HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
VIDEO PRESS CONFERENCE
November 5, 2021
On how aware the team must be of Christian McCaffrey on the field:
BB: He's a dynamic player. Christian is a very explosive guy. Anytime he touches the ball, it's a potential touchdown. He's an excellent receiver. He's very good, obviously, on any type of catch-and-run plays. He can get vertical on the defense, coming out of the backfield or empty formations. He's really just a threat to go all the way on any play; inside runs, outside runs, passes, screen passes, you name it. He's a hard guy to tackle. He's very explosive. He gets vertical very quickly, and he can outrun most every other player on the field. Definitely a guy we're going to have to keep close tabs on. You don't want him to get the ball in space, or he's going to gain a whole bunch of yards.
On if he would consider signing a high-end free agent midway through the season:
BB: Yeah. We've done that before. We brought in [Aqib] Talib in the middle of the season. You'd have to evaluate any situation. I don't really know any specifics to talk about, so at this point, there's nothing to really talk about. We'd do anything we could to help our football team. We brought in James Harrison with one game to go in the season.
On his experience with Coach Snow at Arizona State in the 1990s and how Coach Snow has performed in the NFL:
BB: I'm not sure that meeting had too much impact on the game. Look, he's done a great job. It's been interesting to kind of watch the success that he and Coach [Matt] Rhule had at Temple, Baylor, and then kind of what they did last year, defensively, and how that's changed this year, defensively, and how well they're playing this year. They're literally in the top three in almost every meaningful defensive category. That's a real credit to not just one particular thing, but just their role on defense, in totality, in total defense, the running game, the passing game, situationally, and so forth. He's done a good job, and I always enjoy meeting coaches that are familiar with the players and the conferences and so forth that we're scouting. That's one of the great things about those interactions on college pro days and so forth. I've had a lot of respect from a distance of what he's done and also what Coach [Joe] Brady has done offensively.
On the passing of Tom Matte:
BB: Well, Tom Matte was a great community hero. His modesty and the situation that he came into in Baltimore as the quarterback was a very unique one, but he had a career in his own right. I think it was like 12 years or something like that. Pro Bowl player multiple times, so it wasn't just a two-game thing, but that was certainly a lot of notoriety for that. Tom could laugh and make fun of himself, but again, a very good football player and a guy that had a great, long career there. I think, eventually, he got traded or went to San Diego, whatever it was, but anyways, was there for at least a decade. I saw all those Colts games. He was fun to watch and that very prolific offense and the success that the Colts had there, so yeah. It's sad to see that and condolences to the Matte family, but it was really just a great lesson. We'd see him from time to time, but just a great lesson in a player stepping up and doing something that he doesn't normally do and helping his team and helping them win a big game and coming very close to taking them to a championship, and then, the next week, when they played in what was the consolation game, or whatever they called it. I forget what it was now. The runner-up game. He had a big day throwing the ball. He went out there and played quarterback and kind of had a big passing day there. It's obviously sad for me to see players that I had their football cards, I watched them every week, I followed them like any kid follows his home team, and then, to now see players like that pass on, it's like watching a lifetime of football memories.
