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Transcript: Bill Belichick Press Conference 11/22

Read the full transcript from Patriots head coach Bill Belichick's press conference on Monday, November 22, 2021.


November 22, 2021

On how Jonnu Smith has acclimated to New England since arriving from Tennessee:

BB: You'd have to ask him about Tennessee. I don't know. I think he's acclimated well. Unfortunately, he missed some time this spring, but from training camp on, he's taken a lot of reps, and I think he's acclimated well into the system.

On if there is more parity and fewer favorites in the league this year:

BB: I don't know. That's really a better question for somebody else. I try to focus on the teams that we play. Obviously, last week, we spent a lot of time on Atlanta, and the week before that, we spent a lot of time on Cleveland. What everybody else is doing, you see bits and pieces of it, and you see some of the crossover games, some situational things that come up. I monitor those pretty regularly and weekly, but just sitting back and watching games, that's not really my thing right now.

On the Tennessee Titans and their loss to the Texans on Sunday:

BB: They turned the ball over against the Texans, so that's hard to count on. That's not what they do. I don't think we'll get that. They're a tough, physical team. The backs run hard. They have a very experienced line. Obviously, [A.J.] Brown is a huge threat. [Anthony] Firkser had some big plays against us when we played against them in '19. Defensively, they're, again, a strong, physical team. Up front, you've got to handle the big guys. You've got to handle [Jeffery] Simmons and then [Harold] Landry and the pass rush. They're a typical Mike [Vrabel] team. They're tough. They're physical. They make you beat them. They don't make many mistakes. They know what they're doing. They're sound. They're a good, fundamental team. They tackle well. The backs and receivers run hard with the ball. The quarterback is athletic. Sound in the kicking game. We're going to have to play a good football game in all three phases.

On Mac Jones' performance so far this season as a rookie quarterback:

BB: Well Mac's worked extremely hard and continues to work hard on a daily basis. He's very consistent in his preparation and process. Again, a young player. He learns this all the time. We all do, but I think his process is consistent and that's really what it needs to be. Each day has its own challenges from early downs to third down to red area to two-minute situational football and so forth. By the time you get to the end of the week, you fill up your preparation in all those areas and then go out and play the game and start all over again. He's done a good job of that.

On how Mac Jones compares to previous rookies he has coached:

BB: Each player is different. Each situation is different. We've had other rookie quarterbacks, but none of them have really played as rookies, with the exception of Jacoby [Brissett] for a game. We haven't had a rookie play at that position. I think it's hard to compare a rookie quarterback to a rookie defensive lineman. It's just not the same thing. They're both challenging. They're both hard, but it's a different type of hard.

On how the team's pass rush has helped their defensive backs:

BB: Team defense is important to be successful. Again, as I said many times before, you can't have one guy out there and stop somebody's offense in this league. It's just not realistic, so a combination of good team defense, run defense, which forces passing defense, pass rush, pass coverage, jamming the receivers, keeping the quarterback in the pocket, using your help and your leverage, all those things. They're all fundamental. They're all critical. On that play, we ran a pick stunt inside with [Dont'a] Hightower and [Ja'Whaun] Bentley. They both came free. I'm sure [Matt] Ryan felt the pressure on that. At the same time, [Matthew] Judon came out of the pass rush and peeled with the back in coverage, which is just another luxury we have when we have pass rushers who also can provide coverage that changes the rushers we have available. It changes the types of rushes that we can use, and it puts pressure on the offense as to who's coming. We all know Judon's coming most of the time, but not all the time. Again, Kyle [Dugger] got a really good jam on [Kyle] Pitts at the line of scrimmage. I think, normally, [Matt] Ryan probably would have had a better chance to see that. I'm not sure exactly what he saw. You'd have to ask him. Certainly, Pitts had a hard time getting progression down the field. Kyle [Van Noy] did a great job with jamming him. Judon peeled with the back in the flat, so he wasn't open. Devin [McCourty] got a good break on the ball. Ryan didn't have a chance to look anybody off. He had two guys bearing down on him, so it's good team defense. You can give credit to whoever you want on that play. Ultimately, Devin's the one with the guy in the stat book, but the flip side of that is the receivers are covered, the quarterback holds the ball unless somebody gets a sack. Again, it's good team defense. That's really what it comes down to. The more we do that, the better the results we are going to have. If one guy breaks down, the other guys could be in good position, but if you don't cover a receiver or somebody lets the quarterback out of the pocket, whatever it is that breaks down, in addition to coaching mistakes that come up. If you get 10 good things and one bad one, it's still not a good play.

