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New England Patriots Postgame Transcripts 9/1

New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick and select players comment on their preseason game against the New York Giants on Thursday, September 1, 2016.


OPENING STATEMENT:We obviously have to look at a lot of players tonight. Another step in the process of getting ready for the season, Arizona next week. We can now turn the page on some tough decisions that we have to make over this weekend. But we'll kind of grind through it, try to do what we think is best and start getting ready for Arizona.

Q:What did you think of Mingo's play tonight?

A: I think I'll have to look at it on tape; there were a lot of guys out there.

Q:He seemed to play all over the place. Was that the goal, to get him lots of different experience tonight?

A:We had a couple things for him to do. We'll see how it goes. 

Q:How did you think Chris Hogan progressed in the offense in the preseason?

A: He's learning. It's different for him, but he's working hard. He's a good kid, he's out there every day working hard. So he's getting better.

Q: A different challenge the next four games? Do you look at it like that?

A:We'll do the same thing we do every week. We'll do the best we can and put the best team out on the field against the next opponent, I don't know what else we can do.

Q:Is there any special challenge or difficulty that you see?

A:There are challenges every week. Every team in the league, good players, good coaches. Arizona is one of the best teams in the league, so there'll be a lot of challenges with them. 

Q:Unusual situation with Tom Brady out there so late in the game, having the second and third offensive lines out there. How would you assess their play? Did you have any hesitation in keeping him out there and protecting him?

A:We got a lot of people an opportunity to play like the guys that played and they benefited from them. 

Q:You have some difficult decisions to make. How difficult is cut down day for you?

A:It's always hard. You bring 90 players to camp, and end up with 53. That's 37 guys. Some way, somehow, you can't keep (them all). These guys have worked really hard; they've done everything that we've asked them to do. They've put a lot of sweat, a lot of effort into it, but we know the National Football League is very competitive. We all know what we signed up for. Personally, it's tough, sure. It's tough to tell a guy that you can't be on the team when he did everything that you asked him to do. But, unfortunately, that's the way it is.

Q: How would you evaluate what you saw out of Jacoby Brissett out there in the second half?

A: I'll take a look at it on the film. I'll probably make a better determination. He's made steady progress for us. 

Q:When you go into a game like this, do you go in knowing that Tom will play the whole first half, or is that a feel thing?

A: It was pretty much the plan tonight.

Q:When it comes to the roster cuts, is it more difficult to make those decisions when you have two players that might play the same position, but are totally different styles?

A: Could be. It's not apples to apples now, but I think anytime you get down to the roster, those final cuts, you're going to have those guys. You have guys that compete on one side of the ball, compete with guys on the other side of the ball, for depth, special teams and so forth. So, everybody has skills, everybody has things that they can do. Just trying to find the best mix, putting the best team together and that's challenging. No matter whether it's the same position, different position, it still comes back down to the same thing. You can't have depth everywhere; you have to pick where you want it. Where you don't have it, you have to be ready to get it somewhere else. Whether that's on the practice squad or emergency players where they aren't on the roster, in which they'll be thousands of them available this weekend, and then practice squad will gobble up 350 or how many guys it is. There will be a pool of 700 players out there for them; emergency group that all the teams will have to draw from. 

Q: It's been eight years since you played a meaningful game without Brady? How strange will it feel for you a week from Sunday?

A: I don't know.

Q: How would you evaluate the depth at the wide receiver position?

A:We've got a lot of guys out there competing. We'll see how it all comes out.

Q: D.J. Foster obviously didn't play in the first two preseason games and was kind of in and out of practice. You got a long look today. Do you think you now have enough on him to make a good decision there at running back?

A:We know a lot more now than we knew two weeks ago, so that's part of it. 

Q: How beneficial can it be for Tom (Brady) to get exposure to a lot of different players? What's part of the benefit of him playing the entire first half?

A:I don't know. That's a good question.

Q: When you're deciding on (Tom) Brady playing the first half, how do you balance yourself with the idea of "we don't want him to get hurt" and needing him to get the game action, as a coach?

A:Well, you can't take insurance out on players. If you play football, then you play football. I don't know how you get better at playing football without playing football. You can stand around and talk about it all day, (but) I don't really think that makes you a better player. At some point, you've got to get out there and play. You tell me.

