HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
VIDEO PRESS CONFERENCE
January 13, 2022
On Justin Herron:
BB: Like most of our players going from year one to year two, that first year's a lot of experience, much better understanding of what we're doing, what our opponents are doing, how different each opponent is with their physical skill set and technique. Like all of our second-year players, I really lump them all in together because it's pretty much the same conversation. Big growth from year one to year two, especially for those guys last year who had no spring, didn't have the foundation that they were able to have this year, and that was helpful for everybody obviously.
On Joejuan Williams:
BB: He's been in some different roles, depending on who else has been available, really, over the course of his three years here. At times, playing inside. At times, playing outside. We've shifted schematically a little bit in terms of probably our man-zone breakdowns and so forth. He's adapted to all those things, but it's been a little bit of a transition and he's had to plug in at times when we needed him as opposed to just really being able to stay in one spot. He's a smart kid. He's handled that, but that's kind of the way. It's a little bit different than a guy that's playing one position, like an offensive lineman.
On the importance of physicality in the playoffs:
BB: It's definitely a part of it. I think at this time of year, really every game, there are a lot of things that go into it. I don't think you can just say one thing is all there is. There's a lot. Offense, defense, special teams, the running game, the passing game, situational football, turnovers, penalties, field position, key plays, tackling, fundamentals, so forth. Anything could make a difference and everything will make a difference. It's really a combination of everything, but all those things that I mentioned, the physical part of it, they're all important, so you try to find the blend of the best combination of all those things that you can. That's what everybody is trying to do and certainly what we're trying to do.
On the league valuing smaller, faster players more now:
BB: I'm not sure. You'd have to talk to other teams about why they do what they do and so forth. I think, certainly, the linebacker position, on the edge, and inside, you see, relatively speaking, smaller, faster, players compared to five, 10, 15, 20 years ago, where you had bigger, stronger, more physical players. Defensive ends were true defensive ends, which there are still plenty of those guys, but there are other teams, Carolina, that have smaller, faster, explosive guys out there and linebackers that going anywhere now from 210-215 to 235. Then, you have some bigger guys out there, like the [Dont'a] Hightowers and guys like that, but there's still plenty of big defensive ends too. The Cam Jordans and guys like that, I would just say there was a time where it seemed like they were all like that. I don't think that's the case anymore.
On if Josh Allen's runs are more designed plays or scrambles:
BB: I'd say more called runs, Phil.
On if there are techniques you can teach players to tackle bigger quarterbacks:
BB: Look, that comes up anyway. Tight ends are big. There are some big backs. There are other backs that aren't as big, but certainly if a running back has got the ball, those are skilled runners. That's why they play that position, but there are plenty of big tight ends, just like there are some big quarterbacks, guys like Cam [Newton] and Josh Allen. Then there are other medium-sized guys, guys like [Carson] Wentz. I wouldn't call him small, but he's not as big as some other guys, or [Kyler] Murray, guys like that. They all come in different shapes and sizes, but I'd say the DBs have to deal with tackling big players, especially tight ends, as part of their normal games. Those guys get the ball, whether it's [Dawson] Knox, [Mike] Gesicki, [Durham] Smythe, or whoever we play. Everybody's got a tight end that looks kind of like, size-wise, in the Josh Allen range.
On the patience of the Bills offense moving down field:
BB: They've done a good job of that. Look, they're a good offense. They're well-coached. They have a good quarterback. They have good skill players. They have a good offensive line and they have an experienced offensive line. They're hard to stop. I think the key for us is, when we get them in third down, we've got to be able to convert on third down. If they convert on third down, then literally, you're out there all day. That's pretty much what happened in the second game. We had a number of third-down opportunities: third down and eight, nine, 10 yards. I would say there were too many of those that we had opportunities to get off the field on and we couldn't do it. Then, like I said, they stay out there and they get to the 3rd-and-1s, 3rd-and-2s, and 4th-and-1s. You know those are going to be hard. The percentages on those are a lot higher, but we didn't do a good enough job, collectively, as a coaching staff and as a team to get off the field on third down to get the ball back for our offense. You're right. If you can stay on the field, have possession plays, and have long drives, that's great. When you get into long-yardage situations, if you can't convert it, that all goes away. If you can convert it, then you kind of get off the hook on that 3rd-and-long play and you're able to go back and do what you were just talking about. When we get a chance to get off the field, either turn the ball over or get off on third down and take advantage of our turnover opportunities: interceptions or opportunities to punch the ball out, that kind of thing. You've got to take advantage of those. Like I said, we didn't. We weren't able to do that in the second game.
On the balance between containing Josh Allen in the pocket and also generating a pass rush:
BB: You hit the nail on the head. That's exactly what it is. It's rushing, but pass rushing with discipline and awareness. If you miss him and he gets loose, that's going to be a big problem. You just can't stand there and watch him throw. That's not the answer, but being undisciplined and just running around back there, letting him run, that's not the answer either. He's a hard guy to defend. We'll have to try to balance just what you said: aggressive rush with vision and an element of containment on him.
On what he has liked about Mac Jones personally:
BB: Same things that I've said. I like that he's consistent. I like that he's put a lot of time working and effort into football. I like the way that he provides leadership to his unit and the team, his unselfish attitude, and his work ethic to help the team. I don't know how anybody could not like that. I think we all do.
On Jakobi Meyers' blocking ability:
BB: He's certainly done his fair share of that and maybe a little bit more. I think that's something he learned early in his rookie year about the importance of that. He's come a long way. He's really improved in his technique and, also, there are a lot of different looks out there on the edge of the defense. The linebacker, corners, safety, locations, and where other players are located relative to them. Not just who to block, but how to get to him. Again, when you're blocking those players, they don't always just stand there. Sometimes, they try to shoot the gap. Sometimes, they try to play across blocks when you're blocking from the outside in. Sometimes, they just try to two-gap the blocker and play through him. Sometimes, they back up, the corner comes, and you have to figure out which guy it is that is actually the most dangerous guy to block. There are a lot of things that go on out there and I would say understanding that, doing the right thing, using the proper technique, and not getting penalized on low blocks, holding, and, sometimes, if a pass play is involved, when you're allowed to pick the player and when you're not, based on how far away from the line of scrimmage he is, that kind of thing. All that's part of it. It's part of the perimeter game that the defense has to defend and the offense tries to attack, so as I said, that's something he really, I don't think, did very much of before he got here. He learned a lot about how to do it, how important it is and, frankly, when you do that well as a receiver, then that creates a lot of opportunities for you in the passing game, because when you go in there to block, and they react to you, and it's a pass play, you're able to run past those defenders into open spaces that, if it was a dropback pass, you would never have that much space. You have to create it through the deception of the perceived running game by the defense. That creates a lot of opportunities, so players that do that like [Julian] Edelman or Jakobi, that can combine those two, there's some dirty work in there and there are some blocks, but then there's also the appearance of blocks that turn out to be pop passes, over routes, plays like that that you see the receivers come wide open on. It's because of the combination of the run and the pass conflict for the defense and Josh [McDaniels] doing a good job of making those plays look alike and calling them in situations and formations that are hard for the defense to differentiate between the two. It is. It's a lot of work and it's some tough plays that also create some opportunities that offset that. That's part of the nature of that position.