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Patriots Conference Call Transcripts 9/4

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


Q: How hard did Danny Amendola have to work off the field to prove that he was ready and healthy to be on the active roster to start the season?

BB: Well, we wouldn't activate a player unless we had the medical department clear them and we felt like he would be able to perform and participate. Danny works hard like he always does and we feel he's ready to come off of that reserve designation.

Q: What have you seen from Elandon Roberts that has made you guys want to continue to work with him?

BB: Well, Elandon was a very productive player in college and I think that instinctiveness carried over into the spring and training camp. He runs well, he's around the ball, he's aggressive, so he's improving. Still, like all rookies, has a ways to go but he is improving and making progress.

Q: Has the preparation for Arizona begun and in general how difficult is it to prepare for the opening game?

BB: Well, yeah, Week 1 is always a tough week to prepare for because just the number of unknowns, the lack of game planning that teams do in the preseason, so we can go back and look at last year. That's a lot of volume of stuff so, look, I know that's a lot of games. There's no way they could do everything in our game that they did last year, plus looking at the preseason, just trying to plug it all in and think what you might get but you know that they worked on some things in preseason that they probably haven't shown in those games, so we'll just have to be ready to attack and defend the way that we want to - kind of generally want to plan to go into the game with - and then have to be ready to make adjustments during the game as we see how schemes and matchups and so forth unfold. So, after you get past Week 1 at least in Week 2 you can really see what your opponent tried to do in the first game. They didn't hold anything back. They're playing the people and doing the things that they think are the best and you get a much clearer read after that first game, but it's all the same for both teams, but that's part of the challenge of it. I'd say we'll get started on Arizona, really Tuesday will kind of be like a Wednesday for us, so that'll really be our big day in terms of digging into them. We'll get the process started today but like I said, we have a long way to go in terms of really hitting it from Tuesday through Friday this coming week. 

Q: We've seen Ted Karras play multiple positions across the offensive line. What has he shown you that has made him worthy of a spot on the active roster?

BB: I think kind of just as you put it Phil [Perry], Ted has played all three of the inside positions and he gives us a degree of versatility in there that several of the players that we had on the roster last year - we really didn't have that with. David Andrews and Bryan Stork were basically centers and Tre' Jackson and Shaq Mason were basically guards. I know we acquired Jonathan Cooper. He has really only played guard, plus obviously he has missed part of the preseason. Ted gives us some versatility in there. He's strong, he's a very smart kid, and works extremely hard, so just a lot of things to like about him in terms of his work ethic, his toughness, and how he prepares.

Q: What are your thoughts on the tight end depth and does James Develin's role as kind of an extra tight end play into the decision making at that position at all?

BB: Well, all those skill positions are interconnected in some way, but they're all different. As you know, there is really a different skill set with James relative to the tight ends and James playing primarily in the backfield and those guys playing primarily on the line of scrimmage. The tight end is a very competitive positon. I feel like we have good depth there. Between the practice squad and the 53-man roster, with those 63 players, that's really the depth of your team. In some cases you'd like to carry the depth on the roster and depth at other positons on the practice squad, and vice versa, so obviously with four tight ends on the active roster we've elected to carry our depth there.

Q: Have you noticed the fact that a picture of Tom Brady has been placed up on the lighthouse at Gillette Stadium this morning?

BB: No, I haven't seen it.

Q: How have the Cardinals been utilizing Chandler Jones thus far?

BB: Well, in their 3-4 defense he plays outside linebacker and in their nickel defense he plays defensive end. Their outside linebackers rush quite a bit, so there is some coverage, but their outside linebackers are predominantly rushers, so a lot of times they're bringing five people.

Q: How accurate would it be to say that the Cardinals are at the top of the list in terms of teams that will blitz the most?

BB: Well, they bring five rushers out of their base defense a good percentage of the time. I wouldn't say that they are a heavy sub-blitzing team or they haven't been. They do it, [but] there are other teams that are going to give us different blitz packages, I'd say a lot more complex than what Arizona has shown. Arizona does what they do. They're very successful in what they do defensively. They turn the ball over really more than any team. They're very good upfront and they have a lot of playmakers in the secondary and they have a lot of team speed when you get into their linebackers, especially their off-the-ball linebackers like [Deone] Bucannon, he's really like another [defensive back]. A lot of times their base is like nickel and their nickel is kind of like dime, so they have a lot of team speed on the field. They bring five out of their base defense a decent amount of time. I wouldn't say this is the most exotic blitz team we'll ever see though. I just wouldn't characterize it that way.

Q: Given how much depth this team seemed to have across the roster during training camp, was this an especially difficult year to make roster cuts compared to previous years?

