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Transcript: Bill Belichick Conference Call 11/18

HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK

Conference Call
Monday, November 18, 2019

Q: With Danny Shelton and Lawrence Guy, it seemed like there was a big difference between the first quarter and the last three quarters of the game, especially their ability to get off the ball, shed blockers and get to the ball carrier. What did you see on film that made them so effective?

BB: Yeah, I thought they did a good job for us for all four quarters. They really played well and they played hard, controlled the line of scrimmage, did a really good job of defeating blockers and got off and had production, tacklers as well – which is hard for a defensive lineman, especially at times when two guys start on and then one comes off – but to deal with the initial contact and then the block and then to make tackles on those runners. So, yeah, they did a really good job on that, used their hands well, played with good technique, played hard, played physical. I thought they did a really good job on the line of scrimmage, both of them. 

Q: How much credit does Bret Bielema get for working with them? How has Bielema worked with the defensive line group this year and how has it paid off?

BB: Yeah, Bret’s done a really good job with them. You know, it’s a hard-working group. Those guys really do a good job of trying to get better at their individual and fundamental techniques, coming early, work on extra technique things in the weight room and film, during special teams periods out on the field, work on their run techniques and things like that, because a lot of those guys are involved in the kicking game, but they get some extra work in there. It’s a really solid group. We have some good experience there with Lawrence and Danny. Deatrich [Wise, Jr.] is a little bit of a younger player with Adam [Butler], but both those guys have some experience, too. With Byron [Cowart] and Nick Thurman, those guys are really young guys, but they’re gaining a lot of ground as well. Bret’s done a good job with that group kind of from top to bottom.

Q: The Eagles did a good job of pressuring the quarterback. Tom Brady didn’t throw any interceptions and was sacked once. Did he do a good job in that regard?

BB: Yeah, any time you don’t turn the ball over, that’s a good thing. Essentially we had to fight and scratch for some opportunities, and we missed some, but we made enough. But, they put a lot of pressure in terms of tight man coverage and they obviously have a very good defensive line – one of the best in the league. Jimmy [Schwartz] mixed a little bit of pressure in there, but he did a good job defensively and we had to fight for every yard. But, to not turn the ball over yesterday and be able to have field position – we had good field position for the most part with our kicking game and our punting game. So, that helps out a lot defensively, which resulted in not very many scoring opportunities for the Eagles. That was kind of the way that game went. It was kind of an old fashioned, field position game – not a lot of points, not a lot of scoring opportunities. We had a few more than they did; they held us to three field goals there. If we could have converted on one of those or two of those for touchdowns, that might have changed things a little bit, but we didn’t and it was a one-score game right down to the wire.

Q: How important was it in Jake Bailey’s performance yesterday to flip the field a few times?

BB: Really important. Any time you can get the Eagles on a long field, it just – I mean it’s hard anyway because they have a lot of good skill players and they can cause you a lot of problems. But, the more plays you make them run, the further they have to go. Hopefully, you can make some plays in there along the way that will knock them out of those drives. Yeah, Jake did an excellent job for us punting, holding. Kickoffs were – we had one there that he missed, but overall, he’s hit the ball well. He’s hit the ball well for us all year, since Steve [Gostkowski] was out. But, Jake’s had a great year for us and he continues to come in with some really big plays there both, as you said Jim [McBride], flipping the field position and also on the plus-50 of getting the ball up there and making it tough for [Boston] Scott to handle. And then we got the one that went out of bounds and the other one that rolled dead there and put our defense in good field position, which, for the most part, we were able to hold defensively. So that was, again, good complementary football between the units.

Q: What in your mind has been the challenge of running the ball in goal-to-go situations this year and as of late, in particular?

BB: Look, any time you get down there close to the goal line, you have a lot of defenders close to the line of scrimmage and you don’t have a lot of space to work in. You have guys that you can’t block in the running game – one guy carrying the ball and one guy handing it off, so you’ve got nine guys that have to deal with 11 somehow. So, that’s a problem. You have to play coverage down there. I mean, look, every team in the league faces it, it’s no different, but that’s the challenge. They have more guys than you do in a short amount of space.

Q: Tom Brady said this morning on the radio that as an offense they have to understand where the strengths of the team lie. How has Tom done in terms of recognizing where the team’s strengths lie and playing to those strengths as a quarterback this year?

