HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
October 25, 2021
On Brian Hoyer's contributions as a leader and mentor:
BB: Brian's done a real good job of that. Of course, as you mentioned, he's been in the system longer than anybody else as a player and knows the offense extremely well. It's one thing, as a coach, to coach the players and all that, but in the end, it's always helpful to have somebody who has actually played it be able to also talk about it because, as a player, you get told a lot of things, and as an experienced player, you can sometimes help the younger players with understanding what's really important and what to put at the top of the list. With players like Brian or Jerod [Mayo] and Troy [Brown] on the coaching staff, Billy Yates, those guys have all played it, and it's different to actually play it than it is to coach it, and both are important, but they all do a good job of that. Brian, in particular, I think has been extremely good with Garrett [Gilbert], Jarrett [Stidham], and Mac [Jones] on giving coaching points on either plays, situations, cadence, you name it, and kind of to help move the important stuff up to the top. Not that everything isn't important, but there are some things you've really got to take care of first, and he's done a nice job of that.
On what led him to play J.J. Taylor more yesterday and Hunter Henry's contributions to the team:
BB: We have confidence with all those guys. With James White, we started the year with five backs and had a lot of confidence in all of them. They've all contributed. Brandon [Bolden] had another good day for us yesterday. Both J.J. and Rhamondre are both young, but they both contributed, and I think they will going forward, so it's good to have depth there. Hunter has been really good in a lot of ways. He's a smart player. He can do a lot of things. He's got a good, versatile skill set. I really thought one of his best plays he had yesterday was on the opening kickoff where the Jets tried to kick the ball opposite of the way we expected and what the wind would indicate, but it was a play designed to send the ball up into the sun and make it a tough catch and tough play there. Gunner [Olszewski] handled the ball well, but we flipped the whole return from going to the right to going to the left based on where the ball came down, and Hunter came over all the way from the right side and made a key block, and we got the ball in good field position to start the game. It was a heads-up play by the kickoff return team in a lot of areas, but really Hunter made the key block on that and came the farthest to do it. It's little things like that that Hunter does that are really kind of, they're little things that become big things. Then, we ran the screen pass to Jonnu [Smith], and he's running the over route and took some coverage over there with him, and Jonnu made a nice play to break the tackle there by, I think it was [Marcus] Maye, but again, that's the kind of thing that Hunter does. He attracts some attention, made a great catch on the touchdown pass, so he's been a really good addition to our team and has helped us in a lot of ways; running game, passing game, as I said, on the kickoff returns. He's a good, smart, tough, dependable player.
On how Hunter Henry has been able to pick up the offense so quickly:
BB: He's a pretty experienced player. That goes all the way back to high school there at Arkansas, Pulaski Academy, playing for Coach [Kevin] Kelley, and then playing for Bret [Bielema] at Arkansas, and then his experience with the Chargers being with an experienced quarterback out there with [Philip] Rivers and so forth. He's a really smart player. He's a very instinctive player, and I'm sure he's learned a lot along the way, and he's, again, helped us and brought some things. He does some things, I don't want to say on his own, but just instinctively does the right thing, and you put him in a play, he's the guy that makes it work just by knowing what to do, being patient, using his route technique, winning his leverage. When he doesn't have the leverage, figuring out how to slip the defender to get to where he needs to go. He knows when he's covered, how to drag another guy into covering him, kind of taking two-for-one to open it up for somebody else. He does a lot of little things, subtle things, really, really well. As I said, he's been a really good addition to our team and gives us a lot of versatility. He's a guy that has really stepped up and has given us a lot of production at that position.
On if Ja'Whaun Bentley's ability to read where the ball will go pre-snap is a function of game scheme or instincts:
BB: I think it's a combination of both. It could be part of a stunt. On the second play, [Trevon] Wesco moved across the formation in motion kind of quickly before the snap, which we've seen him do before, and so we all kind of moved over a little bit, and then [Christian] Barmore was in on an inside move, so he kind of opened up some space there where Ja'Whaun would naturally fill, and he was able to shoot through there and kind of break the play up. It's a combination of both, but Ja'Whaun is a real instinctive player. He has a good feel for the running game and the passing game, but particularly in the running game, both on his bits and when there's movement on the line or scheme blocks, how to fit those and how to be in the right place. You've seen him do that pretty much all year. He had a similar play in the first Jets game. The other side, the left side, where he ran through the B-gap and had a tackle for loss there, and so things like that. He's really done a good job of that, but it's a combination of both. Some of that is instincts. Some of that is part of a call. Sometimes, we're up in there and don't come and try to make the offense respect it, but you do something differently. He does a nice job. He has good feel for the running game and how to fit on all those plays inside.
