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Transcript: Belichick, McDaniels, Flores Conference Calls 9/18

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, and linebackers coach Brian Flores address the media during their conference calls on September 18, 2018.


Q: How much can you expect from Josh Gordon right away?

BB: We're at the same place with him that we were yesterday, so we're in the process of working through it. We'll just have to see how it goes.

Q: So you're not completely ready to talk about him being officially added to the roster?

BB: Yeah, that's right.

Q: What is it about Marvin Jones Jr. and Golden Tate that present such a threat to your defense?

BB: Yeah, [Kenny] Golladay, [Michael] Roberts, [Luke] Willson. It's a good group plus the backs - [Theo] Riddick, [Kerryon] Johnson and [Ameer] Abdullah. They've got a lot of good players. Obviously, a really good quarterback so they present a lot of problems there. [They have] very good receivers. Tate, Jones, Golladay are all good after the catch. They're strong runners, so the tackling is - it's not just keeping them from getting the ball in the passing game but tackling after the catches will be challenging, too. 

Q: Do you have any update on the injury status of Trey Flowers or Patrick Chung following Sunday's game?

BB: Nope. Not at this time.

Q: With Patrick Chung, do you know what happened to him specifically? He came off the field for one play and then returned before being ruled out at halftime. Do you know why he wasn't checked for a concussion at any point during the second quarter?

BB: Yeah, that's really a medical question that I can't answer. If the player is medically cleared to play, then it's a coaching decision. If he's not medically cleared then it's not a coaching decision. We're out of it. It's a medical decision. It really falls into one of those two categories.

Q: Do you know if he started showing signs of a concussion at halftime?

BB: It was a medical decision. If he's not cleared to play then it doesn't have anything to do with the coaching. He's not cleared to play.

Q: I just was wondering if you had any insight into what actually happened.

BB: I just tried to explain that. When he's not cleared to play then he's not in the game. If he's cleared to play and wasn't taken out of the game medically then it would be a coaching decision whether to play him or not.

Q: We've heard you say that dependability is more important than ability. Given that, what are the circumstances around which you'd be open to relaxing your standards or the team's standards on dependability from a player? At what point are you willing to put more stock into the ability of a player versus his dependability?

BB: That's a pretty vague and general question. I'd say in the end we try to do what's best for the football team. I don't know any other way to answer it.

Q: Did you get any explanation about why the team doctors didn't check Patrick Chung for a concussion upon his initial exit from the game?

BB: Look, I don't know whether they did or didn't. Those are medical procedures, Ben [Volin], and some of that is dictated by things from upstairs from the neutral physician and then that goes to our medical department. I'm trying to coach the game. I don't have time for a conversation with those guys. If the player is cleared, he's cleared. If he's not cleared then he's not cleared.

Q: I know that the NFL has people watching those situations as well and they clearly didn't identify anything regarding a concussion either.

BB: I'm not saying whether they did - I don't know the answer to that. You'd have to talk to them. I don't know. I don't talk to the NFL medical people. I'm never in communication with them at all. Never.

Q: What have you seen from the Lions that seems to have Matt Patricia's stamp on it given your familiarity with him? As a follow up, in a situation like this with a former assistant across the sideline, how do you balance having to do what you do with being concerned with what you know about his tendencies?

BB: Well, yeah, the most important thing right now is for us to get ready to play the Detroit Lions, so what they do and how they do it and the players they do it with, that's really all we're focused on. I'm sure Matt will do a great job of having them prepared for us and he'll game plan us the way he always does, the best way he can match up with his team with whatever he perceives our challenges to be. I don't really know what that is yet. You'll have to ask him what those are, but we'll have to be ready for those things and go out and be able to execute them.

Q: You guys are averaging 3.7 yards per carry thus far with the running game. What do you see from that group through the first two weeks?

BB: I think really whatever area you want to talk about there's room for improvement in all of it. Hopefully we can do that. Coaches, players - we all have to just do a better job of doing what we're doing. Look, you're right - we've had two games and there's certainly some evidence of things that have occurred and some things we need to change. Some things we need to try to do better. Some things we need to maybe eliminate. We'll try to figure out what those are and make progress this week and in the future.

Q: What can you learn about players in the short stint some of them spend here given all of the roster turnover at the receiver position?

