PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
Q: With Rob Gronkowski not traveling with the team on Saturday, when does the offensive game plan start to change? Did it start on Friday when he showed up on the injury report or did it start once you were in Chicago?
BB: Well, we have to be prepared each week for backups to every position. So, something could happen on the first play and somebody else could have to play for that player - you never know who that player is. For example, what happened with Sony [Michel] there in the [second] quarter, that could happen to anybody at any time unfortunately. So, we have to be prepared for those things. At whatever point the die is cast and we know what it is, we go in that direction. But, in this case, it really went all the way up til Sunday morning before we were 100 percent sure, even though we knew it was a possibility before that.
Q: Can you talk about Josh McDaniel's ability and the coaching staff's ability to put together a plan that quickly so that you're scoring 30+ points?
BB: Well, yeah. I mean, 14 of those points came in the kicking game. But, yeah, Josh and staff do a great job of being able to put together a game plan and making adjustments in the game when things change, whether that could be by personnel or schematically as the game unfolds. But, yeah, Josh is very, very good at that. I mean, he's a great play caller, does a great job in the preparation and planning, does a great job play calling, in-game adjustments and knows our offense very thoroughly without question and is able to adapt quickly to whatever changes he needs to make - again, whether those come from internal changes or whether it's something that a team's doing that is different than what we've prepared for or what they've shown in the past.
Q: How did you feel Dwayne Allen responded to a little more time on the field in place of Gronkowski?
BB: Yeah, Dwayne did a good job for us, as he always does. He had a couple of those situations that came up last year and he did a good job for us. He played in the kicking game, as well, so he had a pretty solid role, significant role in the game and did a nice job.
Q: On Cordarrelle Patterson's return for a touchdown, it looked like everyone had their assignments taken care of, but was there anything that stood out to you on that return that ultimately was the key?
BB: Well, I thought we did a good job on the front side. They maybe overplayed it a little bit to the kick side, and we kind of had to run some of those guys past the hole a little bit, C.P. cut it back and got good blocks on the backside from J.C. [Jackson] and I think it was Brandon [King] to seal off the backside. And then, obviously, great running by C.P. trying to - you know, it would have been a tackle maybe around the 35-yard line into a touchdown. But, we had a hat on a hat, it was fairly clean through the line and then [Kevin] Toliver shot at him coming over from the safety position and C.P. made him miss and then it was all over.
Q: How much has Jonathan Jones improved in terms of ball skills and his development at the position defensively? Secondly, with J.C. Jackson, after his penalties in the second quarter, what did he show you with his ability to put that instance behind him and come up with a difficult catch in his interception?
BB: Well, all of our defensive backs work very hard on the ball skills and playing with their back to the ball and those type of plays - when to reach for the ball and how to judge the pass without actually seeing the quarterback throw the ball. There are different techniques that we use on that. Devin [McCourty] had a good play on that down the sideline - you know, he broke up a pass to [Tarik] Cohen. But, on Jon's play, that was a tremendous play where he showed his athleticism to be able to go up for the ball just at exactly the right time based on his recognition of the receiver's actions and go up there and made a great catch. And J.C., this was on a scramble play and kind of a 50-50 ball there where [Mitchell] Trubisky threw it kind of right between the receiver and the defender. J.C. was able to get in there, get his hands in there and pull it away. Yeah, it was a great play by both players. Sometimes you're the beneficiary of just an offensive mistake, but in those two cases, I thought those were great examples of good defensive plays where we kind of took the ball away from them, as opposed to they just gave us a good opportunity for it. We were able to get it away from them, so that was good.
Q: After the game, Devin McCourty said that on Hail Mary situations, they are taught to stay on the ground, other than one player, who in this case was Josh Gordon. Could you explain what the thought process is there to have everybody else stay on the ground?
