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Transcript: Bill Belichick Press Conference 11/20

Read the full transcript from Patriots head coach Bill Belichick's press conference on Friday, November 20, 2020.


November 20, 2020

Q: The NFL sent out a memo this week saying all teams will have to go to the intensive protocols for the rest of the season. Is that going to be a big change for you guys and what you're doing?

BB: Yeah, it'll be a change. As you know, we ran those protocols earlier. So, we've worked through some of that. So, we'll obviously be compliant and do the best that we can to maximize the functionality of what we're trying to do, given the protocols that will be in place. So, there will be some adjustments, but hopefully we'll be able to stick with our basic routine as much as possible.

Q: Football is built so much on camaraderie, togetherness and teamwork. What are some of the challenges of not being able to be in the locker room together and not being able to be around the guys together?

BB: Well, again, for the last few weeks, it's been pretty close to normal. The intensive protocol changes it a little bit, our distancing and so forth, but hopefully we'll be able to maintain the bulk of our routine.

Q: These intensive protocols are something the NFL kind of developed on the fly in response to what you guys and the Titans were going through. Does it feel like coming up with these protocols maybe has helped save the season because it's helped manage the spread of the virus?

BB: I don't know. That'd be a medical question, Ben [Volin]. That's way, way over my head.

Q: You've had Rex Burkhead for four years now. Is what he's done this year as well as you've seen him play, and what has stood out to you about his year in totality?

BB: I think Rex has always played well for us. I don't think that's really ever been an issue. There have been times where he hasn't been available, but his play has been good. He plays in the kicking game, has been productive offensively, blocking, picking up the blitz, running, catching, whatever we ask him to do. He's been very, very good and very productive for us. I'm glad we have him. He's a very versatile player.

Karen Guregian: First off, as a member of the Armenian community, I just wanted to thank you for your remarks and support of Armenia. It means a lot. Thank you.

BB: You're welcome.

Q: Secondly, given his injury history and his age, I was wondering if you saw any difference in the effectiveness of J.J. Watt and what kind of a challenge he's going to present for Michael Onwenu?

BB: Yeah, big challenge and I think honestly the experience that J.J. has is very valuable for him. Obviously, he has a lot of skill – he's long, he's strong, powerful, very quick – but his experience and anticipation is outstanding. And going up against a player who doesn't have as much as J.J. does and hasn't played against him, I think you really have to be mindful of the tricks that J.J. has up his sleeve. He doesn't do the same thing every time. He does a good job of taking advantage of opportunities or changing his techniques based on the situation. He's a tough guy to play against. So, I think his experiences is a big asset for him. I know Mike's studied him hard and will be ready to go, but until you actually face a guy J.J., it's hard to replicate him in practice or what it's really going to be like during the game. But, I mean, look, that's true of [Whitney] Mercilus – you know, there's a lot of players that are a problem. But, he's certainly a big one.

Q: I wanted to get your take on where the league is heading in regards to the quarterback position. You're seeing Deshaun Watson this week, Kyler Murray next week and Lamar Jackson the previous week. It seems like that type of a skillset is what we're seeing more and more in the league, so what do you like about that skillset and do you see that as being the direction of the league moving forward, w that type of a quarterback as opposed to a drop back passer?

BB: I don't know. There's a lot of good quarterbacks in this league and they all have different styles of play. So, I think if you have a good quarterback, then you adapt your offensive system for that player to a degree. Watson is as good as anybody we face. He does a good job at everything. He can make all the throws. He's very, very good with his decisiveness, makes good reads, uses his outlet receivers, gets to his second and third option. He's obviously mobile. He's a hard guy to bring down in the pocket. He's strong. His legs get him some third down conversions and touchdowns, but they also buy him some time to work down the field. But, he can stand in the pocket and throw and read coverages and make good decisions and put the ball accurately on receivers as well as anybody. He doesn't give the defenses very many chances to get the ball. He doesn't turn it over much. So, his decision making and ball security is good, in addition to having a lot of production. So, when you combine those two elements with a quarterback, that makes him hard to defend and they don't have many bad plays that ever hurt their team. So, that's really the kind of guy you want playing that position.

Q: You've talked about the ethnic cleansing in Armenia, and obviously a lot of athletes and coaches have taken stances on human rights issues. What are the determinants in your view in how you go about using your platform in order to speak out on various issues?

