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Transcript: Bill Belichick Press Conference 10/20

Read the full transcript of Patriots head coach Bill Belichick's press conference with the media on Friday, October 20, 2023.

PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK

PRESS CONFERENCE

October 20, 2023

BB: Wrapping up here, tie up a few loose ends, tie up a couple situations and get ready to go.

Q: How much progress do you feel you've made this week?

BB: We'll see on Sunday.

Q: We've heard a lot of praise for Demario Douglas for his ability to get open in man coverage. How have you seen him progress getting open in zone as well?

BB: Yeah, Demario's a smart player. Yeah, he's not a huge target, but he's fast. He's quick. He's got good receiving skills, so he can get open.

Q: Technique question on field goal blocks, when a blocker sort of dives low for the player who ideally would like to get their hands up and block it, do you want them to put their hands on them, then disengage and leap up?

BB: Yeah, you have to. We left our hand on the blocker, and it didn't really do us any good. We just have to release it, like [Deatrich] Wise [Jr.] did on the next one, or maybe it was the next two, I can't remember. We can't put our hand on the back of a blocker and jump.

Q: We're celebrating a legend this weekend in Dante [Scarnecchia]. If you could give some words to a celebration of his career?

BB: Yeah, Dante and I go back to when I was here in 96', with Bill [Parcells]. On the defensive staff, it was Romeo [Crennel], myself, Al [Groh], and Dante. As a defensive staff, that was probably the best staff I've ever been on. Those four guys – three guys, plus myself, but the four of us – thought we really worked well together, had a great relationship. When I came back, Dante was the line coach here under Pete [Carroll]. I kept him as the line coach, obviously he's a great line coach. So, coached special teams, coached defense, coached offense, coached offensive line, very talented coach, sees the full game, sees everything about the game – very good teacher, tough, former Marine. But, he can give tough love, but in a good way, just a great guy to be around.

Q: Do you still feel his impact this season, just around the team?

BB: Well, all of our fundamentals are all things that I've taught, he's taught, we teach. Fundamentally, teaching isn't much different. It's probably not different at all.

Q: What was the greatest lesson you might have learned from your time with him?

BB: Many. Many, but really just being with him every day – and the same with Romeo and Al – you learn and get inspired from people like that who are really good at what they do. They see little things that help you become a better coach, whether it's technique or scheme or observations they make or things that you just pile into your memory bank.

Q: In the same vein, any thoughts about Mike Vrabel?

BB: Mike's one of the players, I would say, that really benefited from free agency. He was on a very good team in Pittsburgh, played behind two very good players, didn't get to play much – defensively, he played in the kicking game. We had an opportunity here. We were playing a 3-4 defense. He was a 3-4 outside linebacker. It was a good fit for him, and he had two good players ahead of him at Pittsburgh. So, he came here, had a great career, obviously he was a great match for Willie [McGinest]. Willie was a good complement to him. Having been through the [Carl] Banks – [Lawrence] Taylor situation at the Giants. That's a good complement to have two good outside linebackers vs. one. Mike was a very cerebral player, smart player, played inside linebacker for us when we needed him – which wasn't often, but he could do it. He was the kind of guy that at practice would take reps at every position, free safety, strong safety, occasionally defensive line. If there was a certain player we were trying to replicate, he would jump in there and do that. It was competitive, especially with him and [Tom] Brady, quite entertaining at times, to be honest with you. Mike had a great personality, great love for the game, passionate, high energy, very strong. Mike's really strong, physically strong player, handled the tackles, obviously could handle tight ends, good power rusher and had enough moves to go with it. His strength was his length and his power and his intelligence. He was a good tackler. That was quite a workout, even at Ohio State when he was coming out, a whole bunch of first-round draft choices. He wasn't one of them, but there was multiple first-round draft choices on that field, kind of like first-round pick over here, first-round pick over here, first round pick over there. That was back in the days when they would all work out at the same time. Now, they kind of space them out so that you can go from one group to another, but then they were kind of all over the place. So, you know, Mike worked hard, trained hard at Ohio State in their program, and got some things from that. We took some things from that as well that supplemented to what we were doing. No surprise that he went into coaching, no surprise he's been successful. Good, smart football player and coach, good fundamentals.

