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Patriots Conference Call Transcripts 10/4

Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick, Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels and Defensive Coordinator Matt Patricia address the media during their conference calls on Tuesday, October 4, 2016.

[wysifield-embeddedaudio|eid="479276"|type="embeddedaudio"|view_mode="full"]BILL BELICHICK, HEAD COACH

Q: What makes Isaiah Crowell so effective in Cleveland's backfield?

BB: Well, he's had a lot of good runs. Very, as you said, it's a very good running game. Coach [Hue] Jackson does a good job with the different looks that they give you. They have a lot of different ways to run the ball similar to Buffalo; gap plays, zone plays, they have some wildcat formations. They have a lot of gap schemes. They do a real good job of that, mixing in the personnel. But Crowell's a powerful back. He breaks a lot of tackles, he runs very hard, he's a very strong runner with good balance and very good toughness, doesn't go down easy at all, will try to fight for extra yards, stay in bounds. He had a real good touchdown run, he's had a couple of them really, where he kind of gets it looks like stopped on the one or two-yard line and he just moves the pile into the end zone. So, he's a very talented back, very hard to tackle.

Q: Is there anything in particular to work on to address some of the fumbling issues the team has had or is it just kind of a fluky thing?

BB: Yup, we've just got to keep working on it. We've just got to keep working on it. [We] have got to do a better job of taking care of the ball. We're fortunate we haven't lost more than we have. The ball has been out much more than we want it to be. 

Q: How difficult is it to evaluate the Browns considering how different their personnel has been from game to game and how many young players they have, and can you rely on any of the information you may have on those players from prior to the NFL to help you evaluate them this week?

BB: Well, sometimes you have to rely on that, Bob [Socci]. A lot of these guys though have played and they've been playing a lot of people and they're playing a lot of young players, and so a lot of the younger players - they're on film. You can see them playing in preseason. You can see them play in the regular season, so we'll study that much more than we would college film, unless there just wasn't any pro film available on them or if there wasn't enough to go on then we have to supplement it. I think you can get a pretty good look at these players over the last eight games. They have a lot of good, young talent on the team as you mentioned.

Q: How would you describe Hue Jackson's offense from previous time coaching against him?

BB: Well, they mix a lot of personnel groups from big people - two tight ends, fullback, some three tight ends - and then they can get more skill players on the field - to 21, 12, 11 [personnel] and some other formations with [Terrelle] Pryor at quarterback and things like that. So, they also use some of the things we've seen from Cincinnati where they do a lot of pre-snap shifting, unbalanced line, the tackle extended so there's only just a couple of guys in the box with the center and the formation spread across the field and then shift out of it and things like that. So they give you things, a lot of things, you have to adjust to. As I said, wildcat, multiple tight ends, unbalanced line, spread formations out of regular people, so a lot of alignments, adjustments that somebody has to make, and again, a very good running game to attack in a balanced way the defense. They can run a lot of counter and misdirection plays as well as power point-of-attack plays. They use a lot of pullers - [Joel] Bitonio in particular - I think does a really good job pulling. They have a lot of excellent scheme plays and they do a good job on the double-team blocks. I think both of the tackles - [Joe] Thomas and [Austin] Pasztor - are very good at creating movement on those double-team blocks and creating space for the runners. He keeps you off balance and if you try to get up there and crowd the run then they've got a lot of speed and big-play receivers down the field with play-action and double moves and big plays to the perimeter guys, as well as a very good tight end on bootlegs and misdirection plays that come off of the running game. So, they do a lot of things well. They move the ball consistently. I don't even know if they punted last week against Washington but they've been moving the ball well.

Q: How difficult of a matchup has Terrelle Pryor become both as a receiver, runner and possible quarterback?

BB: Good, good. He's made some spectacular plays already this season on the deep balls, going up and taking it away from defenders, short catch-and-run plays, has thrown the ball, run the ball from the quarterback or wildcat position, however you want to look at it, so he's a very dynamic player. As you know, [he's] very fast. We saw last in Oakland I think he had about a 98 or 99-yard touchdown run out there so he has got tremendous speed and good size, a hard guy to tackle, a very explosive player and versatile.

