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Transcript: Bill Belichick Press Conference 9/13

Read the full transcript from Patriots head coach Bill Belichick's press conference at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday, September 13, 2023.



September 13, 2023

BB: Good morning. Alright, so getting into this week with the Dolphins, as we know, really good football team. They're a pretty well-balanced team, it's been interesting the way they've kind of put the team together here over the last couple of years. Offensively, obviously a very, very explosive group – [Jaylen] Waddle, and then Tyreek [Hill], and a couple offensive lineman last year – Connor [Williams], [Terron] Armstead – [Raheem] Mostert, and [Braxton] Berrios this year, as their third receiver. They've got a well-balanced team. The quarterback's played very well, and he's had tremendous production over the last couple of years, led the league in a lot of different categories passing the ball. So, they've got a really efficient guy running the offense, solid offensive line, a couple of very explosive skill players – the running back and the receivers. Defensively, obviously it's been a big overhaul for them, with Vic [Fangio] coming in. I have a ton of respect for Vic as a coach and what he's done in the multiple times we've faced him and just watching his teams over the years, very disciplined, sound and extremely well-coached, well-prepared defense. They've obviously added a lot of depth at the corner position, starting with [Jalen] Ramsey, then Cam [Smith] and trading for [Kelvin] Joseph to go with [Kader] Kohou and [Xavien] Howard and Eli [Apple]. So, a lot of depth there at corner, and [DeShon] Elliott in the secondary, so a lot of new faces back there. You know, [David] Long [Jr.] was a big acquisition for them at linebacker, much different type of player than Elandon [Roberts] was, which I think is indicative of the kind of the change in philosophy and shift in the way that they're playing defense. Of course, they have a good front there with [Christian] Wilkins, [Zach] Sieler] and Raekwon [Davis]. They're pretty solid up front. A couple of key additions in the kicking game, with the punter and the returner. They're both guys that have been here, so we have background with them. Added a couple of special teams players, most notably [Kelvin] Joseph in the core. Cam Smith plays a little bit in there too, [Chris] Brooks and their core guys from last year – [Andrew] Van Ginkel and, obviously, Justin [Bethel]. You know, good players there and they've added a couple guys to go with that group. Really, the specialists are, I'd say, the big changes there with [Jake] Bailey and [Braxton] Berrios. So, it's a team that's got a lot of experience. Again, most of the players they've added are veteran, experienced players. They've had a couple of undrafted guys come through for them, [Kader] Kohou last season, and [Brandon] Pili this year, plays a little bit in the defensive line rotation. But, added a lot of veteran experience, roster players. Really explosive game against the Chargers last week, scoring with a penalty with nine seconds to go in the half, ends up being a two-point game, and then they make the stop with, really, three out of four sacks in the last four plays of the game, so a pretty impressive ending defensively with their pass rush and defensive play-making and stopping ability. So, interesting to see this team, the way they've come together and the way they've dealt with the past couple of years. Looking forward to getting ready – we played them at the end of the year last year, so we've really seen all of their games, from the start of the year last year to the end of the year last year to what they've done this year, so it's been really a pretty full, good look at the progression of this team since last September.

Q: Given how explosive they are, how challenging is it to try and contain or keep track of how they're using motion in different ways?

BB: That's what they do. They use a lot of it. So, we had to deal with it last year, deal with all of the San Francisco, Kyle [Shanahan]-type offenses, fullback, like San Francisco. That's a big part of their offensive grouping, their 21-personnel and then their 11-personnel. So, that's what they do and we've got to be ready for it.

Q: Obviously, you've faced Tua [Tagovailoa] before, but what are some of the more unique challenges when it comes to defending a lefty quarterback as opposed to a right-hander?

BB: It's a little more awareness in the pass rush, certain plays that he would favor the quarterbacks' throwing hand, pocket movement plays. But, he's athletic enough. He can go both ways. So, it's certainly an awareness thing with knowing what it is, but I don't think it fundamentally changes the offense too much.

Q: You talked about Vic Fangio in the opening, I was just wondering how you view him as a strategist from week-to-week, shutting down different offenses or attempting to?

