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Transcript: Bill Belichick Conference Call 1/15

Q: Is there any way to coach against Tyreek Hill’s speed? He seems to have a gear that pretty much nobody else has.

BB: Like, can we make somebody that fast?

Q: I guess I mean do you have to focus more on the angles when pursuing him?

BB: Yeah, look, we’ve seen it. A lot of our players have dealt with it and, as you said, have to make those subtle adjustments in terms of angles and leverage and so forth. Every situation is a little bit different. Who’s where and how fast everybody is moving and what direction we’re going in and the opponent is going in and so forth. Yeah, certainly there has to be an awareness of that. It’s a little bit different with him than everybody else; no question.

Q: What kind of work does your staff do all season to try and assure that your team is as healthy as it appears to be now at this critical juncture of the season?

BB: Well, surely a combination of training, which as an athlete, training to prepare for the competition and a certain element of recovery or treatment to deal with things that are less than 100 percent but need to try to be treated and dealt with so that we can be as close to 100 percent as possible. Collectively, there’s a lot of people involved in that process but ultimately that’s what you try to do, is train the healthy players to be able to compete at a high level for a sustained period of time and rest, rehabilitate and recover the athletes that need that so that they can eventually train at full capacity to be able to train for the high competition.

Q: Would you say you’d be pretty pleased with the way both the players and the training staff have worked this year to remain diligent in that aspect of preparation?

BB: Yeah, I think all of the parties – our strength and conditioning staff, our training staff and our players – have all worked extremely hard. I think that work paid off and has shown up and we’re going to continue to do it. Yeah, absolutely. There’s been a lot of sweat there.

Q: Is there any thought given to the field conditions at a particular road stadium before you arrive there? Is there any institutional knowledge in advance about some of the road stadiums that you travel to throughout a given season?

BB: Yeah, absolutely. That’s part of our weekly preparation to know the fields that we’re playing in and what the conditions are, whatever they are from dome to outdoor stadium to whatever the potential for weather could be and to have the proper equipment and gear and so forth that we need for whatever it is we’re playing in. We definitely do that. In some cases we can practice that way. In some cases we can’t. If we’re able to utilize a practice tool prior to the game because of the way that the circumstances fall then great, and if we’re not then we prepare mentally and talk about how we want to do certain things or whatever the issues are. Yeah, that’s part of it. I mean, I would say that’s not the major part of it. The major part of it is playing the opponent that you play. Obviously, at this time of year it’s another great football team. They’re the number one seed in the AFC, so you can’t – in no way, shape or form am I suggesting that we would look past our opponent toward a possible, something that could possible affect the game. But I think you have to be aware of those, but in the end this is going to come down to how we compete against the Chiefs.

Q: Is there a major difference between playing on real grass and playing on field turf? Does it change the ways you’re able to do certain things to any degree?

BB: There’s definitely differences and there’s some things that can affect us and we try to take those into consideration ahead of time. Sometimes those things don’t become apparent or they don’t declare until you actually get to the game. Sometimes it changes during the game and you have to make that adjustment. But yeah, I’d say during the year we’ve practiced in most every condition we could get and it would be pretty unusual for something to come up that we haven’t at least approximated in the practice setting so that we can refer back to, "Well, when it’s like this or when this happens, we need to make this adjustment," because we’ve already talked about it and made it. So, it would have to be something pretty extraordinary to fall outside of that, out of those experiences that we’ve had over the course of the year. But if it did, we would just broaden our net and try to make the adjustment we need to make to be able to handle it.

Q: How important is it for your assistants to not only oversee their positions but also see the bigger picture?

BB: Well, yeah, it’s important. There’s a balance. We talk about that every week. An overall team perspective on a number of different levels and then an individual coach’s position as it fits into that unit and the players in that unit, how they would fit into another unit so where the offense and defense overlaps, the special teams. We try to talk about those things. I think a lot of the roles are fairly well established, but from week to week there are some variables and some guys will have more or less as an expectation. We don’t know exactly how the game is going to go but the expectation might be more or less than a previous week or maybe what the norm is. Some players know that their role is dependent on what our opponent does and how they do it and how frequently they do it. That determines a little bit of their role because they’re a part of a matchup. Yeah, as far as understanding the bigger picture as it relates to the preparation of an individual unit, there’s definitely an element of that.

Q: What has made J.C. Jackson so reliable in defending against the deep ball this season?

BB: That’s always a priority for every defensive back, corner or safety, is to be able to defend the deep part of the field. That’s something that Josh [Boyer] and Steve [Belichick] and Brian Flores, that we work on all the time. Defending the deep ball, proper technique, proper leverage, proper use of if there is help, how to use that in your leverage to maximize our coverage in the deep part of the field. Again, there are certain fundamental things that apply there but there are also specific things from week to week that could override that based on the type of play or players or scheme that our opponent used. I’d just say it’s something that’s constantly coached, reinforced, worked on and it’s extremely important to the players; all of them. There’s obviously no defensive back that wants that play to happen. They’re very cognizant of what the threats are and how we need to defend it. Again, it’s not anything that’s specific to one individual player. I mean, J.C.’s part of that but so is everybody else.

