BILL BELICHICK, HEAD COACH
BB: Well, this is a really satisfying win. I thought that this whole week our coaching staff, let's start with them, did a tremendous job. Josh [McDaniels], Matt Patricia, Joe Judge - did a great job. Jerry Schuplinski with Jacoby [Brissett], just how hard they worked to prepare the team to get them ready, and then how committed the players were. We came in here Monday after the Miami game and just turned the page and got on to the Texans. We really asked a lot out of the team this week. They responded. They never batted an eye. We got great leadership from our captains; a lot of our veteran players. Everybody just got on bored and stepped up. So, just really proud of the way that these guys competed. I thought that we tried to do what we wanted to do for 60 minutes. Houston's a good football team. You know how much respect I have for Coach [Bill] O'Brien and their staff and their players. Just so proud of the way our guys competed and just tried to do everything that we asked them to do and they really worked hard at it. I'm just happy for the success that they had tonight. The coaching staff just did a tremendous job this week. Good to win and we'll be moving on pretty quickly from this one, but we'll be able to enjoy it here for a little while. It's a good win.
Q: Was the plan all along to use Rob Gronkowski mostly as a blocker from the tight end position due to the strength of Houston's defensive line?
BB: Yeah, we did quite a bit of that.
Q: How do you think Jacoby Brissett handled himself overall and what did it mean to you when he handed his first touchdown ball to you?
BB: I think he handled himself great last week, this week, all week, every day. He's done nothing but come in here and work as hard as he possibly can - when we had three quarterbacks - to take his opportunities and learn from the other two guys, when it was him and Jimmy [Garoppolo] and then this week it was pretty much all him. He's just a hard working kid that is really dedicated to doing what's right for the team and trying to improve on anything that you tell him. He just wants to do what the coach tells him to do. I'm glad we have him. Yeah, I was just holding the ball for him. That's his ball. That's his first touchdown ball, so that'll go up on his trophy [case].
Q: So you gave him the ball back?
BB: Yeah, of course; just like I did with Troy Brown and Asante Samuel and those other guys.
Q: This victory puts you into a fourth place tie on the all-time wins list with Curly Lambeau. What does that accomplishment mean to you?
BB: Well, I mean, you know how much respect I have for Curly Lambeau and what he accomplished in his great career, but really today's not about me. This is about our team. It's about our players, it's about our assistant coaches and about the job that they did. I wouldn't really want anything to deflect the credit that they deserve for what they accomplished tonight.
Q: What did you think of the role your special teams played tonight?
BB: Tremendous, tremendous. Field position was phenomenal. It seemed like they had to go 90 yards every time they had the ball. Our kickoff team, once again, came up big with field positon; two turnovers. That's a very aggressive unit. I think Joe [Judge] and Bubba [Ray Ventrone] have done a great job. They have a lot of leadership on that unit, a lot of pride. We punted well, we covered well, we covered our kicks well, we had a couple of chances in the return game, we converted our scoring opportunities. The entire special teams unit, the coaching staff, they did a tremendous job tonight. We obviously needed that tonight and they really delivered it.
Q: What did you think of the full 60 minute effort your team gave tonight in comparison to their effort last Sunday versus Miami?
BB: Well, it really wasn't stressed during the week, it was stressed at the end of the week. We spent the three days - Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday - really trying to talk about what we needed to do, how to execute it and so forth and how we needed to play against the Texans. And then really from this morning, a little bit last night, but really this morning just about how disciplined we needed to be to continue to play that way against the Texans for 60 minutes. We talked about it in the locker room before the game. We talked about it at halftime and these guys did it. They never lost focus. They played the game exactly the way we asked them to play it. I mean it wasn't perfect, I'm not saying that. They tried to do what we wanted them to do, and as a coach you just can't ask for any more than that so they did a great job of it.
Q: What are the keys, both for the players and the coaching staff, to hit on to make sure each week that the team is able to go out and do what you've asked of them?
