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Transcript: Bill Belichick Conference Call 9/25


Q: How much patience did Tom Brady have to show in allowing receivers to get open when running crossing routes?

BB: Well, in the passing game it really doesn't matter what the pattern is that's called. We have the receivers in certain places, are going to certain places. Then you have a coverage and you put them together and make the best decision based on the play you have called, on the coverage that they're in and how it's unfolding. Routes don't always get run exactly the way they're drawn up and the coverage doesn't always play exactly the way it's designed. There's things to read within the play, but essentially that's what the passing game is. Based on the distribution of your receivers and the way that they're covering them and that takes you to where you want to go with the football.

Q: What do you see from your receivers regarding their ability to go up and compete for the ball?

BB: Well, I think our receivers are a tough and competitive group. They attack the ball aggressively and they block aggressively, but all players have different skills. Some players make more plays going up for the ball, kind of as you described, than others do. Then there are other players who make plays in different ways. But as far as the toughness and competiveness of it, I think we have a high level at that with our group for that. Each guy has his own skills.

Q: What did you see from LaAdrian Waddle yesterday in his first start as a Patriot?

BB: I think it's probably pretty much about the same for all of us in the game. We did enough to win, but there are a lot of things we can do better and a lot of things we need to do better. If just a couple of things had gone differently we would've had a different outcome yesterday, so we have a lot of work to do and that includes everybody and every position and every unit. Pretty much pick out any player and it's going to be the same for all of us, players and coaches. Some good things and then there were other things that just weren't good enough and aren't going to be good enough.

Q: It appeared that Nate Solder was not out on the field for pregame warmups. What was going on at that time?

BB: What was going on?

Q: Isn't it fairly unusual for that?

BB: Well, sometimes that happens before the game. It depends on the circumstances or situations. I don't think it's that big of a deal.

Q: What did you see on the Texans' third-and-one play when your defense was able to stop them on on their second-to-last drive before Tom Brady and the offense drove down the field to take the lead?

BB: Well, they were in a three-receiver set and we had a lot of guys in there where [Lamar] Miller ran the ball. The blocking angle that [Greg] Mancz took - it was hard for him to get to [Alan] Branch. Really there wasn't a lot of space for him to cut back with [Lawrence] Guy behind him and Elandon Roberts. It was [Kyle] Van Noy actually. We had a lot of people there. We had really seven guys on the line of scrimmage, eight guys on the line of scrimmage against six blockers. We just squeezed it down and got a good push from the inside guys, from Malcom [Brown] and Branch, Lawrence Guy.

Q: Was it a similar situation to Super Bowl XLIX against the Seahawks when you opted to go with the goal line defense along with three defensive backs?

BB: Yeah, there are some similarities. I mean, different - it was a short-yardage situation. The ball wasn't on the one-yard line, but yeah, as far as the personnel grouping it was a goal line grouping against a multiple receiver offensive set. Yeah, that's right. That's exactly what it was.

Q: Was there any hesitation to go with that personnel grouping?

BB: I'd say there are usually options involved. I don't think anything is set in stone. I mean, you could have a short-yardage situation come up and if the team was going no-huddle you wouldn't even have a chance to get the goal line in the game, so that would take you out of it right there. I mean, look, in the end you try to make the best decisions that you can. There's usually more than one option. If you've only left yourself one option then you have to live with that. Take a good look at that. If you have more than one option then take the option you think is the best one in that situation.

Q: What are the defensive principles you teach your defenders when defending against a hail mary pass to the end zone at the end of a game?

BB: Well, skipping the pass rush, you want to have somebody that's in position to play the ball down the field so they can't catch it. You want to have other players in position so that if the ball gets tipped, that they're in position to rebound the tip. You can't let them just throw it down there and catch it, but with your players and their players jumping for the ball there is a good chance it's not going to be a clean catch and then you have to be ready to handle the rebound. You certainly don't want to get penalized in that situation and put the ball on the one-yard line, to put the ball in the air on a DPI [defensive pass interference]. Doing all of that, knowing there's going to be contact and the football is going to be contested, but you've got to play the ball and not the man, again, so you don't end up with an interference call when you're not playing the ball.

