HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
Q: What makes Khalil Mack such a disruptive force defensively?
BB: He's big, strong and fast. He's got a lot of power. He does a good job of power-rushing and he's fast enough to get the edge. He has good ball awareness so he does a good job of tackling the quarterback when he has to tackle him, but if he has a chance to get the ball out he's got good ball awareness and can strip it out.
Q: Is ball security that much more of an emphasis when going against a player like him?
BB: Yeah, it sure is. Yeah. He's good at it and the quarterbacks have to be even more aware of it than they normally are, which is a lot. Yeah, he comes around that corner kind of close to the ball and he can get his hand in there and just swat it out.
Q: Given Matt Nagy's background as a coordinator with the Chiefs and Andy Reid, is there any crossover in preparing for his offense this week as you would've last week versus Kansas City?
BB: Yeah, definitely. There sure are. It's different but there's certainly some carryover. Of course one of the big differences is the personnel. Yeah, there's certainly a lot of carryover from Kansas City's basic stuff.
Q: What kind of challenges does that style of offense present to a defense typically?
BB: Well, I mean they have a lot of good players. They have good skill players, good receivers, big offensive line, good tight end, athletic quarterback, good backs. I mean there's some movement and some motion and shifting. I wouldn’t say it’s an extraordinary amount. They get the ball to a lot of different people and they're all pretty effective when they get it. That'll be a big challenge. They throw the ball down the field and have a lot of catch-and-run plays and have a good running game.
Q: Is Tarik Cohen similar at all to Tyreek Hill with their skills and the type of challenges that they present?
BB: I'd say Cohen's more of a back.
Q: And Hill is more of a receiver?
BB: Yes. I mean, they're both dangerous and they're both returners. They're booth dangerous, but Cohen lines up more in the backfield, or out of the backfield he's kind of out of the backfield as the back more than he's a receiver.
Q: Would it be fair to say your offenses production in the play-action passing game has improved in the past couple of weeks? In particular, how critical are your offensive linemen on those plays with their ability to sell the run?
BB: Well, Phil [Perry], I think, as you know, when the running game is effective, that helps the play-action passes a lot so probably nothing has helped our passing game more than the running game and vice versa. I'd say that’s really a big key for us. Throwing the ball to some different players or certainly making the plays look the same is tougher on the defense. If you're running the ball effectively that brings a lot more people to that run action than if you're not running it effectively.
Q: We've seen some uncharacteristically long kick returns against your kickoff unit this year. Is that perhaps an adjustment still to the new rules or is it a matter of one guy missing an assignment and the whole thing kind of unravels?
BB: Well, the coverage part of that, I would say, is we just got to do a better job. It's a multiple number of things. We've got to coach better. We've got to kick better. We've got to cover better. We need to tackle better. We're just not doing a good job, period. In the return game, we just haven’t had the kind of production that we'd like to have there either. There’s been some but I think we're leaving yards out there, so it's kind of the same thing. It starts with the coaching, the playing, the execution. It just all needs to be better.
Q: Is it surprising given that there hasn't been too much turnover among personnel on those units and you have Joe Judge returning as the coordinator, or is it just simply that it's a new year and there hasn't been any carryover?
BB: I wouldn't say there's no carryover, but I would say it's a new year. Who really cares about last year, or two years ago, or five years ago or 20 years ago?
Q: It just seems surprising to not see some carryover from the success you had last season on kick coverage.
BB: I'm not saying there isn't some carryover, but we're playing new teams. There's different matchups. Look, every kick in this league is different. They're not all the same. You match up different kicks with different returns. We have a basic way we do things but we're obviously not getting it done well enough. We need to do a better job of coaching it and a better job of executing it.
Q: Has the new rule on kickoffs that doesn't allow for a head start prior to the kick changed the coverage at all in the sense that it may not allow you to get down there as quick as in past years?
BB: Yeah, I think it's definitely slowed that down a little bit, maybe a step or so, 40 yards later or 30 yards later. There's been rules on both sides - the return team, the kicking team, where they align, where the kicking team aligns and so forth. It is what it is. Everybody’s playing with the same set of rules so we just need to do a better job of whatever the situation is.
