HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
October 10, 2022
Q: Bill, we'll start with the first fourth down stop. I was curious, when you watched the play over, what did you see there that contributed to stopping them short of the sticks?
BB: Are you talking about those fourth-and-1 inside dive play, was that it?
BB: Good team defense, good penetration. Strong tackle. Drove the runner back. A lot of times on those plays, it's close. I mean they didn't need very much anyway and then it's kind of what happens after the runner gets to the line of scrimmage. Does the pile push forward? Does the runner fall forward or is the defense able to stand them up and move them back? Those guys up front did a good job. We closed in from the outside and kind of stopped his momentum and then we were able to kind of push him back there. Good team defensive play.
Q: And the same question on Jack's [Jones] interception? [Jahlani] Tavai is carrying-
BB: Yeah, it's a tough play. It's well designed, what they were doing. [Tom] Kennedy was going down the seam and he was about, I don't know, about 10 yards ahead of [T.J.] Hockenson and Hockenson was going down the sideline. It was what we call a double seam play where it's two guys going vertical, but they're at different levels. That's always hard on the defense. It's hard on the corner because if they're on the same level, he can midpoint both guys, but when they're on different levels like that, it's hard to do that. Jahlani [Tavai] made a really good play when the ball was in the air to close as much as he did, but Jack [Jones] just came off of Kennedy as the ball was being thrown. Saw the throw, came off of Kennedy and obviously made a tremendous play with the interception and then being able to get his feet down inbounds. Actually both guys, both Jahlani and Jack, played it very well. But, it's a good play, it's a tough play. Of course [T.J.] Hockenson is a tough guy to defend with those high throws like that was. He would have, I'm sure, gone up and gotten it for a touchdown if Jack hadn't been able to get his hands on the ball. Really heads up play or just a good play by Jahlani and by Jack, of recognizing that and then Jack's transition and ball skills, timing, jump, catch. It was an outstanding catch and to get his feet inbounds, I mean, he looked like a receiver doing that.
Q: You've often said that one of the best abilities is availability and yesterday you coached your 400*th* game here in New England, I'm just curious, I know you're probably focused on Cleveland, but is maintaining that longevity in one place, is that something that you take pride in?
BB: Yeah, absolutely. Sure. Going all the way back, great opportunity to be here in '96 and then Robert [Kraft] gave up a lot. It was hard to hire me in 2000 and gave up a lot in the trade with the Jets and all that, for me to come here. So that, in and of itself, was a great level of commitment and a blessing for me to have this opportunity. It's worked out pretty well since then, all the way around. Hopefully, we can continue to improve and keep it going. I didn't realize that, thanks for giving me that number. I didn't realize it had been 400. Doesn't seem like that. But, it's been just awesome to see so many players and coaches come through here. Come in as rookies, grow, develop into great players and have great careers. We've had a couple of the Hall of Fame inductions the last couple of years with [Richard] Seymour and [Vince] Wilfork, guys like that. Of course there were the other ones like Troy [Brown] and Kevin Faulk and those players that were already here when I got here. Ty [Law], guys like that, [Jerod] Mayo. All those guys that came in and were here. Then many of them now, [Matthew] Slater, [Devin] McCourty, people like that. To just watch them come in as rookies and just start from scratch and then develop and grow into some of the greatest players in Patriots history, some of the greatest players of all time. Certainly [Tom] Brady and [Matthew] Slater will go down in that category at their positions and for the game. Yeah, it's been an incredible number of years. Same thing with the coaches. All of the coaches that have come in here and have gone from quality control assistants, all the way up the ladder to coordinators and head coaches, other places in the league. I think back on that every once in a while and just kind of say, 'wow, I've been so fortunate to be able to work with so many great, great people.' Great coaches, great players, great people in the organization, personnel departments, Scott [Pioli], Nick [Caserio], I could go on here for days. Thanks for bringing it up, it's good to kind of reflect on it. You're right, probably time for me to start thinking about Cleveland.