BB: You know really it's all about the players. It's all about the players. We gave them a lot of new things. We ran some plays that we haven't run all year. We put them in and walked through them. We never got a chance to really run them, and a couple of those hit big. Defensively we tried to do some things that we just didn't even practice them. All we could do was walk through them. It's just not the same as repping them, but they understood. Again, they're a smart group. They're an astute group. They understood how it needed to try and fit against the Texans and then we got out there on the field and they executed it very well tonight. Just a tremendous credit to those guys - the players on the scout team, our defensive and offensive scout teams, to try and replicate the Texans' plays so we could at least walk through them. Again, we didn't really run them at any tempo but at least we walked through and they give us a great look, and some of the communication that we needed to be able to execute those plays was really as a result of the scout team giving us the opportunity to practice it, and if we made a mistake correct it in practice and get it right tonight. So, it was really a great, great team effort over the last four days. The guys that played, a lot of guys that didn't play, like I said, the coaching staff, not just the coordinators, the assistant coaches. We had a lot of guys really work hard this week. It's gratifying to see those kinds of results. Not that we don't work hard every week but this is a tough week.
Q: How difficult is it preparing for this game on short rest coming off of a physical game last Sunday versus Miami?
BB: Yeah, well again, I think you give the credit to the players. It wasn't just the X's and O's. It was getting the treatment, the rest, all of the recovery and things that we do to help our performance. Again, they really did a lot of extra things on that; a lot of the extra tools that we have around here to help them with that. These guys were in early. They stayed late. They did extra things to try to get back out there. We had a lot of guys tonight play that were banged up from Sunday but you know they fought through it, and they work really hard to recover and come back and play on this quick turnaround. Again, it's just a ton of credit to those guys. Not just the mental game plan preparation but the physical preparation. They all wanted to be out there. They all tried. Everybody didn't play. We had to make some guys inactive but you know everybody really worked hard to get back out there. Some of them made it and some of them didn't but they worked as hard as they could to be out there for us. You can't ask any more than that.
Q: How can you find Jacoby's strengths each week and what he can do in the offense that is different than what the other quarterbacks can do?
BB: Yeah, well every player has different strengths than another player. That's just I think part of coaching. Try to put players into positon where they can do things that they do well, and the things that players don't do well then they worked on to improve. Sometimes those become good enough to do. Sometimes you stay away from them and do something else. I think Jacoby and Jimmy this year have both shown that they can do a lot of things well. There are certainly a lot of things they can improve on, but you know, they've had plenty of opportunities in a lot of different situations. They've made a lot of good plays; not perfect. And again, there are a lot of things that they can still work on and get better and they will because those guys work hard. Jacoby worked so hard to improve on some of the things from the Miami game, so I give them a lot of credit for that.
Q: Can you ever recall entering a game with one quarterback in all of your years coaching?
BB: Not right off the top of my head.
Q: Did anything stand out to you about the energy in the stadium and the enthusiasm of the fans?
BB: Yeah, it was good.
Q: How did only having one quarterback affect the play calling? Did it place an emphasis on having Jacoby slide or run out of bounds when necessary?
BB: Like on the touchdown run?
Q: Can you talk a bit about the performance of the special teams unit and in particular Brandon Bolden's role in causing some turnovers in that phase of the game?
BB: Yeah, you can go right down the line - [Nate] Ebner, Bolden, Jonathan Jones, [Jonathan] Freeny, [Matthew] Slater, Brandon King, [Duron] Harmon, Justin Coleman. You can just keep rattling them off; Clay Harbor. We had a lot of guys play good; a lot of guys play good in that phase of the game. And that's what it takes. One guy can't cover kicks, one guy can't protect for the punter. You've got to have an entire team to do that. It's got to be coordinated. Everybody has to play off of each other and work with their lanes and leverage and we've got to block all of the guys that rush the punt, not just one guy, so you've got to give credit to the entire unit. Again, great leadership from Matt, Nate, Brandon Bolden, certainly Joe and Bubba as the coaches. It was a tremendous performance by the kicking game - on the kicking game.