BB: Yeah, I mean look, the time and the roster limits and so forth are what they are, and so I would just say that we try to manage them the best that we can. You'd always like more time, more opportunities, but there's a limitation to the number of players and the number of people on your roster. We have to be in compliance with that. If we had more time we'd do it differently. If we have to make a decision for whatever the reasons are then we have to make that decision and do what we feel is best for the team.

Q: Despite this being a different opponent than Jacksonville, what lessons can you take from the tape of that game that could carryover and apply to Detroit this Sunday?

BB: That's a good question. It's part of the challenge of just moving forward week to week. Certainly there are things that if we don't correct them they'll continue to be a problem next week, but we can't keep replaying last week's game. We've got to move on and there are plenty of things that the Lions do that Jacksonville didn't do. Yeah, we have to try to balance that. Those are important. It's important to correct mistakes and understand where we've been and how to do things differently, or how what we did was good and how to do it again when that situation comes up. But there's certainly new challenges coming up the following week. It's like that every week. It's no different. Every week is like that, so there's some element of it. It's just a question of how much and how much carryover you think there might be from one team to the next in a certain area. If there's a lot of carryover then I think you've got to be more cognizant of what happened in the past. If there's not as much carryover then you still need to make your corrections and adjustments, but it may not show itself immediately. It might be something further down the road. It's a balancing act and they're both important. You just have to make the decisions in each phase of the game, each aspect of it, where to place the emphasis.

Q: Could you speak to the depth of your defensive line? How important is it to have depth and versatility at that position?

BB: It's great to have depth at any position you have it in. It's really hard to have it at all positions. You just run out of people, especially on game day. When you have to get to the 46-man roster your depth is made up of players that can play multiple positions, whether that's one guy playing more than one spot in a backup role or whether it's a backup that moves into a starting position and one of your starting players ends up being a multi-position player. But one way or another, you've got to cover a lot of bases between the different offensive and defensive units you have and the 66 players that are involved in the kicking game and backups for all of those. Yeah, versatility is an important part of it. Again, there's a lot of bases to cover.

Q: What sort of role does the locker room culture play when you acquire a player that has had off field issues?

BB: Yeah, I don't know. Every situation is different. There's no [formula].

Q: Is it necessary to have a strong locker room in that situation?

BB: Again, every situation is different. It would be impossible for me to answer that question. Teams aren't the same, no two players are the same, no two situations are the same, no two coaching staffs are really the same. I mean there are a lot of variables. There's so many variables from player to player, year to year, team to team. There's no way I could answer that question. You do the best you can.


Q: What was your message to the offensive unit when James White got stopped on that third-and-five in the second quarter Sunday? Obviously you were pretty upset on the sideline.

JM: Yeah, hey look, that's my responsibility. Our overall performance, I feel like that's what my job is and so I didn't do a good enough job obviously on Sunday. We didn't score enough points, didn't produce enough first downs, didn't control the game at all and we weren't playing as well as any of us would like at that point in the day. I think part of coaching is understanding there's times where you do things quietly and pull somebody aside, and there's other times where you either just want to try to create a spark or what have you and just refocus on the things that are really important, and that's really all I was doing. But, I don't do that a lot, I don't want to do that a lot and our guys are great about making sure that nobody needs to do that a lot. Just a one-time situation I think that you want to try to refocus on the things that are important and try to see if we can go out there and play a little better.

Q: Are you more inclined to do that if you have more new players on offense or is it independent of that?

JM: Yeah, I would say I don't plan anything like that. I don't think any coach really does relative to if new players, old players, experienced players, young players, first-time - as I said, I don't do that much and I don't plan on doing it much and that really isn't something that I would even consider or think about in that regard.

Q: In the scheme of planning an offense, how necessary and important is it to have a perimeter threat?

JM: I think it - you want to be as difficult to defend as you possibly can be. So the more things that the defense has to defend, the more you can keep them off-balance, the more that they may struggle to try to spend a lot of time and effort taking away something else. So, to me, it's like having a solid running game and being able to throw play-action passes. If you don't run the ball well enough, it's hard to make the defense come up there and honor the play-actions. If you have good perimeter players and you don't have great interior guys, then they may play more split-safety and roll up on your guys out there and tend to double-cover those guys, and then you're forced to put the ball somewhere else. You know, the better off you are at each spot or the better off that you do things offensively in terms of complementing things that you do, the more difficult you can make it on the defense and the harder you are to defend. We're always trying to do that in any way, shape or form that we can. We want to try to be complementary with our scheme, we want to be able to run the ball inside and outside, throw it inside and outside, throw it horizontally, vertically and as much as we can do that to try to avoid becoming predictable, that's what we'd like to do.

