HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
October 7, 2022
BB: Pulled in some of the reserves today huh? How we doing? What do we got going here?
Q: I wanted to ask about Matt Patricia. His time in Detroit, obviously was a difficult time. But from that experience, how has that changed him? How has it made him, perhaps, a better coach?
BB: You'd have to ask him that.
Q: From your perspective though as his boss, have you see anything from him?
BB: He did a great job when he was here. He's done a great job the last two years.
Q: One other thing on that, obviously you had an experience as a first time head coach and moved on from that. How has that experience, when it doesn't work out the first time as a head coach, how does that inform your decisions and make you a better coach the second time around?
BB: As a head coach?
*Q: As a coordinator, as a head coach going forward after it doesn't work out as head coach the first time. *
BB: Yeah, I don't know. I'm sure it's different for each person. I'm not really sure. After you've been a head coach you have a head coach perspective that you don't have before you're a head coach. I'll definitely say that. But I don't know. That would be hard for me to compare my experience in Cleveland to somebody else's somewhere else. I don't know if the circumstances would be the same, similar, or totally different. I have no idea.
Q: When you were Bill's [Parcells] defensive coordinator with the Jets, were you very confident you were going to get another shot? Did you prepare yourself for being a head coach for the next step after that?
BB: I try do the job for - I've always tried to do the job in the job that I'm in. Rather than chasing the next job. That's my personal philosophy.
Q: Through four games here, how do you feel Matt [Patricia] has done with the responsibilities that he has offensively, calling plays especially? Looks like that's what he's doing on the sidelines. How have you noticed him grow in that role?
BB: Yeah, again we've talked about the entire offensive staff. So that's really what - I wouldn't characterize it quite the way that you did. But that's fine. So I would say that, like a lot of things offensively, we made some improvements. Didn't turn the ball over as much last week. That was a step in the right direction. Still obviously have a long way to go. Need to play better in situational football. There's a lot of things we need to do better. I think we made some progress. So we'll see where we're at this week.
Q: Just so we're getting it right, should we not be calling him [Matt Patricia] the play caller?
BB: Call him whatever you want.
Q: How would you characterize it?
BB: I've already characterized it.
Q: Who is calling the offensive plays?
BB: We've talked about this ad nauseum. Maybe we can take notes this time to say that I'm responsible for all of it. Which is what I've said from day one. That's what I continue to say. There hasn't been any change in that. I'm responsible for what is called and what's done on the field.
Q: How do you feel like the collaboration has gone through four weeks here? How have you all grown together?
BB: We're getting better as a team. We're not where we want to be. We got a long way to go. There's a lot of things we need to do better.
Q: Looking across the league through four weeks, combined rushing totals are the highest since 1990. I read that stat this week. What are some of the factors of players, reaction, reflection of change in personnel defensively as boxes have gotten wider? What do you look at with a number like that and identify as the factors?
BB: I'm just really familiar with the games that we've played and what our opponents have done prior to our games with them. I'm not really sure about league trends, and league stats and all that. Sorry.
Q: When you look at Detroit, how have they used their running game to set up the passing game and vice versa?
BB: I mean about what you would expect. They build the formations. They have a core group of running plays, that complement each other. Play-actions come off that, primarily with the quarterback under center. They have a good sub-passing - or sub-running game with the quarterback in the gun. So call it a sub-running game. But they've had multiple explosive plays. I don't know, four, five runs over 50 yards, whatever it is. To get 200 yards rushing on a handful of plays, that changes your numbers pretty significantly. They've done a great job at running the ball at second-and-long, second-and-7-plus. They're averaging like 10 yards a carry, which is unheard of, or pretty unheard of. So they've done a great job in that area. Their backs have taken some short runs and turned them into long runs with good running, poor tackling, however you want to look at it. Which is always a factor in the running game, is the running back and the yards he makes after contact. But they've also created a lot of yards by blocking until the runner even gets to the first guy. So they've done a good job at both. But they have a good complimentary game. If you're stopping one run, then they have another run that compliments that and vice versa. So they do a good job of, I'd say, keeping the defense balanced. Their tackles do a good job at the double team blocks, with [Taylor] Decker and [Penei] Sewell. They do a good job of creating space in the off-tackle areas. The backs are good backs. It's not like Baltimore where the quarterback's gained a lot of yardage. But if you look at the receivers, they've got about 100 yards too, right? Between [Amon-Ra] St. Brown and [Josh] Reynolds. So there's another, some of the bonus yardage that's going on there that you have to defend.
