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Transcript: Bill Belichick Press Conference 11/29

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday, November 29, 2017.

BB: Alright, so, just digging in here on Buffalo. I think that Coach [Sean] McDermott has done a real good job with this team. They're playing extremely well, got a really good team, a lot of veteran players that play very good fundamentally. They're very sound. They do a lot of things well. They run the ball well. They play good defense. They're good in the kicking game. They obviously do a good great job with takeaways and turnovers. Ball security is going to be a huge issue for us in this game. I'd say that they play with a lot of passion. They play smart football. They don't give you anything. There's not a lot of opportunities there when you look on the film like 'Oh, this looks good. That looks good.' You're going to have to earn everything you get from this team. They play very competitively. They have a lot of tough football players, guys that play hard, that work hard, that are physical, that do a good job of controlling their area, if you will, and then some great athletic space players, obviously, like [LeSean] McCoy, like [Brandon] Tate, like [Tyrod] Taylor, guys like that, [Jerry] Hughes, in their respective areas that are really hard to deal with, hard to handle. We'll need to do a good job in all three areas. This is a well-balanced team and a team that capitalizes on mistakes. You can't make many and you've got to do a good job of containing their explosive players in all three phases of the game - their skill players on offense, their disruptors on defense and the return players and kick and coverage players on special teams. This will be a big challenge for us to go up there and be able to play well.

Q: Going back to the fake punt...

BB: Yeah, honestly, I'm pretty much done with that. Really, I'm on to Buffalo. I really need to focus on Buffalo and I don't really care too much about anything else right now. Sorry.

Q: Kyle Williams is a guy you've seen plenty over the years now. How much does he embody the toughness of that defense as a whole?

BB: Yeah, sure, [Lorenzo] Alexander. I mean, you can put him right in there, too. Obviously, the whole secondary is new. Those guys weren't at Buffalo but we played against most of those players - [E.J.] Gaines, [Micah] Hyde, [Jordan] Poyer. Obviously, not Tre'Davious White, but those guys, I would say, yeah, Alexander. Certainly Kyle Williams, Hughes, [Preston] Brown - that's a good solid group - [Ramon] Humber, who we knew, who we played against last year. Those guys - Leonard Johnson - those guys played hard. They've all caused fumbles. They've made big plays. [Matt] Millano's made some for them, too, but that linebacker group - Brown, Humber, and Alexander and Millano - have all caused fumbles, intercepted passes, knocked balls loose, as well as their normal tackle stats and all of that. Like you said, Kyle Williams is a very good football player. Hughes, a tough guy to handle. Leonard has played well for them in the slot position. They play good complementary team defense. It's not one guy, and if you run away from one guy you're running into somebody else and those guys have come through for them consistently. They held Kansas City to 10 points. I mean, we know what that's like. In Kansas City they did a really good job.

Q: Their run defense was stellar last week but had been trending downwards a couple of weeks before. Is there anything that stands out to you that would have allowed them to improve in that area last week?

BB: They've been pretty consistent all year. Obviously, the Charger game, I think you can kind of write that one off, but they're a good defensive football team. They play a lot like Carolina plays, schematically, but I'd say their experience in the secondary with Poyer, Hyde, Johnson and Gaines, that those guys do a real good job disguising coverages, changing up the looks. It's hard to get a real good pre-snap read on them even after the snap. They hold some things late. They drop into coverages or get to their responsibilities late. They make it tough on you. They really do. They didn't go to a 3-4 defense or anything like that. No, they played what they did and just did a lot better and, obviously, that wasn't their highlight game this year, but they've had a lot of good ones.

Q: Do you have to relearn what some of their secondary players can do given that you've seen them play before, but haven't seem together as a group with this Buffalo team?

BB: Yeah, well, I think it's interesting. I think you look at each of the individual players and based on what they did before you kind of know that player and his skills are. Now you're seeing him in a different system, and so some of those skills that maybe in another system weren't highlighted as much are now featured more in Coach McDermott's system. You just see them playing differently. You see the safeties playing more Cover-2. You see the corners in zone coverage, things like that. Poyer was really more of a free safety at Cleveland. He's played really more strong safety here for Buffalo. Hyde was all over the place. He played corner. He played some nickel back. He played a little bit of safety, returned punts. Now he's pretty much a free safety exclusively. You don't see him in those other spots. I'm not saying he couldn't do those, and maybe at some point he will, but for right now, two-thirds of the way through the season he's just been in that one spot. When you go back to Green Bay there is not a lot of him at free safety. I mean, there's some, but there's more him at other positions. Certainly, when we played them in '14. Gaines played against us last year. He got hurt right before the half and didn't play in the second half, but we saw him with the Rams, and Leonard, of course, we know. We know what a tough, competitive guy he is. Yeah, I mean, you sort of know them from other systems, but when you see them in this system you see how they're being coached to play, how they're playing the system that they're being coached now. Sometimes that's a little different emphasis than what there was somewhere else. It's interesting the way they've put that together and those guys seem to play with a lot of confidence with each other, a lot of, as I said, good coordinated disguises and coverages. Not just one or two guys, but the whole group really. You can put Preston Brown in there, too. He's in coverage almost on every play, and Ramon. Those guys are pretty much on the field for all of the plays. Alexander in regular, but then he plays some defensive end in sub, but they coordinate all of those things pretty well and disguise their blitz looks and then back out of it, or don't show it and then walk into it late, stuff like that.