Q: Did you interview him as a prospect?

BB: Yeah.

Q: Do you remember anything about that interview?

BB: Yeah, it's the same thing, really smart. Mike, I mean, he could interview with – I'd pretty much put him up against anybody. He's a smart guy, grew up and played a lot of football and has good football background, high school, college and training. You know, it's all aspects of it. He really understands what the other side of the ball is doing, understands what he's doing, strength, weaknesses. Played in the kicking game at Pittsburg all four years, so he has a good understanding of special teams. I mean, there's no real weaknesses in Mike's game.

Q: There's still some time but how much anticipation is there for Germany?

BB: Yeah, I mean no disrespect but let's focus on Buffalo for now. But I look forward to that trip.

Q: Have you ever been there?

BB: Yeah, multiple times.

Q: The Ameer Speed move yesterday, has there been any decisions made on players that are on PUP or IR to be activated this weekend?

BB: Not yet. Probably won't announce those until Saturday.

Q: Bill, how would you describe the general state of the health of this team? Obviously, we see the injury report.

BB: Yeah, the injury report, it is what it is. We're required to list certain guys in certain areas based on what they do, but we'll see. The guys are working hard to be out there, they're getting better. Where will they be by game time? We might not know exactly where that is until we get a little closer to the game, but I think everybody is heading on the right track. We'll see how it all turns out. There are two or three concussion guys on there, right? It's obvious that they'll be limited on what they do.

Q: Coach it seems like every team is running RPOs these days and the Bills are one of the teams using it at a higher rate. What are the advantages and disadvantages of those kinds of concepts?

BB: Well, it spreads the field laterally, horizontally and kind of keeps the receivers from having to block. So, you have to cover them and that takes a guy out to cover them – somebody, however depending on what coverage you're in. Somebody has to cover those guys in case the quarterback throws it to them. Depending on who the receiver is, that might be a higher percentage play than actually trying to have them block the player who covers them. If that makes any sense. So, you eliminate the player one way or another by trying to block them or trying to remove them. You know, get the ball out in space to a team that plays a lot of people in the box for the run on that particular play. If their light outside and if the quarterback makes a good decision and it's well executed, then you can get the ball outside to a player in space fairly easily. Then if they go out and put too many guys in there then you hand it off. So, it's a different form of an option play. Disadvantage of it is you have to execute it well. If you don't block somebody and throw it outside, the ball gets batted down or up in the air or things like that. The receiver has got to make blocks in space. You're counting on them to make a block or two to get the play started. If they don't make it, you could be looking at a negative play. Like every play, it comes down to execution and certainly quarterback decision making on the RPO, unlike a handoff where you are just giving the ball. There's no real decision to make there. But, when it's hand it off or throw it, it's another choice for the quarterback.

Q: We heard players praise James Ferentz for his leadership skills, and we've seen him on the sidelines during the games. What's kind of his role

BB: He's been inactive for all the games, so his role on the sideline is to help us with his experience, interaction with his teammates and the experience that he has as a player. And, knowing our system, you know, things that happen on the field that players see sometimes that coaches don't see.

Q: Has there been any focus – obviously the start of the game hasn't been what you guys wanted – has there been a greater focus recently on that faster start that you guys are looking for?

BB: I don't know how much more we could put into it. We emphasize it a lot, we've looked at it every week and we've given it a lot of attention. So, we'll see what the results are. But, yeah we look at it a lot, talk about it a lot, we try to put ourselves in the best possible position at the start of the game as we can. Which I'm sure every team does that with, too. But, obviously needs to be better. We are certainly aware of it and we are working to make it better.

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