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Transcript: Bill Belichick Conference Call 10/28

HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK

Conference Call
Monday, October 28, 2019

Q: What did you see on film that made the 59-yard screen play to James White such an effective play?

BB: I think we talked a little bit about it after the game. It was a play against man coverage and we ended up just coming across the formation to James and we were able to pick off the linebacker that had him in coverage. It was a man coverage play. I'm not sure who had James on this – it might have been the deep safety. I think they were in a blitz, either that or [Jermaine] Whitehead was trying to come around and get him and kind of got caught in the wash. I'm not sure. It was man coverage and once he got outside there was just nobody left. Julian [Edelman] ran a crossing pattern and [Denzel] Ward took him so there was just kind of nobody left on that side of the field and everybody was coming from the inside out. James made about 30 yards and then kind of cut it back and picked up a block there from [Phillip] Dorsett and got about another 20 yards. Really, it's just a man-beater play. They got us on that, too. When you're in man-to-man coverage on the back and the back screens to the other side of the formation, the coverage player has to go through a lot of traffic to get over there and get him. If you can get the screen set up and get it out there clean, then that's what you're looking for.

Q: Do you plan to start practicing with Isaiah Wynn this week?

BB: I think he's eligible. It's a possibility. We'll see how it goes.

Q: How much of a challenge is it to prepare for a guy like Lamar Jackson at the quarterback position?

BB: Yeah, he's very fast and he's definitely a hard guy to handle. That's definitely a problem. He's fast and that's really a big problem. A lot of times he just outruns people. I mean, he's got good moves, too. I'm not saying that, but a lot of times he just outruns people with his speed. Catching him is an issue, especially when he keeps the ball. A lot of times he's running against a defensive end and the ends just aren't fast enough. They have him but they don't have him. He's a problem. He's definitely a problem. He leads the team in rushing, or he did. Maybe he doesn't anymore, but he and [Mark] Ingram are right kind of there together, so it's definitely a challenge.

Q: Could you comment on Julian Edelman's role in the red zone last night against the Browns? He's not the biggest target but Tom Brady was able to find him twice?

BB: Julian does a very good job of getting open. He's strong so he can create some separation on contact and very dependable hands. Made a good play on the touchdown where he caught the ball on about the three or 4-yard line, got his pads down and ran through an arm tackle there and got in. Julian's a very tough, dependable guy, and when you're just looking for a yard or two down there after the catch or around the goal line, he always does a good job of kind of being able to squirt through the tacklers or drop his pads and knock the tackler back for a yard or two and get in the end zone.

Q: What would you say is the biggest factor in your defense's success so far?

BB: Good players.

Q: It's a lot of the same players as last year yet you guys have been more productive this year. Is there any major difference you see from last year to this year?

BB: I think a lot of players are playing well. They're good players, they're playing well, having experience in the system with guys like Jason [McCourty] and John Simon, [Ja'Whaun] Bentley, guys like that, Danny Shelton, guys that have seen this stuff now for a couple of years instead of a few weeks or half a season. I think that's certainly making a difference. J.C. [Jackson's] certainly another guy that falls into that category. [Terrence] Brooks and [Shilique] Calhoun, [Chase] Winovich, those guys, [Jamie] Collins obviously, guys that weren't on the team last year – they've all been productive. It's really a confluence of factors that have all come together and we have a lot of good players playing well in different combinations that work well with each other. It's a good place to be.

Q: How assuring is it to have Stephon Gilmore and know that he can be trusted to cover some of the best receivers in the league?

BB: Like I said, the key to defense is having good players and we've got a lot of them. He's certainly one of them. We have a lot of other guys, too, that are very dependable guys. Guys that can matchup in different situations against different types of athletes and skill players that our opponents have so that's a huge advantage for us.

Q: The characteristics about a defense that allow it to not only create the turnovers, but then turn those turnovers into points – is there something contagious about it? Are there certain factors that go into it?

BB: Well, I think, again, it starts with the players. Some players have very good, I would just say, ball awareness. They just have a good knack of getting the ball off their opponents or recovering a fumble or intercepting a pass or tipping a ball or just things like that. I think we have a lot of players like that on our teams, on our units. It's hard for just one guy to get every turnover. I mean, it just doesn't usually happen that way, where you have one guy that has 10 fumble recoveries. It's really everybody with an awareness and that instinctiveness of when to make the tackle, when to punch the ball out and certainly speed helps, like on the play Jon Jones made on [Nick] Chubb. There's not a lot of players that probably could even make that play. Just the amount of ground that he closed but then his awareness and timing and being able to put pressure on the ball and get it out. It was a great effort by Devin [McCourty]. We had three or four guys down there around the ball on that fumble and Devin came up with it, but you don't get those plays if you're loafing and standing there watching the play. You get those fumble recoveries or those tipped passes like John Simon got on a tipped ball over the middle and things like that, you get those plays by being alert and by hustling and by having a lot of defenders around the ball and being able to take advantage of it. Last week, on the sack by Simon, Kyle [Van Noy] was right there and was able to get on it and that was pretty close to a scoop and score touchdown, too. All of those things – effort, awareness, instinctiveness by the players and speed – that always helps.

