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Transcript: Bill Belichick Press Conference 1/5

Read the full transcript from Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick's press conference from Wednesday, January 5, 2022.


January 5, 2022

BB: It'd been impressive watching the Dolphins here. They'd won seven of the last eight. Generally, played really good football. Tennessee wasn't their best game, but overall, this has been a pretty impressive stretch. They played solid in all three phases of the game, getting contributions from everybody. Offensively: the running game, passing game, receivers, tight ends, backs, quarterback. They're pretty healthy. The offensive line has been consistent. Defensively, big front, mix in multiple coverages, change the looks around there, make it hard on the offense, make it hard on the quarterback and the offensive line, in terms of identifying what they do. Good punt-rush team. You always have to be ready for some type of deceptive play. They had a really impressive second half of the season. It's a good challenge for us this week.

On Miami running RPOs:

BB: I think they run more of them than anybody we've seen. We saw it a lot from them in the first game. We saw it from Philadelphia in preseason and they pop up from time to time, but there's definitely a lot more from Miami. Just plays that we'll have to play properly obviously, depending on what we're in and which version they run. They mix it up quite a bit. They run the same plays, but they run them from different personnel groups, different formations. They build them differently. They usually don't just sit there and let you see what you're going to get and then play it. They create it different ways, so that you don't really recognize it until the last second. They do a good job. They run a lot of them and we'll see how we handle it.

On Rhamondre Stevenson:

BB: Rhamondre has improved a lot. He only had one year at Oklahoma. I think he picked up a lot there, but he's just continued to develop in all areas: running, pass protection, blitz pickup, just overall patience in the running game, decision making, ball security. He's worked really hard. Give the kid a lot of credit. He's been asked to do a lot of things and he's put in the extra time, really embraced the coaching and the detail that he's gotten, tried to execute it, and has improved tremendously. I think he's earned everyone's respect for his work ethic and his willingness to help the team in any way he can.

On Jerome Baker:

BB: He's fast. He's quick. He's played a couple of different positions for them. He's played inside. He's played a little bit more outside, blitzed, and been in coverage. He's got good instincts, good anticipation, recognizes things quickly. He's fast, little bit undersized, but certainly makes up for it with his anticipation, getting ahead of some plays. He's a good blitzer and covers a lot of ground in pass coverage, blitz, man, or zone. He's done a really good job for them and has shown quite a bit of versatility in his skills.

On the balance between pass rush and tackling:

BB: Tackling is really the most important component of any defense and any defensive player. If you can't get the guy with the ball to the ground, then it's probably going to be a long day. It's important and, of course, if you bring, as you mentioned, more people in pressure, you've got fewer people to tackle, so catch-and-run plays, one missed tackle, you could have a problem there. The Dolphins are a good tackling team. They bring a decent amount of pressure and they definitely know what they're doing, how to bring it, disguise it, and complement it with other calls, so you don't always know exactly what you're getting there, but they're a solid defensive football team and, certainly, just like most teams, if they get you in long yardage, they have a lot of options and they can make life miserable. The more you can stay out of those situations and make them deal with everything, the better off you are. There are a lot of situational aspects that play into all that, but if they can create those situations, they have a big advantage and vice versa. You can negate them by not being in them a lot. 

On how to approach the last game of the season:

BB: Try to just stay on track with what we've been doing. I think when we had good weeks of preparation, practice, energy into the game, mindset, however all that comes together, we've been a lot better than when we haven't. We're going to just try to build that consistency. It's a good opportunity. Obviously, Miami is a good football team and we know them well. They know us well. We haven't played each other all year, but, overall, there's a lot of familiarity between the two teams. It'll be a good opportunity for us to try and hone in on our fundamentals, our execution, and our communication. Worry about next week next week.

On Dan Reeves:

