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Patriots Postgame Quotes 9/8

HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK

Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, September 8, 2019

BB: Well, it's always good to start off the season like that. I thought our guys really did a great job in preparing for a really good Pittsburgh team. We just played well across the board – offense, defense, special teams. We made plays in all three phases of the game, got good field position out of the kicking game and moved the ball and scored points on offense and held them to three points on defense. Just give the players the credit. They were ready to go. They played well. We'll turn the page here and move on to Miami, where obviously we haven't done very well down there. We've got a big week in front of us. It's good to get off to a good start, a long way to go, a lot of things we can still keep working on and get better at, but the players were ready to go tonight. They did a good job.

Q: Can you talk about the sequence there in the second quarter where the defense was able to get some stops and then open it up a bit offensively?

BB: Yeah, I thought our defensive players played well across the board. It's hard to get to [Ben] Roethlisberger. He does a good job back there, but I thought we were around him and covered well, tackled well. Again, this is a very good group of skill players. Our players really competed hard against them today. We had a couple of big third-down stops, fourth-down stops, a stop down around the goal line. We made some big plays when we had to.

Q: When things unfold the way they did with Kyle Van Noy and he becomes unavailable to you, what is the trickle-down effect of that personnel wise?

BB: Yeah, well we had planned on having five outside linebackers active, so fortunately that was a position we have pretty good depth at, so the four guys there – [Shilique] Calhoun, [Chase], Winovich, [John] Simon and Jamie [Collins] – they did a good job. I mean, they all played and I think they all played fairly well on defense as a group. But it was fortunate that we had some depth there. But look, that could happen on the first play of a game anyway, so you always have to be ready for that, but our guys responded to it well. They did a great job.

Q: What might Antonio Brown add to this offense? Is there anything you can tell us about the decision to reportedly sign him?

BB: Yeah, no, I'll talk about the game and the players that are on our team. I thought they did a great job tonight. Offensively we had some balance and made some big plays, had a couple of big throws down the field for touchdowns and big gains. Anytime you can get those explosive plays that helps open things up.

Q: Can you talk about the evolution of Phillip Dorsett in this offense?

BB: Yeah, well, Phil has got a lot of speed. He can definitely stretch the field and we've seen him make those big plays before. We've seen it in practice. He had some big catches for us and, again, that opened up some other things offensively as well. Tom [Brady] did a great job, solid coverage, hit him. I mean, sometimes those are the toughest throws for a quarterback when a guy is wide open running down the middle of the field, but he put it right on him. Phil's done a good job for us, been out there every day. He's a tough kid that's been very dependable. Smart, plays all the positions and has come through for us in a lot of big games.

Q: How big of an impact in it on the offensive line when Marcus Cannon goes down to injury and it causes now two guys to move positions in order to fill that spot?

BB: Yeah, well, most teams take seven offensive linemen to the game. That's what we had. Obviously, if something happens you've got to make a move somewhere. You can't back up every position. Somebody's got to move.

Q: The last couple of seasons the defense has started a bit slow. Do you feel that this group is ahead this year in terms of their understanding and level of execution?

BB: Yeah, I don't know. We've got 15 games to go. We'll see what we do this week in Miami. We'll just take it one game at a time.

Q: What did you see from Tom Brady in terms of his chemistry with Julian Edelman and Josh Gordon, two receivers he didn't get to work much with during the preseason?

BB: Well, as I said, we made a lot of plays offensively. There's still, I think, a lot of room for improvement across the board. Those guys will work hard at it, as they always do. Hopefully, we'll continue to be productive.

Q: Do you have any comment on the reports of Antonio Brown signing?

BB: No. Next.

Q: The offensive game plan seemed very intricate tonight. Can you talk a little bit about the game plan that Josh McDaniels installed and the way it was executed?

BB: Yeah, Josh always does a great job of utilizing the players that are available, putting them in great positions and attacking the defense. Every week is a little bit of a different challenge based on the scheme and the players that we're up against, but Josh does a great job of organizing the game plan, play-calling, making adjustments in the game. I thought he did a great job tonight. The players did a great job executing. We took care of the ball. We had a lot of positive plays. It was a good outing.