Q: Was it stressed tonight for Jacoby to play smart seeing as you didn't have another quarterback on the roster?
BB: Look, we coach the way that we coach. We have coaching points on everything and players usually try to follow the instruction that we give them. These guys are really good at that. They have the parameters. They know what they've been instructed to do and in the end they do what's best for the team. They have to make those decisions; when to throw it, when to run it, when to go out of bounds, when to stay inbounds, when to cut block, when to stay up. They have parameters, they have guidelines, and then they have to make decisions to help the team win and that's what we count on them to do. That's why we win, because players make good decisions, players play well.
Q: What does it say about how good your team is when you're able to win with your third-string quarterback?
BB: I don't know. Right now we just have to get ready for Buffalo. I don't know how good we are. We've just got to get ready for buffalo. That'll be a big challenge for us. We were good enough to win tonight. I don't know if it will be good enough next week.
DEVIN MCCOURTY, DEFENSIVE BACK
Q: How good was it to make such big improvements as a defense from the second half of Sunday's game to the performance tonight?
DM: It was huge. You walk away from a game with a win, but I think as a secondary we were disappointed in the way we played - I don't even want to say last week - a couple days ago. It was big for us. We knew we had a big challenge. They convert a lot of deep balls and have two really good receivers that can take you vertical, so the game plan was simple, just don't give them the big plays. Make them try to drive it down the field. Make it tough for them. We were able to make some plays with Logan [Ryan] Malcolm [Butler], Cyrus [Jones] - those guys at corner played great. Even [Patrick] Chung went down there and was playing some corner, so we just did a good job of executing the game plan exactly how we wanted to and that led us to a win.
Q: How did you make accomplish those improvements on a short week?
DM: It was all about mental. It was our mentality. Obviously, weeks like this, you don't really practice. It was all walk-throughs, so it was guys talking about everything. It's crazy, sometimes in those walk-throughs, you get more done just in a sense where you go through a ton of plays, and I think in our secondary we have a lot of guys who have played a lot of football, so things that we see in the walk-through and we're talking about, 'Hey, full speed, do this, do that. I'm going to be here, I'm going to there.' I think that allowed us to see a lot of different looks and talk about it, and I think guys were responsible. We were accountable to each other while watching the film, putting in a ton of work, and in the couple days that we had to prepare - it showed tonight. I think when you have a short week and the coaching staff comes in here and they put the pressure on us to out-perform and out-work the other team on a short week, because both teams have a short week. I thought we rose to that challenge of preparing and being ready to go.
Q: With a rookie quarterback in the starting role, does that put more pressure on the defense not knowing what the offense will be able to do?
DM: Not really, I think you've got to just play defense. Even if you feel added pressure, you can't do anything different. You have a game plan, you have to execute it. The one thing you've got to do is that if you get turnover opportunities, you have to take advantage. Jamie's [Collins] interception was huge, the special teams plays we got forcing fumbles and recoveries were huge. But we knew Jacoby [Brissett] was going to be all right. We knew our offense was going to be OK. We knew they were going to come in here, do what they had to do offensively, and all we had to do was keep getting them the ball back, and that's really our focus each week. We went out there and tried to execute at a high level.
Q: What are your thoughts on the role of special teams and the two forced fumbles?
DM: It was huge. I've never been on another team, but here we put a lot of work into special teams. We meet a lot, we have guys like Matt Slater, Steve Gostkowski, Nate [Ebner], those guys are leaders on special teams and they get guys going. They let guys know where they need to be. [Brandon] Bolden coming in there and forcing that first fumble - it's an attitude playing special teams and I think we have core guys that go out there and lead, and then everyone else just follows. It always looks good when we do that because it shows that the work that we put in on special teams pays off.
Q: How gratifying was it for you as a defensive unit to hold them without any plays in the red zone?
DM: It's big. Coach [Bill Belichick] always talks about points in the biggest thing on defense. Keep them off the board, don't let them score points. No matter what happens in the game, if you hold a team to zero points, you've got a good chance to win. Defensively, I thought we just came out and we did our job. We let the offense do their job, kept getting them the ball, and it turned out to be a good winning formula.
