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Transcript: Bill Belichick Press Conference 1/24

Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday, January 24, 2018.

BB: Just real quick on the Eagles - obviously, a really good football team. I have a ton of respect for what they do, how they do it; Coach [Doug] Pederson on offense, Coach [Jim] Schwartz. I mean, they really have played well all year, have dealt with some things that really haven't gone their way injury-wise and had to make some adjustments. They've done a great job with that. They have a lot of explosive players. They can score on defense. They score a lot on offense. They're good in the kicking game, so they're really pretty good at everything, which is what you'd expect. That's why they're in this game. We've got a lot of work to do. Obviously, this isn't a team we know very well at all, and so we'll get the players in today and start grinding. I'm glad we have a little extra time on this game. I think we'll need it. They do a lot of things well and create a lot of problems. They've created them for everybody. That's kind of where we're at.

Q: How does having familiarity with Jim Schwartz's defense help at all with getting familiar with an uncommon opponent?

BB: Yeah, I mean, it's part of the start. Again, you look at a team overall and then you start breaking them down and then you get into the situational things that would come up. You take it step by step. Sometimes that doesn't fall into place until - everything doesn't fall into place until a little bit later after you are able to grind through the whole thing. Certainly it makes a little more sense each day, each time you cross a bridge, but there are a lot to cross and sometimes it takes a while to figure it all out. It's the same thing offensively. They have a ton of skill players. They run the ball. They throw it. They throw it deep, play action. They have a lot of misdirection plays. It's a great west coast offense, which we know the elements of that but, again, this is very unique with their players and so kind of where they were with [Darren] Sproles and how, obviously, they've moved off of that, so things like that. The quarterback situation, but whatever it is, they've continued to be very productive and very disruptive on defense. It's just a process. We're going through it. We're not there yet by any means.

Q: In your past Super Bowls your offense has never scored a point in the first quarter...

BB: Thanks, Mike [Reiss]. Yeah, all of the negative stuff in the Super Bowls we need to be aware of, too.

Q: How much do you look at that history this week and try to emphasize it to the team?

BB: Look, we try to score in every game. I know that's probably hard to understand, but we try to go out and score and keep the other team from scoring. That's our goal every game.

Q: Do you put in any extra time this week or change anything to highlight that as a point of emphasis?

BB: I mean, what's important is what happens this week against the Eagles. We're going to try and score. We're going to try and keep them from scoring.

Q: What have you seen from two of your former players, Chris Long and LeGarrette Blount, for the Eagles this season?

BB: Yeah, they've done a good job for them. Both guys have been productive, having good years along with a lot of other guys on the team; solid.

Q: What have you seen from LeGarrette Blount in relation to the other backs they utilize?

BB: Well, all of those guys are productive. They're all different and they're all very productive. They use them in different ways. Coach Pederson does a great job with the running backs, the tight ends, the receivers, just the overall offensive scheme of utilizing the skills and the players that he puts in there. But at the same time he does what they do well, but not in such a way that there's an overriding tendency where kind of the defense knows exactly what it is. He does a great job of balancing those things off and making it hard to - he gets a lot out of the players without you knowing exactly what it is until usually it's too late. But they use a lot of players on offense and they're all productive - the backs, the tight ends and the receivers.

Q: What makes the front four of the Eagles so unique? Is it the depth of that group?

BB: Yeah, it's a lot more than four. I wish it was just four. Yeah, it's about eight, nine. Again, it's a very disruptive group. They're hard to run against, hard to throw against. Again, they're well coached, very instinctive. Screens and plays like that that you think will take the edge off the pass rush don't look as good. When you run them they don't look as good as what you think they're going to look like - draws, screens, things like that, play action. A lot of times they blow those plays up, too. They do a good job. They've got a lot of good players. They have good inside rushers. They have good outside rushers. I mean, [Fletcher] Cox is as good as anybody in the league at his position. He's a very disruptive player, hard to block, run, pass, no matter what it is. They have good edge rush and they come hard every play. These guys really play hard. There's no plays off, so you're going to have to block them on every play. You can't get away from them. There's nowhere to go. You have to deal with that front down after down and they wear you down. It's a great group. That's a huge strength for their defense.

