PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
October 23, 2023
Q: What does Mike Onwenu have going for him that allows him to make that move to the outside that we saw yesterday and perform at the level he did?
BB: Mike played there his rookie year. He's a smart kid, understands probably all the different positions on the offensive line, pretty good fundamental player and obviously has got good strength.
Q: On the [Jabrill] Peppers interception, when you reviewed the play, what did you see that was a key in that result?
BB: It was a good play by Pep. It was a three-level pattern that they had run on us before, with the first receiver quickly to the flat, the second receiver coming in behind him and the outside receiver clearing out. Pep widened and then recognized the route going behind him and had good whip and was able to gain the depth that he needed to make the play. It was a great job by Pep, and like I said, it was a play that they hurt us with last year, and he handled it well in practice and it carried over into the game.
Q: In facing the adversity you guys have faced this year, who do you see as being some of the most impactful players in helping you to maintain kind of a positivity and process in your messaging throughout the course of this time? Who would you say those guys have been?
BB: You know, I think we have a lot of guys on our team that are really good competitors, very professional, and come in here every day, work hard and set a great example. I don't think any one person can do it alone. Everybody's got to bring it themselves, so you need a lot of people doing that. Some of our more experienced guys, of course, are part of that, and even some of our younger players have shown that, too. So, that's good to see. Each and every one of us is accountable on this team, and nobody can do anybody else's job. It's just not possible. You've got to focus on what you're doing. So, got to credit everybody.
Q: On the last drive, obviously facing some adversity there, Mac [Jones] bringing the team down the field to win the game. What did you see from him, particularly in his decision making, where it felt like he kind of stayed within what the game plan had been prior as opposed to trying to do too much or force anything in those instances?
BB: Well, I mean, there were a lot of big plays on that drive. The two big ones were the pass to [Rhamondre] Stevenson and the great run that changed the field position, totally changed the whole dynamic of the drive. And, the third-and-long conversion to Hunter [Henry], which then put us into field goal range and gave us an opportunity to try to win the game with a touchdown as opposed to just kicking a field goal to extend it, and then there were a lot of other plays in between, but those were kind of the two critical ones. Mac did a good job, but the receivers, the protection, it was all part of it. It was good team offensive execution at the time we needed it the most.
Q: I know you've mentioned a couple of times, the wind yesterday, the conditions, how would you describe the performance you got from Chad Ryland and Bryce Baringer? It seemed like both of them were able to give you guys some impact plays.
BB: Yeah, I think I mentioned that. I thought both guys did a great job. It wasn't easy out there, and they hit the ball well, gave us what we needed. We covered kicks, two kickoffs, I think it was, and the punt – the other punt went out of bounds right before the half. It was a good kick, but those guys did a great job, gave us kicks we could cover
Q: On Pharaoh Brown, it seems like every time he touches the ball it's a 25-yard gain. Are you surprised at all at kind of the big-play ability he's been able to give you in the passing game?
BB: No, I think Pharaoh's a big target. He's got good hands. He's done a really good job of running with the ball and securing the ball. A couple of those plays that you're referring to, he got hit almost as soon as he caught the ball – not on the one against the Jets, but on some of these other plays – as soon as he caught the ball, somebody was right there trying to knock it away from him or knock it out of his hands. He's done a great job of securing the ball and picking up positive yardage after the catch. So, he's been consistent doing that and it's been a big help.
Q: With officiating being officiating, you can't really change it, but it seemed like yesterday, out of the gate, that it was an especially tightly called game in all directions, especially in terms of illegal contact and defensive holding calls in the secondary. When you see that happening during the game, is there an in-game adjustment that has to be made for players and coaches when you see that 'alright, they're calling this really tight'. Do you have to make a change?
BB: Yeah, absolutely. I think you can get a feel for how that goes, and sometimes it goes in that direction and sometimes it goes in the other direction. They're kind of letting the players play and not calling a whole lot. So, that's kind of the flow of the game, and every game's different. I think you see that in all sports, balls and strikes or fouls in basketball, football, whatever it happens to be. There's a certain way that the game's being played that particular game, and it might be a little different from another game when basically the same players are playing. That's one of the things that you have to recognize as a player, and as a coach, we try to point that out, that they're calling it tight today or they're not. Yesterday, you'd have to ask Clete [Blakeman] about some of those, throwing flags, picking them up, and throwing them late, or whatever. It was just kind of an unusual game the way some of the penalties were called all the way around.
Q: Were you surprised by a couple of the late flags, the fact that a couple of the flags got picked up?
BB: Yeah. I mean the obvious question is if it gets picked up, why did you throw it in the first place? So, I don't know. You'd have to ask them that.
Q: We were talking to Mike Onwenu after the game and he said that after the first padded practice, or before the first padded practice, you guys talked about moving him to right tackle. Just curious on why you guys made that decision to move him from guard to tackle?
BB: There are a number of things involved. I had a good conversation with Mike after the Raider game and ultimately, I think everyone thought that was the best thing for us to do at this time. So, went with it. He had a good week and thought he did a good job for us.
Q: One other question about snaps, Jalen Reagor played more snaps in this game than he had in previous weeks. I know he only had the one catch, but what did he do throughout the week or what has he done throughout his tenure to earn those snaps?
BB: Jalen has done a good job with the opportunities he's had. We're trying to get all our skill players in the game and give them an opportunity to make some plays. We got production from, I think we got production from all of them. But that's been kind of a common thing throughout the year, you know, we've had tight ends, receivers, running backs, those guys have had production. We just obviously need more of it. But, we try to get those guys in the game and let them help us.
*Q: Just with all the talk of changing the narrative, "starting over", "no one's coming", that kind of storyline throughout the beginning of the season. How much can a win like this provide a spark just starting with the energy in the building today? *
BB: Yeah, I don't know. We'll find out. Every week is its own week. Every day is an opportunity for us to either get better or get worse. So, hopefully we'll just keep taking advantage of our opportunities and keep moving in the right direction.