Q: I want to ask you about a couple key playmakers on defense and the role that having those types of playmakers has. You've talked a lot about new guys that are structured and play significant parts within it, but having guys like [Matthew] Judon and [Kyle] Dugger, is that intracule to having a successful defense? Guys that can consistently make plays?
BB: Well, yeah, of course. They're both [Matthew Judon and Kyle Dugger] outstanding players in their respective positions. Whoever the playmakers are, your top players in whatever part of it is, offense, defense or special teams, of course you need those players and count on those players to come through, with impact plays. But, all that being said, especially on defense, you can't really control that. You can't control what play the offense is going to run or whether those players are going to have an opportunity. Ultimately, they will at some point during the game, but certainly from play to play, you don't know that. In some of the critical fourth down situations, things like that, you don't know which player it's going to be that's called on. Ultimately it comes down to team defense. When those opportunities come, you obviously hope that, whoever the player is, is able to make the right play and make the play that gets you off the field, or turns the ball over, or creates a long yardage situation, whatever it is. Ju's [Matthew Judon] a force on the end of the line of scrimmage, we know that. [Deatrich] Wise's [Jr.] done a really good job for us this year. He's been extremely productive. When you have one, having another one helps that player. I learned that at the Giants. Having Carl Banks help Lawrence Taylor more than anything. Lawrence Taylor was a great player before Banks, and with or without Banks, he was a great player, tremendous, greatest defensive player. But with Banks, he became even more of a force, because Bank's on the other side. [Deatrich] Wise on the other side. A little bit of the same thing at safety. When you have good safeties, multiple good safeties in our case, it's hard to get away from – when you get away from [Kyle] Dugger, you're going to [Devin] McCourty, when you're getting away from McCourty, you're going to [Adrian] Phillips. When you have that kind of balance at those positions, it definitely helps those players, because it's much harder for the offense to try to scheme or game plan getting away from one guy when there's another player that's being productive on the other side of it. Again, as good as both those guys are and as productive as they've been, and as much as I love both of them and they're very important to our team, having the balance at the other positions as I mentioned, does a lot for any good player, honestly. But, in the case of the two that you brought up, the other complimentary pieces there, just as I point out, I think they're important too.
Q: Just curious what you saw from Tyquan [Thornton] in practice and behind the scenes that made you confident he was ready to come off IR this past week and just how you think he handled his workload in his first game back?
BB: Tyquan's [Thornton] rehab was of course, all under the supervision of medical people and when he was cleared to practice and he was eligible to practice, which was this week, then he started doing that. We only had a couple practices this week, as you know, Wednesday was a pretty light day. I think each practice every day, and of course he had a lot in preseason, but each practice every day will help him. It's good to have him back out there. He's got a long way to go. There's a lot of things that he learned from yesterday that will be better next week in practice and hopefully be better next week in the game. He's a hard working kid, he's smart, he's got good versatility in the skills that he can do and has. But, long way to go. Just try to keep stacking days together here. I wouldn't expect anything to just happen overnight. Good progress, again, good guy to have as a receiver for our passing game. Glad we have him.
Q: Just wondering if you have any update on Ty Montgomery II, whether you expect him to return to practice this week?
BB: I do not expect him to return to practice this week.
Q: Jahlani Tavai has had a big role for you this year. I'm just wondering generally what you think of the way he's played so far.
