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Transcript: Bill Belichick Press Conference 11/23

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference on November 23, 2018.

BB: Alright, back at it here today on the Jets, just trying to pull everything together. What we did on Tuesday and Wednesday and then, obviously, some situational things and so forth, like we normally do at the end of the week. We'll get that going and be ready to go Sunday.

Q: How has it gone with Duke Dawson Jr. in practice since he has returned, and do you feel he is at the point where he could potentially contribute for you guys?

BB: Yeah, possibly; yeah. He's made progress. We've activated him, so we'll see how it goes.

Q: In the preseason, it looked like he played relatively tight to the line of scrimmage in the slot position. Are you still at the point where you're trying him at different spots or have you seen enough thus far where you would envision him being best utilized in the slot?

BB: Yeah, that's a hard question. It changes week to week because our opponent changes week to week. He has done multiple things but he doesn't really have a lot of experience at any of those things, so we'll just have to see from week to week and see how it progresses. The kicking game – I mean, all that's factored in. We'll just have to see.

Q: Are you eager to get back out there on the road this week and maybe correct some of the problems you've had when being on the road?

BB: Yeah, we're anxious to play every week. We practiced all week to have one chance to play on whenever the game is scheduled. Yeah, we're always excited to play.

Q: Are you concerned about the team's performance at all this year?

BB: We try to play well every week. That's our goal every week.

Q: What has Avery Williamson brought to their team?

BB: He's been a productive player for them. Kind of similar to what they had there last year, but fast, athletic, playing behind a good front. He and [Darron] Lee give them a lot of speed at linebacker.

Q: Is it similar to what you saw when you were watching him with the Titans?

BB: Yeah, a similar player; yeah.

Q: Can you believe the longevity that Josh McCown has had in his career and all of the different uniforms you've faced him in throughout that time?

BB: Yeah, but most recently against us down there and he played well. He can throw, can run, obviously a smart guy. He has a lot of responsibility at the line of scrimmage to make coverage or protection adjustments or check plays. I wouldn't say it's a huge part of their offense, but they do do it. I'm sure he would do a good job of whatever they asked him to do. I thought he played well against us in the first game. Threw for – I don't know, 350 yards – whatever it was, and moved the ball. So yeah, we've seen him. We've seen [Sam] Darnold, so we'll hopefully be ready to go, whoever it is.

Q: Would you put McCown in that category of the mobile quarterbacks that you've seen this year?

BB: Yeah. He scrambled a first down on the second drive when they drove it right down the field like 90 yards. He had a scramble on that play. Yeah, I would say there are guys that scramble more than him. Certainly some that scramble less. He's athletic. He can do bootlegs and roll-outs, things like that.

Q: Is David Andrews doing more at center to help identify things at the line of scrimmage than maybe he was doing earlier in his career?

BB: Generally, about the same, but with more experience maybe quicker decisions and there's some gray area, as in every game. In a lot of those plays there's some gray. A lot of times it's clear cut, but sometimes it isn't. His experience and ability to make quick decisions and be decisive and then execute them – there's been growth in that area, so he does a good job there.

Q: How much back and forth is there between he and Tom Brady when they think they see something that needs an adjustment?

BB: Yeah, it's critical. It's a critical communication piece, the quarterback and the center or the quarterback and the offensive line because the quarterback really controls the receivers. The offensive line doesn't talk to the receivers and the tight ends about their patterns and so forth. So, that communication between the offensive line and the quarterback, and then the quarterback to the receivers, that all has to be tied in together. So, that's a critical piece. If the line is doing something different than the quarterback thinks they're doing, then that affects everybody else, too. Sometimes the defense stems and changes the look, so you have to decide how you want to handle that. They're all problems that are solvable, but you have to have 11 guys doing the right thing. If they, again, get you in the gray area or change the look late then that increase the degree of difficulty and the level of recognition that has to go on. Sometimes there's post-snap recognition, too. So, it's one thing and then when the ball is snapped it's something else. Then David or the offensive line has to recognize that and the quarterback and the receivers have to make that same adjustment. It's the National Football League. That's every week.

