PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
October 4, 2023
BB: Alright, always interesting to watch the Saints, pretty impressive team here. They've done a good job in really maintaining the program they've had over the last three years. They've done a really good job with the team. They're well balanced. This is a solid team. Mickey [Loomis] and Dennis [Allen] have acquired a lot of players here to, say, compensate for some of the losses they've had. You know, drafted well. So, a really, really solid group here. The coaches are really the same ones we've seen for quite a while, minus Sean [Payton]. But, with Dennis, Pete [Carmichael] and Darren [Rizzi] as the coordinators and a lot of the key players, not all, but a lot of the key players are still there from earlier in that 2017 to 2020 period, and then even since we played them in 2'1. Offensively, it starts with the offensive line, a lot of good players up there. Four number one picks that New Orleans, you know [James] Hurst, [Erik] McCoy, a second-round pick out of A&M. So, a lot of good players up there, they have good depth. A good pass blocking team and a good run blocking team, but they're very good at throwing the ball. Explosive players at all the skill positions, I mean, start with [Alvin] Kamara, got him back last week and got him the ball. Then [Chris] Olave, [Juwan] Johnson, obviously [Michael] Thomas, these guys are all a problem, [Rashid] Shaheed, [Kendre] Miller, I mean they got a lot of good players. Then, [Taysom] Hill is a versatile guy for them. He's going to touch the ball five to 10 times a game at various positions, hard to know exactly where that's going to be. But, that is their whole offense. They move people around and have multiple personnel groups, multiple formations and just give you a lot to prepare for defensively. Their defense is kind of rebuilding on the defensive line. They have signed a few players in recent years as UFAs and drafted [Bryan] Bresee and [Isaiah] Foskey this year to put in there. But, guys they've added like [Nathan] Shepherd and [Carl] Granderson to go with [Cameron] Jordan, it's a good defensive line, very experienced. Jordan is one of the players I have the most respect for in the league. He's been a great player for a long time, very durable, whatever it was – 177 straight games he played. This guy shows up every week and plays well, run, pass, situational football, really smart player. This guy's a great player. They have good speed at linebacker with [Demario] Davis and [Pete] Werner and their secondary is a very aggressive secondary, like Dennis has always had there. [Alontae] Taylor has come in for [Paulson] Adebo, well, on some of their early downs, they've had good production. [Marshon] Lattimore is obviously one of the top corners in the league. A lot of experience in the secondary, even though they lost [Marcus] Maye, bring [Jonathan] Abram in and certainly [Tyrann] Mathieu is a guy that has a ton of experience, savvy and anticipation back there. So, solid group, they do a lot defensively. They have a lot of schemes to prepare for and a lot of good players. Kicking game, you know Darren [Rizzi], so this is a long time we've competed against him, going back to all those years at Miami and then going back to '21, we played him there. With Shaheed, they've got a good return game. They're a good rush team, punt and field goals, really good in those areas. Two new kickers, well, a kicker and punter, a little different, some of the punt things they do, a little bit like the college games, so that'll be a little bit new for us there with [Lou] Hedley. A really solid group led by [J.T.] Gray. He's one of the top players in the league. Absolutely have to block him, account for him, to have any chance of return on punts or kickoffs, as good as anybody we play. So, that will be a big matchup for us there, too. Very well-balanced team, they've got good players in every unit and have a good level of experience. Certainly, [Derek] Carr has been a good addition for them at quarterback, still have [Jameis] Winston and Hill gets his snaps back there as well. They're good on the deep ball, both Winston and Carr are good deep ball throwers. So, definitely a big point of emphasis this week is not allowing the explosive plays. They've already hit, I don't know, four or five of them, which is definitely a problem. We've got to eliminate those.
Q: You have a number of players on PUP and IR who are eligible to come back today. Are you expecting any of those guys to practice?
BB: Yeah, there's a possibility on that, trying to finalize that this morning.
Q: Do you have any updates on Matthew Judon?
BB: No. When we have them, we'll let you know.
Q: If he is expected to miss an extended period of time, how big of a loss would he be for your team?
