HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
December 7, 2022
Q: I had a question about your running backs beyond Damien [Harris] and Rhamondre [Stevenson] with Pierre [Strong Jr.] and Kevin [Harris]. We haven't seen much of them. What have you seen from them and their progress this year in practice and in the meeting rooms?
BB: They're making progress like you would want and expect rookies to. Pierre's played a little more in the kicking game. Again, those guys get a lot of carries in the scout team periods, along with J.J. [Taylor]. We have confidence in all those players. They work hard and they're getting better. There's a couple good players in front of them.
Q: I know sacks aren't everything for pass rushers but Josh Uche has been able to be pretty consistently productive over these last couple of weeks in that area. In your view what has allowed him to have that kind of production lately?
BB: I think the biggest thing for Josh this year has just really been his availability. Josh is a good athlete. He has good speed off the edge and good pass rush techniques. But you build that through timing, consistency and running games with your teammates and so forth. He's done that since he's been here, but this year he's been able to do it on a more consistent basis in practice, in training camp, and really build that continuity – as opposed to kind of being in and out of things. Sometimes not fully being available for some of the roles that this year he's really been available for really almost on a daily basis. So I think that's helped him as much as anything, just his consistency and the continuity he's been able to establish on the practice field which has carried over into the games, which has carried over into higher production and more opportunities.
Q: I have a kind of a big picture question about players at the offensive skill positions. Obviously, you're seeing a lot of really talented guys over the last couple of weeks. Do you feel that these players are better, faster, quicker, more talented than guys of the past? Have you seen an evolution in that area where guys are continuing to get better or if it's certain guys playing in any era?
BB: Well, that's a good question. I don't know. I've seen a lot of great players at that position through the years. So I'm not sure about the comparisons. But we've certainly had to cover, whether it was the Marvin Harrisons, who's in the Hall of Fame, or Randy Moss, who we've had or covered who's in the Hall of Fame. Players like that, we can rattle off quite a few more. But those players are pretty good. They demanded a lot of attention, and if you didn't give it to them, and they had good quarterbacks, they were able to rack up a lot of yards. So I don't know. It's an interesting question. But certainly there's a lot of great skill players in the game now. But I think that's always kind of been the case.
Q: I was talking to Lawrence Taylor about that and he said basically [Patrick] Mahomes is the same as Randall Cunningham was. But perhaps he's given more leeway to do things. Do you feel that the schemes have changed? But a guy like Cunningham or Warren Moon could do similar stuff to whether it's Mahomes or Kyle Murray?
BB: I agree with him on that. I think the schemes have changed. You see the quarterbacks in the shotgun way more than they were 15, 20 years ago and certainly before that. You see way more passes than we've seen. If you go back to some of the earlier Super Bowls, 20 passes in a game kind of thing. Now you get that before the end of the first half. So certainly a lot of the passing plays that are extensions of running plays, getting the ball to guys in space whether that's RPOs, or little bubble passes and things like that, more receivers on the field and fewer blockers on the field, just gives the quarterback more guys to throw to. I think we've seen the schemes of the game definitely change to statistically where you see a lot more passes, a lot more completions, a lot more yards, a lot fewer rushing attempts. So yeah, I agree with that.
Q: I wanted to follow up on your answer to a question Phil [Perry] had yesterday regarding a possible change in play caller. Because you said you feel good about the system you have in place including the offensive staff. You would "whatever the process is." Specific to the offense, what makes you feel good about it?
BB: Look, I'm not saying that we can't improve in every area because we can. We'll continue to try to do that. So that's across the board; players, plays, coaches, decisions, etc. We're always trying to improve all the time. We'll continue to do that. So that's where we are. That's where we have been. That's probably where we always will be. Just always trying to do a little bit better and try to find the best ways to be successful.
Q: It's more of a question of the positive things that are coming out from the current system in place. I understand you're always trying to get better, always doing things with the intention to win. Where are you encouraged within the current offensive system?
BB: Again, success comes through consistency. That's really what we're trying to build towards always. More consistency, more production and we'll continue to try to work towards that.
Q: I believe [Christian] Barmore is eligible to start practicing next week. Do you expect him to travel out west with you this weekend? Or is that not something that you'll really be able to know until later in the week?
BB: Right well we won't make any decision until it's time to make that decision. But Christian's making good progress. We'll evaluate it. We see him daily. He's working hard, making progress. But we'll see exactly where he is, what he'll be ready to do and when he'll be ready to do it. So we'll talk to the medical and training staff and strength staff, the people that have been working most closely with him. Trying to get him ready for that. The timeframe that the league allows is obviously relevant because we can't exceed that or we can't go in front of that. But ultimately, it comes down to what the player's physical status is and what he can do. So that determination will be made by the people that are working with him on that, that rehab and the in-and-out process. So we'll see how it goes here at the end of the week.
Q: Sort of a similar question. On Marcus Cannon, is he in a position where he could return and play for you this season? Or is he done in his injury? A follow up to that would be, what has to improve in your pass protection? I know this year you guys have allowed more sacks than you did last year. The numbers are sometimes misleading, but what has to improve there?