Q: You touched on the number of different players they utilize to move the ball on offense. Does this team force you to defend every area of the field and how difficult is it to prioritize the things you need to take away on defense?

BB: Yeah, that's exactly what they do. You've got to defend every blade of grass. There's no place that they can't get to. They get to everywhere. They get to it in a lot of different ways. Yeah, that's a big challenge for the defense. They'll run the ball in the A gap and they'll end up on the sideline, all of the places in-between. They do a good job of creating conflicts for the defense and that's difficult, too. When a guy gets a key and two different plays look like the same play and if he's right on one he's wrong on the other. A lot of those plays are read by the quarterback, so actually both plays are in play and then the quarterback makes a decision on what to do as he reads the defense, so you can't be right defensively is the philosophy there. There's a lot of that; yeah. They do a real good job of attacking every inch of the field.

Q: What do you remember from Danny Amendola when he was coming out of the league back in 2008 coming out of Texas Tech?

BB: Yeah, well, we missed on two guys there. Really, the light went on with Josh [McDaniels]. Josh was here. Josh had him in St. Louis and you saw a good player in St. Louis but you didn't see all the things behind the scenes that you kind of can see when you actually have the player on your team. Josh saw that and he made us aware of all the things that Danny does and how well he does them, what his skills were and so forth. That's kind of when it started and then of course once we got him here all of that became evident to everybody who works with him.

Q: Can you give us an update on Rob Gronkowski? Has he finished his time in the concussion protocol and you expect him to play?

BB: Yeah, we'll be compliant with the NFL injury report. When that's required, we'll put it on there.

Q: When is that process completed or finished?

BB: Whatever his situation is, whatever his status is, we'll put it on the injury report. We'll make sure you're the first one to get it.

Q: I'm sure you will.

BB: Yeah, not a problem.

Q: Do you expect him to play?

BB: We'll put it right on the injury report and that's what we're going to do, just like everybody else does. We'll make sure you're first on the list, too. I don't want to hold anything back here. We'll get that out there right away. That's all we can do.

Q: What did you see from Dion Lewis early in his career and what is to credit for his extended production over the course of this season?

BB: Yeah, a similar situation to Danny. Dion was very productive at [University of Pittsburgh]. We all saw that. He went to Cleveland, got off to a fast start, got injured, missed most of whichever year that was and, again, it was Mike Lombardi. Mike was here. Mike was with him. He saw him and the same thing that I just talked about with Danny with Josh, Mike saw that at Cleveland. We signed him as a future player and that's, again, when you see somebody on the practice field on a daily basis and you're around them, you know a lot more about them, especially a player like Dion who you didn't get to see on the field a lot. What you saw was good, but it just wasn't very much. When somebody's on the inside like that, you know a lot more about the player than what you do just seeing him on however many snaps he gets on Sunday afternoon, which in Dion's case wasn't very many. They were good, but they were just minimal.

Q: Do you emphasis the tape on Nick Foles since he is now their starter or do you go back and take some of the tape from when Carson Wentz was their quarterback before his injury?

BB: Yeah, well, both. The offense is the offense. I think certainly in Philadelphia's case they didn't change the offense when they changed quarterbacks, which you wouldn't expect them to. But Foles is Foles and Wentz is Wentz, so you want to make sure that you are ready for the guy that's going to play, but certainly there are a lot of things offensively that are scheme related and the other players haven't necessarily changed, so looking at other players besides the quarterback. They're productive in every game. They move the ball and score points in every game. There are great opportunities to study the team in those games, too, so both.

Q: What has James Harrison been able to give your team in the few weeks that you've had him?

BB: James has been great, really professional, works hard. There are a lot of things that we do that are different from what he's done in the past, but he's adjusted very quickly. I give him a lot of credit for that and has tried to learn and do everything that we've asked him to do to the very best of his ability. You can't ask for any more than that. When you're in a system for as long as he's been, there are a lot of things that are habits that get ingrained, which they should be. Some of those things carry over. Some of them kind of don't. He's done a great job of trying to separate them and do what we've asked him to do. He's given us a really solid level of play, but every play he's into it, whether he's in the game, in practice, on the field, or on the sideline, getting the call, mentally processing the play, meetings, film, walkthroughs, all of those things. This guy is a professional. He's into football. He's into his job and wants to do it well. I 100 percent totally respect that. That's what you want from everybody.