MATTHEW SLATER, WIDE RECEIVER
Q: How gratifying was tonight's win considering the role special teams played but also the overall team victory?
MS: You're absolutely right, it was a team victory. I think every phase of the game, we did what we needed to do to come out with the win, but obviously, I'm very proud of the way we performed in the kicking game. We spent a lot of time doing that and we don't get a ton of credit all the time because we're out there on a handful of snaps during the game, but on a night like tonight when things come together and Clay [Harbor] and Brandon [Bolden] and Nate [Ebner] make plays like that, it's huge for our team. It's hard for an opponent to overcome that when they're able to make those plays, so it was a big boost for us tonight. We're obviously thrilled with the outcome. I can't say enough good things about the unit and how we played together, and then obviously, [special teams coach] Joe Judge and [assistant special teams coach] Ray [Ventrone] for getting us prepared the way they did.
Q: As a special teams unit, were the walk-throughs more productive for you guys over the last couple of days?
MS: Certainly. I think communication is a bigger factor for us than a lot of people may realize, and I think we were able to spend a lot of time mentally getting reps. Joe [Judge] and Ray [Ventrone] had some good beats on some of the things they were doing. We knew Larry [Izzo] was going to have his unit ready to play for us, but we were able to come out and execute at a high level, so it was big for us.
Q: When was the last time you saw a punting performance like the one Ryan Allen had tonight?
MS: That was unbelievable. I don't think they had any return yards tonight. They fair caught everything and I can't say enough good things about what he did tonight. I know he was feeling good, I know he's been chomping at the bit to come out and have a great game, and I think he did exactly that.
Q: What does it say about Bill Belichick's ability to prepare players when you're down to your third quarterback and can still go out and have a game like this?
MS: I can't say enough about Coach [Bill Belichick]. It's been an honor to play here and work with him the last nine years. I've said several times that I think he's one of the best coaches, not only in football, but in all of pro sports. You saw that, along with his staff, his staff did a great job as well. Any time you're on your third quarterback, it's not the best situation a lot of times, but Jacoby [Brissett] handled it great. The moment wasn't too big for him, and as you said, the coaches had him prepared, and we came out and played well as a team.
Ryan Allen, Punter
(On directional punting)
"I think when push comes to shove it's very situational. At the end of the day I think some of that is field position too. I mean if the offense moves us into, you know, the midfield, that gives us an opportunity to pin their offense back. So they don't do that, even if we hit a field punt, you can hit it 50-60 yards but they're still almost close to the midfield. So like I said we touched up on it earlier it's called football at the end of the day."
(On his anticipated role tonight)
"Really at the end of the day there has been times where I, I think I've learned that. Steve and I have talked a little bit about that. You never really know how games are going to go. There's sometimes at the beginning of the game we'll make a comment or two about how we feel, where we're at as a team right before we play and we're totally wrong most of the time. So you just really like assume you never really that'll get you anywhere and you have to just be prepared and when you're called go out there and do the best you can. So I think it was a good collective effort tonight."
(On media members considering him an X-factor)
"Well the defense played lights out, Jacoby [Brissett] and the offense, LeGarrette [Blount] ran great. It's a collective effort. It was a great team win."
David Andrews, Center
(On blocking for LeGarrette Blount)
"It was fun to block for all our backs. They've all got special talents, they're all different. And you know, so it fun to block, you know, for the receivers, look up and see them running downfield, look up and see LeGarrette, James White on a screen or whatever it may be. So whoever is back there it's always fun, you block to see those guys run, and throw touchdowns and catch touchdowns. So whoever's doing it gets the special accolades."
(On the offense's conditioning this week)
"Oh yeah, you know, they're a great football team, great competitors. You know, I know I worked really hard this offseason and you can tell a lot of people worked really hard, and all of those little things add up. You know you don't think they do but, all the workouts and conditioning runs, whatever it may be, they all kind of add up."