Q: How would you rate Josh Gordon as a perimeter player?

JM: That's - it's hard for me to say that. I know there's been a lot of conversation about that, I know what Coach [Bill Belichick] said and he referenced that whole thing. So I'd have to - it's been a while, so we'll have to see if that develops that way and how it comes along here as we go forward.

Q: What's it like preparing to go up against Matt Patricia and his defense with your offense considering all the years he worked here as a defensive coordinator?

JM: Two things strike me right off the top. One, neither one of us will be in a helmet and pads on Sunday night, thank God. And, the outcome of these games will always be determined by who plays best and whose guys go out there and execute, run, block, tackle, throw and catch, cover, defend and all those things. Those are the things that are going to determine the outcome. It won't be myself and Matt out there doing anything. But, it is a fun challenge. Matt's been a great friend of mine for a long time. He's extremely talented as a coach, he's a great person and he's - I'm excited for him to have this opportunity to be the head coach of the Lions. I think right now we're probably all in the same boat in the National Football League and that's in the situation of trying to improve our football teams and trying to improve our side of the ball so that we can get better from Week 1 to Week 2, Week 2 to Week 3 and continue our improvement throughout the course of the season. He's always been very difficult to coach against when he was here. He does a lot of different things that challenge you schematically. He'll keep you off balance. There's definitely an element of spinning the wheel with Matt that you're really going to have to do a great job of being alert and aware and doing a great job of communicating during the course of the game, and there's no question that you're going to have to make some adjustments. So there's some things as you just mentioned - you know, we've all had a lot of time to talk and discuss things, and as you go into a game like this, you've seen the things you've seen. And, at the same time, you're aware of things that - you know, there's some things you may not have seen from them yet in the six games that we've been able to watch in the preseason and the regular season that you know you're going to get something different. We're going to try to make sure we know what we're doing. We know it's going to be a big challenge there. It's a hard place to play, in the dome, on a Sunday night. We know there will be a lot of energy there, and Matt will make it challenging every step of the way. So, excited to have the opportunity to compete against him and his team. They've got a good group, they're playing - they're going to play better and better every single week, which is what they've been doing, and it'll be a big challenge for us on Sunday night.

Q: You have acquired players mid-season before. How much time can you allot to a new player to try to bring him up to speed, and what kind of resources do you rely on to help that new player?

JM: Yeah, obviously there's a lot of - you know, during the course of the season, there's a lot of different transactions that happen and we get, you know - we may end up getting a different player or players every week possibly depending on our injury situation, practice squad, those kind of things. So, it's just something you have to balance as a staff, whether it be the staff in general or the individual position coach. You take the time that you have, that you're allowed with these guys and spend the time that's necessary to try to get him up to speed. It's impossible to simulate and replicate the Phase One, Phase Two, Phase Three, training camp - you can't do all that in one week. So, if you get a player in the middle of the year, you try to acclimate him as best you can to the foundation of your system and then also at the same time, if it's a game plan situation for a specific opponent. You do the best you can and every player's different, every situation is different. Some guys might have the ability to play a larger role, some guys might not. It's just all based on the individual person and the situation that you're dealing with that week. But it's something that's not foreign. We're very used to doing that on a weekly basis. We have a process in place that we try to use to help anybody that's new get caught up as best we can and acclimated to our group.

Q: You have one homegrown wide receiver currently on your roster. In your experience, what is it about players coming out of college that makes them hard to project as good fits in your system?

