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Transcript: Bill Belichick Conference Call 11/20

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his conference call on Monday, November 20, 2017.


Q: Can you speak to the consistent improvement you've seen from the team in the weeks leading up to the bye week and now the team weeks following the bye?

BB: Well, I think the players have worked extremely hard. We've had our moments. There's still a lot of things that we need to work on and need to improve in. Each game gets a little more demanding because you're opponent has had another week of things that you know they've shown and you have to work on, and so the volume builds up. Of course, our volume has built up over the last ten weeks, too. We just have to keep grinding away week by week, and that's what we'll try to do.

Q: Can you speak to the contributions you've gotten from guys at the bottom part of the roster and how that overall depth has helped the team when guys need to step up into bigger roles?

BB: Well, every player in our system is an important player whether they're on the active roster, inactive game day roster, practice squad, injured reserve, NFI, whatever it happens to be. Everybody in our system has the opportunity and hopefully the ability to help us at some point, whether that's this week, next week or, in some cases, next year. If we have them and we're working with them and they're working, then they're working towards that goal of being able to contribute to the team on the field. It's a hard working group. It encompasses really a lot of names, a lot of guys, and many of our players who are some of our more productive players now were at one time in those roles. So, they know how important it is and our players who are working to have a bigger role on the team know that if they continue to work hard and improve and work at it day by day, that there could be an opportunity for them. Everybody is doing the same thing. It's just a question of sometimes the opportunity to do it. When that comes or how it manifests itself is sometimes unpredictable and can change in a hurry. It's a good group, a hardworking group and it doesn't surprise me to see players continue to perform well when they get an opportunity to do that because of the work that they do on the practice field, and off the field in meetings, and in their training sessions and so forth.

Q: What have you seen from both Marquis Flowers and Trevor Reilly that has allowed them to get on the field a bit more defensively?

BB: Right. Well, I think one thing that hopefully our players understand is that in many cases their opportunity on offense and defense is going to start with what their performance is in the kicking game and being able to get to the game day roster. So, that's certainly true for both of those players and many others. Guys that are at the game because of their role in the kicking game become options [and] are able to get roles on offense or defense based on the fact that they're at the game because of their special teams' value. Yeah, both of those guys fall into that category. Again, they've been able to take advantage of their opportunities first in the kicking game and, second, defensively. When you do that, then that usually leads to more opportunities.

Q: What did you see on the play where Marquis Flowers was able to force a fumble late in the first half? Is that a result of Jonathan Jones being able to hold the ball carrier up and allowing Flowers to come in for the strip or is that looking too much into it?

BB: Well, one thing that can create opportunities for the defense is a struggling runner, a runner that's trying to gain extra yards, and those guys are tough because they're hard to bring down and they gain yards after contact. They have great balance, and sometimes quickness, and ability, like lower body strength, ability to gain extra yards after the initial contact, but when that happens, then that gives the second and third men coming into the play sometimes an opportunity to cause ball disruption and finish off the tackle. Sometimes the strip tackles can occur as part of the tackle with the awareness of the tackler depending on his fit on the runner and location of the ball and so forth. Then sometimes it's the second or third player coming in that has an opportunity to either get in on the tackle or disrupt the ball as he comes into the tackle that's already been started. We work on all those things. We try to work on guys coming in late, contacting, getting the ball out. For example, on a strip-sack, a lot of times that usually happens all in one - it's all part of the same play and same contact - usually, not always. But yeah, there's a lot of opportunities. Sometimes when you're tackling a runner from behind and he doesn't see you coming, there is an opportunity to make the tackle and dislodge the ball. But as I said, when a runner is struggling for extra yardage, and those guys are always the tougher guys for us to deal with because they don't go down easy and they can turn nothing into something, but sometimes it does give us an opportunity to poke the ball out. It was a great awareness play by Marquis. We had guys hustling to the ball and were able to come up with it, and that's always a good thing. The more guys you have around the ball, the better opportunity you'll have to recover it. That's about the way I saw it.

Q: There have been reports that former New England Patriot and a player of yours, Terry Glenn, passed away this morning following a car accident in Texas. What do you remember about him from your time as an assistant here in 1996 and then when you took over as head coach in 2000?

BB: Yeah, well, I was pretty close with Terry. His rookie season was my first year here in '96, so I had a lot of interaction with him and other people that were involved in his life and his upbringing separate from the Patriots. Terry was a very smart individual, had a lot of, obviously, a lot of physical skill and talent, could do a lot of things on the football field very naturally. I think he was deep down inside a good person with good intentions and a good heart. Obviously, it's a very unfortunate passing. I mean, it's just sad. It's a sad day. It's sad news.

Q: Do you consider the short passing game an extension of the run game and, if so, are you seeing a growth in that aspect of your offenses as the season progresses?

BB: Well, I think that our offensive system has always utilized the backs in the passing game, which a lot of those plays I think you're referring to are to the backs. Not all of them - there are wide receiver screens and things like that, so it's not exclusively. I think that's just part of the passing game that we use and, really, most teams in the league use to attack the defense at all three levels. I don't think you want to just throw all bombs. I don't think you want to throw all your passes behind the line of scrimmage or within a couple yards of the line of scrimmage and I don't think you want to throw all your passes at, call it, 12 to 15 yards. So, there's a place in the passing game for plays I think at all three of those levels. The design of the plays can vary quite a bit as we see every week, not just from our team, but throughout the league. But, there are ways to attack the defense throwing the ball at all three levels. That changes the timing of the passing game. It changes the timing of the pass rush. It changes the way that the defense can try to stop that part of the passing game because they have to defend all three levels, not just one or two. If they can eliminate one or two, then that makes it easier for the defense, whether they're playing man, or zone or some combination. It doesn't really matter. If you can change the levels of your passing game and the timing of your passing game, then that can be beneficial to everybody. So, again, some of those plays are reflective of what the defense is doing. Obviously, if the defense is taking away or doing a good job of taking away passes close to the line of scrimmage and are going to challenge every throw and make it hard to complete a three-yard pass, then it's probably a good opportunity to try and throw the ball behind them in the deeper areas of the field and vice versa. Again, I think the quarterbacks job and Josh [McDaniels]' job is to try and create plays that give us options. Some plays are designed to go in a certain area, to go deep or to go short. I mean, obviously, a screen pass is a screen pass. It's not a deep ball, but with the exception of a few of those types of plays, the majority of the plays attack the defense at different levels. They're kind of all-purpose plays so that depending on what coverage they give you or if they pressure, where the quarterback should go with the ball based on what the defense does. Tom [Brady] does a great job of that and Josh and the offensive staff do a great job of designing plays to facilitate that, so that's really what happens. It's not like we go into the game saying, 'Well, you know, we've got to complete 15 short passes.' I mean, if the short receiver is covered on that play then that's really where we don't want to throw the ball. Like I said, there are some plays that are designed to go to a certain area, but the majority of the plays have options and then those options are executed based on the way the defense handles the pattern.

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