Q: Was this a game where you gave some of your assistant coaches, other than the coordinators, a chance to call any parts of the game?

A:We did a few things different with the staff.

Q: Are you impressed that (Barkevious) Mingo has stepped in and picked things up so quickly?

A: He's a smart kid. He learned well, we saw that on the practice field. We'll look at the tape and see how it all went. But it doesn't appear that learning's going to be an issue with him.

Q:Mingo's work ethic and spending time with the coaches in the film room—would you say that that was a reason for his ability to adjust so well tonight?

A: Yes, he's spent a lot of time. He lived in the facility for the last week. He didn't go back to Cleveland, he came from Tampa where they were practicing, went to Carolina and came back with us. The players had an off day and (he) spent the whole day in the facility with the coaches going through the material to get caught up. He showed a lot of commitment to trying to pick up the new information, tried to understand what we were doing watching the films and games that we've played to understand the techniques of how we're playing. He worked really hard, took a lot of plays in practice to get somewhat comfortable with what we were doing. It's obviously going to be a work in progress here. It's only been a week but, like I said, he's smart, he learns well and he works hard. Check all those boxes.

Q: You've spoken in the past about (Jimmy) Garopolo's physical toughness. In your experience in the league when a young quarterback has the willingness to absorb punishment and bounce back, how much did that serve as a foundation or spring forward the rest of his developing skills in a game?

A:I think it's something you have to have. You're going to get hit in this league at that position—that's all there is to it. It's not like baseball where you wind it up and throw it up however you want to throw it. You've got guys coming and trying to hit the quarterback on every play and you've got to stand there and make those throws and take hits. That's part of the position. Any quarterback that's ever played in this league will tell you that. I think that's an important characteristic to have. If a guy's gun shy back there, it's going to be hard to complete a lot of tough passes.

QB Tom Brady

Q: I wanted to ask you about after the game, with Odell [Beckham Jr.].


Q: What happened there? Did you give him your jersey? What does that mean to you?

A:Yeah, I promised him a jersey last year and I forgot, so he came over and gave me his.

Q:You gave him yours. Did you have it with you at that time?

A: No, I brought it inside. We have a little different team policy. He's a great young player and I always like watching him, so this is the kind of thing you do these days in the NFL.

Q: Two questions. Did you expect to play the entire first half and did you enjoy the opportunity to be out there for that extended period? Secondly, […] detachment now coming up for a month.

A:I'm happy I was able to play as much as I did. Coach [Bill Belichick] and I talked about it and it was a good opportunity to get out there and play. I hadn't played much in the preseason, so just to get out there and feel out some game action - we did a decent job of moving the ball and then turned the ball over too many times. With one half football, you're never going to score many points. A bit frustrating, but hopefully all our guys can learn from it and we've got to do a lot better job next week against Arizona. It'll be a big challenge for our team.

Q:You're going to be gone for four games. Uncharted waters […]

A:I think that's a good word, uncharted. So we'll just do the best we can do.

Q:Talk about the couple of plays you made out there, the one to Keshawn Martin, the touchdown pass and the run that you had, slid on.

A: Keshawn did a great job kind of springing free there and it ended up being an easy play. It was good to get in the end zone, it always feels good when you're able to move the ball and then finish your drive, so I thought it was really good. And then the scramble, kind of covered everybody and hopefully I can make a few of those plays. At least I wanted to be a little bit of a threat out there, I know I'm never going to be Russell Wilson, but if I can make one or two of those a game, I think that helps us out a little bit.

Q: Do you think the work you got tonight and last week against [the] Carolina [Panthers] is going to translate at all when you come back in October? Do you think it's going to help you get through this four weeks when you come back?

A: I think it all helps. The practices are a little important, but ultimately the game decisions and getting hit and - it's all about decision making as quarterback. You try to replicate that in practice, but at the end of the day, it's got to be game situations and real football. That's what these games allow you to do. I know there are a lot of guys that are trying to get ready for the season, and I'm just happy to get out there and play more than usual tonight. Wish we'd have done a better job in the first half, but there was a lot of good learning.

Q:Tom, are you going to watch the games and how difficult will it be for you?

