PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
Q: How dangerous is Travis Kelce in the red zone?
BB: Really dangerous. Yeah, he's good. He's big, athletic, got great hands. Andy [Reid] does a good job of making it hard to find him, create situations where he can get opportunities.
Q: When you're teaching defenders to deal with speed on the other side of the ball, does anything change tackling wise? Do you teach them to pick a point ahead of the guy, or is there any fundamental change?
BB: Yeah, well, I mean, if you're talking about like cutting off the guy down the field, then obviously that's - yeah, I mean, it's hard to tackle those guys. I don't think there's too many - it's hard. Most of the time you're in front of the receiver or the runner, whoever it is - [Tyreek] Hill, if that's who you're talking about - so you're coming at him with some kind of leverage. And if you're chasing him without leverage, it's pretty much all over. So, yeah, obviously, you've got to use your - if you have the angle, if it's a last-man type of tackle, it's you and him - then yeah, you take the angle based on your leverage on the runner and the sideline and so forth. Then, as the play extends, then you change it. So, as you close it, it changes, or he runs away from you. I mean, it changes through the course of the - you transition through the course of the end of the play.
Q: We've seen Patrick Chung have success against tight ends throughout his career. What's the key for a player his size going up against guys who are 6-5 or 6-6?
BB: Yeah, well, each player has a unique matchup against another player, so we all have different strengths and weaknesses, and so does the guy we're playing against. So, each individual matchup, you try to take advantage of what you feel like you can take advantage of physically and whether it's scheme or position-related. So, each one's a little bit different. Kelce at tight end is one thing. Kelce split out is another thing. Kelce in the red area is one thing. Kelce on third down's another thing. Kelce on first down's another thing. I mean, that's a much longer conversation than just, 'Well, we're just going to do this.' I mean, it depends on where he is and what situation we're talking about and what we're in, where our help is, if any.
Q: Have you seen Kelce split out more this year?
BB: He splits out a lot.
Q: Is it the same as what you've seen in previous years?
BB: Well, it's a game plan team. So, they put him where they want to put him. I mean, he doesn't line up in the same place all the time. I don't know - they might split him out on every play. They might never split him out. I mean, you'd have to ask Andy that. I don't know what they're going to do with him, but they definitely move him around. He's split out a decent amount, flexed out a lot, yeah.
Q: When it comes to RPO plays, the defender that the quarterback is reading, is there a cat-and-mouse game that goes on there?
BB: Sure, could be, yeah. It would depend on where the player's located and what he does. If he gives a clean read, then it's a clean read. If it's not a clean read, then it's not a clean read. Quarterbacks have to figure out either what the rule is on the play or how they're going to read it. Yeah, sure, it's like anything else. Some things are a lot cleaner than others. When they're not clean, then you have to have a rule and whoever's making the determination of what he's doing has to do it. If two guys are reading it, a quarterback and a receiver, then that just adds to the degree of difficulty.
Q: Is there enough time there for a linebacker to take a step up as though he's playing the run and try to bait a quarterback into a throw or something like that? It seems like a quick-hitting play.
BB: Yeah, well, you'd have to be pretty close. If the guy they're reading doesn't go with the flow of the play, then they hand the ball off. If he goes, then they throw it. So, I mean, I don't think it's that complex of a read. He can't do both. I mean, run and then come back - it's too late. Stay and then go after the handoff - I mean, well, that's what he's going to do. Can he get over there fast enough to make the play? I mean, probably not unless somebody else makes it and turns it back into him and the play doesn't really develop anyway. So, yeah, that would be hard for them to be two places at once when they're stretching the ball this way and they're throwing the ball back here. I mean, I don't know how he could do both things. If that's the guy they're reading, I mean, that's what they're trying to do. They're trying to make him take one or the other.
Q: Is it tougher to run disguises or exotic defenses against teams that do multiple formations? Against the Colts when they had Peyton Manning, usually it was the same formation - two receivers on one side and one on the other. Is it tougher with a team like the Chiefs or teams that do different things offensively because there are so many multiples you could be going against?
BB: Yeah, that's a good question. I mean, that's kind of the chicken or the egg question. So, if you're in the same formation every time, then it's pretty easy to read the defense and it's pretty easy to read, I would say, relatively small variations in the defense. And they might try to disguise it a little bit, but again, a very small variation is a lot easier to differentiate when you're in the same thing every time or a lot. When you're in something different every time, sometimes the defense may not even be lined up properly or in the exact location that they want to be lined up in just because they make a mistake. It's a different look, a different formation, a different split, whatever it is. And so, sometimes the read on that can be read incorrectly just because the defense isn't aligned properly because there's some, again, adjustment that they haven't fully made or they haven't made correctly or whatever. So, it's like shifts, sending guys in motion, all that creates a lot of communication and possibly alignment changes for the defense. It also creates a lot of recognition for the offense because we move, they move, do they relocate, who's gone where, where's the new movement. Sometimes that can cause more confusion on the offensive side of the ball than it creates on the defensive side of the ball. It just would depend on, again, what you have called, what you're trying to do, what they're doing, then you have to put it all together. Obviously, you wouldn't do it if you don't think you're going to gain an advantage, but when one side moves then the other side moves, there's some issues there on both sides of the ball. So, just have to decide whether you want to - offensively, you control it offensively. You just decide whether you want to do that, how simple it is for your guys, how comfortable they are doing it, how much you're going to gain by doing it, what the potential problems are, what the downside is, weigh that out and make a decision.
