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Transcript: Bill Belichick Press Conference 11/25

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media on Wednesday, November 25, 2020.

BB: I apologize for being late here this morning. We got a little mixed up. We have the intensive protocol now that we are working under, so we had to rearrange a couple things schedule wise. So, we'll have to move this back a little bit in the future, but I kind of screwed that up this morning.

I'll just start with saying that as an organization, our thoughts and prayers are with Marcus Paul and his family. I know that there's a lot of close connections here and just I'm not sure exactly what the situation is other than it's serious and we're all thinking about him and just have a ton of respect for him and all he did for us and just the relationships that we've maintained.

Moving on to Arizona, this is a very explosive football team that Kliff's [Kingsbury] great job with molding the team into the personality and the type of explosive team that he wants, both offensively and in the kicking game. Defensively, they do a good job putting pressure on the offense, creating negative plays. They're a very good third down, short yardage defense. They do a good job of, as I said, just making it default on the offense with pressures, safety pressures with [Budda] Baker causing disruptive plays. The kicking game is one of the best units we faced all year. They are an excellent coverage team. They have very good returners with [Christian] Kirk and [Chase] Edmonds. So, they can create big plays with their rushes, with their returns and their coverage units. They lead the league in kickoff coverage and blocked punts and they have explosive guys back there. So, this will really be a big challenge for us in all three areas of the game. A team we are not very familiar with, so spent a lot of time here the last couple days as a coaching staff trying to close the gap and then communicate that and show that to our players here, so we can get started and have a good productive day today and get things underway.

Q: What goes into deciding to have a corner travel with a receiver and what has allowed Steph [Gilmore] to be pretty effective at that over the last few years?

BB: Well, when you set up your defensive game plan, you try to create advantages for yourself or try to deal with the things that your opponent does and there are a lot of things to take into consideration. There are pluses and minuses to matching up. So, if we feel like it's advantageous, then we would consider it. If we don't feel like it's advantageous, then we wouldn't do it that week. So, again, there are a number of factors that go into that. But, I'd say Steph overall has done a pretty good job of covering just about everybody he's covered. So, I don't think there are too many situations that would take us out of not wanting to put him on a certain player.

Q: Is Julian Edelman still headed in the right direction and what is the possibility that he might start on the clock today?

BB: Yeah, I think Julian is definitely headed in the right direction. I spoke to him and he's feeling better every day, confident, stronger. We'll just take it day by day. When he's ready to go, we'll put him out there, but we don't want to rush it or put him out there and then there's a setback and then we run out of time. So, when he's ready, he'll be back out there. I know he's working very hard to get back out there as soon as he can. We'll just take that day by day and see when we all feel like that time is right.

Q: What have you seen from Isaiah Simmons as he's gone about his rookie year?

BB: Yeah, they have a good group of linebackers and safeties – some big, fast guys – and that really helps them limit any big plays. They get to a lot. Simmons is very fast and athletic and continues to gain experience and get better every week, like all rookies do, especially with the situations this year. He's a good player. I'm sure he'll continue to get better, but he certainly adds a lot of speed and length to their defense.

Q: Have you ever had a chance to spent time with Larry Fitzgerald? If you have, what have been some of your impressions of him as a person and as a player?

BB: Yeah, well I've spent quite a bit of time with Larry. Larry's a very dedicated football player. He works extremely hard. He's very knowledgeable in all phases of the game, but particularly the passing game and techniques, training, fundamentals. He's, I would say, to receivers what Peyton Manning was to quarterbacks in terms of that type of total obsession of knowing everything about the position and how to do things and how to convey those to his teammates. So yeah, I mean he's had tremendous production. I mean, other than Jerry Rice, those two guys are really at the top of the production list in just about every area. His longevity has been remarkable. Again, I think that's a testament to his physical training, but he has great awareness and instincts as well as all the other things that go with being a receiver. He has tremendous hands, concentration, ability to make clutch plays and really match up against most every type of defender. He finds a way to win with the skills that he has and his style of play. So, he's a tremendous player and he's had a tremendous career. I don't know how you could do much more than what he's done for the amount of time that he's done it in. He's had tremendous durability and production.

Q: What are the challenges of utilizing blitz packages against a guy like Kyler Murray or a quarterback who has the ability to move? How does that change what you would like to necessarily do in those instances and creating pressure?