On if they did any work on Justin Herbert prior to the 2020 NFL Draft and what's makes him so good:
BB: It's because he's really good. Yeah. He's really good. I thought he was outstanding. He just really had everything you're looking for. He's very athletic. Good arm. A lot of poise. Played well in Oregon. Just a number of big plays. All the passes. All the throws, but extended plays, scrambles, could run the read-zone and all that. He's as good a quarterback as I've seen come out here in quite a while, especially as it fits the pro game. I don't think you're going to find too many better than him. This guy is really an impressive player. I thought he was really good when we played them last year, and, luckily, we had a pretty good day, but I'm not counting on that again. I have a ton of respect for him. I think he's going to be one of the top quarterbacks in the league for a long time to come.
On how the defensive line played despite all their injuries:
BB: They really stepped up. D.G. [Davon Godchaux] didn't practice all week, and he gave us a really solid performance in the game. [Deatrich] Wise missed Wednesday and was kind of a little bit limited on Thursday, but he really came around at the end of the week and gave us solid play in there. Dan [Ekuale] stepped up off the practice squad and gave us a lot of snaps inside along with [Christian] Barmore. L.G. [Lawrence Guy] was steady and consistent like he always is, and Carl [Davis] did a real good job for us on the nose and did a real good job in the running game. They hit us on the reverse, and those aren't the plays the nose guard is going to stop anyway, but he did a real solid job for us, not only stopping the run, but pushing the pocket in there. I thought that group really helped us yesterday.
On the challenges a young quarterback faces adjusting to the NFL:
BB: Well, it's a big jump from college to pro football. The passing game is a lot different. Certainly, athletes that play in the passing game are a lot different than what you see in college. The schemes, the multiple players that could be in coverage, and how fast and how aggressive the pass rush is. It's a lot different than college. Although, I'd say that Mac [Jones] played in more of a pro system at Alabama than a lot of other quarterbacks did, but regardless, it's still a big jump. Mac's been steady, and I don't think there's any one play or any one moment that's just changed the direction of his development. It's just play-by-play, day-by-day, just stacking those together and accumulating the experience that he has, and, offensively, it's between him and multiple other starters, let's call them new starters, from last year or guys who have played a lot. We just have a lot of new people in there at various points, whether it be on the offensive line or, obviously, the skill position players, other than [David] Andrews and Jakobi [Meyers]. Other players, even the guys who played here last year, they've even missed time this year. They missed time last year. Whatever the case might be, so it's a process. Everything comes together at all levels, not just the quarterback position, but transcends throughout the entire offense. There are a lot of good players there; Hunter [Henry] and K.B. [Kendrick Bourne], Nelly [Nelson Agholor], and we've mentioned a lot of them here, but they weren't with us until this year, and there's been a learning curve and an adjustment for them and for all of us, but again, we're just taking it day-by-day and trying to improve tomorrow from where we are today and so forth, and hopefully that'll serve us well in the long run. I'm sure it will. That's the approach we've taken, whether it's at quarterback or a combination of quarterback and all the other positions, that's the world we're in.
On Christian Barmore's development:
BB: I think Christian has done a good job of developing all phases of his game. He's improved in the run game. He's improved in the pass rush. He's a versatile player that's played a number of spots for us. Five technique. Three technique. He's also played on the nose. That's a lot of things that can happen to a defensive lineman. The different blocking schemes, different types of pass protections, different reads, and then you mix that in with multiple defensive calls and so forth. Quite a bit can be going on there, and I think he's handled that well. Again, similar to the conversation we had on Mac [Jones], he's improved all the way through. He's been out there. He's been durable. He's continued to get snaps on the field daily, and he's learned from those snaps, and he's gotten better at the multiple things he's been asked to do. If he keeps working hard and he continues to press on his fundamentals and his techniques, which are so critical to the position he plays, all the line positions, I'm sure he'll continue to get better, and as he's gained experience and knowledge, and, as I said, better fundamentals, he'll continue to improve. I'm glad we have him. I think he's made a lot of progress, and I think he'll be a good player.