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Transcript: Bill Belichick Press Conference 11/13

Q: Is there any reason to practice inside due to the weather, or is this an outside day?

BB: Yeah, we'll be outside.

Q: With the rare snow in late October and then the mild weather, how are the conditions of the upper practice fields? Due to the spacing you're probably trying to work with, how are the fields are holding up?

BB: Good. Because we didn't have fans in training camp, we were able to balance the fields off on the upper. Normally, with the fans, we do all our work or most of our team work on the field closest to the fans. This year we were able to split that up. We try to save the lower field for the end of the year because that's heated, so if we have colder weather, then we want that field to be in good shape for the end of the year to deal with potential freezing issues.

Q: Obviously, you've had a run of injuries at the tight end spot, so I'm sure that's part of what led you to Jordan Thomas. But, as a player, what does Jordan Thomas offer you, based on your scouting of him in college and pros?

BB: Well, he's a big kid, has a wide body, but pretty athletic, so he may be able to do some other things, as well. So, we'll see how it goes when we get him. He's been in systems similar to ours, so we'll see how quickly that comes along.

Q: There's always a lot of discussion in games like this about the chess match that takes place between you and an elite offensive player. What is that like for you and what is your mindset or level of enjoyment of trying to game plan against an elite player like Lamar Jackson?

BB: Yeah, when you play the Ravens, it's really about team defense. They have a lot of options on every play, so you're not just trying to stop one thing. Whatever you do, they have potentially an answer to it. So, if you take away one thing, they have something else that's built into the play. It's a lot of post-snap reads for the quarterback and he makes a lot of good decisions. So, they generally get the ball where they want it on that particular play. That's kind of the way they're built. Not all plays are like that, but they have a lot of them. We'll just have to, like you always do against the Ravens or this type of offense, we just have to play good team defense, everybody taking care of their responsibility. If you have two guys or three guys doing the same thing or over-playing something, then you're going to be vulnerable somewhere else. And generally speaking, they do a good job of hitting that because they're reading after the snap, recognizing where you go, and if two guys go to the same place, then they put the ball where those guys left. It's a challenging offense for sure. They have a good complement of running the ball, throwing the ball, they have good power plays and they have speed plays on the perimeter. So, w have to be ready to deal with all of it.

Q: Is figuring out how to address those challenges the thing that you enjoy most about this job?

BB: Well, being a head football coach, you're involved in a lot of things. I mean, honestly, I enjoy all of them. They're all important components to team building and competing and so forth, whether it's for a season or a game or a daily practice. So, all the things that go into it are important. They all add up in the final result. So, you know, I enjoy all parts of the process. You can't have good success on the field without good preparation, and you can't have good preparation without having a lot of detail and the information you assemble. You've got to be able to teach it, and fortunately, I have a great staff that's really able to do most all of that work. So, I enjoy all aspects of the game.

Q: We saw Dalton Keene go on IR this week and Devin Asiasi the prior week. Obviously, those are injuries, but really over the last four years, do you have any idea why you've had a harder time getting consistent production and development from the guys that you've selected in the draft?

BB: Look, anytime you bring a player onto your team, you put them into a role or a situation that you think fits him. Sometimes you have to modify that a little bit as you get to know the player, and then you work with them to try to develop that and he competes with other players at whatever position it is or whatever role it is. Ultimately, you choose or we choose, I choose the best player out of that competition. So, that's really the process. I don't know how else to answer the question. Obviously, each player is different, each player competes with different players, positions are different. So, I don't know that there's a general answer to that.

Q: It seems that a lot of the players you have brought in via the draft since 2017 haven't won those competitions or haven't gained your faith and confidence to allow them to play. Knowing how much you put into the draft, is there a disconnect, whether it's injuries, development or competition?

BB: Well, Tom [Curran], I'd say the most important thing to me is winning games. I'm not going to apologize for our record over the last 20 years. I mean, I've seen a lot worse. So, ultimately we try to put the best team on the field that we can to be competitive, and I don't really see that changing. So, whoever those players are or aren't, that's the responsibility I feel to the team is the competition plays itself out and the better players play, whoever they are.

Q: I know you reference the last 20 years, but over the last four, really since about 2014, do you think the production you've gotten from drafted players has been what you'd hoped?

