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New England Patriots Postgame Transcripts 8/30

New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick and select players comment on their 17-12 win over the New York Giants at Gillette Stadium on Thursday, August 30, 2018.

Head Coach Bill Belichick

Postgame Press Conference
August 30, 2018

OPENING STATEMENT: Well that was one of the most exciting plays I've seen in preseason, I must say. Great call by Chad [O'Shea] and Danny [Etling] is a little faster than we thought he was. But, I was very proud of our team tonight. Our guys played hard. I told John Mara before the game that—we were on the sideline talking—and I said your dad would be taken aback because I think we played 37 guys, 36, guys, whatever it was, when roster sizes were that small so, these guys really did a good job. They went out and they not only played offense, defense, played well in the kicking game and it was a good warm night, so I thought they showed up well. I think I learned a lot about them. We'll see how it goes on the film, but I think we learned a lot about these guys and I was proud of the way they competed. And the Giants did too, this really was a good, competitive game and so I think we learned a lot. We'll see.

Q: Anybody make it tough for you on this cut down?

A: Yeah, I think we're competitive. Yeah, we're competitive and certainly tonight we had a lot of guys go out there tonight and compete hard. We'll look at the film and take a closer look at it, but I thought we tried to tackle. It was good play on the interior line. They have a good front. They were hard to block. Both quarterbacks, or all three quarterbacks were pretty mobile, so there's some decent pass rush, but those guys got out of some trouble, all three of them. A couple of plays down the field, interceptions, DBs making good plays on the ball, so yeah, it was a good competitive football game.

Q: Does that lend to the quality of this football group, consistently going back to the spring it seemed like [inaudible]

A: Yeah, again, we talked about it today. Those guys, the guys that played, which however many it was, thirty, like I said, 36-37, however many it was, they got a chance to play. They got a chance to play a lot and so I'm sure they're going to make it hard for us and I think some of these guys are going to continue to improve whether they make a roster right now or not I don't know, but if they continue to improve whether it's for us, the practice squad or at another point in time I think there were a lot of competitive guys on the field today on both sides.

Q: Bill, what have you seen from J.C. Jackson, not just tonight, but all the way through camp?

A: He's been competitive all the way through whether he's been at the OTAs in the spring, training camp, preseason games—not perfect, he has some things to learn, but he competes hard, tackled well, made a couple good plays on the ball. I think our defensive backs played the ball a lot better than they did two weeks ago when we had all the pass interference calls and so forth. So I think we've worked on that, some of the younger guys and that was good. A couple of the other veteran players also got to play a little bit too. Jason [McCourty] got some more work at free safety. A lot of our offensive linemen there, that really is our second line. Most of those guys have all played before, so, well they have all played before, so yeah I think we have a competitive group.

Q: How do you think Jason [McCourty]'s done at safety since he's switched over there?

A: Well I think he made a big jump this week. He did a good job last week, made some good tackles and I think just overall more comfortable this week, showed up on the practice field and looked like it tonight too, so that was encouraging.

Q: [Jason McCourty] said he hadn't played there since pop warner before last week. It's a big change for a player, a veteran player like him. Do you give him any break for switching over to safety? Do you give him a little extra time to learn the position?

A: Yeah, again, that's not the terminology I would use. We try to build depth on our team with all of the positions and so guys that play more than one position create value for themselves, create value for the team, so that's what we try to do. They've embraced it. Most everybody on our team has done that other than some specialists, the one-position players like quarterbacks and stuff like that, but most of those guys have played multiple positions and the more things they can do, the more they can help the team. They all embrace it and they work hard at it. It's given us some depth, whether we'll need it or not I don't know, but we certainly have in the past and we've played offensive players on defense, defensive players on offense, I mean you just never know. So, second, third week of training camp is usually a good time to try to do that so that's when we usually do it.

Q: How much did you see Devin (McCourty) helping Jason (McCourty) and making that switch?

A: I haven't seen it but I know it's happening. They've gone over a lot of things at home, going through practice film, and game tapes and stuff like that so I know Devin is helping him a lot.

Q: How helpful is it in a game like this for someone like Coach O'Shea who doesn't normally have play calling duties to get some experience doing that?