BB: I think that would be a fair characterization. I think that's fair. I think overall our depth was good in camp and I think we had quite a few players beyond the 53 that will play in the league this year whether it's for us or somebody else eventually after things get sorted out. They all obviously can't make it at once or right now but it certainly wouldn't surprise me to see a lot of those guys, as I said, playing for somebody before it's all over here. So yeah, I think that definitely was challenging. As I said, it's a question of when you have depth who you want on the 53-man roster but where else you can carry it or want to try and carry it. Sometimes it's off the roster, sometimes it's on the roster and maybe that player is inactive for a while, or until he's ready or until you need him. Maybe it's on the practice squad, so there's really a lot of different ways to look at it, but somehow there I think you're going to try and create it. It's just, like I said, a question of where it is and how it is structured.

Q: Was the release of Geneo Grissom just a matter of how much depth you have at that positon?

BB: Well, all of the decisions we made with players that we kept and players that we released were the things that we felt were best for our football team to make our football team as competitive as we can make it. There are a lot of players, as I said, that we released or aren't on our roster right now that do things well, have value, would help us, but we have to select the ones that [fit best] to be in compliance with the roster limits and to go forward with at this time. I'm sure they'll be a lot of player movement in the first month of the season like there always is on our team and most every other team in the league. We'll see how all of that goes. Obviously, they'll be player movement for us in Week 5, but even up until that point I'm sure that there will be adjustments. We've done it in the past. I wouldn't be surprised if we do it this year. Again, quite frankly it's something that's pretty common throughout the entire league. I really think that the roster settling takes place in October. I don't really get too worked up over it right now; single digit days of September. There is a long way to go and there are a lot of things to sort out on every team and certainly our team. We'll just see where it all turns out, but there are plenty of players that aren't on our roster that are good football players that have good skills that I think will be playing in the league, as I said, for us or somebody else one way or another, sooner or later, so how all of that unfolds we'll just have to see, but there are a lot of moving parts.


Q: What are some of the things you've seen from this Arizona Cardinals defense?

JM: There are a lot of things they do well across the board. They're very well coached. They have a lot of good players at all levels of the defense. They create a lot of turnovers. I think they were second in the league last year in terms of turnovers; scored 140 points off turnovers, and scored many times on defense themselves once they turned the ball over. Like every game, taking care of the football is going to be important, and they do an exceptional job of putting you in position to try to take the ball away. Whether that be creating fumbles, creating interceptions through pressuring the quarterback - they have a lot of good cover players and a lot of good rushers. It's a defense that likes to pressure. They're going to force you to handle the blitz throughout the game on all three downs, in the red zone and in all the critical situations, so you're going to have to be able to block pressure or to handle it in some way so that you can avoid negative plays and negative situations and keep them off the quarterback. They obviously have a lot of exceptional players - [Tyrann] Mathieu, [Patrick] Peterson, [Deone] Bucannon, Chandler Jones, [Calais] Campbell, [Corey] Peters; they've got a whole bunch of them. We're excited to get started on our preparation. We've got a lot of work to do, we've got a lot of people to get familiar with because this is a team that we don't know very well even though we've had a lot of time to prepare for them. We've really got to do a good job of understanding how they play and how they win. There are a lot of things we're going to have to do well on Sunday night to do that.  

Q: Is there an element of unknown in Jimmy Garoppolo's preparedness that won't be answered until you actually get into the regular season?

JM: There's really nothing that can give you the experience of playing in a regular season game other than playing in them. Jimmy [Garoppolo] has done a great job of working hard for the two and a half years that he's been there and studying and improving every year in our system and with what he can do in it. He's going to prepare hard this week and be ready to go in the game. Jimmy is a part of the team and we're going to ask all of our guys to do certain things that we're going to need to get done to win the game. Whatever that group of things is at the quarterback positon, we're going to be ready to do those things. Everybody's going to play a part in that. The burden is not going to fall on another person. Jimmy is excited to have this opportunity. He has worked extremely hard and prepared hard for it, and again, we're going to look to prepare as hard as we can this week and then get better with each one of these opportunities. 

Q: What have you seen from D.J. Foster that separated him from the other candidates at the running back position?

JM: D.J. [Foster] has made the most of his opportunities. That's all we can ask of any player is to be ready to go when we put him in there and whatever it is we ask of them, to try to go out and do it the best they can. I thought he took advantage of those in more than one way. We handed the ball to him, we threw it to him. He blocked blitzers. He was involved in a lot of different things. He's worked hard since he's been here. He's certainly a young player with a long way to go of continuing to improve and making progress, but I thought he tried to do the best that he could with the opportunities that we gave him over the last few weeks. I look forward to continuing to work with D.J. 

Q: What have you seen from Jimmy Garoppolo in his ability to handle the ups and downs of training camp and the preseason games?

