Transcript: Bill Belichick Conference Call 9/16

PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK

Q: Jamie Collins had a great game obviously, with the two interceptions and the return for a touchdown, but I wanted to focus on two running plays he made plays on early in the game. The first drive, [Jakeem] Grant came around the left tackle, and it seemed like he read that pretty well pre-snap. Then the [Kenyan] Drake run where Collins disrupted the play by taking out the pulling center. What have you seen from Jamie and his versatility and growth as a player at the line of scrimmage?

BB: Well, Jamie's a very special player. He's very smart, instinctive. He's got a great nose for the ball in the passing game and in the running game. He's got the physical skills to play at the end of the line and off the line, to blitz, to play in coverage, play against the run and play against the pass. So we're able to do different things with him and he's been productive and effective in all of them. So it's really exciting to have that type of player in your system, and to have players he can work with. They can do things that maybe you don't normally or aren't able to do because of some type of limitations, but he's very smart and he understands things, and he a lot of times will recognize things before I do, and say "Hey, can I do this in this situation," or "Hey, can I do this in that situation?" That's the kind of football thinker he is, so he's brought a lot to us defensively in a lot of different areas. From first down to third down, to playing on the punt team, he's added a lot to us.

Q: Has that ability to be versatile to the defense changed in his second stint with the team? If it has, how so?

BB: No, Jamie's always been a versatile player. I mean, of course his first year or maybe into the second year – as any young player making the adjustment into the National Football League in our system, there was – now that he has the experience, and he's able to utilize his experience and blend it in with his teammates and calls and situations, he has a ton of versatility.

Q: What have you seen from Duron Harmon as his role has increased over the years in your system?

BB: Well, I think Duron probably knows our defensive system as well as anybody maybe other than Devin [McCourty]. He and Pat [Chung] and Devin have played together and they have a great communication system, and sometimes just after the snap or in the middle of a play they know how to react based on what their teammate's doing and things that they've encountered in previous games or years. And Duron does an excellent job too, of getting that communication to the corners and coordinating the safety and corner responsibilities and leverage and run support and things like that. He's a very good decision-maker, and he really has the green light along with Devin to do what he needs to do to make things right on the field based on the offensive personnel, formation and sometimes situation. So we have a ton of confidence in him and he always does the right thing. He had two or three plays yesterday that could have gone either way, could have followed one rule, but he made the right decision on all of them, and he's a really smart football player. 

Q: Stephen Gostkowski was pretty hard on himself after the game, saying that he stunk after missing two PATs and the 48-yard field goal. What did you see that contributed to him missing those kicks?

BB: Well, as we know, the field goal operation is really a full-team play. It's not just one guy, but the most important player is the kicker in that particular play. So we've just got to do a good job all the way around of coaching, and timing and execution by the specialists and protection by the other eight players, and just work at it. Steve's a great kicker, he's made a lot of big kicks for us. He certainly kicked well last week against Pittsburgh, and I have confidence in all of the people that are involved here, the coaches, the players, the specialists, so forth. So we'll just have to work harder at it and expect better results.

Q: Adam Butler played almost 40 snaps, which was a notable increase from Week 1, which isn't uncommon from you guys. What are the things that Adam Butler has going for himself that produced what we saw from him yesterday?

BB: Some of it's a function of the game, some of it's a function of the personnel groups that we use in the game, and some of it's the function of the availability of the players for that particular game. When you put all of that together, there are enough variables to have a little up or down tick in snaps. But, you know, we have a ton of confidence in Adam. He played in all defensive situations yesterday – our base, our nickel packages, our dime packages. He's another very smart player that really understands how to attack protections and do the right thing based on how the line's blocking him on passing plays and what we have called. He has good length over the ball and good length to play defensive end in the running game, but he plays very hard, hustles, gets the plays on second effort, extra effort. He's a very smart, instinctive player.

Q: I wanted to ask about your tackles yesterday. First, Marshall Newhouse and the challenge that he faced, having been with you guys for less than a week and then having to play yesterday. How was he able to be as involved as he was yesterday? On Korey Cunningham, how do you feel like he handled his responsibilities on the right side? He had only played on the left side last year, and the footwork gets complicated when guys switch sides like that.