BB: Well, I mean, generally speaking, the more players you rush, the less space he has to escape in. If you rush four against five linemen, there's really six gaps you're defending with four people. If you rush five, then it's six gaps to five people. If you rush six, then you can theoretically take care of all the gaps. So, it just depends on what you're trying to do and what type of coverage you want to play behind it and so forth. So, there's, like I said, plusses and minuses to everything. The more people you rush, then the harder it should be for him to get out. The fewer people you rush, you're probably going to have to deal with some type of extended play. I'm not saying you can't do that, you just have to have a coordination on how you're going to handle it.

Q: You mentioned that if you're less familiar with a team, you spend a little more time as a coaching staff leading into that introductory type of game plan. Is there that much of a difference in the amount of time that you're able to dedicate to the specificity of a game plan against a team that you're not as familiar with?

BB: Well, I think that teams you're familiar with, you're able to game plan maybe a little bit quicker and then spend more time specifically looking at examples of things that apply to the game plan. When you don't know a team quite as well, you don't want put in things and then later on Tuesday evening or Wednesday or Thursday find out, 'Yeah, you know what, it looked ok, looked like a good idea at one point, but now as we dig into it a little bit deeper, this is going to maybe cause more problems than its going to create.' Then you've wasted time and energy working on something that really wasn't probably a good thing to work on. So, I think you want to try to avoid it. I think that sometimes the game planning decision making may come a little bit later in the process with a team you don't know as well, as I said, to try to prevent making a mistake and doing something that you eventually decide is not really what you want to do

Q: It feels like there are so many young, athletic quarterbacks in the league now and I don't know if it's to combat the athleticism that you see from defenses or defensive lines these days. Do you view it as almost a requirement in the NFL in 2020 for quarterbacks to have a certain level of athleticism, or is it just a product of the athletes that are playing that position growing up these days?

BB: I think each player has his own individual and unique set of skills, just like we all do. We're all individuals. We're all different. We all have different strengths and weaknesses. But, in the end, we try to evaluate, in this case, the players, the quarterbacks and take a look at the composite and put some kind of value on them. But, every guy is different. Unless you just want to eliminate certain players, then that's – if you want to eliminate all players under 6-1, then you're going to eliminate a lot of players. How good are they or aren't they? I mean, I don't know. If you want to eliminate all quarterbacks over 6-6, you can eliminate those guys. Are there some good players in that area? Yeah, there probably are, but if you have a certain philosophy that you don't want to deal with a certain type of player for whatever reason, then teams certainly can do that and do do that. I would rather look at the player and try to evaluate his overall value and what he can do and try to find a way to use the skills that he can do.

Q: What do the Cardinals do with their running game and what have you seen both out of Kyler's designed runs and also the stuff they do with Chase Edmonds?

BB: Well, I'd say they have a core group of runs. The zone read is a big play for them, where the quarterback either gives to the back on his own play or keeps it. They also have a variety of scheme plays and other plays that go with that – some of the plays that go with the zone read, but then they have another series of plays that are probably game plan specific that they use against certain teams or certain looks that they pick out. And the quarterback obviously is a big part of the running game. There are a number of plays that he has the option to run the ball or keep the ball. So, it's two plays in one, sometimes three in one. So, that's really. I think, how it comes together. Edmunds is basically going to rotate with [Kenyan] Drake. He's in there probably a little more in passing situations, but they run no-huddle and sometimes they don't substitute. So, you can't count on that. But, whenever he is in there, he's productive and they find ways to incorporate him into the game plan with certain plays, specific plays where he's going to get the ball. But, they are both very good with the ball in their hands. It's two excellent backs who can do a lot of different things. Edmonds returns kickoffs, so those are other potential offensive touches for him, but yeah, those guys are really good.

Q: You activated Sony Michel but then he wasn't actually dressed for the game. You referenced earlier not wanting to run out on time with Julian Edelman. Did that come down to a similar circumstance of just not wanting to run out of time before you activated Sony Michel?

BB: Yeah, well, we had to activate Sony or his time would have expired there. With Julian, we haven't started the clock on him yet. But, again, it's just not really specific to any player. It's just, I would say, generally the way we feel about the situation is when you put a player out there, you want to be pretty confident that he's healthy and is going to be able to finish his rehab and practice and prepare and be able to play in the game. So, if you put him out there too early and then he's not quite ready yet or he has a little setback that maybe takes a week or ten days to try to get him back to where he was, then your three week window expires and then he's not ready and you have to make a decision as to whether you want to put him on the roster or not. That is not really the position you want to be in. Sometimes those things happen and they are out of your control. You think they are ready and then something happens and there's a delay in the progress. I think if you're not totally confident – there would almost have to be a new injury to occur as opposed to a setback on the current one that you're dealing with – that's really where you want to be. You want to be confident that the injury that he's coming out of is ready for the demands that you're going to put on him.

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