Q: What has allowed Tre'Davious White to transition well from the college game to the pro level?

BB: Well, I don't know. I mean, he's a talented player. I'd say like every rookie, he's had some good plays. He had a big interception last week against Kansas City. Other plays that I'm sure he's learned from, but he's done a good job. Their defense has done a good job all the way across the board there. They're solid at all three levels - defensive line, linebacker, secondary - from inside to outside, short to deep. It's a solid group. They've done a good job there.

Q: What have you seen from Stephon Gilmore behind the scenes of late that has allowed him to have success on the field?

BB: He's been consistent all year, he really has. He's been consistent from the spring, to training camp. I think if you pulled out last week's practice and pulled out one in September or May and took the weather out of it and everything else, and if you didn't really know what day it was you'd see pretty much the same guy every day. He comes to work. He works hard at his job, tries to play the technique. If he makes a mistake, you correct him on it and he tries to improve it and do it right, but he does it right a lot and he's got a lot of good skill and experience. He's a very consistent guy.

Q: Stephon mentioned that he recognized a route earlier in the game that allowed him to be in position later to make the interception. Was his interception last week a good reflection of the kind of work and film study a cornerback like him needs to put in throughout the week to be prepared on Sunday?

BB: Yeah, well, I mean there's always a fine line on that. What good players do is they recognize tendencies and they can anticipate plays, but offenses, especially good offenses, like Miami, like Buffalo, like really every week, they have complementary plays to go with. They obviously don't run the same play 20 times in a row. They run an out and they're going to run an out-and-up. If they run an out, they're going to run an in off the same look. So, there's an anticipation and then there's usually something in the play as the play develops that at some point an instinctive player can really pull the trigger on it and 'OK, this is what it is. It's not the complementary play. It's this play.' There's a fine line there. It certainly comes from study, and reps, and confidence and experience, but I wouldn't misconstrue this to think that 'Oh, OK, they line up in this formation. We know it's going to be this slant route, so I'm just going to walk in front of the slant and take it for a touchdown.' I mean, it's really not that easy. We don't get that from any offense in this league. Maybe high school, that's one thing, but at this level if they run a slant then they run a slant-and-go, they run a return route, they run a run, they run something else off of that same look, too. They're not just going to sit there and run the same play 16 weeks in a row and keep throwing it to a defender standing right in the passing lane. That's just not the way it is.

Q: Do they design a number of runs for Tyrod Taylor or is his mobility mostly from running outside of the pocket and creating plays?

BB: Both. Yeah, there are some designed runs for him. There's a lot more runs that go to other players, but he's their second leading rusher, so some of those are scramble plays, loose plays. He's very hard to tackle. He's like a running back when he runs. Again, some of those are part of the play. Some of them are scramble plays. Some of them are just extended plays where he ends up throwing the ball. They don't go on the stat sheet as runs, but his running ability creates passing yards because of the extended play capability, so he can get the ball down the field to [Charles] Clay, in particular, [Jordan] Matthews, [Zay] Jones. A lot of times there are checkdowns to McCoy or [Travaris] Cadet or those guys and they take a one or two-yard pass and turn it into 10, 15, 20 yards. His ability to extend plays, I would say, is just as concerning or dangerous and tough to defend as him actually pulling the ball down and running with it. That's a problem, too. But extending the play and throwing it is, I'd say, as big or probably a bigger problem.

Q: How much discipline does it take from a defense to be prepared for what he can do as a runner?

BB: A lot. Yeah, a lot. We want to try to keep him out of those situations as much as possible. We don't want him extending the play.  He's a lot better at extending the plays than we are. Inevitably, those are going to come up and we're going to have to defend them. The more that we can limit those loose plays, extended plays, I think the better off we'll be. I don't think you can eliminate them completely, but we certainly aren't looking to get into those situations. Go back, let him run around, let him extend the play and see if we can defend it. We're certainly not trying to do that and no team has been very successful with that with him. He's very good. If you don't let him run laterally and throw the ball, he can run up the middle and run the ball and he's hard to tackle. Tampa was a good example of that. It's a tough problem. There have been teams that have - I'll ask the questions before you guys ask it - 'Why don't we just put a mirror on him?' Oh yeah, great, that's fine. You've still got to tackle him and that's an issue. Plenty of teams have put a spy on him and then he beats the spy and there's nobody left, and so it's 20, 30 yards. To just throw a spy on him, that's not really the answer. You've got to do it right and he's got to be able to get him and he's got to get him.

