarter period. We made a red-area stop, gave up the touchdown, the two-point conversion, couldn't make a first down on offense. Maybe we made one there. We only had the ball for seven or eight plays in the first quarter, so it was combination of not being able to move the ball and not being able to get off the field on third down. We had a bunch of penalties on those drives which are always costly; defensive holding, defensive interference. Then they converted a couple of plays. Just overall we've got to coach better, we've got to play better, we've got to get off to a better start. I thought the team responded well after a slow start to come back and really compete for the next three quarters but that first quarter, we've got to do a better job than that.

Q: What led to the decision to keep Alan Branch out of the game today?

BB: That is a club matter.

Q: Anthony Johnson seems to have lost about 30 or 40 pounds. How much different of a player is he now?

BB: Quite a bit different, yeah, a lot different than when we saw him at LSU. Honestly, I didn't even recognize him when we brought him in for a workout. I looked at him and said, 'Do we have the right guy here?' My memory is even worse than I think it is. Yeah, he's kind of gone in the other direction from being a big guy and really trimming down and his skills are different. He's faster, he's quicker, he's obviously lighter, doesn't have as much power but he was an interesting guy. He was a good player coming out of college, an interesting workout, and a guy that's a lot different than most of our other interior defensive lineman, so we thought in signing him that his skills might complement some of the other players that we have, so we'll just see how that plays out.

Q: What have you seen from Jacoby Brissett so far in his limited time here?

BB: Again, we've given him a limited package. There are some good things and then there are some things that obviously need to be improved. He made a couple of really good throws today. We lost a couple of timeouts, couldn't get the play called, and so forth, so there are some things we've got to work through. I think his comfort level in the offense is growing but it's certainly not to the level that it's going to be, but we'll just keep working at that. I think he has shown good poise these last two weeks. He has played quite a bit, almost a full game. Half last week and a quarter and a half, or whatever it was this week. [He's] definitely making progress. I thought the throw in the end zone that we couldn't come up with was a good throw. It was right there. A couple of the other moving pocket plays, he shows he has some athleticism and can run. [He's] making progress and has a long way to go probably like every other rookie on our team.


Q: How would you compare your performance this week to your performance last week?

JG: It was still not our best start. We started with another three-and-out which is never good, but after that, I think we got into a nice rhythm offensively. Obviously, the defense playing good always helps us. It's just complementary football. 

Q: When did you find out you'd be starting tonight's game and how did you handle the whole situation?

JG: Pretty suddenly before the game. I didn't think I was going to, but then some stuff came up and I got tossed in there. It was a good test I guess, it always keeps you on your toes. Coach [Bill Belichick] always preaches, you never know when you're going to go in or when your number is going to get called. You just have to be ready for it. 

Q: Have you had a chance to talk to Tom Brady and is he OK?

JG: I haven't even got a chance to yet. I found out literally right before the game, so it was pretty sudden.

Q: What were some of the good things about your first two drives of the game and also what things do you wish had gone better?

JG: I don't know exactly what we were in the red zone tonight, but we just have to finish some of those drives. We got the ball down there, we were moving it well, had some long drives, slot plays, but we've got to finish at the end. The two-minute drive before the half, we executed pretty well all the way across the board. Just good play-calling, got the ball in the end zone, that's always what you hope for, and then the two-point [conversion] to top it off.  

Q: Why was the running game so effective tonight relative to the way it was last week?

JG: Those big guys up front did a heck of a job, running backs, everybody. But really, it's just the mindset that those big guys have up front. They really take it personally and really came out tonight firing. 

Q: What did you take from your two-minute drill before the half?

JG: Like I said before, finishing with the touchdown is obviously what we wanted to come away with. I forget how many seconds exactly, but I think it was like 12 or 13, something like that left on the clock. Taking the last shot, especially in the first half like that is really what we always try to do. We don't want to give them another opportunity to score. It was executed pretty well. It's just something good to build off of. 

Q: How would you describe the development of AJ Derby and what kind of rapport have you guys developed over the course of this training camp?

