HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
Friday, September 27, 2019
BB: Alright, well, I feel like we're having a good week here. We just need to wrap a few things up today and get ready to go up there. This will be a great environment, a hostile environment, great atmosphere. Buffalo's got great fans. They always give us a warm reception. I'm sure we'll get another one this week. Hopefully, we can go out there and play competitively on Sunday afternoon. We've got a lot to get ready for, a good team, well coached, very sound all the way through in all three phases of the game, got a lot of good players, a lot of experience, a lot of guys who know what they're doing and have done it for a while, have done it against us, done it well. We'll have to be ready to meet those challenges.
Q: What did you know about Cody Kessler that makes you want to work with him?
BB: He has some experience. He's a young player. We'll see how it goes.
Q: When Tom Brady is not a full participant in practice, how does that put pressure on Jarrett Stidham and does that play into the decision to bring in Cody?
BB: I think Jarrett's OK. He's young, he can go out there and throw in practice. I don't really think that's an issue.
Q: How difficult is the adjustment for a rookie quarterback overall, given the learning of the playbook, the lack of game reps and so on and so forth?
BB: Yeah, well, being a rookie in the NFL is hard for every position. But yeah, there are a lot of demands on that one, all of the ones that you've mentioned. It is what it is. It's what you sign up for when you play quarterback. You take on a lot of responsibilities besides just playing your position, so there's play-calling, there's leadership, there's adjustments, there's knowing what everybody is doing, there's playing the situational football and so forth. That's all part of the position.
Q: Sean McDermott mentioned that he tries to model some of the organizational success that you've had here due to how long you've sustained that level of excellence. Back in your younger coaching days, was there someone that you tried to model your program after?
BB: Yeah, sure. Yeah, I think you're always trying to do that. We're still doing that. We still look at what other teams in the league do in different areas and try to find things that we think would help us or that we can do better or that they do well. Are they the same as us and is that good, or are they different and would that work for us, or why does it work for them? But yeah, definitely. I appreciate the compliments from Sean, but I think they've done a great job. He's done a great job with that program – he and [Brandon] Beane and their staff. They've got a good football team and they're young. I'm sure they'll keep getting better.
Q: They're 11-5 in one-score games since 2017. Does that sort of speak to the culture and the coaching that the Bills are getting up there?
BB: Very much, yeah. They're very fundamentally sound. They don't make a lot of mistakes. They don't beat themselves, play good defense, play good in the red area on both sides of the ball, especially red area defense, which this year they're playing very well offensively in the read area which has made a big difference for them. They have a good kicker. They have a good kicking game. That always pays off. They're a good situational team.
Q: How is Cameron Meredith coming along in the program so far despite not being able to fully participate?
BB: Yeah, he's working every day. He's here, he's working hard every day. He's making progress.
Q: Where do you see the greatest area of growth with Josh Gordon from just where he was when he came into the league to where he is today?
BB: Yeah, I couldn't really answer that question because I wasn't with him when he came into the league. My experience with him has really been in the last 12 months. It was right around this time last year, roughly. I've spoken about that, the growth he's made in the last year but I don't really know. I couldn't go back further than that.
Q: With players like Frank Gore and Lorenzo Alexander playing prominent roles for the Bills, and then the various players on your team that are longer tenured and are still productive at a later age range, does that lend credence to the idea that the view of players and their ages has changed due to their conditioning and exercise science and so forth?
BB: It's a good question. It's a really good question. Personally, I just try to take everything based on what I see and not try to maybe read too much into other numbers and so forth. As you know, analytics is not really my thing. I just try to evaluate what I see. But you've got guys like Brett Favre and [Tony] Gonzalez and [Warren] Moon – you can go back however far you want to go back. If you want to go all the way back to [George] Blanda and those guys, I mean, he was playing in his 50's too, or whatever it was. I think each generation has players like that. I don't know if there's any set formula or model for what it is today or what it was some other year. I'm sure you could go to some analytics person and they'd be able to give you a great numerical answer on that. I don't know. For me, it's just trying to evaluate where players are physically, mentally, emotionally in terms of playing football in their career and that's really what I can go on. Certainly there's some other components but, in the end, those are the main things. I think you see players from that fairly in every generation, football generation. Some of those guys in their early 30's, Kevin Mawae would be another guy that played really good football at that point in his career and there are other guys at 30 that really their career was pretty much over. I don't know what exactly what the formula is on that. I think it varies from individual to individual, maybe the system that they're in.
