HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
December 4, 2019
BB: As usual, I'd say the Chiefs look pretty good. It's a real good football team. Andy's [Reid] done a great job with rebuilding this organization and has had a lot of success and is having it again this year. They've got a lot of good players, but Andy does a great job. Offensively, this is about as tough a team to prepare for as there is. They have a lot of good players, but they're very well-coached. They have an excellent scheme, and Andy really knows how to attack defenses and create problems, so they do a really good job of that. But, solid in all three areas. Very strong coverage team on special teams, punt and kickoff coverage as good as there is in the league and explosive in their return game, so that's a problem, too. Defensively, they've got the takeaways, and they've hit the plus-side on that and that's always a big key for their defense when they can take the ball away. So, got a lot of ball hawking-type players over there on the defensive side of the ball, and we're going to have to do a good job there of making sure that we take good care of it. This'll be a good opportunity, a good challenge for us.
Q: What are some of the characteristics that you've seen out of this defense since being led by Steve Spagnuolo?
BB: I would say it's Steve's scheme – a lot of pressure, blitz-zone. They play more zone, but they can play man. So, he'll mix it up, but they keep the pressure on and they turn the ball over.
Q: Is it different from what you saw in January?
BB: Yeah, it's a totally different scheme.
Q: Is that tape useful at this point?
BB: Yeah, some of the same players are there, yeah.
Q: What does having a player like Stephon Gilmore do for you when you're game planning during the week, knowing you can put him on the other team's No. 1 option?
BB: Yeah, well, each week you have your players and they have their players, and each week it's a different matchup. So, I'd say every week you try to figure out what the best way to go is, and there's a lot of factors that go into that. It's not just players – it's scheme. It's where they play and what their strengths are, and each player has different strengths and weaknesses. So, it's strictly a week-to-week thing.
Q: I would imagine that having one player covering their top guy instead of bringing over a double-team would create flexibility.
BB: Yeah, again, it depends on the situation. It's a lot easier said than done. There's 20 other guys out there besides those two guys, so it's not like basketball, where you've only got five guys on each side. You've got 11 players, you've got a lot of different formations, a lot of different things that go on. It's not quite that easy. I wish it was, but it's really not.
Q: How have you seen them mix in Mecole Hardman this year?
BB: Well, Hardman played a lot due to some injuries, and then he also plays in rotation when everybody's there. So, it looks like they use him in different spots like they do with all their receivers. They move them all around. He's a very explosive guy, he's tough with the ball in his hands – 20 yards a catch.
Q: They have a lot of receivers who contribute, but it looks like they never have more than three on the field at one time. Are they able to stay fresher than defenses because of that rotation?
BB: Yeah, you have to ask Andy about that. I don't know. I mean, there's four receivers out there on every play, so –
Q: Four wide receivers?
BB: Well, I mean, you can call [Travis] Kelce whatever you want. He's one of the best receivers in the league. He's their leading receiver. You can put him up against any receiver in the league and statistically he'll match up with anybody you want to put him against, basically, over the last five years. So, you can call him whatever you want to call him. OK, so you have four receivers out there and a back, basically, on a lot of plays – not on all the plays, but on a lot of plays. So, they're hard to match up against. They utilize two tight ends, they utilize the fourth receiver, they utilize multiple backs. And whoever they put out there, it usually causes a problem. So, how they use the rotation and so forth – it's not like there's five guys running deep on every play. I mean, that isn't really what they do.
Q: How good is Patrick Mahomes when he leaves the pocket?
BB: Yeah, he's dangerous on extended plays. He's got a great arm, can throw it all over the field. He can run, he's athletic, so those extended plays are definitely a problem.
Q: Is it different in coverage because of his arm strength and how he looks to pass when he scrambles instead of looking to run?
BB: Yeah, well, anytime there's an extended play, usually everybody comes into play. I mean, you can't just drop them. So, he can run now. I mean, if he wants to pull it down and run, he can definitely run. There's plenty of examples of that. There's more examples of him throwing than there are running, but he can run, too. So, the extended plays are a problem.
Q: How have you seen Andy Reid adapt new concepts into his system this season?
BB: Just watch them play. I mean, they roll up and down the field against everybody. So, Andy's a game plan coach. He's not going to do the same thing every day, every week. He's not going to keep running the same plays over and over again. That's just not what they do. They attack defenses, and each week's a different defense, and so he changes the attack a little bit based on how he matches up against those teams and what they do. But, he's as good a play caller and game planner as anybody I've coached against. I mean, he consistently creates problems. Look, he has a lot of great players, that helps, but he does a great job of putting them in good positions and creating problems for the defense and attacking weaknesses. He's very good.
Q: Are there new elements that he's introduced this season?
BB: Yeah, he continuously has little wrinkles and finds ways to do things that they know how to do, but really change the look for the defense, make it a little harder to identify. But, he's not going to put in a new offense every week. I mean, that's – they don't do that. They do what they do, they have a lot of variation. They have a broad playbook, it's not like it's two-or-three pages now. They've got a lot of things they can do. But, yeah, he throws wrinkles in and keeps you off-balance and, again, finds ways to challenge the way that your defense matches up, or covers, or supports, or checks or whatever it is. Whatever you do, he finds ways to attack it and he's very good at it.
Q: What are your thoughts on North Attleborough-native Anthony Sherman?
BB: Yeah, he's a versatile player – plays in the kicking game, plays a little bit on offense. [He] can run, catch, block. He's got good versatility. His primary role for them is in the kicking game, but he shows up a little bit on offense.
Q: Is James White as consistent off the field as he is on it?