JM: Each opportunity is an opportunity to improve. Every practice, I know that sounds cliché, but every practice we learn something that may help us get better in a number of ways. Every game rep that we take helps us because it's just more experience doing things that we need to do well in our sport. Jimmy [Garoppolo] has been steady. We're not going to get too high or too low based on one day, one play or one series or one quarter of football. I think that's part of playing in this league and trying to do a good job; maintaining a steady state of mind and understanding that there are a lot of good players on every team we play and there are a lot of good coaches on the other teams too. They're going to make some plays and our job is to go out there and try to do the best we can on every snap, and hopefully we make more plays at the end of each game than they do. I think staying grounded and balanced and focusing on moving forward to the next series, the next game, the next quarter, whatever it may be, and trying to do the best with each opportunity, take each play as its own, and make the most of it when we get our chances. 

Q: How much do you hold back in your play calling during the preseason and do you have fun game planning for the first regular season game because it's your chance to show a new set of plays you've been working on all camp?

MP: There's always - schematically, I think you try to make smart decisions when you're going through training camp, the offseason and OTAs. In preseason games you don't hold everything back. You've got to run things that you feel comfortable running. Certainly, there might be some things that you're waiting and trying to improve on before you use them in a game. In Week 1, there's always a lot of uncertainty. There's always roster situations on both sides of the ball, there are injuries that could come up in the last few weeks of the preseason. There are schematic questions - whether the other team is going to do exactly what you thought they were going to do or not do. I think all of those things exist and I think that you have to go in there with a plan that you feel good about with your players, that they feel good about - have a good week of preparation in practice. You have a little extra time here to let things sink in and to really nail down, hopefully, the details and the finer points of what you want to do, and then go out there and hopefully let the players play fast. That's the most important thing, that the players feel comfortable with what we're doing and giving them an opportunity to go out there and do their jobs as well as they can. 

Q: Is there anything you're hoping to see from Jimmy Garoppolo this week being the first week without Tom Brady around?

JM: No, I think Jimmy [Garoppolo] has got to be himself. We've always tried to prepare as hard as we could. Jimmy has always worked as hard as he could to try to be ready for each practice and each game. I think that's what Jimmy's job is - to work hard, be ready to go, know what he's being asked to do this week and to be himself. We have a lot of different personalities, a lot of different guys on our football team and in our offense. Each guy is different in the leadership, emotion and poise that they show and that they can help the team with, so I would ask that all of them do that - just be themselves. We don't need anybody to be somebody else. We certainly don't need our guys to be thinking about trying to do anything that's really not something they're comfortable doing. Jimmy is going to work hard this week to do what we're asking Jimmy to do, and we're not going to ask any more than that. 

Q: Do you like the versatility and flexibility that the tight ends group provides?

JM: Yeah, each one of them is a little different. We try to put them out there and use them in the positions and the areas of the game that they really can excel in, have some success and help our team move the ball and score points. All of them have done different things whether it be in the running game, passing game, pass protection. There are some contributors certainly from that group in the kicking game, so we're excited about that group in general. They've all worked hard to try to help our team in a number of different ways in a number of different roles and we're looking forward to moving into the season with them. 

Q: How would you characterize the progression of Jacoby Brissett and why do you as a staff feel comfortable with the possibility of needing to put him in high-pressure situations in a moment's notice?

JM: I know Jacoby [Brissett] is a rookie but he has been in every meeting, every practice and every session that we could be with him. He has put in an awful lot of hard work and he has spent a lot of time trying to improve his craft and learn our system and improve each day that he has been here. I think he'll be ready with his role and, like all of our players, we're not that far away from playing anybody. We have three or four different guys at any position, really, that can just go in there and just keep putting a new guy in there. Jacoby has earned the opportunity and he understands the responsibility that comes with. He'll work hard this week to be ready to go and if he needs to play, he'll know what his job is. We have confidence in him that he'll be able to go in there and execute his job well. 

Q: How do you manage the fine line of playing fast but under control as an offensive coordinator?

JM: Just knowing what you need to do on each play and each series and what you're trying to accomplish, and then effectively taking care of your job and the responsibilities that apply to you. I think when we talk about playing fast, more than anything we're talking about being sure of what you're doing. That comes from repetition and preparation. Whatever the plan is that we're going to have going into each week, hopefully we do a good job of communicating those responsibilities and our expectations of how we want them done, and the players will study as hard as they possibly can and go out there and practice well and gain confidence through our repetitions in practice. Then when you get in the game, it's really just about when you hear the play called or when you call the play, feeling good about that call because you executed in practice, and you have an opportunity now to go out there and execute it under pressure. There's nothing that feels better, I would imagine to anybody, then being able to go out and do something that you've already done and that you feel confident in doing. Hopefully, that's what we'll arrive at. That's what our goal is each week, and it will start this Sunday with Arizona. 


