Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick Conference Call
Q: Do you think the Bills will come after you with their defensive line?
BB:We have to be ready for that, absolutely. They've pressured in a lot of different situations, so that's always been Coach [Rex] Ryan's philosophy, and I wouldn't say it's changed. We've got to be ready for pressure, blitzes, different fronts, different looks, all those kinds of things. He's done them all preseason, done them in the past, did them against Indy, so I'm sure we'll get them, too.
Q: The decision to go with four tight ends on the field at the same time, have any of your previous teams done that, or have you seen other teams in the NFL or college do that?
BB:I don't know. Like I said, I think the fullback and tight end positions are fairly interchangeable, so whether that's a fullback and three tight ends or four tight ends, I'm not sure that that's really a big difference. You just have to defend the formation, but I don't think it's that big of a deal.
Q: What have you seen from Michael Williams so far?
BB:Yeah, I think he's coming along. He's been working hard. Coach [Brian] Daboll has spent a lot of extra time with him. It's not a new position, but it is a new position, so there are things that are not different, but things he has to kind of re-acclimate to, as well as a different offense and some of our terminology and that type of thing. He's coming along; he's doing alright.
Q: After the first game, do you feel better about your foundation of the team than you did going into the game?
BB:Again, it's one week. There is a long way to go. We'll see after five or six weeks how everything is going. We just have to take the information that we have, make the most of it, try to build on it, but we'll find out a lot more here in coming weeks as we see different matchups, different teams, different schemes, different game plans, deal with different whatever the particular circumstances are from game to game, and they'll vary. The more that we accumulate, the more we'll find out. Maybe some things will be in a good place; maybe other things won't – I mean, I don't know.
Q: Do you draw a distinction between emotion in football and intensity in football? How important is the latter in not allowing the former to get the best of you? Penalties and mental mistakes seemed to provide some key plays in the first week.
BB:That's a good question. I don't know – there's a lot of gray there. I'm not sure where one stops and the other one starts, but in the end, we all have to find a way to block out all the noise and go out there and execute and do our jobs, whatever they happen to be. Emotion is definitely a part of football – a good part of it – so I don't think as a team you ever want to lose that. Usually high emotion and high energy leads to better execution, so I think that's a good thing, but at the same time there is a line you can cross where you end up, as you said, getting a penalty or overreacting to something and being vulnerable to something else – a reverse or a pass or whatever it is that then sets you back. It's a fine line there. It's a balance. But in the end you've got to be able to do your job, you've got to be able to do it well in order to win in this league. There are so many good teams and players and coaches. That's really the key is being able to go out there and execute it under pressure on a consistent basis.
Q: I guess that was the point I was trying to get at was how not let emotions prevent you from doing your job.
BB:I think emotion is part of it. It's a good thing. I don't think it's a bad thing. You want that emotion, but like you said, you don't want it to cross the line. You don't want it to negatively affect what you're doing. But high energy and positive emotion can go a long way. There is a balance there.
Q: This is the 14th time you will face a Rex Ryan-coached team. How does he seem to get his players to play for him – that emotion that you were just referring to?
BB:I think you probably need to talk to him about what he does, but his teams always play hard. I know he's a very good coach. They're well prepared. They do a great job of defending or attacking each team uniquely based on the characteristics of that team. We know that, and I'd say that those characteristics have been true and they still are.
Q: Do you think they'll give emphasis to the veterans to take pressure off the rookie quarterback in this game?
BB:I think when you put a team out there, you've got to have confidence in everybody you put out there, whether they're a rookie or a 15-year veteran or wherever they were drafted or came from or anything else. At that point, you have confidence in your team. You don't really think too much about where the guy came from or whatever. You need for him to do his job and you try to put him in a position where he can do it. I think that's really about what it is. Now, [Tyrod] Taylor is no rookie. This guy has been in the league for five years. He was a good player when he had an opportunity to play in Baltimore. It's kind of different, but in some ways kind of reminds me of the [Matt] Cassel situation when Matt went to Kansas City. He played here for a year, but Taylor never got to play very much in Baltimore, but I'm just saying guys that are in those roles and then they get an opportunity to play and everybody finds out they're pretty good, but the guy in front of them is pretty good, too. That's one of the benefits of free agency – the opportunity for players like that to go somewhere where the road is a little clearer.
Q: I know Marcell Dareus didn't play last week, but what are the challenges he presents to an offense? Do they move him around or is he generally in the same area from snap to snap?
