HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
October 15, 2021
On Kendrick Bourne's energy and how it has been working with him this year:
BB: KB [Kendrick Bourne] has got some good energy. He brings that out to the practice field every day. It's fun to have that type of personality and energy interjected into the team. He works hard. Some of the things we've asked him to do, I feel like he's really improved with. He's got some good skills. Good quickness. He's got length. Good target. Catches the ball well. He's quick. Good skill set and a guy who's continued to work hard and get better every single day. I have a lot of respect for the way he approaches the game and his work ethic on the practice field.
On what Jahlani Tavai has done to earn a spot on the 53-man roster:
BB: Jahlani has gained experience. He's a player that's played, just relative to coming in here at the end of August, and been able to transfer some of the terminology and fundamentals that we used relative to what he did in Detroit. He was active, but Tavai's showed up every week and continues to make progress in the overall understanding of what we're doing and handles different roles to provide versatility for our team.
On his level of concern with the offensive line:
BB: We'll take it day-to-day. We'll see where things are at today. That's all we can do. Just go day-to-day.
On if Mike Onwenu is an option to move to tackle:
BB: Whoever it would be, any time you have to go deep at any position, you're looking at what would just be best in the end in that situation on a short-term basis. It would depend on who else is in the picture and what else we're talking about, and that's still a little bit of a moving target here.
On the importance of varying tempo on offense and how the Cowboys have varied their offensive tempo this year:
BB: All those different things that the offense can do are used to gain some kind of advantage, and so when you consider from a game planning standpoint what your options are and how you can gain advantages by doing a variety of things, what the biggest advantage is or whatever your comfortable with, however that unfolds, that's really the decision you make is how do we gain an advantage? Is it tempo? Is it motion? Is it a certain personnel group? Is it a certain formation? Whatever it is, and so all those tools are available to the offense. They can get rolling. They control all those things. The defense has no real say on any of that. Offensively, you put out on the field who you want out there. You put them where you want them. You go as fast or as slow as you want to go. Do you want to go slow and check plays? That's an option. Do you want to go fast and force the defense to play fast? Again, it's whatever you feel you can get an advantage with. I'm sure that Coach McCarthy and his staff, that's what they do. Exactly how they do it, why they do it and all that, you'll have to ask them that, but obviously they're doing it to gain an advantage. There are certain advantages to going fast, and there are certain advantages to taking more time and see what the defense is doing. Teams use both throughout the league. I think that's just an overall philosophy or a game-by-game philosophy depending on what they're facing. That'll vary from team to team. You never really know, defensively, how they look at you and what you think they'll do. Some teams mix it up. Some teams are more one way than another. Defensively, you just have to be ready for all those, and whichever ones they decided to deploy, be ready to defend. They each put some kind of restriction on you defensively. Generally speaking, that's what they do, so then you have to deal with whatever that restriction is that that style of play dictates.
On the different types of restrictions an offense can have:
BB: It depends on what they do. If they're using a lot of motion, you've got to decide, defensively, how many adjustments you want to make every time a guy goes in motion. I think that teams that go in motion and shift all the time, you don't want to be making four checks on every play. Teams that go fast, it limits what they can do. It limits, a little bit, what you can do defensively. Teams that play slow, they have more time to read the defense at the line of scrimmage, get in the right play, force the defense to not declare, but eventually they have to declare, and if you show the offense what you're in, a lot of times, they'll get to the right play or find the right matchup. A fast team isn't really looking to do that. Whatever the offense does, they're trying to put some stress on the defense. Defensively, it doesn't take you too long to figure out what they're trying to prevent you from doing or make it difficult for you to do. You have to deal with it accordingly. If you're trying to line up receivers and they line up guys all over the place, including a motion every play, that's not the easiest thing to do. It's a lot easier to just sit there and let them go wherever they want to go and take them as they come. So again, whatever the offense does, there's a reason for doing it. It's not to make it easy on the defense. We know that. You have to have some type of way to deal with it.
