HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
November 8, 2017
BB: Well, we're obviously pretty deep into Denver here, had a couple of extra days to get started on them which we've needed. It's a really talented team. They have a lot of great players and I think Coach [Vance] Joseph has implemented his style into the team. They're very good defensively, at the top of the league in almost every category, or every category I should say. They're very good against the run. That's been much improved from last season. They have a strong pass rush. They cover as well as any team in the league. They have great players at all three levels of the defense. They're very disruptive, a tough team to move the ball against, a tough team to score against in the kicking game. They're explosive in the return game. They're a good return team. They've already had six explosive plays this year on special teams, punt and kickoff returns, so that's definitely a problem. Strong legs, good kickers, guys that can hit the ball a long way, change field positon, so explosive in that phase of the game. Offensively, very good depth at running back, excellent backs, good receivers. The tight ends have been productive. They can run the ball. They can throw it and they can make explosive plays. [Emmanuel] Sanders, [Demaryius] Thomas are as good as any receivers we'll see all year. [They're] athletic at the quarterback position in varying degrees but a problem. [They're] a good football team, very good at home, very good in their stadium. The fans have a lot of energy. It's a great crowd, a great football environment, Sunday night. I'm sure that place will be lit up. I feel like we'll need our best game Sunday night and that's what we're working towards. Hopefully, that's what we'll be able to get.
Q: What was it about Rickey Jean Francois and his skill set that made you want to work with him?
BB: Yeah, we just tried to add a little depth to the defensive line. He's played this year, has some experience.
Q: Is he somebody who has primarily been an interior guy?
BB: Yeah, we'll see. Yeah, he's been on several different teams, played in different systems, played 3-4 end, played inside on the guard. We'll see how it goes.
Q: Can that be a benefit for him to have all that experience in varying systems?
BB: Yeah, I think experience can be a good thing.
Q: What makes this specific Denver defense stand out from other Denver defenses you have faced?
BB: Well, it's another in a long line. They've been a great defensive team for many years. Their front is good. [Domata] Peko has given them a lot of solid plays inside. [Adam] Gotsis is a young player that's improved. [Derek] Wolfe is one of the top players in the league. [Shaquil] Barrett, [Shane] Ray, [Von] Miller on the edge. Those guys are all good. [Brandon] Marshall is a good linebacker, fast, active, good coverage player. They have three outstanding corners - [Bradley] Roby, [Chris] Harris and [Aqib] Talib. [Darian] Stewart is a very physical safety. [Justin] Simmons has taken over for [T.J.] Ward, probably more of a free safety type than Ward was so he gives them a lot of range back there and also helps them in the kicking game. He does a great job for them on punt coverage. They have good depth. [Will] Parks has given them a lot of plays in dime, comes in on their sub defense. They play about 14, 15 guys. They're all good. They all have a solid role. They're good across the board, outside, inside, front to back, back to front, inside to outside, however you want to look at it. They have good players everywhere and they play well and they're sound. They don't make many mistakes. You've got to go out there and beat them and it's hard to do.
Q: How important is their defensive speed up front?
BB: I mean, they're athletic. I'd say they're powerful. It's a strong group. Those guys are hard to block. They usually knock the line of scrimmage back across the board unless you double them, but even then they don't give a lot of ground. It's a strong, physical group and they're athletic. I mean, I wouldn't say they're not athletic. I'd say their power is a problem; explosiveness. [Shelby] Harris has done a really good job for them. That's another guy - you can throw him in there, too. He's been really productive.
Q: What has allowed Trey Flowers to handle a more diverse role this year on both the inside and outside of the defensive line?
BB: Well, Trey's done some things like that for us in the past; not as much as he has this year. This year we've had some different situations at the defensive end position at various points in time. Trey has a lot of experience or the most experience of our defensive linemen. He's also athletic and can handle a degree of versatility in our responsibilities. I'm not sure that's always the best thing for him, but sometimes he's the best we have at it. He does a good job and works hard at it and does what's best for the team, which is one of the things you love about Trey, is how committed he is to the team and how willing he is to do whatever it takes, whatever we need him to do and he does a pretty good job of it.
Q: It looks like Shea McClellin may not play this year. Are you frustrated with the rule that burns a designated to return spot even though he was never brought to the active roster?
BB: Yeah, we won't be activating Shea to the roster. Yeah, we don't make the rules. Whatever they are, they are.
Q: What have you noticed from Jacob Hollister as his rookie season has progressed?
BB: Jacob works hard every day, from the first day he got here, from the spring after the draft, all through OTAs, the offseason program, training camp. He works hard every day, takes coaching well, he's young, makes a lot of mistakes, but he corrects them, usually doesn't make the same one again, learns from it and he's tough. He's a tough kid.
Q: What does Brandon Bolden bring to the team from a leadership perspective?
BB: A lot. Yeah, Brandon brings a lot from a leadership perspective. Brandon, like a lot of players on our team, understands his role, knows what it is and works very hard to excel at it and does excel at it. There are times when his role could expand and he's ready for that if that were to happen or if we needed that to happen. I think everybody has 100 percent confidence in him that he would be ready to do whatever it is we need him to do. But, the things that he knows he's going to do that are his important roles that we know are going to be there for this game or for each game, he prepares hard for those, he does a good job of them, he's very dependable, and if we need him to do more, then he would do his best to give us more. And that's, I think, the most leadership any player can give you is to do his job and to be ready to do whatever else you need him to do, and that's on a daily basis, not just on Sunday. We get that from him six days a week.
Q: How hard is it to find guys like that, especially someone like Brandon who put up great numbers in college, who will come in and adapt to that role and stay with that role?
BB: Look, every player is different. Each player has his own skillset, personality and so forth, so each player has to chart his own course on that. But, look at a player like Kevin Faulk. You know, here's a guy that's in the Patriots Hall of Fame. From since the time I got here - not counting the couple the years before I got here, but from the time I got here - I couldn't even tell you how many games he started. I'm sure you could probably put them all on one hand. So, how many games he started, I mean, not very many. How important was he to the team? How good was he at his role? How dependable was he? How good of a teammate was he? The best. So, I think players that understand their role, understand how they can help the team, want to help the team, that's how you have a good team. You want to go out and play an individual sport - swimming, golf, track - great. You sign up for football, you sign up for a team, and if everybody does what's best for the team and you have enough talent and players have a chance and coaching doesn't screw it up, then hopefully you can go out there and compete. So, I think all of our players are like that. I mean, I respect all of our players because of the way they work and the way they put the team first and the way they're willing to do what the team needs them to do. If we do that, we'll probably have a decent team. If we don't, then we probably won't.
Q: How much have the growing economics of the game and lucrative player contracts made it harder to find guys like that?
BB: Yeah, I don't know. I just said every player is different. Every player finds his own level, one way or another. So, we're just trying to get everybody ready to go against Denver, have a good week, be ready to go out there Sunday night. It will be tough, we know that, so hopefully we'll be at our best by Sunday night.
Q: What are your thoughts on Elandon Roberts' performance this season?
BB: I mean, it's, again, pretty much the same for everybody. I wouldn't single any player out. I'd say collectively for all of us, some good things, [and] a lot of things we can improve on. We're halfway through the year. We've established a certain level of performance over a long period of time, not based on one play, one week or one game, and we all need to try to move above that, from the head coach to the coaching staff to each individual player to each unit on the team. So, some things have been good, some have been maybe not as good, but they all can be better and we all individually can be better. We all collectively can be better. So, that's where we're all trying to go to, so we're all in the same conversation on that one.