BB: Well, I mean, you always want all of your players out there. So, if a player's not out there, then that provides an opportunity for somebody else, so we'll see how all of that plays out. But, we'd love to have Ju out there. He brings a lot to our team, to any team, the Ravens, to whoever he plays for, got a lot of energy. He's a good player, unselfish, but, we'll see.
Q: Jerod [Mayo] said that Keion [White] is somebody who is probably going to see a larger role now with Judon out. What kind of development have you seen from him in the first month of his career?
BB: Well, I'd think that, you know, if a player like that isn't able to play, there would be multiple players that would take on different responsibilities. But, Keion's coming along well. He's a smart kid. He's out there every day, works hard. He's improved a lot, still got a long way to go, but he's certainly tracking in the right direction.
Q: What have you seen from Anfernee Jennings so far this season, and is he a guy that you could see playing consistently on all three downs?
BB: Well, Anfernee's done that at times for us, did that at Alabama, had a role on third down as well. So, he's done a good job for us the last couple of weeks on the edge of the defense, and has some versatility both on third down and to play off the ball if we need him there, too.
Q: With Christian Gonzalez's injury, how vital will it be to have Jack Jones back when he is able to come back?
BB: Like I said, when players are back, it's great to have them back, whoever they are.
Q: Tyquan Thornton is one of those players who is eligible to return to practice. What did you see from him this offseason prior to his injury in Green Bay?
BB: Like all the rookie players, it's just better in year two – better idea of what we're doing, better idea of what it's like to be an NFL player, better idea of how teams play different than college. So, Tyquan's a smart kid, good participant in the offseason program, took in a lot, learned a lot. Looking forward to getting him back.
Q: What is it about Cameron Jordan that makes him one of the players that you respect most in the league?
BB: What I just said – his consistency, his durability. He's play after play production.
Q: Have you had much contact with him over the years that he's played? Have you gotten to know him at all?
BB: Luckily, we haven't played him too often. It's unusual to get them two years apart, that's the extra game, otherwise it's every four years.
Q: Trey Flowers, we haven't seen him on the practice field, but how much of a sense do you have of where he's at?
BB: Yeah, he's in that group of PUP/IR players that are headed in the right direction. We'll see exactly when they're ready to return. I mean, they're all making progress, getting close. It's just final decisions here, yesterday, today, of is it now, or is it later?
Q: Yesterday, Bill O'Brien said that there are things the coaching staff can do to help Mac Jones improve some of his decision making. Is that type of stuff more in the film room or is that more in practice when you're trying to help a quarterback with something like that?
BB: It could be a number of different things. It could be the design of the play, the read of the play. It could be the way it's presented, looking at the defense. I mean, there's the execution of what you do, and then there's what they do that you can't control that you have to react to and adjust to. So, how those two forces collide on any play or on any particular situation, always, there's a little bit of variance – how you want to treat it, how to do it. Some are more clear cut than others, but in the end, those are decisions that you've got to make. When you execute your play and they do the different things that they do, what should happen on the play?
Q: I know you and the staff always talk to other teams and see what's going on around the league, but when you run into a spade of injuries and things that deplete your depth a little bit, does that enhance the possibility of a trade or something along that line to try and increase the ability that your team has?
BB: Yeah, I think every situation's different. Look, to trade at this point, somebody has to be available, so let's start with that.
Q: In studying the Saints, which I'm sure you did this offseason and brushing up this week, how would you describe their roster building specific to their cap management?
BB: Yeah, I don't know.
Q: What are some of the things that you see from their special teams, the punt team in particular, that resemble the college game?
BB: The formations, just rolling and punting in the direction that the punter is rolling and also being able to cross field it and kind of play keep away from the returner. The ball travels a little different, too. I think there's been a couple of examples where you see the returners having a little trouble judging the ball, not having as clean of a catch as what you normally see. Look, we've worked him out. I think we know [Lou] Hedley. But, playing against him, as a player, playing against that type of a kick when you see more of the traditional NFL punts as opposed to the running, rugby-type punts – which, he can just stand back there and punt it too, they do both – but, it just adds another level of preparation and a different fundamental that you're not as used to doing.