On how Matt Rhule built the Temple and Baylor programs:
BB: I think Coach Rhule went into Temple and really established a level of toughness and kind of went in with a lot of local kids that were good football players. It kind of reminded me of what Coach [Wayne] Hardin did when he went there and kind of did the same thing. Coach Hardin had similar success. They went to a couple bowl games. I don't know if they beat Penn State one year. They lost, 7-6, or something like that, but they played with the big boys and did a good job. It was a lot of local kids. Kind of those guys who had a choice between Temple and a D-II school or that kind of thing, weren't heavily recruited guys, but they got a lot of good football players, and, of course, Coach Rhule has several of them on his team right now; guys like [Robby] Anderson, obviously, [Haason] Reddick was a high pick, but he's got several of those guys on his team. He really instills the toughness, the single-digit thing. You could see him building the pride and the toughness and the competitiveness of the team, and that was kind of his way of recognizing it. I think everybody noticed that a little bit. Played a lot of two-tight ends, three-tight ends, ran the ball, and that conference did a good job, I would say, of out-muscling some teams who maybe had a little more skill, but they had their style of play, and it was effective, and they were a good defensive team. Then at Baylor, again, kind of reestablishing that level of toughness and hard-nose football. I have a ton of respect for what he did at those programs, and, again, it wasn't just one player or one year or one game. It was a level of consistency as an offensive line coach. I think you see that from a number of offensive line coaches. Honestly, not that many of them become head coaches, but the ones that do, you usually see a little bit of that offensive line mentality. So unselfishness, a lot of focus on the team, not on a lot of individual stats and stuff like that, being able to manage the game, control the game, help the defense from the offensive standpoint with field position and ball control and that type of thing. You certainly saw Coach Rhule's aggressiveness in some of his fourth down decisions, the punt team and what he did with that unit. Some of that was in college, but then he kind of took it to this level with the Panthers in this last year and a half and has brought an aggressive mentality to that part of the game as well. I think the way he's established his programs, obviously, has a lot of people that buy into that with him that he's carried from staff-to-staff, like Coach [Phil] Snow and so forth. There's a clear message there. They've gotten it across pretty quickly, and it's been pretty effective. Again, I think Coach Snow, you can see, made a lot of modifications from what he was doing last year, defensively, to what he's doing this year and how successful that's been and how quickly they've adapted from Temple to Baylor or Baylor to Carolina. The formula, big picture, looks the same, but on a more specific basis, they figure out what the right fit is based on their personnel and what they're facing and so forth. They've done a really good job of that.
On Matthew Judon and Jalen Mills:
BB: Love having both players on the team. A lot of positive contributions. They bring a good level of toughness, energy, consistency. Work every day. Get better. Try to improve and get better at the little things and the things they need work on. I think as they continue to work with their teammates and understand our defensive system a little bit better, they can use some of the tools, some of the things that are in it more to their advantage. Not that they haven't, but just to continue to know the right time and the right situation to do certain things that'll help them. That's certainly gotten better and, again, their understanding of their responsibility and where their help is and what's the most important part of what the things are they have to do. It's always been good, but I'd say it's continued to get better on a regular basis, daily to weekly. I think that'll continue. There's still a level of further understanding, especially in situational football and things like that. We can have some different personnel groupings. It's the same, but it's different because it's a little different group on the field. The offense might have a different group on the field, so it's kind of putting those things together. They work hard. They're well prepared. They're ready to go every day. They've been very productive for us, and we're very glad we have them on the team.
On the perception that the Patriots' working environment is not fun:
BB: That's because you guys portray it that way.
On if the team's environment is as fun as it is structured:
BB: I think the fun comes in winning. That's really what it's about. We certainly had our share of, and I've taken my share of, jabs from [Mike] Vrabel and Matt Light and [Julian] Edelman and [Junior] Seau. Go right down the line. That's part of being a team and part of the relationship, being able to work together. Certainly, a lot of light moments. There's more of them when you're winning. I don't know. I can't really worry about what everybody on the outside thinks or doesn't think or whatever. What's important to me is our team and the relationships we have on our team and how to most productively put a winning team on the field, so that's really what I'm trying to do.
On the importance of having players who like to have fun:
BB: I think you've just got to let those things happen as they occur. I don't think you can legislate or dictate that, like, "Hey, I need you to crack a joke here today." I don't think it really works that way. You just have a group of people, and there's a chemistry, and there's all different personalities, but they blend together, and how they play off each other, and how situations come up, how they just spontaneously happen sometimes, that's just part of being a team. That's just part of those relationships. Again, I think we have a group of players that are dedicated. They work hard. Football is important, but they also have a side to them, collectively, in different ways that they enjoy each other. When you're having fun, it doesn't feel like work, and there's an element of that, but, certainly, there's a work element and a performance element that's critical to all of us. That's why we're here, but there's a way to work hard and have fun at the same time to a point. I think that's a good thing when it happens.