BB:Marcell is a really good football player. I think he does everything well. He's stout in the running game, he's instinctive, he can rush the passer, he runs well, he makes plays in pursuit and screen passes and things like that. For a guy his size, he's a very active player. He and Kyle [Williams] have pretty much stayed on their respective sides, but there are times where he'll be on the nose and Rex has definitely moved the defensive linemen around. He's done it in the past, but he's done quite a bit of it this year, particularly in the Indianapolis game where he has defensive linemen kind of on a chalkboard lined up at weak safety if you will. There are some unusual looks there. He moves everybody around, so I think you've got to put Dareus in that group. He moved Kyle Williams around a lot last week, but we've seen Mario [Williams] and [Jerry] Hughes and all those guys in different spots, so we've got to be ready for that. He's a very disruptive player wherever he is. He's got great talent. He plays inside, but I'm sure he could play outside as a defensive end if they wanted him to. He's got that kind of athleticism and enough length to do it. I'm not saying that's where he belongs, but he has that kind of versatility and he's that kind of athlete. He's definitely a force; he's a problem.
Q: I think you said Rex Ryan has defensive linemen lined up on a chalkboard at weak safety. Can you explain what that means?
BB:Sometimes they line their linebackers up in the line of scrimmage and back defensive linemen off the ball, so they're kind of at a linebacker depth – four to five yards off the ball. Then they move from there. Sometimes they move back up. Sometimes they wait until the ball is snapped and run whatever stunt they have called. Normally if you're an offensive lineman, you're blocking a defensive lineman, but when the defensive lineman is standing behind a linebacker or behind another defensive lineman your rule now changes a little bit. You can't let the linebacker go and go block the defensive lineman so you've got to take the guy in front of you and now the defensive lineman ends up again really as a linebacker or depending on the look, he could technically be a weak safety or a strong safety based on how you ID the defense – things like that. It's just ways that Coach Ryan uses to try to confuse the offense and try to change the protection or the identification of the defensive personnel. Is a tackle a tackle or is he an X and an O? And then you get mismatches. So, things like that.
Q: Offensively they added some daunting players that you've had to deal with in the past in Percy Harvin, Charles Clay and LeSean McCoy. Can you talk about their array of varied talent on offense?
BB:Yeah, a lot of explosive players. As you mentioned, in addition to the ones that they have there, they have a veteran receiver group, and they've added some guys to that. They're very explosive, and Taylor, we saw him take off for whatever it was – a 31-yard run, 30-yard run – last week. It really doesn't matter who those guys are – [Sammy] Watkins, [Robert] Woods – they've got a lot of speed there. Explosive players, and they're all very dangerous and they do a great job with the running game and then the play action and some of their deep passes set up off of that, where if you start creeping up and you try to be over aggressive to stop the run they can get behind you like they did against Indianapolis with Harvin for a 50-, 60-yard touchdown or whatever it was. That's kind of the problems they present, and any guy that has the ball in his hands, he's capable of going a long way. They're a very explosive team, including the quarterback. We've got to do a good job there. [Chris] Hogan is a strong guy, too, breaks a lot of tackles, and is really a tough player. Karlos Williams, he's explosive, too, [Bryce] Brown. They've got a lot of them, so it's very dangerous group.
Q: And what about the atmosphere in Buffalo? They go bananas up there, huh?
BB:I mean, we always expect crowd noise on the road. It's something we're ready for every week if we play away games. I'm sure it will be loud there. It's loud everywhere. It's a lot louder when you're not doing well. If you're moving the ball and getting first downs and gaining yards that tends to quiet it, and when you're ahead that quiets it, too. It will be as loud as we allow it to be.
PATRIOTS OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR JOSH MCDANIELS CONFERENCE CALL
Q: What are your thoughts on the Bills defensive backs? How important is a receiver's physical and mental strength when facing that secondary?
JM:They're definitely an aggressive group. That's for sure. They challenge everything in the passing game. They play a lot of tight man coverage. They're physical at the line of scrimmage. They do a good job at the top of the route. They get their hands on an awful lot of balls, and it's going to be a big test for us to be able to create some separation in the passing game and try to get open and make some plays. The receiver position is not an easy one to play. You've got to do a lot of things right in order to give yourself an opportunity to get the ball, and our guys are going to have to do a lot right this week against a very talented, physical, aggressive secondary.
Q: What is your take on the tight ends' success in Week 1 and the overall success in the red zone? How much can that be attributed to the four tight ends being out there?