Q: Is this week especially important to start fast given the quick-strike ability of their passing offense and the fact that they seem like the type of team that wants to get a lead and be able to let their strong pass-rushers get after the quarterback?

BB: Right. Well, I think you highlighted it at the beginning. You always want to start fast. You always want to play from ahead. You always want to get off to a good start. But I think these are 60 minute games and this time of year you’re going to have to battle all the way through, but it’s always good to try to get off to a good start. There is I think historically no better fast starting team than the Chiefs. Coach [Andy] Reid’s always done a great job of that and they’ve outscored their opponents by I think it’s about 100 points or so this year. That’s a big advantage to play the last three quarters with. Certainly we don’t want to be in that position, nor do they I’m sure. But everybody’s going to compete for 60 minutes or longer, however long it takes this weekend and that’s what we have to be ready for. But yeah, of course we want to do well early and we want to do well in the fourth quarter too.

Q: What traits stand out to you that have made Sony Michel an effective running back?

BB: Well, he’s had a lot of production in his career at that position. I think you’ve seen it certainly when he was in college. He has good vision. He’s strong, runs with good pad level, gains yards after contact. He’s got a good set of running skills.

Q: What are some of the hallmarks of Andy Reid’s teams and what is it like to face his squads?

BB: Well, I’d say the number one characteristic is they’re always good. They were good in Philadelphia and he went out to Kansas City and they became good there right away. They’ve dominated their division. Twenty-something and three, or I don’t know. The last time I looked it was just – he’s built a dominant team that is experienced. They have a lot of players who are experienced in his system. Even a guy like [Patrick] Mahomes, who we know is a young player, but he sat and learned all last year and obviously has learned well and is more than ready when they put him in there. I think that’s one thing that Andy does well, is he if he puts a rookie in there then the guy is ready. If he needs a little more time then he gives him a little more time and then when he’s ready then he puts him in there. The player’s that they play are generally pretty experienced. They know what they’re doing. They don’t beat themselves. They’re a very explosive team like he had in Philadelphia. They can score quickly on offense. They can turn the ball over and score quickly on defense. They can return the ball and make plays in the return game. Andy’s an offensive coach so the offensive plays they get on special teams and the offensive plays they get on offense, when you combine all of that together, it’s a lot of firepower and a lot of explosive plays. Andy’s teams are always tough, well-disciplined. They don’t make a lot of mistakes. They make you beat them and that’s hard to do because they’re sound and he gets good players and he coaches them well and they’re tough.

Q: When you face a coach like that who you have a history with, do you almost have to dig deeper into the game planning because you have institutional knowledge of each other?

BB: Well, Andy’s a tough matchup for anybody because they do so many things and they do so many things well. The success that they’ve had, not only this year, but as I said all six years that he’s been there, is very impressive. There’s a million things that you could find in any of those years and who knows if that’s the one he’s going to pick out against you, so I think you have to put your chips on something. You have to try to do something that you feel like is important in the game, try to do that well, have a plan for how you’re going to deal with other things and let the game declare a little bit, which it will. At this point, there are a lot of possibilities. There are a lot of things they could do. I don’t think trying to read his mind is really that beneficial. They’re so good at so many things that I think the most important thing for us is that whatever we try to do, that we’re able to do it well and able to adjust to the multiples that he’s going to give you.

Q: Does Patrick Mahomes remind you of anyone from a historical comparison?

BB: I don’t know about the comparisons. When you put a player in a particular system, like Andy’s system, then obviously the player is going to have similarities to other players that have run that system because that’s what the system is. Look, he’s an outstanding player in every facet of the game. He’s got a strong arm. He can throw the ball the length of the field. He’s got a great touch. He’s got the ability to read coverages and extend plays, make good decisions and make explosive plays without taking too much of a risk and putting his team in jeopardy. He does all of those things well and that’s a credit to him. It’s a credit to their team and certainly the coaching staff for being able to put together the variety and the explosiveness and the complementary plays that they have that make it so difficult to defend them.

Q: Does it ever surprise you when he throws across his body like that and makes some throws that the average NFL quarterback wouldn’t attempt? Does that force you to defend more of the field?

BB: Well, you certainly have to defend the whole field with him. I’d say Andy does a real good job of that anyway with the plays that they run. They attack you from sideline to sideline and from the line of scrimmage and behind the line of scrimmage on screen plays and things like that to 60 yards down field and all of the spots in between. And Mahomes can make it even more of a problem by extending the play or scrambling around, which he’s done many times. We’ve seen that many times on film, talk to our players about it. We don’t want that situation to come up but I’m sure at some point it will. Probably more than once, and we’ll have to deal with it then. Yeah, it’s very challenging. He can do a lot. We play against great players every week. They come in different shapes and sizes and different skill sets, but they’re all good in their own way. They all can create problems for us or the opponent, us in this case. Again, we’ll do the best we can this week to try to defend what we can defend. There will be some things that we’ll have to – if we overcompensate one way then we’ll be a little light somewhere else. If we’re balanced, we’re balanced. So we’ll just have to decide how we want to try to deploy our players on different situations and so forth and see how that turns out. But yeah, it’s a big challenge; no question.

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