Q: What do you see from this Arizona Cardinals offense that will challenge your defense?

MP: Well, obviously we have a huge challenge in front of us this week. We will have a very explosive offense that we're facing. It's all going to start with their head coach and his offensive system. [Bruce] Arians does a great job of incorporating the position players and skill players that he has into the system that he runs. It's a very productive offense. The quarterback Carson Palmer's done a great job of orchestrating that offense and if you look at the different things they've done through the course of the time there through last year, you're looking at a team that obviously, they gain a lot of yards in overall yardage. They gain a lot of yards in the passing game. There's a lot of big-play passes downfield. They have vertical speed at the receiver position. They have tough players at the receiver position. They have really good and big tight ends that can push the ball vertical and also run, block on the edge. They have excellent backs, really good players that create yardage and get downhill into the defense. A very balanced offense, both run and pass, very productive offense both in yardage and points - putting a lot of points on the board, controlling the clock, big plays downfield. So it's overall a really good offense, very balanced, very dangerous team we are going to face this week.

Q: How do you prepare with new players every year heading into the first game of the year?

MP: Well, every first game of the year is new so it doesn't matter if you're a new player or a player who has been here for a while, whatever the case may be. We start over every season. It's the first game of the year, travelling out to Arizona, there's a lot of things that you have to be ready to handle, things that we're really not sure what they're going to do or how they're going to play from that standpoint. There's a lot of unknown, I guess is the best way to put it and we just have to go out and try to execute to the best of our ability like we've been doing through the spring and through training camp. For us it's just kind of normal mode - head down and grind through it like we do and just try to prepare to the best of our ability to go out and perform well.

Q: Does this game include a lot more in-game adjustments than normal because of the unknowns going into it?

MP: It's hard to really say what game has more in-game adjustments than the next but this certainly, from a game standpoint, would be a game where we're going to have to adjust something at some point. There will be probably something we haven't seen or something that comes up that we need to fix just like every other game. That's just kind of what we're trying to do when we go into every game. If there are problems, we're going to adjust and fix it and make sure that it doesn't come up again in the game and hurt us. Certainly we'll have to do that again this week. 

Q: What did you see from Jonathan Jones in training camp this summer that made him stand out in the competition for a cornerback spot?

MP: With all the guys that we have competing through training camp, certainly he went out and tried to make some plays and improve as we were going through and certainly showed his skill set where we think he can help us out there at the corner position. Just in general when you come down through it, we're trying to get guys to fit in what we're trying to do and how we want to play. Certainly he has great speed and some good ability, so just in general guys showed us a lot of improvement through the course of the training camp.

Q: What do you see in terms of contrast form the Cardinals' running backs in their skill sets? 

MP: Sure, you can start with David Johnson, No. 31 - big, strong, fast, very patient runner, a guy that can get downhill into the defense very quickly. He's very elusive, a patient runner, so you think you might have him pinned in the backfield and he just slides into open space and has enough strength and power to break tackles and get vertical. Very dangerous from that standpoint, can get out of the backfield, can catch the ball, can make plays in space. Certainly a guy that can get to the edge, get downhill, kind of, 'do everything' running back there. Chris Johnson we obviously know is very explosive, very fast player, very good space player, but is a guy that will run the ball downhill and take it into open space and try to get positive yards. I think that's one of the things with all their backs that they do - they try to make sure there are no negative plays. If you look at it, they're falling forward, they're getting yardage, they're always positive with their run plays. Two very productive players and even [Andre] Ellington, 38, is another explosive, fast guy and really good in space, does a good job with the ball in his hands, whether it's in the pass or the run game, a guy they're putting out there to try to get the ball to. Three very good backs, all a little bit different but all still do a lot of the same things.

Q: How, from what you have seen, can the Cardinals' receiving corps and their speed challenge a defense?

MP: Sure, I think it's a good complement, what they're trying to do and why they're so balanced between the run and the pass game. Obviously the run game sets up the play-action game and the more they can get you to commit to the play-action with the second-level players on defense, then the deeper balls or the longer throws downfield are going to be opened up and they certainly have the speed to get those receivers downfield into that space. So, from the run/pass complement, the run and play-action game, those are two great qualities they have working in their favor in both those situations. The receivers are big, they're fast, they can get vertical, but they do a good job also in the catch-and-run category. They'll get the ball out quickly. Carson does a great job of reading the defense, getting the ball out fast to the receiver as he spreads the ball around and they do an excellent job in the catch-and-run. Once the ball is in their hands they're still very dangerous as far as splitting the defense or creating a big play. One missed tackle and you have a problem - really good complementary skill players. 

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