PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
BB: Alright, well I think it's fortunate that we've had a couple of extra days here to work on Kansas City. They're obviously a really good football team, do a lot of things well. We need a lot of extra time to prepare for this team. They give you a lot of problems with their scheme, their players. They're very well-coached, as they always are with Andy [Reid]. Just a very explosive group. It's easy to see why they're undefeated. This will be a big challenge for us this week. We'll have to do a lot of things well and do them consistently, do them for 60 minutes. That's what this week is about for us, playing good football, 60 minutes of it. That's what it'll take.
Q: Do you feel like you're paying for the top seed in the AFC this week?
BB: I feel like we're playing Kansas City.
Q: Does it seem like the stakes are higher for this game?
BB: It feels like we're playing Kansas City.
Q: Has there ever been a quarterback this young who has been as successful as Patrick Mahomes II outside of the pocket?
BB: There's been some pretty good quarterbacks now.
Q: What makes Mahomes such a good quarterback?
BB: He's a good player. He's got a lot of good players around him. He's got a good system. He's got a good team, a good coach, a good offensive line. He's got a lot of skill players. They're very efficient. They can run it. They can throw it, big plays. Tight ends, backs, receivers, quarterback - they're a very explosive group.
Q: How do you balance trying to jam a receiver like Tyreek Hill versus conceding space to him, knowing that his speed can burn you for 10 or 15 yards every play?
BB: You hope it's 10 yards. He can take those slip screens and go 80 yards, too. Yeah, it's a problem. If you play off him, you give him too much space. Play up on him, he gets behind you. He's a hard guy to defend. The quarterback can throw it deep. He stretches the whole field. They have a lot of run-pass option plays. If you stop the run, you're light outside. If you're heavy outside, you're light inside. They do a good job. They can move the ball. They score a lot of points, got a lot of explosive players. Hill's one of them but they've got a bunch of them.
Q: Does Hill remind you at all of Eric Metcalf, or is that not a fair comparison?
Q: What makes Travis Kelce so unique?
BB: He's good at everything. He's got good speed. He's really good after the catch, hard to tackle, good in space, he's quick. He's got good size. He catches the ball well, good balance. He's a hard guy to defend.
Q: Does the way the Chiefs use Tyreek Hill in various spots across the formations remind you of the way any other team uses another player?
BB: Yeah, Andy's a great coach. He does a great job in game planning. You never know where he's going to be. Where he is for you and where he is for somebody else depends on how you play and how they want to attack you, so you've got to be ready for everything with him. He could be anywhere.
Q: Is it difficult to matchup one defender on a guy like Hill because you never truly know where he's going to be placed in the formation each play? Could that lead to more confusion on defense?
BB: Yeah, it's always an issue. It's easy to matchup one guy. It's the rest of them.
Q: Is defending against the Chiefs' ability to make yards in big chunks an emphasis this week?
BB: Of course, yeah. You certainly don't want to give it all to them in one play.
Q: Are they a tougher challenge than some other teams in that preparation?
BB: They have a lot of big plays; yeah. They have a lot of explosive players, so yeah, sure. It's a big challenge.
Q: Are you seeing a lot more run-pass options from teams as you're preparing for teams across the league on a weekly basis or is that just restricted to a few teams?
BB: I'd say we see it. Some teams more than others. I'd say these guys do quite a bit of it, but we've seen it all year. We saw it last year. I'm sure we'll see it all year.
Q: Their offensive line seems to be a very well-coached unit for them up front.
BB: Yeah, they're very well-coached, period. Their offensive system - Andy does a great job. He loves his offensive lineman so he takes good care of them. They don't put them in bad positions. They give them good blocking angles. They execute well. They don't turn guys loose. They get everybody blocked. You've got to defeat blocks. You've got to contain the skill players. They make it hard on you.
Q: What do you see from them at right tackle with Mitchell Schwartz?
BB: It's really the whole offense. They're very efficient as a unit. Individually, they're good. But as a group, they're extremely efficient. They just execute well. Their timing is good. Their execution is good. Their balance and all of the things they do schematically - misdirection, power, speed, play-action, run plays, pass plays, loose plays. They're pretty good at everything.
Q: How would you describe the ability and the importance of Chris Jones to their defense?
BB: He's a major force. He's a hard guy to block. He's long, he's got a lot of power, he's quick. He's a handful. He can ruin a game and he does ruin them. He's a really hard guy to handle.
Q: We saw Jones have an interception returned for a touchdown at the end of the first half of the Jacksonville game.
BB: Yeah, he had a sack on the first series of the game. He can ruin the game for you. It can be on any play.
Q: Do you have to be particularly careful when trying to throw screens against him?
BB: Yeah, well I mean that's what a screen pass is. You've always got to throw the ball around the rushers and get it to the screen back and give him a chance. But that's the challenge for the quarterback on that play, is to get the ball through the traffic and in or around the players that are in the way, which there are usually some in the way. Not always, but usually, and if it's not there then to throw it away and make that decision which you see a lot on screen passes. But yeah, that's what that play is for the quarterback. When it opens up and there's nobody on the screen back, I mean that's great, but that's one out of four or five times. The other times you have some issues that you have to work through.
Q: How have they made up for the loss of Eric Berry? Are they using multiple players?
BB: [Eric] Murray. I mean, he didn't finish the game last week but it's been Murray. Murray's played almost every snap with [Ron] Parker.
Q: Kansas City's defense looks a little vulnerable statistically. Do the stats lie or do you see some vulnerability in that defense?