Q: You gave the example of leaning on somebody like Josh McDaniels to find out what you may not know about a guy you didn't have experience with like Danny Amendola. How often do you try to utilize your connections throughout the league to learn a little bit more about guys like that who you may not have familiarity with off the field?

BB: Well, you try to find out whatever information you can. Sometimes that's sources in college. Sometimes it works out to be other sources in the NFL. When I've changed teams in the past, you take the information and the knowledge of the players that you have with you. I haven't been anywhere but here for a long time, so I don't really know what anybody does anywhere else. We've had a few coaches on our staff, like Mike, like Josh, those two examples, where they had been with other teams and seen other players, so maybe somebody coming onto your staff can do that. Scott [O'Brien] when he came from Denver or Joe [Judge] when he came from Alabama and the SEC, so you get that occasionally. But by in large, most of us have bene here like Matt [Patricia], Brian [Flores], Dante [Scarnecchia]. We haven't seen any other team, only the ones we've practiced against. That knowledge base is limited. If you get it from somewhere else, then you get it. If you don't, then you go with what you have and do the best that you can.

Q: Would you say the chance to win a Super Bowl is the only thing on this earth that could get you in front of the media and inside the Mall of America at the same time?

BB: That's probably a pretty good analysis; yeah.

Q: What does it say about the Eagles staff that they've been able to sustain so many injuries and yet be able to continue to ascend over the course of the season?

BB: Yeah, they've done a great job. As I've said, they've dealt with a number of situations on both sides of the ball. Even a player like [Ronald] Darby, who's back but missed half the year, whatever it was. They've had things like that that they've had to make adjustments to. Look, every team in the league goes through something. We've had it. Every team we've played against has had it. But the Eagles have done a great job with it and they've continued to play very good football in all three phases of the game and they've played at a very high level, so you've got to give credit to everybody - the people who put the staff together, the roster together, the staff, the players and just the consistency that they've shown. They've been wire-to-wire. They've bene the top team in the league from opening week to here we are down to the final competition. Give them a ton of credit. I have a ton of respect for that organization, for Jeff [Lurie], what they've done. Obviously, Doug, Jim, who I know well. Jim's a great coach. He's done a great job with that defense. The players - they play hard, they're tough. I have a lot of respect for them.

Q: Would you consider Patrick Chung one of the most versatile defensive backs in the league and when did you realize you could utilize him in so many different roles?

BB: Yeah, I think he's very versatile defensively and in the kicking game. He has a lot of skills. I mean, we recognized it when we had him the first time when we drafted him. We took the guy in the second round, but it just - for a combination of reasons - I'd say a big part of it [being] mistakes that I personally made. It didn't work out the way that we hoped it would, but we got it right the second time. I think we've been able to utilize him. I wish we had been able to do that when we initially got him, but it didn't work out that way. Like I said, I think we finally got it right.

Q: How much did the addition of Duron Harmon allow you to get it right with Chung the second time around?

BB: Well, Duron does a great job in his own right. I don't think he needs anybody else and, in the end, I don't really think Pat Chung needs anybody else. He just needs to be able to have an opportunity to do what he does very well and he's done that. But, look, the fact that you have multiple players at that positon who are very high quality players and are smart, instinctive players that communicate well, so that's Devin [McCourty], Duron, Pat, Jordan [Richards]. All of those guys, really, it doesn't matter who's in there. We're very confident with all of them and what their role is. They can all do a lot of different things. That gives us some interchangeability and some flexibility, so it's been a huge luxury. We've been able to maintain that group, the consistency of that group, including Nate [Ebner] even though he's not on the roster right now, the active roster, but his role that the consistency that we've had from those four, call it five guys including Nate, the last three-plus years has been great. It's hard to get in this league. That's the way it was back when I was with the Giants when you had the same guys for six, seven, eight years in a row. You had a different level of consistency, and performance, and confidence and trust in each other that the way the game is now just it's hard to get that. You get it in a few spots occasionally, but there was a different point in time where that was kind of the norm, and the teams you played against, it was a lot of the same matchups. But we've been very fortunate at that positon. Those guys are durable. They're tough. They show up every day. They're ready to go every day and they perform well. Pat's done a great job for us in a lot of roles and so has Duron, so has Devin, so has Jordan to a lesser degree but his time will come and so has Nate. It's been a real luxury.