Q: How nice was it to finally see Isaiah Wynn out there in his first regular-season game?

BB: Yeah, well, it's been great to see him out there all training camp. Each week it's been a little bit more. He's a good football player. I'm glad we have him. I'm glad he got to play all night tonight.

Q: Could you feel the energy of the crowd at all tonight at the start of the game?

BB: I thought the crowd was definitely in the game tonight. Look, all we can do is go out there and play hard and try to make plays. But yeah, I thought they were into it, for sure.

QUARTERBACK TOM BRADY

Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, September 8, 2019

Q: You started off the night with some errant throws. Do you feel like, even with your experience, you need time on an opening night to ease back into the game?

TB: Yeah, I mean, I think that it’s this part of the season, so there’s a lot of things to improve. I could certainly do a lot better job in certain areas. So, get back to work. It was the first game. It’s good to start 1-0. Some guys made some big plays. I loved how Phil [Dorsett] played, Josh [Gordon] made plays, Jules [Julian Edelman] did – I think the receiving group – so it was some good things to build on and try to improve it next week.

Q: Given what Gordon has been through and what his potential is for the team, to see him play as well as he did, will that give the team a lift?

TB: Yeah, I think Josh is a great player, and he was last year for us. It’s great to have him out there. He’s a dynamic player and every game that we play together, there’s just more things that come up, there’s more trust that’s built, and I’ll keep finding a way to get him the ball.

Q: You didn’t have a chance to work with Gordon or Edelman much in training camp. How do you feel like your chemistry was with those guys tonight?

TB: Yeah, we’ve got plenty of work to do. I think it was good we didn’t turn the ball over. We were pretty penalty-free for a while until the fourth quarter. Our defense played great. So, it’s a good formula for winning – don’t turn it over, not a lot of penalties. You know, we could have a done a better job in the red area, which I think we can do. So, I don’t think anything was perfect tonight, and we’ll try to get back to work tomorrow and try to get ready for next week in Miami. 

Q: You have had time to work with Phillip Dorsett, however. How much was that a factor with him tonight?

TB: He did a great job. You know, Phil’s smart, dependable, consistent, tough, continued to take advantage of his opportunity and he’s done a great job for us. He plays a lot of different spots. He was out there all training camp and came up with two huge plays tonight. So, it was great getting him the ball, seeing him score like that, and you can’t forget about him because he can run through the defense and make a lot of plays with the ball in his hands. We’ll just keep spreading it around.

Q: There’s an old baseball expression, "Chicks dig the long ball." How much do you like throwing it deep?

TB: Yeah, that’s a good saying. Yeah, we all dig the long ball. 

Q: How fun was it for you to air it out tonight and have that opportunity?

TB: Yeah, it was good to get a few of those in there. Yeah, it was definitely good to get a few in there. It was a game we weren’t – it just didn’t feel like we were making consistent enough plays, and the big plays really helped us tonight. They’ll help us every week if we keep making them, but I think it’s got to be different things every week. Sometimes it’s big plays; sometimes it’s more methodical drives. Whatever they’re going to defend, we’ve got to figure out how to execute against. So, we’ll get back to work again. It’s the first game of the year, so there’s a lot to learn from, a lot of new players out there. We’re going to try to build on tonight and try to get to 2-0. 

Q: We saw a lot of those two-back sets with two receiving backs, Rex Burkhead and James White, on the field at the same time. What kind of advantage does that provide the offense, as well as what it does to the defense?

TB: Yeah, it’s good to get those guys involved in the game, too. Because with the halfback, and you know you just wait for one halfback every play, those guys don’t play a lot and they’re such good players for our team, you’ve got to find ways to get them both on the field. I think the good thing about those guys is they’re all versatile. They run, they catch and blitz-pickup. So, I think when you’re able to do all three, it puts a lot of stress on the defense. They’re going to play a big role for us all season. We have some depth at that position, and it’s going to be a critical position for us all year. 

