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Transcript: Bill Belichick Press Conference 12/20

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday, December 20, 2017.

BB: Well, getting back on the Bills; they had a really impressive game against Miami last week. Obviously, we're pretty familiar with the Dolphins and Buffalo did a great job against them in all three areas of the game. They moved the ball well offensively, played well on defense, solid in the kicking game. It looks like there have been a few changes since the last time we played the Bills and getting guys like [Kelvin] Benjamin back, and [Ramon] Humber's role in the kicking game, [Matt] Milano's increased role on defense, the situation at corner. There's a number of things for us to work through. Not to mention the quarterback position, which seems like that's returned to what it was when we played them, but there's been some transition in the intermediate time. It'll give us a lot of things that we need to work on and be ready for. [Mike] Tolbert being back, of course, is another big one. [Colt] Anderson started practice and he could be a factor, too. That's another good special teams player for them. We'll see how all of that plays out, but have a lot of work to do here to get back on track against these guys. Last time we had a quick turnaround we didn't do very well with it. Hopefully, we can do a better job of coaching and be more competitive this week.

Q: What does Kelvin Benjamin bring to their offensive unit?

BB: Yeah, I mean, he's obviously a big size receiver primarily at 'X', so a lot of single coverage out there. He's a guy that's a target that [Tyrod] Taylor can look at out there and toss it up to either as part of a play or as part of an extended play - that type of thing, scramble play. But, Benjamin's a big guy. He can go up and get the ball and has a good route tree, inside routes and vertical routes, a strong player after the catch.

Q: Is he being used pretty similarly to how he was used when he was in Carolina with the Panthers?

BB: Yeah, I mean he hasn't had a lot of playing time at Buffalo but, yeah, a different offense. He's the same player but a little different offense.

Q: What specifically did you mean when you mentioned the disappointment with the last time you had a quick turnaround? Was that in reference to playing in Tampa Bay on a Thursday?

BB: No, I'm talking about playing Miami and then playing them a couple of weeks later. I'm talking about playing Buffalo and then playing them three weeks later.

Q: Meaning the short turnaround due to the fact that this is the second time around for this opponent?

BB: In a short time frame. Like, 'Oh yeah, well not much has changed.' Well, the result of the game changed.

Q: I didn't know if you were referencing a quick turnaround from a Sunday to a Thursday game.

BB: No, I was talking Miami to Miami, Buffalo to Buffalo. 

Q: What do you see from Tre'Davious White's ball skills of late?

BB: Well, he's made a couple of good plays on the ball. I would say the one he got against Miami was, I mean, he was out there. [Jay] Cutler was trying to throw it away and just lobbed it out there to him. He does a good job at the line of scrimmage, does a good job of rerouting the receivers at the line. That leads to some over-the-top help that they get from [Jordan] Poyer and [Micah] Hyde. Poyer had the interception last week. Even though that went to Poyer, that was kind of more Tre'Davious White, I would say, causing the interception than the one that he actually intercepted, which was kind of a throwaway play that he ended up with the ball. But he does a good job of rerouting the receivers at the line of scrimmage and causing them to delay getting into their routes and give the pass rush more time and get more help over the top from the safeties.

Q: You've said you can learn a lot about situational football from coaching special teams. Your team has done an excellent job of executing and putting points on the board at the end of the first half. How has special teams been a factor in that aspect of situational football?

BB: Well, field position starts a lot of those situations, good or bad, whichever side of them you're on, offense or defense. The special teams' role in the field position is critical. Then, of course, scoring is scoring. Most of the points are scored on kicks, so that brings that into play, as well. It's still complementary football. You've got to have multiple units operating efficiently or productively for good things to happen, but yeah, certainly special teams has a big role in that. Field position is a big part of it.

Q: Charles Clay has missed some time, but it is it fair to say that he has been a little bit more involved in the passing game over the past couple of weeks?

BB: He's always involved. Yeah, he's always involved. I mean, he's a really good player. He's very good down the field. He's got great speed and discipline in his routes. He's a very good route runner and has an explosive speed to go with it, so he doesn't need much, a step, a half a step. He can run away from a lot of guys. He's very deceptive the way he sets up routes and he's got two or three routes that look the same until the final break and then you could be going in a couple of different directions. He does that on the way he stems. He's got a couple of routes like that and he's a good catch-and-run player because he's fast and he's got good run-after-catch skills, so he can take an under route, or a tight end screen, or a check down, or something like that and turn it into a big play. But then he's good down the field on seams, overs, crossing routes, flag patterns, wheels, things like that. He can get you in a lot of different ways. This guy is a really good player. But, they always involve him. Sometimes you take him away and that opens things up for [LeSean] McCoy on check downs, or [Travaris] Cadet, or one of the other receivers. He sucks some coverage away from [Nick] O'Leary and that's, at times, they've complemented each other. A lot of times it doesn't always go to him, but he can be a part of opening it up for somebody else.

