HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
Tuesday, November 29, 2022
Q: I'll ask about Jahlani Tavai. What type of season has he had?
BB: Yeah, Jahlani's done a good job for us. Played a lot of football. He's played on every down. Smart, versatile player that's earned playing time.
Q: Is that production and consistency why at least reportedly, you reached an extension with him today?
BB: Yeah, of course. Performance, yeah. And his contract was up, that's another reason. Or it's going to be.
Q: You've talked a lot about the red zone offense and you guys trying to work to get it on track, obviously, not for a lack of effort. How optimistic are you that, I guess, better results are ahead with what you guys are doing behind the scenes?
BB: Just work on it every week. It's a good thing when you can score from further out, which we had a couple of those. So, we couldn't skip it. It's always a good thing, but yeah just keep working on it every week.
Q: Offensively speaking, do you feel like you guys have taken a step in the right direction with what you did on Thanksgiving Day?
BB: Yeah, it really doesn't matter what happened last week. It will be about this week against Buffalo.
Q: But progression, I would think that you'd like to see?
BB: Again, it's a new team, a new defense. It's all different this week. So I don't know if last week has anything to do with it or not. I don't think that had anything to do with the Jet game.
Q: Last Thursday you take on the mismatch of Justin Jefferson and Dalvin [Cook]. This one is Josh Allen so its 11-on-11 football you have to play. What do you preach to the defense as the biggest point of emphasis when taking on an offense like the Bills?
BB: Yeah, team defense. We need everybody. They've got good receivers, good tight ends, good quarterback, quarterback run game. It's not like one guy's going to be able to stop them.
Q: When it comes to rushing Josh Allen in the pass rush, just challenges of balancing, containing versus getting pressure on him, what are kind of the emphasises there?
BB: Yeah, he's very dangerous out of the pocket, he's dangerous in the pocket. So just team defense. Playing with our leverage, using our teammates help, them being where they need to be, being aggressive. He's a hard guy to get and you can't just stand there and watch him throw because he'll throw it pretty good, too. So it'll be a challenge for us.
Q: Thursday's game will mark Devin's [McCourty] 200th game. What has Devin meant to you as a player?
BB: Devin's been a tremendous asset to this organization and me personally. He's been the team captain, the leader of our defense, really since the day he got here even though he started off at corner and we moved him to safety. That was a transition that he made very well, and he's played well for us in the kicking game. He was a high production kicking game player until recently. We've kind of pulled back a little bit on him. But his communication, his leadership, his work ethic, his training, on and off the field. We're very fortunate to have him and have had him. He's been a great asset to this organization.
Q: How rare is Devin's durability for the number of snaps he's played, having not missed a game since 2015, I believe it was?
BB: Yeah, it's pretty good. I don't know exactly how many other players can say that or whatever. But he trains hard. He works very hard. It's not by accident. He puts in a lot of time, puts in a lot of training, is in top condition all the time. He takes care of himself and plays with good fundamentals which is another way to stay healthy. He plays with good solid fundamentals as a tackler and taking on blockers, things like that. Which is another good way to preserve on those hits if you do it the right way. Use your leverage, use your strength, he does that.
Q: I know mistake free football is often what wins games specifically, but I'm just curious about the aggressiveness of some players. How you as a coach and your staff teach them to be aggressive, coach them to be aggressive? At the same time, not go too far so that they don't get penalized in the case of a couple plays the other game, potentially, being too aggressive in a spot and they can't contain?
BB: Yeah, that's a fine line. Always is you know? You want to play right on the edge of aggressiveness and physical but not over the line of hurting your team with penalties. So yeah, it's a fine line. There's a lot of judgment and decision making in that part of it. But just in terms of assignments, it's the same thing. You want to be as aggressive as you can on your assignments but not to the point where you can't do your assignment, and then that causes everybody else problems. So, it's a fine line. Sometimes you go too far, sometimes maybe you don't go far enough. Could've been more aggressive but playing too cautious. It's trying to find that right balance depending on the position, the play, the situation and so forth. There's a long list of characteristics, possibilities and factors that could play into all that, in addition to score situation, field position, things like that. In addition to all the fundamental type things on a play that would come up. In the end I think players always try to do the best thing. They try to do what's right. Sometimes those decisions could be better. But I think they're always trying to do the right thing. I mean we all are, and sometimes you just have to learn what that edge is. Same thing with the quarterback, being aggressive throwing the ball. Sometimes you are a little over aggressive, sometimes you may pass up an opportunity that you might've been able to have. It doesn't matter what position you play, it's all kind of the same, that same fine line. Yeah, it's a good question. It's a good key coaching point and playing point for everybody, for all of us.
Q: In the last couple weeks, it looks like Mack Wilson [Sr.] and Raekwon McMillan have made a few plays here. What have they brought to the second level of your defense recently?
