HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
December 11, 2019
BB: We've spent the last few days here getting familiar with the Bengals. First of all, I'd say I have a great deal of respect for Mike Brown, the Brown family and the Bengals organization. I always have. I think this is a football team that doesn't have a good record, but they actually do a lot of things really well in all three phases of the game. I've been very impressed watching them play and they cause a lot of problems. Special teams, I think Darrin [Simmons] does a great job with that unit. As usual, they're right at the top of the league in both punt and kickoff coverage, kickoff returns. They're really a solid group, well-coached, fundamentally very good and make it tough on you there. Defensively, very disruptive front – [Sam] Hubbard and [Carlos] Dunlap outside, [Geno] Atkins inside – I'd say one of the better, more disruptive groups that we've faced, and we've faced some good ones here over the course of the season. So, they present a lot of problems there. It's a very aggressive defense and really make you work for the yards. And offensively, very good skill group. Obviously, the quarterback [Andy] Dalton's a very experienced guy. He's led this team to a lot of victories, a lot of comeback victories – excellent quarterback. Good backs, guys that are different – [Joe] Mixon and [Giovani] Bernard – but, both outstanding players. They make a lot of yards on their own, both good in the passing game, both good in the running game, very versatile players. [Tyler] Eifert and [C.J.] Uzomah at tight end do a great job, too. They're both very talented guys, have been very productive in the red area like Eifert usually is. I mean, he's a problem. And then the receivers are – it's a good group of receivers. I mean, I know that [A.J.] Green hasn't played and they've had a couple injuries there, but these guys continue to be productive with the quarterback, the tight ends, the backs and the entire offensive system that Coach [Zac] Taylor runs. So, they're a well-balanced team, running game, passing game, play-action drop-back, mis-direction. They do a really good job of keeping the defense honest and don't get penalized. They get a lot of penalties because people are trying to hold Atkins or hold Dunlap, or grab the receivers or whatever it is. So, they play good in the kicking game. I mean, they gain a lot of advantages when they haven't turned the ball over, like in the Jet game, they win. Obviously, that's something that we'll try to do, but it's not anything that you can always count on, so we'll have to play 60 minutes of good football in all three phases against a good, young football team. I'm really impressed with a lot of things, like I said, a lot of things that they do. But, when you have some of the turnovers they've had, then that obviously negates a lot of the good things that are happening out there. But, that's good. You can't judge this team by their record, it's not really reflective of what they are in my opinion.
Q: I know you said that football and the tv production side are different entities –
BB: The football team, the football staff and the coaching staff had nothing to do with what happened. Nothing. So, we have no involvement in it.
Q: You guys had a scout in the Cleveland press box. Was he aware of the rules that you can't film from the press box?
BB: He was doing his job. That's what he was doing, he was doing his job. Like we all tried to do. That's what the football team, the football staff and the coaching staff did last week was try to do their job for Kansas City, and then Cincinnati, and then Buffalo next week and that's it.
Q: Do you know if he was seated –
BB: I just answered the question. That's it. We have no involvement in it. Zero.
Q: Have you heard from the league at all –
BB: Yeah, I've told you everything. Look, Mr. [Robert] Kraft made a statement, the team made a statement. That's – I don't have anything to add.
Q: Have you reached out to –
BB: Do not have anything to add.
Q: – Zac Taylor, or –
BB: Do not have anything to add.
Q: How do you feel about how the rookies overall as a class have performed this year?
BB: Yeah. Well, I mean, we'll talk about all that at the end of the year. Right now, we're trying to get everybody to perform as well as we can for Cincinnati – players, coaches, all three units – and go out there and play as well as we can on Sunday. That's really where we're at.
Q: With the running game having struggles this year, why not give Damien Harris more opportunities?
BB: Yeah. Well, I told you each week we'll do what we – the best we can each week to make the decisions, and do the best we can to put a competitive team out there and try to beat our opponent. We did that last week, the other 13 games, and we'll do it going forward.
Q: The class as a whole hasn't played a whole lot outside of [Chase] Winovich and Jake Bailey. Do they need a year to get stronger and acclimate to the NFL?
BB: Yeah, I never said that.
Q: So, when they're not playing is it because they haven't earned the playing time?
BB: I didn't say that either. Things change from week-to-week based on game-plan situations. I mean, we're 10-3. I wouldn't say we have a terrible team. We have a lot of other good players out there, with a lot of good players that have been very productive, and we've won 10 games.
Q: You've seen some unique pressure schemes in the past couple weeks. How much is on the offensive line to communicate and recognize those zone pressures? Does Cincinnati still do that?
