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Patriots Conference Call Transcripts 9/19

Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick, Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels and Defensive Coordinator Matt Patricia address the media during their conference calls on Monday, September 19, 2016.


Q: How much did your upbringing around the Navy football program prepare you to deal with the uncertainty and unexpected circumstances that can surround football?

BB: Probably quite a bit. As you know, growing up and when the team you know the most about is the Navy team, you know those kids have to deal with a lot. Like all colleges, there's no redshirting so they graduate in four years and there's a lot of turnover pretty quickly. Just watching some of the coaches there - Coach [Wayne] Hardin, Coach [George] Welsh, people like that, Coach [Rick] Forzano - had to adapt to different things that happened to the team as just part of the normal course of events and how they handled them. I watched my Dad in some of those situations, being observant, not really being part of any decision or anything, but just listening to them talk about how they made decisions or what their options were and then how to pick the best one, things like that. That was great, a lot of great learning experiences there. I still remember in '64 when [Roger] Staubach was coming off of the Heisman year and hurt his Achilles early in the year and Coach Hardin had to manage that, managing the practices and so forth because of what Staubach wasn't able to do for many of the games, in preparation for the games, each game in the '64 season, just things like that. I'm sure I learned a lot there, probably more than I can even remember.

Q: How difficult is it for quarterbacks to understand the balance between trying to protect themselves from a big hit but also wanting to try to make a play for their team?

BB: I think if you play that position you understand it. We talk about it. I don't think there's any lack of understanding from the quarterbacks I've coached here on those types of things. It goes for a lot of other positions, too. I wouldn't just limit it to that positon, but yeah, we understand that. We talk about it. I don't think there's any - I mean we all know I think kind of what the parameters are. Each situation is different and, you know, a lot of split-second decisions but in terms of general guidelines and so forth, yeah, we've absolutely talked about that. I don't think there's any question about what our feelings are on that and what the quarterback's feelings are on it.

Q: What is in Logan Ryan's skillset that has allowed him to compete against some of the taller receivers across the NFL?

BB: I think Logan has very good playing strength, and although he's not as big as some of those guys he still has decent size and playing strength and instincts. I mean he's a very instinctive player. I'd say he has a good understanding of what those guys are going to try and do versus what a smaller, quicker receiver would try to do. He does a good job. He's a very good technique player. Those big receivers - if they want to be physical and push off - have to have something to push off against, so by using good techniques to try and minimize the amount of getting open physically that those guys can do. Look, every receiver that you cover has a little bit of a different skill set so you've just got to figure out based on your skill set and his skill set how you can best cover him. I'd say Logan has done a pretty good job of doing that regardless of who he has gone up against.

Q: Is there a situation that stands out from your time in the league where you've signed a player just days before having to get him ready to play in a game?

BB: There were a couple of them, but right now I don't think that really matters. We've got a short week before our matchup against Houston, so across the board in all three phases of the game, we've got to do the best job that we can getting ready to go with all of our players, our coaches and our schemes for Thursday night. That's what we're working on. 

Q: Have you ever gone into a game with just one healthy quarterback?

BB: I've been through quite a bit of quarterback situations.

Q: What has contributed to LeGarrette Blount's early season success?

BB: The big thing that's contributed to it is that he has had some space to run. There were a lot of plays, too many plays last year where it didn't matter who the back was, we just couldn't get him started, couldn't get him into any kind of space, couldn't let the back build up any kind of momentum. I think all our backs have the ability to make yards. They've all been productive. We've seen it in preseason, we've seen it through the years with some of these guys, depending on which guy you want to talk about, but we had to give him a chance. You've got to give them a chance to have some type of opportunity to operate with some space or momentum, just something. No back can gain yardage when there's just no place to run. I don't care how good the guy is.  

Q: What are the biggest differences in not only having to throw a young quarterback like Jacoby Brissett into a game but having to do it on a short week like this one?