Q: Some teams opt for shorter throws followed by a series of laterals to try and score on the final play from long distances. Do you have an idea, based on the field position or the opposing quarterback's arm strength, how you would like to defend those final plays?

BB: Yeah, that's exactly what we do, or try to do. Yeah, if the ball is too far away where the quarterback can't throw it to the end zone, then we still have to defend against a deep pass, but we have to be more aware of the multiple-lateral play as you described. Defending that is a little bit different than defending just a Hail Mary throw into the end zone. Yeah, if we knew for sure that's what it was going to be then we would defend it differently. On a play kind of like the one we had yesterday, maybe if it was a little bit further away and you weren't sure if they felt like they could throw the ball to the end zone or not, then you kind of have to be ready for both, which may or may not come out of the same formation. Sometimes there is a way to identify which one of the two plays it's going to be based on which way they line up or who they have in the game. We thought that's what they would do. That's why we put [Rob] Gronkowski in the game to defend that. So that's what we expected on that play, not the multiple-lateral play. But yeah, you have to be ready for both of them. Depending on where the ball is on the field and relative to the quarterbacks arm strength and that's probably - whichever one of those - it'll probably be one or the other and then you have to be ready for whichever one it is. As I said, a lot of time the situation will declare it one way or the other. Sometimes if it's gray then you might have to figure it out.

Q: For your defensive backs is there a balance when defending a scrambling quarterback between keeping their eyes on him coming out of the backfield but also keeping their eyes with the player he is defending?

BB: Well, it's not a short answer. It depends on the situation that's involved. But I'd say the main points are if its man-to-man coverage then you don't want to lose your man until the quarterback crosses the line of scrimmage, so you have to maintain your coverage on that man. If it's not man-to-man coverage then you have the same basic zone fundamentals that you have on any pass pattern. There are certain zone rules about who has who depending on what type of zone you're playing. Three-deep zone, two-deep zone and how the defenders are distributed, four under, five under, two deep, three deep, four deep. No defense is designed to give up a long play, so whether they scramble or don't scramble, you have to understand how you're going to take the receivers vertical when they go down the field when they go through the zone. Again, whether that happens on a scramble or on the designed play, you still have to have a way to defend it. Then that correlates in with the pass rush a little bit, too, as far as how to handle the scramble and how the zones move with the scrambling quarterback. It's a much longer answer than we have time for. I'd say there are some different components to it. There are some basic fundamental ground rules that we work from and then there are other components that vary a little bit based on, again, what coverage we're in, what formation they're in. As the play unfolds, then in zone coverage those responsibilities have to line up to the receiver distribution, again, whether they scramble or don't scramble.

Q: Did you receive any notification about why Stephon Gilmore was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct early in the second quarter?

BB: Are you talking about the play on the sideline?

Q: Yeah.

BB: What about it?

Q: It seemed like he hit the receiver in bounds.

BB: Yeah, it's a really close play. I haven't seen a TV replay on it. From the coaches film, which is a little further away than the TV shot - I don't know what the TV shot looked like - but from the coaches film it looked like he makes contact with [DeAndre] Hopkins while he's still in the field of play, while Hopkins still has at least one foot in the field of play, that back foot; maybe more. It's hard to tell exactly when he hits him. But yeah, it's pretty close.

Q: Were you encouraged by the resiliency of your team yesterday, both offensively and defensively?

BB: Yeah, I thought we battled for 60 minutes. It took all of it, all the way down to the last three seconds on the final play. The competitiveness of the team was evident. From a conditioning standpoint, we were able to compete for 60 minutes on a warm day. So yeah, those things were all things that the team, I think, were on the positive side. Like I said, we made some plays that were good, but didn't have enough consistency on offense or defense, like we need to have, like we feel like we should have. Playing all the way through the game, competing hard - we did that

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