HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
October 13, 2021
BB: Seeing a lot of these Cowboys the last couple days. This is a really impressive group. I was kind of going back through some of my notes and just looking at this team over a period of years. I would say one thing that really just jumps out, overall, is just the job that they've done acquiring talent. I think since 2006, they've had, by far, the most Pro Bowl players, and it just seems like they always have, every time we play them, seems like there's always a lot of good players on the roster. Stephen Jones and the personnel staff have obviously done a great job of selecting players and acquiring players. Stephen's really done a good job putting a strong roster together. Looking at their personnel staff, there's a lot of experience down there. Those guys have been there for a long, long time. I think, on their personnel staff, they have over 500 years of NFL experience on that staff. That's five centuries. It's amazing. This is not a young group. I say that respectfully because of the job they've done, but they've been there a long time. They know what they're looking for. They know what they're doing. Stephen and the personnel staff and Lionel [Vital] and all those guys have done a remarkable job of consistently acquiring such top-level talent in all three areas. [On the] offensive side of the ball, it's a really good line. They've got some of the top players in the league, and that's after losing [Travis] Frederick with his injury situation. Obviously, the skill players are good. [Tony] Pollard leads the league in yards per carry, and Zeke's [Ezekiel Elliott] Zeke. Dak's [Prescott] Dak. You've got a couple of great receivers, but all that being said, [Dalton] Schultz is really the receiving leader, which is pretty remarkable considering the guys that Prescott is throwing to. Defensively, the front's impressive. A lot of speed at linebacker. They can cover. They can rush. They can play the run. Between [Ceedee] Lamb and Pollard, the return game is good. Obviously, Coach [John] Fassel, "Bones", is one of the top special teams coaches in the league, so it's always a dangerous situation between him and the players. You know [Greg] Zuerlein's field goal range. It feels like he can kick them, as soon as they cross midfield, they're in field goal range. He's a big weapon, too. Good mix of young players and guys kind of in their prime and some veteran players and some guys they've acquired and added to their team. Guys like [Damontae] Kazee and guys like that, and then there's other guys that, obviously, are big draft choices and some of their core players. Just overall, very impressive level of talent. Offensively, Coach [Mike] McCarthy and Dan Quinn, I mentioned Fassel, they're very, very well coached. They do a really good job offensively with their scheme and put a lot of pressure on the defense. Defensively, they, as I said, pretty much do everything well. They're ranked at the top of the league in almost every category on offense and defense, and they're good at the kicking game, so not really a lot of weaknesses on this team. They're averaging 40 points a game the last three weeks and won pretty decisively. They beat the [Los Angeles] Chargers. They're, obviously, a good team there. A pretty talented team. We know we're going to have to play our best game, and that's what we're getting ready to do.
On if Dak Prescott and the Cowboys' offense likes to run short-passing plays:
BB: If they're open. If they're open down the field, he'll throw it down the field. He'll throw it to everybody. Whoever's open, and, a lot of times, he's got two or three guys to choose from. It's a hard group to cover. [Ceedee] Lamb's a very explosive player. [Amari] Cooper's a really good route runner. Obviously, the backs are a problem when they get the ball. Tight ends are the leading receivers, so take your pick, and he [Dak Prescott] can run too, so there's a sixth receiver there.
On if Dak Prescott's style of play has changed since his injury:
BB: He looks pretty good. He's right at the top of the league in passing. I mean, they're at the top of the league in everything, so whatever stat you want to talk about, they're at the top of the league in it. He's the trigger guy, so he's making it all go.
On Micah Parsons:
BB: He's, obviously, a very talented player. Big. Fast. He's along the lines of [Leighton] Vander Esch and other guys like that they've drafted. Penn State had a lot of good football players last year. He was one of them.
On what he sees from Trevon Diggs:
BB: Instinctive. Very talented guy. Plays the ball well. He's got good cover skills.
On if Dan Quinn's defensive scheme this year is similar to what is has been in the past with other teams:
BB: The foundation of it is similar. I wouldn't say it's quite the same.
