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Transcript: Bill Belichick Press Conference 12/16

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media on Wednesday, December 16, 2020.

BB: Well, the first game against Miami was obviously quite a while ago but has some relevance. The Dolphins have played well here after, what was it, a 1-3 start? They've done a good job, turned the ball over a lot, done a good job offensively of staying balanced and getting the ball to skill players. They changed the quarterback. Both quarterbacks have played well. So, it's a good team that really has thrived off a lot of defensive turnovers, and as always, ball security will be key for us in this game.

Q: How do you think the two rookie tight ends, Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene, are doing so far this year. I know setbacks with injuries sort of impacted that development, but as you look forward to these last few games, what do you hope to see from them down the stretch?

BB: Yeah, well, it's good to have them back out there. Last week, they had a little more playing time, but unfortunately it didn't correlate into more practice time or quality practice time because of the schedule we were on. So, we'll see how it goes here as they get more experience and reps at what they're doing and then how that transfers over into the game. So, you're right, both guys missed some time there kind of right in the middle of the season after they'd gotten started and had made some progress and then weren't able to continue and now have resumed full activity. So, hopefully we can make progress every day. We'll just have to see how that all works out here.

Q: How impactful is a trip to the IR on a rookie's development this year? With a short offseason and then breaking up the middle of their regular season, what do you see there in terms of how that influences their development?

BB: Well, I mean in their case, I don't know how much of an impact it had. They weren't able to practice, they weren't able to participate, so they could rehab from injured reserve as well as they could rehab not from the injured reserve and help the team get a healthy and contributing player onto the roster. So, it's really not a hard decision to make. Would they have gotten any more out of being on the roster? Not much because they were still in the meetings, but they weren't able to do any productive work on the practice field. So, there's not really much anybody could do about it. I think we made the most of what we had, but yeah, not ideal. You'd like everybody out there all the time, but unfortunately that's not really realistic in the National Football League.

Q: What have you seen from Lynn Bowden so far? How much did you guys look at him before the draft, and how have the Dolphins been using him so far?

BB: Right. Well, he was used in just a handful of plays until the last four weeks, and then he's played more in the last four weeks and more last week. They had a couple guys banged up in the game, so he's had more playing opportunities. Primarily lines up in the slot. They use him some as a wildcat player and he's been involved in similar gadget-type plays, but primarily plays in the slot.

Q: Justin Herron has been rotating in at left tackle over the last couple of weeks and he had rotated in at positions before. Why do you like getting him on the field in those types of situations?

BB: Well, I think he's made progress for us and deserves an opportunity to continue to play and improve. And then we've been in some situations where we've moved Mike [Onwenu] inside and moved Jermaine [Eluemunor] over and Justin played left tackle in the Charger game. So, it's been a combination of different circumstances, but he continues to do good things and improve. He's still got a long way to go and a lot of learning experiences for him, but I think he's got a chance to be able to contribute for us and potentially develop into some type of a role player for us.

Q: I'm curious about your feelings on Brian Flores' decision to make the move to Tua Tagovailoa – not really on whether or not you agree with it, but the quarterback is such a scrutinized position, at least from the outside. Does a coach have to weigh in all those things? You've made a couple of decisions over the course of your career at that position that were highly scrutinized and obviously very successful. Can you treat it as you would a defensive lineman, outside linebacker or right tackle? Or, do you have to take into consideration all those other things from the outside that come in?

BB: Yeah, I don't think I'm really qualified to talk about some other team's decision. But, look, anytime you have a position where only one player can play it – one quarterback, one kicker, one left tackle – that's a little different than rotating players through at running back or defensive tackle or some of the other positions that you referenced. So, you can play three defensive ends and give them all playing time and evaluate them. It's more difficult to do with positions where only one player plays there. Rotating kickers, rotating quarterbacks, rotating punters – you know, could you do it? Yeah. That brings in some other problems that you'd have to evaluate with what the benefits were and weren't and make a decision on that. I would say each situation is different. I don't think there's necessarily a handbook on how I would do it or how anybody else has done it. You try to do what's best for the team based on all the things you know at that time when you make the decision.

Q: Is it somewhat of a feel thing? Whether it was the Tom Brady decision you made or the Cleveland decisions you had to make, I would think as the head coach you'd have to boldly go with what you know and trust your instincts.

BB: Yeah, I think Coach Flores made his comments about it. So, I'm sure they were truthful. I've made mine on decisions I've made and tried to do what's best for the team. So, that's what it will always be.

Q: Are you planning to practice inside today?

BB: Yeah, we are.

Q: Do you have any plans on Julian Edelman to start his clock off of IR today?

BB: Yeah, Julian, I'd put him in the day-to-day category. But, when he's ready, we'll start him. If he's not ready, then we'll keep working and we'll wait until he's ready.

Q: Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki is among the league leaders in catches that have resulted in first downs. What have you seen from Gesicki in terms of how he's become a pretty significant factor in what they do?

BB: Well, he's got good receiving skills. He's really, I would say, more of a big receiver than a true tight end, but he functions a little bit in that spot. He's got good quickness, obviously good length, good hands and instinctive receiver that knows how to get open and can make good catches in tight coverage with his length and his hands.

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