HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
August 25, 2018
Q: Can you talk about the improvement you've seen in Phillip Dorsett in terms of his route running and how he has worked on his timing with Tom Brady and how important that is as a receiver?
BB: Right. Well, the timing in the passing game between the quarterback and all the receivers, tight ends and running backs is obviously critical. Sometimes just one split second makes the difference between a completion or a big play and a bad play. It's something that they all work on. Phil again has had an opportunity to start at the beginning this year, the offseason program, OTAs, the beginning of training camp. It's a lot different than at this time last year when he wasn't even on our team a year ago today at this point. He's way ahead of that and we still have a long way to go, a lot of work to do but he works hard at it. He's a smart guy that can play multiple positions and he's been out there every day working hard.
Q: Is there something to be said for a receiver learning how to use his speed to maximize his skills?
BB: Well, I think each player has their own individual set of skills and some guys have size, some guys have speed, some guys have quickness, some guys are route-savvy, some players have a combination of more than one of those. It's just important for the players to understand their strengths and how to use them. Sometimes speed is good against a player who's not as fast as you are, sometimes you play against a player who's faster than you are and the speed's not an advantage anymore so you have to use some other tool or technique. That's the great thing about preseason games and all the one-on-ones that we do in practice and training camp and so forth is you go up against a lot of different players and each match-up is a little bit different but if you have an advantage you want to try to use it. Maybe the advantage that you usually have might not be an advantage against a certain match-up then you have to find something else. So that's for all those one-on-one match-ups whether it's quarterbacks - I mean receivers and DBs, or pass rushers and offensive linemen, or safeties or tight ends or whatever the case is. That's just fundamental learning how to match-up against different types of players and how to understand your strength and your weaknesses and how they match up against your opponent's strengths and his weaknesses.
Q: What did you see from Jason McCourty in training camp and the game yesterday about how he fits in playing safety?
BB: Well, Jason's a very experienced player and he understands football concepts and a lot of just basic defenses, pass defense and run force concepts and the responsibilities that go with that. So he's taken more reps at safety and those were good steps for him. He had some opportunities to play there in the game and had some positive plays, had a couple good tackles, made a good tackle on the goal line, run force and was involved in some coverage plays. Like every player who plays last night, there were some things that he'll learn from and he'll see on film and we'll correct and there were some things that he did well that we can build on and he can build on. It's a combination of those. We'll see how that process unfolds going forward, how much more we play him in those spots and again, a lot of the playing players in different positions in the second and third week of preseason, even fourth week of preseason, just relates to building depth on our roster when we only have 46 players on the active game list in the regular season. Sometimes those things come up in practice where we don't have depth at a certain position in practice and a player has to be ready to back-up at that position or maybe has to be ready to play at that position. And having a foundation and a background in it in training camp when you have a little bit of extra time to try to build that can be valuable so that you're not spending so much time on some very basic things when you get into the season and you have less time. We'll see how all that unfolds going forward but I think it was a good experience and hopefully whether he does or doesn't play safety down the road, even just the opportunity to do that might help him have a little better awareness of that position when he plays corner. So I think it's all positive.
Q: Cordarrelle Patterson only has one career punt return in the regular season - what have you noticed from him in that role of working as a punt-returner?
BB: He's been good. He's done everything we've asked him to do. We've had him in a lot of different roles and different responsibilities on offense and in the kicking game. He's been great. Tries to understand what we want him to do and does his best to do it the way he's asked to do it. Some things are new to him, some things are things he's done before. He's been used in many different roles in Minnesota and in Oakland so most things he's had some exposure to. But it's something new to him, then he's very anxious and eager to learn the way to do it and try to do his best at it. So that's a great thing. It's great to work with players like that.
Q: How would you characterize how Eric Decker has adjusted to what you guys are asking him to do?