Q: How do you really feel about analytics?
BB: It works for some people and that's great.
Q: The Bills special teams has a new coach in Heath Farwell. What's the biggest change you've seen in their special teams with Danny Crossman not there?
BB: Right. Well, we just ran into Danny, but I think Heath's program is similar to what they did at Carolina. It's really similar to what Sean does when he was in Carolina. They're very physical. They have good speed players like [Siran] Neal, they have some very physical players like [Maurice] Alexander and they're very fundamentally sound and don't make a lot of mistakes. They have a very explosive returner. They're a physical coverage team, I mean, kind of like Heath was as a player, I would say. So it looks like that's what their emphasis is. It's not like it's five gadgets in every game, they're sound, they're consistent, they know what they're doing and they get better at it from repetition, but they're very physical in the kicking game. They have good size, they have good power, so they can block, they can get the return started and to block them, you have to be physical and be able to stand up to them, or they'll run right through you, starting with Alexander.
Q: What role, if any, does analytics have in deciding when to go for it on fourth down or a two-point conversion for you?
BB: For me, for us?
BB: Less than zero.
Q: Is it more just like a gut thing for you?
BB: Well, I'm not saying it's a gut thing. It's an individual analysis based on the things that are pertinent to that game and that situation. I don't really care what happened in 1973 and what those teams did or didn't do, I don't really think that matters in this game – or '83 or '90, you know, pick out whatever year you want. It's not really my thing. And I like math, too, by the way. I really do. I like math.
Q: I don't know if analytics play into this or not, but a lot of teams seem more prone to going for two-point conversion attempts following a missed extra point. Last week, Stephen Gostkowski missed a kick. As a coach, how important is it to send a kicker back out there instead of falling into the temptation of chasing points early in a game?
BB: Again, I think each situation's different on that. I think there's a place for that, and sometimes there's not a place for it. It would just depend on the circumstances that came into play there. If you look at the game last week, it's a pretty interesting situation where Buffalo scored and Cincinnati had a penalty on the extra point, put the ball on the one yard-line, Buffalo converted. So in the end, instead of it being 20-17 it was 21-17, which made Cincinnati, who was in field goal range, have to go for the touchdown. Got the ball tipped, got it intercepted, lost the game. So, you know, those points are big points. Obviously, we know that, but that was an aggressive play by Coach McDermott. It's well executed, and to hit [Cole] Beasley there on a little roll-out pass, and I mean, you can argue that it might be the difference in the game. You know, a play in the first quarter on the extra point that the Bills aggressively converted. So I think that's a good example of how they coach and how they win. They do things well, they make you beat them. You make a mistake, they take advantage of them. In the end it's a four-point game, but really I would say it's a one-point game, and that's where that one point came from. They do it all the time. They're really good at it, and you don't see that happen to them very much – make a mistake and then that ends up – you've got to go out there and make good plays. They just don't make many of those [mistakes].
Q: How does John Brown's speed fit into the Bills offense?
BB: Yeah, he's definitely fast. He's a good player. He's really made a big impact on their team; he's made some big plays for them. I don't know if he's faster than [Robert] Foster, you'd have to ask somebody else that. I'm not with both those guys, but I don't know who would be faster than Foster. They have really good speed, so Foster's fast, Brown's fast, [Isaiah] McKenzie's fast, they could put [Andre] Roberts out there too. So, they've got some fast guys if they want them. And they do. They roll them in there, they use them. But I don't know if anybody could take the top off the defense better than Foster could. I mean, that guy can really – he can really run. We saw that last year. We saw it at the end of the season, you know, the second-half of the season. But Brown's certainly in that category. I mean, they get him on over, not just vertical-routes. They get him on over-routes and plays to the other side of the defense, which really, those are dangerous plays. Not everybody can run those, but if you have a fast player and you can line up one side of the field and run him deep on the other side of the field, that puts a lot of stress on zone and man coverages. Just by the amount of distance that he can get to and how hard it is to defend that space. If you get cleared out over there or if they formation it in a difficult way, which Coach [Brian] Daboll does a good job of that. So they have good speed and they use it for multiple players. Good question.