PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
December 18, 2018
Q: Tom Brady said in an interview last night there were some tough conversations in the locker room following the loss on Sunday. How much of the focus is on yourselves at this point of this particular season versus coaching against the upcoming opponent?
BB: Buffalo is what we’re working on here.
Q: My question is how much are you balancing what you want to do on a particular week as a team to improve versus planning for the specific opponent, or is it the same as always?
BB: Yeah, I’d say it’s pretty much the same as always. I mean, we take what we do and adapt it to our opponent and then if there’s something that’s different that’s a game plan type of thing for a particular opponent then obviously we would try to work on that and hopefully be able to get it in the situation that we’re looking for.
Q: How much time are you spending making corrections during the week at this point of the season?
BB: There’s an element of that every single week. Sometimes it would depend on, I guess, how closely you think your new opponent would replicate something that happened last week or recently. Look, you only have so many plays in practice each day and each week and you have to decide how you want to allocate those plays. You can cover more things in meetings and walkthroughs, but you just have to decide how much practice time you want to allocate to a particular problem that you want to address. That would vary depending on the team that you’re playing and also the teams that you’ve recently played or maybe you go back to a previous game against them, like in this case since we’ve already played Buffalo earlier in the year, which is a little bit unusual. In a way, you’re going back and correcting things from the first game or even possibly an earlier game from a previous year against them.
Q: What have you seen from J.C. Jackson over the past few weeks in practice that gave you the confidence to have him cover JuJu Smith-Schuster last Sunday?
BB: Well, J.C.’s been playing against good players every week. That’s what the National Football League is. There’s a lot of good players at every position on every team. Miami has good skill players. Minnesota has good skill players, Tennessee, Green Bay. I mean, just go right down the line. They’re all good. If that’s who we play against, that’s who we have to cover.
Q: What has allowed him to get more playing time? Where have you seen the biggest improvement in this game?
BB: I’d say it’s been steady. It wasn’t like it all happened in one day or one week. He’s just played a little better each time he goes out on the field, takes advantage of his opportunities and just continues to get a little bit better. He’s had some opportunities to play in games and has taken advantage of some of those opportunities with playing in third down or some substitute defensive situations and that grew a little bit. Last week was a week where we anticipated seeing a lot of four and five receivers, well, three, four and five receivers, and we did. So, that brought in extra defensive back opportunities. Keion [Crossen] had an opportunity to do that some this week. That’s kind of how it started for J.C. - a few plays here and there and then it became more than that.
Q: On the last third-down play on the final offensive drive at Pittsburgh, James White appeared to be open underneath with some space ahead of him. Was there a preference to try and get the ball down the field into the end zone on that throw, or was James an option there with the amount of time that was still left on the clock?
BB: Well, again, Tom’s a very experienced quarterback in our system, very experienced playing against our opponent, Pittsburgh, last week. He has excellent judgment and decision-making abilities and so, again, when the play is called, the ball is not supposed to go to anybody unless it’s a screen pass or