BB: I always had a good relationship with Dan. He was at Denver when I was in Cleveland. Of course, he was at Denver when I was with the Giants, going back to Super Bowl XXI, but I didn't have a lot of relationship with him there. It became more when I was a head coach and then when he went from there to the Giants. I always had a good relationship with Dan. Dan had a tremendous career. I don't know of anybody, or not many anyway, that you could really stack up with what Dan did as a play. He was a tremendous player. He was a very important assistant coach on those Dallas teams with Coach [Tom] Landry and then he went on to have a head coaching career in the National Football League. From start to finish, at all three levels, and I know assistant coaches don't really get a lot of recognition when you start talking about Hall of Fame and things like that, but when you look at Dan's career, I don't know how you could have accomplished much more than what he did on all three levels. When you put the whole body of work together, honestly, I think you could put it up there with just about anybody. Player, coach, when you combine it all, he might not have been the greatest player that ever played or the greatest coach that ever coached, or greatest assistant coach, but he was very, very successful at all three for a long, long period of time with just tremendous success. I recognize that as just one fantastic career that, as I said, I don't know how many others you could put in that category. Dick LeBeau maybe, but to me, it's that level of accomplishment all in the National Football League, besides a great college career at South Carolina. I kind of reconnected with Dan after we drafted David Andrews. I kind of stayed in touch with Dan through David and vice versa. I had some contact with him a little more recently after he had retired from coaching.

On Miami's ability to blitz:

BB: I think Josh [McDaniels] put it well [knowing and sticking to your rules]. They can bring pressure, but they can also not bring pressure. We've played games against them where the game was almost exclusively three-man rush and we've played games and seen games, like the Baltimore game this year, where they bring in max pressure in the ballpark of, call it, 20 times. Then, we've seen them in between, where it's a little bit of this, a little bit of that, some blitz-zone, some blitz-man, some man-to-man, some zone, and I'd say that they've, over the course of the season this year, from where they finished last year and where it looked like they started this season, that they've added more variety to their defensive play calling: more zone, more blitz-zone, some safety blitz pressure that they've added. They're a gameplan team and you have to be ready for a lot of things. We'll just have to see what we get, but I think it'd be a mistake for us to sit here and practice every snap of max pressure or every snap of three-man rush. It could be any of those and it could come in different quantities, depending on how much success they're having with it too. We'll have to be ready for all of that. I'd say, at this point in the season, we've pretty much seen everything. There are not a lot of things we haven't seen, like, "OK, this has never come up before." That's not what we're talking about. In terms of handling it, making the right communication, making the right decisions, and following our rules, as Josh said, that's absolutely the case and I'd say we've had that situation come up more than a few times this year. It's been interesting how that's worked itself out. Jacksonville is another high-pressure team. Last year, their pressures were a little bit different than Miami's because most of theirs out of four-man line. Miami's more of an odd-spacing team. Regardless, it's still kind of the same concept of "You've got to make sure that you've got a hat on a hat. You've got everybody picked up and, if you don't, you'd better know what your outlets are in the passing game. In the running game, it's the same thing. When they pressure from the outside, that usually involves some type of interior line movement. If you can anticipate that, that can really help you in the running game. If you can't and get surprised by it, then that creates a problem too.

On how the Patriots have handled the blitz this year:

BB: Overall, I wouldn't say it's been a major problem this year. I think we've handled that pretty well, but there's always room for improvement and every game's different, so how it matches up this week and, again, as I said, these guys do a little more odd pressuring than some of the teams… we've really been four-man line teams here for the last, I don't know, six, seven, eight weeks, whatever it's been. It's been a lot. So now we're into a little bit of a different look here and we'll have to make sure we're straight on all that too. We'll see.

On how the Dolphins use Jaelan Phillips:

BB: They use him on the edge. He's an edge player. He's a very athletic player, but big and strong. Very explosive. Fast. Explosive. Strong. He's done a good job for them. Again, he brings pressure from the outside. They have some inside, either blitzes or guys like [Christian] Wilkins in there that kind of complement each other, so some inside pressure and some speed off the edge, but yeah. He's been a guy that's done a good job for them. [Jevon] Holland and a couple of young guys on the defense that they've added have definitely helped them.

On what he learned about Mac Jones after being blitzed by Miami in Week 1:

BB: Again, it's really team execution. One guy can't handle a blitz by himself. You've got to have receivers doing the right thing. You've got to have the pass protection working together. The quarterback's got to know who the protection has, know who they don't have, get the ball out accordingly, and see the roaming players that are in a blitz-zone or that drop out in a man-blitz, that kind of thing. The biggest thing from the first game is that we have to do a better job, obviously, in the red area. We have to do a better job of ball security, offensively. If we're going to score points, then we're going to have to do those things better. We'll see how it goes this week, but that's really the big challenge against Miami. They do a good job of not giving up a lot of points and we're going to have to work harder to score.

On how hot they can make it while practicing inside the fieldhouse:

BB: I don't know. Not as hot as it'll be in Miami.

On why they decided to practice indoors today:

BB: There were a number of factors involved. We'll be in there today and we'll see what tomorrow brings.

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