HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
December 6, 2022
BB: Long week here to get ready for Arizona, but that's good. Of course, they have it too. But just kind of getting back into the swing of things here today. The end of a normal week here leading into Monday night starting on Thursday. Yeah, still a team we don't have a lot of familiarity with, but we did play them a couple years ago. More so than I think some of the other NFC teams. Very explosive team. A lot of fire power. They make plays on offense. Pressure defense. Obviously, a couple of experienced specialists. Those guys probably have as much time together as that whole conference might have. But some, obviously a lot of familiarization work to do, but I'm looking forward to it, to get on track. Ready to roll.
Q: It was announced today that Lawrence Guy [Sr.] is the Patriot's nominee for the Walter Payton Man of The Year Award. What are your thoughts on that and just sort of your observations of having worked with him for multiple years now, and how he balances community and performance on the field?
BB: Yeah, Lawrence and Andrea [Guy] do a great job. They are involved in a lot of things with community work around here. So yeah, very proud of them. I think we have a lot of guys that are involved on that. Cody [Davis] won an NFL MVP award earlier in the year. Jon [Jonathan] Jones last week, the weekly award they give out. Honestly, I think you can nominate Lawrence Guy, Matt [Matthew] Slater and Devin McCourty for Man of the Year every week, every month, every year. So, we have a lot of guys and certainly happy that Lawrence got recognized but recognizing all the other things that our players do on and off the field. I'm proud of these guys.
Q: How would you describe the level of leadership from the group that you have this year as far as some of that stuff goes?
BB: Yeah, good. I mean these guys are very involved with the team and all those activities but then beyond that whether it's their foundations, Devin's bowling and D Wise [Deatrich Wise Jr.]. You've got L.G. [Lawrence Guy Sr.] having an event. I mean those guys all have lots of other events to continue to support their individual causes and interests and the team gets behind a lot of those. We kind of try to keep up with everybody. Through the course of the year, it's pretty impressive collectively what they all do, and individually there are some guys that really stand out, like L.G. So yeah, those guys are an impressive group.
Q: Kyler Murray's one of the many dual threat quarterbacks in the league now. What if anything makes him unique from some of the other athletic quarterbacks you've faced?
BB: Yeah, he's already got a few records and obviously a lot of production. A couple Pro Bowls and all that in three years. So yeah, very talented guy, athletic, quick, elusive, fast. Obviously, a lot different from a guy like Josh Allen but productive and athletic, but less size and maybe a little bit more speed and quickness, that kind of thing. But yeah, tough guy to defend. He extends a lot of plays, and they use him in the quarterback run game. Kliff's [Kingsbury] used him on that. I mean Kliff, obviously, coached in college, had [Patrick] Mahomes and everything else, so he knows how to use and put pressure on defenses with athletic quarterbacks. So, not only does Murray do it, but he's also in a system that I would say probably enhances it.
Q: You've matched up with DeAndre Hopkins a lot in the past. What makes him such a tough guy to defend?
BB: He's got tremendous ball skills. He catches everything, has great hands, and he's long so he's never covered. Even if he's covered, there's a place where the ball can be that he can get it and still make the catch. Great coordination on the sidelines, and he doesn't really look it but he's a strong kid. You see him break tackles. He's a strong kid in terms of creating separation on routes, yards after contact, you know tough yards like around the goal line or that extra yard for a first down type of thing. He's a very smart football player, very savvy. But his ball skills are at the very elite level with guys that I've seen in this league. He's up there with whoever the top guys are, the Cris Carter's of the world and guys like that. He's every bit as good as anybody I've ever coached against.
Q: I saw you're working through some offensive tackle depth issues or however you want to call it from the last game. Any sense as we stand here today that the picture might be different for you this week at that spot?
BB: Yeah, we'll see Mike [Reiss]. Yeah, we'll see. The availability has been inconsistent and so we'll see what that looks like, even on a daily basis. We've got situations where some of those players have played but not practiced. So, it is what it is. We'll just take it day-by-day.
Q: Regarding the lack of familiarity with a team like Arizona because they play in another conference and you don't see them regularly, on top of that they use more players than anybody in the league, 77, how does that complicate it? Just kind of give me a feel for what they are and what their identity is.
