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Transcript: Bill Belichick Press Conference 11/3

Read the full transcript from Patriots head coach Bill Belichick's press conference on Wednesday, November 3, 2021.


November 3, 2021

BB: It's obviously been interesting this week getting to know the Panthers. Take a look at what Coach [Matt] Rhule has done down there. I think he's done a real good job putting together a strong football team. They're obviously very good on defense and every area across the board. They're a tough, competitive, physical football team. Run the ball well. Control the clock. Do a good job of attacking the defense and put a lot of pressure on you with their punt team, something obviously he's committed to and will force you to spend a lot of time on. [D.J.] Moore, [Christian] McCaffrey; two of the most explosive players in the league. Sound in the kicking game. Again, one of the more physical teams, probably, we'll see on special teams. Chase [Blackburn] has done a good job with that group. Just across the board, just impressed by the physicality, the toughness, the competitiveness of the team. It's going to be a good challenge for us to deal with that style of play that they have. Obviously, they got off to a real good start this year. That was a big win for them, Atlanta, last week. Really played well in all three phases of the game. Played a good, complete game. Looking forward to the opportunity. It's a good football team. They're well-coached, and they're tough. They play hard.

On Christian McCaffrey's impact on the game:

BB: One of the most explosive players in the league, and [D.J.] Moore, can score from anywhere. Robby [Anderson] too, for that matter. Those are a really good two guys who they get the ball to the both of them a lot.

On the challenges of going against Stephon Gilmore:

BB: We talk about it every week. Each week, there are players we know, or we've had, or that have been here, or whatever it is. That type of situation comes up every week.

On if it seems like Stephon Gilmore is back to his old self:

BB: Well, he played about 20 plays last week.

On how the Panthers use Shaq Thompson:

BB: They have some different packages defensively. They mix their fronts. They do a good job of that, and that's challenging for the offense just in terms of communication, identification, but they have multiple players play different things just based on what they have called with Coach [Phil] Snow. [He] calls what group they're in, and then they have a couple different fronts to go with each group, so yeah. Those seven guys can be in different positions, and then you have to decide whether you treat them as a down lineman or a linebacker. Not just Thompson, but [Brian] Burns, [Haason] Reddick, so they present a number of problems depending on what group they're in, how you need to treat them. They do a good job of that.

On the differences between P.J. Walker and Sam Darnold:

BB: I'd say, athletically, they're quite different, but both have a strong arm. Walker's got a good deep ball. He's quick, active in the pocket. Sam is too, but I'd say Walker has some ability to escape, but he can definitely throw the ball. Lot of long plays down the field, throwing the ball well in preseason and in a couple of games he played last year, so debrief for both guys and then whoever's next. If Darnold can't play, I guess it'd be [James] Morgan as the backup.

On what has stood out from their own cornerbacks:

BB: Jon [Jones] is a big loss for us, but collectively, it's been a little bit different each week how the plan has worked out. Obviously, Myles [Bryant] has taken a lot of snaps there. Joejuan [Williams], Jalen [Mills], J.C. [Jackson], and then some combination of the three safeties. It's been different combinations there. That group spends a lot of time together. They work hard and communicate well.

On how the Panthers used Stephon Gilmore in his debut:

BB: Like I said, they played him about 20 plays, and most of them were on third down passing situations, but he played throughout the game. Played some inside. Played some outside.

On how Joe Brady uses his personnel to get the most out of his players:

On how Joe Brady uses his personnel to get the most out of his players:

BB: Well [Chuba] Hubbard has taken the majority of the carries since he's been in there, and he's a really tough, hard-nosed back. He's got good vision, good balance, good contact-balance. Runs hard. Hard guy to tackle. They've used him in some passing situations as well. All the receivers have played. [Terrace] Marshall's been out here for a little while with his situation. We have to be ready for him. Not sure what that will be, but he's stepped in there and done a good job. Then with [Alex] Erickson and, obviously, Robby [Anderson] and [D.J.] Moore, they've got a lot of juice there. [Ian] Thomas has done a good job for them at tight end. Really have been impressed with his competitiveness, his blocking. They mix in some 11, some 12, some rotation of players within that group, too. [Giovanni] Ricci plays little bit there as the fullback. They have some different personnel combination groups, not dissimilar to New Orleans. It's not New Orleans, but some of the things New Orleans does, they also do.

On what Stephon Gilmore meant to their team:

BB: I think we talked about Steph a lot. The comments I made when he left here is the way I feel. Ton of respect for him.

