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Transcript: Bill Belichick Conference Call 10/16

New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his conference call on Monday, October 16, 2017


Q: As you reviewed the game, was there any play or sequence that was critical to the outcome in your opinion?

BB: Well, there were a lot of them. I mean, it was a tight game, really came down to the last possession, so honestly every possession was critical. 

Q: What have you seen from Malcom Brown in terms of performance this season?

BB: I think Malcom's worked very hard. He's getting better every week.

Q: In the fourth quarter, there were two defensive holding calls. What is happening on those plays that is leading to that call?

BB: Well, it's called by the back judge. A lot of times, on those combination blocks, one guy is leaving the block, the other guy is trying to take over the block and the defender is playing the guy that's leaving him. Sometimes he gets too much of him in the official's eyes. 

Q: Was Malcolm Butler's interception a result of something he picked up during the game or more because he knew what to expect because of the game situation and time on the clock?

BB: I don't know. He got a real hard stem release there from [Robby] Anderson going inside. He ended up inside the receiver and then undercut the route and got his head around, made a great play on the ball and really it was a pretty well-executed route and throw. I mean, the ball was right there. It really wasn't behind the receiver. It was right on him, but Malcolm just made a great play there, kind of like the play that [Jeremy] Kerley made on Jonathan Jones. Jonathan was in great position and went up and played the ball perfectly. It was a great throw and a great catch. I mean, players in this league make great plays. That was an outstanding play by Malcolm.

Q: Your run defense looks like it made a step in the right direction yesterday. In addition to Brown, how did the other tackles you worked into the game help impact your run defense?

BB: Well, I thought we got contributions from all those players - Lawrence [Guy], Alan [Branch], Malcom [Brown] and Adam [Butler] gave us some snaps in there, too, that were good. They all have a little bit different playing style, but they were all productive. It certainly helps our linebacker play when the defensive line plays consistent and they can do a good job in front and then the linebackers can do a good job and then the secondary can fit off them, so it works in front of that. But, I thought our defensive line did a lot of good things yesterday. There's still a lot of things we need to work on, obviously. I'm not saying we're there yet, but we did a lot of good things up front. Like I said, I think Malcom's improved pretty much every week. I know he's definitely helping us making some significant plays for us out there and, again, eating up a lot of plays in front of him so that other guys, like Elandon [Roberts], Kyle [Van Noy], Dont'a [Hightower] and those guys, can fit in and make the tackles.

Q: What are your thoughts on Brandin Cook's ability to come down with big catches and keep his toes in bounds, like he did on the 42-yard pass before the half?

BB: Well, yeah, he does a good job of that. He's got explosive speed and tracks the ball well and has great awareness of where he is on the field and how to get his feet down. It was a good throw and a good catch - a very good catch and good job of tracking the ball. That was a big play for us. 

Q: Is there a concern about the lack of tight end production outside of Rob Gronkowski, and how will it be addressed if it is a concern?

BB: Well, I mean, look, our job offensively is to move the ball and score points. So, however we can do that, that's what we're trying to do. I'm sure if we threw the ball to a bunch of other guys and didn't throw it to Gronkowski, we'd be asking why Rob didn't get more targets. So, I don't know. I mean, if he's out there and he has a good matchup, then Tom's [Brady] going to give him a look and he's going to get some throws. There may be another player that's - we had that on a couple plays yesterday. There's more than one guy open on the play, and the quarterback went to where he thought was the best place to go, which I wouldn't second guess him on those, but it doesn't mean that other guys weren't open. It doesn't mean other guys weren't part of the play, but there's only one ball and the quarterback has to throw it to the spot that he feels is the best spot for it. 

Q: What are your thoughts on the way the offensive and defensive units have been playing in the fourth quarter in the last few weeks?

BB: Well, I mean, I think we can all look back and see the same thing that you saw. So, I don't think that's any big revelation. You know, we had a good run on the second-to-last drive, called back with a holding penalty. It was about a 20-yard run, so that could have changed things quite a bit, but we were penalized. I mean, it was a good call. I'm not saying that. It's just we've got to do a better job for 60 minutes, just like the start of the game defensively wasn't what we wanted it to be. Look, we're trying to play 60 minutes in all three phases of the game. We've gotten some good performances in all three units at various points in the game, and we've gotten some that we'd like to be better. That's what we're working for is to make it 60 minutes. Go back and look at all five games, six games, and there's something in the fourth quarter that could be better in every phase. I'm sure that's the way it is with most teams most every week. We'll just keep working and improving it. 

Q: Last night, you said something about how it was a good effort in the running game for you guys, especially in regular sets. Does that mean against their base personnel?

BB: Right, well, they're pretty much a match defense, so when we put sub personnel in and we have multiple receivers in the game, they had multiple defensive backs in the game. When we had a fullback in the game and two receivers, then we saw their base defense, and we ran that quite a bit yesterday. We had a fullback in the game and we were able to, at times, have some decent runs against their base personnel. 