Q: Since making Cody Kessler the starting quarterback they have really shortened the passing game to shorter throws. What have you seen from them in that aspect?

BB: Right. Well, they're dangerous on those, too, Phil [Perry]. They have a very talented receiver group and of course [Gary] Barnidge at tight end and the backs; they're very dangerous. Duke Johnson is very good with the ball in his hands, obviously Crowell. So they've got a lot of guys that they can get it to - backs, tight ends, receivers and Kessler does a good job of moving around in the pocket. They run some bootlegs with him. I'm not saying he's the runner that [Robert] Griffin was, but he's athletic back there. He's a hard guy to crowd. He does a good job of getting out of trouble. They're a very explosive team. They can make big plays in the running game, big plays on the deep balls and big plays on the catch-and-run plays. And they do a good job of controlling the ball, running it, possession passes, chewing up first-downs, chewing up yardage but they also can be a big strike team. They do a good job. They're very well-balanced. They do a real good job.

Q: I believe you started the process in 2001 of meeting with the quarterbacks on Tuesday's to go over the game plan. Do you still take part in that process and how does that meeting time help them prepare for the upcoming game?

BB: Well, yeah I meet with the quarterbacks at least a couple of times per week. I'd just put it this way - I think as the head coach it's important to have a relationship with, particularly in our offense, with the guy that the offense is kind of running through. So, we talk about a number of things in those meetings. We talk about our opponent's defense, we talk about how we want to attack our opponent and we talk about numerous other things that come up weekly or from time to time regarding a whole variety of subjects that I think relate to that position. That position - how it relates to our team and how we want the position played. Josh [McDaniels] and the offensive staff do a great job of coaching all the positions, of putting together the offense, of coaching the quarterbacks and preparing them I'm sure as well as any quarterbacks in the league are prepared. So, that's not really what it's about. I'd say it's more about the head coach maintaining a relationship with the quarterback and how the game is going to go so that we know and I know when we call a play or when we get into a certain situation and were trying to do something that the quarterback and the head coach and everybody else involved on that side of the ball - that we're all on the same page in terms of what we're trying to do, how we're trying to do it and if we have options what those options are and how they would be processed. So I think that's just to me part of my job as the coach in coaching the team. But I certainly would not represent it as coaching a position or coaching the offense. That's Josh and the offensive coaches. I mean they do a great job of what they do. That's not really, although there's maybe some overlap, that's not really what my involvement with the quarterbacks is about.

Q: What did you see from Martellus Bennett and Rob Gronkowski when run-blocking out of the two tight end formation against Buffalo?

BB: Those guys are both good blockers, so we're comfortable running behind them in really any situation. They're good at the point of attack, they're good on double-team blocks, good at blocking the force. That's always a tough position. I mean it's a tough position on a lot of levels but it's a tough positon in terms of blocking because there are times that they're blocking safeties, guys that are good run players but quick and athletic and then there are times when they're blocking linebackers and then there are times when they're blocking defensive linemen, anywhere from the 260-270 pound defensive ends to occasionally some of the bigger five-techniques that push closer to 300. So there are a lot of different levels of power, athleticism, technique. Some of those blocks are in-line blocks, some of them are space blocks. Occasionally they have to pull and things like that. At times they're even involved in perimeter plays like flip-screens and those type of things where they're blocking in space against corners. So the variety and the matchups that they have as blockers is pretty extensive. It's pretty difficult really to be able to matchup against all of those and execute them. But those two guys do a real good job of it. They're both long, have good strength, good feet, and they're both smart players that know how to use their leverage and understand where the play is going and how to use the proper technique to block it.

Q: What about the variety that they bring as receivers on the field?

BB: Same thing. I mean they're both pretty good.

Q: What are your thoughts on Joe Thomas and the job that he has done for the Browns over the years?

