PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
November 7, 2022
Q: I wanted to ask you about Jonnu Smith and his blocking ability. It seemed like he was really strong at the point of attack yesterday. He had one of those wham blocks where he came down the line and really opened up a nice lane for Rhamondre [Stevenson]. I'm just wondering what you seen from that aspect of his game?
BB: Yeah Jonnu, he's a pretty good blocking tight end. He's a tough kid. He's got good playing strength for his size. He's certainly a very willing blocker and a good athlete that can make some adjustments. A lot of times, you use a lot of legs and feet and you get tangled up in there. Guys getting hit from different directions a lot. But he has good playing strength, good balance and I said good toughness, very willing blocker. Both in-line and down the field. So he does a good job for us there. A lot of times he's blocking guys that outweigh him by 40, 50, whatever pounds. But again, he plays strong and plays tough.
Q: Just wanted to get your upshot on where things are at with the team through obviously nine games, heading into the bye. You mentioned earlier this year, it takes time obviously to get a feel for who your team is. Do you feel like you know at this point? Or is that still being developed?
BB: Well, every week it's a little bit different because the new team that you play, the matchups and so forth. But yeah, we certainly know a lot more about our teams after nine regular season games than we did back in September after three preseason games. So this will give us a good chance here in the next few days to look a little closer and find some areas that we can improve in as we go forward. Hopefully that will help us.
Q: What do you feel like obviously your identity is always wanting to do whatever it takes to win. But do you have a sense for how good this team is, their potential, etc.?
BB: Well, I mean we have had good moments and bad moments over the course of the season. I think the big thing has been a consistency. That's shown up a little bit in all three phases of the game. So between the coaching staff and the players, just a consistent performance, play-in and play-out, week-in and week-out. I think that's really the biggest challenge for us moving forward.
Q: Couple pretty productive games in the pass rush department from [Josh] Uche lately. What are you seeing from him that's maybe allowed him to be a little more consistent in that area over these last couple of weeks?
BB: I think Josh has been pretty consistent here for a while. Sometimes the numbers come in bunches, or not. Or they could come in droughts too. But his overall pass rush skill is good. He's got speed. He's athletic. He's developing more power, timing and execution on pass rush games. Doing a lot of things well. Doing some things better. Again, there's always room to improve. It changes a little bit each week based on who's blocking, who the quarterback is, and how you have to rush that quarterback or the protection scheme that that particular team uses. But he's done a good job of recognizing those things. Of course, he's seen more and more here over the last three years. So some of the things that maybe caught him a little bit by surprise or he wasn't quite ready for in the past are more familiar to him now. He's just better decisions, better awareness, better execution.
Q: [Mathew] Judon mentioned last night that Josh is kind of taking on the signal caller role in that third down package, how do you feel like he's developed in that area?
BB: Yeah, good. He's worked hard on that, starting in the offseason, going all the way back to after last season and into the early parts of the spring there with the offseason program. He's been doing that for quite a while. We've given him that responsibility, as I said, back in the spring, and he's really embraced it and worked at it, to the point where I think everybody has a lot of confidence in him doing that.
Q: Good morning, Bill. I wanted to ask about Cole Strange and what his status is right now. After the game, he said that he talked with the coaches and said that there was some issues with his fundamentals that he had to work on. What sort of progress do you need to see from him to get him back to where he was as a start-to-finish starter on the offensive line?
BB: I think Cole's [Strange] a good player. He's going to be a better player as he gains experience and learns how to play in the league. He'll play. We've used a lot of guys there on the offensive line. We've had to in couple of cases. We'll use multiple players and I'm sure that he'll help us.
Q: What did you see from Isaiah [Wynn] that made you think that he's be a good fit moving from the right tackle spot to left guard?
BB: He played guard in college. Not his last year at Georgia, but the year before that, he played guard and he's done that for us as well. He's mostly played tackle, obviously. He definitely has the skills to play guard and has played guard in the past.
Q: Hey Bill. We're nine games into the new coaching configuration on offense. Just wondering, how do you think things are going with you, Matt [Patricia] and Joe [Judge] and have there been any sort of big adjustments that you've made along the way since the end of camp?
BB: Every week's its own week in terms of game planning and practicing, preparing for that team and then moving on the next week, when the next team comes. It's the way it is on offense, defense, special teams, for everybody and for our entire team. It's what we'll keep doing, just keep grinding away here. As I said, our consistency in all three phases of the game is definitely something that we need to be better at. So, we'll start with that.
Q: It's a few weeks in a row now that Brenden Schooler's been around the ball and sort of made plays. What have you seen from him on special teams this season and it looks like he's got a pretty good nose for the ball?
BB: He does, yeah. [Brenden] Schools' [Schooler] is an instinctive kid. He picks things up quickly. He's played multiple positions for us, in the kicking game, in both the coverage and the return units, so that's been valuable for us, and it's been good experiences for him. Again, I think when you play multiple spots like that, you not only learn how to play the spot you're in, but then you understand what's some other guys are doing, what their issues are, how they can help you, or not help you, and so forth, based on having played that position himself. He's a pretty versatile player and a smart kid. Cam [Achord] and Joe [Houston] spend a lot of time with all the rookies there, with Schools, and of course now with [Raleigh] Webb in there and DaMarcus Mitchell. Those guys have really taken a lot of extra time and of course [Matthew] Slates' [Slater] done a great job with them as well. Those guys spend a lot of time together. They're kind of our core group and they're on just about every unit, except for field goal protection. Schools has continued to make some instinctive plays. He's been doubled, but they also doubled Slater a lot as well and so that's given other guys opportunities. Playing with Slater is always a good thing for everybody else, because you know he's going to attract a lot of attention. Schools' starting to draw some double teams too, so I guess that's a compliment in a way to recognizing his production.