JM:We try to put the game plan together each week that we feel like may give us the best chance to have some success, whatever part of the field you're talking about or whatever situation in the game. And I think that so happened to be a situation in that game where we got some production out of it. Certainly isn't the same each week in this league and certainly isn't the same game plan for us, either. Those guys will all have a role in this offense and they all do different things and in some cases they are interchangeable, so we are happy that we get production from those guys in different ways, whether it be in the run game, protections, receiving, and we'll try to go forward and find things that they can do to be productive this week and going forward during the course of the season.
Q: Do you notice any similarities between Rex Ryan's defense in Buffalo and the defenses he showed in New York? What things about Rex make him a challenge?
JM:Rex's defenses are always great in terms of the way they play, how sound they are, how disciplined they are, the challenges they present to you. He is obviously a great coach. They have a great staff there and they're working with a lot of really good players as well. Aggressive, keeps you on your toes in terms of what they do and don't give up a lot of big plays, make it difficult for you to run the ball with consistent success, try to come after the quarterback, create turnovers and negative plays – all the things that a great defense has to do I would say that this group definitely does. And again, tremendous amount of respect for Rex in terms of how he's always played and called his defenses. I don't see this one being any different. It's going to be another great defense. They got off to a great start, obviously. It'll be a huge challenge for us up there on Sunday.
Q: How do you view the two head coaches in terms of how they approach their jobs and get their teams ready to play?
JM:I think that there are obviously multiple ways to be successful in this league and the most important thing is that your team believes in you as a coach and that you as a coach get them ready to play and win each week. I think both coaches do a tremendous job of that. I think both coaches have a specific philosophy that they really adhere to and they rely a lot on that. Both have a proven winning track record. Like I said, we're obviously going to have a great challenge ahead of us. Rex does a tremendous job and he'll have them ready to go this week, I'm sure. Bill [Belichick] will have us ready to go, too. Hopefully it'll be a great game and we're looking forward to really beginning our preparation tomorrow.
Q: Do you expect them to pressure against you guys with a young offensive line, and does the no-huddle affect the strategy against an aggressive defense like the Bills?
JM:To answer the first question, yes, but certainly not entirely. I mean, Rex is going to have a game plan ready that he feels great about, and some games it's been more pressure, some games it's been less. It doesn't matter. To me, Rex's defense has been great whether they blitz or not. They can be really good regardless of the scheme, and we'll find out on Sunday what their plan is for this week. We're going to have to be ready for everything, certainly. What was the second question?
JM:Oh, sometimes. To me, there is no shortcut to execution. Whether we go no-huddle, huddle, different personnel groupings or what have you, the most important thing is our players have to execute against whatever they're doing. You can try a lot of different things, ultimately it's going to boil down to whose guys block and tackle and throw and catch and run and play defense and all the rest of it the best. We're going to have to do a good job of getting our guys ready to go and go to Buffalo hopefully with a good plan in mind and try to let our players go out and execute the best they can.
Q: What are your thoughts on the three rookie interior linemen that you used last week and how do you feel they are coming along communication-wise? Going on the road for the first time, how do you feel they are progressing in that area?
JM:Each one of them continues to work hard and made some progress last week. Each experience is a good one for them because they are learning and growing from it. There are going to be mistakes and those mistakes can be great learning experiences for them, and hopefully we make progress and improve each week or each practice as we go forward. The communication aspect of playing in Buffalo is certainly a challenge. We know that, and we're going to try to prepare the best we can and have confidence in all of those guys that they are going to be able to go out there and play together, communicate and hopefully execute their assignments the way that we need them to. There will be a lot of challenges in this game – a lot of different scheme challenges, a lot of personnel challenges. They've got great players, they've got a great defensive system, great coaching staff and the crowd is going to be great as well. It always is. Like I said, it's an exciting week for us, and we're going to have to do a good job of being prepared and going up there and trying to do the best we can at executing our jobs and our game plan.
PATRIOTS DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR MATT PATRICIA CONFERENCE CALL
Q: What stands out about the Bills offense?