BB: They're the best team in the league on third down. They don't give up a lot of points. I mean, they've been ahead. They've given up on some yards in garbage time but they're 5-0.
Q: How do you prepare for a guy like Kareem Hunt?
BB: Yeah, they're all dangerous. You can't stop one guy in this offense. They've got too many guys. The quarterback is a problem. The backs are a problem. The tight ends are a problem. The receivers are a problem. They're all a problem.
Q: Does Travis Kelce fall into that category of somebody you have to treat like a receiver at the tight end position?
BB: Yeah, he's a receiver. A big, athletic receiver, very good after the catch.
Q: Does he mesh with that offensive line? Is he a threat as a blocker, as well?
BB: They use him on a lot of RPO plays, so if you don't cover him they throw it to him, so you have to cover him. It's better than blocking actually because somebody has to chase him on the RPO. Somebody has to cover him somehow on the RPO's. He's usually involved in those. Not always, but usually. If you don't cover him then they throw it to him. If you cover him, then that's as affective as him blocking the guy, but they do a lot of that.
Q: How much of their success is wrapped up in their ability to get out to an early lead and then play good complementary football?
BB: They do a great job of that. Yeah, they've killed teams in the first quarter. They also showed they can play from behind against Denver on the road. They could play from ahead well. They can play from behind. It looks like they can play in any situation they're in. That's why they're as good of a football team as there is in the National Football League right now. They're good at everything.
Q: Andy's offense has involved the fullback often throughout the years. Is Anthony Sherman used for them in a similar role that James Develin is for you?
BB: Sort of. I'd say it's different. I'd say the west coast fullbacks are a little different breed usually than maybe some other fullbacks. But Sherman does a good job for them. He's a problem, too. He's good in the passing game, very good in the kicking game. He's a good coverage player, good blocker in the return game and he's a good complementary receiver on some of their misdirection plays. Play-action, misdirection plays - he can get the ball out in space and chew up some yards, too. He's more than just a blocker back there, for sure, and he's athletic. He can get to a lot of perimeter blocks out in space that maybe some other fullbacks in the league aren't as good at. But he contributes for them in the kicking game. He's got a solid role. He does it well. He's a good player. Guys like Sherman, [Demetrius[ Harris - they're not in there every play. You're certainly not going to be double-covering them, but they make their share of plays, too. They help create other things and there are times when they can make plays as well, so you're worried about everybody else and then somebody like that gets you. They're all a problem.
Q: Were you able to jump straight into the game plan yesterday or was the time focused more on your team internally and cleaning some things up?
BB: Yeah, we're working on Kansas City.
Q: How does that set you up for the rest of the week? Is today more of a Thursday practice routine?
BB: We'll use it the best way we can.
Q: Have you seen continued improvement from Stephon Gilmore this season?
BB: Yeah, I think he's done a good job for us. Way better than last year, just overall everything. I mean, he's a good player. He was a good player last year. I think his ability for us to utilize him in our system and for him to have maybe a better understanding for us as group in the secondary, not just him, but the entire group to function as one. It improved last year over the course of the year and I think it's improved this year, too. Yeah, he's done a great job for us.
Q: What type of progression have you seen from Sony Michel over the past two weeks?
BB: He's making progress. He's got a long way to go. He's making progress.
Q: Is he still trying to catch up from the time he lost during the preseason?
BB: Yeah. Well, I think every rookie is playing catch-up all year. Look, it is what it is. The days that are behind us are behind us. The days that are in front of us, we'll make the most of them. Do the best we can for each player and each unit and the team and try to keep getting better, which he has. He's improved every week. He's improved every day he's been out there. He's a hard-working kid, he's smart, he picks things up well. He's a young guy that's got a long way to go.
Q: Would you ever potentially utilize the fastest player on your team to simulate the speed of Tyreek Hill during practice?
BB: You could. Whoever the fastest player on anybody's team is probably isn't as fast as Hill. It's hard to simulate that speed. It's hard to simulate Mahomes' arm strength. It's hard to simulate Kelce. Where do you want to start? You can go right down the line. [Chris] Conley, Sammy Watkins, [De'Anthony] Thomas - they've got a bunch of them.
Q: What allows Stephon Gilmore to be effective against both smaller, quicker guys and also hold his own against some of the bigger receivers in the league?
BB: His concentration, his skill set, his toughness. He's long. He's got good strength. He's got pretty good technique. He works hard at it. He studies the receivers well. He can run, he's quick. He's got good instincts. He's got a lot of things going for him. But he works hard and he really has good focus. I mean, it's hard to play that position. You're not in on every play. You're in on half a dozen to a dozen plays in every game but those are game-changing plays. You have to be ready on every play but the reality of it is that player doesn't confront the ball or the pass for that play, or the running play - whatever it is - whatever gets out to him. It's only a handful of plays but those are critical plays, so having that kind of focus and concentration and being ready for every play even though you're only going to get one out of eight - whatever it is. There's, I would say, a mental toughness that goes at that position that you need and he has it.
Q: Does he have the perfect mentality to be a good cornerback? It doesn't seem like he gets too high or too low emotionally.
BB: He's got a good mentality.
Q: Even a great corner is going to get beat some plays.
BB: Look, every player in this league gets beat. Every coach gets beat. You're talking about the National Football League now. Yeah, we all get knocked down. We've all got to get back up. He's got a good mentality. He's tough. Mentally and physically he's tough.
Q: Did you like to see the Red Sox move on last night?
BB: Yeah, a good series.
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