Q: What did Josh Gordon do throughout the week last week that allowed him to take on such a bigger role this past Sunday night?
BB: I think each week his role has increased in practice and as far as the number of different things that he feels comfortable and we comfortable with him doing. I think it'll continue to go that way. That may not necessarily correlate exactly to number of snaps. I mean we don’t sit there and count snaps during the game. I would just say that his role is expanding weekly and we'll just see how it all plays out.
Q: Have you been happy so far with the ability for him and Tom Brady to get on the same page for the most part?
BB: I think our passing game is improving. I don’t think it's where it needs to be or is where we want it to be yet but its improving. Hopefully it'll continue to improve.
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR JOSH MCDANIELS
Q: Curious to get your read on Khalil Mack and how he impacts the offense and if there's anything you do to disrupt a player like that?
JM: Absolutely. This guy's a tremendous football player. We've played against him a couple times before when he was in Oakland. He's very athletic, he's powerful, he's quick, he plays with great effort, he's got a high motor, he's very disruptive both in the running game and in the pass game. He's got a knack for creating turnovers when he gets near the football, which he's already demonstrated in Chicago already in the short time that he's been there. He's just a great player and I think they have a number of guys on this defense that are really good. As you game plan for a team like this, you have to take into account the guys that certainly can disrupt you on any play and create negative situations, whether that's tackles for loss, sacks, strip-sacks, turnovers. You've got to take all that into account as you start the game planning process, and hopefully we can do the best we can to try to neutralize him. We're going to have to play really well against him. We're going to have to play well against [Akiem] Hicks and [Eddie] Goldman and [Leonard] Floyd, and they've got a really talented linebacking core that's quick and fast and really a good secondary that's got a knack for taking the ball away. He's certainly at the top of the list, but there's a lot of guys on their defense that we're going to have to do a great job on. So really, really good unit all together, top to bottom.
Q: The amount of opportunities for players can change week-to-week in this offense. Do you have to explain that to new players when they come here, or is that a given now across the league that that's the Patriot Way and it's understood that guys' roles are going to change week-to-week? How do you handle that with players in explaining that you have to put the team first and disregard your ego?
JM: Well the first question, I mean I'm not really sure how everybody else does it across the league. I can't speak for that. I can just say that our goal each week is to try to do the best we can on the offensive side of the ball to try to move the ball and score points against the defense that we're getting ready to face. That always includes trying – well, it includes a number of things, but certainly one of those things is to try to accentuate our strengths and the things that our players do well, and also at the same time take into consideration what the other team does well and how good they are and where their strengths are and what they do to disrupt you and how they win games defensively. There's no other agenda there other than to try to do the best we can with our players and the scheme that we have available to us and try to match that up against somebody else's group of players and their scheme. I think the No. 1 thing there is we're honest and consistent. That's our goal every week. We don't have any other goals in mind. We don't really worry about exactly who gets what touches, et cetera – never really concerned with that. We're just trying to do the right things each snap of the game as much as we can because we know if we do that, we'll give ourselves a good chance to have some success and hopefully we can contribute to a complementary game with the defense and the special teams to help our team move towards a victory. I think that's an honest way to go about it, and I think our players see that and understand that and hopefully buy into that. I think we have a great group of players here that are unselfish. They do anything we ask them to do and they know that the goal here is to try to win games, and they are completely willing and ready to do what's asked of them and [we] couldn't ask more of this group. Give me the second question one more time, Rich [Garven].
Q: There's a lot of ego in the league and how do you handle that with players?
JM: Well, look, we've got good players at all positions. That's the goal here is try to put the best group you can on your team, and everybody here's a good player. I just think the bottom line is you have a good group of guys that all understand that they can each contribute to winning. It's hard to try to claim ‘we should run the ball behind you on every play' when there's a whole another side of the line of scrimmage that might want you to run a few runs over there, or you throw to this position and then that position gets less. I mean, the bottom line is everybody can contribute and help us win. And I think over the course of time, that kind of organically will happen and does happen. We try to be a balanced offense as it is – we try to run the ball, we try to throw the ball, we try to do it the right way. We ask our quarterback to read the defense and throw it to the guys that are open based on the coverages and the matchups. So, a lot of times, if you're doing the right things, the ball will end up where it's supposed to be on the given play. And, our guys always are working to try to improve and get better so that when their opportunities come up, that they take the opportunity and take advantage of it and then make the most of those and hopefully get more as the year goes on.