Q: Does one player between the center and quarterback kind of have final say on those communications, or do they just trust that what the other guy is seeing is correct?

BB: It can go either way. Usually, it's not as much of a question of what's right and what's wrong. It's just declare whatever it is. Let's declare it one way and not be confused when it could be one of two things because they could show one and do the other, or vice versa. If it's clear cut, it's clear cut. I think everybody would pretty much see that. I don't think that's an issue. It's when it could go either way. It doesn't always matter which way you do it. Maybe there's a preferred way, but in the end, as long as everybody does the right thing or the same thing then it's solvable.

Q: Does anything change when the players have a day off in the middle of the week once they're already in the swing of things?

BB: I don't know. Sure, some things. Obviously, the schedule changes a little bit. We've played a lot of football this year. It's not like we're just like a couple of days into training camp here. It's been a long week though. We started on these guys on Monday, so hopefully we'll be ready to go.

Q: What have you seen from Leonard Williams over his career in the NFL? How has he grown as an edge player?

BB: Yeah, he doesn't play a lot on the edge. He plays mostly inside, but he's hard to block. He's a good football player. He's long. He's got good power. He's very explosive. He's quick, athletic for his size, a hard guy to cut and get off his feet. He's very good instinctively. He recognizes things quickly – screens, combination blocks, things like that. It's hard to get him on those wham plays, stuff like that. He does a pretty good job of seeing and recognizing those. He's one of the best players we play against. He's outstanding.

Q: And how about from Darron Lee?

BB: Lee's fast. He's fast. He gets to a lot of plays on the perimeter. He got us on a strip fumble last year from behind. He's pretty good with his speed like a lot of fast guys are coming up from behind, punching the ball out, things like that. They can get there to plays that some other players can't quite get to. Has good range in coverage, has had some big plays for them this year, had some big interceptions, gets his hands on the ball.

Q: When you play in the division, is there a tendency to do some more things the opponent isn't expecting because there's so much familiarity between the two teams?

BB: Yeah, I don't know. There's always an element of that. I don't think we want to come in here and run the wishbone because they haven't seen it before. We do what we do. They do what they do. You dress it up a little bit, but in the end I don't think this game is the type of game that it's going to come down to a big, huge deception at the end of the game. One team's [not] going to be sitting there saying, "Wow, I've never really seen them do that before. That was totally off the wall." I don't think it's going to be that kind of game. It usually isn't in the division. Is there a wrinkle or two in there? Yeah, but you get that every week. They lead the league in third-down defense. They're top of the league in red area, top of the league in short yardage. I can't imagine, like, why would they change some of the things that they're doing? Offensively, they've had a lot of success in certain games. I'm sure they're looking for more consistency, like we all are. Lead the league in kickoff and punt returns. They're a good coverage team. I mean, maybe they'll do something totally different. I don't know. But what they're doing is pretty good, so I wouldn't expect things that they're leading the league in, I wouldn't expect those to change too much. I wouldn't change them.

Q: Was there a turning point for Jason McCourty here where you feel like he started to settle in at cornerback and have his role ascend to where it is now?

BB: Well, he plays multiple spots on the defense, so he really has moved around probably more than any other player in the secondary over the 10 games we've played. But even at corner, he's played inside. He's played outside, unlike really any other player we have. He played safety. He's a smart guy. He's a versatile player. He's shown a lot of versatility considering he missed the spring, but from training camp on he's done a lot of good things for us. He's been very dependable, and tough, and durable and played multiple positions for kind of the newest member of the secondary, if you will. I mean, not counting J.C. [Jackson], but he's had a lot of responsibilities that guys like [Patrick] Chung or Devin [McCourty] have had. As a corner, he's actually taken the brunt of those.