A: Yeah, that's kind of been good for us through the years. We've had coaches be able to take on different roles in this game and it's helped them in their development as a coach. I think just talking to Josh (McDaniels) after the game he's enjoying it up in the press box. Saw some things up there, you know, definitely made some good play calling adjustments but Chad (O'Shea) did a great job not only of calling the game but preparing the team, working with the team all week as did many of the coaches. It was the same thing on defense so it was good to give some other coaches some experience of doing things a little bit differently than what they normally do and that was good for everybody.

Q: You're about to go into regular season mode now. How do you feel about your team going into this first game?

A: I don't know. First game, first month is always hard. We'll find out. Got no game plan, not a lot of strategy in these games. Once people start attacking your weaknesses and trying to take advantage of things that you do, then you find out how good you are. Obviously, Houston is a very good team; well coached, a lot of great players in all three phases of the game so we'll find out in a hurry.

Q: There aren't a lot of light-hearted moments in football but it seemed Danny's run seemed to get everybody going.

A: It sure did. He had over 100 yards rushing, right?

Response: 113

A: Yea, so 113. When is the last time a quarterback ran for 85 yards on the Patriots? It's like at least 20 years I know that. Maybe Grogan? Plunkett? That's a long run though so. I mean look, nobody has worked harder than Danny. The kid is the first one in, last one to leave. He's very diligent. He tries to absorb as much as he can in all of the things that we do and then he stays extra and works on his own. When something like that happens you're just happy for him because all that hard work pays off. Honestly, I thought the run he had on 3rd and whatever it was- 10, 11, where he put his shoulder down, took on the tackler and got the first down - that was a big run too. He's a tough kid. He competes hard and I thought he handled himself pretty well in there.

Q: The human side of it, Bill, he was saying in here that his mom and dad were here, his dad was his coach a long time ago, his brother and sister, and he just had a big smile on his face his entire time. What's that like for you to see?

A: It was great, great for him and many other players in the locker room too. I mean look, nobody plays the whole game in preseason except for some of the guys that did tonight and they're out there playing 60 minutes and they felt good about it and they should. They've worked hard, they played hard and they played well. Any time you put something into it or put a lot into it, not something, and you have good results, you have to take satisfaction in it. And we all know we're in a competitive business and not everybody can make a team. We all know that but you go out there and do the best you can. Make it hard on the coaches. Let the chips fall where they may and keep grinding. Many of us have been cut before- I'm in that boat. Many players have. I think they just went out there and competed hard, made it as hard as they could for us to make decisions and we'll have to take a look at things and try to do what we think is best for the team.

Q: What went into the decision to play Riley McCarron tonight and what do you think of the progress you've seen in preseason and training camp with him?

A: We played a lot of players that didn't get to play as much, particularly last week but the last two weeks. Some of the players that have played more in those games played less tonight so we've kind of given everybody – not perfect, but we've tried to give everybody an opportunity. Riley has improved each week. He had a good week of practice this week. A lot of those guys did that didn't play, they were able to do some things in practice even though they didn't play in the game. We had some good competitive practice this week so hopefully everybody was able to improve over the course of the week depending on which kind of group of emphasis they were in.

Quarterback Danny Etling

Postgame Press Conference
August 30, 2018

Q: Can you talk about that 86-yard touchdown run?

A: Yeah, just took off down the sideline. It was a great job by the running back and the offensive line there to sell it, and make sure that there's no one there to make a tackle on me. I think I looked back about seven times and finally crossed the end zone. That was just a great play by our entire offense and a great call by coach.

Q: How surprised were you that you were that wide open when you went around the right side?

A: It was just a nice surprise, let's just call it that.

Q: When's the last time you had a run like that?

A: That would've been like 20 minutes ago was the last time I had a run like that, or however long it was ago (laughter). So, I've never really run that far before in my life.

Q: How would you describe the experience of your first NFL preseason and training camp? What have you learned throughout this process?

A: I would say learning experience. It's been just a constant learning process. It's a credit to my teammates and my coaches that have just helped me continually, and continue to help me throughout the game even tonight. To continue to learn and continue to progress as the player that I want to become, and that I think I can become.

Q: What was the feeling like as you were trying to catch your breath? Your teammates were really excited for you. Coach Belichick even came over to shake your hand. Describe that feeling.

A: It was a good feeling. I think I was just happy because it put us in a positon to end up winning the game and kind of iced the game for us. So that was, I think, my favorite part of it. Obviously, I love to celebrate with my teammates. So, that's a nice second.