On if the team came close to making any trades yesterday and why the trade deadline was quiet across the NFL:

BB: Just working on trying to get ready for Carolina. You'll have to ask the other teams that. I don't know what they thought or didn't think. I'm not sure.

On how they coach their undrafted players like Myles Bryant to become major contributors on the team:

BB: Jon Jones, too. All that's up to them. Whatever those guys accomplish, they earn. We just try to coach them. Mike [Pellegrino], Brian [Belichick] do a good job back there, but it's up to the players. They got opportunities, and guys who earn roster spots, earn playing time, earn it. It's not anything we can just give away. All those guys have done it.

On how the Panthers get D.J. Moore the ball as often as they do:

BB: That's what they do. They get him the ball. Coach [Joe] Brady does a good job of that. They target him, move him around some. He's open a lot. Doesn't matter what the route is or what he's doing. He has a great skillset, so I'm sure they have a lot of confidence in him, as they should. He's a tremendous player. Good at all three levels. Very good catch-and-run player. Good on intermediate routes. Again, gets open a lot. Good on the deep ball. He's definitely a problem. One of the best receivers we face, and we've faced some good ones, so I'd put him right up there. Very good with the ball in his hands. Takes some short plays, turns them into long runs. This guy's a real problem.

On Carolina's dominance in time of possession this season:

BB: I want to say they've had the most, or pretty near the most, 10-plus play drives in the league. Again, they run the ball well. They do a good job of keeping the defense on the field, forcing you to play a lot of defensive plays. The flip side of that is they've got to run a lot of plays. They've got to convert third downs and all that, but they do that well. They manage the game well. Stay out of long-yardage situations, and that puts a lot of pressure on defenses to try to get them off-track, try to get them in long-yardage, but that's not easy to do. The running game is very well-designed, well-coached. They don't make a lot of mistakes in the running game. You've got to really earn your stops there. The backs are good, obviously. [Christian] McCaffrey, [Chuba] Hubbard. They don't make many mistakes either, run for negative yardage and all that. If it's not there, then they get a couple of yards and move on. That'll definitely be a challenge. We'll try to get them off-track. Try to get them in some long-yardage situations, and then convert on third down, but that's a problem too with [Robby] Anderson, [D.J.] Moore, McCaffrey. They've got a lot of good guys to throw to there; [Terrace] Marshall, [Alex] Erickson, [Ian] Thomas, so they can get you in a lot of ways, and the quarterbacks can run. [Sam] Darnold and [P.J.] Walker have both shown the ability to scramble and pick up first downs with their legs. We have to take care of that too.

On maintaining roster depth at the running back position:

BB: Depth's important at every position. If you have it, great. If you don't have it, you can always try to build it. Sometimes you can. Sometimes you can't. You tell me who's going to get hurt, and we'll add depth at that position. It's hard to predict where that's going to happen. We've seen that at all different positions throughout out the league, across the board. You just never know. It's hard to have depth at every position in this league. You have it where you have it. I think every team is sitting there saying "Well, I wish I had a little more depth at this position or that position." Depth in September, when you put a bunch of names on the board, is one thing. Depth in November, when players actually have to walk on the field and play, is another thing, or even depth in September for that matter. The offensive line, what it looked like on paper and what it actually looked like when we took the field in Houston, is two different things. You always try to have it. It's hard to have it at every position. It can go in a hurry.

On how Dont'a Hightower's play has progressed throughout the season:

BB: I don't think it's changed a lot. He's been good for us all year. Had a good training camp. Had a good September, good October. One of our most consistent players. One of our best players. Smart player. Helps control the defense. Rarely out of position. Physical. Contact player. Thumper. He's been solid all year.

On what he has seen from N'Keal Harry over the past few weeks:

BB: I think all of our players are improving, and our team has improved. It goes for N'Keal. It goes for everybody across the board. Obviously, missing the first three weeks, he kind of got a little bit of a later start to the season, but those guys have all worked hard. They take a lot of reps. They take scout team reps. They throw individual routes during periods, during defensive and special team periods, after practice. Things like that. I think we've continued to get better especially at the skill positions; quarterback, passing game execution with tight ends, receivers, backs, but we've still got to keep working on it. There's still a lot to do, but I think all of those players, it's really a whole new group of skill players other than N'Keal and Gunner [Olszewski], but those guys have improved, too. We've just got to keep working on it. We've got a long way to go. Get better every day.

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