BB: Well Marcus [Cannon], his situation, like everyone's, every player who's dealing with anything or is on injury reserve would be a case-by-case basis. Those injuries are a little bit different. The injuries are different. So they'll be treated differently based on the different individuals. But again, collectively, offensively it's about overall team execution. Some of the things or all the things that we could talk about are somewhat interrelated. Obviously, the passing game is a function of protection, timing, coverage, decision making, etc. So sometimes there's good protection and not good throwing opportunities. Sometimes there are good throwing opportunities, not in the protection and so forth. Sometimes it could be combination of things. So it's really about the execution, the individual plays. We've had good plays. We've had bad plays. They haven't all come on the same type of play. Not everything falls into the same bucket. Three-step drops, five-step drops, deeper drops, play-action, quarterback movement plays, etc., third down plays, first down plays. So there are a number of different things that go into this discussion. I appreciate the question but it really transcends a lot of overall execution of the particular play that was called against the team and the defense that we're facing. Whatever plays haven't gone well, we have to address either a better design, a better execution or better timing or something so that we don't have negative plays.
Q: Coach, we talked a bunch about Marcus Jones as a return man and what he did on offense last Thursday, but he also got some early action on defense, had a good play on Gabe Davis I believe. How far has he come defensively, as a cornerback and what about his skillset and his development made you want to put him out there in such a big game against those receivers last Thursday?
BB: Well, we were a little short at corner compared to where we usually were with Jalen Mills inactive, so I'd say that's certainly the answer to part of the question. Again, the big thing for Marcus [Jones] was his availability and ability to practice and work on his fundamentals and techniques and improve. and He didn't have a lot of that opportunity in the spring and then was a couple weeks delayed getting back into that into training camp. I'd say at that point there were some other people that were ahead of him. Not necessarily because he was deficient, he just hadn't had a lot of opportunity to even be out there. Overall, our cornerback depth has been pretty competitive. Jack [Jones] had a good training camp and has made some solid plays for us in that area and so, again, it's just how many of those guys can you get on the field, Myles [Bryant], Jalen, Jon Jones, Jack and so forth. Not to mention the competition at safety with our four players there that have a lot of playing time. Again, Marcus has continued to work hard, continued to improve, his fundamentals have gotten better, his communication, experience, anticipation, all those things. But just having a chance to do it has been a big, big plus for him and as he's gotten more opportunity, he's gotten better, he's gotten more comfortable with his teammates, they've gotten more comfortable with him, communication, recognizing things, making adjustments, it's that type of thing. It's been a combination of all of those, but just having him out there on a daily basis and him getting the opportunity to do it has been beneficial to him and certainly the rest of the secondary.
Q: I wanted to ask you about Marcus as well and just how you guys go about deciding how many snaps he plays in each phase of the game and not overworking him or is there a limit to being able to play him on offense, defense, special teams at a pretty good clip?
BB: Right, well I'm sure there's a limit here. His roles in the kicking game have really been in the two return phases and on some kickoff coverage plays. And then defensively, he's played both inside and outside and offensively, played a handful of snaps last week. We'll just continue to evaluate that and try to again, find ways that he can help the team that will be the most beneficial to his utilization. I don't think he's been overtaxed in any of those areas, but as you point out, potentially could they add up? Sure. We delt with this before with other players that have really been more offensive players, like Troy Brown and [Julian] Edelman, who have also played defense. Of course, both those players returned kicks and were involved in the kicking game as well, so we've had some experience with this type of player, this type of thing before, but each case is a little bit different. We'll see how it goes, but he's a player that has some good skills and we'll try to see how it all plays out.
Q: Just quickly, has he got any experience in your system with downfield routes? We mostly saw him on the screen or a jet motion or something like that, but has he run any of the route trees at all?
BB: Right, well he only played a handful of plays here against Buffalo, but yeah, we'll see what he has done, what we'd be able to get to. Again, some of that's a function of other factors outside of him. Not just what he can do, but where the other people would go and how things would develop. We'll just have to wait and see. Certainly, he's been explosive with the ball in his hands. We've all seen that.
Q: Hey Bill, wanted to ask you something that Troy Brown mentioned the other day when he was asked about Tyquan Thornton. He said something to the effect of, 'you don't necessarily have to be catching a lot of passes to have an impact on the game.' Have you seen markers of progress from Tyquan in some of those other areas, just based on the fact if you're looking at the box scores, really since the Cleveland game where he had those two touchdowns, he's been sort of quiet in terms of statistical production, but have you seen him advance in other areas?
BB: Yeah, definitely. Yeah, I think Troy [Brown] put it well. I certainly wouldn't argue with that.
Q: Is there anything in particular that has struck you about his progress over the last several weeks here?
BB: I mean, yeah, it's been consistent. Again, similar to the conversation we just had with Marcus [Jones], Ty [Tyquan Thornton] was a little bit limited in the spring, got off to a good start in training camp, got injured in the Carolina game, missed the rest of preseason, missed the early part of the season, worked back in, now for several weeks now he's been out there on a regular basis, practicing every day, playing. Again, taking the box score out of it, just in terms of assignments, execution, adjustments, playing multiple positions based on the formations, things like that. Yeah, all those things have been progress for him, so the more he can be out there, the more he can have the opportunity to play and learn and get experience and improve, the better. He's done all that.
Q: Yeah Bill, kind of a random question, a previous question in mentioning of L.T. [Lawrence Taylor] earlier has me wondering. I know you're focused on your own team and your own players, and I don't even know how much you've been able to watch of him, but a lot of people, former players and coaches, have compared Micah Parsons to Lawrence Taylor. Just wondering what do you think of those comparisons and whether they're fair, maybe not from a career accomplishments standpoint obviously, but like a raw talent kind of standpoint?
BB: Yeah, we saw [Micah] Parsons last year and that was pretty early in the season. We don't see a lot of them, so yeah, that'd be a hard question for me to answer. I appreciate it. Not taking anything away from anybody, it's just I haven't really seen a lot of it. It'd be hard for me to put anybody ahead of L.T. [Lawrence Taylor], but maybe there are. I don't know. Thanks.