BB: Yeah, I really try to focus most of my attention on coaching football. But, there was a very nice comment made there and so it really is kind of along the lines of the comment that the Secretary [of Defense Christopher Miller] made.

Q: What has Stephon Gilmore been doing behind the scenes the last few weeks in terms of his work ethic or to help other corners or speak to other parts of the defense, when it's clear he won't be playing in that week's game?

BB: Yeah, Steph was great on that. Obviously, he has a lot of experience and has played against the players that we've played against the last few week – Buffalo, the Jets and Baltimore. He's very good. He prepares like he's going to play and helps the other players that are going to play with things that he's familiar with and can give guidance and can teach from. Steph works hard. He works hard to prepare himself, but he's a good teammate and he works hard to help those, in this case that were playing in his place, or he'll help those guys that are playing with him when he's playing that maybe he's done something that they're doing, or covered a guy that they've covered and can help implement that knowledge to the other person that's doing it. He's well respected and deservedly so because of his effort, his consistency and his performance and preparation and really knowing not only our game plan and what we want to do, but knowing our opponent and what their either individual or kind of team tendencies are, including the quarterback. So, a defensive back, especially a corner, really needs to know the receiver he's covering, the quarterback who's handling the ball and the keys that come with the scheme formations and splits and so forth – things like that that they're involved with that that particular offense uses, and he really does a good job all that.

Q: I know his injury came up late in that Buffalo week, but he's now missed three games. Was there any thought at the time that he might be a candidate for injured reserve, or was there any setback that might have caused him to miss an extra game than originally anticipated?

BB: Well, I think if we had known he would have been out for a certain period of time, then that would have been an option. But, as I said, he's worked hard to get back and he's making good progress. We'll see how things go here this week and next week and so forth and see where it takes us.

Q: You've had a couple days to work with Jordan Thomas now. What have your takeaways of working with him been so far?

BB: Yeah, he's worked hard here. We were able to meet with him virtually and start to get him caught up with some of the terminology and so forth, but it's been good to work with him on the field. We'll just keep taking it day by day and see where that takes us. But, he's engaged, he's all in, he wants to do well and we're trying to catch him up as quickly as we can.

Q: Do you sometimes not know exactly what you have in a practice squad player until you actually see them in a game scenario, using Terez Hall as an example over the last couple weeks?

BB: Yeah, I think that's true of any player. Unfortunately, practice is not a perfect picture of what a player is going to be in the game, when you bring in contact and instinctiveness and just awareness and all the things that come from real football. So, sometimes players perform better in those situations and sometimes maybe not as good. So, it's always interesting to see how those things play out. I try not to make up my mind on that, how it's going to go, although you have to go by what you see, which what you see is in practice. Again, sometimes in games, that's the same as practice, and sometimes it can be a little better or maybe not quite as good. That's something you just have to find out through the actual game snaps.

Q: How have you seen the Texans try to make the most of the speed they have at receiver, whether in the routes they run or maybe even some of the run plays they've called? What have you seen from them in terms of trying to maximize that aspect of their offense?

BB: Yeah, they do a good job. They do a good job of taking their shots down the field. They also use those guys at times to clear out, which defensively you have to respect, to open up intermediate-type throws. They've also used those guys as shorter catch-and-run players, like the play [Brandin] Cooks had in the Jacksonville game where he took a little quick diagonal and it was sort of a little bit of a wall play and took it like 60 yards for a touchdown on the second play of the game against the Jaguars. So, it's not all goes and posts. There's some intermediate routes in there, as well. And then there's some catch-and-run plays from tear screens to under routes, to wall plays, things like that, that if those guys get a little bit of space, they can gain just as many yards as throwing a go route. It's a very difficult group to defend and a quarterback that is very good at finding the open man, getting them the ball and knowing who his weapons are and what his receivers can do and trying to get the ball to them in a situation where they can really be productive with it.

Q: Jake Burt came off practice squad injured reserve on Wednesday, but we didn't see him at practice yesterday or Isaiah Zuber. Are those guys OK?

BB: Yeah, as you mentioned, Zuber has been out there and Burt missed a few weeks and then came back out there. As I'm sure you're well aware, Mike [Reiss], there's no injury report on the practice squad players. So, sometimes things come up with those guys from time to time and that causes them to miss a day or something like that. It's really fairly common when you have a 16-man practice squad that over the course of a period of time that somebody might come up with something that would have them not practice. So, I would put those two guys in that category.

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