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Transcript: Bill Belichick Press Conference 10/28

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media on Wednesday, October 28, 2020.

BB: Well, watching Buffalo, there's a lot of familiarity with the team, but at the same time, it's a new team. They've made some changes in the offseason and you can see this team continue to grow. The general manager and head coach have done a good job. [Brandon] Beane and [Sean] McDermott have done a good job of putting the team together and they're obviously playing well. They're a very explosive team offensively, very explosive in the kicking game, and defensively, they are the same defense that Coach McDermott's had going back to Carolina and Buffalo – fundamentally sound, aggressive, do a good job turning the ball over. They have a good variety of schemes that keep you off-balance. So, they're pretty solid all the way across the board, and they've added a couple free agents – [Tyler] Matakevich, [Taiwan] Jones, obviously [Stefon] Diggs – that have helped their team, along with some young players that continue to improve and develop. So, yeah, back in the division. Looking forward to this week of preparation and the opportunity to go up there to Buffalo and compete against the Bills on Sunday, so this will be a good week for us

Q: Their coordinator Brian Daboll is someone you're obviously familiar with. How would you characterize the system that he's installed there? Is it basically what you guys do here and he's just sort of adapted it to them, or are there some nuances to it that he's pulled from other places?

BB: Yeah, I think they run a system that highlights the skills of their players and the personnel. Over the last couple of years, they've been in a lot of different groupings. They've been a 21 team, they've been a 12 team, they've run some two tights. They have a number, now four tight ends on a roster. So, they can do a lot of different things. This year, they've been more 11 and 10 personnel, but that could change at any time. They mix in no-huddle with a slower tempo of no-huddle. So, I'd say they have a variety of schemes and call it style of play, and that could vary from week-to-week based on how they feel like they can attack you. So, there's an element of game planning to it, but they do a good job of it.

Q: How much, if at all, have you noticed opponents attacking Stephon Gilmore this year, maybe more so in than we saw last year?

BB: Yeah, I don't know. I think you'd have to ask those teams what their game plan was and all that, but he's in single coverage a lot. The teams we play, they've thrown the ball to a lot of different people. So, I don't know. I wouldn't say it's going to any one particular guy.

Q: How do you feel like he's responded to being in single coverage and his play this year?

BB: Great. Steph works hard. He's always ready to go. We've changed up what he does based on our game plan and who we're matched up against, the team we're playing that particular week. But, he's a very flexible player that understands what we're trying to do and how it all fits together and works hard to do his part in it.

Q: There's this report out there that the Patriots are essentially talking to other teams about trading Stephon Gilmore. I wanted to ask you if you anticipate having Steph on your roster past the trade deadline?

BB: Yeah, I don't know anything about those.

Q: You mentioned the Buffalo Bills have grown this year. In what specific areas do you think they have gotten better? Do you feel they are a better team than in previous seasons?

BB: Well, offensively, they added a player like [Stefon] Diggs. Last year, they started the season, they had nine new starters offense. So, they've got more continuity than last year when we played them in the first game. They've added a significant player in Diggs. They drafted Gabriel [Davis], drafted a receiver, drafted a running back, made a couple changes on the offensive line. So, you know, they've added some players. I mean, Diggs is a good player. I think start with that.

Q: There's obviously a focus on limiting turnovers and Cam Newton was talking about that this week, as well. Do you feel that perhaps he has been overthinking things in trying not to commit turnovers? How do you address something like that from a mental perspective?

BB: Well, I hope everybody that has the ball is thinking about not committing a turnover, whether that's the center, the punter, the quarterback, or receiver, or running back, or tight end or anybody else that touches the ball. So, that's our number one thing is to have ball security. So, I hope everybody is thinking about that.

Q: How significant do you view this game relative to the competition in the division this year?

BB: Every game in this league is a big game. We've only got 16 of them, so they're all important. Division games we know are more important.

Q: When Jason McCourty came to the Patriots, he was primarily an outside cornerback. Now he's been playing a lot in the slot and safety, about as much as cornerback. What's allowed him to increase his versatility since coming here?

BB: Well, Jason's a smart player. He's got a good skill set. He's played inside plenty, he's played outside, and there have been some situations where we've played him in safety. So, he's got a lot of experience, he's smart, he understands multiple responsibilities, he practices them, gives our team good depth and I think he's comfortable with it.

Q: We saw him going through plays with the rest of the cornerbacks on the tablet on the sideline. How common has that been during the course of your coaching career to have a player, go through those plays rather than coaches on the sideline?

BB: Very common. I think it's always been that way, at least on the teams I've been with.

Q: A lot has been made of Josh Allen and his improvements this season. When you watch him on tape, what improvements have stood out to you?

BB: I thinks he does a better job of going to his second or third reads; not as quick to pull the ball down and run, although he will do that. He has a good feel of when to stay in the pocket and go to a second or third read, and if things open up, when to take off and take advantage of it. I think he's less apt to just start running around and more patient, more confident to stay in the pocket and go to the second guy, go to the third guy, come back to the check down, like any quarterback who's gained two or three years of experience. That's just a common progression. He's done a good job of that. I'd say that's probably the biggest thing is just his overall execution of the passing game and seeing the field, using all the players that are involved in the pattern. If the guy he's looking at is open based on the coverage, then he gives it to him, but sometimes a defense takes that away, and then he's been able to get the ball to other players and still have positive yards on the play. So, that's a good thing for a quarterback to do.

Q: Has that patience that you just described from Allen made him more dangerous as a scrambler? Is he scrambling at more opportune times because he's kind of picking his spots as far as that goes? When he does do that, how difficult is he to tackle?

BB: Yeah, he's a hard guy to tackle. He's just like tackling a running back. Again, when a quarterback scrambles, it's not a called play. It's something that they react to based on a series of things that have happened on that play. Called running plays, which there are some of those, too – quarterback sweeps, quarterback draws, things like that – that's a different story and those plays are really based on the play caller and sometimes the look, depending on how the plays are set up. Scrambles are an instinctive reaction play that the quarterback makes, and I don't think they're scripted like, 'Oh, we're going to scramble at this time or at that time.' I think the intent is to read the pattern and throw the ball based on the coverage. But, sometimes if that gets taken away or the protection breaks down or a guy flashes in the quarterback's face or whatever, then that changes the way the play plays out. It's more of an instinctive thing; I don't think it's a situational thing.

Q: I was wondering, if he's better at finding those check down guys and if maybe he was putting himself in some inopportune situations before, maybe now he's identifying those good opportunities to run a little bit more?

BB: Yeah, that's probably fair. Yeah, instead of pulling the ball down and running because the first read's not there, then stay there, go to the second read, go to the third read. And unless you have to bail based on time or protection issues, then stay in there and follow your progression. At that point, if the progression is up and there's nowhere to throw it, then throw it away or take a look at the rush and see if there's an opportunity to buy more time or run if the rush is displaced. Yeah, I think he's done a good job of all those and certainly shown improvement on it, definitely from his rookie year, but I think it's a gradual thing that you can see from last year, too.

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