JG: Derbs [AJ Derby] is coming along. He had an unfortunate injury last year and everything, but he's coming around and he's made some impressive catches this preseason. All the tight ends as a whole have been working really hard and they're getting an opportunity right now. 

Q: How did you think the offensive line performed tonight?

JG: it's always a nice feeling when you walk away feeling good from the game, no bumps or bruises or anything and you owe that to those guys up front. Running backs and tight ends included, they all blocked really well for me tonight. It's always a nice feeling having that. 

Q: Last week you talked about rebounding from early struggles – was it similar this week when after struggling in the red zone on the first and second drives, you were able to improve there in the second half?

JG: Yeah, sort of. It was just a little bit of a different philosophy, I guess, the next couple of times we got down there. It's unfortunate that we didn't come away with points the first couple of down there, but there's always room for improvement, obviously. You want to finish with touchdowns, and good teams do that, so we've got to get there. 

Q: Can you detail the checkdown pass to Brandon Bolden that he got some yards on and also detail the touchdown pass to AJ Derby?

JG: Yeah, he made some nice moves after that one, too. If I'm thinking of the right [play], all the running backs, I'm sorry I don't remember the exact play, but all the running backs as a whole, they did some nice things after they caught the ball. James [White], on the play I'm thinking of, got down at the 1-yard line, and he's gotten some tough calls getting down at the 1-yard line the last couple of weeks. Then AJ on the touchdown play, he had a nice grab. I didn't really see it, but I heard he took a nice hit after too, so it's always nice to have a guy making a catch after he gets hit like that. 

Malcolm Butler, Cornerback

(On what it was like to play and compete in a game situation after a good week of practice) 
"It was great, you know, another chance to go out there and get it done. The game [doesn't] count, but it really does count because you know you learn from your mistakes. This [doesn't] count that bad against you, but you know, you just go out there and prepare for each week."

(On how helpful it might be to go up against some of Chicago's big receivers like [Alshon] Jeffrey and [Kevin] White) 
"[It will] be very helpful, you know, there [are] a lot of big guys in this league, we have a couple [of] big opponents this year. You know, try to take advantage of the opportunity to work with those guys. It [wasn't] perfect, but you know it is what it is."

(On what the challenges are when facing a guy like Alshon Jeffrey) 
"Just being in position, just being in position. He's a big, aggressive guy so you got to play them the way you got to play them. You've got to play them a great way. You got to be smart, not all physically; you got to be smart mentally."

A.J. Derby, Tight End

(On the throw from quarterback Jacoby Brissett along the sideline)
"Jacoby made a good check on the line. He made a really good throw and the offensive line did a really good job giving him time to get the throw off."

(On the key to making contested catches)
"To be honest, I've got to watch the film to see exactly what happened before I let you know the answer."

(On the progress made so far) 
"I'm really just trying to get better every day, so I've got to watch the film and see how I did."

(On playing football again after missing last year)
"I'm having fun, I enjoy it. I enjoy football so it's good to be back out there."

Chris Hogan, Wide Receiver

(On translating the productivity from practice to the game) 
"We had a lot of stuff in the game plan this week. I think we all went out there and executed it really well."

(On the upcoming third preseason game) 
"For me, it's another game, another opportunity to play with this team, for them to get to know me and to get yourself ready for the season. We'll be excited to get back to work and get ready for this third preseason [game].'

(On the relationship with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo) 
"It's been good. Obviously we get a lot of work in during training camp. With me being a new guy, you have to be able to communicate with those guys so that they know that we're both on the same page. Jimmy was able to find me a couple of times, which was great."

(On being emotional)
"I had a lot of emotions coming into this game – my first game really as a Patriot, at home, which was a lot of fun for me. I'm an emotional guy out there, so I was excited about it."

(On the two-minute offense)
"That's something we work on a lot and we'll continue to work on it, and we'll continue to improve. But it was good for us to get into that situation and be able to execute the way we did."

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