Q: Is [T.J.] Hockenson in-line as much as he is split out? Or is he in sort of more of a [Travis] Kelce situation...
BB: He's in-line quite a bit. He's in-line most of the time, honestly. Other than when they get into four-open spread passing, two-minute situations. But they're one of the highest percentage teams in the league with [Matt] Nelson on their jumbo package. So the extra offensive lineman there, probably use it as much as any team in the league.
Q: What through lines do you see from any of Ben Johnson's work now as the offensive coordinator, obviously from his previous jobs knowing he was with Matt [Patricia] in Detroit and then in Miami?
BB: We're really just focused on what they're doing here. So, again, there's a combination of people there – factors. I don't really know Coach [Dan] Campbell, and Coach [Ben] Johnson, Duce Staley, [Hank] Fraley, there's a lot of experienced coaches on that staff. How exactly it all comes together, you'd have to talk to them about that. I don't know.
Q: For the second straight week you're playing a team that you rarely face. I know that's going to be more preparation. Do you enjoy playing these teams from the NFC? Is that sort of a different challenge for you than playing all the teams you normally would face?
BB: Every week's a challenge in the NFL. They're all challenges. There was one last week. There'll be one next week. There was one two weeks before that. So they're all challenges. All teams are good teams. All teams have good coaches. They all have good players. So you have to take each one individually and take away your matchup against that team, the individual players, the schemes, situational football as that teams handles it. Which is probably unique in it's own way. It's different every week.
Q: How different does this Lions offense look from last year to this year now that it's been...
BB: We didn't play them last year.
*Q: Did you look at the film and all that? *
BB: Yeah we have. But it's a different, I think it's different. Again, we've seen last year. We've focused more on what they've done this year, which is obviously in a league-leading level in almost every category. So with the success they're having this year, I'd say we're not too focused on what they did last year. You look at it in the offseason, but they've had so much production this year through four games I can't imagine they want to get too far away from what they've been so successful with. So that's primarily what we're looking at.
Q: Was it surprising to you to see from last week's game against the Seahawks without
[Amon-Ra] St. Brown and [D'Andre] Swift, that they still put up 45 points without their two leading offensive players?
BB: Again, this is an explosive team. They had a lot of big plays.
Q: It looks like Mike Onwenu has been doing a really good job at right guard. I know he played that spot in the past. What do you think has enabled him to do so well in a more permanent role?
BB: He's done a good job there for us since he's been here. We've used him at both spots, at left guard and also at right tackle. But he's been a good player for us, really at every spot. He's smart. He's strong. He moves well and plays with good balance. He sees the game well with stunts, schemes and linebackers. He makes a lot of good decisions as you have to at that position. There's a lot of things happening there in working together with the other center and guard. Or with the other guard and center – [David] Andrews and Cole [Strange] – the things those guys have to see. The majority of the time the tackles block the defensive ends. That's probably 90% of the game, every game, for every team. It's the inside guys that have more combinations and more things to deal with. Other than the backside of plays. Obviously on the backside of plays, that's different for the backside tackle. But anything at the point of attack or in the passing game, the majority of the time they're blocking one guy.
Q: I'm assuming that Bailey Zappe hasn't gotten the bulk of the snaps when everyone is healthy. Even last week with Brian Hoyer practicing, he probably didn't get the bulk of the snaps. I'm just curious how much improvement have you seen out of [Bailey] Zappe this week?