BB: Jahlani's [Tavai] one of our most versatile players. Plays in all phases of the kicking game and then plays, as you know and have seen, on the ball and off the ball. Also has played in a lot of the third down passing situation groups, as you saw in preseason, less during the regular season. But certainly he's capable of that. So he's a player that's really played well in all those roles. But he has a multitude of things we have asked him to do defensively. It's given our defense some flexibility and versatility and that's valuable for the different offenses you have to match up against. For example, yesterday with the Lions, again, the best running team in the league, they ran some 13-personnel, they ran some 13-jumbo, [Matt] Nelson wasn't active yesterday. They used [Dan] Skipper in that role. So you go anywhere from 13-jumbo, to 11-personnel, to a lot of 12-personnel and 12 with Hockenson or without Hockenson. Detroit was an example of a team that created a lot of different groups and a lot of different types of defensive calls that we needed to defend them. Which hasn't been uncommon this year and probably the way it's going to be a big part of the year all season. Jahlani's a player that gives you some versatility to match-up to guys like that. One of the plays that Detroit ran was when they had 11-personnel on the field and they quickly subbed to 13 and ran that out there, to get our smaller players on the field if you will. Then bring the big guys in and run the ball. We handled that play pretty well for a short gain with our passing game people on the field against their running set. But I think that kind of speaks to the level of comfort we have and the flexibility we have defensively to play interchangeably through those types of situations. We have a number of players like that, but Jahlani is certainly one of them. He's a smart kid. Has done a good job for us. Again, to be able to have all those roles that comes with a player who's not only smart but also instinctive, and can be put in different positions from play-to-play from down-to-down and still react and function at a high level at multiple spots without us having to substitute multiple players on every play and then tell the offense what grouping we have in and what we're going to be. He's been great.
BB: Celebrating the Navy win?
Q: Big Navy win. Looked like the Navy offense of old
BB: Yeah I'll say. Did they hit 50?
Q: They did.
BB: Yeah they were rolling.
Q: Wish they could've banked a few of those points last week
BB: Yeah a couple other games. Right, right. I saw Joe [Cardona], he was in really good spirits as usual after that. So he gave me the heads up that things went well. So good.
Q: Yesterday in your post game remarks, you mentioned the coaches and the change in practice schedule. Just reference as well Wednesday being a pretty light day. Both Devin [McCourty] and Matthew [Judon] addressed it as well in their post game remarks. They both said they felt they were really locked in mentally this past week, in the walk-throughs, in their preparation, even in their conversations post-practice about the Lions and their roles. I'm curious when you manage a season, the feel you have to have of the balance between trying to prepare the team physically, take care of them physically but also hone in on the mental aspects of the game. What correlation you saw this week between one and the other?
BB: Well, that's a great question Bob [Socci]. I don't think there's any perfect answer to it. It's a judgment I have to make as the head coach. Whether they're right or wrong, who knows because we don't do the other one. But I think over the course of the season, as a head coach, you kind of get a feel for your team. It may not be the entire team, it may be what most of the team needs. So you have to sacrifice some of the other part of it for practice schedules, or meeting schedules, or time commitment, however you want to look at it, time management. We have so much time we want to try to use it as productively as possible. So those decisions on how to practice, or how long to practice, or how long to meet, or how long to allocate certain timeframes to different things are based on where our team is, who the opponent is and sometimes what I feel, and sometimes the staff will recommend that as well to me. Like 'here's what I think we need.' It may be different from week-to-week. A lot of times it is. So even though we have a general routine, which I think it's important to be on a routine, sometimes - look if you get knocked off the routine because of schedule changes on a Thursday night game or Monday that's something else too. But in just the regular routine, if you change it then I think you need to have a reason to change it. Last week, I just felt like that was the right thing to do. (I) talked to the players and talking to the staff as well, I think we all kind of felt like that. Players responded extremely well. I thought we tried to play hard and physical yesterday, which we need to do and continue to do. We'll just have to manage it from week-to-week. Our schedule is going to change a little bit coming up here in the coming weeks. But we're on another Sunday to Sunday week this week. So we'll talk about it here after the game, and try to figure out what's best for this one. But I thought the players - and when that happens, again, as you mentioned which is really important, when you do change the schedule the most important thing is that the players understand why it's being changed, what they have to do to make it work and then do it. I thought, again, that was really, the players did a great job of that this week. Our captains and our veteran players gave us a lot of leadership there, in terms of the way we handled it. That's really important. So they took the change and I thought, as you said and referenced, utilized that time to lock in and spend extra mental preparation time in the understanding of the Lions offensive, defensive, special teams systems, personnel and so forth. So when we did actually practice and then play, that that was reflected in the execution for a team that we really didn't know hardly at all based on the number of new players that they've had since the last time we played them. So I think really more than the schedule, the credit needs to go to the players for the way they handled it, the way they applied it and got the most out of it.