Q: Is that an area where you guys have been relatively productive in the last few weeks? How has that group looked to you recently?

BB: Well, I would say that our overall production through the years statistically has been better with our sub runs than with our base runs. In other words, with three receivers in the game - three or more receivers in the game - it's those two receivers are left in the game. But, I think that's a little more balanced out this year in terms of production. In fact, I'm sure it is. So, just saying, for me, that's a little bit of a change from where it's been. It doesn't mean we haven't run the ball well out of sub people. It doesn't mean every run out of our base group has been great. I just would say, overall, our production out of the base group in the running game has been better than what it's been in the past. I try not to look at it too much on a one-off, one-play basis or one series or sometimes even one game. But, we're over a third of the way through the season, and I think that group has given us better run production than we've had in previous years, certainly against this team. 

Q: What is your assessment on the offensive line's pass protection in yesterday's game?

BB: I don't think we had a lot of major issues with pass protection. I mean, I think overall our passing game wasn't particularly efficient. We had a couple plays, they got us on a couple of pressures where they schemed up a look and then had a little variation off it. They beat the protection, so they did a good job coaching-wise of setting up a couple things. That's really not a player issue. That's more of a scheme issue for us, but they hit us a couple times. You always want the protection to be a little bit better, but I thought part of it was the running game, and we took a little bit of the edge off the pass rush by being able to have some productive runs, which is always a good thing. I'd say our ability to get open and create some separation on a couple of the third down plays was good so we didn't have to stand there and hold the ball and we got it out quicker. I mean, we'll see. Every game's a little bit different. We're certainly going to see a good pass rush this week and a little bit different type of rush than what we saw against the Jets. Every week's got its own challenges.

Q: How do you balance week-to-week adjustments with the foundation and system you install before the season begins?

BB: Well, I'll just say that when you start the season, you have, let's call it 20 practices, not including the spring. So let's call it 20 practices and some preseason games, and during that time you're trying to evaluate your team, work on a lot of basic and fundamental things and I'll say basically get your team ready to play not only on the opening day, but for getting conditioned and build your fundamentals and all that so that you can compete in the 16-game regular season. In those 20 practices and however many preseason games certain players play in - two, three, four, whatever it is - against other teams that are doing the same thing, so you're not getting schemed, you're not getting game planned, you're not getting some of the more sophisticated and the higher degree of difficulty things in any phase of the game. You're in more of an evaluation mode and a fundamental mode. That's where you're at, and then as you get into the season, you build on that and you have things that attack certain schemes or you have to use to address certain issues that your opponent is trying to pressure you with. Maybe you just sit in your base, whatever it is, to handle it. Maybe your basics handle it, but maybe you need to go a little bit beyond that or maybe you see opportunities to create a play that you might install on a weekly game plan basis, and then all that accumulates. So, when you go from 20 practices to, let's call it 60 practices over halfway through the season, maybe 80 practices at the end of the season, you're going to have a lot more in with 80 practices and you could probably triple the number of meetings on that and everything else then where you're going to have after a relatively short period in training camp. So, along those same lines, I mean, if we keep running the same play all year, the same ones that you put in in training camp and keep running those same plays all year, it's not that difficult in this league to figure out what those few things are and game plan accordingly. So, if you don't increase the volume of your scheme on offense, defense and special teams, then every week, your opponent's just looking at a handful of things and probably most of them they've seen before. So, I don't know how much problem, how much stress you're really putting on your opponent if that's the way that you do it. I'm not saying that's a bad thing because you can play your basic stuff, and if it's working well and if you're doing well with it and people can't handle it, then there's no reason to change it. But I don't know how many teams in the league fall into that category. I wouldn't say it's an exceedingly high number and it never really has been, based on my experience in the league. Although, I'm not saying that can't happen, but I would certainly say that's not the most common way that teams evolve throughout the course of the year. So, you do what you need to do each week to try to win. You put in the plays, make the adjustments, you don't want to overload things - I mean, nobody's talking about putting in a new offense every week. That's not it at all, but are there some modifications you can make? Sure, and as you rep those and you use them and if those situations come up again, then maybe you can fall back to that same type of scheme. But to think realistically, which it's incomprehensible to me, but, I mean, I don't know. Maybe I just can't figure it out, but it's incomprehensible to me how anybody could think that a team that's practiced for six months and played 19 regular season and postseason games and had triple-digit practices, five months later, after not playing a game, after having a fraction of that type of experience, could be anywhere close to the level of execution that they were five months before that after all of the things that I just listed. I mean, it's impossible in my view. So, each year, you start all over again. You start that process all over again. You build your team over the course of the year though practice repetitions, through preseason to regular season games, through the evolving of your scheme, and that's why each year is different and unique. But, I understand I'm in the minority and most other people don't see it that way, which is OK, but that's the way I see it.

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