Q: I know you've said before that you have to be sure. If you're confused defensively as far as what disguise you're in, it's obviously not worth it.
BB: Yeah, you definitely want to know what you're doing, absolutely. It's better to be in good position and know what you're playing than to try to fool them and be out of position and not be able to play what you need to play. Yeah, that's right. I mean, you might luck into a play here or there because you just luck into it, but that's not really the way to go. But, I'm telling you, you can create problems on offense by doing that, too. Like, the confusion on defense can cause confusion on offense because guys aren't where you think they're going to be and then it's not just one guy that has to make an adjustment, it's two or three guys that have to kind of see it the same way - 'OK, you're going to take him, I'm going to take him, he's going to take somebody else.' You know, you can X-and-O it on paper, but when it all happens in a second or two before the snap or after the ball's snapped and they're scrambling to get in position, there can be issues on that, too. So, it's just a different game than sitting there. They're both part of it, they both have a place, just they're different.
Q: How have you seen the on-field communication between Jason McCourty and the safeties? Obviously, they're pretty close off the field.
BB: Good. Yeah, really good. Yeah, Jason's a good communicator. He's got good awareness, smart player, has a lot of experience. So, even though he's new to us, he's not new to the NFL. He's not new to offensive systems. He's not new to some of the coverages that we run. It's just doing them with the guys we're doing them with, but it's not like it's all new to him. No, he's picked things up very well, communicates well.
Q: Have you seen Jason and Devin McCourty's closeness off the field play a role at all on the field?
BB: Yeah, sure. I think our secondary, guys are really close in that room and they show it on the field and they show it off the field. So, yeah, I think it's very much of a positive. They can read each other's body language or kind of get one little motion or one word or one little wink and they kind of know what it means. So, that's a good thing. Sometimes, you know, you have a full conversation with somebody and there's a misunderstanding. And sometimes you just look at somebody and they know what you're thinking, you know what they're thinking and it makes it a lot easier that way. So, yeah.
Q: Does Patrick Mahomes' athleticism make it difficult to dedicate a spy defender on him?
BB: Well, he just gives you another - he's a sixth receiver, so you have to cover the other five guys, which are a problem, and then if you don't do a good job on that, then he gets out of there. Like the end of the Denver game, that happened a couple times where he got out - got out to throw, got out to run - so it's just another problem you have to deal with defensively. You know, can you put somebody on him? I mean, yeah, you could, and that's one less guy in coverage or one less guy in a rush, however you want to look at it. So, yeah, I mean, you can do it. Teams have done it, teams have not done it, but it's just you've got to defend six guys instead of five. And, if you put a guy on him, you just take somebody away somewhere else.
Q: This year, you've faced a lot of quarterbacks who are a threat on the run. Do you think it's becoming more the norm to have a quarterback who's a threat to run, as opposed to previous years with more guys like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning?
BB: Yeah, I don't know. The guys that are on our schedule, that's who we get ready for. If they run, we deal with them. If they don't, then yeah. The guy last week didn't run much, but he ran a little bit, but he's a pretty good passer. So, he made a lot of throws against good coverage that I don't know how many guys would get in there. So, yeah, we can't control that. Whatever it is, it is. If they run, they run. If they don't run, they don't run.
Q: How much of a challenge is Dee Ford's speed for the Chiefs coming off the edge?
BB: Yeah, a lot, especially the situations they've been in or like we were in at the end of the game against them last year - they're ahead, third-and-long, passing situations. He's very quick off the ball, he anticipates the snap-count well, he gets a good jump, he's fast anyway and he's a very explosive player. He just needs not even a step - you know, half a step, quarter of a step - then he gets the edge there and he can be a very disruptive player. And then they've got guys like [Chris] Jones inside who push the pocket and sometimes it's hard for the quarterback to step up because of the inside pass rush, and then you're got the outside pass rush and there's nowhere to go. So, they have a good complementary pass rush there with Ford and [Justin] Houston outside, Jones especially inside. They do a good job of squeezing the pocket, so if the quarterback goes back, he's in trouble. If he goes up, he's in trouble. So, it's a good rush.
Q: What's been your impression of Mahomes' ball handling on RPO plays?
BB: Good. He's made a couple, I would say, slick plays where there's been pressure on him, they miss a block or something happens, the guy's right on top of him and he's able to pretty quickly and adeptly get the ball out - pass it or get it out of his hands where it's kind of tight, it's a tight fit. So, he's pretty good at that. He makes quick decisions - makes good decisions and makes them quickly. So, he doesn't stand back there and have a lot of indecision, a lot of just being frozen in the pocket or frozen with the ball. He gets it out of his hands, unless he's not pressured, then he extends the plays and then the other problems start to increase - him running, throwing down the field, so forth. But, yeah, he does a good job on that. Bootlegs, plays like that, sometimes the end gets up the field, gets right on top of him. He sees it, gets the ball out quick and accurately.
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