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New England Patriots Postgame Transcripts 8/19

New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick and select players comment on their game against the Houston Texans on Saturday, August 19, 2017.


Opening Statement
"Well, this was a good week for our team.  I feel like we got a lot of work done at The Greenbrier and a really competitive game tonight.  Got better at a lot of things.  We obviously still got a lot of things we need to work on, things that we can improve in.  I feel like we took a positive step this week.  Need to do it again next week and start stringing them together.  I think we're making some progress here with our team.  Obviously still got a long way to go.  Lot of things to work on and improve.  We'll look forward to addressing those this week."

When did you decide to play TE Ron Gronkowski tonight?
"I played all the players that were healthy."

Was there any change in approach to this preseason versus other preseasons?
"I don't know.  Not that I'm aware of."

What was your impression of CB Cyrus Jones on punt returns?
"Yeah. I'll go back and look at it.  It looks like he made something out of nothing a couple of times so that gave us some good field position."

Thoughts on the running backs, specifically on catching passes out of the backfield.
"Yeah.  Backs on both teams made a lot of plays tonight.  Our backs have always been productive for us so hopefully they will continue to be."

What are the benefits of a joint practice versus a preseason game?
"Well, it's live football.  Tackling. Blocking.  It's live football.  We got a lot out of those practices.  Game situations are different.  You learn from those, too."

Due to your depth with edge rushers, are you exploring the market for anyone right now?
"Not right now.  We just got done with this game. Right now, I'm not really exploring anything.  I'm going to back and look at the film, make corrections and do what we can with the team and move on from there like we always do."

What have you notice about QB Jacoby Brissett's progression?
"Really everybody on our team, we've improved.  That's what we practice for.  We all got a long way to go.  I don't think anybody is where they need to be, any player, any coach.  Any anybody.  We're just not there yet.  You keep grinding it out, and it's going to take a while but keep plugging away at it."

Have you seen steady progress from RB Rex Burkhead?
"Yeah, same thing.  I think everybody is making progress.  We've got a long way to go.  Some guys played their first preseason game tonight, some guys played some last week, but we've got a lot of work to do and a long way to go.  It pretty much goes for everybody across the board."

Do you feel any nostalgia about coming back to play where you won the Super Bowl?
"Yeah, really that's all in the past.  I mean it was great, but we're on to 2017.  I think right now, last year, or two years ago or twelve years ago isn't that important.  Trying to get this team ready to go.  This year's team is this year's.  It's my responsibility to make a strong commitment to this group.  Not trying to live in the past.  Not trying to live in the future.  Just trying to do a good job with the team that we have today."


What did you think about finally playing in preseason?
"It was fun being out there. The last time we were here it was fun playing and it's fun to be back playing here again. It was a nice feeling pulling up today. I wish we would have won, but we had a good week of practice. We tried to carry it over to the game and we will see if we can keep getting better."

Tell me about your touchdown pass to RB Rex Burkhead and how he gets open for you?
"Yeah, it was a great play. He had a one-on-one matchup with the linebacker they had in coverage and he made a really good move to the out, and then broke across to space. I knew there was a lot of space in there if he could make the catch. He made a great catch and obviously a good run. It was a big play."

How well do the Texans defend up front as far as the front seven?
"Very good. They are very fundamentally sound and they have a lot of good matchups. They make it tough on you. We played them in the playoffs last year and they made it tough on us. I think they just do a good job challenging every position up front. They challenge you in the run game. They're always going to have an extra guy in the pass game. They've got good rushers and really good coverage guys. They've got a good team. They were the first ranked defense in the league for a reason."

What is like seeing DE JJ Watt back in the game?
"It's great seeing him out there. We practiced against him all week and he certainly looks like he's up to his old self. He was defensive player of the year a couple of times and I have a lot of respect for him. He plays the run. He plays the pass. They move him around quite a bit so you can't really get a beat at where he is at, but he is a phenomenal player."

How do you feel about TE Rob Gronkowski and what he's been through?
"It was great. I think for all of us to get out there and play is something you can't just replicate in practice. To get those reps in and get the speed of the game; everything is just happening the way it normally happens. For him to get out there and be out there all of training camp he is building so much confidence. I am proud of him. We just have to keep it going."