BB: Honestly, Tom, my focus has been on the Ravens, not on right now of a drafting scorecard, which I understand you want to write about that, which is great, but I'm really trying to focus on getting ready for the Ravens. So, I think I'll leave my attention on that.

Q: Obviously, Lamar Jackson is a very unique player with unique skills. Cam Newton has some similar skills, more so than Tom Brady did. Do you think your defense going against a Cam Newton-led offense all year in practice has helped them be a little bit more prepared for the Ravens and Lamar Jackson?

BB: Yeah, well, we've certainly seen plays that the Ravens and other teams have run from our offense, more this year than we have in other years. So, there's a lot of plays that we've seen that we didn't really have and so we draw them up and so forth. There are other teams we play that run plays that we might have seen more of in previous years then we see this year from our offense. So, if we change or tweak our offense or defensive system a little bit, then there's a balance there. It's no different than being a four-man line team or being a three-man line team. You work against one or the other in training camp on a regular basis, and then you see other one during the year, then you're a little bit less familiar with it or vice versa. So, I'd say, no matter what system you run, there is an element of that, whether it be on offense, defense, special teams. Whatever you run, you get more looks at that. Whatever you don't run – there are other teams in the league that run other systems that you don't use for whatever reason, or don't use very much of – and so you have to simulate those to your players and try to get them to understand how they need to block or defend or whatever the case might be it is with that. But to answer your question, yes, we've run more of those plays in our offense and so we've seen more of them in training camp and practice going against our offense, for sure.

Q: What have you seen from Damien Harris and what you've seen from him as he continues to develop along here?

BB: Well, we've talked about this several times this year, but the guys going into their second year are significantly ahead of where they were in their first year. Damien didn't have a lot of opportunity his rookie year due to the players that were in front of him at his position and the health of those players. He's gotten a chance to play this year and he's shown to be a very competitive and productive player. It's different, but I'd say, in a way some similarities to James White. James didn't play his rookie year and then had an opportunity to play a second year. Now, again, I'm not comparing the two players, but I'm just saying their situations were similar in that James and Damien didn't play their rookie year and then when they got a chance to play in their second year, you saw some skills that those players perform at a pretty good level. Part of that is opportunity. Part of that's also taking the time when they're not playing in their early career to develop their skills, to have a better understanding of what they're doing in the offense, the defense, the reads, their assignments and so forth, and then get to a higher level of training. So, Damien's done that. He's in good shape. He came to camp ready to go. He's been a really consistent player for us all year. He missed a little time early in the year, but when he's been out there, he's been consistent. He's been dependable.

Q: It's been about a month that you guys have been able to now practice on a normal basis. What have you seen from the team over the course of that month and what kind of progress have you made as far as practice is concerned?

BB: Yeah, I think we've made a lot of improvement, but as a team, we just need to play with more consistency. We have good moments and we've done some things well in some games and then other things well in other games. I'd just say overall, if we can develop more consistently, play closer to a full 60 minutes of good football, that that would help us. But, we're definitely gaining on it. I mean, we're a lot better than we were a month ago. Now, other teams have gotten better, too. So, it's not like everybody's standing still and we're moving forward. But, we've gotten better and the players have worked hard and recognize things that we fundamentally need to do or schematically need to do. As coaches, we've I think tried to respond to the strengths and weaknesses of our players and tried to utilize them accordingly. So, it's certainly been a combination of effort by the coaching staff and the players to perform better, and we definitely have practiced better and I'd say overall we've performed better in games. That's not always necessarily there on the final score, but when you look at a lot of little things that add up on each play, there's more good than what there was before. So, that's a good thing.

Q: How much did that halt in practice effect you, when you look back on it, as far as what you're trying to do as a team? You've been doing this for so many years. How much did it do to interrupt or impede your progress as a team?

BB: I don't know, Dan [Roche]. I couldn't put a percentage on it. I'd just say looking forward, we need to continue to take advantage of whatever opportunities we have on the field and classroom situations, film situations, walkthroughs, to continue to work on the things to make them more consistent, to make them better, to be better fundamentally, to have better results in games. And, so, that's what we'll continue to do. I don't know how to evaluate the looking back part of it, but I'd say looking forward, that's what our plan is and that's what we've been doing and I think that's the right process. We've just got to make the most of them.

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