HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
Friday, October 4, 2019
BB: We're winding down here. It's good to see everybody on Friday. We're getting close, got a few things to pull together here with some of the situational football. The Redskins do a good job on that. They have a pretty experienced coaching staff, a very experienced coaching staff, and a lot of veteran players so quite a few things to prepare for in those situations, but we're working on them and need to be ready to go here Sunday at 1:00 p.m.
Q: Is it unique at all to have dedicate equal amounts of preparation time to all three quarterbacks on the Washington roster?
BB: Yeah, it's pretty unusual. We have to be ready for all three. All three are capable, all three have played.
Q: What did you guys see from Mike Nugent that made you want to bring him in?
BB: Mike's got a lot of experience. We felt like he was the best option.
Q: How much of that decision is based on a workout that you host a player for here versus just your institutional knowledge of him throughout his career?
BB: A lot. Yeah, a lot on the workout. Just seeing where the player is currently, but the past has some relevance too. It's a combination, but it would be hard to sign somebody at that position that didn't kick well in a workout. There'd have to be a lot of other things in place that would override that, I would think.
Q: There were also reports that you signed kicker Younghoe Koo to the practice squad. What went into that decision?
BB: Just a player we wanted to look at that's practice squad eligible. There's a lot of players you want to look at but they're not eligible for the practice squad. You'd have to put them on the roster if you want to see them, so it gives us a chance to see him on a practice squad situation. We'll see how it goes. He doesn't have a lot of experience.
Q: How much does Mike Nugent's experience kicking in the elements in a cold place like Cincinnati play into the decision to sign him knowing that there will be similar situations here in Foxboro later in the year?
BB: Again, he's an experienced kicker that's kicked in New York, kicked in Cincinnati. I don't know if that's going to be a big factor this week. We're just worried about this week right now. We'll worry about December in December, but it doesn't hurt that he's done that.
Q: Is it a challenge for you to know exactly where he's comfortable kicking field goals from a distance standpoint given your unfamiliarity working with him?
BB: I think we'll have a pretty good idea what his range is. It's been about the same since he's been in the league. We've, again, played against him, so defensively on our field goal block and defensive strategy we've had to kind of know what that is. I don't think it's like 15 or 20 yards different from what it's been. It might be a yard or two and that could vary from game to game based on the conditions at the game. Is it perfect? No, but is it close? I would like to think so.
Q: How has the early season roster movement tested your organizational depth so far this season?
BB: It's pretty infrequent, I would say, in the National Football League for teams not to be dealing with something every week. Might be a roster change, might be inactive players or the amount of time they can practice during the week and then you have to make the active-inactive decision closer to game time. It's just part of the nature of the National Football League. I'd love to have the situation you described – no movement – it's the same every week. Maybe that'll happen. It has happened at times but probably more often than not there's some level of flux, so we'll just have to figure it out.
Q: What makes Devin McCourty a special player on the field?
BB: Devin has a lot of experience in our system so he's very well-versed in what we do, but he's a smart player that understands the entire defensive concept, not just his position, what everybody else does, what the strengths and weaknesses of the defense are, as kind of the last line of defense where to position himself to have the most impact on the play, to take away threats or to fill voids or space in the defense based on what we're in, their personnel and their formation and so forth. Just instinctively he does a lot of things right. He's a very good communicator. All of those things are strong points. He's fast, he's a good athlete, he's tough, a strong tackler, he's out there every day, he practices and continues to get better. Players that are smart, that work hard and improve and they help your team – he certainly falls into that category.
Q: What have you seen from Lawrence Guy's development in the system? He seems to impact plays even if he is not necessarily the one making the play.
BB: Yeah, he is. Lawrence has improved. I mean, he's been a good player. He was a good player in Baltimore. He's been a good player for us but he continues to improve. His role varies from game to game and sometimes within the game. Sometimes he's on the tackle, sometimes he's on the guard, sometimes he’s on the center. He can do different things. He plays very well with his hands. He's a strong player. His pass rush has improved and his overall recognition and reactions and instincts are good. Sometimes things happen that we haven't gone over or they're a little bit different and he seems to kind of always do the right thing. Do what you would instinctively want the player to do. So, he's been really good for us. Assignments – there's never a problem with assignments with him. He's a good communicator, makes sure the other guys on the line or if he's playing next to a defensive end or an outside linebacker that they're coordinating with what they're doing. He continues to grow in the system, gives us great leadership off the field and in the meeting rooms, in the weight room, training habits. He's a real professional. Comes to work every day ready to go.