How much do you think spending time off the field could help extend TE Rob Gronkowski?
"Good. Everyone knows how I feel about that and I am just happy he's out there playing and healthy. He is building his confidence. I think that's what everyone is out there trying to do. In different times of your life you try different types of experiences that you have force you to do different things. I am proud of his effort. We've got to just keep building as a team. Having everyone out there, we've had a relatively healthy camp so we just have to keep getting after it. "

How tough do you think your offense is making it on defenses?
"I think that's what makes a good offense. Having a lot of versatility and I've said for a long time I throw where the guys are open. If they double someone everyone else is singled across the board. You've got to be careful who you double. If we've got the right play call against a certain defenses it's tough to stop us. We were decent out there. Obviously we had quite a few mistakes that we've got to clean up. It's a good defense we are going to see them quickly. We had a good week of practice against them. It was a lot of fun. Having all the experiences with them this week led into this game. It will be a little different next time we play them. "


How do you feel?
"I feel fine right now. I'm sure tomorrow it will kick in a little more but I'm good right now."

Can you talk about being able to play into the fourth quarter?
"Coach (Bill Belichick), you never know what he's going to do, so he keeps you on your toes. Getting into a rhythm, especially at the quarterback position, is very important. I think once we got moving - some of these drives we've got to finish them with touchdowns. But for the most part, it was pretty good."

Do you think you just did too much on the interception?
"I avoided the D-end at first, I was just trying to throw it away but didn't put enough on it. It was just a bad play. Rough way to end the night. It's frustrating when you can't go back out there and make up for it."

What did QB Tom Brady say to you after the interception?
"Pretty much what I knew already. 'You just gotta throw it away. Put more on it. Don't give them second chances. Don't give the guy a chance to do that.'"

Can you talk about all the weapons you have on offense?
"It makes my job a whole lot easier, especially when we get to the second and third guys, they're still just as impressive. The O-line did a great job for me tonight. The sack-fumble was my fault. Can't have that happen."

What kind of progress has TE James O'Shaughnessy made?
"A lot, especially because he was out for a little while with an injury early in camp. So, to come back and rebound the way he has been, he's an impressive player. All those young tight ends, they're coming along real well. They're impressive."

Why was the sack-fumble your fault and what's it been like working behind an offensive line with a lot of moving pieces in training camp?
"I'm the quarterback. It's just my fault. They've been great, the whole O-line, whoever it is in there. They mix and match a lot. Coach (Dante) Scarnecchia does a great job with them, getting them ready, and they've done a phenomenal job for us."


Can you take us through your touchdown?
"It was a route out of the backfield, kind of an option going in or out. I just made a move on the defender. Tom (Brady) threw a great ball: right when I turned it was right there. Just got to try to get in the end zone as fast as possible."

What did it mean for you to have your family and friends in attendance?
"It was cool. I had a bunch of friends and family in for the game, of course. They made it down from Dallas, so it was fun to have a good game and play in front of them. I think this our closest game to home this season, so it was nice to come out here, and it's always cool to see them come out and support."

It's a crowded backfield, how did it feel to be the guy who got the start?
"We have a ton of great guys, and everybody produces, everybody competes, and I think that's what's so great about our backfield is we compete, we root for one another. Whenever we make a great play, we're right there cheering each other on. Whatever roles the coaches want to put us in, we're more than happy to do it."

What was your impression on how you were able to show your versatility tonight?
"Just trying to do the best I could, and credit to the offensive line. Up front they did a great job of opening up some holes, and really helping out the passing game as well, giving Tom (Brady) time to throw. That's a very impressive front that Houston has, as well as their linebacking and secondary corps, too. We knew it was going to be a challenge for us, and I think we did well."

Did you expect to have a big work load that early?
"I didn't know. Just going in, I was just going to be ready for whatever occurred or happened. A lot of times, things can change pretty fast, so whatever was kind of thrown my way, I was hoping to be ready for."


When did you know you were going to play?
"We expect to play every game, 60 minutes every game. It felt good to be out there and get my feet wet – how many plays, whatever we played, the coaches had us in. It was great. I love to play football and it felt great to be out there."

Was there a moment when coach came to you and said you were playing?
"We expect to play every game no matter when it is, even if it is preseason. We expect to play all downs. That's how we prepare (and) that's how we go into these games mentally."
Did the contact feel good for your first time in a game situation this season?
"It felt good to be out there, get the speed of the game. It just felt good to be back out there with the boys, for sure."


What did you think about playing alongside DL Alan Branch?
"It was great. He's a big man. It's great playing with somebody with that experience and that size. He's a great player, so I enjoyed it when I got to line up next to him. He is a great athlete and he does his job very well. Like I said, I'm glad I get to play next to him. I don't feel too happy about the offensive linemen that get to hit him, but I'm glad I get to play next to him.

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