A: I'm not… I'm sure I'll be very curious and watching it at some level, you know, so we'll see. I have never dealt with it, so we'll see.

Q:But you do plan on watching it?

A: I hope so, yeah.

Q:Tom, what about the play of the offensive line tonight? Nate [Solder] goes out early, Cameron [Fleming] comes in late, LaAdrian [Waddle] came in as well.

A:They did a great job. I mean I think those guys have been the real strength of our team all camp and I think they're so well coached, so well prepared, and this is when it all comes together. The team gets cut down quite a bit and that unit really starts to gel and you know the best teams that we've had, the best offenses have always had the best offensive lines and that's the way it all starts for an offense and you run the ball, protect the quarterback and that's a critical element to every game - control the line of scrimmage, and I mean our guys do a great job of that.

Q: What have you seen of Chris Hogan so far in this preseason? 

A: Well, Chris has worked really hard to establish a good role for himself and he continues to make great plays when you give him the ball, so you know you've got to find ways to keep doing that. He's obviously a guy who's played in the NFL. He's made plays against us when he was playing for [the] Buffalo [Bills] and you know, I think that the whole team's counting on him, so this is when it all starts. This is the time of year when you've got to be at your best and you've got to take all of the lessons you've learned from the offseason and from training camp and start applying them, start putting them to use and then see what you can make of it and I know we've got a tough way to start on Sunday night, but I have a lot of confidence our team will be ready to go.

Q: Is there a message you'll try to convey to everybody as a group before you leave or is there one thing you want them to remember for the month?

A: I think, you know, our coaches do such a great job of that. And like I said the other day, we have so many great leaders on our team that have always stepped in and filled the void. Coach [Bill] Belichick does a great job getting the team prepared and motivated and they're going to understand what they need to do in order to win. I'll be cheering like hell, so I know our fans do that, too. I don't know how much that helps us win, but, you know, that's what you do when you're watching.

Q: Tom, you've known about the suspension, obviously, for a while now, but to now be on the cusp of it. Is it a sad time? Is there an emotion attached to it?

A: I haven't thought about it much, so I always take it as it comes, just do the best I can do. Thank you, guys.

DB Devin McCourty

Q: Now that the preseason is over, how is it knowing that you will be playing for real?

A: Yeah, I mean it's a bittersweet kind of feeling. I think everybody's ready for the regular season, but these guys that you grow close with, and grow close as a team, and just the numbers getting cut down. Every team has to do it, but it's always a tough time over these next couple of days, but it's exciting. We're all ready for the regular season - to go out there in the games and have them be real. I think we've prepared well. We've done the things we need to do, and now it's about going out and playing well.

Q: How much do you feel for Tom Brady, knowing that he has to walk away now?

A: It's tough, but I think if it's a guy that you know will be able to handle it and do everything that he can to keep finding ways to improve, it's him. [He's] the oldest guy on the team - our best player, so I know he's going to be doing everything, and, as a team, we're going to be doing everything we have to do to go out there and win. It'll be exciting, and obviously we can't wait for his return; that'll be great, but I think right now, we understand that as a team we have to go out there and play the way that he motivates us to play, the way that he leads us to play. Guys just got to step up.

Q: Were you guys as impressed with [Barkevious] Mingo as we were upstairs? It was like he was flying around all over the place tonight.

A:Yeah, I mean, and he hasn't had much time here. Obviously, there were a couple days of practice, but a day short of a real practice week, as usual, but he flew around out there, and that's exciting to see. Obviously, he's very athletic - rushing the passer or making tackles all over the field. It's exciting to see what he will do with two weeks with the defense. I know he seems very happy to be here, so we've just got to keep improving and I know he'll keep working and try to get out there and make plays.

Q:Just from a teammate's perspective, is that just his (Mingo) football IQ? How did he pick up the system and move around? I mean, he was playing outside linebacker, inside linebacker - how did he pick up the system so quickly?

A:I think a little bit of it is just his football instincts and being a player, but here, he got in and he was meeting with coaches all day and night. So if you get here, you're going to learn something right away. I think he did a good job of picking things up. Like you said, it's hard to come in and learn one position and be able to move around on the defense in a game where you've only got three or four days of learning and two days actually on the field practicing. It's tough, but I think he did a great job. It's promising for him being able to learn and play multiple positions for us.