BB: Yeah, I think Vic's one of the best defensive coaches in the league. He has his style, his defensive philosophy and system, and he's had a lot of success with it.

Q: Against the Chargers, Waddle and Hill both averaged over 19 yards every time they touched the ball and Tua had zero sacks. Is there a correlation there in terms of pressure on Tua and allowing plays to develop, and is that one of the keys against those weapons?

BB: Well, I mean, if you pressure, you better get there, because when those guys get the ball and there's not many people around them, you're looking at a lot of yardage. A lot of their yards are run after the catch yards, it's not all go routes and post routes. It's actually not a lot of that; it's a lot more catch-and-run plays. So, when you start bringing a lot of people, you better get there, because there's going to be a lot of space behind you if they get the ball, and they're both very good with the ball in their hands.

Q: Going back to the motion, is that, more or less, window-dressing with the same few concepts or are they employing that in a lot of different ways?

BB: They use motion in a lot of different ways. Yeah, of course, it changes the formations, makes defenses adjust, and then sometimes they use motion as an advantage to run certain plays, and sometimes they use it as a decoy to run the play that compliments the play that they use the motion for. So, pretty standard, it's what most offenses do.

Q: We asked you a lot about year-two leap players. Curious in your experience, have you ever seen that with new play callers, obviously, Mike McDaniel's on his second year.

BB: I mean, they had a lot of production last year, too. They scored over 30 points in eight games, so.

Q: Have you gotten to know Mike McDaniel at all?

BB: Yeah, no. I've never coached with him.

Q: Regarding Fangio's defensive style and philosophy, did you see some resemblance of that last week with [Sean] Desai and the way he coaches his defense?

BB: There's some similarities. They're different. It's a different makeup of players, so what Philadelphia does with some of their players features some of their players, and what Miami does features some of the guys they want to feature.

Q: Cole Strange and Mike Onwenu, do you still see both of those guys tracking in the right direction toward eventually getting back to playing?

BB: Yeah, I think they'll eventually play. We'll seen when that is, just take it day by day. The last time they practiced was Friday. So, it's five days later, we'll see what kind of progress they've made and go from there.

Q: You were asked about JuJu [Smith-Schuster]'s conditioning level the other day. Was he healthy enough to finish the game Sunday.

BB: Well, we'll get the injury report today.

Q: Just curious more about Sunday?

BB: Well, you know what the injury report was with the injuries during the game and all that, so that's the best I can tell you.

Q: After the game, Mac was pretty hard on himself. I think he said something along the lines of 'I let the defense down'. Do you like that type of accountability from the quarterback, your players? Is it necessary?

BB: I don't feel any different than what I said after the game. None of us felt good after the game. We all wish we could have done a little bit more. So, I think everybody's in that category. We're done with the Eagles. That game's over with, so we're moving on.

Q: How good was it to see Ty Montgomery [II] back out there, and what can he add to the offense when he's healthy?

BB: Yeah, it's great to see all of our players out there. Any ones that aren't out there that come out there, that's always a positive. It's great to see Ty out there. Hopefully we'll see some other guys too, when they're ready. I know they're trying hard and working hard to be back out there. So, when they're ready, we look forward to having them. But, it's good to have Ty back.

Q: How much has Christian Barmore improved in terms of the early down stuff as a run defender, in your opinion?

BB: Yeah, Barmore's had a good spring, good camp. I think he's playing well.

Q: Against the run, is there anything in particular that he's grown with, or has he been the same guy?

BB: No, I said he's improved. He's gotten better, like most players do when they practice every day, they're out there every day and they work hard. Then, they improve. When they're not able to be out there and miss time, it's harder to perfect your skills and improve. You do what you can do, but it's a lot easier to improve as a player when you're on the field practicing and playing.

Q: With Calvin Anderson missing most of the summer, are you impressed with his ability to get into football shape and be able to play an entire game?

BB: Yeah, I think Calvin's doing the best he can. He's dealt with some things this summer, but I think that's all in the past now. He's moved forward. He's worked hard, and I'm sure he'll do the best he can to be ready to go.

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