BB: Right. This is a team that's gone through a lot of players. I mean there are some players like [DeAndre] Hopkins as an example that okay, he was out, but you kind of know what his role is going to be when he's back and that's what it's been. I think he's been the most targeted receiver in the league since he's been back, which is about what you expect. But then they certainly had a lot of other changes in personnel, particularly on the offensive line. But it's a little hard to tell exactly, if they got settled, exactly how it would go. They are in various degrees of players out, players coming back and how all that would work. They have gone through a lot of players for sure. Again, a couple of key guys that are back, like Hopkins, for one, one of the main ones. That kid, his role is pretty well established, but they have so many good skill players. They've got a lot of them, they play them.
Q: Is [Zach] Ertz still the same guy he was before in Philly?
BB: Right the whole tight end situation, that's another one that's a little bit of a – got to figure out how that's going. But Zach's a big target.
Q: You mentioned the longer week. How is the team and the staff using the extra few days with a game on each end? But also, maybe some self-scouting, how do you guys use the extra time?
BB: It's pretty much the same every week. With a little more time, you have a little more time to allocate to the areas you want to allocate it to. Whether that's self-scouting, your opponent, or certain situations, situational football, two-minute, red area, third-down, goal line, short yardage, special teams, those kinds of things. So, it's a little bit of a smattering of all those. Some of it's just a little bit more than we usually do. Some of its maybe a little bit more depth into areas that we feel like would help us be more productive. So, we allocate a little bit more into some of those spots.
Q: I know after the bye you mentioned that with the short week following that second Jets game at Minnesota, some of the football operations had spent time preparing for Minnesota. It seems like a similar situation here with the Vegas game coming on six days rest. Is there some part of the team that's preparing ahead for the Raiders since you guys will stay out west?
BB: Right. So that's what we do every week. Like there's somebody always ahead for the following team. So, even if we play Sunday to Sunday, there are people that are working on the next team on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday. So, when we finish with a game on Sunday, then everybody else can pick up with them where things are at with film broken down, information assembled in various, multiple ways. So that process is always in place. Obviously, it gets heightened a little bit when you're coming off a four-day week like the Minnesota game, right? That's even a little bit different. But we always have that. So, it's not anything that's new. That's what we've always done. Most of the staff members are, of course the team is all dedicated to the game, but most of the staff members are dedicated to the current game. But there is segment of our staff that's really preparing for the future game. Then that carries into, let's call it, Monday and Tuesday of a normal week, maybe even Wednesday. Then by that point, it's kind of time for them to turn the page and move on to the next opponent. So that's kind of their routine for the whole year. I've done that. I've done that multiple times in my career, early with Baltimore, Denver, being at places like that, that's what you do. Your week is kind of I would say Wednesday to Tuesday or maybe Wednesday to Wednesday. Then once you get to that Wednesday of the game week, then you're on to the next week. Then you do things at the beginning of the following week to help the staff. As they're getting familiar with the team, there'll be people who say 'hey, take a look at this,' or 'can you put this together? Can you make a tape of this? Can you look into this a little bit deeper?' Then you dive into those individual projects to help the staff prepare for the players coming in on Wednesday or Thursday. Usually by that time, then you get to the game and then you kind of have to recoup and refresh your game day responsibilities.
Q: Is that strictly advanced scouting department or coaches too?
BB: No, it's coaches too. Yeah absolutely. The scouting department has their end of it. They work with the coaching staff on that. But there's certain members of the coaching staff in each phase of the game, offense, defense, special teams that's kind of in that advanced preparation mode. Honestly, some of it is just getting all on the same page when you play a team, say a team like Arizona, would be a good example. Defensively they run a lot of different things, right? They run multiple fronts and multiple coverages. They blitz, I don't know, call it 50 percent of the time, somewhere in there. They play a lot of different people. They have a lot of different personnel groups. So, it's kind of like what are we calling this? What is this? So, as we're looking at it individually, you're calling it one thing, I'm calling it something else, somebody else is calling it something else. Wait a minute, how are we all going to talk about this, so we actually know what we're talking about. Like that would be big thing for this week. Same thing with, again Arizona is a good example, some of the plays they run are not quite the same maybe. Okay, what are we going to call this play? Is this play really that play? Or is this play really a different play with this little variation to it? How do we want to present that to the players? Is it a pass? It is run-pass option? What category does it fall into? How do we want to call it? How do we want to categorize it? So that part of the week of preparation is very important. So, when you actually start working on a team, you're not confused and everything's blurred. Alright what's this? What's this? This kind of looks like this. This kind of looks like that. Where is this guy? Is he a linebacker? Is he a DB? Is he a defensive end? In this package, he's this. In that package, he's that. That type of thing. That really helps clear it up for you when you're coming into a new, looking at a new team. Or not a new team, but the next team. Because you put all your attention into the previous game and now this is kind of a quick synopsis of, 'alright this is what you're looking at here. This is what you're doing.' So that's really important as part of the process. Same thing with coverages. They are playing well against this guy, when they were playing against DaVante Adams, here's what they did. It was probably because of Adams. Then next they're playing Cooper Kupp. Okay, here's what they did against Kupp. This is the way they handled him. That type of thing where you kind of, alright I understand now. This is basically what it is. But here's the type of thing that they did for, let's call it, these special players that they played against. That helps explain their overall defensive philosophy.
