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Transcript: Bill Belichick Conference Call 12/22

HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK

Conference Call
Sunday, December 22, 2019

Q: At the end of the second quarter, there was some interesting situational football. On that fourth-and-1, when you're at the Bills' 41-yard line with 36 seconds left, how much were you guys wrestling with how to handle that?

BB: Not that much. 

Q: What were your thoughts on the execution of the play? Did the Bills just make a good defensive play?

BB: It's obviously not the way we wanted it to turn out.

Q: When you were walking down the sideline after the Bills got the ball back and scored a touchdown, what were you curious about? What was it about that play with a player reporting as eligible that you were looking for explanation on?

BB: I don't really have any comment on that. I'll keep any conversations had with officials between myself and them.

Q: On the run-play touchdown, how does that put stress on the defenders at the end of the line of scrimmage on the side where the tackle was eligible?

BB: How does it put pressure on them?

Q: Not pressure, stress.

BB: I don't know. Look, every play the offense runs is designed to stress the defense. You have to defend what they do. We didn't defend it well enough on that play.

Q: What are the conversations you and Joe Judge have during the game about whether or not to put a punt returner back and when in the game to do that? What goes into that decision making? Is it on the fly or is it pre-planned?

BB: Joe and I talk about that all week. We always want to try to create the best field position that you can. That's what we try to do. Sometimes you're more aggressive in trying to create it than others. There's always – any time you take a risk, there's probably a little more upside and maybe a little more downside. Yeah, we deal with that all the time. It's just part of the kicking game strategy. I think Joe's done a great job all year with that. We do what we did yesterday – I don't have any second thoughts about it.

Q: How much of that is a product of putting a play on when you think you can get a block as opposed to setting up a return?

BB: Well, those are basically your choices. You either try to block it or try to return it. If you split the difference on that – half rush, half return – then that could be OK, but you also then could get neither. You don't have a really good rush and you don't really have everybody blocked on the return. Basically, those are your three choices. You can either rush, you can return, or you can have some combination of rush and return, which could satisfy both or actually it could satisfy neither if you don't have enough guys blocking in the return and you don't have enough guys rushing to really get an advantage in the rush. Those are your options on the punt return team. We've used all of them and I'm sure we'll continue to use them all.

Q: We saw a lot more of Joejuan Williams yesterday with Jason McCourty going out. How do you feel like he was able to handle his work load?

BB: I think Joejuan was ready to go. I think he had a good week of preparation and had an opportunity to play. There were some good things; there were some other things that could be improved, like everybody. Some of the things he did well, other things he can learn from and improve on.

Q: It looked like Stephon Gilmore was playing safety on a couple snaps on that final drive, what was the rationale behind that? Is that something that you've done with him before?

BB: We have multiple things on defense that we can do. Not sure exactly what play you're referring to. Basically defensively, it's a combination of us changing up our calls and the players within those calls and the ability to change up exactly how we play them. Sometimes we have more than one way to play something and they can take option A or option B or maybe even option C, depending on what the offense is doing. When you play a team like Buffalo that does a lot of different things, they run a lot of different plays, they run a lot of different personnel groups, a lot of condensed splits, some wide splits, move their receivers around into different spots. Sometimes everybody lining up in the same spot on every play isn't the best thing in the world to make it relatively easy for the quarterback to figure out what you're doing based on where a certain player is relative to where they put their players. Again, I'm not sure exactly what play it is, but I'm sure that there are a number of cases in this game and really in every game where there's some variability in our alignments.

Q: What did you see in Rex Burkhead's touchdown run where he took a good shot but bounced off it and was still able to score?

BB: Yeah, Jim [McBride], that was a good run, that was a real good run. He was kind of going sideways a little bit when he got hit there. I thought he did a really good job of dropping his pads and playing through the contact, keeping his balance and running into the end zone. That was an excellent run. Rex has had a lot of good runs for us throughout the course of the year – obviously, one last week in space and the one you just referenced in tight quarters with contact. I thought he played well for us, and again, he's given us good plays, and on fourth down as well, in both the running game and the passing game. I know he felt bad about the play in the screen pass at the start of the game, but Rex is a tough competitor and he blocked well, he ran well, he caught the ball well, he played well for us in the kicking game. That was an excellent run – his lower body strength and balance – and Sony [Michel] showed a lot of that yesterday, too. There were a lot of plays with Sony that looked like 2-yard gains and ended up being five or six. Leg drive, pad-level, power in a short area showed up for both those players.

Q: What are some of the things that Lawrence Guy does that make him such a productive player?

BB: Yeah, Lawrence played well again last night. He's played well all year. He does a very good job of playing his position, which is really multiple spots across the line. He's a hard guy to block, he's got good power, uses his hands well, he's instinctive, he recognizes plays well and plays very consistently. He's probably one of the most consistent players we have on our team.

Q: How does your staff help you get through the oddities of an NFL schedule like last week when you go on a short week for a game that means so much? How prepared do you guys feel because of the work of your staff?

BB: Yeah, thanks, Mike [Petraglia]. I'm very fortunate. We have a great coaching staff. These guys really work hard, they work well together. There's a good level of experience on the staff. There's some other positions with less experience, but overall, it blends well together. They do a really good job with their individual position groups and then it all fits together well on a consistent basis. You're right, with every long week there's a short week, with every short week's a long week. I guess it all balances out. We've certainly had a lot of later games and that affects you the following week, but it is what it is. Every game that's scheduled, there's a balance on it on the other end of it. You take the pluses with the minuses. Our staff's adjustable. We've had, especially with Joe Judge and Josh McDaniels, they've been through pretty much every scenario you can go through from a scheduling standpoint. They've done a great job in terms of having players prepared. Defensively, we've worked through it as well, too. Yeah, these guys have done a great job, and I think our veteran players have also handled that well. They've been through those scenarios too and recognize the urgency of on a short week, how important it is the first day of the week – even though you're a little ahead of schedule, ahead of your normal schedule and maybe your body clock isn't where it would normally be on a Wednesday because things have been pushed up on a shorter week – how important it is to do everything you can to be where you would normally be on Wednesday, where you would normally be on Thursday, physically and mentally, even though you have less time to get there. I think they do a good job of it. They also work with our players with less experience or players that haven't been in these types of situations as frequently and help them work through it. The captains and many of our other veteran leaders do a great job of that with their teammates. It's really a team effort to handle, as you said, the changes and the variety of schedules and routines. The staff and the veteran players have done a great job of it.

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