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Transcript: Bill Belichick Press Conference 12/23

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media on Wednesday, December 23, 2020.

BB: Since we last played Buffalo, they've played extremely well, probably playing as well as any team in the league. Really just done a good job in all three phases of the game. They're excellent in the kicking game. [Andre] Roberts is having another good year. Defensively, they have done a good job of playing from ahead, limiting the points, getting negative plays in the running game, taking the ball away. Offensively, they're at the top of the league in just about every category, starting with scoring. So, well-balanced team that's playing extremely well over the last couple of months.

Q: With this being the first practice of the week and you guys going through your meetings the last couple days, are you sticking with Cam Newton at quarterback?

BB: We're not answering that question every day. We've been through this for a month.

Q: I totally respect that. I think just with the circumstances changing over the last you couple days with the playoffs. That's why I asked.

BB: How about if I let you know if we're going to make a change?

Q: That sounds good to me. Is it partly due to competitive reasons that you don't want to let the Bills know?

BB: Any questions on Buffalo?

Q: You know Brian Daboll pretty well. What do you think of the job he's doing with the offense?

BB: Yeah, offensively they're very impressive; they look great. They're well balanced. [Stefon] Diggs is having a great year, [Cole] Beasley's having a great year. [John] Brown's been out, [Gabriel] Davis has stepped in and played well. The backs, [Zack] Moss and [Devin] Singletary have both been productive. [Josh] Allen's been productive. They've scored a lot of points. They're good in the red area. They move the ball and they get the ball in the end zone. So, yeah, they're a very explosive team. They're averaging 35 points a game the last couple months. So yeah, they've been really impressive.

Q: Josh Allen was just named Offensive Player of the Week for the fourth time this season his numbers are outstanding. You've played him as a rookie, then as a second-year player and now as a third-year player, what kind of development have you seen from him over the years?

BB: Like most players, as they gain experience and gain confidence and get more familiar with the system and the defenses that they see, they improve. He's done that. Again, it's a well-balanced team. They have a lot of good players at a lot of positions and they utilize him in multiple ways, so yeah, they are hard to defend. He's done a good job of orchestrating it and being a key playmaker in the offense.

Q: How would you go about defining your personal goals for the team over the last couple of games here and have those goals changed after the postseason elimination?

BB: No, they haven't changed. They never change.

Q: So you're focused on winning but is evaluation the same in terms of your processes now as it would be if you were competing for a postseason spot?

BB: Pretty much.

Q: You talked a little bit about Josh Allen there. How much credit does his growth and development have to do with their overall offensive output and is him stepping in and being a Pro-Bowl caliber quarterback one of the biggest reasons that they are where they are at this point in the division?

BB: Sure. Yeah, sure. I definitely think so.

Q: I know you talked about Matthew Slater yesterday and Jake Bailey and the job he's done, but also the remarkable consistency from Nick Folk and what you've been able to see from him, especially as the season's gone on here. It seems like he's been automatic.

BB: Yeah, Nick's really fallen into a good groove and look, a lot of credit goes to Nick. I'm going take anything away from him. He's done a great job for us. Has been very dependable and consistent. But that's a full operation there with Joe [Cardona] and Jake [Bailey] and so when the other two parts are good, that makes the kicker's job easier. It's still a hard job and Nick's done a great job of it. I'm not taking anything away from him, but Jake and Joe have done a good job, too. So, that whole operation, the consistency of those three guys and the execution of that play has been good. Look, Nick's got the biggest part of it. And he's been very consistent. Those balls that you see in the game are what it looks like in practice, too. He hits it straight, right down the middle. It's been very consistent all year. Again, not that it was ever bad but I would say that it's even gotten a little bit better. It's just that his consistency has been outstanding over the last couple months.

Q: With Brian Daboll running the offense over there, is he carrying over a lot of what you guys do on offense, or is he kind of doing his own thing here in Buffalo?