Q: You guys put up some points tonight. Can you talk about the brilliance of Josh McDaniels and how you guys work together?

TB: Yeah, we’ve had a great relationship for a long time. I have so much trust in him and what he puts together every week. He works extremely hard, he’s diligent. He puts a lot of pressure on the defense, and that’s what you’ve got to do. You’ve got to keep forcing different things. I think over the course of the season, you’ve got to figure out a lot of different ways. I think this team gets used to that. It’s not you’re going to win like this every single week. Some days it’s going to be more to the back, some days it’s going to be more to the receiver, some days it’s more tight ends, more it’s the run game – that’s the ebb and flow of the season. Again, I think defense played great. They have been doing that all season, and hopefully that continues and hopefully we can keep taking care of the ball, play good field position. We’ve got to do a better job when we get in the red area and score more points, and I think we can do that. 

Q: Robert Kraft told Al Michaels that you were “a million percent in” on Antonio Brown. Are you excited about the addition of him and what he can do for this team? Do you see at all any difficulty in having him assimilate to the team?

TB: I think everybody’s excited to add great players. It helps everybody when you have great players that are sharing the burden of a tough football season. I think, like anything else, whether it was Josh last year or Phillip when he got here a few years ago late, and then this year Antonio, how much can you learn and process and get in here? And we’re all going to work hard and try to get up to speed as fast as possible. But, we haven’t had a training camp together or that, so you’ve got to force a lot of information. We’re all excited to have him. All I could say is we’re just going to work as hard as we possibly can to get up to speed as quickly as possible.

Q: What’s your role as a team leader for helping Antonio get acclimated to this situation?

TB: You know, I think all us players are trying to be the best player that we can be for the team. There’s a lot of things that play into that, but we’re all trying to reach our highest potential individually so that we can reach our highest potential collectively. It doesn’t come together just because you say, "Oh, all you guys are going to come together." Antonio’s had a lot of production, Demaryius [Thomas] has had a lot of production, Julian’s had a lot of production, Josh has had a lot of production, Phillip had a great game tonight. So, the point is we’ve got a lot of players that are talented and we’ve just got to figure out how to make it all work. We’re going to work hard. It’s a long year. It’s the beginning of a long marathon and the NFL’s very competitive and it’s going to be a great challenge, but I think we’re all looking forward to it.

WIDE RECEIVER JOSH GORDON

Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, September 8, 2019

Q: How did it feel to get back out on the field and contribute the way you did? Did you have fun out there?

JG: That was the main goal for me, just have as much fun as possible. Go as hard and put as much of myself out there as I possibly could, and I had a good time with it. That was my number one objective.

Q: Do you feel like your chemistry with Tom Brady is really coming together?

JG: We have spent a lot of time together. I would say so. I think over the course of time, talking together, working together after practice, in-between practice – yeah, I get the feel for what he likes and I try to find my way there as best I can. I think it'll get better, it's the first game so we're building.

Q: How would you characterize how you're doing health-wise first and on the field second?

JG: I'm doing very well. I'm extremely filled with gratitude every day, just enjoying myself. Coming inside this building, being with this family-oriented type of environment, and just doing what I love to do. There's nothing better than this, honestly. It's great.

Q: When you came here, there were a lot of questions surrounding how you may be able to fit into the Patriots culture. Can you share what has helped you, and what advice would you give Antonio Brown?

JG: For me, initially it was a culture shock. It was definitely different. I think as I grew in this environment and got to observe other young men move and organize and act professionally, expectations were high. It wasn't anything more than what I think they knew that they could do was being asked of them. I was like, "Alright, this is the way it's done here." I could either get with it, or look for a transition somewhere else. It's tough, but if this is what you want to do, I think this is the best place to be.

Q: And for Antonio?

JG: Antonio is Antonio. He's going to have to figure out his own way, just like everybody else has.