Q: Do you have to take into consideration that this team might be out for revenge following the last meeting when Rob Gronkowski had the hit on Tre'Davious White?

BB: I'm sure it'll be a very competitive game, like it always is against Buffalo. I think that the Bills have played great football all year long. Coach [Sean] McDermott's done a great job with the team. They're very disciplined. They're tough. They're physical. They're very competitive in every phase of the game on every play. There's no downs off. There's no plays off. We're going to have to play a good 60-minute game. We need to play with fewer penalties, fewer mistakes, better ball security, better tackling, better discipline. There's a lot of things we need to do better than the last time that we played them, but they're a good football team. They're well-coached and I'm sure that we'll get their best shot. We need to give them ours.

Q: Are you still meeting with Tom Brady and the quarterbacks on a weekly basis like in years past?

BB: I meet with all of the players all of the time.

Q: How would you describe the dynamic of your working relationship with Tom? Has anything changed this year?

BB: Well, every year is different.

Q: What are your thoughts on James Develin being recognized as Pro Bowler for the first time in his career?

BB: Yeah, it's great. I think it's great. Look, nobody has worked hard than James has. He started off on the practice squad, worked his way onto the roster, on and off as an active and inactive player. [He] has the last couple of years fallen into a very consistent and productive role in the kicking game and offensively. His play time has increased. His production has increased. As hard as he works in the weight room, on the field, off the field, preparation. I mean, whenever you see James, you see him working. You see him doing extras in the weight room. You see him doing extras on the practice field. You see him in early or late looking at film, going over things. He's got a role. He's very good at it. It's a very important role and so it's great to see him recognized for it. I'm happy for him. I'm happy for all of the guys that got recognized.

Q: How does Jordan Poyer help complement the rest of the members of their defensive secondary?

BB: Well, Poyer and Hyde work well together. They, as safeties, do as good a job as any safeties in the league of discussing coverages. They play off each other well. They make it look like one coverage and then it's something else. They disguise blitzes. They disguise coverages. They move well after the snap. They do a good job of communicating with their teammates, whether that be the nickel back or the corners. You see very few coverage errors on their defense. That's usually the result of safety communication and safety, I'd say, coordination because that's where most of it comes from. Not putting it all on them, good or bad, but I think they play a big role in it. Those guys do a very good job of that. They're experienced. They work well together. They're well-coached. They have a good complementary system and they make it hard, make it hard for the quarterback, hard for the offense, hard for the receivers. You look up and it looks like one coverage, and then a second or sometimes maybe a second-and-a-half into the play it declares as something else. That causes a hesitation. Sometimes not running the route properly based on the coverage being different than what you think it is and they can take advantage of that. They do a good job. They're very well-coached.

Q: How has Rob Gronkowski continued to grow over the past eight seasons? What does he do differently now than when he was a younger player in the league?

BB: Well, I think Rob's seen a lot of different coverages, seen a lot of different looks, ways that people try to defend him. I think as any player like that sees more of those things he learns how to deal with them. 'Here's how I deal with this situation and here's how I deal with that situation. This works. This doesn't, or this works better than that, or this has a place.' I think those kinds of things that specifically apply to him. The same thing that Matt Slater deals with on kick coverage. The same thing that when I coached [Lawrence] Taylor that he dealt with as a pass rusher. You see five or six different things that everybody else doesn't see. They see what they normally see [that] those guys see different things. Slater has seen every kind of double-team block, every type of trap block, every type of short set, deep set. Every way he can be blocked, he has seen that. I think Rob has seen every different way you can cover him from an inside or an outside position based on his style of play, the way teams try to play him. So, you learn how to deal with those. That's certainly something that experience teaches you because there's a certain point in your career where you don't deal with those things, but as you build up and have success and different teams use different techniques or schemes, you've got to figure out how to deal with them or they can take you out of being a productive player. Rob's done a good job of, as I said, just mentioning those players - one on offense, one on defense, one on special teams - not trying to put them into separate categories, but I've dealt with those types of things with players in all three areas of the game and that's what it is. Those players continue to be productive even though they see repeated schemes or techniques to try and slow them down. They find ways to still be productive within those schemes. I think that's probably the biggest thing for Rob.

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