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Transcript: Bill Belichick Conference Call 11/27

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Q: What did you see on film this morning from Stephon Gilmore's interception?

BB: I thought he had good leverage on the play. He did a good job when he kind of caught up to [DeVante] Parker on the route looking back for the ball and going up and making a play on it. I thought he did a nice job of playing his responsibilities with good technique, good leverage and then just turned at the right time when he should have as he moved close to the receiver, to Parker.

Q: Was DeVante Parker his responsibility for the most part? Is that the way it unfolded and how would you say he performed over the course of the game?

BB: Yeah, I thought Stephon had a solid game. I thought our entire secondary covered competitively against a very good group of receivers. It varied from play to play on who had who. I don't know. I haven't statted up who covered who the most, but it varied from [play to play]. Situations were different.

Q: Given what has unfolded in the past day down at the University of Tennessee, would you vouch for Greg Schiano's character?

BB: 100 percent. Yes, 100 percent.

Q: What would you say about Coach Schiano?

BB: I think I said it pretty thoroughly yesterday. I have great respect and think he's a great football coach. I'm not really involved in any other situation, but speaking about him as a coach and a person, [I have] the utmost respect and zero reservations; zero.

Q: How do you feel Eric Lee performed in his Patriots debut?

BB: Yeah, well, first of all, I think Eric worked hard this week to try and catch up in a lot of areas. Defensively, there were a number of things - first down, second down, third down - it's not all the same. I think he really worked hard to get caught up in those areas. As you said, he made a play at the end of the game. He really had a lot to do with the sack that Trey Flowers got down in the red area where Flowers was actually unblocked, but Lee powered [Sam] Young on the other side and kind of collapsed the pocket. He was in on a couple of running plays. We'll see how it goes, but I think given the circumstances that he played in, did a really good job for us. We'll see if he can build on that this week and see where that takes us. I'm not sure, but it was good to have him and I thought he gave us some contributions that we needed.

Q: What are some challenges for defensive backs when applying pressure to the quarterback? It looked like Jonathan Jones could have easily overrun the quarterback on the sack that he made, but he was able to maintain discipline and take him down.

BB: Yeah, I thought Jon made a real good play on that, just the way you described it Phil [Perry]. He did an excellent job of breaking down and making the play. A lot of times when players come free like that, whether it's a corner or secondary players, or sometimes linebackers, they just want to go in there and go for the big hit and then the quarterback sees him at the last second and they go right by and miss him. The most important thing is to get the quarterback, get him down and Jon did a good job of that. I thought Kyle [Van Noy] did a good job of that on the play that [Matt] Moore made a real good play on. He got the ball off to Jarvis Landry, but a similar type of play where he was coming free and Kyle broke down and made the tackle but just as Moore got rid of the ball. Yeah, it's a discipline play. I mean, it's not a hard play but you have to be disciplined. I would say sometimes, maybe, work a little bit differently than your instinct, which is just to go in there 100 miles per hour and make a hit. That doesn't always work because, like I said, if the quarterback sees you at the last second you miss him. It's similar to - for Jon Jones - similar to covering a punt where you're down there going full speed at the returner, and if you time it up right you can make the hit just as he catches the ball. But there's a little bit of a timing element there. If the returner has good quickness and can see it and just take a side step, then you miss him and then he's off into the return. But yeah, I wouldn't say it's the hardest play, but it certainly takes some discipline and concentration, and you've got to do it right or most quarterbacks can make you look bad.

Q: What did you see from Malcom Brown in his return from injury? Also, what are your thoughts on the interior defensive linemen as a whole thus far in the season?

BB: Well, it was good to have Malcom back out there. He practiced last week in Colorado and that was good, but just didn't feel that he was quite ready. But yesterday after another good week of practice, I think he was ready. He certainly helped us. It was good to have him back out there. That being said, like everybody who played, some plays were a little better than others. Overall, it was good to have him. He helped us and gave us some solid play. I thought that Lawrence Guy did a real good job for us yesterday, gave us some very good interior play there, and so did Alan [Branch], but I thought Guy in particular, was certainly a good performance for him and we needed that. We just need to keep working. It'll be new challenges this week, just like there are every week. Some things we've done well. Other things could be better and we'll keep working on those, try to get up to the highest point of efficiency that we can.

Q: How has Elandon Roberts developed as a pass rusher?