Q: Sunday marked the 43rd time that Tom Brady was on the field for a game-winning drive. Given that many players contribute to drives like that, what stands out to you specifically about Tom Brady that he has been on the field for that many game-winning drives in his career?
JM: I would say that the first - there's a number of things obviously that go into executing well in those situations. And, you've said it right off the bat, it's usually a team thing, it's an offensive thing. The whole group really has to go out there and execute. In reference to Tom [Brady], I think the first thing that stands out to me is he obviously embraces the moment and the opportunity to go out there and attempt to do his job under pressure in those types of situations, which I think is the first thing you have to be able to do if you're going to go out there and have some success. He's a great leader under pressure like that because he stays calm, he has great poise, he's very situationally aware. He knows the situation having gone through it a number of times - understanding the difference between having a minute and 10 seconds and no timeouts versus two minutes and 50 seconds and three timeouts. There's a huge difference in those types of situations, and I think his experience under pressure in those scenarios, he understands what needs to be done and how long we have to do it. Like I said, his overall competitive nature and desire to really be on the field in those situations, those are the things you hope for from your group on offense, and he certainly does a great job of that as one of our captains.
Q: When you are designing your offense and trying to make sure you're doing enough things to give defenses a lot to think about, do you see a distinction between using a lot of different personnel packages versus running a greater number of plays out of each of those groupings?
JM: That's a good question. I think a lot of times, there's a lot that goes into, I would say, the process of deciding what we want to try to do. Health of our team is certainly a factor, health of the other team is certainly a factor, the scheme that we're getting ready to face, how successful they are in different personnel groupings that they use versus our success in our groupings. The things that force some defenses to adjust and communicate affect others in different ways, so it's not necessarily the same. Some teams you're willing and able to run the same play multiple times and just try to count on your execution at times, and other times that's hard to do because teams will give you different looks or adjust quickly and try to take things away that you're doing or showing early in the game. I think there's a lot that goes into that initial decision each week. I think we try to do both as much as we can. We try to make sure that we're always doing something our players feel good about and know how to do and execute because there's nothing more important than our ability to know what we're doing and then do it at a high level fundamentally with our techniques, and so we try to do that. At the same time, you don't want to become predictable and give the defense an advantage based on the personnel grouping you're in, the formation you line up in. So, you want to try to keep that moving as much as you can so that you don't put your players at a disadvantage because the defense knows what's coming. I know that's a little bit of a long-winded answer, but there's a lot that goes into that each week and hopefully we're on top of trying to give ourselves the best chance to be successful each time we go out there.
Q: How important is it for you guys as an offense, as far as keeping a defense off-balance, to be able to throw it out of heavier personnel packages and run it out of lighter personnel packages?
JM: Yeah, you have to keep track of what you've shown. If you've demonstrated a strong tendency in any area, any one area - either run, pass or formationally or with motions or some area of the field - you're doing something a little bit more than something else. You just want to be conscious of that and if that's, like you mentioned, what have we done from a grouping with more receivers on the field, what have we done with a grouping with less receivers on the field. You want to try to maintain balance, and at the same time, you want to try to do something that gets a positive result, as well. I think there's kind of a fine line between just being balanced just to be balanced and then doing something based on the defense that you're playing each week that gives you the best chance to be successful. You certainly want to try to keep an eye on both, and always the goal is to go out there and try to give our players an opportunity to be successful on each play. We try to do it as best we can and certainly try to self-scout ourselves and make sure we're not becoming predictable and that our tendencies are a little balanced. But, every once in a while, that might sway in one direction or another for one reason or another as you go throughout the season.T
LINEBACKERS COACH BRIAN FLORES
Q: When you're game planning for the Bears and installing your defense, how helpful is it that their offense is similar to what you just played against with Kansas City?