Q: How much did Nicholas Grigsby's play against you last year on the Rams make an impression and make you want to work with him now?

BB: Yeah, I thought at the end of the year last year for the Rams he did a good job for them. Not just in our game, but kind of that last - I don't know, third of the season - whatever it was, that he did a solid job for them. We saw that when he was released at the beginning of the year this year and talked about him then. It didn't really work out at that time and we didn't have a roster spot. Anyways, so forth, but as time went along we got into a situation last week where we felt like adding him to the roster would benefit the team. But we've tracked him from college, to Pittsburgh, to the Rams, to here.

Q: As a right-handed quarterback, does Tyrod Taylor have a better than usual ability to make throws on the run going to his left?

BB: Yes, yes, absolutely. He, like any right-handed quarterback, is better going to his right, but he can definitely go to his left. He had a play against the Chargers where he hit Zay Jones and Jones was running and cutting and he swung back out of it and hit him on the sideline. It was a great throw, toe-touch on the way out. But yeah, Taylor is very good. He's good on the deep ball. He's made some tremendous throws down the field to Clay. Multiple throws - it's not just 10-yard passes or checkdowns to McCoy. He's hit some deep balls in stride in tight spots 30, 40 yards down the field on the run. He's a very accurate deep ball passer. He's not a big guy. He's not a tall guy, but he has a very good deep ball and very accurate on the deep ball, as well as having a good arm. The most important thing is that he's accurate.

Q: Throughout the week would you say you spend more time talking about the way your opponent can beat you guys, or the way you can beat the opponent?

BB: Yeah, both. We look at their strengths and figure out how we need to defend them or neutralize them, however you want to look at it, and then we look at areas that we think we can create an advantage on and try to figure out how we can take advantage of it, I think it's definitely a combination of both. Sometimes one overrides another, but there's components of both, I would say, every week in all three phases of the game. You've got to find a way to stop the things that they do well, and at the same time figure out ways that we feel like we can gain an advantage in our attack.

Q: Does the fact that you've faced several mobile quarterbacks already this year help you prepare for Tyrod Taylor?

BB: Maybe a little bit, but Buffalo's offense is Buffalo's offense and Tyrod Taylor is Tyrod Taylor. He's not [Jameis] Winston or [Cam] Newton or other guys we've faced. This challenge is this challenge and it's a hard challenge. It's Taylor, it's McCoy, it's Clay, it's the receivers, it's a big offensive line, it's a jumbo tight end, it's a power running game with a back that can, literally, run the ball from sideline to sideline and make four guys miss in a phone booth. McCoy can take any play and turn it into a play that doesn't look like any other play you've seen before. They have a good offense. They have very good players and their challenges, I'd say, are pretty unique. Not unprecedented, but there's some relevance to other players and systems, but these guys, they're good and they're hard to stop. Clay is tough. This guy is fast and is an explosive receiver. We've faced other big tight ends, other good tight ends. This guy is a fast, explosive player. Those guys are good and he's good. He's a little different than some of those other guys we've faced.

Q: How hard is it to generate turnovers against Tyrod Taylor?

BB: Well, turnovers, I'd say it's about a 50-50 proposition. When you look at them, a lot of those turnovers are based on offensive inefficiency or opportunity, and a lot of turnovers are based on defensive plays, I would say; contact hits, or strip sacks, or tipped balls, a great break on a ball in an interception or something like that, as opposed to them just throwing it right to you, like we did, where we just snapped the ball and they pick it up and run it in for a touchdown. I mean, I wouldn't say that was necessarily a great defensive play, but they took advantage of a bad offensive play and they turned it into a turnover and a touchdown, so they can come in both ways. Offensively, you want to do everything you can to protect the ball and not make it easy. Inevitably, yeah, turnovers are going to happen in this game. It's football. To go through a season and think that's not going to ever come up is pretty unrealistic, but you certainly want to limit the opportunities that you give your opponent to touch the ball and take it away from you. Defensively, you want to take advantage of those opportunities when they make a mistake. At the same time, you want to take advantage of your opportunities to proactively get the ball out when those opportunities exist, which isn't on every play but they come up over the course of a game, over the course of the season. You want to maximize those opportunities. I think that's what it is. You take advantage of the opportunities you get. Like baseball, they throw you a fastball down the middle. That's the one you want to hit. If they throw you a curve ball that's outside, maybe you're not going to be able to hit that one out of the park. There are going to be plays that you're going to have to play the play and get the most out of the play that you can. There are going to be other plays that you're going to have an opportunity to get the ball out or get it disrupted or affect the ball somehow and you don't want to miss those opportunities when they come. That's the way I look at it.

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