Q: You said you looked back about seven times. Was it that shocking?

A: No, I just wanted to make sure no one would catch me. I didn't realize that you could just look at the jumbotron (laughter). That's a good experience for me.

Q: There was a play which you scrambled for about 13 yards, didn't slide, but had the presence of mind to dive and pick up the first down. Did you know where the first down marker was?

A: Yeah, I did know where the first down marker was. That's why I didn't slide. I knew it was a close call, so I didn't want to leave the chance and have to punt. So, I went ahead to try to get it.

Q: What did you want to accomplish coming out here tonight?

A: I just wanted to go out there and learn and continue to try and figure out how to do my job when the lights come on. Thought I could've done better in the first half. Just a little nervous. Just a credit to my coaches and my teammates that just got me settled down. Then it was like, alright, now let's just play football. It was good and it was a very good learning experience – and that was the goal, just to go out there and play football and have fun doing it.

Q: What have you learned about yourself tonight?

A: Yeah, I think I learned a lot about myself. I think first times are always going to be just what they are, first times. So, you want to make sure you can improve from it. You hope you get another opportunity to continue to progress and learn, and I hope that I showed that I can progress and learn throughout a game as well, and continue to keep improving and settled in, and just kind of do whatever my team needs to win.

Q: In that first half you were up and down. Who specifically came over to you to settle you down?

A: I think everyone. Guys in the huddle were just like, 'Hey man, you're good. Just settle in, you work hard, we're here for you. It's not just you out there'. Obviously, the coaches, (QB) Tom (Brady), (QB) Brian (Hoyer) are always talking to me and always trying to get me better. It's just a great supportive environment here where you can learn to be the best football player you want to be, and that's what my goal is.

Q: Do you expect to be on the practice squad or do you hope to make the roster?

A: I was just excited to play a football game again. It was an amazing feeling, I feel humbled to get another opportunity. I know even at LSU they would say, 'Is this your last game ever?' I just got to play another one, that was an exciting feeling for me. I hope I get to continue to play football for as long as I can.

Q: As the game went on did you feel like you had command of the offense?

A: I think that we have a lot of leaders on our team, a lot of leaders on offense. They've continued to try and support me and show me how to be a better leader. I can watch from the sideline, we have such a great amount of leaders on our team that I can watch and learn from, that was always helpful. I felt like I could settle in there, I was able to get a little more command, thanks to my teammates.

Q: What's your mindset going into these next two days?

A: The same mindset I had before. I have some film to watch and improve on. I have some things I know I did myself where I can say okay, next time you get an opportunity how can you settle in, how can you do better, how can you prepare better. This was the first time I got to prepare as a starter, it was really cool to do that. Now I can learn from that and hopefully keep improving.

Q: One of the things we have noticed is when you go out for practice you run out full speed, where does that come from?

A: I think it's just, I love football. As soon as you touch the field you have to bring an energy. When you touch a football field you don't walk on the field, that's what I was told by my dad and my coaches in the past. My dad was one of my first coaches. You don't walk on a football field, it kind of sets the energy for myself when I cross that threshold. You can leave all you problems and all your worries behind and focus on that practice or that game, or whatever else it is you are trying to do. You run on the field with energy and enthusiasm and leave all your problems back out and you can worry about that later.

Q: What has Jerry Schuplinski meant to your development?

A: I would say all of the coaches have played their part in helping me become who I am today, so far as a player. Coach Schuplinski has been one of those who has been in my corner, and continuing to try and push me to be the best player I can be. I would say that just the way he and all the coaches work, it puts so much pride in myself that I need to put that kind of effort in and that same work ethic. That's the way you can become the best player you want to be, you can't do that without giving what you get from them.

Q: Was your dad here tonight?

A: My parents were here tonight, and I think my brother and my sister. I don't know if everyone made it, I was a little busy before the game.

Q: Has your phone blown up yet?

A: I have not checked the phone. I'm excited to see my family when I get done with this, that will be the most exciting thing.

Defensive Back J.C. Jackson

Q: Did you feel like you had a pretty good game?

A: Yeah I felt like I had a pretty good game, but I still have a lot more to improve and get better on.

Q: Did you feel like you made the roster tonight?