BF: Well, I'd say that we've got, obviously, a great test against the Bears this week. They've been playing well, they're running the ball well, they do a great job on third down, they do a great job with time of possession. Their offense - there are some similarities. Obviously, Coach [Matt] Nagy was with Andy Reid for a long time, so there's definitely some similarities. But, at the same time, they've got totally different personnel and some really good skill players on this team, as well. So, it's a big test for us, and we've just got to do a good job this week preparing, stringing together some good practices and hopefully we go out there and perform well on Sunday.
Q: What have you seen from Mitch Trubisky in his second year?
BF: The first thing I would say is he throws a very good deep ball. He throws a good deep ball. He's accurate, an accurate passer. Obviously, we know him as an elusive guy in the pocket and someone who does a good job as a scrambler extending plays, and then he does a really good job of finding receivers down the field. So, he's been impressive - a good, young player, good, young talent, somebody who's getting better really week-to-week. It will be a challenge for us - you know, a guy who can scramble like this and extend plays, and then at the same time, find receivers down the field and put the ball on them pretty accurately. So, he's been impressive.
Q: How does that compare with Patrick Mahomes, who you just faced and can do same thing?
BF: Obviously, it's something that we worked on last week, so we'll just try to carry that over as far as trying to keep him in the pocket, doing a good job staying with our receivers in the deep part of the field, understanding that they can extend plays. So, there's definitely some carryover. Things we talked about last week will carry over to this week as far as that's concerned, as far as how we want to handle that type of quarterback. So, hopefully we do a good job in practice. We'll talk about that in meetings and walk-throughs and practice and we'll talk about it daily. Hopefully, we execute on Sunday.
Q: When you look at certain snapshots of the defense this year, it looks excellent. For example, with nine points at halftime this past week, that's probably not a bad place to be. And then other times, the defense looks very vulnerable. As you assess the unit at this point, how concerned are you about the volatility of the defense?
BF: I think consistency is something that we strive for on a daily basis in this game, or really in anything. I'd say we've played how we wanted to play in pockets. I thought the first half was a great example of that and we had some success. We've just got to do a good job of just playing more consistent. I think our guys understand that. We talk about it. We talk about being consistent, and we talk about just working to improve that consistency really on a day-to-day basis. I think they've bought into that and they're working to get that done. We've just got to continue to work at it and then we've just got to produce on the field. That's really what it boils down to.
Q: When you look at this Bears offense, can you look at them personnel wise and plan that this player is going to have a role similar to what we just saw with the Chiefs, or this receiver is serving in the same role as this guy for the Chiefs? Is that how you will look at it this week, or is the personnel so different that you really can't do that?
BF: I'd say, I mean, we could go that route. But, the Bears are over there game planning and who knows what they're cooking up over there. So, we try to get ready for everything. Obviously, there's some specific guys who their skillset would make you believe that they play a specific role, but they've got a lot of guys who are versatile and can do a lot of different things. Some guys they want to get in space, some guys they want to run inside, some guys they want to throw vertical shots to, some guys they want to throw possession routes to, sometimes they run to the right, sometimes they run to the left. I mean, they've got a wide-ranging set of things that they could do offensively and they do a lot. So, again, we've got to get ready for really everything. So, the run game, the pass game, the RPO game, screen game – there's a lot to get ready for. As far as personnel wise, we have a little bit of an idea based off of the five games they've played of how they want guys to play, but you just never know. They put two quarterbacks in the game a couple weeks ago. You just never know what's going to happen. So, we try to get ready for everything.
Q: How do you value stats versus quarterback pressures?
BF: Well, I think anytime you can sack the quarterback, that's great. With that, when you're sacking him, you're pressuring him, and I think no quarterback likes having pressure on the edge or up the middle. So, yeah, I value pressures a lot, and I think that goes a long way toward marrying a rush and the coverage and playing really good defense. So, getting pressure on the quarterback is, I would say, definitely something that we strive to do. I think we've gotten that. I would say Adrian Clayborn's a guy who he doesn't have a sack this season, but he's put a lot of pressure on the quarterback and that's led to some mistakes. He put some pressure on Mahomes that led to some mistakes from Mahomes last week. I think the pressure definitely helps us to create some turnovers. It created some turnovers for us [last week], and hopefully we can continue to do that moving forward.
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