BB: Well, yeah, again, we have a basic set of rules for how we want to do that. So, each position is a little bit different depending on where their guy is and where the receiver is, where the ball is and so forth. So, basically we just try to coach the play the best that we can knowing that each one is a little bit different and the situation's a little bit different, but we don't want everybody jumping for the ball and then have it get tipped and nobody's on the guys that are standing there to catch it and grab the rebound. So, we try to take the players out. Obviously, we didn't get the play quite the way we wanted to, but Duron [Harmon], Jay [Jason McCourty] made a good play to know where they were on the field and make the tackle short of the goal line, which in the end is all that mattered. But, yeah, those plays are a little harder to defend sometimes than they look like, especially against a quarterback with a strong arm and big receivers than can go and get the ball.
Q: Do you have an update on the status and availability of Sony Michel? How comfortable would you feel increasing the workload for somebody like James White, who obviously has a prominent role each week in your offense already?
BB: That's a good question, Phil [Perry], and I think the answer to that is just we have to take it week-by-week and see how it goes, see what type of game plan we would want to evolve into and then who's available on our side and how we'd want to distribute that. So, it would just really depend week-to-week on the answers to those questions, and they would probably be a little bit different ever week, too. So, we'll just have to see how all that plays out. But, we have a ton of confidence in James. He does everything well for us. But, as you said, we don't want to overload him, but at the same time, he's certainly capable of doing a significant amount for our football team in a lot of different ways. So, we try to find a way for him to be productive without putting it all on his shoulders. Again, that's a little bit of a week-to-week thing, though, too. Some weeks might be a little different than others.
Q: Is there any update you can give us on Sony?
BB: No, we'll put that out in the injury report on Wednesday when we know a little more.
Q: The CBS broadcasters mentioned how Soldier Field is a place where the sun can be a big factor in the game. Looking back on it, did you feel like it played much of a factor in the game?
BB: Yeah, definitely. Yeah, that sun was, I'd say, very much of a factor. You know, it's kind of on the south side there and it swung across the field, but it was, I'd say, a pretty good factor for three quarters.
Q: On the first play of your second drive, Julian Edelman thought he caught a pass they ruled incomplete. Did you ever get a good look at that? Replaying the game, did it cross your mind if you should have challenged it?
BB: Yeah, I'd say it crossed my mind.
Q: Was it the time of the game, not a good look or not enough time to make the call to challenge?
BB: Well, again, it was ruled incomplete on the field, so you'd need to see enough to be pretty confident that you were right in the challenge. Otherwise, you're down to one challenge. If you feel like you're going to win the challenge, then you could challenge it, but I think if you're not 100 percent convinced of that and it could kind of go either way, then you're looking at going the next 50 minutes of the game with one challenge. I don't know, you're talking about an 8-yard gain or whatever it was. I mean, I don't know - you really want to use a 50-50 challenge on an 8-yard play in the first quarter? I'm not really sure about that one. I mean, we can sit up there in the press box and look at them all you want, but you don't have an unlimited number of challenges and how much you can gain and what's left and you have no idea what's coming. I mean, I'm reluctant to just throw those out there on a 50-50, 40-60 shot, unless it's a game-changing play - a strip-sack that gets run back 90 yards for a touchdown or whatever. You know, a key play like that - that would be reviewed anyway. But, a play that a catch that goes 90 yards for a touchdown, but is it a catch, isn't it a catch, whichever side of it you're on - I mean, if it's got that much of an impact on the game, I think that's a little different, regardless of what the percentages are, on how you look at it.
Q: What allowed Mitchell Trubisky to do as much damage with his legs as he did yesterday?
BB: Well, we didn't do a very good job of rushing the passer - I mean, bad coaching, bad tackling, some bad playing, just not very good. I mean, he ran well, he broke a couple tackles, but not very good by us in any area.
Q: So, you would say it's more on your end than any special type of plays that Trubisky made?
BB: Well, I said he made one good run, he broke a couple tackles. The other ones, I wouldn't say he broke any tackles. We just let him out into open space and, I mean, there's a lot of yards to be gained when there's nobody out there and a guy just runs til he runs out of bounds or picks up a first down, and there's other things involved in that. I mean, bottom line is a lot of things could be better, need to be better and a lot of things that we need to work on, and that's schematically and fundamentally and all the above.
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