BB: Right. Well it certainly can, Phil [Perry]. The footwork at left and right tackle is, as you know, just opposite, so sometimes that's the same but different, and sometimes it's totally opposite and different. It just depends on the player. But in Korey's case, starting with him first, Korey played right tackle all through preseason for Arizona. He did play some left tackle last year, but this year he played on the right side, and they had another rookie who played on the left side. So he's been mostly on the right side, certainly in his most recent exposures, so that's kind of why we have him over there. I'm not saying he can't play left tackle – I'm not saying that – but as you said, it's been a short time for both of them to absorb. So that's kind of his deal. And then Marshall, although he's only been here for a few days, he came from the Buffalo system where [Brian] Daboll is, and I think a lot of the terminology, although maybe not exactly the same, is close and some of the same concepts, maybe different words or a different way that it's called. But the concepts and a lot of things that they do and we do are obviously the same, based on the background and carryover from Brian's system, and to what we do. So in terms of learning and all that, Marshall has a lot of league experience and experience recently in a similar system to what we run. Korey has less league experience and certainly much less experience in our system or a system similar to ours. But I thought they both hung in there. Certainly there's a lot of things we need to work on, on a lot of levels offensively, but certainly at the tackle position just from an experience standpoint. Just literally a few days of practice, and that'll be a challenge for them, but I thought they held up physically fairly well, in I'd say pretty tough conditions, and we played quite a bit of football offensively. We had the ball for whatever it was, 36-37 minutes. I forget, but something like that. They definitely got put to the test there and held up OK. Minimal number of major errors and penalties and things like that. It wasn't perfect by any stretch, but no real disasters, so hopefully we can build on last week, or in Korey's case the last couple weeks, and the practice and walkthroughs and time we spent here with now some game experience, where of course all of that happens at a different speed, a different tempo and it's not quite the way it's drawn up in the playbook, it's real football. So just take it one day at a time, just keep grinding away and see how it goes.

Q: The NFL did confirm it's going to meet with the woman involved in the Antonio Brown lawsuit today. Do you anticipate hearing anything from the league as far as Brown's ongoing availability to play?

BB: Yeah, I don't really know anything about that, but I'll just answer any questions about the game, and I'm not getting into anything else outside of that right now.

Q: What did you see from and learn about Danny Shelton late last year with the way he handled some of the circumstances around him?. Not playing for a while, but rebounded in the postseason, particularly against the Rams. Then, the commitment he made this offseason to conditioning. How has that translated on the field in the first two weeks?

BB: I think Dan's really improved a lot from year one to year two here. Not that this is his first year in the league, I don't mean it that way, but last year was his first year with the Patriots. This year, going into the year was really a lot better I think for me and for him, so I have a better feeling for what his style of play is and what things I think we can really take advantage of in the defense. I'm not sure that we did a great job of that last year, but he's very good at some things, and we'll try to get him to do those as much as we can. He's been great all year. First guy in, last guy out type of attitude. He's very attentive and has worked very hard on the things that we've asked him to do, and some of those are a little different than they were last year, again based on the things I just mentioned, but he's really improved now I'd say in every area. Run defense, pass defense, read blocking schemes, and just overall awareness and communication on the defensive front, which there's a decent amount of. So I like having him on the team, and I think his role and his understanding, and the confidence he has in the defense and the confidence the defense has in him, it's definitely taken a couple steps forward.

Q: You mentioned the tough conditions down in Miami, and Tom Brady said that was as hot of a game as he can ever remember. I was curious in your 45 seasons, can you recall a game where your game constructed little canopies to keep the players cool. I was wondering if that was something in the old days that was a regular thing, and how your experience in that renovated stadium contributed to doing that.

BB: I would agree with Tom's assessment. I can't remember being in a hotter game than that and again, sometimes what the temperature is and how it feels are two different things. I would say it was definitely a very challenging heat. Very challenging in terms of the heat in the game. The canopy thing was something that Matt [Patricia] did last year when he went down and they played the Dolphins in Miami, and so when we talked about it this year, in training camp we were out there and talked about it a little bit. So I felt like it would be something worth trying, and we did during the game. It was definitely cooler under the canopy than out into the direct sunlight, so that's one of the real home field advantages that Miami has. You look across the field and you see all of those guys sitting in the shade over there, and it makes you feel a little bit hotter I think. But it's a good – I understand the way they set it up, and that's the way they should do it at home. But yeah, I think it helped to a degree. In the end, it's 100 degrees on the field. I can't imagine it's that much less in a canopy, but every little bit probably helps. So I thought we tried to do what we could there to address the situation.

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