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New England Patriots Postgame Transcripts 8/9

PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK

POSTGAME PRESS CONFERENCE
August 9, 2018

BB: I thought we gave a good, competitive effort in the second half. I thought there were a lot of guys that tried to play hard. Certainly there were a lot of mistakes in the game, a lot of things we need to work on. It's good to see us make some plays there in the second half. We played a lot of people. Obviously, we've got a lot of work to do. We'll evaluate how things went tonight and just move on to next week. It's always good to get started. We've got a long way to go. We've taken a couple of steps but we've got a lot of work to do. We'll just keep grinding it out through camp like we've been doing.

Q: Were you pleased with the improved tempo in the second half? Is that something you wanted to see?

BB: Yeah, we'll go back and take a look at it. I'm sure there were some good things and some not-so-good things throughout the game. The results were better. I'm not sure if that's reflective of everything. We'll take a look at it, but we've got a lot of work to do. I think there are some things to build on.

Q: You tried challenging a fumble at one point in the game. What was communicated from referee Brad Allen to you?

BB: Forward progress.

Q: Was that sort of like the play with Joe Flacco a couple of years ago?

BB: Yeah. I really couldn't challenge it because they ruled forward progress.

Q: Even without a whistle blown you aren't allowed to challenge it?

BB: Well, once it's forward progress the runner is down and so it doesn't matter what happens after that. I don’t think the runner was down, but if they ruled forward progress then it's not challengeable.

Q: How impressed were you with the running game tonight in the second half? How important was that for you to be able to chew up some clock there in the third quarter?

BB: Yeah, we were just trying to move the ball and get some first downs and get some production offensively. We didn’t really have any in the first half. We were able to do that and that settled the game down a little bit for us.

Q: How much development have you seen from Devin Lucien from when he first came in two years ago to now in this preseason?

BB: Yeah, Devin works hard, like he did for us – last year he got injured at the end of preseason, so we weren’t able to keep him on the practice squad because of the injury settlement and so forth. We were able to get him back this year and he's come in and worked hard, given us some good plays in practice, gave us some good plays tonight. We'll just keep going. He gained some experience in some other organizations. In the end, he's pretty familiar with what we do but I’m sure that being at those other places were good learning experiences for him.

Q: What went into the decision to start Brian Hoyer tonight and not give Tom Brady any reps?

BB: Some players played, some players didn't. We tried to play people we wanted to take a look at and give some reps to.

Q: Was it a good opportunity for Hoyer to get an extended look at quarterback and working with this offense?

BB: I mean, all of the guys that had an opportunity to play – they're all good opportunities.

Q: What did you like about how Brian Hoyer ran the offense tonight?

BB: Yeah, he did some good things. We didn’t have a lot of success offensively in the first half. We didn’t have any success on third down. It was a good possession before the half. He showed good poise and played some situational football there. Had more success in the second half. Again, there’s still a lot of things for us to work on, but there’s a few things to build on too. That’s about the way it usually is.

Q: Ja'Whaun Bentley got some reps as the defensive play caller tonight. What kind of progress have you seen from him in the mental aspect of his position?

BB: Yeah, Ja'Whaun's a smart kid, so the mental has never been an issue with him. We used multiple signal callers tonight, as we have in practice, but doing it in the game is a little bit different. The experience is different, so we had three, maybe even four, guys doing it over the course of the game. Again, obviously, we've had a lot of guys that have done it – [Dont'a] Hightower, [Kyle] Van Noy, Elandon Roberts, but we had some other guys get the chance to do it tonight too – Christian [Sam], Bentley. It's a good experience for them.

Q: When you brought Jeremy Hill in this offseason, was this the type of runner you hoped you'd be getting?

BB: Yeah, I think we have good depth and competition at running back. All of those guys have performed well in the spring, in training camp, and the ones that played tonight had an opportunity. Mike [Gillislee] and Jeremy both got a number of carries. Ralph [Webb] got carries too. I don’t know if we had 30 carries, but we must’ve had close to that, so it was a good opportunity for all of those guys to carry the ball a little bit, to have some contact, read blocks. Certainly our offensive line had a chance to come off on the ball and do some run blocking. That will help us in the evaluation of those players and also give us something to build on schematically from some corrections that we need to make or some things that we did well.

Q: How did you feel about the production of Ryan Allen and the kicking game tonight?

BB: Yeah, again, like everything, we did some decent things. There’s some things, obviously, we need to do better. That includes everybody – the kickers, the coverage people, blocking in the return game, the overall coordination of the return game. There were some good things but, again, we have a long way to go. We’ve got a lot of work to do but we're under way. Like I said, we’ll build off the things we did well and try to correct the things that we need to improve on.

Q: How valuable is it for the coaching staff to reinforce in a game like this that it's just going to take one play at a time to string things together and get back into the game?