Q: We know about your physical abilities in the gym, but on the touchdown reception and big gain over the middle of the field today, it seemed like you were very confident in yourself. How gratifying was it for you to go out and make those plays?

JG: Just working out with [head strength and conditioning coach] Moses Cabrera here every morning, he's been a real good resource for me. Coming back, getting into shape, making sure I'm on top of things and giving my best effort. We talk about it every day, what we want to put out there at practice. It feels good to know that we put together somewhat of a finished product this first week and were able to maintain. Now we want to be able to build upon it. So continued hard work, that's what we're all about. That's what I'm going to continue to try and do.

SAFETY DEVIN MCCOURTY

Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, September 8, 2019

Q: Only three points allowed seems like a great start. What would be your characterization of the defense played tonight?

DM: I think we just did a good job. Every time we play a good defensive performance, it's because we kind of stuck to the game plan. I would say that's what we did today. I talked about during the week just being able to adjust, and they gave us a lot of different things. Whether it was a two-back situation, if it was four-wide, five-wide, they did a bunch of different things. I think our ability to adjust and communicate out there helped us out a lot on defense, and that's something that we just have to continue to work on and get better because teams are going to do different things. I think it helps. We've got a lot of guys that could start on a lot of teams in the NFL, and guys are very selfless. Come out here, prepare when their number's called and go out there and play, and I think we've just got to keep that mentality all throughout.

Q: It seemed like you were able to substitute regularly. When you're making that many substitutions this early in the season, what does that say about the defensive signal calling?

DM: I think it's a credit to all of the guys on defense. Everybody's earned the opportunity to be out there playing, and I think that coach [Bill Belichick] is just doing a great job making sure everybody's fresh, putting different guys in there because everyone's played well. I mean, you guys have watched throughout preseason. We've had a number of guys that have been out there and played good football. I'm sure all you guys do your roster projections and you've changed it a bunch of times leading into this, and I think that's a credit to the guys that have been in this locker room, guys that are other teams now, since April have worked their butts off. So it feels good to come out here opening night and have a lot of guys play for us defensively, and a lot of guys play well.

Q: You mentioned earlier in the week how the sideline gets shortened now and you can see things on the field that you couldn't see before. Were you able to do that tonight?

DM: Yeah, and I think because of the experience we have in the secondary, when we're over there talking it's guys playing so many different roles that we're just discussing whatever it was. So when the next guy's in a different role, and he's in a role that a guy just came from, we can talk about this so they know what to expect. I thought that showed up throughout the game, us just continuing to talk and try to get things on the same page. They gave us some things that we kind of talked about, maybe, and we just did a good job of getting on the same page on every play. A lot of that comes from just being able to talk on the sideline. You'll see sometimes, the whole coaching staff is still meeting, talking about the last series and we're over there, Jay [Jason McCourty]'s holding the [Microsoft] Surface and we're going over it on our own because we've got a lot of guys that have played here for a long time.

Q: We're used to seeing Duron Harmon make deep ball interceptions late in games. Is there a sort of art to the closer pick late in games? How does it feel defensively when you get a stop like that when the opposition is trying to throw a deep ball?

DM: It's awesome because it's tiring out there once they start throwing every down and we're out there chasing a lot of these fast guys. Duron actually switched with me on that play so he could have been back there. So we always laugh and joke - there's been a couple times where I've switched with him and he's gotten an interception. So both of us just back there, we talk all throughout the week on quarterback reads, what we saw with Big Ben [Roethlisberger], how to play it in the middle. Either time either one of us get an interception, a lot of it is just us communicating during the week on how to play things and what we think is best. Our group is so unselfish. We all enjoy everybody making plays and you saw that tonight. There were a lot of pass breakups, a lot of good coverage and that's against a good offense. You're going against a Hall of Fame quarterback and a lot of good receivers.

Q: As one of the captains of the team, what is your reaction to the news of Antonio Brown signing with the team?