BB: I think our linebacker group has been a good productive group for us. They're multiple, they play defensively, in the kicking game. They help play in those areas, and they all have played on all downs. First, second, third, and obviously fourth. It's an unusual situation. It's uncommon to have all the linebackers do all those things. But we're fortunate to have that. I think they've all been productive for us. Raekwon and Mack certainly have but so has Jahlani and Bent [Ja'Whaun Bentley]. They've played on the end of the line, they've played off the ball, they've played in line at times. The multiples that they've been able to give us individually and collectively is definitely beneficial.
Q: Have you guys used Mack at all as sort of like a free player in the middle at times, and if you have, how has he handled that?
BB: Honestly, there's probably not a linebacker in the league that doesn't have that at some point. So yeah sure, I don't if free is the right word, there's responsibilities. But yeah, without being in man coverage or something like that, yeah sure. He's fast. He's very athletic. He gets to a lot of plays. One of the faster linebackers that we've had, and then probably around the league to tell you the truth. He gets to a lot of plays. So, it's a big advantage. You know some of those perimeters, those catch and runs or outside plays. It's definitely a strength of his. He's a contact player. He's had some explosive hits on runners and on blockers. He brings a level of physicality that's good.
Q: Speaking of Ja'Whaun, he came in obviously with the reputation of being a great leader at Purdue, a three-time captain all in college. In his time here, how much has he grown in your eyes in terms of his leadership and personality with the team, in developing the past couple years as a player?
BB: Yeah, I think it's definitely grown like you would expect it to. Again, there's been some pretty strong leaders here, specifically [Dont'a] Hightower. It could be a little crowded sometimes, you want to be in the right – handle things the right way, which I think he has. He's done a really good job of that. With guys like Devin and High, being respectful of their position but at the same time not letting that take away from his personality and leadership ability. He's done the two years that High wasn't here this year, and then two years ago. You could start to see him emerge more. But yeah, you're right, it goes all the way back to the DeMatha, and then Purdue, and then here. That stuck out early here, as kind of you envision him as taking over some type of leadership role on defense, which is natural for a middle linebacker. Those guys in the middle of the defense, middle linebacker, the center, the quarterback, guys like that. You want them to have leadership, verbal command, be able to control things from the inside out. It's a lot easier that way. That's a little bit of part of their position. So, he's done a really good job of that. It kind of comes naturally to him. But he's well prepared, he works at it every day, he trains hard. So he kind of does everything right. It's hard to look at him – all those guys, Devin and guys that we've had in those positions, Matt [Matthew Slater], David Andrews. I mean you look at them and you see them doing just about everything right, it's hard for any other player to not want to follow suit. He's done a good job for us.
Q: You mentioned Devin and Matt, is it fair to say not to kick those guys out of here yet, but the next generation so to speak of leaders, example setters, it's in good hands with guys like Ja'Whaun and some of his contemporaries in that group?
BB: Yeah, well I think every team needs a lot of leadership. I don't think just one guy can give it to you, or one guy on each side of the ball. You have multiple players that provide leadership, that's what good teams have. I think we have that in all three areas. Obviously, losing Cody [Davis] was you know a loss in the kicking game, but we've had guys like that and then that provides an opportunity for other guys to step up. Even some of our rookie players have started to develop there a little bit. But offensively, defensively, usually centers around the safety, middle linebacker, quarterback, center. But then there are certainly a lot of other players that have stepped up too in their roles. Hunter [Henry], Jakobi [Meyers], Rhamondre [Stevenson], Lawrence Guy [Sr.], D.G. [Davon Godchaux], [Deatrich] Wise [Jr.], and some of them are captains and some of them aren't. The linebackers, those guys all give us – Myles [Bryant], A.P. [Adrian Phillips], those guys all give us leadership. It's not just one guy. You really want a collection of guys. You want them in each room. So, when guys go to an individual meeting room, that there's leadership present in that room, not sitting in some other room and the walls block it off. You know you want that everywhere. So I think we're fortunate. We have a lot of players on the team that give that. Some guys are captains, and some guys are maybe more outspoken than others but they're still - again, Troy Brown's one of the best leaders that we've ever had here. He's probably one of the quietest guys we've ever had here. But you know he had a different style of leadership. But it was very, I would say, strong because he backed it up with his play on the field. Whether it was on defense, special teams, or obviously on offense. Whereas other players you know [Teddy] Bruschi and guys like that are more vocal players. It's fine, it's just a different style.
Q: How has Jamie Collins fitted in this year, specifically with guys like Mack and Raekwon, experienced guys, but not maybe a lot of experience in your program?
BB: Jamie's really been great. After his offseason kind of rehabbing and all that, and then coming in and getting back into it. He's worked himself into good shape. He's been a really positive guy for the younger players, for our team. The things he does for us on the field, scout team and all that. He's ready at multiple positions whenever we need him. He works hard and prepares well. I'm glad he's here. Honestly, he's been great. It's been great to have him.