On how his relationship with Mike McCarthy and his strengths as a coach:
BB: Well, I did compete against him. I have a ton of respect for Mike [McCarthy]. I talked to him and seen him at the owner's meetings and things like that. I think he does a great job offensively. Always watch their film. Take a look at the things they're doing. They have some very good concepts. He puts the defense in a lot of stress. Depending on what the defense is doing, he has different ways of, whether it's a zone, man, tempo, formations, route combinations, misdirection plays, plays that potentially slow the defense down or give them a conflict with their keys. Situationally, I think Mike is probably as good as anybody that we play against. It hasn't been very often, and I'm happy about that. I wouldn't want to play Mike twice a year. There's situational football; third down, fourth down, two-minute, four-minute, end of half, end of game, fourth down calls, low red area calls, last play calls. Things like that. They're all good. We, in the weeks that we've played him, probably spent more times on those plays than with any other team. They're very well prepared, and they always seem to execute them at a very high level. Mike's teams are sound fundamentally. You've got to go out there and play well to beat them. They don't beat themselves. They don't make mistakes. To stop them, you've got to go out there and play 60 minutes of good football. That's really hard. I think every time we've played them, I've always felt like they had a really good game plan and they had a really good plan of attack. They made it hard on us, and they're hard to defend. Not just the players, but the positions they put us in, how they try to attack us, and they have a variety of ways doing it, but at the end of the day, they gave us some problems. They challenged us, both schematically and with their personnel matchups.
On how he balances encouraging playmaking from young cornerbacks while also teaching patience:
BB: That's a great question. Players that play that position, it's certainly a confidence position. You can't play out there on an island and play well without a lot of confidence. Every corner has gotten beat. Every corner has a had a pass caught on them. All the good ones I've been around have that confidence that they forget about that play or maybe learn from it and understand what happened, but they're onto the next play, and they don't lose their confidence. They don't lose their aggressiveness, and they just try to improve on something that you could've done better or maybe that you overplayed or didn't play well enough. Whatever it is, and try to improve on that, but continue to play with a high level of aggressiveness and awareness. Those corner instincts and ball skills and judgment on which ones you can get to, which ones you can't and have to tackle the receivers and all that, you can drill those as a coach, but those are instinctive plays that some players have great anticipation and awareness and judgment on that, and some players just aren't quite the same level, so speed, quickness, vision, and judgment, and, again, all the good corners, they always are in tune with the pass rush. When they know the ball has got to come out in a certain amount of time based on the pass rush or they can see what the coverage is, that the offense is keeping more guys in to protect, and that changes the depth routes and hyper patterns and so forth, and guys that are really good out there, they see all that. Now if they're just in man coverage and they're just locked down, it's all on the receiver and his tendencies and so forth, but guys that can see the whole formation and see player control and see protection, see the quarterback's depth of the drop and so forth, they put a lot of that together and are able to anticipate routes based on all that information that they can accumulate and process in milliseconds, and that's what make them great.
On Trevon Diggs' playmaking ability and how he jumps routes:
BB: I don't know if it's necessarily jumping. It's being in position and playing the ball, and that comes from good fundamentals, and, again, I don't think you learn that in two or three practices. That's something, I'm sure, and I know, he developed in college and has refined in the NFL as the NFL passing game is different than the college passing game. A lot of fundamentals on playing the ball, position, leverage and so forth are things I know that he's been taught. He's, obviously, playing very well and doing those things very well. Again, a lot of that is confidence. It's hard to do because each week, the passing game is different, the quarterbacks are different, the receivers are different, and it's a big challenge to play that position every week, but he's doing it extremely well. Certainly, a guy we have to have a high awareness of where he is.
On the importance of Ted Karras and James Ferentz on the offensive line:
BB: Ted [Karras] and James Ferentz both did a great job for us last week. With David Andrews, those three guys really operated well together, handled some things that the Texans did, and we'll look at some different, but similar type of problems with the way the Cowboys operate with their sub defense. They have a couple different personnel groupings and certainly some different looks up front that are challenging, just by the way they line and what they do out of it. Coach [Dan] Quinn does a really good job there on the pass rush, not just the techniques of rushing, but where he puts players to force certain blocking angles or force a certain protection and then take advantage of it. The experience that Ted and James brought to that with relatively little playing time between Shaq [Mason] and Mike [Onwenu] this year, we were really fortunate that they were able to step in there and do that, but whoever's in there, it doesn't matter. Whoever's in there, blocking the Cowboys will be a big challenge on all downs, but especially that third-down package. They do a real good job up front of creating problems, both with the skill of their players, but also the multiple looks that they create and the different ways you have to block them or treat their alignments. So, no matter who's in there, that'll be challenging. We're very fortunate to have Ted and James, two guys that have a lot of experience in our system and both played center, so that's also helpful because if you know what's going on as a center and understand the whole protection, that certainly helps you when playing guard, but however that goes this week between Shaq and Mike, Ted, James, and David [Andrews], it'll be a challenge for whoever it is that's facing them.