BB: Well, Elandon, I think, has done a good job. For an inside linebacker, sometimes it's hard for those guys to just excel as pure pass rushers, but one thing they can do is time up their blitzes and then, in addition to that, I would say recognize and try to take advantage of the way the offense blocks them. So, when a linebacker runs up the middle, sometimes the uncovered lineman, like the center, blocks. Sometimes the center slides out of the way and the back has him. Sometimes the center slides out of the way and the guard blocks down on him. And, of course, sometimes it's a run. So, for a linebacker, it takes really good instincts for him to come aggressively, but at the same time, read on the run and as quickly as possible figure out what's happening and do the best thing, whether it's to penetrate and continue on the blitz or whether it's to pull out of it, whether it's to try to beat a blocker one-on-one or whether it's to try to slip into a gap and penetrate that way. I think Elandon has had an opportunity to blitz a number of times over the last couple of years and he's certainly gotten better at it. He has good speed and he's aggressive, but the real key is not just running in a straight line and getting blocked, but being able to read on the run and make the right decision based on the way the play unfolds in front of you. That's, again, not an easy thing to do, but he does a pretty good job of it and he's getting better. He had several big plays for us yesterday. A lot of times, he's not the guy necessarily that makes the play, but if the linebacker can get in there and penetrate and force the runner to cut back, then somebody else can make the play. So, there's a disruption element there that doesn't always show up in the stats sheet but can be important to the defense. 

Q: You talked yesterday about the challenge of replacing players that are injured, in particular on the kicking team. Do you have to create a depth chart at all of the positions on special teams, similar to offense and defense? How challenging is that?

BB: Sure, absolutely. Yeah, you create depth charts all the time. You know, it's interesting when you have a full roster, like in the spring or in training camp. When you have those special team meetings, sometimes your depth chart is five or six guys deep and the guy who's sixth on the depth chart sometimes will say, really, 'Why am I here? Do I really need to be at this meeting or spend time on this? I'm sixth on the depth chart.' But, as you know, once that 90 becomes 53 and then eventually 46, literally everybody that's on the active roster for a game is probably going to be on that depth chart, excluding, of course, the quarterbacks, the specialists have their role and the offensive linemen and many of the defensive linemen, other than field goal and field goal rush. So, that cuts down your numbers quite a bit. If you eliminate a couple of other players that maybe have significant roles on offense or defense that really aren't a big part of the special teams unit - maybe they have one special role, like the hands team or something like that, which is important but not a high-frequency play - again, your numbers get cut pretty thin. So, maybe you're working with a total of - I don't know - 18, 19, 20 players, basically, for those 66 spots, or at least 44 spots, if you eliminate field goal and field goal rush. So, that's a lot of depth provided by the same guys. Again, in some cases, you have to move one guy for a spot and then somebody else replaces him, so it's not just I come in for you, but then you move over and take the spot of the person that we need to replace. So, look, every NFL team has the same situation. It's no different for us than it is for the other 31 teams, but having coached special teams for a number of years and having also coached offense and defense and understanding that when a player goes home at night - a lot of players, I should say, aren't just responsible for their plays on offense or defense or special teams. They're responsible for two of those three things. So, offensive skill players not only have to prepare for the offensive plays, but they're also preparing for plays in the kicking game, and the same thing defensively. Or, guys that are in special teams who have a primary role in the kicking game - like earlier in the year, let's just say, with a player like [Johnson] Bademosi - have to be ready to go on all the defensive units, as well. So, that's just being professional, being prepared, doing your job. But, it's a little bit like a relief pitcher in baseball. You go to the stadium and you don't know if you have to pitch or not. Well, sometimes certain players on the football team have a similar role that they don't know whether they're really going to have to perform that role or not. You have to be ready to go if you're called on, but that may not be the case. Again, each one of us on the team - every coach, every player, regardless of what our role is - we all have a job to do. Nobody can really do it for us. We all have to prepare and do the things that we need to do to be ready to perform that job when it's needed on game day in critical situations. So, that's what being a professional and that's what being a good teammate and that's what having a good team is all about is everybody doing that.

Q: With yesterday's win, the Patriots secured their 17th consecutive winning season. How much pride do you and the organization take in that consistency?

BB: A lot. Yeah, a lot. That's what we're here for is to win games. Yeah, we take a lot of pride in it. But, that being said, there's probably another time to talk about that and reflect back on it and so forth. You know, none of those other - however many seasons it was or however many games it was - really makes any difference this week. I mean, nobody cares about that. This is just strictly a matchup between the Patriots and the Bills in 2017, and how these two teams compete against each other is really what it's all about. So, I don't think living in the past is going to help us, and I don't think living in the future is going to help us, either. The best thing we can do is prepare and get ready to play Buffalo in Buffalo, which is always tough, and that will take a lot of work and a lot of preparation and it will have its own unique challenges this week that we haven't faced all year. So, that's a big challenge for us. Whatever did or didn't happen in the past is a matter of record, so I'll leave the commentary on that to you guys. I think we really need to just focus on what we're doing. But, yeah, certainly we take pride in winning and that's important to us, whether it's games, division, conference, whatever. Yeah, sure, of course. That means a lot to us. 

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