BB: The quarterback, he's going to prepare for the game the same way, regardless of whether he's going to start the game or not. By the second play of the game he could be in there, so it's not like there is any part of the game he can't not prepare for in a two-minute, red area, third down, first down, regular blitzes, the running game, sub-blitzes. He's got to prepare for all of it. He could be in there for any of it. He could be in there for the last play of the game, so he has got to prepare for that and he has got to prepare for all the ones in between. I don't know how the preparation would be any different. The amount of reps you get, the timing and all of that, that of course would depend on how those are distributed, but in terms of the player's preparation, I don't know how you could - I mean you could take a defensive back and say, 'OK, we're only going to play you in dime situations, here's your role this week. You're the sixth defensive back, you have this role in this defensive package and we're only going to use you in this situation,' but you can't do that with a quarterback.  

Q: What did you see from Jacoby Brissett yesterday in terms of his poise under game pressure?

BB: I think he has done a good job of that all through preseason and in some of the practice opportunities with us and with the Bears and the Saints. Good poise, good decision-making under pressure, and when I say pressure, having people around him. I'm not just talking about all-out blitzes, but having people in the pocket around him, having people that are out in space closing in on him to throw, to run, what decision to make there. So, he has had a lot of opportunities to do that since he has been here and I think he has done a pretty good job of that. 


Q: What have you seen from Brock Osweiler with the Texans that might differ from the way he played in Denver?

MP: Yeah, I think he's certainly - this is a very tough, strong guy from our experience of playing him last year. He definitely does a good job of staying in the pocket, making some reads and making some plays. I think the thing about him that they've done a great job of down in Houston is really kind of teaching him their system, getting him to make the reads, really kind of allow him to get the ball into their playmakers' hands, spread it around and have a good sense of what the defense is in ahead of time. Really, just playing smart, a really mature approach with the system that their running.  

Q: What led to Miami's success on their three consecutive touchdown drives?

MP: I think there are definitely some things, when we go back through it, we'll go back through it with the guys today, we'll go back and correct, but certainly, that's a very good team with extremely good and explosive skill players. We talked about that earlier in the week. Obviously, [Jarvis] Landry, and the quarterback and all those guys, the tight ends, those guys are extremely fast and they're good players. I think the biggest thing is just a couple instances there we have to take a look at and make sure everything is on par as far as what we're trying to do and the target that we're looking at, and make sure we just kind of stay consistent with it throughout the entire game. There are certainly some things, I'll always look at myself and try to make sure I can do better to keep it moving from a defensive standpoint, but I think it's something we definitely can learn from. Obviously, we came out and played well in the first half, but it's a 60-minute game and it's still part of the process of the early part of the season where you don't really get to that until you get to the first game. Obviously, it's the second game and you're working through making sure you can get to a point where you can play a complete game for 60 minutes.  

Q:  What has impressed you most about Chris Long since you started working with him in the spring?

MP: Chris [Long] is just a true professional, a guy that comes to us with a lot of experience, but someone that really came to us with a fresh, brand new attitude and a new start that really wanted to learn our system and is really trying to do what we ask him to do from a defensive standpoint. A very hard worker, extremely hard worker, studying the playbook and the game plan, works hard both on and off the field, and really is just a very coachable guy.  He's a great addition to the team as far as [being a] great teammate; works hard, does everything we're trying to get done and buys into the system. I think for him and for us, it's just been a good kind of fresh start to have him here.

Q:  How did Jamie Collins handle the signal-calling duties yesterday?

MP: Yeah, Jamie [Collins] does a great job with everything we ask him to do. It's really kind of a seamless thing for us. We practiced that way right from the start of the spring where all of the linebackers were potential signal callers during the game to try to get them the experience with the helmet or the on-field communication. We kind of just roll along, we've been in that situation before and we kind of handle it. The next-man-up mentality is always how we approach everything, but Jamie does a great job of when he's out there, taking control and leading the defense, and stepping into whatever roles we ask him to take on and certainly being able to call the defense. He's an extremely smart player and a very smart guy. He understands what everybody is doing out on the field, so he's just a natural at that. 

Q:  What have you seen from Duron Harmon in instances like his interception at the end of yesterday's game?