BB: Yeah, James is really consistent. He's one of our most consistent, dependable guys. Captain the last couple years – I think that really speaks to his leadership and the respect that his teammates have for him. Yeah, he does a great job for us.
Q: What about Travis Kelce makes him unique as a route-runner?
BB: He's good at everything. He's big, he's fast, he's good after the catch, does a really good job of gaining leverage on defenders. He also creates space for other players as well. He's a smart player, very smart. So, good at all of it. He's a hard guy to tackle when he gets the ball.
Q: Would you say his route tree is bigger than most tight ends?
BB: It's probably bigger than anybody in the league. He's got every tight end route, he's got every receiver route. I mean, there's not a route he doesn't run. So, does everything but run routes out of the backfield – probably does some of that, but maybe they're saving that. I don't know. But yeah, he's got all of receiving – they put him out. He's a receiver, so he runs all of the receiver routes, and he's a tight end, he runs all the tight end routes.
Q: How would you say Jakobi Meyers' mindset is with learning the playbook and trying to gain Tom Brady's trust?
BB: Yeah, Jakobi's a smart guy. It's not a question of learning. It's experience, and each week for young players is a learning experience – match up against different guys, see different coverages, see different situations come up. But, he works hard at it. Learning is not an issue for him.
Q: Are there ways you've seen Patrick Mahomes mature that won't show up on the stat sheet?
BB: Yeah, I don't know. He's pretty good. I mean, he had a great year last year. He's missed a couple games this year, but he's played very well this year, too. So, I don't know the maturity and all the day-to-day stuff. I mean, we're not around them, so I would have no idea how to comment on that. But, on the field, he's an outstanding player. He makes plays very few other players in the league can make at his position.
Q: What makes Tyrann Mathieu a difficult player to compete against, and is Kansas City using him in a similar way to the other teams you've seen him play on?
BB: He's a very instinctive player. He just recognizes things and pulls the trigger, reacts to it quickly. You've kind of got to be careful with him because he can anticipate things and he's got good quickness, good ball skills. He's a good athlete, so he can be in one spot, but anticipate a play, and drive on it very quickly and get there to make a play on the ball, or make a tackle or break it up. So, I think a lot of it's just instincts, really. He has a good feel for the game, and he anticipates and reacts very quickly.
Q: Do you think the run offense is fixable at this point in the season?
BB: Yeah, we're just working on Kansas City. We're not worried about the yearly review, we're just going to work on Kansas City. Try to make plays we need to make to win.
Q: Are you pleased with where the run game is at right now?
BB: I think I said after the game that we need to be better at everything, and nothing's changed since Monday or Sunday, whenever I said it.
Q: How do you balance taking advantage of a player's strengths, like James White running routes or Sony Michel running the ball, versus teams catching onto your tendencies?
BB: I think both players have run and caught the ball – not in the same percentages, but we've utilized both players and we'll continue to do that. But, you know, players have certain strengths. I think you want to play to those strengths. I think you want to keep – just to be different, do things that – you have other players can do them better, you want to try to let those players do them. But, I think both guys have done both, I'm sure it'll continue to do both.
Q: What kind of a difference have you seen Frank Clark make for Kansas City?
BB: Yeah. I mean, he's a good edge player. He's a very disruptive guy. He's definitely a challenge to block. So, you know he's really a Dee Ford replacement.
Q: Would you say that the Chiefs look back to being full-throttle on offense after dealing with injuries and suspensions earlier in the season?
BB: It looks like to me they've been pretty full-throttle all year.
Q: How have you seen Brendan Daly's influence show up in Kansas City's defensive line play?
BB: I mean, they play the scheme that they play. Brendan's a good, fundamental coach. We know that. How exactly the input works there in terms of who decides what, and whose ideas are what they do and all that, I don't know. You'd have to ask him. I have no idea. But, Brendan's a good coach. He's a good, fundamental coach and I'm sure those guys are being coached well like they were here.
Q: Have the current kickoff rules changed the way you approach onside kicks? Jake Bailey attempted two with unorthodox kicking styles in the last game.
BB: Yeah, I don't know. I mean, the second onside kick is like, that's the oldest kick in football. I mean, that's basically what every high school team uses. I mean, that's pretty much been the onside kick for the last 50 or more years. I'm not really sure about that one. The ball flat on the ground – I mean, who kicked that against us a couple weeks ago? So, you know, there's a lot of alternate kicks. You know, people used to overload and spike the ball to the overload side. Obviously, you can't do that anymore, so you see some balls kicked one way, you see balls kicked to the other side, you see a marked kick punted down the middle, drop kicked. I mean, we've seen a variety of those, probably more so in the last two years than we've seen in a long time before that. So, yeah. When the formation in the field's balanced, you can't overload it, so you have to try to find a space to hit it. But, I would say the second kick is about – I can't imagine there've been more onside kicks style-wise than that one. I mean, that's got to be by far the most prevalent one in all of football.
Q: I was just saying where the ball was not setting up on the tee.
BB: Well, regardless of whether you put it on the tee or not, it's about hitting the ball and driving it two, three and then it bounces up after it goes about 15, 20 yards. So, you're kicking the top of the ball. Wherever you want to tee it up, tee it up, but it's the same thing.
Q: Is Tyreek Hill one of the fastest players you've ever coached against, and how difficult is it game planning against a player like that?
BB: Yeah, he definitely is. I mean, does anybody not think he's the fastest player in the league? Or, I don't know.
Q: Historically speaking?
BB: Yeah, I mean, what difference does it make? Once they're faster than everybody else, I mean, they're faster than everybody else. So, yeah. He's fast.