PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
BB: Well, we're definitely moving along here on the Dolphins. I think the closer you watch them, the more you see the influence of Coach [Brian] Flores and the fundamentals that he's instilled in the team. It's a good situational team, and that certainly showed in preseason. Not that there were any exorbitant number of examples, but the ones that did show up, they handled those very well. So, that's a big emphasis for us today. Again, offensively this is a very talented, skilled group of players – backs, tight ends, certainly receivers. They have a lot of weapons. They have a lot of ways that they can make big plays and score a lot of points. So, we'll have to do a real good job of defending this group, and trying to play a complementary game on offense, defense, special teams. So, it'll be a big challenge for us like it always is down there.
Q: Are the plans to have Antonio Brown play on Sunday?
BB: We'll do what's best for the team, Mike [Reiss].
Q: Between Josh Gordon, Antonio Brown and Julian Edelman, is this as talented a group of receivers that you've been around?
BB: You know, Antonio's only practiced with us two days. Josh is in his second year here. So, I think we have a long way to go. I think it's still too early to make any type of evaluations like that.
Q: Will it be best for the team to have Antonio play on Sunday?
BB: Well, we're determining that. I'm not going to hand out a copy of the game plan here. We'll do what we think is best for the team.
Q: What have you noticed from Antonio during the first two practices you've seen?
BB: Yeah, I mean, a long way to go. Obviously, he's not familiar with our offense. The systems that he's been in have been quite different. Jon [Gruden] does the West Coast offense, which there's very little carryover from their system to our system. Not bad or good – just we've had players before. It's just not all going to carry over, and a similar thing in Pittsburgh. You know, he's working hard to pick it up, and we're working hard to get it to him. Same thing with [Marshall] Newhouse, other guys that have come in new to the team. We've had several new offensive linemen here over the last couple weeks, so that's just part of the process. We try to get him caught up to speed as quickly as you can. It's too much ground to make up in a few days, but we do the best we can and we'll see how it goes.
Q: What have you observed from Antonio in terms of how he's acclimated himself in meetings and in the locker room?
BB: Yeah, Antonio's worked hard. I think all of the players that we've brought in here over the last two weeks, whatever it is, two-and-a-half weeks, have all put in a hard effort to try and pick things up quickly. But, yeah, he certainly falls right in there.
Q: How much of a benefit is it to have Troy Brown here?
BB: Yeah, Troy's done a good job. You know, we have three rookie receivers, and Troy was in the same type of situation when he came. Obviously, that was in a different system, but he's seen a lot of guys come through that. He did it himself, and I think he can help everybody – from the rookies, the guys who have never played before, to new players, to players who have played here a long time like Julian. So, he's got a lot of experience in professional football with the Patriots, and as a Patriot, as a returner, and he's a good addition. He's got a solid role and he helps us in a lot of different ways. Jerod's [Mayo] the same way. Different, but similar. So, I'm glad to have both of those guys working with us.
Q: You mentioned the differences in the systems Antonio's been in versus here. Is that conceptually or strictly terminology? Where are those differences?
BB: Yeah, everywhere. I mean, the systems aren't built from the same tree that branches. I mean, there's just formations, play calling, protections, routes. So, it's associating one word with a word that you know, and now a new word and trying to associate those two. But, they might be the same, they might not quite be the same. There could be subtle differences based on different coverages or leverage that the defender plays, how we would run those routes. So, I mean, there's a lot of variation there. I'd say the West Coast offense has core principles. From one team to another, I think a lot of those principles would carry over. But, that's not what we do. It's not good or bad, it just is what it is. But, that's pretty common. We go through that a lot. Like Newhouse was in Buffalo, there's a lot of similar terminology – some techniques maybe that are different, but the terminology conceptually is the same – so the play calling concepts are the same. So, that's a lot different transition for him than with Antonio. It is what it is. It's not good or bad, it's just you take each player, you take each situation, and you learn as much as you can about what that player knows, what he's familiar with, what you do and try to merge the two together. It's called teaching.
Q: What have you seen from how the Dolphins are utilizing Minkah Fitzpatrick this season under Brian Flores' system?
BB: Yeah, I mean that's a hard question to answer because they've only had one regular season game and that was against a team that runs an offense that was a lot different than ours. So, in the past, we've seen Minkah do a lot of different things. He's played corner, he's played nickel, he's played safety, he's played what we call the "money" position. It's kind of a linebacker in sub defense. Certainly, in college, he was an outstanding blitzer as well as doing all of those things for Coach [Nick] Saban at Alabama. So, he has a wide variety of skills; he's a versatile player. He's obviously a very smart player that can handle a lot of those things. And so where he's been used and where he can be used I think could very easily be two different things, but he has shown a lot of versatility both in this league and in college. So, I think they can put him wherever they want him, and I think they'll do what's best for their defense against the New England Patriots. Next week against somebody else they may have him doing something else, so we'll just have to see how they employ him. That's really not a decision we can make.
Q: As a bigger receiver, can Josh Gordon be used similar to a smaller, more athletic tight end?
BB: I mean, I guess he could. It depends. A lot of tight end routes are different than the receiver routes just as a fundamental part of the offense. So, when you start to talk about tight ends playing receiver, that takes a special kind of athlete and a special type of – I mean, there's techniques to playing receiver that are different from playing tight end. There are techniques that are different from playing receiver, and include slot receiver. They're just different positions. So, I mean, could you line him up there? Yeah, I guess you could line him up there, but you're talking about putting a guy into a new world really, on a lot of levels. Seeing the game from the inside-out, seeing the game from the outside-in – I mean, that's a pretty big difference. I'm not saying it can't be done, but I think that's the type of thing that would take time – years – and the right kind of player that would be able to do all of that. So, I think that would be asking a lot really of almost any player. Now, I mean you could take a guy like Tony Gonzales, who could play receiver and play tight end. He's in the Hall of Fame. So, I'm not saying there aren't guys who can do that, but I wouldn't say it's a long list.
