PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
November 2, 2022
BB: Alright, good morning. Alright, so digging in on these Colts. I think for us, kind of start with last year, that was obviously a good football team. A lot of those parts are still in place, a lot of the players. Changed the defense a little bit but still the defense is pretty good, and they've added some key players like [Yannick] Ngakoue and [Stephon] Gilmore, guys like that. So overall, they took the ball away from us last year, they ran the ball, and they made plays in the kicking game. It's a well-balanced team. I think they've put together a solid roster that has good players in pretty much every position. Offensively, it obviously starts with [Jonathan] Taylor, [Michael] Pittman [Jr.], the offensive line and Coach [Frank] Reich. The play calling and scheme, they do a good job attacking. The quarterback, they've added some quarterback running type plays in there which obviously we haven't been great against this year, so we'll see how that goes. Again, a well-balanced offense. [Alec] Pierce, a young receiver. Defensively as I said, Ngakoue and Gilmore are additions to an already outstanding group really with [Kenny] Moore [II] and [Shaquille] Leonard. [Zaire] Franklin's had a lot of production. You see him in the kicking game as well. [Grover] Stewart's playing really well and obviously [DeForest] Buckner is a major force. Really good defensive group. Coach [Gus] Bradley has installed his scheme which has always been tough to deal with. There are some similarities to what they did last year. Obviously, it's different with a different coordinator, it's a little different but it's a four-down scheme with a lot of similar principles defensively. In the kicking game, a really strong group. This is probably one of the best special teams units we'll see all year, very physical, fast. They've got some fast guys like [Tony] Brown, [Dallis] Flowers. They've got some really physical guys like Stewart. The rest of their linebacker crew there, [E.J.] Speed obviously. Guys like that are really a problem. So again, another well-balanced group between their DBs and linebackers. [Matt] Haack we've seen him from last year, so I'm sure we'll see without [Nhyeim] Hines how their return game goes with whether it's [Keke] Coutee or [Isaiah] Rodgers [Sr.], however they decide to do it. Again they're both pretty explosive players and had some big plays. Well-balanced group across the board, offense, defense and special teams. Well coached, really good with Reich, Bradley and Bubba [Ventrone]. I have a lot of respect for them. They all do a good job. We need to be ready to go here.
Q: After not making any moves yesterday, does that mean you're happy with the roster that you currently have just before the mid-point in the season?
BB: Yeah, well we're always looking to improve. We added a couple practice squad players this week. So, it would be hard for me to say there wouldn't be any roster changes between now and the end of the year. I think that would be a stretch, but I don't know, who knows? We'll see how it goes.
Q: Mac [Jones] said after the game the other day that he put in a little extra this week. Did you see that in him in his performance that he put in a little extra last week?
BB: I think everybody put in a little extra. After the Chicago game, I think we all did. We all needed to.
Q: But nothing specific from him?
BB: Yeah, like I said I think everybody did. Short week, there was a lot of grinding. I think the team stepped up and responded pretty well to the short week challenge against a good Jets team. But we're done with the Jets, it's time to move on. We're not going to worry about last week.
Q: With Stephon Gilmore, do they move him around much?
BB: Yeah, we don't know exactly. Sometimes they – Let's say he moves around a bit because a lot of times he plays field and boundary, but they'll matchup.
Q: Does he still look like a guy that if you want to take away a top receiver – Like he's the guy to put on them to take them away?
BB: Yeah, I don't know what their game plan would be on that. He's obviously a good corner. You'd have to ask them what they're going to do. I don't know.
Q: Does it look that much different with him at all, just the Bradley scheme you mentioned versus what you guys have done here?
BB: I mean that scheme's quite a bit different than what we do. That's a good defensive team.
Q: You mentioned the design quarterback runs that they put in for [Sam] Ehlinger, what kind of things do you see out of that package for them and how do they stretch the defense?
BB: I don't know, that was only one game. So, I don't know if that was for Washington or if that's something they're going to do. You'd have to ask them.
Q: Did you guys do much with Ehlinger that year? Obviously, you drafted a quarterback that year too. Did you get a chance to visit him?
BB: I don't think we visited him, no.
Q: What do remember about Kenny Moore II when he was here?
BB: Yeah, a good football player. Very instinctive guy. Tough, probably plays faster than his time speed. Get's the jump on a lot of things. We tried to hang on to him, but we just didn't have any room on the roster at that point. He's had a really good career.
Q: You gave Bubba [Ventrone] his first opportunity as a player and then brought him in here as a coach. What were the qualities he demonstrated in both of those roles for you and how does his special teams unit reflect that?
BB: Yeah, I think they reflect a lot on him. Basically, like a mirror image. Bubba, tough, hardnosed, highly competitive kid. He played as hard as anybody all the time, every play fearless. He has a lot of players like that playing for him. He spent a lot of time with Coach [Brad] Seely. He was here with Coach Seely then it was San Francisco with Brad and I don't know maybe Cleveland, too. Anyway, spent a lot of time with Coach Seely and they obviously came back and was here as well. He's been influenced by a number of different coaches I would say, but he has plenty of experience. I don't know ten years; how long did he play? Nine or ten years whatever it was, something like that – in various organizations. He's got a lot of experience. He's seen a lot and he's done a good job. Like I said, this is one of the best units we'll see, and they're very aggressive, they're very tough. They have a good mixture of size, speed and physicality. They've done a good job.
Q: You mentioned last week that Eliot [Wolf] and Matt [Groh] would handle most of the business around the trade deadline. What did they convey to you around that time or afterward about how close you came to making a trade?