BB: Yeah. Look, you've got to be ready for that every week. It's the National Football League. So, it's not like college where sometimes they're going to sit there in one front and play two coverages. I mean, that's just not the way it is in this league. So, you've got to be ready for it every week.
Q: Have you found it easier to focus your teams on the regular weekly tasks when there are outside distractions? Is that a process you've learned or changed as you've gotten more experience?
BB: Yeah, I've never seen any – we have a job to do. So, we'll try to go out there and do the best we can. I mean, I don't know when that changed. I don't think it really has for me, I'm not sure.
Q: What would you say is the biggest difference between Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard?
BB: I mean, they're both good. Yeah, they have different styles, but they're both good. Bernard's quick, he's shifty, he's got great vision, he's got good short-space quickness. Mixon's quick, too, but he's strong, he's a hard guy to tackle, runs through some tough tackles. Both guys can catch the ball, I think they both have almost 30 receptions, so it's not – they're good in the passing game, they're good in the running game. Bernard comes in on early downs as a change-of-pace runner, he's effective. So, they're both good players. Their styles are different, but they're both effective.
Q: What does John Ross III add to the Bengals offense?
BB: Another explosive player. Yeah, he's tough. Good receiver, can stretch the defense, but a good catch-and-run player. They have a lot of skill.
Q: I know you said Tyreek Hill is the fastest player in the NFL, but is John Ross at least close?
BB: No, they're all fast. Yeah.
Q: Can you talk more about the similarities between the Rams offensive scheme and the scheme that Zac Taylor is running in Cincinnati?
BB: Yeah, I mean there's some. As you can see, there's a correlation there, but it's not the same. There's differences, too.
Q: What's the biggest difference that you see?
BB: I mean, it's different. They don't do the same things. They run different plays, they package things differently, I'd say their operation's a little bit different. They just do it differently. Some of it's the same, too. I'm not saying it's all different. It's not that – we can see that there's a core of an offense that there's similarities too, but I just don't see them the same.
Q: Are you seeing any potential solutions to help the running game?
BB: Yeah, we'll work on it every week. We'll see what happens this week.
Q: Is it a collective thing?
BB: Yeah. I mean, there's several hundred plays we're talking about there. So, it's certainly not the same thing on every play.
Q: As far as the rules go with the videotaping investigation, do you have a sense of where the disconnect happened with the production team?
BB: I don't have anything to add to it. I don't know how many times I need to say that.
Q: On some of the jet-motion plays you run, like the Brandon Bolden touchdown from last week, how difficult is it to sync up the timing between the snap, the quarterback and whoever is taking the ball there?
BB: Yeah. I mean, I'd say mostly most every team in the league runs them. I mean, certainly Cincinnati. They run as many as anybody does. So yeah, there's an element of timing, just like there is on mostly every other play. So, you work on it. Try to have the timing right for that play and that's an important part of it, but again, I think most every team in the league runs that play, or some version of it. So, it's certainly doable.
Q: How much of a unique challenge is Geno Atkins on the interior of the defensive line?
BB: Yeah. There's been a few guys like him at that position. They're very hard to handle in there, their quickness. He has very good playing strength and leverage. He's more of a compact guy, but he has great leverage. Good quickness, good motor, and like a lot of those guys, he's very smart and instinctive. He just can anticipate who's going to block him or what the combination is going to be up front, and then he anticipates, and uses his quickness, and his power and his length, or I'd say leverage, to gain an advantage. And once he gains an advantage, it's very hard for those blockers – the guards, the centers, sometimes the tackles on those doubles – just to regain it. He's just too quick and too explosive to, once he has that gap or he has that little bit of a position advantage, then he capitalizes on it and gains it, and a lot of times he gets held. He causes a lot of penalties there on that, and that's another way he's disruptive is some 1st-and-20's, and 2nd-and-20's off penalties on those plays. So yeah, I'd say it's a combination of those things, but his initial quickness, his short-space quickness, his awareness, his instinctiveness, can anticipate and he plays strong. He just doesn't get walked out of there. He can certainly hold his ground, and if you try to play too soft on him, and just mirror him and try to take away his quickness, then he can use his power. He's got two good outside rushers with him, with Hubbard and Dunlap, that helps. So, there's a lot of somebody has to step up, or you're in trouble with the ends or he forces them back and that puts you in trouble with the edge guys. So, the overall combination of it's effective as well. He certainly does his part of it, but having Dunlap and Hubbard on the edge to press the whole pocket from those three prongs there – you know, [Andrew] Billings is a big, effective guy inside too. But it's just the pass rush or the running game, it's all kind of the same. It's the outside guys pressing it inside and the inside guys pressing it back or outside. It all causes a problem.