Q: You've acclimated new guys into your system under a tight time frame before. How big of a concern is it working that player in with limited knowledge, without disrupting the overall offense? What's the best way to do that? Is it during certain personnel groupings or to have a certain number of plays?
BB: That's the question. That's the question we're asking ourselves, too. So, you go through the week like we've done. We've done different things. Now as we get to Friday, Saturday, we'll decide what things we feel comfortable with. We may eliminate some of the things that we've done and concentrate on a certain group. Whether that's five plays, 20 plays, I don't know. We'll have to decide that. But, yeah, certainly you don't want any new player, whether it be a tackle, a receiver, whatever the guy is, making a mistake, missing a block, making a route adjustment that's not the right one and then turning the ball over or having a big play against you. So, again, you can't cover all of the situations, especially against a team like Miami that we know will do some different things. Coach [Patrick] Graham, Coach Flores, they'll put together some things that we're not working on. We know that. And they'll come up and if the player doesn't have any experience with them, then it'd be hard to ask him to do the right thing. So, you have to try and balance what you ask a player to do with what you think is going to happen. Sometimes that works out, but you know, over the course of time, week after week after week, it'll build. It'll get better. We'll have better execution, better confidence, and that goes for any new player. We had that last year; we'll have it this year. I can see we're already going to have it at multiple positions, but which plays, how many, that's a good question. That's a good question.
Q: Any comments or concerns about Antonio Brown's posting on social media yesterday?
BB: Yeah, I'm just here to talk about the game.
Q: You mentioned Newhouse a couple times. What about his game made you think that he'd be a good fit here?
BB: Well, he's got experience. He's played both sides. He's, again, a guy that's played good football during his time in the league, and he was available. That's the main thing.
Q: You mentioned moving a receiver to tight end is like a whole new world. We've seen James Develin play a little bit of tight end on the line. Is it a little bit different for a fullback going to tight end than a receiver going to tight end?
BB: Yeah, well again, as a fullback, that's an off-the-ball, on-the-ball type of conversation. But a fullback lines up in the middle of the formation. The tight end is a lot closer to the middle of the formation than a receiver is, but on-the-ball and off-the-ball are two different worlds, too. It's like playing inside linebacker and outside linebacker. You just see the game from a different perspective. Things happen a lot quicker on the line of scrimmage. Off the line of scrimmage there are more things that can happen, but you have a little bit more time. So, again, it's just a different perspective, but some things are not that bad; other things could be a more difficult transition. It goes the other way, too. Moving from tight end to putting them in the backfield, it's the same thing. It's a learning experience. It's something that would take time. Even a player who does it well would have to go through an instruction and repetition period in order to be technically good at it.
Q: What did Shilique Calhoun show you just by missing some time after cementing a role early?
BB: Well, he was here all through the spring, all through training camp, had a good training camp. Good start to the preseason, but he's been a solid and dependable player for us in the running game, the passing game, and the kicking game. So, we'll see how it goes. Hopefully he'll be available for us.
Q: Elandon Roberts didn't play on defense in the opener. What does it say about Elandon that he's able to accept that kind of role?
BB: Yeah, look, Elandon's a great team player and he has a great attitude. He's very physically and mentally tough. It's a long season. We have a lot of football. I'm sure he'll play a lot of football. Sometimes games go a certain way. You know, Pittsburgh is a team that could have, and had shown, other personnel groupings in the past. They were primarily three and more receivers in our game, which they were up there last year too, which is a similar situation. If we knew that's what they were going to do, maybe we would have game planned some things differently. They did what they did and we played it the way we played it. We'll see how it goes, but he's a good football player. He's going to help our team. We'll have to take that as week-by-week. There'll be other players that you know their roles will change this week or next week. So, that's just the way we do it.
Q: You mentioned Newhouse's ability to play on both sides. In training camp we saw Joe Thuney take some reps at left tackle. The other night we saw him take reps at right tackle after Marcus Cannon went out. How important is versatility along the offensive line, the ability to move around and play different positions?
BB: Well, somebody has to have it. If you take seven linemen to the game and you're really trying to fill 10 spots, first group-second group, then just by arithmetic, somebody's got to be able to do that. So, one guy could fill two, three, four spots or maybe a couple guys two each, but you just have to figure out some way to put all that together. I'd say most teams in the league carry seven. Occasionally, you see a team carry eight linemen, and that's probably why they carry eight, because they need that eighth guy to be able to back up the first five. It's not like college where you have a backup right guard, back up right tackle, backup center and so forth. We just don't have that. Somebody has to have some versatility, not everybody. You can have two or three players, four players, whatever it is, that really only play one spot. Steve Neal – he played right guard for us. That's the only position he played. I don't think he would have – we wouldn't have wanted him to play any other position, but that's OK. We had other people that could move – you know, Russ [Hochstein] and guys like that. Somebody has to be able to do it on the offensive line. There's no question. You just can't go into a game with 10 linemen.
Q: There were reports that Antonio Brown will not be placed on the exempt list. Can you confirm that?
BB: No, I don't have any comment on that. That's not a decision I would make.