BB: Yeah, well, obviously we didn’t do a very good job of that in the first half. The coaching staff, starting with me, we didn’t do as well as they did in the first half. It was good to see the players respond. It was good to see them play with, I’d say, more urgency, better execution, just an overall higher effort and performance level in the second half. That was good, but we've got to get it going a lot sooner than that. We can’t be down 17-0. We're not going to win many games doing it that way. We have to coach better, we have to play better, we have to have more production earlier in the game than we had tonight. But it was good to see us respond to a negative situation there, score at the end of the half, a score to start the third quarter, get a stop on defense, score again, two-point conversion, field goal at the end of the half. We had a couple of good situational series. We can teach off of that.

Q: Do you tend to get more out of evaluations during the games or from the practices? Are the games kind of a test after the preparation during the week?

BB: Yeah, everything. We evaluate everything, so it all counts.

Q: What have you seen from Ralph Webb in practice and what did you see from his performance tonight?

BB: I think that’s pretty much what we've seen from Ralph all the way through. That’s what he was like at Vanderbilt. He ran hard. He was tough. He’s not the biggest guy, but he’s got good strength for his size and he runs hard. He got hit a lot down there. He showed us that in the spring and in training camp. He’s a tough kid that runs with good pad level, he’s got good speed, he catches the ball well. He made a nice catch on the two-point play. It was not an easy – I wouldn’t say it was – it was a low ball. He made a good adjustment on the catch and got it in. He’s been kind of like that his whole – going all the way back to his freshman year and his career at Vanderbilt. He had a lot of production down there, ran hard, took a lot of hits, like all of the backs do in that conference. He’s given us that same type of effort. It was good to see him in game action be able to break some tackles, get downhill, get some tough yards. He’s done that plenty before.

QUARTERBACK BRIAN HOYER

POSTGAME PRESS CONFERENCE
August 9, 2018

Q: After the first half, how pleased were you with the second half and the adjustments that you made?

BH: It was definitely – you know, we started slow and it was good to get something going with that two-minute drive right before the half. And then to come back out and really be able to run the ball – that kind of made it a little bit easier in some other things and made some completions to stay alive and it was good. It was too slow of a start. You know, we have to be better. I think it was more just basic execution than anything else.

Q: What were you guys hoping to get out of tonight’s game?

BH: Well, I mean, anytime you go out there and play, you want to put your best foot forward. You want to win the game. So, I think being able to kind of weather the storm – like I said, it didn’t start great for us offensively – but to be able to kind of rally, I think, like I said, to get that two-minute drive going and get some points before halftime, give us a little momentum and then come back out and I think it was a 19-play drive. The O-line did a great job of kind of just mashing those guys and the running backs were hitting it, we made a few passes and take it all the way the down and score. I think – did we start on our 8-yard line on that one? We were pretty far back. So, I think to get some momentum going and you get things going and then you get the two-point conversation to take the lead – I mean, it’s just fun to play football again and to be out there and be in the stadium and play, really.

Q: Was there any confusion with the officiating tonight?

BH: Not that I remember.

Q: Compared to the last few seasons, do you feel like you have more clarity on what your role is coming into this season? Is that helpful?

BH: I mean, every season’s its own season. I think for me, it’s always about just doing what I can to prepare to play when I have the opportunity and to do whatever I can to help the team. So, look, this is my 10th training camp. I think I have that pretty well figured out – go out every day and just play the best I can.

Q: What did you see out of Ralph Webb tonight?

BH: Yeah, Ralph was exciting. I mean, the guy runs for that many yards in the SEC, he’s got to be a good player. I think we all saw that on the sideline. You could see the excitement from everybody else when he was running the ball and he made a great catch on the two-point conversion, and it’s always good to see a young guy take advantage of his opportunity when he gets that chance to play.

Q: How important is it for players like Devin Lucien to make plays when they’re given the opportunities?

BH: Well, just like we were talking about Ralph, when you get that opportunity, you want to take advantage of it. Luce had a few big catches in that two-minute drive and then also throughout the rest of the game. So, always good to see guys, when they have that opportunity, make the most of it.

Q: How did your running game open up your passing game?

BH: Yeah, the one thing I’ve learned over the years as a quarterback is when you can really get that run game going, it really keeps the defense on their heels. So, you get that going and then you get a few passes to mix it in and kind of keep them guessing of what it might be. Usually that creates the success that we had.

Q: How did it feel to get hit tonight and play more physically?

BH: Yeah, I mean, especially for quarterbacks, we don’t get touched during practice at all. So, to get back out there and take a few hits, you realize it’s football season. You know it’s back and it was great to go against a different team. Like you said, we’ve been going against our own team for two straight weeks. To go and play somebody else was great.

Q: When did you find out that you’d be starting and playing so much tonight?