Q: After Dion Lewis' fumble last Sunday, some of the first people to come over and encourage him were defensive staffers and the special teams coach. How much of that is a byproduct here where it's preached that the game is three phases, 63 players and one team?

BB: Yeah, that's a great question, Bob [Socci]. It's an interesting dynamic because when you start in training camp everybody's on the team but everybody's not on the team. You have very competitive situations between especially the offense and defense, guys trying to make the team, guys trying to compete for playing time and you earn that by competing against your teammates, against each other. There becomes kind of a competitive rivalry that I wouldn't say brings the team together necessarily because that's the nature of the competition. At some point once your team gets settled, there's still a competitive aspect to it but then it separates to coming together at those moments in the game or in other team moments that the team goes through. I think that just speaks to the maturity of the team, not just the players, but the coaches and the other support people, the entire organization of finding the right time to do the right thing. There's time to go out on the field, which we'll have those this week. We had them last week where those guys will battle each other and they'll go back and forth. There will be some emotional competition on the field and then there will be other moments, maybe like the one you described where it comes together a little bit differently, and so some of that is timing, some of that is judgement and certainly a lot of it is character and leadership by the individuals involved. But it's a balance and it changes. It's not always the same. Sometimes the competitive side takes over. Sometimes the passionate side takes over. Sometimes you're in the middle and it's a long season and there's a time and a place for all of them, and there's also a wrong time and a wrong place for all of them, too. It's an interesting dynamic that changes with every player, with every team, with every situation, but hopefully it can be more on the positive side at the right time. It's a great question, though. It really is.

Q: How far in advance does the scouting department begin to look at potential NFC opponents and in this case the Philadelphia Eagles?

BB: Well, first of all, we cover every team. There isn't a team in the league that isn't covered by the pro personnel department because in a fairly short amount of time in a couple of months, we'll be into free agency and there will be players form every team in free agency, so you can't neglect a team, their roster and their composition, which includes scheme and coaching staff and so forth, because there's a lot of ways that the team comes together. Every team is covered in the league and then as things narrow down we know who our opponents are for 16 games. When we get into the playoffs then we can start to narrow that down at some point - Week 14, 15, 16 - whatever it is, and then our scouting department puts a little different focus on those teams and probably some of the people that have those teams during the regular season for eventual free agency or if a situation were to come up, say a player was released off another team, like Kenny Britt for example, when he was released from Cleveland. Even though we don't play Cleveland, we still do Cleveland somewhere in the organization. As it narrows down, then we start to look to the teams that potentially we could face. Again, we're not into the NFC for two games, so our first focus is the AFC and then at some point in that process as we already have gotten Jacksonville after they got to the AFC Championship Game, we got to the AFC Championship Game, then we started to turn to the two NFC teams. That's kind of progressional.

Q: When Chris Long went to free agency he said he was interested in a new role in a different defense. What have you seen from him in a new role with the defense for the Eagles?

BB: Yeah, I think his defensive role is similar to what it was when was with the Rams. Chris has a lot of good skills, but his overall skill set and experience is probably more in - it definitely is more in the system that he's in than it was in our system, which is closer to the system that he played in with the Rams. He did a great job for us. Look, there was no better teammate or guy that tried to embrace the program than Chris, but in the end he probably has a better fit there for his skills and for this point in his career than maybe we had for him. I understand that. He probably made a good decision. He probably did. Not that it wouldn't have worked out here. I'm not saying that or maybe it couldn't have worked out here. I don't know. It certainly has worked out well for him there, just like it worked out well for him here last year. I'd say that's one of the benefits of free agency, is it gives players opportunities and teams to find the right guy for the right situation, put guys on your roster that you need or if a team has an excess of players at a certain position then it gives those players an opportunity to go somewhere where there's a better opportunity for them. We saw that when I was with the Giants. We had a lot of depth at linebacker. We had guys that didn't play at linebacker because of the players ahead of them, not because they weren't good players, that had there been free agency they probably would've played somewhere else. That's one of the reasons why free agency was talked about and advocated and I think that's one of the benefits of free agency. It's worked well for players like that to give them options. If the team and the player make the right choice then it works out well.

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