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Transcript: Bill Belichick 9/25

BB: We're preparing for the trip to Buffalo here. This is a good football team and I'm sure it'll be a great environment on Sunday. It'll be a big challenge for us to go up there. Obviously, the Bills are playing well in all three phases of the game. They've played well every week. They've played their best football in some critical situations, in the fourth quarter against Cincinnati, against the Jets. [They have] a lot of explosive players on offense, a lot of experience, cohesiveness and good players on defense, explosive players with experience and playmakers in the kicking game. So, pretty solid across the board. Coach [Sean] McDermott has done a really good job building the team and they've played very competitively throughout preseason and three regular season games, so this team has really improved a lot. Certainly a lot of new faces offensively from where they started at the beginning of last year even from where we played them at the end of last year. They just continue to get better. We'll have to go up there and play 60 minutes of good football. We know that.

Q: How difficult is it to defend the running element of Josh Allen's game and how difficult of a player is he to take down?

BB: Yeah, definitely. He's like a running back. He breaks tackles, he's got good speed, good power and he's shifty and he avoids and breaks a lot of tackles. Yeah, that's another dimension. A sixth receiver in the passing game, if you will, and gives you another blocker in the running game when they have designed run plays for him. They've hit a lot of them at critical times, a lot of big plays, touchdowns, red area, third-down conversions, things like that. They use them in some timely ways, well-designed plays that create problems for the defense. He adds that element to their offense and they've used it very effectively.

Q: They seem to be good on all three levels of their defense. Just how good are they overall from front to back?

BB: Yeah, really good. They're very good upfront. They drafted [Ed] Oliver, who's a very talented player, kind of replace Kyle Williams. [Jerry] Hughes is always tough. [Tremaine] Edmunds has really emerged here this year. He was good last year but he's even better. Certainly Tre'Davious White is one of the better corners we play against. [Jordan] Poyer, [Micah] Hyde do a great job at safety with disguises and their recognition experience and I'd just say cohesiveness with the defense. They don't make any mistakes. You've got to execute, you've got to handle everything they do. They don't give up much. They make you work for every yard.

Q: There's a report that you've signed Cody Kessler. What do you like about him and why the need for a third quarterback?

BB: Whatever personnel announcements we have we'll release through Stacey [James].

Q: What do you lose when James Develin goes on injured reserve and how do you replace a guy like that?

BB: Yeah, I think I covered that pretty thoroughly yesterday. There's nobody to replace James Develin so we have to do it with a combination of other people or schemes because he has a role on offense and in the kicking game as well. He's a pretty special guy. He really does a great job for us, brings a lot of positives to our team. We don't have any one person to replace him.

Q: Is bringing in a third quarterback a result of needing to manage the reps for Tom Brady in practice given his age?

BB: No, whatever the decisions are, it would be more roster management. I don't think that's it.

Q: Do you see a level of growth from Brian Daboll in his time with the Bills?

BB: Yeah, Brian's a good coach. He's been a good coach for a long time. I don't think anything happened in the last week or two. He's done a good job when he was here, when he left here, with other teams he's been with, when he came back here he added a lot to the staff, went down and won a national championship with Coach [Nick] Saban at Alabama. He's got 10 new starters on offense from the start of the year last year and they're playing pretty well. He does a good job. He's been doing a good job.

Q: What does Cole Beasley do for their offense?

BB: Yeah, Cole's an outstanding player. He's got great quickness, can really separate, good with the ball in his hands after the catch. He's certainly a good third-down player to create that separation in those man-to-man situations on third down. He plays for them on every down, a lot in the slot but not always. They move him around, as they do with all of their receivers. They have a very good group of skill players. [Robert] Foster and [John] Brown are really fast. [Isaiah] McKenzie's a playmaker. They use [Andre] Roberts a little bit. Zay Jones is certainly a quality player and Cole, so it's a good group.

Q: What stands out to you about Frank Gore and his longevity here in the league and is there anyone that he reminds you of by still being productive at his age?

BB: Fourth-leading rusher all-time in NFL history. I think that pretty much says it all right there. Guy's a great player, great competitor, he's hard to tackle, just a good football player.

Q: What's Jarrett Stidham's confidence level towards running the offense if Tom Brady ever weren't available?

BB: Yeah, Jarrett's been with us all the way through, has practiced every day. He's gotten intermittently a lot of reps in the offense depending on the situation from week to week, the preseason, regular season. Again, depending on what we we're doing at that particular point in time whether it be preseason games or training camp practices or regular season practices. Yeah, he's come along well.

Q: How has Jake Bailey progressed through the course of the summer and into the first three weeks of the season here?

BB: Jake's a very talented player. He had a lot to work with when he came in. He's done well ever since he's been here. There's some situational punting that we've asked him to do. He's handled that well. He's done a good job of holding, done a good job of kicking off when he did that in preseason. We haven't done that with him here in the regular season, but he showed he could do that so it gives us depth at that position as well. Yeah, he's done a solid job for us.

