PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
Q: One of the things that was noted after the last two games for the Chiefs is how some of the opposing cornerbacks seemed winded. Does the movement and the speed of the Kansas City receivers, with what they do horizontally before they get vertical, really challenge the conditioning of the defensive backs?
BB: Yeah, I would say so. I mean, these guys are really fast and they run a lot of vertical routes, but there are also a lot of space plays where they get the ball out there on RPOs and slip screens and things like that. So, it forces not only the corners but everybody to pursue laterally across the field and have to cover a lot of ground, as you said, on consecutive plays or multiple plays in a short amount of time. And then, of course, they do a good job of rotating their receivers, so they bring [De'Anthony] Thomas in there and they substitute personnel and take advantage of their depth at that position. So, yeah, I'd say it is taxing on that group, yes.
Q: What impression has Kenjon Barner made on you to keep bringing him back? How has he handled being back-and-forth on the roster and what has he shown you guys?
BB: Yeah, handled it well. He's a very professional guy, prepares well, smart, has learned pretty quickly, so we'll see how it goes. But, he's done all the things we've asked him to do. We've just been, as you said, juggling some roster situations.
Q: In terms of his skillset, what are some of the things he has going for him in terms of physical traits?
BB: Well, he's run the ball, he's caught the ball and he's returned kicks. So, he's done all those things.
Q: With Kansas City's spread offense, it seems like teams are running a lot of pattern match coverages in the secondary to defend them. Do you recall what that process was like when you and Nick Saban kind of brought that coverage to the NFL in the 1990's?
BB: Yeah, I mean, that's a tough question, Evan [Lazar]. We could write a book on that, so it would be hard to answer that in a short amount of time. Coach Saban was obviously a great defensive coach, has a great mind, had a lot of great concepts. You know, I came from primarily a zone system at the Giants. Nick came from, I'd say, a man and a blitz system in Houston with Coach [Jerry] Glanville. And then, a lot of the zone principles from Coach [George] Perles at Michigan State - we merged a lot of those things together, and Nick, obviously, handled it at Cleveland. But, I'd say we worked together on some of those things in the initial setup stages, but yeah, that was a long time ago.
Q: I know you've always said the West Coast offense has its roots with Paul Brown and what he did with the Bengals in the 1970's. When you look at what Andy Reid has done, how does RPO integrate itself with the West Coast Offense?
BB: Yeah, that's a really good question. We actually talked quite a bit about that the last couple days. You know, let's start with Andy. Andy's a very creative, innovative coach, and I think he does a great job of taking concepts and being able to apply them into his system, and the same thing with personnel - creating opportunities for unique personnel that he has. And so, he's, over the course of time, been able to modify some of the traditional West Coast principles from Coach Brown to Coach [Bill] Walsh to Coach [Mike] Holmgren and so forth to fit his personnel and to fit new scheme ideas that he's incorporated. So, West Coast offense is still built around speed, space and balance - catch and run plays, yards after catch, balance between the running game and the passing game and getting the ball to skill players so they can make yards with it with the ball in their hands. So, the RPO certainly fits into that category, but he's done a great job incorporating that, probably as much as any team we've seen - probably more than any team we've seen.
Q: Can you take us through the time you first came across an RPO and maybe the first time you went and studied those packages?
BB: Yeah, I don't know. I watch a lot of college film in the spring, and in going through multiple games with teams that have various prospects on them and so forth, you're looking at players, but you see schemes and concepts. So, it definitely started there. It's certainly worked its way into the National Football League, some teams more than others. Same thing in college - some colleges, probably half their offense is RPO, maybe more. So, how many times they do it is one thing. The concept of it is another thing. I'd say Andy's done a good job of building in, I don't know, four, five, six concepts that are not just one thing. He's got several different ways of doing it, and they're all a little bit different for the defense, and he's gotten some good production out of it.
Q: Do you find last year's game against the Chiefs in Week 1 relevant as you're preparing for them this week?
BB: Sure, we'll look at it. Yeah.
Q: With the quarterback change, how difficult is it to use film from last year? Or do you think a lot of things transfer?
BB: Well, I think it's one piece of the puzzle. So, there's certainly things that we can learn from that. There's some matchups that are consistent, and then there's some that are different and some that are new. I don't think it's really - I mean, you could watch seven, eight games, 10 games, however many games it is on the team and each one of them has some degree of relevance, even if it's to throw it out and eliminate something for a particular reason. Well, the team did this because of that and you don't do that, so it's maybe something you don't have to worry as much about if you can see why they were doing whatever it was they were doing. They're all parts of the puzzle, and again, there's a lot of situational football that's involved. Sometimes situational football is different and other, let's call it, normal down-and-distance types situations. So, yeah, there's something to learn from everything.
Q: What additional steps have you had to take to coach the way the league handles roughing the passer? When things like that do change and there start to be certain trends, is that something you address with the team?
BB: Yeah, I mean, I don't really know what you're talking about. There's not any new rules that I'm aware of.
Q: Just the way that they are emphasizing roughing the passer and the spike in those penalties.
BB: Right, so they're not new rules. I mean, you're not allowed to lead with your head, you're not allowed to body slam the quarterback, you're not allowed to hit him below the knees, you're not allowed to hit him above the shoulders. And, if he's out of the pocket, then some of those rules change, and if he's in the pocket, you're allowed to horse collar him. I mean, the rules are the rules. So, I mean, I hope you're not implying that we've been coaching something that was illegal and now we're changing the way we're coaching it, because that's simply not the case. So, I'm not really sure what new rule it is you're talking about here. We've coached the rules as they've been written and as we've received them. So, whatever the emphasis is the emphasis is, but that doesn't change the fundamental of the rule. I've never taught anybody to hit a quarterback above the shoulders or hit him below the knees or body slam him or lead with our helmet and spear him - like we've never taught that. So, I'm not really sure what you're referring to.
Q: How beneficial can a longer week be in preparation for the Chiefs, especially for some of your newer players like Josh Gordon, Kenjon Barner or John Simon?
BB: Well, I mean, I guess any extra time can be helpful if you use it properly or productively, so that's a good thing. As far as our team goes, I mean, we have a lot of guys that played a lot of football. We've basically been going at it here since the end of July with no more than a day or two off. So, a player hasn't been here as long, has a little bit of extra time to go over some material or watch film or something, but it's not like we're going to spend a lot of extra time on the practice field because we have to take all the other players into consideration that have played a lot of football. And, rest and recovery and being able to work through the bumps and bruises that come with a competitive NFL season, it's hard to do. You never have enough time to do all that. You're always fighting that schedule. So, I think it's limited. There's some opportunity, but I think it's limited. You know, a Thursday night game takes a lot out of you. It takes a lot out of everybody - players, coaches - because you take four days and you just cram everything you have into Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. And so, I would say that the day after the game is not - and you're playing at night - but the day after the game is not a normal day after the game because you've had several days behind that really going all the way back into the weekend - Friday, Saturday, Sunday - those days are more than what they normally are because you know what's ahead on the Thursday game. So, by the time the game's over, I'd say there's a longer recovery period than after a normal game. And again, that's for all players and coaches. So, it's not really like you're where you would normally be on the day after a game.
Q: What have you seen from Kendall Fuller with the Chiefs this year?
BB: So, he plays on the perimeter on early downs and then when they go to their nickel package and three corners, he usually moves inside and [Orlando] Scandrick comes and plays on the perimeter. He's done a good job for them, has good length, covers well, has some versatility, is an instinctive player. He's young, but he has experience and really plays a couple different positions for them, which is good, and plays them well.
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