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Transcript: Bill Belichick Press Conference 12/24

Read the full transcript from Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick's press conference on Friday, December 24, 2021.


Friday, December 24, 2021

On Shaq Mason:

BB: Yeah. That's probably a good way to put it [that not hearing from offensive linemen during the game means they are doing their job well]. They love to be anonymous and when they are, like you said, that's usually a good thing, unless it's some pancake block out in the open field or something like that. Shaq's been a really solid player for us. He's been tough, durable, and athletic. For his size, he has good power. It's been good to have him in there, especially he and David [Andrews], even Ted [Karras]. Ted was gone for a year, but those guys have been together for a while, played a number of years together, and that's a good thing for the offensive line. Kind of getting ng there with [Isaiah] Wynn. It's good to have those guys together, playing together for multiple seasons. A lot of times, you can reflect back. "Yeah. This is the way we blocked against somebody that did this a couple of years ago". Everybody kind of knows what you're talking about. Things like that or "This blitz. Here's how we handled it." There's some recall and some familiarity there. It's good when those guys are able to play with each other for a while.

On having Kyle Dugger back for the Buffalo game:

BB: It's always good to have Kyle. Kyle's a really good football player. He's improved a lot from his rookie year when he just gained a lot of experience. He was a good player last year, but now, with his experience, anticipation, communication, working with Devin [McCourty], Adrian Phillips, and the linebackers, he's just really blossomed. I love working with him and love the growth and development that he's had. The arrow's still up high on him. He's an impact player. I'm glad we have him. He's done a good job for us.

On the difficulty to find good offensive linemen in today's game:

BB: Not enough of them.

On if the reason for the lack of quality offensive linemen is because of the college game:

BB: I think it's a trickle-down effect. The colleges are looking for them too. There are only so many big kids out there. There are a lot more kids that are 195 lbs than there are 295 lbs, so that's just the way of the world. In college, back when I came in the NFL, to put it that way, most kids stayed in college five years, especially the offensive linemen. They redshirted. They played four years of college football. Their fundamentals improved. Their strength improved. Their technique improved and that's a big part of what those guys do. Some offensive linemen are very good players. They're just average athletes, but they're very good technically. They have great balance and fundamentals. That's a lot more important than 40-time or other stuff.

On his most memorable Christmas moment growing up:

BB: There are a lot of them. Every year was special. I spent most of them with my grandparents and that was because we saw them once a year. That was always good. My cousins, grandparents, aunts, uncles, stuff like that. Those were good. As the kids grew up, each of those were special too. They came down, saw that Santa had been there, and left things for them under the tree. It's a special day.

On Devin McCourty and Dont'a Hightower:

BB: They've done a great job for us, both on and off the field. They give us a lot of leadership, decision making, communication, recognition, awareness on the field and off the field. They're great professionals. They know how to work. They know what it takes to win. They help us get on track. They can keep some guys from going off the tracks. They know what's important. A lot of times, players, coaches, and teams can get caught up in things that are 1% of the game and you skip over something that's 80% of the game. They do a good job of bringing things into focus, whether it's fundamentals, communication, or techniques and so forth. They're, obviously, very respected and looked up to by, not only all their teammates, but all the people in the organization. I'm very fortunate to have both those guys. They've both had great careers here and their careers have gone fairly parallel. They've been together for a long time. They've gained a lot of confidence and trust with each other working with other. They can play well and communicate well off each other in critical situations or situations where we have to make adjustments. As I've said with the linemen, they've been through it before and they have a level of anticipation and confidence in their teammates. It's been earned over a lot of plays and multiple years together. They've done a great job for us. Whatever I said would be understated.

On how the coaches he coached under have helped shaped him:

BB: Tremendously. It's been a tremendous experience. I've learned a lot from all of them. They were all different and I had different assignments under some of those different coaches, so that was unique as well. I feel like I got a great start with Coach [Ted] Marchibroda, Coach [Rick] Forzano, Coach [Tommy] Hudspeth those first three years. That was really a key to building a lot of my foundational knowledge of the NFL, work ethic, special teams, offense, defense. After three years, I had coached on both sides of the ball. I had coached in the kicking game all three years. I've been able to work with the tight ends and the receivers in Detroit. Then, of course, Coach [Bill] Parcells. I was with him for whatever it was; 15, 16 years. I learned a lot from him. Of course, Coach [Joe] Collier in Denver on the 3-4 defense with them. With Coach Parcells, our 3-4 defense in New York was different than the Denver defense. It was interesting for me to see both of those put together, the way that they complemented each other. Then, to be able to work under Coach [Ray] Perkins and coach special teams for Ray was a great experience. It was one of the best years of my life working for him and then Bill. I learned a lot from all of them. A lot of time with Bill, so probably the most from him, but then I knew the least under the first three coaches, so there was a lot to learn there too, but Bill took me to another level, in terms of going from a coordinator to a head coach, understanding some of the other things that go with being a head coach, with injuries, contracts, some league rules, things like that, trades; just things that a head coach does that, a lot of times, an assistant coach doesn't do, but Bill involved me in a lot of those and the draft process. Those were great learning experiences for me as well. I've been very lucky.