BB: Yeah, we're done. The trade deadline is over, so we're moving on to the Colts.
Q: Were you close?
BB: Nothing happened, so we're moving on. I don't even know what close means. What does that mean?
Q: As far as negotiations, as far as the round, the draft pick or a player? Were there extended negotiations?
BB: I've had conversations that have gone on for months and nothing happened. I've had conversations that have gone on for six to ten minutes and the trade gets done. I don't know what that means.
Q: Trent's [Brown] dealt with some injuries over the course of his career but he's played every snap so far this season. How helpful has it been to have him out there on a consistent basis?
BB: It's good to have everybody out there. As many guys as possible to have out there always helps. That's how they get better and that's how you build continuity and consistency. It's being on the field, practice reps, building your fundamentals with team consistency and play. It's a lot different than the first half of last year for sure.
Q: You talk about consistency, with your kickers you've basically had Adam [Vinatieri], Stephen [Gostkowski], and then now Nick [Folk]. When you look at guys, what do you look for in a guy like Nick Folk?
BB: Well, there was a few other ones in between there now that we've had.
Q: But they've been consistent over time?
BB: Well they were, but I mean it's not like we've just had three kickers here now.
Q: What did you see in Nick that made you stay with him and bring him here?
BB: His performance. Yeah, Nick's really good. He's really, probably of all the kickers, probably the smartest. They were all smart, but I mean really just professional, totally understanding everything about kicking. Adam and Stephen are probably a little more talented but just in terms of fundamentals, the execution, and the consistency Nick's really good. I mean Adam – you're talking about a Hall Of Fame kicker, all three of those guys could be. I mean they're pretty good. We've been very fortunate. Matt Stover in Cleveland, which he looked pretty good too until [Justin] Tucker came along. But yeah, that's a key position, and Nick's been incredibly consistent.
Q: Talking about consistency, the Colts had a few changes recently with a new coordinator and new quarterback. Do you feel this week's challenge is a little bit different than the other weeks in that regard?
BB: Yeah, every week is a challenge in this league. Look we've played three quarterbacks, so we've been through that. I mean Coach Reich, again I'm not there so I don't know, but he calls the plays. It looks very much like Coach Reich's offense going all the way back to when he was at Philly. Whatever changes they made I'm sure he has his reasons for making them. He's a really good coach, and I'm sure that he'll be ready to go with whatever adjustments they've made. But that's the NFL, you make adjustments every week. Things happen every week, and we went through a couple years there with Covid where we had a lot of changes with players, practice elevations, and coaches available and not available and so forth. So, we've been through a lot of changes. Really the changes now are pretty mild compared to what they were a couple years ago.
Q: Were you surprised that they made the change at quarterback?
BB: Yeah, again I'm really focused on our team trying to get them to play as well as we can. We don't worry about what everybody else is doing.
Q: Bill you mentioned right before the season started that it might not be until October before you really kind of have an idea of what your team is. Do you know now what your team is?
BB: I know a lot more than I knew two months ago. For sure, yeah. Of course. I learn something every day, every week. So, we have a lot more under our belt. So, keep working to improve things all the time. Some things we're doing better. Been attacked by different teams in different ways. You learn a lot from that. It's a challenge every week.
Q: How would you describe some of the strengths you see from your team today?
BB: Well, I mean this is really a matchup against the Colts. So how we did against somebody else may or may not even be relevant. I don't know. Right now, let's just focus on the Colts. But fundamentally we try to work on things that we need to work on that will make us better. Schematically, same thing. We've made some adjustments. Players, they've had to make some changes and adjustments, too. All for what we think will make us better.
Q: Does not having Mac for three weeks delay the process at all? In terms of information gathering that you do about your team, or your offense specifically.
BB: There's always changes. We just talked about that. There's going to be some changes next week. Look every team has changes every week. Take a look at the injury reports. Everybody's got somebody on them. It's usually more than one. Guys on injured reserve. Things happen. Things change. It's the National Football League.
Q: Earlier you mentioned DeForest Buckner. How would you describe the way that they use him? Is he a matchup guy week-to-week in terms of his alignment? Or is it pretty consistent?
BB: He usually plays the three-technique. But they will move him around, have moved him around. I think with Ngakoue, they've moved him less this year than last year. So Ngakoue plays outside, Buckner generally plays inside. But when they stunt, then he could end up on somebody besides, well the guard or the tackle depending on the blocking scheme. But they play some other fronts in sub where they put everybody on one side. Or getting in a wide look. I'd say most of the time he's on one guard or the other, depending on the front and what down it is. But he does move around. He did more of that last year. He got us last year at – when he was on our left side. Right end came inside as an example. So, he was in a different position there. We need to be ready for him everywhere. I think Ngakoue outside, and Buckner inside is kind of what gives them good balance in there. Stewart's played really good for them inside. Then they've got multiple other outside rushers. I can't pronounce their names. They all start with O. Got the numbers. But I'm not going to embarrass any of the pronunciations up here. But they have a good edge rush group. Then they have good inside rushers. But Buckner is as good, I mean, he's as good as there is. He's up there with all the [Aaron] Donald, [Cameron] Heyward, Chris Jones, just whoever you want to talk about. He's statistically right there, and he plays that way. He's got a ton of production. A ton of tackles. Sacks, quarterback hits, batted balls, forced fumbles, you name it. He's got it all. Then you look at Leonard, who hasn't played much this year. But he is another guy with tremendous production. Looks like he'll probably be back for this week. So put him up there with all the guys that have had great starts to their careers – [Luke] Kuechly, [Jerod] Mayo, Leonard has had a ton of production. So those guys will be a big challenge.