BB: Well, as you said he's gotten a lot more snaps which is always a good thing for a quarterback in timing and communication. So he's definitely making progress with more experience and more opportunity. I couldn't put a percentage on it.
Q: How tough of a loss is it for you guys to have Brian Hoyer on injured reserve?
BB: Well again that's one of the unfortunate parts of the game. But unfortunately, it's part of the game. Every team has players on IR. I feel badly for Brian [Hoyer]. We'll see how he comes along.
Q: I know you have a deep appreciation for the history of the league. Throwing back with the retros, I know you've done it before but it's been quite some time. When you see that Pat the Patriot who are some of the names that come to your mind?
BB: All of the ones from the 70s. I don't know, how long did that go?
Q: The 90s I think.
BB: Was it 90s? Then obviously some of the guys in the 80s like [Andre] Tippett and guys like that. It's a colorful uniform and a colorful helmet. But honestly we need to worry more about how we perform against the Lions and not worry about the jerseys and helmets. Let's let somebody else worry about that.
Q: With the collaborative set-up you have on offense, what value has Evan Rothstein brought?
BB: Evan's [Rothstein] done some of the things that Ernie [Adams] did. He has a very good understanding of situational football and the organization of various things that we need to do as a staff. He's been a good addition and helped a lot of us in a lot of different ways. He wears a lot of hats.
Q: Has Mac Jones improved?
BB: Yeah for sure. He's a lot closer than he was last Friday. We'll see how it goes.
Q: You referred to [Chris] Board the other day as good of a special teams player maybe that you'll face this year.
BB: Absolutely. He is, absolutely.
Q: You've had guys like that, [Larry] Izzo and Matthew [Slater] all these years. With a player like that on special teams in a non-returning role sole to speak, how does he force you to allocate extra resources? How do you game-plan for a guy like that? How difficult is it?
BB: He's a very hard guy to matchup against. He's bigger than the players you referenced. The size matchup is a problem for the faster lighter guys. The speed matchup is a hard matchup for the bigger guys who don't run as well as he does. He has a great combination of size and speed as well as experience, instincts, and techniques. It's all of the above. There are really no weaknesses in the player. You've got to figure out how to deal with him. He's seen everything. He's seen everything. But it's different than just dealing with a big-sized player or just a speed player, whatever he is, 2 and a quarter (pounds) or whatever it is. He plays at least all of that if not more. He looks like he's more like 245 pounds out there to tell you the truth, but I don't think he weighs that much. But he's a thumper. He's a very physical player. He runs well. He's very instinctive. So it doesn't matter who's on him, it's a tough matchup. If you start double teaming than everybody else is singled. You might solve one problem but you might create multiple other ones, too. You have to figure out how to handle it. He creates a lot of problems and then it all kind of rolls downhill from there.
Q: Do you have an idea of who's going to be your starting quarterback on Sunday?
BB: We'll see.
Q: As you're getting Bailey [Zappe] ready to potentially play this weekend, is the building of the game plan process, is it more of a winnowing down of the offense from what you guys have been working on for a few months here? Or is there sort of an addition process happening where you're trying to make him as comfortable as possible? I know you've said in the past you're trying to accentuate whatever quarterback skills that you have on the field.
BB: I don't really look at it that way Phil [Perry]. I just don't believe in taking last week's game plan and building this week's game plan off of last week's game plan. I don't believe in that. So I would never do that. I would take the breath of whatever it is we have, and say 'okay, how does that fit into the opponent that we're playing and the players that we're playing with' and build upwards from there. Rather than say here's all of the plays we ran, whatever and whittle those down. I don't even know if those are any good this week. I don't know. That's just not the way I would do it. I would build it up to whatever point you think gives your team the best chance to win, whether that's on offense, defense or special teams. That's the way I would look at it. I'm coming from the other direction if that makes any sense. Alright, okay.