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Transcript: Bill Belichick Press Conference 1/9

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick spoke to the media at Gillette Stadium on Tuesday, January 9, 2018.

BB: Alright, well, we've really been able to dig into Tennessee here the last few days since Sunday night. Obviously, we did work on them last week but once things cleared up Sunday night it's all in on Tennessee. It's an impressive football team. They do a lot of things well. They're a very well-balanced team. They're strong in all three phases of the game, really good in the kicking game. They have outstanding specialists. [Brett] Kern's as good as any. He's had an unbelievable, fabulous year punting. They have good coverage players, good returners. [Adoree'] Jackson's done a good job for them in the return game. He's given them some explosive plays. [Ryan] Succop's had another great year kicking the ball, so they're really strong in that phase of the game. Offensively, a well-balanced team, good running game, good runners. The quarterback is athletic, a lot of big play receivers. [Delanie] Walker's outstanding. They have a lot of explosive players at the receiver position - [Rishard] Matthews, [Eric] Decker, [Taywan] Taylor - that whole group. A good offensive line, experienced guys. They play very well. They do a good job of attacking the defense in a lot of different ways. They give you a lot to defend, a lot of scheme, good players. Defensively, Coach [Dick] LeBeau is as good as there is, as good a defensive coach as there is. He has an outstanding scheme, does a good job of in-game adjustments. They're very aggressive. They turn the ball over. They have very good edge players. They have good inside players. Their linebackers run well, turn the ball over. [Kevin] Byard's had a tremendous year for them, but they have a lot of strip fumbles, strip sacks, interceptions. They have a variety of ways to turn the ball over and they've done a good job of that all the way across the board. This is a team that's been in a lot of close games. They're tough, they're resilient, won on the road, won tough games the last two weeks that they needed to win to be here. I have a lot of respect for their program, the way they play, the way they coach, the way they compete and [they're] a tough, hard-nosed team. We've dealt with some non-Tennessee subjects here over the last few days. At this point I'm all in on Tennessee. I'll answer any questions about the Titans but that's it.

Q: Is Marcus Mariota's toughness and heart more than evident than perhaps you would see in the regular season?

BB: Look, we expect to get everybody's best every week and we're certainly going to get everybody's best in the playoffs. There's nothing to save it for. It's a one-game season. Whatever you've got at this point in any capacity you have it - player, coach, scheme - there's nothing to save it for. So, everybody's going to do their best and put their best out there. I think you've got to be ready for everything and anything at this time of year, but you better be ready to play and coach and execute your best football. We know we need to have our best game Saturday night. That's what we're pointing for. That's what we're working towards. That's what we're preparing for. Hopefully, we can do that.

Q: What have you seen from the Titans and Mariota in particular with their resiliency to bounce back from deficits to win games?

BB: Yeah, just what I said. They're tough. They're resilient. They make a lot of key plays at critical times. That includes a lot of people. Their running game; they've had some big runs to ice games at the end - the Houston game, the Indianapolis game, run the clock out, run for long touchdowns. Mariota's done a great job for them running the ball, throwing the ball, managing the team. They've made big stops on defense, made big kicks, so they've played well in critical situations. That's why they're here.

Q: You mentioned yesterday that the 2015 game versus Tennessee would have no relevance to this week's game...

BB: I wouldn't say no relevance. I'd say very little.

Q: How is it different preparing for a team that you really haven't seen very recently?

BB: Well, I mean, we go through that with half the season. We play four NFC teams and we played a variety of teams in the AFC that we haven't played in a couple of years, like we did this year with Oakland - teams like that - [Los Angeles]. It is what it is. Some teams you are familiar with because you play them in your division or you play them kind of annually like we have with Denver and Pittsburgh and teams like that. Then there's other teams that you don't. Like I said, probably half of our season has been that way and half of our season hasn't.

Q: What have you seen from Logan Ryan this year? Is he playing more outside in their base defense and inside in their nickel defense?

BB: That's exactly it. He had a really good year. I think he missed Week 15. I think that was against the Rams, but he was back and came back last week, or two weeks ago and then last week. Logan's a tough kid, a really competitive kid, a smart player, does a really good job with communication, adjustments. He's right in the middle of the action in his nickel position. But, he's a solid player. He's played well for them. I have a lot of respect for Logan.

Q: Is there anything to the fact that he practiced against this offense when he was a Patriot?

BB: Again, we can talk about that every week. Josh Kline - there's somebody every week we go through that with. We have their guys, they have our guys. It's the National Football League. I mean, that's what it is. This isn't college. This is the National Football League. Players change teams. So do coaches, so do front office people.

Q: How important is Jurrell Casey to what they want to accomplish up on the defensive line?

BB: He's a great player. He does a good job, very active, strong in the running game. He's not a real long guy but he plays with great leverage. He's got very good quickness. He's a disruptive player. He's quick enough to get up field and get the edge. He's explosive and powerful enough to knock guys back, so he can win with his quickness, win with his strength, win with his power. He's a smart player, very instinctive, reads screens and misdirection plays, things like that, well. He's a hard guy to fool. He diagnoses plays well and he's a very good player. He plays hard, gets a lot of plays in pursuit, chases things down, but he hustles from the backside. He's not really out of any play. You've got to block him all the way through the play.

