PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
October 2, 2017
Q: From your past experience, what traditionally has been the main thing that you've been able to tweak in the past that leads to improvement in communication among the secondary?
BB: Well, collectively, coaching and playing, we just have to work harder to get things right. That's everybody. I don't think there's some magic wand here. We just have to work hard and get it right.
Q: Stephon Gilmore mentioned that despite the two penalties called on him yesterday, he still plans to play aggressively. Do you feel that he needs to play more clean on those plays or are those calls that sometimes referees make and other times go unchecked?
BB: Yeah, well, we need fewer penalties, period. We have too many of them all throughout the game in multiple areas. It doesn't really matter what we think. The only thing that matters is what the guy who has the flags thinks. We have to do a better job of coaching and playing in a way that we don't get penalized.
Q: What did you see from Dont'a Hightower in his return yesterday? Also, what led to the improved defensive pressure late in the game yesterday from both him and Deatrich Wise?
BB: Well, I thought - really throughout the game - I thought we were OK rushing the quarterback. We hit him a couple of times but he got the ball off, but I think the rush was competitive. I mean, obviously, it could be better. I'm not saying it was great, but there were times we beat blockers and got to the quarterback, got close to the quarterback, and a couple of times he got rid of the ball. It wasn't the scrambles really that were an issue. It was more, I'd say, the designed runs that we need to defend better as far as the quarterback goes. I thought [the pass rush] was consistent.
Q: Stephon Gilmore didn't open the second half on the field in the base defense. Was that a performance based decision?
BB: Yeah, well, we rotate a lot of people through the course of the game; linebackers, defensive linemen, defensive backs, so we play a lot of people every week.
Q: Is he being used in the best way possible for his skill set?
BB: We do what we think is best to help the team win. That's what we try to do. We try to win games.
Q: Has he come as advertised?
BB: I don't understand the question.
Q: Has he been the player that you thought he was when you signed him in free agency?
BB: I mean, look, I think everybody on our team has room for improvement; coaches, players, all of us, so you can put everybody into that group. We all need to work harder. We all need to do a better job.
Q: Is it concerning that Tom Brady is on pace to take over 100 hits this season, especially given his age?
BB: Well, we always try to, obviously, protect the quarterback, create holes in the running game and do all of the things that we try to do to move the ball and be successful. So, that's what we'll continue to do. It's a contact sport. Guys are going to get hit out on the football field. I mean, I think that's reality. We do the best we can to try and win games. That's what we're going to try and do. I'm not really sure what you're suggesting.
Q: I guess I'm just wondering if there is a way to minimize the amount of hits he takes?
BB: We're not going to hand the ball off 70 times per game. Is that what you think we should do? Run 70 runs a game?
Q: What did you see from Marquis Flowers defensively yesterday and what have you seen from him overall on defense in practice?
BB: Well, I think Marquis is working to pick up our system and has improved every week over the last month or so that we've had him. Like you said, he played more yesterday after Elandon [Roberts] went out, which is good that he's been working hard during practice and after practice to get caught up there. That's what we all have to do, be ready to go. You never know exactly when the call is going to come or how things are going to unfold, so you always try to be prepared so when the opportunity comes you are ready for it. But yeah, he's made progress every week. He's worked with Coach [Brian] Flores and Coach [Joe] Judge in the kicking game to get caught up in those areas.
Q: What's the biggest challenge in trying to defend an offense when they put multiple receivers into a bunch formation?
BB: Well, I mean, defensively, first of all, it depends on what the situation is and depends on what you have called or if you want to change your call against a certain formation. If you're in man coverage then it could be a traffic problem. If you're in zone coverage then all of the receivers close together, getting the right matches in the zones because they're there quicker than they are if they're spread out, but some of that is situationally based. Who are they? Which group of players is it? What down and distance are we talking about? What field position are we talking about and what's the defensive call? So, there's a lot of variables that depend on really the specifics of the formation and the call and the situation.
Q: How satisfied are you with the way the offense has executed several times this season to get Stephen Gostkowski into position in situations at the end of the first half?
BB: Well, the end of the half situations, the one in New Orleans we had a chance to get more than three points, and we kind of had to settle for that. Yesterday, it was more of a try to get the ball into field goal range so we could get three points. I think the two situations were different, but it was a great kick by Steve and the operation on the no-huddle field goal was good a couple weeks ago. So, it's again situation football, trying to make the most of the situation. When we got stopped on third down in New Orleans, then the field goal was the most we could make of it at that point, but prior to that, we hoped to get the ball in the end zone. I'd say the whole red area discussion is another area we need to continue to work on. We lost some opportunities for points there yesterday. The fourth downs were, I think, obviously fourth-down situations, so we really knew on third down that we had two chances on those plays instead of just one. So, it really got played more like second and third down than third and fourth down based on the situation in the game, which we don't want to put ourselves in that situation, but that's what it was yesterday. But, yeah, third downs aren't turnovers, but they're close to turnovers because it affects what happens with the position of the ball on the next down. You can punt it and gain some field position or they can punt it and gain some field position, but making those stops or making those conversions on third down, whichever side of it you're on, are - again, they're not turnovers, but they're possession plays, so they're really big plays. Obviously, fourth down really is a turnover down at that point, so it's when you need your best play, your best execution. We've really got to step up. You have one chance to do it, and that's got to be good, whichever side of that play you're on.