MP:Well, I mean obviously, they have a very explosive offense. They have a tremendous set of skill players all the way across the board from the wide receivers to the tight ends to the running backs and then added the element of the quarterback from a duel threat, both in his ability to throw and run and also move around and escape within the pocket from the pass rush and extend plays, so I think they really have a good combination. Obviously, you could see that last weekend on all cylinders as far as they're offense really working well. The combination of running backs, being able to get [LeSean] McCoy the ball and his ability and his speed to take the ball outside or inside and get explosive plays with him, along with his flexibility from a position standpoint – you saw him lining up initially as the quarterback on the first play of the game, and it's something you've got to be ready for. But then I thought they did a great job of mixing the running backs in there – [Karlos] Williams and [Boobie] Dixon – for more of their downhill power run game and get those guys going in those situational calls where they were able to run the ball in. Obviously on the perimeter with [Percy] Harvin and [Robert] Woods and [Sammy] Watkins and even [Chris] Hogan when he was in there, guys that are just explosive players, guys who can really catch the ball, guys that do a good job of route running, guys who do an excellent job of blocking – I don't think enough attention is paid to how well and how aggressive they block on the perimeter to set up some of those explosive plays in the run game – and then guys that fit into the scheme of Greg Roman from a standpoint of attacking players from different positions. So whether it's Harvin on the sweeps or the reverses or the big play downfield, the catch-and-run plays to Watkins – all of those guys are very explosive players. Adding [Charles] Clay, who's a guy we're familiar with, along with [MarQueis] Gray, who's been there, and then [Matthew] Mulligan as the other tight end. Clay is a guy who's obviously had some success against us, a guy we're familiar with from Miami, but a guy who can really stretch it vertically down the field through the middle of the defense and put a lot of pressure on the coverage aspect of it. [He] also does a good job in the run game, so really kind of a duel player for them there.
Q: How do you feel your defense did setting the edge against the Steelers? How do the Bills offensive weapons threaten the edge?
MP:Yeah, I think that's an excellent point there. Obviously, the edge will be critical for us against the Buffalo Bills. Their speed, their ability for them to change direction, the ability for them to bounce out to the edge very quickly and turn it into a space game is really what we're talking about. So, if we don't get that edge set and we allow guys like McCoy or [Tyrod] Taylor or [Karlos] Williams, any of those guys, or even the skill players when they come back into the backfield and carry the ball also, when we allow them to get out into space and to create yardage at that point, they turn it into a space game where obviously guys with great speed and great athleticism and quickness have an advantage. So it's something we certainly have to make sure that we do a great job of trying to do a good job of setting the edge of the defense. Like every week, it's something we try to do and make sure that we have everything contained.
Q: Is Charles Clay on your radar as far as being somebody you have to watch out for?
MP:I definitely don't think that you can keep him under the radar. If you take a look at Coach Roman and what he's been able to do out in San Francisco with the tight ends – Vernon Davis, players who can really go vertically very quickly – I think Charles Clay fits exactly into his program and his plan of attack and how to really get after a defense. I would say Gray does a good job also of getting vertical into the defense and being able to stretch the middle of the field very quickly. And even if you take a look at preseason, Mulligan does a good job in his routes of pushing into the secondary also, so I think all those guys fit very well into the scheme of what Coach Roman is trying to do and use those tight ends and take advantage of the matchup situation that comes up. And he'll do a great job of moving them around and putting them in different positions to try and get an advantage there, and certainly, we've got to be alert to where those guys are lined up.
Q: What did you see from the Bills offensive line in Week 1, particularly Richie Incognito?
MP:I mean, I think their offensive line played extremely well. I think Incognito is a very, he's a big, strong blocker who does a great job of keeping the depth in the pocket. I think he's next to Eric Wood, who is obviously the center for them, who's a veteran, phenomenal player for Buffalo. I think the two of those guys next to each other really do a great job of anchoring the front and coordinating the offensive line. All those guys across the board – the tackles, [Seantrel] Henderson and [Cordy] Glenn are very long. They're big, long guys who keep the width in the pocket. Taylor had a lot of time in the pocket last week and was able to stand in there read the defense and get the ball out to the players in the pass route that he needed to. Those guys do a great job on the edge, too, as you saw in the run game. Both Glenn and Henderson can seal the edge. [John] Miller, being the guard there to our left, did a real good job in the run game. He's a very athletic guy – he has got good power, good balance. So, I think they really worked well together. I think that group – you take a look at them – those five guys playing together out there last week really kind of jelled. I thought they had a strong showing both in the running game and in the passing game. Certainly, Incognito does a great job with all the pull blocks and the different types of blocks that they ask him to make, both pulling across the ball and to his side, and also does a good job out in space of making good contact and sustaining his block and really creating holes where maybe the defense kind of has it sealed off. So, I thought they did an excellent job last week.