On how the Christmas holiday will affect their game preparation:

BB: Usually on Sunday games at 1, we come in on Saturday morning and they go to the hotel Saturday night. At times, on Sunday night games or late Sunday afternoon games, we'll come in on Saturday afternoon and then do a morning meeting on Sunday morning. With this weekend, we're going to do the Saturday afternoon meeting schedule and then, play at 1. Again, we're pretty familiar with Buffalo. We played them a couple of weeks ago. Not that there isn't a lot of preparation to be done, but I feel like we're in a good place and we can combine Saturday morning and Saturday night into one meeting on Saturday and we'll be ready to go on Sunday.

On J.C. Jackson's development this season:

BB: Yeah. Definitely. I agree with that [Jackson spending more time studying opponent's game tape]. J.C.'s prepared hard and really done a good job this year in being more conscientious about team defense. He's done a lot of things that might help other guys make plays. He's been very unselfish in some of the matchups that he's had, some of the techniques that he's played that have helped other guys make plays through his overall understanding of what's best for the defense and how to best cover certain routes and patterns in the secondary. He's shown a lot of maturity and unselfishness there. As a result, some of those plays have come to him indirectly, but he's helped our defense a lot by just the consistency in which he's played the fundamentals that we need to play across the board. He's a very good player. He's very good in man coverage. He has great ball skills and hands to turn the ball over. I would say his tackling, team defense, and just overall communication, awareness, and preparation have been really good this year and it showed up on the field.

On Josh Bledsoe:

BB: Josh works hard. Josh did everything he could do in the spring and then he was limited in training camp with the PUP designations. As far as meetings and staying up with things, he did a good job. Cam McGrone did as well. When he had an opportunity to begin his practice period coming off of PUP, he showed some preparation, gained confidence, his teammates gained confidence in him that he knew what he was doing even though he hadn't had a chance to practice it that much. He showed some talent and some skill out there, so we activated on the roster, but he's worked very hard. It's a tough situation when there's not much light at the end of the tunnel, but he pushed hard through it and, obviously, absorbed a lot, and has gotten better every day now that he's been able to actually get out there on the field and work actively on his game.

On how much he emphasizes to players the need to balance family and football this time of year:

BB: We talk about that. I think some of our experienced veteran players like Matt [Slater], Devin [McCourty], [Dont'a] High[tower], David Andrews, guys like that, we've talked about it and they've talked about it in their individual rooms and collective rooms, so forth, about our preparation for the game, but at the same time, it's an important day for our families and for our kids. It's part of life. There's definitely a balance to it. It's a little different week than any week of the year. Thanksgiving has a little relevance to it, but Christmas falls on a different day every year, so it's a little bit different. I've been in the league been through however many Christmases that is. We all know what we're here for. At the same time, there's another part of life that goes on that's important too. Again, it's balance and working things out the best you can, knowing that we have a big game, a huge matchup, a divisional game with Buffalo. We've worked hard and put a lot into this season. A lot's riding on this game. We all want to do the best we can at it and just try to balance some other things as well.

On Isaiah McKenzie:

BB: He's an explosive player. Very explosive. Home run guy in the return game and, offensively, he gets the ball in space. He's very quick, elusive, and if he gets a crease, he can make a big play, go all the way. A versatile player. Catches the ball. They use him in the backfield. They use him on some handoff plays, speed sweeps, reverses, and things like that, throw it too him, quick screens, over-the-middle plays, deep balls and then, of course, in the kicking game, he's a dynamic returner. We'll have to do a great job on him with our leverage, our tackling, and certainly have some awareness when he's in the game offensively. He's not in there all the time, but I wouldn't be surprised if we saw a lot more of him this week with [Cole] Beasley out. We'll just have to be ready for whoever they put in there, but he's a guy who can break the game open with one play.

On how Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde's ability to disguise affects receivers:

BB: Primarily, it's an offensive line issue. It depends on what the play is. It could affect a lot of different people depending on if the receivers are blocking them in the run force, it'd be there problem. If it's blitz pickup, it's a back and quarterback problem. If they're involved in the rush, then that affects things on the line of scrimmage. They don't just run into the back of a defensive lineman, so wherever they rush, then the linemen rush in a complementary way to that. They do a good job of making it look like one guy is coming and then the other guy comes, or make it look like one guy is coming and then nobody comes, or make it look like nobody's coming and then one of them rolls down there and comes and then the other guy slides to the complementary position on the defense. Sometimes, it's hard to tell, until after the ball is snapped, what they're actually doing because they do a good job of false indicators and false alignments and then they move to things late. Sometimes, they just line up in it, you wait for them to move, and they don't move. Then, they do what they do from that position. Again, they're experienced. They do a good job. They have a good sense of timing, the quarterback's cadence, the 40 second clock, the motions and the formations that are involved, and when they put all that together, they do a nice job. There's a good level of communication and adjustments with the linebackers as well. [Matt] Milano and [Tremaine] Edmunds have played together now for several years with the safeties, so a lot of times, they have to bump over, change gaps, adjust their gaps based on the formation change, and they get to those pretty quickly. The offense has to re-recognize who's where and who's who. It's a very well-coordinated defense, they execute it well, and they disguise it well.

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