Q: Given the rain as a factor, what would you say were some of the reasons behind the struggle of the field goal operation?

BB: Yeah, well, it wasn't an easy day to handle the ball, period. I thought offensively we did a good job to get through the game with no fumbles and no interceptions. It wasn't perfect but there were several balls out on the other side and ultimately that was the difference. We've worked in those conditions, we've got to continue to work on them, in them, and just overall do a better way all the way across the board in all areas – in the kicking game, coaching, execution, players, the specialists of course, but the rest of the group on punt and field goal protection, kickoff and punt coverage, our return game. There's a lot of things we need to work on.

Q: Did you know that Mohamed Sanu Sr. would be such an effective run blocker from the wide receiver position in evaluating him leading up to the trade?

BB: Yeah, I think that's always been a strength of his going back to college. He's a strong, physical kid and he's got good playing strength and he's tough. I think he's always been willing to go in there and get his hands dirty, be a tough physical blocker. Julian does a good job of that, too. Those guys, it's kind of an underrated thing for receivers but it really helps you when those guys do that and they do a good job of it.

Q: How big of a part of the evaluation process is a receiver's run blocking ability given that he obviously also needs to be able to get open and catching the ball?

BB: That's very important. You can't be a good receiver if you can't do those two things, but that's [No.] 1-2, and then 2A is blocking and contributing in other ways besides getting open and catching the ball. Not every play for the receiver is a ball that goes to him, so being able to have good route distribution so that you have good spacing so that somebody can get the ball whether it's you or somebody else. I think all good receivers know that when the running game is going and part of that is the receiver's blocking in the running game, that opens up opportunities in the passing game, so the more the defensive backs have to come up and fight through blocks and support the running game, then when you run play-action passes, that's when your're able to really separate the defense and create some big play opportunities. It helps the receivers to do that. I don't know if every receiver buys into it, but it really does help the receivers and help the passing game when receivers are complete players and do a good job blocking. Sanu and Edelman definitely fall into that category. Troy Brown – that's what those guys do.

Q: How do you feel that your son, Steve Belichick, is developing on the coaching staff with his role?

BB: Yeah, I'm very fortunate to have a good coaching staff. We have a lot of good coaches and guys that really make my job a lot easier because of how thorough and comprehensive they are with each position, their players and the organization of so many things that go on out there. I'll just keep it to a general comment and give the staff a lot of credit and praise for any success that we've had because, honestly, they do most of the work.

Q: Any chance you'd be willing to tell us who's calling the defensive plays this year?

BB: Yeah, Henry [McKenna], I think we've already been through that several times already this year. Nothing's changed.

Q: How did you think James Ferentz did filling in for Shaq Mason on the interior of the offensive line?

BB: He really competed well. A tough assignment, they've got some good inside players – Sheldon Richardson – one of the more talented players in the league. I thought he competed well. Pass protection, got out on some screens, was aggressive in the running game. Look, Shaq's a really good player. We know that and he's a hard guy to replace, but I thought James played very competitively and played about the way we expected him to play.

Q: What has your experience working with James Ferentz been like in light of the fact that he made his first career start last night?

BB: Yeah, it's been great. It's been phenomenal. He comes to work every day with a great attitude. He's one of the toughest kids on the team. He's always ready to compete. Always works hard and at a good tempo, not to try to do something reckless so that somebody gets hurt but just to compete to get better and make himself better and make his teammates better. Most teams we play, whatever their cadence or operation is with the offensive line is always part of the preparation and he does a great job along with our quarterbacks through the years, the last three years anyways, of coordinating whether it's a silent count or blocking schemes or protections and all of that to help get our defense ready. He just does a real good job in his role of being ready to go, which he hasn't had to play a lot until yesterday, as you referred to, but in terms of helping his teammates get ready and prepare, I know that everybody has a lot of confidence in him because when he is in there he knows what to do and so forth and has experience even though he doesn't have a lot of playing experience. He has a lot of Patriots experience and as a teammate to prepare the defense and help out wherever he can to help get the team ready is really invaluable. A good chunk of that's been on the practice squad. He's been on the active roster but yesterday was really the most extended action he's had in six years, but he's great to coach. He's a great kid, very smart and works hard and you can tell his dad is Kirk Ferentz.

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