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Transcript: Bill Belichick Press Conference 1/6

Read the full transcript from Patriots head coach Bill Belichick's press conference on Friday, January 6, 2023.

HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK

Press Conference
Friday, January 6, 2023

BB: Alright, good morning.

Q: Good morning.

BB: How are things this morning?

Q: Good. What about for you?

BB: Good.

Q: How do you prepare the guys just for the range of emotions that they're going to expect to come this Sunday when they head to Buffalo with all that's going on?

BB: Everybody will have to individually process it like we've been doing. But expect it to be an emotional scene. In the end we're going there to play our best football game. So, I think everybody understands there's the balance and there's multiple things going on here.

Q: Can you relate this to anything? Like I know you guys came back after 9/11 and different things. Can you relate this kind of situation that you're going to be going to anything that you dealt with in your career?

BB: Yeah, I've had quite a few experiences. Everyone's different so control what we can control.

Q: How productive have the last two days of practice been? Have they felt like a good Wednesday, Thursday, like normal?

BB: Yeah. Every week's its own week. This week's certainly been a little bit different but everybody's getting ready to go. They are. We are. So, today's Friday. Start pulling things together here. Leave tomorrow and be ready to go on Sunday.

Q: Do you think some of the good news that's come out about Damar Hamlin is maybe helping players or the entire team just move forward a little bit?

BB: I think everybody's rooting for that, sure.

Q: Sean McDermott just shared several positive updates. Overnight they had the breathing tube removed. Is that, updates on Damar considering the emotional impact it has, anything you share with the team or players just to kind of find out as they go?

BB: We talked about it a little bit this morning.

Q: Has the league been in contact with you about any sort of pre-game ceremony to honor Damar or potentially any of the medical staff up in Buffalo?

BB: No, that really probably wouldn't come to me anyway. Not until later it doesn't. Whatever the pre-game schedule is, it is. I'm not sure.

Q: I guess just to follow up with that. If there is something like that as we expect there might be, and the fans in Buffalo don't need any reason to get excited about this football game in general, how might that be for your guys to keep their composure in light of the game?

BB: Yeah, I mean I don't even know what we're talking about. So, I can't even answer that.

Q: Do you anticipate Jake Bailey punting for the team this season?

BB: No, he's ineligible.

Q: Do you anticipate he might become eligible?

BB: His time period expired.

Q: It expired. Ok, I didn't know. Thank you.

BB: Yeah, nope.

Q: I know these are game-to-game decisions game play decisions, but I believe over the past five weeks you guys have played more snaps in zone coverage than any team in the league. Just at least over that period, what have you seen at least from the growth or development in that area from your defense?

BB: Yeah, I'm not really sure about those numbers. That would surprise me. Some teams don't play any man at all really. So, in a way they call it match zones, zones, or man. Honestly, I don't know what those stats are. So, we'll do what the best we can to defend Buffalo which they're a very talented offensive team. Great players, we'll do the best we can to defend them like we always do. So, whatever that is, it depends situationally what it is and who they have on the field and everything else. They're different personnel groups. So, I don't know. It's hard to tell.

Q: You've talked about Matthew Slater a lot. How grateful are you to have a player like him even during a week like this? How much have you just leaned on him during tough situations over the past decade or whatever?

BB: Yeah, a lot. Matt's a great person, great player, great teammate. It's about as close to perfect as you could get. So, he's been a great asset to me personally. Been a great asset to our team and organization on multiple levels. It's something I see every day. So, I don't think there's any day that he doesn't motivate, lead, provide an example for every one of us. Players, coaches, everybody's around him. So, yeah, it's been great this week. It's great every week. It's great every day. It's great in the OTA's. It's great in training camp. He and Devin [McCourty] have really over the last couple of years really stepped up. Even going back to the '20 season with Covid and all that. They've been monumental in their leadership, teamwork, support, you name it. Very lucky to have coached those two players. Throw Devin in there. I know the question was about Slater, but I'd throw Devin in there, too.

Q: Have you noticed the change just in the players yesterday afternoon? I think when guys started coming to the good news that came out it seems like it helped them refocus on the game, that you know Damar's going to be ok, that he's getting better. Did you notice a change, and do you expect that to go out to practice today, the guys have that lifted off their shoulder a little bit?

BB: Yeah, everybody has their own internal feelings and emotions on this. I can't speak for each individual player how they feel or anything like that. But both days we've had, the question Mike [Reiss] asked earlier. It's not normal but it's the Wednesday and Thursday practice. That's what it's been. I wouldn't say they're abnormal. I mean the circumstances are abnormal, but I'd say if you just look out on the field and didn't know whether it was January, whatever it is 5th, 6th, or October whatever. I don't know if you would see a lot of difference on what you would see on the field. I don't know if that answers the question or not.

Q: This hasn't been the easiest season for Jakobi [Meyers] from an injury perspective. But what can you say about the consistency that he's been able to bring despite dealing with some bumps and bruises along the way?

BB: Yeah, well he's a tough kid, mentally, physically. He's shown a lot of leadership and competitiveness like he always does. So, yeah, I'm glad we have him. Glad he's out there. I know he's had to fight through some things, so have a lot of other guys. But he's done a good job of that.

Q: Follow up on Matthew Slater, just from a performance standpoint, how high of a level is he playing at in your view?

BB: Good.

Q: A couple tackles in, drawing holding penalties. Does it look, I don't want to say it looks the same but similar?

BB: He gets double teamed on virtually every coverage play, with very few exceptions. Sometimes those are schemed to where we try to put him in a spot to where he doesn't get double teamed. But I think every week he's had the bullet on his back for years and years and years. Whether it's as a gunner on the vice or double team blocks on kickoff coverage. He's the guy that everybody pays a lot of attention to. To the benefit of other players, they get less attention. But I think when you see players at that level – different but literally he gets it on every play. Just like [Lawrence] Taylor got it on every play for the Giants. When you get that kind of attention and you're still able to be productive, that tends to put those players on a very elite level. Ok, alright. Thank you.

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