BH: You know, they told me I was going to play and I didn’t know how long I was going to play for, and I think that’s the one thing that I’m used to here is you just never know. Even at the end of the game, I have to run back in there and Danny’s [Etling] helmet’s not working, so you always have to be ready to play. For me, I always enjoy the opportunity to get out there and play.

Q: Was there an attitude change at halftime? It looked like the tempo and everything about the approach was different.

BH: Yeah, definitely. Like I mentioned, I think to get something going right before the half, the two-minute drive – you know, you’re down there by your own end zone and you’re thinking, I think there was 50 seconds and we have one timeout, ‘Just try to get a positive play.’ And then we hit Devin on two big in cuts and get a field goal. I think that kind of jump started it a little bit. And, obviously, we came in at halftime and said, ‘Look, we’ve just got to go out and execute and do it one play at a time. There’s not going to be a magic play or a magic formation that we’re going to line up in. We’ve just got to go out and execute.’

Q: Do you relate to Ralph Webb as someone who came into the league as a rookie free agent? Have you given him any advance and can you relate to the situation he’s in?

BH: Yeah, totally. Like I said before, when you see a guy like that who you know is an undrafted guy who is getting those opportunities, it’s great to see him take advantage of it because you never know how many of those you’re going to get, and I can definitely relate to that, totally. That’s what the preseason is for is for guys like that to get those opportunities and see what they can make of them, and Ralph did a good job tonight.

Q: You got hit hard on one play...

BH: Yeah. Welcome back to football, right? Yeah, for sure.

Q: You got up slowly, but you got up.

BH: Yeah, you know that’s just part of the game. You know, you take hits and especially being a quarterback, you’ve got to be mentally and physically tough. It was definitely a good shot. He got a good shot. But you get back up and I think you try to show your team like, ‘Hey, look. Let’s go. We’re moving the ball. This isn’t going to slow us down.’

PATRIOTS PLAYERS

Julian Edelman, WR

(On the first preseason game)

"It just was fun, the nerves were juiced and I was just excited to get out there and get to play football."

(On not catching any passes)

"It was just good to get out there and hit guys and have guys around you cutting on turf, so it was definitely a fun step."

(On getting back into the game)

"You are always trying to get back into it. I think I am better than last week so I am trying to go out there and get them a little more this week."

Danny Etling, QB

(On being a rookie quarterback)

"I have just been trying to learn the offense and go from there. It is so much you have to keep working on as a rookie and I keep finding out that you can see guys like [Tom Brady] and how they have been successful like that and try to follow in their footsteps. I definitely watch what they do and try to apply it to myself."

(On three weeks building up to the season)

"It is too early to tell. I really have only been through two weeks of preseason and I really have just trying to improve every day. I have given my Coach [Bill Belichick] the confidence that I know what I am supposed to do and how I am supposed to do it."

(On being part of a comeback win)

"It is a great feeling to be a part of that no matter what the circumstance is just as long as it is football and you come back and see how great the guys and the team [did]. The coach has been doing a great job of going out there and making adjustments and I think that’s a testament to the people in this building."

(On the feeling of getting onto an NFL field for the first time)

"It kind of helped letting everything settle in the first three quarters but it was a pretty surreal feeling because you work your whole life for this one moment; to run out there and throw your first pass. It is an accumulation of a lot of hard work."

Geneo Grissom, DL

(On his fumble recovery)

"It was a great play by Trent [Harris]. We practice picking up fumbles every day so just try to make it happen and work out."

(On his near score)

"It's not even my call. I'm just glad I was able to make the play."

(On the sense of urgency in preseason games)

"I think we're all just trying to strive for the same goal. We're all working together to make the team. We're trying to build a brotherhood."

Ralph Webb, RB

(On scoring two second-half touchdowns)

"I'm just blessed to be able to have the opportunity to come out here and play. A lot of people can't come out here and do the things that we do. I'm just happy to have a team win."

(On his extended playing time)

"I'm just making the most of whatever opportunities I get. Just trying to do everything the coaches coach me up to do and do it to the best of my ability."

(On training camp so far)

"You know, every day is different. Just got to approach the day, be where your feet are. Whether that's in the practice or in meetings just be locked in mentally and physically."

(On learning from mistakes)

"It's definitely a learning process, you know it's a learning curve. I’m catching on as fast as I can. The running backs, the coaches, the guys, have done a great job coaching me up and bringing me up to their speed."

(On the excitement of scoring two touchdowns and two two-point conversions)

"It's exciting just to win. I'm just excited to get this win with my team. Doing everything I can to just help us win and playing to the best of my ability."

(On learning from the veteran running backs)

"Oh, these guys do a great job of coaching me up. I'm learning everything from them. We got a great group of backs, a lot of guys that have been here. A lot of experience and those guys are doing a great job of taking me under their wing."

(On playing in the NFL for the first time)

"It's a dream come true. I've been working my whole life for this, to come out here and get a chance to compete. I'm just happy and I'm blessed to be able to be here and say that I did it."

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