PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
October 12, 2022
BB: Good afternoon. How are we doing? Alright, rolling into Cleveland here. This is a really pretty impressive team to watch. They have a lot of talent, a lot of elite talent. They're very well coached. It's going to be a big challenge here all the way across the board. They're good in all areas. Offensively, with Coach [Kevin] Stefanski and Coach [Bill] Callahan this is a very good, very talented group and a very well coached unit, especially on the offensive line. They're probably as good as anybody we'll see. They really know what they're doing. Their fundamentals and techniques are very good. We had trouble with them last year. Everybody has trouble with them. There's a lot of talent up front [Jedrick] Wills Jr., and [Joel] Bitonio of course. [Ethan] Pocic replaced [J.C] Tretter at center and he's got a lot of experience. [Wyatt] Teller, [Jack] Conklin, guys that have been All-Pros, All-Rookie, Pro Bowls, you name it. It's just a really good group that again really knows what they're doing and are talented. There's some good receivers. Obviously, [Amari] Cooper another very high-profile player. [David] Njoku a productive tight end. After Ozzie [Newsome] probably the best tight end the Browns have ever had, which that's saying something. [Donovan] Peoples-Jones and good skill players. Obviously [Nick] Chubb is as good as anybody we'll see and then [Kareem] Hunt. They've got a lot of backs and they're all good. But [Nick] Chubb, he's tough. Jacoby [Brissett] is playing well. He's a big strong kid that compliments their offense. Again, this is 200 yards a game rushing and 26 points a game or whatever they're scoring. They can move the ball. They can score points. They can control the clock. They can keep their defense off the field. Again, they are extremely well coached and very good fundamentally. Defensively it's really one word, fast. Everybody's fast. Linebackers are fast. Secondary is fast. The D-line is fast. [Myles] Garrett and [Jadeveon] Clowney are as good of book ends as there are. There's a lot of speed inside. Whenever there's space it doesn't stay space for very long. They get it from the lineman pursuit. They get it from the linebackers. They get it from the secondary. Again, a lot of good players obviously [Denzel] Ward and [Greg] Newsome II. [Martin] Emerson Jr. is a high pick. Linebackers like J.O.K. [Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. They've got good linebackers. They have very good edge players. They play very fast and they're very disruptive, so they're one of the top teams in the league in three-and-outs. They get you in negative plays. They get you in long yardage and then it's all over. [Jadeveon] Clowney and [Myles] Garrett are certainly capable of wrecking the game on any play, run, and pass with their explosive speed, length, you name it. They're very dangerous on every play there. In the kicking game,[Corey] Bojorquezhas given the kicking return game a boost. Two big legs on the field goals and punts. They can change field position. Knock the ball out of the park. A 58-yard field goal beat Carolina or whatever it was. It was a long one halfway up the net. I don't really know what the leg is there but it's a lot. So, they're well balanced in all the areas. Very fast in their coverage, same as their defensive players on defense. Same guys in the kicking game, they're fast. You've got to get their speed or it's hard to get anything started. They're a really good all-around football team that doesn't turn the ball over. They're very fundamentally sound, very fast, and explosive. There's a lot of talented players, so it will be a big challenge for us this week all the way across the board. There's no one guy that can stop their running game. No one guy that can block all the players that need to be blocked. We're going to have to play good team football and have discipline. We'll have to be as fundamentally sound as they are with good communication and awareness for 60 minutes because they can hit you on any play. They're a very talented team. They've been in every game. They lost a couple games but they're all close games. Every game has been close one way or the other, so it's probably what we should expect.
Q: In what ways has [Jacoby] Brissett complimented their skill positions that they have?
BB: They have a great running game with play action passes. They're not in a lot of long yardage situations. He does a nice job at stepping up in the pocket. He's gotten the ball to their receivers, their skill guys including [Kareem] Hunt. Hunt's had a lot of production in the passing game as well. He's probably got 300 yards rushing or whatever it is. Good decision making and hasn't turned the ball over.
Q: How much has he looked similar to what you saw when he was here or how much has it been close to that?
BB: He looks about the same. What do you think he's gotten stronger or bigger? I don't know but it's well about the same. Jacoby looks like Jacoby. He's a big kid with a strong arm. He's tough and he's smart. He does a good job with the system that they're running. He does a good job with it and doesn't turn the ball over. He gets some scramble yards and gets the ball to [Amari] Cooper, [Donovan] Peoples-Jones, [Kareem] Hunt. Obviously, [David] Njoku. So, he does a nice job of running the offense and scoring whatever it is 26 points a game. That's part of the quarterback's job to score points.
Q: Do you have expect to have Mac Jones back this weekend?
BB: We'll see. We'll see what it looks like today and just go from there.
Q: How similar are Bailey Zappe and Mac Jones' skillsets? Has it been an easy transition having him take the first snaps at practice?
BB: How similar are they? I don't know. They're both right-handed.