Q:You guys had a first half shutout last week - didn't allow any points, and played really well through three series tonight. Do you feel like the first defense has really started to create some momentum going into the season opener?

A:Yeah, but like I always say, it doesn't matter if we don't go out there and do it against Arizona. I think we understand how we need to prepare and practice to be able to come out here and play well, so it's a good group. We've got some veteran guys, we've got some young guys, and I think we mesh well, but I think the important part of the actual momentum is us having a good understanding of what we need to do to go out there and play well. It's about putting it in. I think now we've got some extra days that we've really got to try to get a jump on Arizona and be as prepared as possible. Obviously, the first game is always tricky. There's not much film to work with. You try to look at last year. You try to look at the preseason, but it's always some new thing when you go out there. I think the experience we have as a group and how we've played, we've got to use that to our advantage.

Q:Tom Brady talked about a lot of leaders being here and that he feels good that it's in capable hands. You, as one of the leaders, do you feel any extra responsibility when he's gone to kind of step up any differently?

A:I won't say differently. I think obviously with him missing, it's just me, or Rob Ninkovich, or Julian Edelman, or [Rob] Gronk[owski] - I don't think one guy can step up and say "I'm going to do Tom's , too." I think it's all of the guys that have been here a while - the Matt Slater's, the Brandon Bolden's, Nate Ebner - all of the guys that have been leaders in either offense, defense, or special teams, all stepping up to kind of add a piece of Tom's role onto their roles. I think as a group, we have a very strong leadership group and I think we have guys on this team that maybe people won't consider leaders and are leaders - they lead in different ways. I think it's going to be a true team effort to try to replace what he's built here and what he's been able to do, week in and week out. I think even a young guy like Jimmy [Garopolo] - he's shown great leadership every time he's been on the field, and practicing and being prepared each week. I'm excited. I think we've got a good group and we just have to go play.

Q: In your time around [Jimmy] Garopolo, what specific things have you seen that inspires belief that you guys are going to be okay for the first four games?

A:I just think he's a guy that's come in and worked hard. He's prepared and he's done everything that every other player has done here. A guy like Malcolm Butler that started playing and you're confident in him - I look at Jimmy the same way. He's a guy who's come in and you never had a reason to doubt him, so I don't think you need to blow it out of proportion and try to think he needs to do all these great things. I think what he's done is be a young player that has been eager to learn and get out there. Every time he gets out there, he improves, and I think that's not just him, but all the young guys on our team. It's just the environment here in New England - it breeds competition and getting better, or you won't be here. That's the key thing - I think Jimmy's like every other young guy where if you give him the opportunity to play, I think he's ready and he showed it.

Linebacker Barkevious Mingo

Q: Could you ever have imagined playing as much as you did this quickly into the season? 

A:I did not, I knew I needed some reps to get a feel for the defense and just get comfortable every day. 

Q: You showed good stamina because they had you running all over the place. 

A:Yeah, (special) teams, defense, but it was good to get out there with the guys and just get in on defense and on special teams. 

Q: Was there some level of excitement to get out there? 

A: Definitely. It's a new team and these guys want to see what I can do, I want to see what I can do in this defense. 

Q: Do you feel like you picked the playbook up pretty quickly? 

A: There is still a lot more to go, but I feel like I got a good jump start and I am ready to get back into it for this week. 

Q: It got turned over by the penalty, but you got out there and made a forced fumble. How did that feel? 

A: It felt real good, just to be out there and help the team and do what I can do to help us be victorious at the end of the day. 

Q: We know you can do several different things but when you can pin your ears back and get after the quarterback, is that something you love doing? 

A: Definitely, that is what I came into the league doing and that is definitely something I still think I can do, I love it. 

Q: There was one play where you took on the pulling guard, you bounced off him and stood him up then made the play behind the line of scrimmage. Do you feel like that was a good show of all your variety of skills? 

A: Definitely, I mean at this position you are asked to do a lot of stuff and that is one of them and being able to take on those big guys behind the line of scrimmage is one of those things. 

Q:How many positions do you think you played tonight? 

A: A lot. 

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