BB: He's one of the top players in the league consistently year after year. I think we don't see the Browns that much. We see them every, it seems like three years, or whatever it is, but he's very consistent. An excellent pass blocker I think in the offense they're running now with Coach Jackson. He's excellent on the double-teams and in the running game. I mean they've made a lot of yards running behind him, which I know they have in the past, but I would say his double-team blocks are really good. He has got a great sense of timing, how long to stay on it, when to come off the linebacker, how to shove those guys over to the guard and that type of thing. He's very good in pass protection, hard to get around him on the edge, he's long, he has got very good feet and he does an excellent job on the inside move and gains. He and Bitonio over there on the left side, well it's actually our right side, that's probably as good a combination of two guys playing together as we'll see. They're both very good run blockers, good pass blockers, have a good level of experience and they're really solid players for them. Joe Thomas has been one of the top left tackles in the league pretty much since he came into the league, almost his whole career, and he does a really good job.

[wysifield-embeddedaudio|eid="479281"|type="embeddedaudio"|view_mode="full"]MATT PATRICIA, DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR

Q: What are your thoughts on the way the defense tackled on Sunday as well as why there was so much open space in one-on-one situations?

MP: I think just in general, coming out of the game on Sunday, I think there are a lot of areas that we certainly want to do a better job and improve in. Obviously, what we're trying do, and we'll look at all the film, but I think in regards to just the fundamentals in general for us are where we start and try to improve each week. There's always a big point of emphasis on that, and those are the situations that we try to make sure we perform well in down after down and have consistently good fundamentals. It's something we work on every day, we work on each week, so we're going to try to improve. I think looking ahead into Cleveland, it'll be another challenge for us with the run game, the backs and the ball out in space, [Terrelle] Pryor. Tackling will be a big part of that and fundamentals will be a part of that as far as this week also. 

Q: What are your thoughts on the lack of people around the ball in general?

MP: Every play is different based on the call and depending on what the offense runs, where the general vicinity of where the ball is going, and the players that are in that area at the time. There's not really one answer for that. It's really a play-by-play situation.     

Q:  How have you seen Isaiah Crowell evolve as a power runner?

MP: I mean, you're talking about one of the best backs in the league. This guy is an explosive runner, he's got good vision, he's got really good feet and balance. If you look at his burst and his ability to get through the line of scrimmage with the power and the acceleration that he hits the hole, it's very impressive. You see him really kind of fit through some tight spaces very quickly. They do a great job in the run game with both the scheme and the gap system as well as the zone system to really be able to get the ball downhill in a very effective and quick manner. This is really a very good back. This guy has done a great job to really complement this offense. He has tremendous speed, he can get to the edge and break the big runs. They obviously have a very explosive running game, one of the best run games in the league. His balance, his body control and his vision have really played into allowing him to use his power in a very effective manner, so just a very, very good running back. I think they have a great complement with Duke Johnson, another extremely good running back, very fast, very quick guy in the backfield. He has a great jump-cut ability, fast movement, elusive type of player, so it's a good complement with both backs.  

Q:  What will it be like to kind of be at full-strength for the first time this season in getting Rob Ninkovich back and having Dont'a Hightower return from injury?

MP: I think for us, we're obviously just coaching the guys that have been out there, coaching the guys that we have. Anybody that's coming in here, whether it's coming off an injury, or coming back to the roster for whatever reason, they've got to get back out there and get back to football, and we'll see where everybody's at. Right now, for us it's just about trying to improve the guys that have been out working hard each week and hope we see an improvement in the things that we're doing; trying to get better each week with those players and certainly, our philosophy is always about competition. It's about competition every day in practice, so whoever is out there is in a role to go compete and help us win on Sunday. So that's really what it's about for us. It's about preparing for Cleveland, it's about improving every day, it's about the competition that we can generate each day that will carry us over into the weekend. 

*Q:  After the success Rob Ninkovich had last season, it just has to be good to get every able body back on board. *

MP: I mean, I think Rob [Ninkovich] has had some really good productive years here through his career. He's done a great job for us just from being a guy that's come in the building as a true professional and a guy that really kind of embodies everything that we're looking for from a point of work ethic and trying to improve, trying to get better and trying to do his job out on the field. It's always good to have everybody in the room, ready to go as much as they can be, so I'm excited to have all of those guys. 

Q:  What have you seen from Terrelle Pryor and what are some of the unique challenges he poses with his skill set?