On the advantage of using two-running back sets:

BB: First of all, I think you can take stats from last year. Not sure how relevant they are. There were a lot of circumstances surrounding that. You see less two-back in the league. Defensively, the two-back plays are a little bit more of a problem to defend than the one-back plays in some respects, and one-back plays are harder to defend than the two-back plays in some respects. I think there's an advantage, if you can do both, to doing both and force your opponent to work on everything. All that takes time. It consumes meeting time, practice time, game planning time, and if you can do it better than they can, you can gain an advantage. If you can't, then you're probably better off moving onto something else. I think it's just another way to attack the defense. If it can help you, if it can be advantageous, then it's probably worth the investment.

On Adrian Phillips' versatility:

BB: It's very impressive. We've been fortunate to have players like that. Certainly, [Patrick] Chung did a lot of that for us. Devin [McCourty] has done it, can do it. Again, physically, that's probably not the best thing for him, but he's done it for us and has done it well. Devin came in the league as a corner, but Adrian was very good around the line of scrimmage for the Chargers. In San Diego, he played in the box. He played on the edge of the defense. They played that style of the defense where the safeties really play as linebackers in Coach [Gus] Bradley's defense. You can see his instinctiveness. You go all the way back to him at Texas and talking to his coaches back there. It's pretty much the same thing in college as it was in the NFL. Very instinctive. Very high IQ. Plays faster and bigger than whatever his dimensions and times are. He's got a real high level of instinctiveness and anticipation that, for a lot of players in that position, linebackers, safeties, guys that play kind of in the interior part of the defense, when you have a lot of guys running around, doing different things, no matter how fast the guy is, it can slow them down, and no matter how strong he is, you don't really get into a good football-hitting contact position because of the amount of time it takes or being able to figure out exactly where you're going and where you need to be and the angle you need to take to get there and all that. It can neutralize a lot of those things. You see players with great instincts, which Adrian has, both in the running game and the passing game. He's got excellent hands too. If you look at some of the interceptions he has made for us and in his career, those are really good catches that a lot of defensive players might not be able to make that turnover play. All those things are positive. When he gets the opportunity to do it, he's a good tackler. He's got good ball awareness to cause fumbles and that kind of thing and intercept passes. Even the play in the Carolina game that they ruled the runner down, when [Jalen] Mills pulled the ball off of him down there around the 10-yard line, Adrian's right there, scooped it up and returned it for a touchdown. The runner was down and the play obviously didn't count, but that was another good example of how quickly he reacted. He came from all the way on the other side of the field to be there, to make the recovery and got the ball in the endzone. It's really a good play. It didn't count, but, again, those are the kind of things that he just does on a pretty regular basis. You sort of take them for granted, but they're really good plays. We can't take them for granted, but he makes a lot of them. Did we see everything? I don't know. I think you saw him play like that in San Diego. You saw him play like that at the University of Texas, and he continues to be productive. He's one of our best players. He's one of our most versatile players. He almost always does the right thing. When something comes up, maybe you haven't covered it, maybe you haven't exactly gone through that situation or particular way of blocking, crack-block or something has unfolded, but he almost always does the right thing, kind of like Chung. Stuff happens, and he's got a decision to make, and it's maybe a little grey, and he just does the right thing. He does what you would want him to do without really telling him exactly what to do in that situation, so all that's impressive.

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