PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
October 31, 2022
Q: Wanted to start on the onside kick and the recovery. The way that unfolded, what were your thoughts on that?
BB: Again, the Jets do a real good job in the kicking game. They've very good on situational plays. Both [Braden] Mann and [Greg] Zuerlein have onside kicks. So there's kind of a lot to prepare for there. We took a timeout prior to the kick once we sort of saw what was happening. But really, it was a very good kick by Zuerlein where it looked like it was going to go to our right, and then he kicked it back over to the left. It was a really good play by [Jabrill] Peppers. They're probably one of the best onside kick teams we've faced in quite awhile. It was really just an outstanding play by our unit. Peppers was really at the point of attack, and he came through with a big time shortstop play there. It was well designed by the Jets and I'd say well-played on our end. They did a similar thing against Cleveland when they recovered that one to go on to win the game. It looked like it was going to go our right and then Zuerlein made a very deceptive kick.
Q: I think if I heard you right, you said a shortstop play by Peppers? Is that a reference to getting it on the hop like a shortstop in baseball?
BB: Well yeah, getting his body in front of the ball and playing the ball. Not reaching out for it. But moving in a position so he could keep it in front of him and play like a shortstop.
Q: I also wanted to ask about Jabrill and his impact in yesterday's game, both increased role on defense and saw that he also got some praise from coaches afterward he had a key block on Marcus Jones's return. How impactful was his increased role yesterday in the game?
BB: Yeah, I thought Jabrill had several big plays for us and physical plays, so yeah, good to see that production out there, have him out there. He helped us in the kicking game and certainly helped us on defensively against the run and the pass and on the pass rush. Just good to have him on the field.
Q: Were you always aware that he had sort of those quick hands that he showed on the shortstop play?
BB: Oh for sure, yeah. At Michigan, they used him quite a bit offensively. He's returned kicks, handled the ball well. He's got real good ball skills. That's why we have him on that unit.
Q: Wanted to ask you about [Rhamondre] Mondre [Stevenson] a little bit. What advancements have you seen from in him both in terms of pass protection and also in the passing game over the last season?
BB: Yeah, Mondre just gets better every day. He's one of the guys that I've coached that really has shown just continuous improvement almost every day he walks into the building. Just in every phase of the game. This kid's really come a long way in just every part of his game. You mentioned some of the things in the passing game, awareness, route running, blitz pickup, recognition, getting out on fake blitzes, versus reading the difference between fake blitzes and blitzes. In the running game his patience and setting up blocks, running on the second level, stiff arm and contact balance, ball security. You name it. I have a ton of respect for the way he's worked at his game, improved his training habits. He's still got a ways to go. But he just gets better at all the things he works at every day. He's got a long list of them. But he's made significant progress in so many areas. He's really been impressive.
Q: In a tough divisional game like that one, how important is it for players to set the tone with their physicality? You mentioned Peppers earlier his physicality, I thought made a big difference on the defensive side of the ball. But with Mondre and the big run he gets met by a tackler on the line, he fights through that. Does that in your view set the tone across the board?
BB: For sure. We knew this was going to be a physical game. Coming off a short week, I think our guys really tried to gear up for it and play to it. All the way across the board the Jets are a very physical team and their defense is very active and physical defense. They're well coached. They have an aggressive group of guys out there. There were a number of times where they got us but I'd say we at least fought and competed against them. We made a few plays there, too. We were able to clean out the pocket and Mac [Jones] get some space on a couple of scrambles. Guys running with the ball in their hands, even Jonnu [Smith] on the kickoff return, breaking a couple of tackles there to get the ball up past the 35-yard line for field position. So, a lot of little things. But they all add up.
Q: Hey Bill, last night the team posted a video from inside the locker room, and it looked like the players had a pretty strong reaction to your 325th win last night. I just wanted to ask you, what it meant to you to get the reaction that you did from the players?
BB: I'm very appreciative of it. Yeah, I mean, our team has been great. They've worked hard. They've done what we've asked them to do. Certainly, satisfying to go on the road and beat the Jets. We were all happy in the locker room. Yeah, I appreciate it.
Q: Hey Bill, just wondering if you have any initial observations on Sam Ehlinger and whether you studied him at all when he was coming out of college?
BB: Yeah, I think we'll just save that for later in the week here after we've had a little more time to work on that. Yeah, we're definitely familiar with Sam [Ehlinger], but just really kind of concentrating on the Jets here these last six days.
Q: Hey Bill, I just had a couple on the game, quickly. One, I wanted to ask you about Hunter's [Henry] ability to block in the open field? It looked like, obviously, on the touchdown, he had a big block there. Then it looked like it was maybe a screen play on the second, third down conversion that Jakobi [Meyers] had, early in the game there, where it looked like he had a block there that was important. Then, I just wanted to ask you about the fourth down play, again, it was targeted to Jakobi. He said after the game, that the Jets just played that one really well. Was that a designed run maybe for Mac [Jones], that kind of turned into a pass? Just wanted to ask you about that play and if there was any consideration there for going with the field goal there? Thank you.
BB: Trying to keep them all straight. There was about six questions there, Phil [Perry]. Not processing them all here, right now. Alright, so Hunter's down field blocking. The first run that Rhamondre [Stevenson] had where he broke the tackle by [Quinnen] Williams at the line of scrimmage, then Hunter made a good block on the safety. It was about a 15-yard run. Hunter did a good job on that, on Jakobi's catch-and-run on a third down and long conversion. Hunter and Rhamondre both made key blocks there, where we kind of caught the ball short and then ran. Jakobi picked up the first down on their sideline. There was a number of good plays, down field blocking. I thought our receivers and tight ends really tried to compete there. Jonnu [Smith], as always, has some tough matchups there on the line of scrimmage against those defensive ends, but he fought them well there. On the touchdown, it was a different play, but sort of a similar play to the other fourth-and-one. Little different version of it. The Jets did a great job of covering the fourth-and-one play. We had some options on the play and they really did a good job of taking them all away, and then, on the fourth-and-one touchdown, it worked out where Jakobi was free, and we were able to hit it there. That was a big play for us.
Q: Bill, I wanted to ask you just about Mac and him playing a full game for the first time since week three, what was the most encouraging thing that you saw from his performance?
BB: I thought Mac did a nice job. We had pressure on quite a few pass plays, more than we would like, for sure. I thought he made good decisions and had to pull the ball down a couple of times and make some key runs for us. The Jets gave us some looks on the line of scrimmage that he had to deal with in the running game and I thought he handled those well. I thought he gave us a lot of good plays.
Q: Who was your favorite short stop growing up?
BB: There was a lot of good ones. Have to go with [Derek] Jeter here, in the long hall. Not that I was growing up then, but it'd be hard to put anybody ahead of Jeter.
Q: I liked Ozzie Smith and the back flip when he would come on the field. That was one of Tony's [La Russa] guys, right?
BB: There was a lot of good short stops back in the day. Those guys can handle the ball, I'm telling you. They can handle it and throw it. It's impressive watching a major league baseball infield work. They make it look so easy. It's so hard, and they make it look so easy.