DM: Like I told Mike Giardi earlier, we've got plenty of time to talk about Antonio Brown. I just feel like tonight is a big credit to the guys that have been putting in work since April. He's a great player so we'll see how everything works out, but I was excited just to be out there with this team and guys competing and playing well tonight.

Q: You talked about the sideline a little, but when it comes to Jerod Mayo and Steve Belichick, what did they add to the defense tonight in terms of their communication with you on the field?

DM: I think the cool thing is that they both have great relationships with the players. Maybe it's because they're a lot closer in age to us. All throughout the week we're talking. Before drives, Steve's asking us what we like. Even earlier today, just talking about different things that we liked. Same thing with Mayo. So I think the thing that's been great around here is just constant communication. Not just players, but players and coaches just communicating what we like, what we don't like and just making sure we're all on the same page. I think that's how you play your best football, is when the guys on the sideline are working well together with all of the guys on the field because we're the guys out there that have got to make the plays.

PLAYERS IN THE LOCKER ROOM

Patrick Chung, S

(On his pass breakup)

“Actually High [Dont’a Hightower] gave me the heads up on that one, so that’s really a shout out to High. He got me in the position and I just made the play; that’s all that was. I told him, ‘Thank you for the heads up, you know I got you.’ ”

(On building off of the offensive momentum)

“We don’t worry about the offense. They’re going to do their thing, so we just worry about what we’re doing as we play. Good plays or bad plays, we just got to move on and just keep playing. That’s what it comes down to.”

(On the team’s performance)

“I feel as though everyone was just doing their job. When it comes down to it, it’s just everyone doing their job. As soon as one person becomes selfish, that’s when we give up the big plays. Everyone is just playing together and hopefully we can do that for the remainder of the season.”

Phillip Dorsett II, WR

(On team’s performance in the home opener)

“I think it was a good opener not just for me but for the whole team and our confidence. I think we played well as a unit both on offense and defense. There is still some stuff that we have to clean up but nothing is perfect and at the end of the day I am glad that we got the win.”

(On his family in the Bahamas dealing with Hurricane Dorian)

“It actually has been really tough for me, there is a lot going on over there. It is hard to make phone calls with the power being out. Everyone is alright though and at the end of the day that is all I am worried about.”

(On execution during first touchdown)

“It was great and it felt like we could definitely go fast. We didn’t know how they [Pittsburgh Steelers] would react but it definitely helped to boost our confidence. It helped us to move down the field a little more and it got us going.”

(On what makes a great play)

“I think it is a little bit of everything. We have plays that are designed for different situations. For me, it is to always be ready, run the right route and be where he [Tom Brady] wants you to be. You never know when the ball is going to come to you as a receiver but at the end of the day just be where you need to be.”

(On the importance of making a statement in tonight’s game)

“I wouldn’t say it was most important to make a statement, I would say the biggest part of offense is execution. Execution is a big word and we know that all eleven guys have to be in sync. Some plays we were and some we weren’t.”

Julian Edelman, WR

(On his 500th career catch)

“I didn’t even know it. It was good to go out there and get a win against someone in the conference. A Pittsburgh Steeler team. On opening day-it’s never as great as you want it to be. There’s always new stuff, you don’t have a lot of film on other guys, tendencies and all that stuff. It was good to go out there and establish what we did, build off it. It was a good starting point. Now we’ve got to move on and get ready for Miami.”

(On Phillip Dorsett)

“Phil, he made some plays and that’s why he’s here. He does that in practice and when you do it in practice, it becomes in game, so it was great to see him make plays. It was great to see Josh [Gordon] make plays. Jakobi [Meyers] came in and made a great catch. Gunner [Olszewski] is making great plays in punt (returns). It was good all the way around.”

(On Antonio Brown)

“It’ll be fun. He’s an explosive player and we’re happy to have him. The more playmakers you have out there, the better things will go.”

(On throwing the football)

“I can only do what the coaches ask of me to do, my arm will stay loose. James White made a great play and it’s always fun throwing the rock.”

Stephon Gilmore, CB

(On the team’s energy)

“First game, we were anxious to get out there and finally play in a real game. We’ve still got a long way to go to get better, but that’s a good win for us.”