BB: I mean, look, there's a lot of offenses in the NFL. It's not like every week you go in and we talk about, 'Here's 10 new plays we've never seen before.' So, I think there's a carryover from what we've done, what they do, but he certainly has his own mark on it and the players change it because of their skills and what they can do. And, he does a good job of utilizing that. Brian's a good, creative coach. He has plays that try to take advantage of weaknesses that he sees on the other side of the ball. So, that's always been something that he's done a good job of and I'm sure he'll continue to do that. So, that's part of it too. It's game planning.

Q: I'm just wondering what you've seen from Stefon Diggs and how much his addition has helped and changed their offense this year?

BB: Well he's helped it a lot, he's the leading receiver in the league. He's targeted a lot. He's made some great individual plays. At times, he's gone up and taken the ball away from defenders and plays that you think are going to be incomplete passes and he ends up with the ball. He's a very competitive player. He's good after the catch. He has strong hands and certainly can get open with his quickness and separation and his savvy, and his competitiveness. He's a tough kid. So, he's added a lot to that team, going with [John] Brown, [Cole] Beasley and then [Gabriel] Davis this year as a rookie. That's a good, productive group. They've gotten [Dawson] Knox back, we didn't play against him in the first game, but he's a very good receiving tight end and they use Lee Smith as a blocker. They've used him more. So they have good balance and good skill players across the board, good backs, good quarterback.

Q: You've obviously seen so many young quarterbacks over the course of your career and coached them and prepared for them. Would you characterize Josh Allen's improvement from last year to this year as unusual at all? You watch him closer than we do, but just some of the numbers: he's below 60 percent completions in the last two years and this year he's close to 70. I'm just curious if the rate of improvement that the numbers would suggest is unusual in your mind?

BB: There's lot of things that go into those things. Really, I'm not that focused on individual statistics and all that. I just try to watch the team play, watch the players play and evaluate how they're playing. I'm not saying they are not relevant but that's not something I would say I'm overly focused on. 

Q: Would you say just from your experience in general when it comes to quarterback play, is accuracy something that can be improved relatively significantly over time?

BB: I think you can improve anything if the player understands what he needs to do and works at it. I would say a lot of quarterbacking is, certainly accuracy is a part of it. And really it's, I think a bigger part of it is decision making an anticipation. Look, you have to be accurate enough to complete the ball but the anticipation and the decision making and how quickly to make those decisions and all that, I think those are the things that really, a quarterback gains through experience and confidence and repetitions.

Q: In their receiving corps, they have 13 different guys including the backs that have caught touchdown passes this year. How much of that is the result of having guys like Diggs and Beasley who can dictate so much attention, command so much attention and dictate coverage, and their willingness or the ability to use complementary pieces when they get in scoring range?

BB: Yeah, I think there's certain players on their offense that are going to get more attention than others. How many guys it is? I don't know. I think what you really look at is production. If one guy catches one pass, I don't think you start game planning for that, but you have a guy leading the league in receiving and a guy that's converted every third down he's caught this year. You know, I mean those are the guys you got to do something about. I think some of the other players that are involved, yeah, you have to defend whoever's out there. One pass to whoever the 13th receiver is, is one less to Diggs and one less to Beasley. So, I don't think you game plan for those guys. You have to defend them. You have to defend everybody out there, but you better stop the guys that are putting out the most production. Again, if I could just go back to Phil [Perry], your question for a second. I'm not sure I really understand the question, but if you're asking me like a year ago, is Josh Allen's sailing the ball over a guy's head by two yards, and this year, is he putting it right on the money? I wouldn't say that's really the issue or whatever, if it's 10 percentage points or whatever the numbers were you read out. I don't think that's where the 10 percent is coming from. That's just my opinion. I would not say he's an inaccurate passer. Again, like any quarterback with more experience, with more confidence, with more repetitions, anticipation and execution and decision making and all those things, I think that if there's been a big improvement in completion percentage, my guess would be that's where a bigger part of it's coming from.

Q: Got it, thanks Bill. And I mean the changes at receiver with Diggs, I mean, how much of a factor? That has to play into it as well, I would think, right?

BB: Sure, yeah. Leading receiver in the league. Absolutely.

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