(On Jacoby Brissett's poise)
"I think Jacoby has done a great job but, you know, to me, you know, it's our job to go out there and move the ball no matter what. So we did that I think, you know, we can allow those guys to be comfortable so that's what we just try to do as we block. Do our job and the rest will take care of itself."
Martellus Bennett, Tight End
(On the game)
"It was fun. I had a lot of fun tonight. I'm kind of like the leader of fun of the team. You know, there are a bunch of dudes that do different stuff on the team, I'm like the leader of fun. So my job is to make sure we're having a good time and keeping the energy up.
(On the team's response of the challenge of playing on a short week)
"I thought that Jacoby [Brissett] did a good job preparing, we were never really worried about that, everybody was just trying to focus on what's my responsibility. You know, a short week is like, Thursday games are really about getting your body right and just playing football. You know, we're going to put the game plan together but it's really just about going out there and having fun and just playing old school football. Getting with the guys and kind of know what you're doing and trying to execute to the best of your ability, but it's really just about playing football."
(On Brissett's performance)
"He played very well. We have confidence in all of our Quarterbacks and in the way we prepare and the coaches do a great job preparing these guys. You know, every day Jacoby comes to work just like he's a starter and he just prepares and he plays. Whatever his responsibility is that week, he goes out there and does it to the best of his ability. We're never really worried about that. We all just try to do our job to make his job easier."
(On playing with Rob Gronkowski)
"It's very fun; me and Gronk have a great relationship. You know, we have a lot of fun together off the field and on the field, so it was good to have my partner and crime out there today."
LeGarrette Blount, RUNNING BACK
(On whether the team felt the world was against them with so many injuries)
"I mean every win feels good you know. No matter who's playing no matter who you're playing against every win feels good you know what I'm saying. That's part of why you want to keep getting them."
(On whether he is most proud that this was a team win)
"I agree 100%. He went out there and played great he done everything they ask him to do um offense line played amazing um the receivers played amazing. It's a lot of moving parts to come together for us to be able to pull off a win like this."
(On Bill Belichick's game plan)
"In my opinion he's the greatest coach to ever coach this game so anything he says I'm going to do and I feel like that goes for anybody else on this team. The results, the results speak for themselves."
Jacoby Brissett, Quarterback
(On how he felt about getting out there and getting the win)
"Think it was a great team win, you know? Hats off to the Texans, they're a great team. Really just came out on a hard fought team effort, you know? Just tried to impose our will."
(On having nerves)
"No, you know we're part of a great organization, great team. A lot of the veteran players helped out and stepped up and helped me a lot. Just giving me confidence, the coaching staff gave me confidence and just everything went from there."
(On first touchdown and if he knew it would be that successful when he ran it)
"I mean I was just running until I got stopped. So it worked out how we planned it was going to work out and just had to make one guy miss at the end zone. And the guys up front did a great job and Malcolm [Mitchell] on that side did a great job blocking that guy."
(On what he was most pleased about today)
"Our team. You know? Just being a part of this team and coming out and getting a win. Hard, tough game. The score doesn't reflect how tough this game was and how hard we fought throughout the whole game.
(On being apprehensive about his runs)
"You can't go in the game thinking like that. You know? You just go out there and try to do your best to win a game."
(On the defense and special teams giving the offense good field position)
"They did an awesome job all night. Players just going out there flying around. Like I said, it was a great team win. Hats off to our defense, special teams, offense. We just came out with a plan and executed our plan."
(On giving the ball to Bill Belichick after the touchdown and why it was important for him to do that)
"I was supposed to give him the ball. Make sure they don't get it. Make sure we get it. So I gave it to him."
(On whether or not Bill Belichick giving the ball back to him)
"Yeah he did."
(On whether it was after the game that Bill Belichick gave him the ball)
(On difference of starting this game compared to coming in during the game last game)
"You know you just always got to be ready and we have a great team so players just welcome you no matter who it is in the huddle. At any moment in the game no one waivered, no one flinched, and the results proved themselves with what our team did tonight."