MP: He's certainly someone we put a lot of faith and trust into in the deep part of the field. He does a really good job of understanding those situations and studying what the opponent can do there. He does a good job from a standpoint of playing the deep part of the field and got a good read, a good break on it. That's what he's got to do when he's back there, whoever it is in the deep part of the field, they've got to be able to make those plays and go get the ball, which he did at the end of the game, and was great.

Q:  What kind of problems do receivers like Will Fuller and DeAndre Hopkins pose?

MP: Two outstanding players right now. Obviously [DeAndre] Hopkins is a great receiver, does a great job running his routes, has got great hands, can get open, and understands coverage. He's a real tough matchup, he's a big guy so he uses his body well, and really he does a great job within their scheme and they feature him in a really good way. He's very productive, pretty much a go-to player for them in critical situations, so he's someone they rely on heavily. [Wil] Fuller, another big guy in height and length, great speed, does a great job of getting open, and someone who they obviously have found a lot of trust in. The quarterback has a great on-field relationship, as far as looks, they're trying to get both of those guys the ball. Fuller can obviously create the big play very quickly, and it's a big problem as far as the deep part of the field is concerned. 

Q:  How valuable is last year's Broncos tape to you ask it relates to Brock Osweiler and what stood out to you about him from that performance?

MP: I think if you take a look at him last year, when you're evaluating the Broncos tape, you're just evaluating the player. You kind of take a look at him as an individual and now consider the system and the scheme and Coach [Bill] O'Brien and Coach [George] Godsey, obviously, they do a great job with what they do. But if you look at [Brock] Osweiler just as a quarterback from our games, an extremely posed guy. He's a tough guy, we hit him a lot, we hit him hard. He's a big guy, bounced up, stayed in the game, didn't really say very much. I thought he really just had a great composure about himself and just kind of command when he was out there on the field. Just someone who we had a chance to play, and obviously not with multiple years of experience, but stayed in there and did a great job as far as controlling the offense and controlling the game, so that was pretty impressive. 


Q: How will the offense change, if at all, if Jacoby Brissette does end up starting Thursday night?

JM: We always try to do what's right for the week. You know there are a lot of variables that go into that and certainly we consider all positions, so if we have some situation where we're missing somebody on the offensive line, or receiver position, tight ends, you know, quarterback, running back - we consider all of those variables as we prepare our plan for the opponent that we're playing and then have to consider the opponent considerably and the problems that they present and try to come up with the right plan for the week. So, our formula won't change. We'll just try to figure out exactly what it is that we feel best about based on the circumstances that we'll have ultimately for the game and then try to go out there and play our best on Thursday night.

Q: What makes LeGarrette Blount so effective with a heavy workload and did you see anything different from him in the second half yesterday?

JM: We've always had a lot of confidence in LeGarrette. He has had a lot of big games here for us and helped us win a lot of games and he doesn't just carry the ball; he did some things in terms of protection. He helped us on the edge with some of their good pass rushers. He has made some plays in the passing game when we've given him the opportunity too. LG [LeGarrette Blount] is always ready to go, practices hard, prepares hard for each week, and whatever we ask of him he embraces his role on our team. It just so happened yesterday, you know, he ended up with quite a few carries and that's happened before. However the game goes, sometimes that determines that you do something more or less as the game moves along. I guess today [during film] I thought he did a good job with his opportunities of producing for us in some critical situations.

Q: What did you think of the offensive line's performance yesterday?

JM: Yeah, you know, it's a really good front. It's a good team that we played; a good defense at all three levels. They pose a lot of challenges to you and I thought our guys stood up to the challenge and fought for four quarters. They made some plays on us and we expected them to do that during the course of a 60-minute game, but I thought our guys hung in there, and worked well together, and played tough, and physical, and really in the fourth quarter there when we really needed to control the game - we were trying to end it there at the end - I thought they really came through big with some big runs in some critical situations that allowed LeGarrette to pound out a few first-downs there towards the end of the game.

Q: Are you guys able to teach quarterbacks how to take hits during practice or is that something that just needs to come with game experience?