Q: We don't get the Redskins around here too often so I just have some historical questions. What was it like in the 1980's game planning against Joe Gibbs and those Washington offenses and coaching in all of those great rivalry games back in the day?
BB: Well, they had, obviously, a lot of success. It was, I would say, probably one of the simplest offenses that we've ever gone against but every week the formations and the way they built the plays changed, so it was basically two running plays – inside zone and counter OT – and they had a handful of passing plays but they were built differently with different personnel groups, different shifts, motions and they created a lot of pre-snap looks. None of which you could practice against because they hadn't shown them in the last month-to-six weeks. They might not have shown it for a couple of years, so it was interesting because you had to prepare for plays but they would try to formation you into looks that you couldn't really see the play coming until after it happened so you had to really understand concepts. If you look at what you saw, you're not going to see the same thing but once the play happens, it's the same play, if that makes any sense. And so that was kind of the challenge of playing them. When Dan [Henning] left, the running game simplified, and then Dan's running game, like we saw in Carolina, Dan had a great mind and schematically his gap running game – he was a cut-the-defense coach – so he wasn't really a big zone runner. They always cut the defense so there was some kind of double team kick-out block, something that separated the defense, as we saw in the Carolina Super Bowl. That's what he did. He did a great job of it. There could be tight ends and fullbacks in the backfield and in motion and in wing positions and all that, but he always found ways to cut the defense. When he did that in Washington that was an element to the running game that was very unique. Pittsburgh did a good job of that when Coach [Chuck] Knoll was there, but I don't know that anybody's really done it any better than Henning has on a consistent basis. Then that kind of disappeared after he left and it became really a zone to counter trey game. The first two steps of the zone and the counter trey look exactly the same except for the pullers, but all of the inside from the footwork to everything else is the same. That's what slowed that down is you had two plays that hit on opposite sides of the ball that initially look the same for certainly the initial part of the read.
Q: Was Lawrence Taylor the type of guy that helped you attack that style of offense?
BB: Well, Lawrence and [Carl] Banks set the edge of the defense as well as probably any two linebackers in football. We had a lot of success against the Redskins when I was with the Giants other than the two strike years, which we didn't have any success those two years. But we beat them a lot. The Eagles beat us a lot and the Redskins beat the Eagles a lot. In those, call it '84 to '90 years, we couldn't beat the Eagles, the Redskins couldn't beat us and the Eagles couldn't beat the Redskins. That's the way it was a lot in, I don't know, that period of six or seven years, whatever it was. But yeah, Joe did a great job with the one-back passing game. He took it from [Don] Coryell but he took it to a one-back game more so than most other teams and what you saw in the league in that – Joe came in in '81 I think – Gibbs, and [Joe] Theismann and they had great success running that passing game similar to Coryell's style, and then other teams in the league copied that and really that's pretty much all you see now, is one-back sets. It was an interesting transition period. Those games – it was a war. Their team didn't change very much either. Our team was kind of defensively the same, and offensively their team was very much the same so it was [Don] Warren, [Mark] May, [Russ] Grimm, [Jeff] Bostic, [Joe] Jacoby. It was the same guys every [year], and then we had the same guys and so you're giving the scouting report and it's like, "OK, well, [Clint] Didier's playing at tight end this year instead of somebody." [Ricky] Sanders, [Art] Monk, Gary Clark – it was the same guys every year. I know the back changed a little bit from [John] Riggins to George Rogers and the quarterback changed from Theismann to [Jay] Schroeder to [Mark] Rypien, but yeah, it was the same scouting report.
Q: I was told you and the Redskins had a common respect for each other but that Buddy Ryan was the common enemy for both teams.
BB: I didn't really have to deal with Buddy because I was the defensive coach. We were dealing more with Randall Cunningham, and [Keith] Byars, and Cunningham, and [Kenny] Jackson and those guys, so that was really more of my world. But yeah, offensively, it was Coach [Tom] Landry at the Cowboys for a good part of that time and Coach Gibbs at Washington, Coach [Bill] Walsh in San Francisco. It was tough. Those were great coaches and they had great players and great systems. It was really a great experience for me as a coach working under Coach [Bill] Parcells to have the opportunity compete against a great West Coast offense, really the one-back offense from Joe Gibbs, and then what Coach Landry did with his offensive system which was pretty unique, too, with all of the shifting and double-shifting and the multitude of formations and plays. Nobody had more plays than the Cowboys did. Every play they had, they had like four counter plays that went with it. A counter play, a misdirection play, and then a couple of play-action passes. Then you'd go to the next play and there's another four plays to go with that play. The volume of Coach Landry's offense was excessive. Those were great challenges but they were great learning years for me. But yeah, you have Lawrence Taylor on defense, you have Carl Banks, you've got Harry Carson, you've got some Hall of Fame type players there. It's kind of easy to coach the linebackers.