Q: Does how Bailey [Zappe] played against the Lions last week with a pretty clean game over all change the timetable for bringing Mac [Jones] back? Maybe afford you a little lenience on the back end bringing Mac back?
BB: They are totally independent. No, it doesn't have anything to do with it.
Q: Is Mac [Jones] the starter when he's ready to go?
BB: We'll see where he is today. I don't know.
Q: What have you seen from your run defense over the past few weeks?
BB: It's been inconsistent. We've had our moments both good and bad.
Q: Is it possible that Mac [Jones] could possibly be healthy enough to back up Bailey [Zappe] but you wouldn't start him?
BB: I don't know. We'll see.
Q: What kind of challenges does Cleveland's rushing game present?
BB: Yeah everything. Again, as I said they're very well coached. [Bill] Callahan does a tremendous job with the offensive line. Their fundamentals are good. Their schemes are good. They create opportunities for the backs. The backs, specifically [Nick] Chubb does a lot on his own. He's very hard to tackle. He's got tremendous contact balance and playing strength. He's got good vision and good patience. He really sets up his blocks well. He gets the most out of every block and then he's very hard to get on the ground. He plays with good ball security. He gets those explosive plays. He gets a lot of tough yards and consistent yards. He's really good and he's got a good group in front of him. They absolutely know what they're doing. They handle defensive challenges as well as anybody with stunts, alignments, and blitzes. They waxed us pretty good last year especially early in the game. So, I'd say we've got our work cut out for us.
*Q: They run a lot of two tight end sets on offense. What does that do to stretch the defense especially the running game with creating gaps? *
BB: They run a lot of three tight end offense too. These guys use three tight ends more than anybody in the league. They use the jumbo lineman more than anybody in the league. They use two tight ends a lot. Again, multiple formations, multiple shifts, and a lot of stuff before the snap. Then the ball is snapped you better be ready to go because they're coming after you and they've got a great back so there's no rest for the weary there. It's one tight end, two tight ends, three tight ends, two tight ends and a jumbo lineman. There are multiple formations where they put them all on one side and balance them off. Put them all on the other side and shift them from one side to the other side. Shift from balanced to overloaded. Unbalanced line, shift unbalanced line, you name it. There's a lot of things for the defense to worry about. Like I said when the ball's snapped, you better be ready to go because they will be.
Q: Did Rhamondre Stevenson kind of prove to you against the Lions that he can really handle an every down load if called upon?
BB: I don't think there's ever really been any question about that.
Q: If he has to do that again this week, would you do that or try to get more guys involved. What do you think your depth at running back is?
BB: We'll see. I'll send you a copy of the game plan after we get it finished so you see what we'll do there.
Q: Isaiah Wynn, the penalties and sacks kind of are what they are. Have you seen enough from him in the other 50 or so snaps a game to keep him at that right tackle spot?
BB: Look, we all need to keep improving. It's October. We made some strides in September collectively as a team, coaching staff, players, individuals, and units. With execution, we need to keep going. That's all of us so every player that's on the roster, every coach, every position coach, everybody. We're making progress. We need to keep pushing and pushing the card here. Keep moving forward. There's still a lot of football left to go and there's still a lot of things we can do better. Some things we're doing alright but then we'll see if we can do them against Cleveland or not. I don't know. Some things we definitely need to do better. We need to score more points. We need to be better in the red area. We all know that. That's a team thing, so we all play a part in it. That'd be one thing that would help us a lot offensively to score more points and giving up fewer would help us too, going back to the previous games.
Q: Do you feel like you kind of know what you have? We talked about it. It could be even five or six weeks depending upon different teams.
BB: We're getting closer. Sure, we're getting closer. We know a lot more than we knew the third of September that's for sure so keep working through it here. Obviously, we've had some changes at the quarterback position over the past five weeks. Three different players playing that position, but we'll find more continuity there hopefully. We'll see what happens. So that's something we have to work through, but every team deals with something, so it is what it is.
Q: Where do you see the biggest departure difference from this year's team in Cleveland to last years? Obviously, there's a lot of continuity since Stefanski has been there.
BB: It looks pretty similar. I'd say they are faster on special teams if that's possible. They have a lot of fast guys. They look fast on special teams. Defensively, again they are very explosive, very fast, and very disruptive. Offensively, they led the league in rushing last year. They lead the league in rushing this year. They had explosive receivers. They still have explosive receivers. They've been in some close games. They've won some, they've lost some. I think that's kind of the nature of this league. They could easily be 5-0. I think when you look at the explosive – Honestly, we can't worry about what their record is whether it's 2-3, 5-0, 0-5 it doesn't really matter. The only thing that matters is what happens this week so that's what I see. I see a very fast defense. I see a very explosive and hard running offense. I see a kicking game with a couple of big leg kickers and an explosive returner and a lot of fast players who can cover. That's generally what we have to prepare for. We'll see how it goes. Alright, great. Alright, thank you.