MP: Yeah, just another really complex guy to try to defend. If you look at this offense in general, they've done a great job. Coach [Hue] Jackson has done a great job and Pep Hamilton has done a great job of just kind of taking the skills and taking the players that they have, including the offensive line, and just trying to be as productive as they can be with these players. Terrelle Pryor is another one that will be in a bunch of different situations and positions. You have to prepare for him on the outside, on the inside, obviously in the backfield. He's a guy who's a very big-bodied, very strong player who is extremely fast, quick and elusive with the ball in his hands. Then there's the whole quarterback problem, too, he can throw the ball and is very comfortable in the pocket. But [Terrelle Pryor] is kind of a unique player in that he's done some things that people probably haven't seen in quite a long time, and it's a problem to defend that type of a player because you have to be ready for him to be in multiple different positions. He's got extremely good hands, he can catch the ball really, very easily, he's big, he's fast, he's strong, he's got the ability to get tacklers off of him. He's been in situations where he carries the ball a lot, and he knows how to make guys miss out in open space; just a really good football player. That's probably the best compliment you can make, just an overall kind of throwback football guy that can do everything and those are always hard to defend. 

[wysifield-embeddedaudio|eid="479286"|type="embeddedaudio"|view_mode="full"]JOSH MCDANIELS, OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR

Q: What are your overall feelings about the progressions Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett made and the performances they gave you over that first month?

JM: Well, they both work hard and they've really had an opportunity to learn a lot in their time here. Obviously, the last four weeks have been an opportunity to play in games and that is always, to me, the best way to gain valuable experience and learn about this league and what it takes to win and play winning football. So they've put in a lot of time and effort since they got here, since they were both drafted. I think they did as much as they could to prepare themselves for the opportunity that was ahead of them and went out there and tried to execute the game plan as they could. There are a lot of things that they learned and a lot of things that we learned that we'll work on moving forward and we're going to do that. Their preparation won't change. They're going to continue to work as hard as they can to prepare themselves to play each week and be ready to go if they're called upon. 

Q: Were you satisfied with the effort and the toughness that was displayed to get to the point where Jimmy Garoppolo could play on Sunday?

JM: Absolutely. Like I said before, we've got really tough players that work as hard as they can to be out there on the field to be ready to go and help our team win. And that's everybody. So I would never question anybody's desire to be out there and play, and toughness. I think both of those guys did everything they could to get ready to go and help us win. 

Q: Is this a normal week for you and Tom Brady with preparation or is there more that you have to do to get him up to speed?

JM: You know I think you try to - it's going to be as normal as it could be. The biggest thing is to go through our preparation as we normally do to prepare for the opponent and to prepare for what our game plan is and how we want to execute it, and go out there and use our opportunities on the field to execute and to get back into playing football. And being around his teammates and running our offense and doing the things that we ask the quarterback to do here. I don't see it being much different in terms of a normal game week. We'll try to do all the right things in terms of preparing and getting ready to play a team that we know very well and are hard to get familiar with and go there and play a game on the road in a tough place to play. 

Q: Is it fair to say Tom Brady's experience with you and with this offense makes it easier for him to catch up to speed than a quarterback with less experience?

JM: I think experience helps any player. If they're injured or what have you, they come back, or if they miss some time for whatever reason. But I also think there's an acclimation period in the game of football that's hard to simulate unless you're playing football. Like I said, we're going to do the best we can to prepare and take every opportunity in practice and take advantage of all the reps that we have in the periods that we can be out there working together to just make sure that Tom [Brady] is as capable on Sunday to do his job.

Q: What did you see Tom Brady in the condition that he came back yesterday?

JM: I didn't notice any difference. It was four weeks and it felt like it went fast and Tommy [Tom Brady] is ready to go and looks ready to go. Like I said, we'll see how everything goes tomorrow at practice and kind of just build one day at a time as we go through the week.

Q: How do Ray Horton defenses stress your offense?

