PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
December 11, 2018
Q: Ben Roethlisberger seems to do a really good job of spreading the ball around offensively. How dangerous does that make their overall passing game when you can’t just key on one or two of their elite guys?
BB: Yeah, it’s very, very dangerous. Yeah, they do a great job. They do a great job of passing the ball, protecting the quarterback and getting the ball to all of their multiple receivers with, I would say, very good variety of schemes. They get it to them different ways, so not only do they get everybody the ball, but they make you cover them vertically on catch-and-run plays, tear screens and things like that. They just do a good job. They’re very well-coached. They’ve got a great guy pulling the trigger and they have great players. They’re extremely talented and they’re a very explosive offense team as we know by the amount of production that they have.
Q: What have your impressions of John Simon been thus far and what has he been able to do to earn more snaps?
BB: Yeah, John’s done a really good job for us since he’s come in here and has picked things up very quickly, contributed for us right away defensively and in the kicking game. He’s really done a solid job. He’s experienced, smart and has very good football instincts. He’s got good awareness. Even though he hasn’t had as much experience in our system as some other people have, his instinctiveness to kind of just do the right thing on the football field at the right time consistently keeps showing up. He’s been a great addition. I’m glad we have him.
Q: Your defense has a lot of long running plays against you that has led to an increase in the yards-per-carry statistic versus your defense. What can you attribute that to, given that you typically have been a good tackling defense?
BB: Well, the run game is about team defense. So, obviously, it starts with coaching so we’ve got to do a better job of coaching all aspects of it and executing it. It’s not one play. It’s a combination of our overall execution and consistency. It starts with the coaching.
Q: Does it feel eminently fixable? Does it feel like the big runs are sort of skewing the numbers, and that you have the capability to fix it and bring those yards-per-carry numbers down?
BB: Well, of course we feel like we can fix it; yeah.
Q: What kind of problems do the Steelers and their defense present in terms of taking the ball away?
BB: Yeah, they’re a very disruptive team. They have a real good scheme, a lot of pressures so a lot of fumbles and strip sacks. They pursue very well so they get plays from behind where they knock the ball out and they’ve used multiple coverages so man, zone, blitz zone, some blitz man, different combinations of split and post-safety coverages. It’s easy for the offense to make a mistake and stop when they should keep going, go when they should throttle down, convert when they shouldn’t convert, not convert when they should convert based on the rotation or the corner and safety alignments. If you make a mistake then you just throw it right to them. They’re very multiple on defense and probably one of the most multiple teams we’ve seen all year. It’s going to, again, take good team execution offensively up front from our skill players and just everybody working together to do a good job in all of those areas.
Q: What have you seen from Bud Dupree and T.J. Watt on the edge of their defense? Or if not the edge, on the outside anyway?
BB: Yeah, but it is and they’re good. It’s a lot more than that. But yeah, the inside guys are good. They do a real good job of creating penetration and forcing the quarterback back to the edge rushers. The edge rushers do a good job of forcing the quarterback up into the inside part of the pass rush. Their blitzes create a lot of movement and so forth. They do a good job of everything. I don’t know what the exact sack breakdown is, but it’s not like one guy has 20 sacks. There’s a lot of people on that defense that have hit the quarterback. There’s a lot of times that the guy who hits the quarterback gets him because somebody else penetrated and somebody else created an opening for them. Again, we have to deal with all of them. That’s a very impressive group. But certainly not taking anything away from what both Watt and Dupree, those two guys, they’re both having a great year.
Q: How impressive has JuJu Smith-Schuster been this season, especially considering he has to compete for touches with a guy like Antonio Brown?
BB: Well, again, I think both of those players complement each other. You’re worried about one player and the other one gets you and vice versa. They’ve got plenty of guys besides them, too. But those two in particular, they have great speed, quickness, catching ability, instincts and run-after-catch. Whenever they get the ball it’s a problem, and there’s a lot of different ways they can get the ball with their skill set and certainly their offense with Coach [Randy] Fichtner’s offense and the quarterback. They can get them ball. Yeah, they complement each other well. It’s a very explosive team.
Q: What does Mike Munchak do with their offensive line that has impressed you the most?
BB: Yeah, they’re very sound. The technique’s good. They do an excellent job of protecting the quarterback, especially inside with [Maurkice] Pouncey, [Ramon] Foster, [David] DeCastro. That’s probably three of the top players in the league at those positions. They’re strong. They’re big. They’re really long. Those guys have real long arms so it’s hard to get into them. They play well together. Obviously, they’ve been playing together for a long time so they have, obviously, good chemistry with each other and a good feel for each other. They don’t make a lot of mistakes. It’s very seldom there’s a guy that runs free or runs through the line. They get a hat on him and they block him. It’s a struggle to even get close to the quarterback.
Q: Is it strange to see this offense without Le’Veon Bell? He’s a guy that obviously has sat out for them this year.
BB: Well, yeah, you said he’s not there, but they’re very explosive as it is. I’d talk about the guys that are there and they’ve got plenty there and they’re right at the top of the league in scoring and production and everything else. It’s tough.
Transcripts are provided by the Patriots media relations department as a courtesy to the media and are edited for readability. All press conferences are posted and archived in their entirety at patriots.com.