Q: Bill, sorry to interrupt there.
BB: Yeah, no, we could go on all day on that.
Q: I just wanted to clarify something that you said on the radio yesterday with WEEI, if that's okay. Just, I think you said it was too late in the year to make any kind of dramatic changes offensively –
BB: Look, we're not going to go to the wishbone offense here. We're not going to run the veer. Defensively, we're not going to change into a – run some other team's defense or whatever. Yeah, major changes, yeah absolutely, we wouldn't be able to practice it.
Q: Would making a change at play caller qualify?
BB: Yeah. Again, the system that we have in place, I feel good about. Which includes the offensive staff, it includes me, it includes whatever the whole process is. Yeah, on defense, on offense, on special teams.
Q: And I know obviously you're not going to go to the veer, but I just want to ask about one example, I know it's a different team, different situation, different year, but I do remember at the end of the 2018 season, I think it was Josh [McDaniels] who said at one point, that you guys did make a little bit of a shift late in that year to do what you were good at and maybe not throw quite as much and use more backs –
BB: I'd say we do that every year.
Q: Okay. So, then what would you call that, is that just sort of a shift in philosophy?
BB: Well, again, I'd say we have a pretty broad system here in all three phases of the game. That's kind of what we do. We have multiple groups on defense, multiple coverages, multiple fronts. We have multiples on offense, we have multiples in the kicking game, you've watched us play. There's some things you trim the fat here and move it a little bit over in this direction. Or maybe you add a little bit more of something you feel is going well. Maybe a player is doing something, or some part of your offense or defense is doing something that's a little bit more productive and maybe you want to add a little bit more to that. So, that would just be, let's say, shifting the emphasis. Yeah, we do that every year. I mean, why wouldn't you? You get through whatever it is, 10, 11, 12, 13 games, certainly you know more than you did or maybe your team's changed, or maybe the opponents are going to change, then you need to do something that's a little bit different. Certainly, the weather that we're playing in is different than what we played in, in September. That in itself, not the next two games, but after that, would almost necessitate some type of change in your thinking from what it would be in September. Yeah, absolutely. That's always been a part of any team I've ever been on in the National Football League. From Baltimore to Detroit, to Denver, to the Giants, to New England, I mean, every team I've been on. I can't think of a team where that hasn't morphed at some point into something that had declared that it might be for an obvious reason, or it might be just that's the direction the team's going. How are they dealing with Lawrence Taylor? How are teams handling Taylor? What do we need to do here? Keep doing what we're doing or do something? We changed him around a little bit, the way we, thinking particularly in the '90 season. But even in the '86 season, '87 season, as an example. I'm just saying this isn't like it has happened last week. I'd say it's the only way that I would know how to do things.
Q: Would that also kind of apply, in terms of play calling, going from conservative to perhaps a little more aggressive? Or is that still like a week-to-week thing depending on the defense you're facing?
BB: Every week we're trying to win. So, whatever that is, that's what it is. Whatever plays we call this week are to try to win. Whatever plays we called last week they were to try to win. Whatever plays we called the week before, that's what that was, or last year, or two years ago, or five years ago, or 20 years ago. You can like them or not like them or whatever. I get that. But whatever we've done, it was to try to be as productive as we can and to try to beat whichever team we were playing. So, whether that's conservative, not conservative, the same, different. Whatever it is, that's what the intent of all of it is, that's what it always is. So, that's not going to change. What they'll be, I don't know, but it's a combination of what they do, what we do, what we think we can do. Any idea can be a bad idea if you can't execute it. So, if you can execute it, then it's potentially a good idea. If you can't do it, then it's not going to work. If your team physically can't do whatever it is you're trying to do, for whatever reason, then it's probably not a good idea. Find something that you think you can do and that's a good way to attack your opponent, then probably is worth talking about.