JM: Well, I think again, it's based on the individual that you're talking about. I think there's been positions through time that may need more time to develop than others, and again, that goes back to the individual player. But, I think we've had a lot of guys that have come in and been able to pick up things quickly, whatever position that might be, and then we've had other guys that have taken a little bit longer. That's not an uncommon occurrence throughout the course of the league. There's guys that need - you need time, you need to develop them. Some of them come in more ready than others from the systems and the programs that they were in in college. It's our job to take them from wherever they're at when they get here and teach them, coach them and develop them as best we can with the time that we're given and try to get them to learn what we need them to learn so that they can go out there and execute well on the field. Like I said, each situation's different. I know this, that we've got a great group of people, we have a great staff that works really hard, is very diligent about that and I'm excited about the group that we get to coach each week.

Q: When you were a head coach, what was the experience like of coaching against a coach you worked with and have great respect for, considering that's the situation Matt Patricia is heading into this week?

JM: It was tough because you know you're - you came from a place that really gave you your foundation and they have a way of playing and he knows it. I'm sure he's going to try to do the best job he can of getting his team ready to play the team that we have this year. He knows our system very well. You have to balance that out I think. You can't try to get every guy in your building to know everything that they're doing or could do or potentially could do or you could overwhelm them. There's a balance there. I think the focus you need to have is on your team, which I'm sure Matt will do. He's already doing a good job of that - focusing on his team, the things he can control, as we will do. We're going to try to focus on the things that we can control. We don't have any control over the things that they choose to do or how they're going to line up different players or what schemes they're going to use. We're going to prepare as best we can, try to make it as normal a week of preparation as we possibly could. We have our normal seven days to do it in, as he does. But you know, it's an exciting time, I'll say that. He knows a lot of us here, we know him, he's a great friend and a good person and we've had a lot of great memories and opportunities to work together over the years. I'm sure he's going to be eager and excited to have the opportunity to compete against some of the guys that he's been with for a number of years, as we will. That's what this is all about, going out there and giving our best and trying to do the best thing we can for our teams, which I know his team's going to do.


Q: In looking back, it seemed like the Jaguars were able to convert third downs with ease. What went wrong in the scheme and why did it seem that Jacksonville was able to move more easily than expected against your defense?

BF: Well, I'd say, I think we all have to do a better job, specifically on third down. That starts with me. On third down, we've got to do a better job - really in all areas - but specifically there. We've got to do a much better of getting off the field. Those are critical downs. I think we just need to do a much better job in that area.

Q: What type of challenges does Matthew Stafford present as a quarterback? What does the defense have to do this weekend to correct their mistakes?

BF: Stafford, I mean, this is one of the best quarterbacks in the league. He's got a strong arm. He's mobile in the pocket. This guy has got a great arm, he's accurate, he's got, obviously, a great group of core receivers and backs to throw to, whether we're talking about [Kenny] Golladay or Marvin Jones or [Golden] Tate or [Theo] Riddick. The tight ends are good and they've got a really good offense. This will be a big challenge for us, and I think, obviously, correct some of the things we did last week, be back on the practice field tomorrow and try to get going on that.

Q: What have you seen from Dont'a Hightower in the first two games? He has played about 66 percent of the snaps in the first two games, so why have you limited his snaps and what have you seen from him when he's been out there?

BF: I think Dont'a, he's obviously one of the leaders of our team. I think he's playing well. I think he's doing everything we're asking him to do. This guy is selfless, he's a team guy. As far as play time, we're just trying to - it's early in the season. We're trying to get different guys involved. He is obviously a part of that, and as the season progresses, his role may or may not change, and it's based on the team we're playing, the best fit we see for specific down-and-distance or situation.

Q: Could you talk about Blake Bortles' ability to escape the pocket on Sunday? What were the differences between keeping Deshaun Watson in the pocket in Week 1 and struggling with Bortles in Week 2, and how could you improve there?

BF: Obviously, he's got really good scramble ability. He showed that on Sunday. Again, I think it was a tough loss and I think there's definitely a lot of things we can learn from it. And just to kind of take any positive from a loss, one is it's an opportunity for us to learn, it's an opportunity for us to grow, and opportunity for us to grow closer as a unit. I think the guys were, obviously, upset about the loss. I think they're rearing to kind of get back to practice and get going and right the ship, get ready for Detroit, and I think that's where we're at right now. We're really trying to move forward.

Q: Golden Tate is a great player after the catch, and you guys had some problems with that against Jacksonville. What can you do differently to get a guy like Tate on the ground?

