HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
October 22, 2021
On what made Richard Seymour a special player:
BB: Everything. Yeah. Richard was a tremendous player. He had a tremendous skill set. He had great length. Explosive. Very quick for his size. He could do everything. He started his career at the nose, which was not really his best position, but he could play it for sure, and we needed him there in '01. Then we moved him back to his natural position of five and three-technique. He played some on the nose in passing situations, but he was really more of a defensive end than a nose tackle, but he played there because we needed him, and then after we got Ted [Washington] and [Keith] Traylor and Vince [Wilfork], then he ended up outside. Again, long, athletic, very powerful. It was a tough matchup for the interior linemen. He could win with speed, and against some of the quicker guys, he could win with power. Smart player. Richard was very smart and had good awareness. He was a good situational player and certainly helped our linebackers a lot because he was either able to get penetration or able to draw blockers and tie up blockers that couldn't get to the second level on some of our off-the-ball players. He was a very disruptive force. Good in the kicking game. Played in the punt return and had some big plays for us. Going back to '01, like Troy's [Brown] punt return against Cleveland. He had a huge block on that. He was an excellent field goal blocker. He had a lot of roles. He played in a lot of different situations. We won a lot of games with him. He was a great player. He certainly deserves to be in the Patriot's Hall of Fame and the NFL Hall of Fame. Hopefully, that'll be coming shortly for him as well.
On if there were any plays that stood out to him from Richard Seymour's playing days:
BB: Oh boy. There are a lot of them. Again, we won so many big games, and he made an impact when he got here in 2001. Playing him on the center, which was kind of a new spot for him. He played defensive tackle at Georgia in kind of a four-man line, really more on the guard, but he adapted that quickly, and then his role shifted a little bit, but he was so consistent for the early part of his career when he was with us and through those championship years. On the defensive line, it's not really about one flash play. It's about down after down, being dominant. I just referenced the punt return play because you don't see a lot of defensive tackles on the punt return unit, but I remember showing our team plays of that punt return unit being Troy Brown, who was obviously a starter, Ty Law, Lawyer Milloy, Mike Vrabel, Tedy Bruschi, [Richard] Seymour, and then you had some of the other guys like Larry Izzo and other players like that, Eric Alexander, and those guys that were kind of core special teams players, but there were plays on our punt return team where we had four or five starters and Patriots Hall of Fame players and NFL Hall of Fame players on the punt return unit, and Seymour is one of them. So, those plays kind of stood out for me because they are just a little more unusual.
On his memories of Seymour's 68-yard fumble recovery touchdown vs. the Buffalo Bills in 2004:
BB: Richard could run. He could run not only on fumble returns, but on interception returns. [Rodney] Harrison and [Ty] Law and Eugene Wilson and those guys, Asante [Samuel Sr.], he was one of those guys that could go from defense to offense in a hurry and made some big blocks and honestly caused a lot of those interceptions, certainly some of them, just because of his penetration, length, and pressure on the quarterback that were force disruptive or errant throws. He was very, very athletic, and when you look at that defense in Georgia, he played with [Marcus] Stroud. If I remember right, he was on the right, Stroud was on the left, and you talk about two big-time defensive tackles on the same defense at the same time. That Georgia defense, the entire defense was drafted. I think from either 2000 or '99. Whatever it was, it was [Boss] Bailey and all those guys. Anyway, yeah. He had a lot explosive plays, field goal blocks, fumble scoop-and-scores, strip sacks. He was really certainly a big play guy, but I think when you look at those defenses, the combination of multiple players, and he was the centerpiece of the front, but between [Mike] Vrabel and [Willie] McGinest and [Tedy] Bruschi and eventually Ty Warren and [Vince] Wilfork, there was multiple players there, Jarvis Green, that if you got one guy, it was hard to get them all. Again, he was the centerpiece. He was the most disruptive player, and that's why he'll be in the Patriots Hall of Fame, and that's why he'll probably eventually be in the NFL Hall of Fame. Hopefully, this year.
On his first impressions of Seymour:
BB: Pretty good. He's really unlike any other player that I had coached up until that point. With the Giants, we had some good defensive linemen, Leonard Marshall, but Richard Seymour is 6'7". Leonard was 6'2", so it was just a difference in posture, length. When I was in Denver, we had [Lyle] Alzado. He was kind of more like the guys we had in Baltimore, John Dutton, Mike Barnes, a combination of a Barnes and [Joe] Ehrmann and Dutton all rolled into one, between length, explosiveness, athleticism, quickness, and those guys were really, really good players, but there just haven't been many like him. Obviously, you talk about Hall of Fame players, so it's not a long list of those guys, but I just never really had anybody like that. He was very smart. He could do a lot of different things; game plans, pass rush plays, playing certain plays a certain way. That was all really pretty easy for him because the game came easy for him in terms of intelligence and anticipation and communication along the line. With guys like [Tedy] Bruschi and [Mike] Vrabel and [Willie] McGinest and those guys, they all communicated well, Rodney [Harrison], Lawyer [Milloy]. If they saw something, they were able to apply [their skills] quickly and use them to make a play or to take care of a problem that we could identify pre-snap, so those were big-time strengths. It was really the whole package, but it jumped out pretty quickly. It didn't take long to see that this guy was going to really be able to help us.
On how the team has turned the page this week after Sunday's loss:
BB: Each week is its own week. Like it usually goes, Wednesday, it's getting familiar with a new team and a different style of play. Certainly, they [the Jets] have had a different style of play than Dallas or Houston, but they play really well defensively. We're getting a good red area team. [Their defense] can turn the ball over. Very aggressive front, so getting the look from our scout teams and doing things properly. Same thing with their formations on offense. They create a lot of different looks with their motion packages and so forth and a very good scheme running team, so it's hard to replicate the way they do things when they're different than the way you do them, but as that's gone along, we've gotten more adjusted to it, and the pictures have been cleaner, so the execution has been cleaner. I'd say, generally speaking, that's kind of the way it goes every week, but each day has gotten a little bit better. We'll clean some things up today, go through some situations and be ready to go on Sunday.