A: I don't know. We are going to find out this weekend.

Q: Did you feel like you had something to prove tonight?

A: Yeah, I had something to prove tonight. I knew I had to ball. This is the last preseason game and I'm trying to make the roster.

Q: Are you happy with how you played with the two interceptions?

A: Yes, ma'am.

Q: Can you talk us through those two plays?

A: Coach was telling me all week to turn my head around on the deep ball, so I turned my head around and I just made a play on the ball. I became the receiver and made a play.

Q: And the second one?

A: The second one was the same thing, I turned my head around and made a play.

Q: How much better have you gotten on improving on the details of the game?

A: I felt like I improved every day. I go out to practice and work hard and just do what the coaches ask me to do.

Cornerback Cyrus Jones

Q: How did it feel to be out there the second week in a row?

A: It felt pretty good. Tomorrow will make a year since my injury. It's been a long process, I've put in a lot of work. A lot of people have helped me out along the way and it felt really good to get back out there through a whole game and see how my knee held up for a whole game. I thought it was a solid performance. Everybody came out and played hard and we got the win.

Q: Are you where you want to be a year since your injury?

A: That's a tough question. I mean when it happened, I didn't know where I wanted to be a year from now. I know I still wanted to be playing football. I have never had an injury like that so it was tough to gauge the process as far as rehab, where I should be at this month, where I should be at the next month, you know what I'm saying? All I can really do is rely on the expertise of all of the guys we got in our training staff and the coaches and everything else and do what I can control which was come to rehab and work hard every day. And once it was time for me to step back on to the field, just give it my all out there too and that's pretty much all I've been trying to do.

Q: How big was it for you to be able to play a whole game?

A: Yeah, I came in knowing I could, but it's just like until you do it, it's just like it's not confirmed to yourself. It feels good personally to be out there, get hit and make it the whole game even though I knew I would. Like I said before, it's still a good feeling just to be here talking to y'all, not getting treatment or something like that and just move on from there, keep building.

Q: Where would you say your trust is with your knee right now?

A: I would say I'm good to go. I felt good.

Q: Is there a mental block?

A: I would say last game, not a block, but I was thinking about it a little bit even though I might not have showed it. I felt pretty comfortable for the most part. Tonight I felt really comfortable out there and didn't really think about it much so just trying to build off of that.

Q: Are you happy with the work you've done these past couple of weeks?

A: Yeah, I mean I feel good about it. Like what Jason (McCourty) said, I'm going into my third year, so I've been in the league a couple of years and I know how it works. I know what this time is. So I'm not worried about it. It's in God's hands, you know what I'm saying? That's my faith so all I can do is control what's in my control and that's coming out here, being positive, coming out to practice every day, being positive and working hard. Try to help my teammates get better as well as myself and the rest is going to be what it's going to be.

Q: How did you feel in coverage tonight?

A: I felt pretty good. I felt like I covered really well tonight. Just tried to go out there and be consistent, not try to be superman or nothing like that. Just play my technique and go out there and put myself in position to make plays if they presented themselves and I felt like I had solid coverage the whole night.

Q: What was it like going through the rehab process with Julian (Edelman) as he suffered the same injury only a few weeks before you?

A: I mean it wasn't just Julian. It was Nate Ebner, (Jonathan) Jones, we were all together for a lot of the offseason, spent a lot of time in Foxboro. But it was good to have those guys around throughout the process just for the support. Them supporting me, me supporting them. It helped it go by a lot quicker. I'm sure if I was doing it by myself it would have seemed like a whole year I was rehabbing even though it was only five or six strong months that we were at it really hard. But no, it was great. We all leaned on each other. Me, Nate and Jules sharing advice about the knee injury and whatever and just checking in on each other, being there for each other, that's what being a teammate is.

Q: Do you feel like you've learned something about yourself over the past year going through this rehab?

A: Yeah for sure. I was distraught when it happened, but I feel like I've grown a lot from it, more so off the field than on the field just as a person and just taking the positives out of it. Once I had the opportunity to come back on the field, it just makes you appreciate playing the game more and going out there and cherishing every moment and just having the opportunity to put on a uniform. I'm a competitor, I want to go out there and have success, but that's not always going to happen. God's plan is bigger than mine, so I'm just grateful that I'm still here and able to play this game I've been playing my whole life.

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