(On how hard it was to prepare in four days and would it have been better with a full week of preparation)
"It's just a part of the job. I mean, you just got to go put your head down, go to work. You know you're fortunate enough to be a part of a team where you get help on special teams and defense where you go in with three days and you feel like you've practiced all year for this game. And that's what we did. We came out with our plan and executed our plan."
Julian Edelman, Wide Receiver
(On his overall thoughts on the game)
"It was very fun. Anytime you can go out on a short week and beat a really good football team with a complementary game – offense, defense, special teams making big plays – it's fun. It's a fun environment."
(On Jacoby Brissett's debut as a starter)
"He did well. You know, he's making the right calls, he's doing the right things, he made plays out there and you know, it's fun to watch."
(On Bill Belichick's coaching ability)
"I mean, he's a very good coach. Yeah he's a good coach."
(On national perspective towards the franchise)
"You know, I don't know. We don't really worry about that, about what nationally we're supposed to be coming off as. What we worry about is just going out and try to continually improve, get better each and every day, take in what the coaches think what the best things to do are and, and we go out and try to execute them. So we're just going to keep going focusing on that and not worry about what other people think."
(On whether he was a snap away from playing quarterback)
"I don't know."
Duron Harmon, Defensive Back
(On whether this was one of Bill Belichick's best game plans in a short amount of time)
"Let me tell you man, Bill's game plan each week is the best game plan. He just… he continues to amaze you with the things that come up in his mind to attack the defense I mean offences weakness and this was a great game plan but we know were going to have to change it up next week and get ready for the Bills and just carry out another game plan next week ."
(On how much the second half of the Miami game factored into tonight's performance)
"A lot, like I said earlier, that left a bad taste in all of our mouths the way second half went so we wanted to come out here we wanted to focus on playing a complete game.. A 60 minute game and we were able to get that out here today."
(On how he thought Jacoby Brissett played)
"He did good. He took care of the ball, led the offense, scored 27 points that you can't complain about that."
Chris Long, Defensive End
(On the team's struggles in second half during last few weeks)
"I think just out there on the field in the second half we were really cognizant on trying to put together a good second half. You know, and go out there and do our jobs and execute because last week we weren't so good on defense and you know as much as we'd like to move forward, we want to get rid of that stigma that we were feeling."
(On Coach Belichick's preparation for all players)
"I think all of the coaches did a great job on getting Jacoby [Brissett] ready to play and he did a great job taking the game plan and what it was to do his job and just digesting it and working really hard on it. On a short week for him to come out like that as a young guy, he really did a heck of a job."
(On mentality of the team)
"I just think that it's a complete buy in and guys are all willing to work and be selfless. Whatever they're asked to do, we do it and that's a fun locker room to be a part of."
Logan Ryan, Cornerback
(On the shut out win)
"Yeah Matt Patricia gets all the credit on that. He definitely did a great job spinning the calls, not being predictable, and, you know, when you play total team defense like that, it's just everybody gets the credit on that."
(On what it is about him that makes the matchup against DeAndre Hopkins go in his favor)
"It's a great player I raised my game, executed and had the faith in my teammates to have my back on certain calls. And our front seven has done a great job the last couple years rushing against them and really just made my job easier. Matt Patricia's called great games. So really, it's a team effort when you go out against players like that, of that caliber."
(On what it is about either Bill Belichick's coaching or the locker room that allows players like Jacoby Brissett to go out well prepared and play well)
"I mean Josh McDaniels, for one. The whole offensive staff, the whole team. I was saying earlier, I don't think anyone even blinks an eye on whoever's out there. At corner, at quarterback, at running back, guys continue to step up for year after year. We talk about it every year with injuries and I think it's the system, I think it's the coaching, and guys wanting to be coached and Jacoby [Brissett], you know, did a great job with scout team quarterback early in the year and then him going against our defense, making us better, makes him better and then all those extra reps he gets after practice on our offense and they paid off. I think the coaching staff gets a lot of credit on that."