PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
December 17, 2018
Q: On the final play of the game, as Tom Brady released the ball he was falling to his left. How much did that impact the throw? It seems as if he’s been doing that quite often lately, and do you know why he would be doing that?
BB: Yeah, I think you’d have to ask him about that specific play.
Q: Have you discussed it with him at all? Do you have any input on that?
BB: Any input?
Q: Yeah, why is he falling to his left when releasing the ball and is it impacting his accuracy?
BB: Yeah, well, Tom [Curran], I mean, look, the players just came in. I haven’t had a chance to go talk to every single player about every single play that happened in the game. I hope you can understand that.
Q: How do you go about coaching all of the different intricacies and intangibles that go into situational football in the red zone at the end of a half?
BB: I’m not sure I’m following.
Q: Does situational football change in the red zone when the clock is a factor at the end of a half during the game?
BB: Yeah, sure, it does. I mean, look, obviously we’re trying to get the ball into the end zone. Depending on what the situation is, which it changed a little bit down there on us, you have to react to those changes and then the time and the down and so forth to look at your options and try to do what’s best there. If the clock is stopped, sometimes you have more options because you could possibly change a play if you could determine what your opponents are in or not in. If the clock is running then you certainly have less options on that. Yeah, in the end you want to try to score, gain yards and conserve time. However you can do those things, that’s [inaudible].
Q: How would you say you guys have handled those situations this season?
BB: Probably like every year, some better than others. Again, sometimes you have to take what the defense gives you or what they happen to have called on that particular play. You don’t control that. You can only control what you call. Sometimes those match up well. Sometimes they don’t. I’d say each situation is really its own entity and has its own individual characteristics.
Q: Did the way the Steelers tried to disguise things in the secondary either before the snap or right at the snap complicate things for your offense?
BB: I think that’s pretty much what they always do. They do a good job of that. They try to show one thing and do something else, or sometimes show it and do it so you can’t count on them getting out of it. They have a multiple defense, defensive concepts. That’s one of the things they try to do. I think that’s pretty much always there when you play the Steelers.
Q: Do you feel that on a day that had so many penalties for your team, does that kind of become contagious where they all just begin to snowball on each other throughout the game?
Q: Do you think the false starts could’ve gotten into people’s heads at all? Would the linemen start of thinking those naturally?
BB: No, I don’t think so. I think they try to focus on that play and execute it the best they can, regardless of what did or didn’t happen in some other play or game or year or whatever else. We just try to focus on that play. I think that’s what we try to do.
Q: On the penalties, what’s the coaching point on the false start that Ryan Allen received when holding on the field goal attempt? Was there any discussion as to what he did that led to that call?
BB: Yeah, I’m not really sure on that one, Mike [Reiss]. It looked like the head linesman was coming in from the side and he was calling something and then they kind of got together. I know what they listed in the play-by-play and then the umpire came in, too. I’m not really sure what they really ruled on that. Pittsburgh flinched. I guess it was ruled that they weren’t in the neutral zone when they flinched, or maybe they said that we caused them to flinch. I’m not really sure exactly what the final ruling was on that.
Q: When you look at the run defense, is this as simple as fundamentals and technique? Or are you seeing something else that is maybe a common thread over the last couple weeks as to why the opponents have been able to ring up some of these rushing yards?
BB: Well, we always try to play with good fundamentals and technique, so that will never change. What we do schematically will depend on the game plan and what our opponent does and what we’re trying to stop and so forth. But, fundamentally, we always try to play with good fundamentals and techniques.
Q: The rushing play by Stevan Ridley after the great play you guys made on the punt, was that a case of multiple breakdowns that led to that sort of opening for him?
BB: Yeah, there was a couple things that could have been better. We could have coached it better. We could have played it better. Yeah, it wasn’t a good play.
Q: You had a fourth-and-1 situation late in the third quarter. Was there any consideration in going for that instead of kicking the field goal near the goal line?
BB: Are you talking about the play where we had the false start?
Q: You had the false start on the field goal. But, right before you had the false start, was there any consideration of going for it on fourth-and-1?
BB: Yeah, no. We put the field goal team in there.
Q: Is there any particular reason why Danny Shelton has been a healthy scratch over the last three weeks?
BB: It’s not about any individual player. It’s about each week we’re allowed to activate 46 of our 53 man roster players to play, and so that’s what we do, and we activate those players based on the particular opponent and game that we’re playing. Obviously, a player could potentially not be activated because of injury, but regardless, there are always some players – almost always, I would say – there are some players that could play in the game but you can’t take all of them because you can only take 46. So, we take the 46 players that we think will give us the best opportunity to win that particular week.
Q: We’ve heard you use the term “mental toughness” quite a bit over the years. Is that something that can be improved or maintained through practice? Is mental toughness sort of an innate quality, or is that something that you can work on?
BB: No, I think we all need to work on it all the time.
Q: How would you characterize this team’s mental toughness then?
BB: I think it’s a tough group of players. Like anything, like every year, there’s always room for improvement and that’s the way it is every year. We always try to perform at our best in every area, whether that’s mental toughness, situation football, running game, passing game, kicking game, you name it. I mean, we always try to perform at our best, and being physically and mentally tough is a big part of this game, so we always try to do our best at that and there’s always room for improvement.
Q: As the league has evolved, is run defense less of a necessity, considering that the league now is passing at a higher rate than ever before? In terms of your priorities in order to win, is run defense lower on the list than it might have been 10 or 20 years ago?
BB: Well, I think the National Football League has always been a passing league, but the running game is very important. Look, each week, you try to defend whatever the offense your opponents do – running game and passing game, situational football, third down, red area and everything else. So, what you do is a function of what they do, and that’s really more of a week-to-week thing for us. Whatever the league trends are or aren’t, I don’t really know that it matters. What matters is who you’re playing and what you have to do in order to be competitive against that opponent. That’s the way I look at it. It doesn’t really matter what the whole league does. Whoever you play that week, that’s what you better be ready to deal with.