Q: Would you describe Coach McDermott's defense as a game plan defense?

BB: No.

Q: What are the chief characteristics of what they're trying to do defensively?

BB: They're well-balanced. They play zone, they play blitz-zone, they play man-to-man. They have a variety of pressure packages in their blitz-zones – corners, safeties, linebackers. But they mix it up. They play basically one front. No, I don't think they're going to come in and [change] – why should they? They led the league in defense last year, led the league in pass defense last year. They're right up there again this year. They ran the same defense in Carolina. It went good for three years there. I mean, I wouldn't change anything. It's one of the best defenses in the league. I mean, I'm sure they make adjustments depending on who they're playing – I'm not saying that – but I don't think we're going to see like six new coverages and a bunch of new fronts and blitzes that we've never seen before from them. I can't imagine they would do that. They've been too successful with what they're doing. 

Q: Is it rare for a team to have two safeties in Poyer and Hyde that can do so much for them?

BB: Yeah, they're very good. Yeah, they are. I mean, it's been like that now for three years, right? Whatever it is. They've been doing that, they disguise. It looks like they're in one coverage and they flip it around to something else, or it looks like they're in two-deep and they're in non-two deep or vice versa. They disguise very well together and are very instinctive. There's definitely a level of interchangeability so it's hard to key on one guy, and really both guys, they complement each other well. You've got to see it post-snap. They're not going to give you much pre-snap but they time up their blitzes well with the cadence and motions, things like that that come with the formations. This is a very savvy defense. I wouldn't say they're over-complicated but they're very good at what they do. They have enough variation and, I would say, unpredictability within their system that it's hard. But I'm sure whatever they call, they've run many times before and they have a lot of confidence in and they play with it.

Q: How have you seen defenses defend your offense when Sony Michel is in the game versus James White or Rex Burkhead?

BB: It depends on what the defense is and what team we're playing. Some teams have different game plans against us based on the back. Sometimes it's based on the receiver, sometimes it's based on down and distance or some combination of those things, so it really just depends game-to-game. I wouldn't say there's any set formula. You'd have to talk to those teams that we've already played. Maybe they could give you some insight. I don't know, but it just depends on the way that team is playing.

Q: How impressed are you with the way they've utilized Dawson Knox early in the season despite his relative lack of experience? Also, how big of a jump is it in general for the tight end position going from college to the pros?

BB: Yeah, well, I'd start with I think Coach Daboll has done a good job of utilizing all of his skill players – receivers, tight ends, backs, the quarterback, obviously – but the other skill players to do what they do well. So things that they do well, he's put them in positions to do. Maybe some other things that other players do better, he lets them do them. He's used Knox in a very productive way. He's put him in some good positions and he's been effective. Knox has been effective in that. The offense has been effective. Allen has hit him. I think it's a good player, it's a good scheme. Coach Daboll has done a good job of putting those guys in positions, as he has with John Brown and Beasley and Gore and Lee Smith and all of the rest of them. He uses guys to their strengths and to attack the defense based on what the defensive tendencies are and what the matchups are. He's done a good job of that and definitely Knox has come through for them on a number of occasions. They have good depth at the tight end position with the way they use them. They're all different but they all get utilized within the offensive system, so they've gotten good production out of that position.

Q: Are you pleased with how Sony Michel is playing this year?

BB: Yeah, I think he's had opportunities and he's done pretty well with those. There's been times where he hasn't been able to get started and that's always a problem with the running game. If you can't get them through the line of scrimmage, you can gain some yards, but it's hard. There are things he can do better. Certainly we can block better and coach better so we'll try to do those and improve in every part of our offense, not just the running game but play-actions and passing game and everything else.

Q: Would the injury to James Develin change the way you utilize Sony on offense at all given the fact that he was typically on the field for most of Sony's carries?

BB: We're really a game plan type of offense so it'll just be a week-to-week situation like it always is with this offense at least. We'll see how it goes. It depends on how we matchup with our team, who's available, what their schemes are, what we think we can do and so forth. We'll do what we always do – try to move the ball and score points, however that happens. That's always the goal.

Q: When you look at the success they've had defensively in the red zone, how much is that fed by their collective team speed?

BB: I think it starts with what I said earlier, they make you earn every yard. They don't make any mistakes. You've got to block them, you've got to get open in tight coverage, you've got to handle the pass rush, you've got to deal with a variety of coverages and pressures but certainly not all pressure. They do a good job of keeping it moving, spinning the wheel, making you identify post-snap what it is. It's hard to get a good play called against their defense. It's hard to tell exactly what they're in. They have good players. They read and react very quickly. They do have good team speed. They tackle well, so again, there's not a lot of free plays there where guys just miss two or three tackles and you get a bunch of yards. That doesn't happen very often with Buffalo. They don't miss a lot of tackles and they have good pursuits. They have guys there that are swarming the ball. It's a well-coached defense with good players, with a good scheme. They're good fundamentally, so that's why they're at the top of the league every year.

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