BB: Yeah, I think Tom’s very aware of just the overall matchup of the game. There’s some games he can see are on a different track than other games. Some games, you know you’re going to have to score a lot of points to win, and other games you know that if you don’t turn the ball over and don’t give easy opportunities to our opponents, that they’re going to have a hard time winning. Sometimes that’s the way the game goes. Defensively, it’s the same thing. Sometimes you can kind of tell that you’re going to have to create some plays, and sometimes you feel like if you can just make a stop, just get them to third down and make a stop and get the ball back for the offense, that’s really what you need to do in that type of circumstance. I think he does an excellent job of recognizing the flow of the game, and that can change from quarter-to-quarter or half-to-half, or with a possession or two in the fourth quarter at a critical time. But, I think he does an excellent job of recognizing that and playing to it.

Q: If you activate Isaiah Wynn this week, in what ways will he be able to upgrade your left tackle position?

BB: Yeah, so Tom [Keegan], we’ll talk about that, and I think that we would certainly want to make him active. What the role would be and how everything would play out and so forth, we’ll just have to see. Marshall [Newhouse] has done a good job at left tackle, and our offensive line has gotten a little bit of continuity there over the last few weeks. So, we’ll just see how it goes going forward, but we’re always excited and happy to have as many healthy players as we can out there on the field. We’ll do the best we can to put them in positions that are competitive or possibly advantageous and let them play.

Q: How would you assess N’Keal Harry’s performance last night, especially with him having to play so many snaps after Phillip Dorsett went down?

BB: I thought N’Keal competed well. There were some good things; there were some other things that we’ll have to clean up and he’ll improve on. But, it’s good to have him out there, good for him to get an opportunity to play. Bu,t there’s certainly a lot of things that he can learn from that game and improve on, which we all can, but especially for his first regular season game. There were some positive things and there were some corrections, too.

Q: What do you think of the versatility to be able to throw multiple guys and multiple types of coverages at Zach Ertz and how the team did with that yesterday?

BB: Yeah, Evan [Lazar], I think we all know that Ertz is a hard guy to handle. He’s got good size and good quickness. He’s got outstanding hands. They do a good job of moving him around and putting him in different places, different locations. He can be on the back side by himself, he can be in the slot or in the No. 3 position, he can be part of a bunch or stack grouping and motion and so forth. All those different combinations, depending on what defense you’re in, creates some level of adjustments. So, then when you multiply several coverages times several formations and include motions into those formations, then pretty soon you’re getting into some exponential number of adjustments. I thought our defenders, and there were a number of them involved – so, as you really referenced, not just one thing. We had a number of defenders that had to be involved in the communication, the adjustments and tried to mix up different looks, not just on Ertz but on the whole offense – you know, with Philadelphia trying to get [Miles] Sanders deep and of course [Nelson] Agholor being really a go-to player for them in there. As we expected, there were some plays to [Dallas] Goedert as well. But, just the overall communication and being able to mix things up and also handle the multiples of the looks that they presented, I thought our secondary did a good job. Devin McCourty and Duron [Harmon] in particular handled a lot of that communication and some adjustments that we had to make. I thought they did a great job, along with [Dont’a] Hightower and [Kyle] Van Noy, Jamie Collins in some passing situations, sorting out some different looks and trying to handle not only Ertz but the backs, [John] Simon – those guys did a real good job of sorting some of those situations out. There were some tough ones; they put you in some tough spots. But, our communication yesterday was, for the most part, very good but very challenging with, again, all the things that the Eagles did.

Q: What did you think about that pass from Tom Brady to Ben Watson up the seam? What did you see that worked well on that play?

BB: Are you talking about the third down conversion or ...

Q: I think it was that 22-yard pass up the middle of the field.

BB: Right, yeah, that’s the play I thought you were talking about. So, it’s the third down play. [Julian] Edelman came across in motion and it looked like, I think they were trying to double Edelman on the play. They were playing man-free and there was a double coverage on Edelman. It looked like they were just a little bit late getting that communicated because Edelman and Watson ended up right – Julian was right behind Ben, and they both kind of released straight up field for a yard or two, and then Ben came inside and then Julian continued up field. It looked like it was just a split-second hesitation there with the Eagles on how to handle that, whether they were going to three-on-two it, or keep the double on Edelman or, you know, exactly how they were going to play it. And Tom stuck it in there – it was only about a four or five-yard pass, and then Ben just split the defense and got all the way up the field until finally [Rodney] McLeod tackled him. The other play was the second down play. It was in the high red area. It was a little bit of the same thing – we were in a three-by-one formation. [Rex] Burkhead went in motion, and again, it looked like there was a little bit of a – the Eagles had to kind of slide over and adjust to that. And when the linebacker went inside to take [Matt] LaCosse, then Ben was able to kind of work up the field on [Avonte] Maddox. Tom made a good throw. It was too far outside for the safety to get it and too far up the field for Maddox to get it, so it was really a good throw, a good catch. I think that’s probably the play you’re talking about. That was kind of the tight coverage play. The other one was the third-down conversion.

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