Q: Did you have a pretty good feeling when you acquired him that that would be possible?

BB: Well, he hadn't done it before so, again, new players, until you have them you don't really know. Some guys move easily. Some guys are better off in one spot. There's certainly a place for both. We need both. We don't need everybody to move. We can't have everybody play just one spot, so somebody has to have some flexibility somewhere in there in your offensive and defensive system. That's part of the process of learning your players and learning your team as you go.

Q: Has Jason been here long enough where you can tell him and Devin apart?

BB: No, they make it really hard.

Q: I've noticed they dress alike.

BB: Yeah, no kidding. I don't usually look at numbers. I can usually tell just from looking at the guy who it is. I don't really look at a number and register the player. I can just recognize him. It's hard with those guys.

Q: Back when Devin was coming out of college and Jason had already been in the league for a year with Tennessee, did you guys look at Jason at all as a tool to see how Devin may project?

BB: A little bit. Yeah, we were aware of it. I'd say he was a little bit of a long shot to make the team. What was he, like a sixth-round pick or something like that? So, not a total long shot but it wasn't like he went in the first round like Devin did. They both played the same position, a similar position. It's a little bit different because they played boundary and field. In Coach [Greg] Schiano's system there was a difference between corners. It wasn't all the same. Obviously, they have a lot of similar skills in terms of their size, their speed. I'd say their toughness, tackling ability, things like that are pretty similar. Yeah, it kind of registered with us. I think we saw Devin as not a safety. He kind of evolved into that and he had a good year as a corner, two good years as a corner, right? Two good years before he moved into safety. That was probably more by our need than he needed to move. It was more we needed to move him than he needed to move. But I think it's worked out well for everybody.

Q: How receptive was he at the time to that change?

BB: Yeah, Devin's a team-first player. Whatever you need him to do. If we need him to play three technique, he'd go in there and play three technique. He'd do the best he could. I don't have any doubt about that. Devin's as all in on the team as you could be. Whatever we've ever asked him to do – return kicks, cover kicks, corner, safety, play up, play deep, never batted an eye. Has just gone in there and done the best he could. You'd love to coach 53 guys like that. We have a lot of guys like that, but certainly never an issue with him.

Q: Do you think we'll ever see any 190-pound three techniques the way the game is going?

BB: Brandon King. I mean, he's not 190 but 220, whatever he was at Auburn, something like that; 220. [Tedy] Bruschi – that's another three technique for you, a six footer. You never know.

Q: Did you put Kyle Arrington in there at one point as a three technique?

BB: Yeah, on the edge. Yeah, we were looking for speed. He had speed.

Q: They have a guy in Mike Pennel who doesn't play a ton of snaps for them on the defensive line but is listed at 330 pounds. Is that body type kind of fading away at that position?

BB: Well, first of all Phil [Perry], let's start with how many 330 guys are there out there? Now if you're looking for 190-pound receivers, I mean, there's eight bazillion of them. How many 330-pound guys are there? There's just not that many of them. So, they're always hard to find. Those guys are always hard to find. I don't care if they're tackles, offensive tackles, defensive tackles. For every guy that's 330, there's 20 that are 290. So, if you can find the 330 guys, or whatever the number is, that are as athletic and have the skill of guys that weigh 40 pounds less that play the same position, generally speaking, those guys are probably going to outperform the guys that are lesser. Now if there's some balance then that's a different story. And again, there's only so many 330 pound guys out there, or 370 pound guys, however big Trent Brown is or Marcus Cannon. There's not an unlimited supply of those guys, so if they have that kind of size and are athletic and have the skills then chances are they're going to be playing for somebody. I don't know – if they don't have the skills then they pump gas. There's something else. But guys that are big and athletic, there's a sport and a position for most of those guys. It's the little ones, like me, that were slow and make up for it with lack of quickness that have trouble.

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