BB: I think Eric's learned everything well. Again, he had a background in this system in Denver with Josh [McDaniels] and he's played multiple positions in the offense since he's been here. We used a couple new formations last night so I don't think learning is really a problem for him and he has a lot of experience of some of the more sophisticated routes, option routes and things like that are all things that he's done and it's just really a question of getting the timing and the exactly how you want to do it and seeing enough looks on it so that you and the quarterback know exactly what it is. And again, in training camp when you're working with multiple quarterbacks and multiple receivers, takes a little time to get everybody to get those looks so one quarterback might see one picture and then the next picture is just slightly different and making sure that the quarterbacks and the receivers again see those the same way and they can anticipate what's going to happen. But that just comes through repetitions and experience. But he's learned well and he's been able to play multiple positions for us so that's not a problem.
Q: I wanted to ask you about Ulrick John - he got a lot of work last night and has been moving up the depth chart it seems.
BB: Ulrick's has some experience at tackle in the league. He's been with other teams and he's come in here and done a really good job of adapting to our system. We've played him at multiple positions, both tackle spots and also some inside guard. He learns well, he's big, strong, physical player that again, has experience in the league but hasn't had a lot of regular season game experience. But he's done a good job for us and as you said, he's gotten a lot of playing time. We've been a little - depth-wise, a little challenged at the tackle position during training camp and that's benefited both Ulrick and Matt Tobin. Both those players have taken advantage of their playing time and been able to I think show up positively. Last night was another pretty good night for us in terms of pass protection. Again, there's always room for improvement, I'm not saying anything was perfect last night by a long shot but overall, the pass protection has been pretty good these three preseason games. There's always a lot of pressure on the tackles with Ulrick and Matt, LA [LaAdrian Waddle] Trent [Brown], guys that have played out there, they've all held up pretty well.
Q: When you approach a player like Jason McCourty to switch positions, what's that conversation and process like?
BB: Well again, it's pretty similar to what we've talked about. As a coaching staff, we look at our depth and we try to thing ahead to where our next - wherever the position is - next players are coming from. We can only carry so many guys on the 53-man roster, we can only carry so many guys on the 46-man roster so is it one of your starting players moving to a different position and then your back-up player replacing him or is it one of your back-up players replacing multiple starting positions. Again, there's different ways you can go on that but you've got to create your depth chart somewhere, you just don't have enough players to have multiple players at every single position on offense, defense and special teams. You might have it in a couple spots but there's going to be other spots that you just aren't going to be able to have it. When we identify that as a coaching staff - and again, there are a number of factors that come into play there, number of reps and opportunities, and you have practice plays, you have game play opportunities and you have the volume of learning and teaching that goes into those positions too that all those things have to be accounted for in order to give the player an opportunity to perform. He's got to know what to do and have enough of a chance to do it so you can evaluate it. When you put all that together, that gives you some type of a plan and you present that to the player. And I think our players understand that versatility and being able to do multiple things on offense, defense and special teams create value for them, it creates value for the team and those are good things. I can't ever remember a player that was resistant to doing it. Sometimes it works out better with one player than another player. That's not the player's fault or anybody's fault, sometimes it just works out better with some guys then it does with others. But a lot of times you don't know that until you try and go through the process. We've certainly gone back to players and had our own staff meetings and said, "We tried it, that really wasn't such a good idea, it didn't work out that well. Let's not spend any more time on it. Let's figure something else out." If that happens, then that happens. Once we know what the right answer is, then we can move forward. If we don't try it and we don't know, then you don't find out until it really matters and that's not always a great time to find out.
Q: A lot of people took note of your sport coat for the game and I was wondering what made the coat the number one on your sport coat depth chart?
BB: You've got me.
Q: Stumped on that one?
BB: Yeah, you've definitely put me in a tough spot. I'm at a loss for words. Those summer sport coat days are dwindling around here so this was an opportunity to wear it. Linda [Holliday]'s certainly upgraded my wardrobe. So really no real big reason. It was probably the closest one when I reached into the closet.