JM: Well, I think certainly there's a lot that goes into that; protecting ourselves physically and all of the work that we do in the offseason, and all of the lifting, and running, and managing and taking care of our bodies with the players. I think all of that stuff goes into trying to keep their bodies as safe as you can during the course of a long season, and just understanding there are times where you're going to take some hits and that's football. Other times maybe there's an opportunity for you to avoid something and if you can then obviously the right thing to do would be to do that if you make that decision. There are a lot of things that go into the split-second decision when you have the ball in your hands and you're trying to continue to move the football offensively. So, those things, you can learn them as you play more in terms of how long to hold it and what not, but ultimately you're trying to help your team win. Sometimes those things are going to happen.

Q: Where do things stand right now with the quarterback situation and have you ever gone into a game before with just one healthy quarterback on the roster?

JM: I'm not exactly sure. Like I said, we'll find out more I think as the day goes on relative to that whole situation. You know, there have been a few situations where you've had or been around a situation where you've had one guy more healthy than another and you go to the game and you're hoping that the percentages are on your side. Generally that's not the case. Usually you go to the game with multiple guys that could go in and play at that position.

Q: What did you learn about Jacoby Brissette yesterday during the second half?

JM: A lot of positives. Jacoby's a rookie that doesn't have any game experience and yet when he went into the game I didn't think - he had good poise and composure and managed the situation well initially. And then had an opportunity to talk at halftime about some things that we wanted to do in the second half and I thought he took advantage of his opportunities. Like every quarterback who's a young player, you're going to learn things as you play and perform in regular season games that you've never had an opportunity to experience. [I'm] hoping that not only Jacoby but a lot of our young players that played for the first time or the second time have an opportunity to really grow from that experience and improve and get better and make a lot of strides, because I think that's something that you could really use, those game experiences to make the most progress. There's a lot that can be taught in practice and OTA's and those types of things, but when you have an opportunity to go out there and try to execute on Sunday against another good opponent with really good players and a tough scheme, I think that only accelerates the learning process if you can take those lessons and then make progress on them each week.

Q: Do you have to toe the line between understanding the reality of having a young, inexperienced quarterback but also needing to put together a game plan that can win you a game?

JM: Well, I'm not exactly sure of the circumstances yet this week so I'm not willing to say anything in terms of how many guys we have on the team or what not. We'll find out a lot more as we go through the week. Our goal each week is going to be to try to put together the best plan that we can with the group of guys we're dealing with and consider the team that we have to play and get ready for and try to go out there and produce. There's only one reason we go out there on the field, and that's to try and score points each time we have the ball. So, we're going to make the best effort we can to prepare hard and that's our expectation and that won't change this week.

Q: How does the uncertainty at quarterback affect your game plan preparation as well as the rest of the players?

JM: We're going to put together a game plan for them and they're all going to learn their roles and they're going to focus on their job. I don't think they're going to worry about all of that stuff at this point. Whichever guy is out there playing quarterback I think they're going to have confidence in him and we're going to have plenty of time to go through what we need to go through in the next three days to prepare ourselves to play well. Our game plan process - there's always things like this every single week. Who may or may not play? Who is or isn't quite healthy enough? Who may or may not practice the first day or two of the week, or what have you and there's a lot of that that goes on every single week. So, this is nothing different for us. This is, I would say normal, for the National Football League and we deal with it a lot and have contingency plans in place and that's the way you've got to coach in this league because you're never quite certain about who may or may not be ready to go by the end of the week, and again, you can't get caught up in the things that you can't control. All you can focus on is the things that we have to do well on Thursday night to try to help our team win.

Q: Is the contingency plan you mentioned an alternate game plan or is it just a matter of tweaking the original game plan?

JM: I mean you have to have a lot of things ready to go. Like I said, you could lose - we're one or two guys away from having issues at a lot of positions. So, you know, you're just going to put together the plan that you feel best about. You can't practice two, three, four different types of game plans in the course of the week, so we'll put together the best one that we can and have a good three days of preparation and go out there and give our guys an opportunity to play well on Thursday night.

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