Q: How is it going managing the workload of your three quarterbacks with a rookie coming along and now bringing in Cody Kessler?
BB: Yeah, well, Cody's done a nice job for us. He's really smart. He's come in here, he's learned. He's out there calling plays, signaling receivers, making adjustments like he's been here longer than the two weeks or whatever it is. He's picked things up very quickly and has a good rapport with all of the players and is willing to do whatever we've asked him to do. He works extremely hard. [Jarrett] Stidham's made a lot of progress, continues to and Tom [Brady] gives us, obviously, a lot of great leadership out there and energy on the field. It's not really a management thing. They're all contributing. I'm glad they're all on the team. I hope we only have to play one but you never know.
Q: John Simon and Adam Butler seem very adept at swatting balls down at the line of scrimmage. What kind of technique goes into making those plays and why have those two excelled at it?
BB: Some guys, they just are instinctively gifted to know kind of where to be, when to go, where the quarterback's looking. Jamie Collins falls in that category, too, and Kyle [Van Noy's] pretty good at it. Those guys just get their hands on a lot of balls. It's the same thing in practice. You see it in training camp. It's a lot of the same players doing that and just kind of knowing where the passing lane is, knowing where the quarterback is looking and if they're not close enough to hit the quarterback, to effect the quarterback by getting in the passing lane and getting their hands up. Adam's a long guy. He's, whatever 6' 4". He's got long arms and Jamie's a long guy and so that definitely helps – Kyle. John has a little less length but just his instinctiveness and his ability to see the quarterback, throw him the ball and get into that lane is – you try to coach it, but I don't think that's really coaching. A lot of that is just instinctiveness. But yeah, it's funny how some guys really have that knack. Not that other guys don't, but for some guys it's just that they block a lot of balls. It's the same guys. It really is. It's amazing.
Q: I know a receiver's role can change a lot on a given week and I'm wondering what's been your impression of Julian Edelman's ability to contribute in the blocking game, and how important is that role overall for a receiver?
BB: Yeah, Julian's a tough kid and I don't know that any receiver likes to block, but some like to block more than others and I think Julian is a very competitive guy. He likes to block and he's a strong guy that has good playing strength. He has good leverage and he's smart. He understands where they are, where the angles he needs to take are and all of that. He's done an excellent job blocking for us through the years and this year. On the earlier part of your question, I don't know if the receiver’s roles change a lot by game plan. I think a lot of times the receivers opportunities change based on coverage. That's really the thing that changes is teams that run a lot of one coverage kind of dictate where the ball is going to go. We're just not going to keep throwing balls into the teeth of the coverage, whatever it happens to be. If teams like to spin the dial and play a lot of different coverages then that makes it hard for the quarterback and receivers because we have to read the thing out, find the open spot to be in and have the right timing and so forth. There's a difficult to that. If a team's going to play a consistent coverage or one or two coverages then a lot of times that's just going to dictate where the ball is going to go. Does a receiver's role change? I mean, not really. Do his opportunities change? Well, yeah, they definitely could based on what the defense is doing more than us saying, "Well, we're going to throw the ball to this guy." We don't know if we're going to get the ball to that guy or not unless it's a screen pass.
Q: Does using a new kicker present a new challenge to you this season given the stability you've had at that position over the course of your career?
BB: Yeah, well again, a lot of those are based on game situations. But yeah, we've dealt with it before. Lonnie Paxton got hurt and we had to go through some changes with the snapper. [Todd] Sauerbrun punted for us so we had changes at punter. Look, through the years I've been lucky. We have had a lot of stability. There's no doubt about that. But look, sometimes things happen and you have to make changes like you do at any other position. You do the best you can. Steve Gostkowski's one of the greatest kickers of all time. He's been great for this franchise. Unfortunately, he's not available so we'll move on. Mike [Nugent's] done a good job. He has a lot of experience. Obviously, we have confidence in Mike or we wouldn't have signed him. Is it different than Steve? Yeah, we'll see how it goes. Look, if you're not going to put them out there then you shouldn't have them on your team at any position, whatever that is. If you don't have confidence in the player than you should get somebody else you have confidence in and put them out there. I think Mike will do a good job but, I mean, we all have to prove it every week. That's the way it is for all of us.