On what is different about it:
BB: They've changed some things. They added some things.
On if a coach can teach a cornerback ball skills:
BB: It's like everything else. You can improve, but some guys have elite skills. It'd be hard to pick up from not very skilled to being highly skilled, but incrementally, you can build them up, and some guys have natural skills. They have natural instincts. That kind of thing. I think you can improve those as well, but it helps when you have a lot to start with.
On if the defense picks up what their strengths and weaknesses are after watching film like the offense does:
BB: Yeah. Of course. It happens on every area. The more information you have, the more actual live game reps you have, you see how other teams are playing you, how they're attacking you or what they're trying to do. Things show up, and it's a lot different than preseason. You really see what you have, what you don't have, what you need to work on, what your strengths are. They may or may not be what you thought they were going into the season. That's what the NFL regular season is for. It exposes your weaknesses, shows you what the matchups are, whether they're in your favor or they're not.
On Kellen Moore's offense:
BB: They're balanced. They're good at everything. I think Moore is one of the better offensive coordinators that we've faced. He does a good job. It's not just the players. They have a good scheme. They're well balanced. They do a lot of things that complement other things that they do. They put a lot of stress on the defense.
On the balance of the Cowboys' offense:
BB: It's just the balance of what you have to defend. It's not just runs and passes. It's passes that complement other passes. It's runs that complement other runs. Runs that complement passes. It's everything. It's not just one thing.
On what stands out about Leighton Vander Esch:
BB: Big. Fast. Instinctive. These guys can really run. It looks like you might have a decent gain, or it looks like you might have some space, and it closes very quickly. Again, they're well coached. They play aggressively. When they see it, a lot of guys get there in a hurry. Things don't last very long against these guys. They close it in very quickly. They've very big, long guys that are hard to throw over. They take up a lot of space in coverage. It's hard to get the ball around them, over them. Plus, they're fast.
On what Dak Prescott does well against the blitz:
BB: Again, that's a team play. You start by blocking it, which they're pretty good at. They've got a lot of good receivers, and they've got a good quarterback, and they can get open, and they can run after the catch, and they can pick it up. Again, you can't stop the blitz with one guy. Good schemes. Kellen [Moore] does a good job on that. Obviously, they're well prepared for it.
On if he thinks the Cowboys invite blitzes:
BB: You have to ask them that.
On if it takes more time to game plan for the Cowboys since they do noy play each other often:
BB: No. There are other teams we haven't played. Obviously, we haven't played the NFC South either. We played all the other teams in their division, so there's crossover games. We watched Washington, Philly and the Giants in preseason, and we saw plenty of the Cowboys. I mean, you can't help but see them in crossover games.
On Nick Folk:
BB: Nick's been incredibly consistent. Big kicks again last weekend. He's done a great job for us.
On if he thinks Dak Prescott is one of the better quarterbacks in the league at reading defenses:
BB: Yeah. He's good at it. I wouldn't compare him to anyone else, but yeah. He's good at it. He knows where to go with the ball. You want to make every quarterback do that. You don't want to just tell them what you're in and see what they can do about it. Make them figure it out. Make them work for it. Change it up on them a little bit.
On the status of the offensive line for Sunday's game:
BB: Let's take it day by day. See how it goes here.
On Dont'a Hightower's role on the defense:
BB: High [Dont'a Hightower] is a pretty versatile guy. He can do a lot of things for us and does whatever we ask him to do. He's a very unselfish player. He's so versatile that he's a guy that you can ask to do a lot of things, and he can handle a lot of different things. Not necessarily the same every week, but depending on what the priorities are; pass rush, run game, end of the line, off the ball, handle the fronts, make coverage adjustments. He's a smart player. He has such a good grasp of the overall defense and the offense we're playing and how to use the tools that we have and apply them to the situations that come up. He does a lot of things for us that are really good.
On Dont'a Hightower's strength:
BB: Yeah. High [Dont'a Hightower] is a strong, explosive player. Plays with good pad level. He can deliver. He can thump for sure.