On the importance of personal accountability and Seymour's leadership style:
BB: I remember Richard coming in as a young player, and he verbalized this, but I'd say his philosophy is kind of, "I have two ears and one mouth. I'm going to listen more than I speak," and I think that would be a good way to sum it up. He listened. He was very attentive. He took a lot of things in. When he spoke, I think everybody listened carefully to what he said because he wasn't just a chatterbox. What he said was thoughtful and with a good foundation. He wasn't overly emotional about every time something happened, to have some commentary on it, good or bad. He kind of took his time. He processed things, and when he spoke, I think it was with a great deal of, from the listeners, his teammates, his coaches, myself, all of us, you knew that he had put a lot of thought into it, and you knew that it was coming from the heart and a solid foundation. He just didn't say stuff to say it. It was backed up by solid thinking and evidence, so I think that type of leadership is well received because it's sincere and it's with a good perspective. It's not just a quick thought that there's no depth to. With Richard, there was a lot depth in, I would say, really everything he said and did. I'm very fortunate. I feel honored to have had the opportunity to coach Richard, not just as a great player, but as a person, and like a lot players, like a lot of us, like all of us, he had some setbacks, and he had some difficult things he had to deal with along the way and managed them. He fought through them and overcame them and had a very successful career. We won a lot of games with him, and we certainly wouldn't have won as many without him. I'm always appreciative of Richard and what he did for myself, my family, and the New England Patriots.
On Damien Harris' performance this season:
BB: Well, Damien's been a very good player for us. A lot of his production is a function of what other people do as well, but he can only do what he can do, which is make the most out of every opportunity, but just like other skill players, some opportunities provide more than others do. As we've stressed with him and every player really, it's the same thing. You do what you can do. You control what you can control. Every play is not an 80-yard touchdown. Some of the best runs he'll have are going to be five-yard gains, but that's getting the most out of the play. Maybe there's a play that's blocked for one that he gets five out of. I think that's what every player needs to do. Damien has done a good job of that, and whatever role we've asked him to take on, he's embraced it and worked as hard as he possibly can to excel at it. He has a ton of respect from every player and coach in this organization, as he should because he's earned that. That's not something you get from talking or some kind of false image. You get it from day after day, consistent performance and dedication, and he's the poster boy for that. He works extremely hard and takes his job very seriously and always tries to perform at the absolute highest level and do what's best for the team. He's earned everybody's respect for that. That's not something that's given. He's put in the blood, the sweat, and earned it.
On adjusting to other teams' adjustments to their offensive and defensive schemes:
BB: I think it's been interesting. When you go back to, we put so much time and preparation into Seattle in '14 and even going back to '12, when we played them in '12, and then '14, and then all the great success that Seattle had there, and many of those coaches have gone and carried that scheme from, there's a bunch of them. We saw one last week with Dan Quinn, but they've all kind of taken on a little bit of a different variation to that. It's not, as you mentioned and referenced, it's not the same as what it was in Seattle in '12 and '14. It's been modified, and part of that comes from the way offenses have tried to attack it and tried to expose some of the things that are core fundamentals of that system that you try to break them down. I think that's similar to what we saw Paul Brown to Bill Walsh with the West Coast offense. What Bill ran in the 80's and won championships with is the foundation of a lot of offenses in the National Football League today, but yet sometimes you have to look, and you have to look pretty closely, to see those plays whereas 20 years ago, it was much more evident. The plays, the protections, it was very common. The way multiple teams did that that had come from that system, whether it be Mike [Holmgren] and coaches like that, McCarthy, Holmgren, and so forth. That's all been kind of modified. Certainly, the running game has been modified considerably from two-back to basically one-back-type formations, which in the original West Coast offense. Those were all mainly two-back formations, with just a little bit of one-back. Now, it's changed. Although, as somebody mentioned earlier, or maybe you mentioned it, Kyle [Shanahan] has adjusted and run more two-back stuff with [Kyle] Juszczyk, but that's more of the exception than the norm. The long and short answer is yeah. I've seen the defenses adjust. I've seen the offenses adjust, and even the foundations, whether it's Pete's [Carroll] Seattle 3 or the Paul Brown, Bill Walsh West Coast offense so to speak, they look quite different, but yet if you went to those people that did that and the organizations that did, I'm sure they would be able to say, "Well look, here's the foundation of it. Yeah. These are different than what they were, but the protections are the same. The route concepts are the same. We call it the same. It just looks a little bit different," and that's hard for the defense when you run similar concepts from different looks. It's hard for the defense to identify the concept when it looks differently. If you run it four times in the game, each one is a little different picture, It's harder to recognize than if you run the same thing four times and allow them to see it, correct it, see it again, anticipate it. I think that's pretty common. As Coach [Robert Saleh] said, whatever the trends are, if you're good at them and they're successful, teams are going to find a way to copy them or use that, and then the other side of the ball is going to find a way to break those down and put stress on those principles that you're trying to coach, and then, eventually, you're probably going to have to make some kind of adjustment. In some cases, when you have an extremely talented group of players, maybe you make fewer adjustments. I think when your team isn't as talented as a team that's doing those things and doing them very well and at a high level, then you start to see some of the exposure a little bit quicker than if you put 11 guys out there that are really good players and are really experienced in the scheme. That's the highest level of any scheme. I agree with Coach's [Saleh] comments, and I think he's right on point there, and I'm sure in five, six, seven years, we'll look back and have a similar conversation about some other aspect of it.