QUARTERBACK TOM BRADY
Friday, October 4, 2019
Q: After a tough week in Buffalo, how much are you looking forward to getting back on the field?
TB: Yeah, it’s a good chance for us to try to go on the road again and try to play good football. So, we’re 2-0 at this point, which is pretty good, but it’s going to be a challenge down there. They do a good job, and [we will] try to go down there and play well.
Q: You talked about everything from last game sucking, but when you went back and looked at it, did you find things that you’re able to build on?
TB: I mean, I think every game there’s a couple good things and probably some days more good than bad, some days maybe a little more bad than good. So, it’s always something to correct, something to do a little bit better. So, we’re just thinking about this week and the things we have to do to play well. Certainly, I think every game we learn a little something and going to try to keep improving.
Q: How much do you know your offense at this point? When do you know what you can or can’t do and what things to add or get rid of?
TB: Yeah, I think that’ll pretty much go all season, too. Guys come in, different strengths and weaknesses, injury and so forth. And sometimes you might be pretty good at a position, and somebody gets injured and it’s not the strength that it might be. But, that’s NFL football. I think guys go in and out and you’ve got to just keep finding a way to do what our job is, which is to move the ball and score points.
Q: Is this a get back to basics week for the offense?
TB: We always kind of talk about the fundamentals and what is going to keep us from scoring and those types of things. Every week’s just a different week. I said after the game, whatever happens – whether you win by 50 or you win by two, or whether you score 50 or you score two – the next week just starts fresh. And you’ve got to empty the tank again – or, first you have to fill the tank again and then you’ve got to empty it again. It’ just, every week’s a little bit different. So, you have different competition, you have scenarios, situations in the game that you’re trying to execute against. This week will present some different things that we haven’t worked on this team, and it kind of just goes that way all season long. You have different games, different matchups. Situations are different and you’re just trying to recall those things and go out there and execute; try to score.
Q: You have some new players on the offensive line right now. How much confidence do you have in that group?
TB: They’re doing a good job. I think they’re doing a good job, so yeah, absolutely. I think they’re well-coached. A lot of guys I have played with for quite a while – Marcus [Cannon] and Shaq [Mason] and Joe [Thuney] for a while. I think Marshall’s [Newhouse] been in there for a while. He’s relatively new. Ted’s [Karras] been here for a while. So, there’s a lot of familiarity with the guys. I think all of those guys playing together, I think they’re working hard and trying to make improvements.
Q: Their inside linebackers coach is Rob Ryan. What do you remember about Rob, and how does their unit reflect his personality?
TB: Yeah, we’ve had a great relationship over a long period of time. So, when you know someone for 20 years, there’s a lot of great memories. Obviously, just a great contributor early in my career here, and then has had a great coaching career. So, they have a good group down there – versatile players, very athletic. They ask them to do a lot, so they’re really well-coached. They’ve got a lot of really good coaches, a lot of experienced coaches. We’ve got our work cut out for us.
Q: Are you excited to see your social media empire expand to TikTok?
TB: Am I excited about it? Yeah.
Q: Do you know what TikTok is, now that you have a post on there?
TB: Are you putting me on the spot right now? Do you know what it is? Maybe you’re questioning me.
Q: I’ve got it on my phone.
TB: Do you? I do too. You want to see it? Yeah, it’s on there.
Q: Did you have to get your teammates to explain it at all?
TB: No, but they all like it. I’ve had a lot of comments. It’s the younger generation. I’m happy you’re involved.
Q: Younger players have had a hard time in terms of producing in your offense. How much of that can you help change?
TB: Yeah, I think it’s up to – I think one thing we talk about here is just doing our jobs. I mean, I can do what I can do. Every player can do what they can do. I can’t do anything for anyone else; they can’t do anything for me. So, a lot of it’s just trust and trying to communicate trust and communication. So, I’ve always said the best teammates are the ones that I have to think about the least because I don’t want to spend my mental energy on things that aren’t really my job. The same goes on defense. The free safety can’t rush the passer and the pass rushers can’t cover the deep part of the field. So, I think what makes a good team is just people doing their job, doing it the best way they can and that’s what my responsibility is.
Q: Do you feel like you may have to trust some younger guys more than usual because of the injury situation?
TB: Like I said, I’ve got to do the best that I can do. So, yeah, those guys are trying. They’re young. I was young; I was trying once, too. I just didn’t have to play my first year, so it’s a little different.