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Transcript: Bill Belichick Conference Call 11/13

New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his conference call on Monday, November 11, 2017


Q: How would you describe what James Develin brings to the team?

BB: James has been doing a real good job of executing the role that we ask him to do, whether that's on offense or special teams, whatever it is. He's the ultimate team player, works really hard at his job every day, very dependable, is a great teammate and if we ask him to do something, we've been able to count on him over a consistent period of time and that means a lot to everybody. 

Q: Some people have said the fullback position is not as prevalent as it once was. What is your view of the role of that position and how important it can be on a team?

BB: Well, I think if you have good, productive players, you try to find a way to use them - whatever they play, whatever they do. Our system has always tried to be flexible enough so that we could utilize the skillset of the players that we have, regardless of what it is.

Q: What goes into a decision to carry four tight ends going into a game, like you did last night? How unusual is that for you?

BB: I mean, we probably haven't done it a lot. We just felt like it was the best thing to do based on all the factors that went into making the game day roster and there were a lot of considerations. In the end, we just felt like that would give us the best combination of people to play the game as competitively as we could.

Q: How unique or different would you say each one of the tight ends' roles are?

BB: Well, as you know, each week is a different week for us. We have a different opponent and sometimes our combination of players is different, but certainly our opponents are different and their schemes are different and the matchups are different. So, how it all plays out - sometimes how it all plays out varies game-to-game and it could vary within the game. As a team starts to do something, as our opponent starts to adjust or alter their scheme in a certain way, that might give us another opportunity. So, we'll just take it as it comes. Sometimes we have an idea and it doesn't work out that way. Sometimes we don't really foresee the opportunity that presents itself, and then when it does, we have to adjust. So, I give the players a lot of credit for being ready to go, being ready to handle their roles as we anticipate going into the game and then, if we need to adjust to them, then they're ready to make those adjustments.

Q: Besides the normal game planning and practice, is there anything you do specifically on road week games that you feel gives your team an advantage?

BB: I think I would give the credit to our players. It's hard to win in this league, it's hard to win on the road and it takes a lot of mental toughness, focus, discipline and good execution - and sometimes a harder situation offensively and in the kicking game with crowd noise and the energy that fans in other stadiums bring. Certainly, last night, as usual, the Broncos crowd was full of energy. But, it takes a lot of concentration and focus and, as I said, mental toughness. You know, we had one penalty last night, so being able to play that type of a game where you don't give your opponents extra opportunities and played with good toughness and focus for 60 minutes, that each player is doing his job and staying at it for a whole night. So, we're very fortunate. We have a lot of good players, and they did a great job again last night, as they have for quite a while for us.

Q: What do you think Kyle Van Noy's main strengths are and what does his versatility bring to the defense?

BB: Yeah, Kyle's a versatile player that can do a lot of different things for us. He can play on the end of the line, he can play off the line, he can rush the passer from a variety of positions, he's a good coverage player - man and zone - and he's really done a good job for us in the kicking game, although we haven't really had the opportunity to use him. We've had a lot of other guys play well in that phase of the game, so we haven't required much of him there, but he has a lot of skills and his versatility is certainly coming in handy at several points in the season this year where we've been able to plug him into a spot where we maybe didn't have the type of depth that we wanted or needed, and he was able to provide that and provide it at a high-quality level of play. He's a very instinctive player. He finds the ball, he knows where the ball is, he anticipates well, so no matter where you put him, he kind of has a little knack for anticipating or getting a little jump on what he needs to do from that position, so that helps him, too.

Q: Rob Gronkowski mentioned after the game that he doesn't want to lose your trust when he asks you to challenge a play and the call is not overturned. Does that factor in when a player makes that request to you on the sideline? In your opinion, do you think he caught the ball on that goal line play?

BB: Well, first of all, I mean, I do have a lot of trust in Rob and I think Rob knows when he catches the ball and when he doesn't. As you said, all players like to think they catch them all, but sometimes that isn't the case. But, that's OK. I understand that. I don't really put a lot of faith in that, although the fact that he did feel like he caught it I think made me look at the play a little bit closer maybe than I would have if he hadn't been so emphatic about it. But, as we looked at it, I took a timeout, which didn't have anything to do with the challenge. I mean, I could have just challenged it in the first place, but I didn't do that. I probably should have, but anyway, we did have time to look at it a little bit longer during the timeout. It looked to me like he caught it, but the ruling on the field was that he didn't, and so, in the end, it might not have been enough video evidence to overturn it. Had the ruling gone the other way, I don't know if there would have been enough evidence to overturn. If it had been ruled a catch, I don't know if there would have been enough evidence to overturn that the other way. But, in any case, it went the way it did and I understand that. Again, not that it made any difference on that play, but again, I'll take this opportunity to say that I just am all for trying to get these plays right. I think that would have been a good example of where a goal line camera or a pylon camera would have been given a good opportunity. I think we saw in the Kansas City-Oakland game a couple weeks ago the great shot that that camera gave, so again, I think this would be just another example. In the end, it didn't make any difference in the game last night, but had that been the final play of the game or one of the final plays of the game in a close game, whichever side it was on, just want it to be right. Whether he caught it or didn't catch it, just make sure that we make the right call. It's a tough call. The official made the call. It's a tough call. The official that made the call was standing pretty close to me on the sideline. He was probably 30 yards away. It was a close play. I saw it the same way he did. It was really close, so maybe the league can find a way to finance that project and get a good quality shot of some of those goal line plays, like they had in the Oakland-Kansas City game.

Q: Kyle Van Noy spoke about how his situational awareness has improved in the last year, even though he already had a good base of knowledge. What do you notice about Kyle when it comes to situational football? What's most important in conveying to your players situational awareness for instances that might come up weekly or rarely at all?

BB: That's a great question, Bob [Socci], and it's not really an easy one to answer. I mean, first of all, you're right. Some situations come up pretty much every week or fairly frequently, like an onside kick or a hands team or something like that - not that it comes up every week, but it comes up enough. And then there are other situations that come up very infrequently - maybe once a season, if that. So, you want to be prepared for all of them, but you know that there's a much higher likelihood of certain situations coming up over others. But, as I said, you want to be ready to go in any situation. So, in the end, it's important for everybody to know what to do. It's really hard for one player to tell 10 other guys what to do on a particular play. There's just not time for that, especially in a two-minute, no-huddle situation at the end of the game where things are moving fast and the situations change fast. You know, a couple seconds and a few yards can change dramatically. And, if there's a point or two one way or the other in the score, that can change the situation dramatically from another one that's very similar to it. Again, all those things get factored in quickly. Players have to make quick decisions and identify the situation. I'd say that's the most important thing is to understand what the situation is more so than what the play is because it could be a number of plays that are called. It's the strategy of the situation. So, we go over those things. Again, Kyle's been in a lot of different positions, he's played defensive line, he's played linebacker in coverage positions, he's played in the kicking game. So, when you put it all together, he's been involved in different responsibilities in those situational plays, so he's the type of a player that would have a very good understanding of kind of the totality of the play, as opposed to just the one kind of aspect that would affect one particular position the most. So, as our defensive signal caller and a guy that handled a lot of communication for us on the line of scrimmage making decisions - so, what adjustments we're going to make and situational adjustments - relative to your question, we rely on him for that - his experience and his judgement. He's done a good job or preparing for it. He's done a good job for us being on the field.

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