BF: Well, obviously, like you said, definitely a really good run-after-catch player - good hands, body control, breaks a lot of tackles. He's been doing it for a long time. We work on tackling every day. It's something that it's a fundamental that we talk about constantly. And we're going to have to do a really good job, not just against Golden Tate, but against all their skill players, whether it's [LeGarrette] Blount or Riddick or Jones or Golladay, the quarterback, the tight ends - really across the board - and it will take all of us. It will take all 11. You know, guys running to the ball, hustling to the ball, and if somebody misses, the next guy's got to pick him up. We've just got to do a better job of tackling all the way around.

Q: You play a lot of mobile quarterbacks this season. What are the general principles in terms of having a contained pass rush? For the ends in particular, when you want to get up field, how do you balance that aggressiveness with not over-running the play or getting behind the quarterback so that he has a lane in which to escape?

BF: I think you said it best, Bob [Socci]. I think it's a balance between being aggressive, because you don't want to be tentative, but at the same time, having a smart rush. So, you want to be aggressive but not overaggressive where you're giving up step-up lanes and allowing guys to scramble. I think there's a - you know, it's football. It's a natural - you want to be aggressive and I think we've just got to do a better job of tempering that aggression and giving ourselves a chance or understanding that we're dealing with a mobile quarterback or mobile quarterbacks in general. That's really what it boils down to. There's a balance there. I know we talk about it constantly - 'Look, this guy can scramble. He's a step up, scramble. Make sure we're rushing correctly, not past the quarterback,' and hopefully we learn from it. I think we did a decent job of it Week 1, not as much in Week 2. We see the results one week to the next, so I think the guys will learn from it. They understand that every week's a little bit different. Because we did it one week doesn't mean it's magically going to happen the next week - that's not how this works - and we've just got to be more consistent all the way across the board. And it's not just the pass rush. It's pass rush, it's tackling, it's defending the deep part of the field, it's coaching, and I include myself in that for sure. We're all in this together, we're a team and we'll get back to work tomorrow and try to get better.

Q: If you're in man coverage, are there coaching points in terms of having an awareness that the quarterback is now running?

BF: The guys who rush, rush. The guys who cover, they have to cover. I mean, that's really what it boils down to from a responsibility standpoint. We talk about doing your job constantly around here, and that's really what it boils down to. The guys who are rushing, you guys have to rush. You've got to rush correctly. Guys who are in coverage, you've got to stay in coverage. You don't come out of coverage. And once one guy doesn't do his job, then we've got other guys trying to do things that they're not supposed to. And when we get 11 guys to work together, it normally works out. And if we don't, then it doesn't work out.

Q: As a play caller, how do you balance calling the things that you think your defense does well and being consistent with that versus maybe being predictable? Is it bad to be predictable if you like the things that you're calling?

BF: I think we do what we think is best for the things that we do well, as well as what feels best for that particular situation, and the situation changes really on every snap. So, I mean, I don't know if there's a perfect way to answer that question except for that the situation changes on every play, and we're going to try to do what we think is best for the team, for the defense and the things that we do well. Because you could try to do something else that somebody else did or we think would be perfect, but if we can't execute it, then it doesn't matter.

Q: How do you make sure that your defense and your players don't get too high after a win or too low after a loss?

BF: Well, we talk about complacency, or at least I do. To me, it's the silent killer. Guys get complacent, and I'm not saying that our group was complacent. I don't think that was the case at all. I think this league, it's a tough league to win in. It's hard to win in this league. We fight complacency on a day-to-day basis, and again, I don't think our guys were being complacent or are complacent at all. These guys, they work hard. I thought they brought the same energy to practice and meetings and walk-throughs and everything that we've done all week. It just didn't bear out that way Sunday. But, yeah, there's ebbs and flows to the season. I try to stay as even-keeled as I can - never too high, never too low. I think we're in a situation now where we're dealing with some adversity, and as a group, sometimes that's a good thing. We get to see kind of what we're made of, see how we respond, see what kind of group we have. So, that's where I'm at. I don't feel like we get too high. I think, as a group, we try to stay pretty even, and we'll be back to work tomorrow and we'll try to improve and just get better day after day after day. Hopefully that shows up on Sundays.

Transcripts are provided by the Patriots media relations department as a courtesy to the media and are edited for readability. All press conferences are posted and archived in their entirety at

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