JM: Ray [Horton] is an excellent coach. There whole group does a great job. You're right; we've had a lot of opportunities against Coach Horton's defense. Started in Arizona in 2012 and played him again in Cleveland in 2013 and Tennessee last year, so this is a system that we're familiar with. It definitely has some elements of the Pittsburgh deal in it. They're disciplined. They're very rarely, if ever, out of position. They play their technique and their leverage properly. They're going to make you handle some pressure, some of which you've probably practiced, and a few of which you probably have not. There's always a game plan element to it. The safeties and the secondary have always been, at some point in the game, pressure guys, so we're going to have to stay on our toes and look for those kinds of things. They've got size and big guys up front. They play a lot of guys on the edge. They've got speed, they've got strength, they've got length, they've got maybe guys that are not as long but are fast on the edge that they rush. They play a lot of different rush guys out there so we're going to have to do a good job with being familiar with their guys because they're definitely not all the same. The two inside linebackers, [Demario] Davis and [Christian] Kirksy, are as fast as we're going to see two guys in the inside. They make a lot of tackles so you're never going to outrun them. They're good in coverage, they're good blitzers, very athletic. Then their secondary has gotten their hands on a lot of balls. This is a group that's playing in a good system that gives you some problems. They take advantage of mistakes. They've turned the ball over in the secondary multiple times this season. They've gotten their hands on some balls up front with their pass rush guys, and they're going to challenge you with some different schematic things that you're going to have to have an answer for as the game goes along. So Coach Horton does a great job. They've got a good staff, they've got good players, they've got a lot of guys that play extremely hard. That's one thing that we're going to make sure that we understand. I'm not sure that we're going to play a team that plays harder than this one. They do a great job of running to the football. They've created some turnovers doing that and we're going to need to match their effort and intensity on Sunday and be alert for everything and get to know these guys. Like I said, we don't know very many of these players very well. We're going to have to make sure we're doing a good job of getting familiar with the people that we're lining up against on Sunday afternoon. 

Q: How important has Martellus Bennett been not only in production but in taking some of the load off of the receiving corps and also allowing Rob Gronkowski to come back at a reasonable pace until he is at 100 percent?

JM: Yeah, we talked about it maybe a couple of weeks ago. He's really done a nice job of doing what we ask him to do. Marty [Martellus Bennett] is an unselfish guy. He's been out there every single day, practices hard. He's been a factor in the running game; he's been a factor in pass protection. He's done good things when he's gotten his opportunities in the pass game as a receiver. He's versatile. He plays an awful lot of snaps. He's been durable. He's tough, and he's unselfish. We're really happy with what he's done and look forward to kind of growing with him as we go through the season, but really appreciate his attitude and the contributions that he's made so far and look forward to trying to improve and get better as we go through the season. 

Q: Given the combined experience you and Tom Brady have with Ray Horton defenses, how much of a collaborative effort does it become when planning how you will attack the Browns defense on Sunday?

JM: Each week is pretty similar in terms of our process that we go through. There are a lot of variables each week that go into playing a game in the National Football League. You look at your team, the health of your team, the guys that are going to be available to you. You look at the team you're playing and evaluate their players, their scheme, the strengths and weaknesses of both sides, our side, their side, and then try to put together a game plan that gives you the best chance for success on every snap that you play on Sunday. Tom [Brady], we've done this a long time, and any input from a player is certainly welcome. We have a lot of guys that study hard and prepare hard and usually when they speak, and they have ideas and thoughts, they're well thought out and you certainly take those into consideration because they're the ones out there playing. The variables this week have changed a little bit, but the process will remain the same. We're just trying to find the best formula for us to play this game against this opponent against these players and coaches. I have a lot of respect for this group, and like I said a couple times already, we need to do a good job getting familiar with who we're playing this week because it's definitely a team that we're not as familiar with. I think we're going to spend a lot of time doing that and really trying to hone in on the things that we feel like we have a chance to do well on Sunday. 

Q: While it is a business trip, what does it mean to you going back to Northeast Ohio this weekend given the rich football history there and it also being the area you are originally from?

JM: Yeah, I'm very proud of the fact that that's where I grew up. My father was a coach for a long time in Northeast Ohio. There will be a lot of people that I'll have an opportunity to do my job in front of. I don't know how much time I'll get to see everybody, but I'm happy that they'll have an opportunity to be around and be there. It's always good to go back and see my family and have an opportunity to see some people that you don't get a lot of time with during the course of the year. Like I said, there won't be much time for that, but hopefully we can go out there and do our job well and represent our organization the right way. It's always good to go back to Northeast Ohio. It's just such a great football tradition. I'll look forward to doing that.

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