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Transcript: Bill Belichick Conference Call 12/9

Read the full transcript from Patriots head coach Bill Belichick's conference call with the media on Monday, December 9, 2019


Conference Call
December 9, 2019

Q: Regarding the first challenge in the third quarter, was there any consideration to challenge, or can you even challenge two aspects of a particular call? If you did, would that constitute two challenges in one play?

BB: Yes and no, you hit it exactly right. We challenged both aspects of the play – it's one challenge, it's one play. We challenged the offensive interference and we challenged the spot. It's exactly what you said it was. When we challenged it, I thought we had a good challenge on both counts.  

Q: The reason I ask is because the official play-by-play only indicated that the spotting of the ball was the only thing challenged. So, you did indeed challenge the fact that there could have been offensive pass interference on Travis Kelce?

BB: Yes, absolutely. Yup, that's exactly right.

Q: On the same topic, how confident were you that the spotting of the ball would protect your other two challenges based on what you saw on that play? If they re-spotted the ball, even if they got a first down, would you have still had two challenges?

BB: The re-spotting would have only mattered if it was short of the line-to-gain. 

Q: On the blocked field goal, how much of that was good execution by the Chiefs versus could do a better job blocking on the Patriots side?

BB: They have a good overload rush. We've got to block it. 

Q: How has James Ferentz held up?

BB: James has done a good job for us. Like everybody that played last night and everybody that coached in the game, there's all plays we'd like to have back. Glad we have James, he stepped in there and he's given us a game and a half of very competitive play.

Q: Some of your defensive players commented on how it was important for you guys to limit big plays in the second half, and the numbers show a significant improvement in the second half. What sort of adjustments did you make to get the results that you did?

BB: The players did a good job – players did a really good job. We rushed the quarterback well and we covered pretty well, tackled fairly well. The players competed really hard; they did a good job. It's a very, very explosive offense. They competed hard against them.

Q: It seems in the last couple of weeks you guys have used Sony Michel heavily early on and then gone away from him a little bit. Is that based on how the games have gone or is there any other reason for that?

BB: That's just how it's gone.

Q: Brandon Bolden has been really productive in the red zone running the ball this year. What is it about him that makes him so dependable in the red zone?

BB: I think Brandon is dependable for us everywhere, all four downs – first, second, third and fourth downs. Wherever we need to use him, I think we all have a lot of confidence in him. I do, I know his teammates do and I know all his offensive coaches do. We have a lot of confidence in him on fourth downs. He's a good player and you can put him in any situation.

Q: Has his running style evolved or is he the same kind of running back that he was coming out of college?

BB: Well, this is different than college, but I think he's been pretty consistent.

Q: How has the special teams staff been able to orchestrate blocked punts so frequently? How much of it is exploiting a weakness you see in other teams' punt protection? How much of it is creating a favorable matchup and playing to your strengths, especially with Matthew Slater and Nate Ebner who have come up with blocks in recent weeks?

BB: Cam [Achord] and Joe [Judge] do a good job of game planning. It's all the things you talked about – scheme, situation, matchups, so forth. On that particular play, that was a little unusual. I don't know, it looked like they had a fake called and then they snapped it to the punter and part of the line was blocking a fake and the other part looked like they were trying to punt the ball. Not sure exactly what they were doing on that, you'd have to ask them, but it looked like they had a fake called.

Q: Later in the game when you did not dispatch a return man, what about that situation dictated the decision not to put anyone back there?

BB: We've used that before. [It's] obviously a way to put pressure on the other team's punt protection. You can account for 10 guys and if you have to start accounting for 11, that creates another problem.

Q: Offensively, it seemed like early, two tight ends was a heavy grouping for you guys. How accurate would it be to say that that's as much as you guys have used it this season?

BB: Well, you know, Mike [Reiss], we used a lot of different personnel groupings. They all need to be ready to go, all those groups need to be ready to go – they know that. We have roles for a lot of different people. If we need it, we'll continue to do that. 

Q: When you threw the first challenge we previously talked about, the time left in the third quarter was 3:07. How much were you balancing the time knowing that if the challenge didn't go your way, you only had one left? Where is the time cutoff in your mind? How much are you thinking about preserving your other challenges in that situation?

BB: Every situation is different. I try to do what's best for the team, what I think will help the team. I think if it's a good challenge, then I'm likely to throw it. If it's not, then I probably wouldn't. I felt good about the challenge, but it didn't work out. 

Q: How is Jake Bailey in terms of leg strength and position? I noticed he set the club record for punts inside the 20.

BB: Jake's a very talented player, I think we can all see that. He's got good mechanics, good athleticism, good leg speed. He's got a good, high level of maturity for his age and his experience. He's done a good job for us. I'm glad we have him.

Q: Have you had any conversation with Al Riveron since the game last night about why things were called the way they were called or the mechanics of what went on last night?

BB: Yeah, Phil [Perry], I know those conversations that I have with the league are – I would treat those as private conversations. You talked to the officials after the game, or somebody did and asked them questions, so that's your opportunity to do that and you should take advantage of it and see what they have to say if you have a question about it. I wouldn't try to speak for somebody else, that's not really – I don't believe in that. If you have a question about something that they did or what their – if you have a question about it, I think you should ask them and I think somebody did or should have done that last night. [If] that's that important to you, then go ahead and do it.

Q: Mike Reiss was on that last night and I understand what you're saying there. Do you feel like the communication between the team, you and the officiating department has been good and fluid this season?

BB: Phil, I really appreciate the question, but I think your officiating questions really need to go to the officials. I'm trying to coach the team and do the best that I can to make our team as competitive as possible and win as many games as possible, so that's really what I'm focused on. I think your other questions should be directed towards somebody else, frankly.

Q: What went into the decision to limit N'Keal Harry's snaps but then use him in the red zone? Have you seen progress from him as a red-zone threat?

BB: N'Keal has made progress in every area. There's a lot of ground for him to make up based on when he came back off of injured reserve in mid-season. He's working hard at it, he's improving, but as I said, he's got a way to go. We'll try to utilize our team and our players the best way we can based on all the circumstances that are involved in each and every game.

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