Q: Does he pretty much always play on the right side of their defensive line for them?

BB: Yeah, or left. I mean, in nickel they have some different fronts when they get into their sub defense, especially on third down. They move guys around. Sometimes the ends are inside in odd fronts, but in their nickel defense he's primarily on our left. In their base defense then he plays primarily on the left end.

Q: In preparing for Tennessee did you address any of those non-Tennessee subjects that you just mentioned to the team?

BB: Yeah, we're on Tennessee.

Q: How does Wesley Woodyard complement what Casey is able to do on the defensive side of the ball?

BB: Well, Wesley's a good player. He rarely comes off the field. He plays in the base defense and then moves really to 'Mike' when [Avery] Williamson comes out and [Jayon] Brown comes into their sub defense, or he's the only linebacker if they go dime. They're not a big dime team but when they do it. [He's] a very active player, a good blitzer. He's had a lot of production rushing the passer this year on both combination blitzes and just some one-on-one opportunities where he's beat the back, beat the protection, guards in some cases. [He's] fast, athletic, causes a lot of negative plays. He's had quite a few tackles for loss. I forgot how many it is but I think it's probably in the double digits. He has a lot of range, a good coverage player, so he's a good coverage player, good blitzer, active in the running game. He does a really solid job for them, gives good speed to their defense. Their outside linebackers really play more like defensive ends. They're rushers, edge setters, power players on the line of scrimmage, the inside linebackers, whether that's Woodyard on every play and then some combination of Williamson and Brown. Those guys are fast, athletic coverage players that blitz some but they're involved in more coverage situations.

Q: Would it be fair to say that at age 31 he's having arguably his best year?

BB: No question. He's had a great year. He's had a career year. Again, he's done it in every area of the game. He's tackled, he's made plays in the running game, he's rushed the quarterback, made plays there, hits on the quarterback and tackles for loss, sacks. He's been a very productive pass defender or end and tackler in their blitz-zone schemes and all of the coverages that they play. Coach LeBeau has a lot of different coverages but certainly blitz-zone schemes put a lot of pressure on the inside linebackers. They have to cover more space with fewer guys and he does a very good job with that. He's very instinctive. He recognizes things well and he's athletic and he can get to a lot of plays.

Q: What have you seen from Brian Hoyer in his return to the organization and his ability to run the scout team?

BB: Good. It didn't take him long, a couple of days. He worked hard, got back up to speed on some of the new terminology and so forth. Brian gives us a great look every week for the opposing quarterback and not just the way the quarterback plays but the overall style of play of the offense, no huddle or audible at the line or whatever things they do that are the characteristics of that team. He does a good job of recreating those for our defense and trying to make our defense defend what they're going to see on game day. He does an excellent job of that. He's a great teammate, great worker for the defense, but he's been ready to go in there and play if he needs to at his position. He works very hard at preparation there. He's been impressive. It's good to have him back.

Q: What makes preparing for a playoff game different than preparing for regular season games throughout the year?

BB: Well, it's a one-game season. This is what you work for, is to get to this position. Now we're in it. Now you put everything that you have into this one-game season. We have one game left against the Titans. We have to play better than they do to be able to continue playing. That's a huge challenge. Obviously, every team that's playing, I mean, there are eight teams left. All eight of them are good teams. Every team is good at this time of year. There's a reason why they're here. They've earned their way here. There's no other reason why you're playing this weekend unless you've earned it. We've earned it, the Titans have earned it and I'm sure it'll be a very competitive game. They got a great football team. I can see why they're here. They're good, as I said, in all three phases of the game. They're well coached. They're a solid team. They've played under pressure. They've won under pressure. They've won on the road. They've had a good year and they've got a good team, so we're going to have to be at our best. We know that.

Q: What have you seen from Malcolm Mitchell in his return to the practice field?

BB: We see him out there trying to get back into practice and do the things he's asked to do.

Q: How is that going? He seems to have a lot of ground to makeup.

BB: Exactly. That's the way I would characterize it.

Q: Is Dick LeBeau still using his old defense from Pittsburgh when he was there?

BB: Well, I think the foundation of Coach LeBeau's defense is the foundation of Coach LeBeau's defense. Like any good coach he modifies it based on his personnel and the team that he's facing and the challenges that he's got to meet. That's what I would expect him to do. That's what he's done.

Q: You mentioned that you felt fortunate that you've had time to spend with him over the years. How does that come about despite not ever coaching together?

BB: Yeah, it's just a couple of opportunistic meetings, mutual friends, things like that.

Q: Did you watch the college football national championship last night?

BB: Yeah, I did. I didn't want to stay up that late, but I couldn't pull myself away from it. What a football game. Two great teams, a great game, just a tremendous football game. I'm happy for Coach [Nick] Saban, Coach [Brian] Daboll, all of the people at Alabama. A great competitive effort from Georgia and Coach [Kirby] Smart and his staff. Yeah, it was a great football game.

Q: Were you pleased to see how well Brian Daboll did as an offensive coordinator throughout the game?

BB: Yeah, I mean look, again, it took a little time to see the finish of the game. I didn't see the whole game but I saw the end of it. But, honestly, most of my time here is where it needs to be, is getting ready for Tennessee, so that's where we're at.

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