(On the Antonio Brown signing)

“He’s a great player, obviously everybody knows that. I’m looking forward to him coming in and doing his job. That’s the main thing.”

(On advice he has for Antonio joining the Patriots)

“Compete every play, trust your teammates. We have great teammates, so as long as you trust your teammates and play for your teammates you’ll be okay.”

(On his strategy for defending JuJu Smith-Schuster)

“Just play aggressive, get my hands on him. He lined up in the slot a lot, just try to be aggressive. He made some plays and I made sure to get him on the ground. But it was a fun match-up.”

Duron Harmon, DB

(On what goes into creating momentum on short-yardage situations)

“Execution. We always talk about it. Practice is where you get that mindset to execute in games. We’ve been practicing hard from the beginning of OTA’s, to training camp, to now. We’ve just been locked in. Everybody has been on the same page and making sure they are doing their jobs. Everybody is being fundamentally sound and when we do that, we are a pretty good football team.”

(On why they were able to have such a complete performance)

“It goes back to the continuity we have. Some guys have been playing with each other for a while. There are a lot of veterans on the defense. When you have that continuity, that experience, and a lot of good football players, it makes your job easy.”

(On Stephon Gilmore quieting JuJu Smith-Schuster)

“Stephon is just a silent assassin. He doesn’t say much but he goes out there each and every week locked in and focused. We knew we liked that matchup. We knew we could leave Stephon alone and let him do what he did. JuJu is a good player. He made some plays, and Steph made some plays. That’s what you are going to have when two good players are going at each other.”

Ted Karras, OL

(On team’s overall performance in game)

“I thought that we played a solid game and I think it is a testament to how hard we all worked in camp.”

(On nerves ahead of a game)

“I am always nervous for a game. It is Sunday Night Football and the stakes are high. It is our livelihood and I care very deeply and always want to do by best.”

(On whether or not he thinks Bill Belichick will be as content with him this week as he was last Friday)

“I hope so. We are going to get coached tomorrow and that is a part of it. I think getting coached after a win is always better than the inverse. We are going to come in tomorrow and learn from some of the mistakes and we have a big week ahead in Week 2, I am really excited.”

Jason McCourty, CB

(On whether the secondary brings out the best in each other)

“For sure, we’re just constantly talking to each other. Obviously with a guy like Stephon [Gilmore] leading the group, what he is able to do week in and week out as far as shutting guys down is fun to watch. We’re always talking about our man-to-man things we can improve upon and things we can work on. We’re always communicating and we’re always talking. We can all fill different roles whether it is playing inside, playing outside. With guys moving around we are really able to complement this defense.”

(On how the Steelers looked)

“It was one of those things for us on defense that we didn’t know what to expect going in. We knew they could give us a wide variety of things, especially from a personnel grouping. They went three wide receivers, four wide receivers, five wide receivers. So that was a challenge for us, just to go in and out of different personnel groups.”

(On facing Ben Roethlisberger)

“Obviously with Ben Roethlisberger back there, for us in the secondary you leave a game like that and you’re exhausted. You’re running around chasing guys the entire game. I’m just proud of the way we were able to play and execute. We gave up some plays tonight but we were able to keep them out of the end zone which is really big.”

James White, RB

(On the team’s fast start)

“The first drive wasn’t all that, but the second drive we got it together. We ran a little bit of no huddle offense and got them moving off balance. We put the ball in the end zone, so it was a good second drive for us.”

(On the offense)

“We just run any way that we can. Whether it’s running the football or throwing the football, whatever it takes. We got a good offensive line, good receivers, good [running] backs, good quarterback and tight ends. We’re just doing whatever it takes to win.”

(On adapting to playing without Rob Gronkowski)

“We still have talented guys. [Ryan] Izzo did a great job out there. He may not have had ten catches or what not, but he did a great job blocking and doing what he had to do to help us move the football. Each week different guys are going to have to step up to help us.”

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