HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
September 14, 2022
BB: Morning or afternoon whatever it is. I can't remember the last time we've gone three years without playing the Steelers. It seems like it's been -- a team we use to play every year. But, obviously, it's been a little while. Some definite changes since the last time we saw them. Big win for Pittsburgh on the road against Cincinnati, went all the way down to the wire. Won it after five full quarters. Made a big play. They had big plays in all areas. Obviously, a big day defensively in turnovers. Had some big plays offensively. Had a couple critical plays, obviously the blocked field goal, game winning field goal. Just pretty solid effort. Good football team and home opener. I'm sure they'll be a lot of energy in Pittsburgh on Sunday. So we have to be ready to deal with that, but it will be a good football game in all three phases to be competitive and that's what we're working towards. So that's where we're at today.
Q: You touched on it a little bit, but what did you see out of their defense that looked good, put in a dominating performance? How important is it for the offense to be ready for all that come Week 2.
BB: They had a couple of big plays on the pass rush, strip sacks, sacks, [T.J.] Watt had an interception, batted the ball down. Then their coverage was good. Most of it was zone coverage. They broke on the ball well. Had a couple very good athletic intercepting plays, got their hands on the ball and finished them. Obviously, [Minkah] Fitzpatrick's return for a pick-six there on the second play of the game which was set up by [Cameron] Heyward's sack on the first down put them at second-and-long. So just overall a good complimentary defense. Linebackers were fast. They have a good front. They play a lot of people. Their secondary is kind of a ball hawking secondary. They go after the ball, read the quarterback well, do a good job of breaking on the throw and closing space quickly.
Q: They've been generally, annually a team that gets to the quarterback a lot, creates a lot of takeaways. Was there something different about the rush on Sunday? Did you see any new concepts at play against the Bengals.
BB: Again, it's been a while since we've seen them. So I'm not as familiar with what some of their other seasons have looked like and so forth. They have good inside rushers. Obviously, [Cameron] Heyward is one of the best in the league. Good outside rushers, [T.J.] Watt, [Alex] Highsmith last week. Then they blitz their secondary a decent amount, enough to keep you honest. And the linebackers are fast, [Devin] Bush, [Myles] Jack, [Robert] Spillane, they've got a whole bunch of them. So those guys are very athletic, too. So it's an athletic defense with some good, powerful people inside.
Q: What problems do their passing game present, specifically the receiver group?
BB: Well I think you have to look at the whole group. [Najee] Harris is a problem. Tight ends are a problem. Receivers are a problem. Athletic quarterback, he's scrambled against us. He had a couple big scrambles against Cincinnati, not necessarily for long yardage, but to extend plays, get away from the blitz, things like that. It's really everything. You can't just go into this game and say we're just going to shut down one guy. That's simply not going to be the answer. [Diontae] Johnson's an explosive player. [Chase] Claypool, big, fast good with the ball in his hands. Obviously [Pat] Freiermuth. They use Gunner [Olszewski] in there. So they've got a bunch of guys that are explosive. The quarterback himself, you can't let him run around. We saw him in Chicago do a number on us in the scramble. So we have to make sure we account for him, too.
Q: With the injury to T.J. Watt, someone who is obviously an elite pass rusher, kind of elevates, who provides above average pass rush when they only rush four, is it difficult to project how they might want to offset that loss and perhaps bring more pressure this week? Or are they unpredictable as it is as the game plan goes.
BB: Yeah you'd have to ask Mike [Tomlin]. I don't know what he's going to do on that one. I don't know.
Q: So, hard to tell?
BB: Look, they're a good defensive team. They're obviously better with [T.J.] Watt, but it is what it is. I can't imagine they're going to revamp their whole defense in one week. I don't know why they would. They play a lot of people anyway. They played a lot of people in the Cincinnati game. They played over 100 plays on defense. So I think they're probably pretty comfortable with what they have because they played those guys, and they played pretty well against, obviously, a good offense. So I wouldn't expect to see a lot of dramatic changes, like go to a whole big new scheme or anything. I don't think that's really their style. But we'll see. I don't know.
Q: What went into the decision to bring back Marcus Cannon to the practice squad?
BB: To put him on the practice squad and see how it goes. He was interested in us. We were interested in him. So it worked out.
Q: After looking at the game film from Miami, is there a certain area that you guys would like to work on to improve this week?
BB: We're going to try to improve everything.
Q: Do you anticipate Mac Jones practicing in full today?
BB: We'll see how it goes out there. Hopefully.
Q: How would you sum up what it's been like working with Trent Brown this second time around here?
BB: He was here all last year. Are you talking about this year compared to last year? Or last year compared to the first time? I'm not really sure where we are here. He's been here for two straight years now.
Q: Let's do last year compared to this year. Are you seeing the same buy in from him?
BB: Well Trent went through -- he had some stuff last year in the spring he had to deal with on a personal level which was very unfortunate. This year he was able to be a lot more involved in the offseason program, and our spring workout, been out there everyday in training camp for the most part. So I think he's just gotten a lot more work in. Of course this year he's playing left. Last year he played right. He played left back in '18. So it's a little bit of a difference there. But I mean fundamentally he's pretty good at both spots. He's been good. He's just had more opportunity to be out there than he has. Last year, he played seven plays, nine plays whatever it was. So we're already well past that. That's a good thing.
Q: And his effort?
BB: I think you saw the play to (Rhamondre Stevenson) there where he's 20 yards down field. Look, I don't think this guy is ever going to be a decathlon athlete, that's not what he is. But he shares the play. But like everybody else, everybody has things they need to work on. That goes for all of us. So he's working.
Q: I was curious about the mechanics of the sideline. Obviously in years past the quarterback comes over, whether it was [Josh] McDaniels or [Billy] O'Brien basically right to the quarterback, sit down and go over the tablet. The game on Sunday it seemed like Mac [Jones] spent a lot of time with Brian [Hoyer] and not as much with coaches after each series. Is that sort of an indication of how far along Mac is in terms of just overall knowledge of what he's seeing? Or Brian's [Hoyer] experience? What goes into that?
BB: I think Brian [Hoyer] and Mac [Jones] have a good relationship. We saw that last year. Joe's [Judge] there. We talk to Joe, talk to Joe at the end of each series - goes through the stuff with the quarterbacks. As all the other coaches do in their respective positions. So I think we're getting the information to the players and getting information back from the players like we always have. I don't think there's any big difference in that.
Q: Is it challenging for Matt [Patricia] given that he has the offensive line responsibilities and then calling the plays to be able to do both in between series with time limited there?
BB: Again, there's a collaboration here. There's a number of things that need to be done. So as a staff we'll get them done.
Q: I did want to ask about Billy Yates because it looked like he, and Matt [Patricia] actually mentioned to us yesterday, that he's sort of up in the press box level for the first half and maybe on the sideline for the second half. What's the benefit of having him in both spots at those times?
BB: We feel like that's the way to operate. We've done that through the preseason and that's worked out. The benefits of it have been kind of what we were looking for. So it's always an option to change things, but I think that the way that it's functioned has been good. So probably going to keep doing that.
Q: Do you feel like the game has declared in some way by the end of the second quarter and so that eye in the sky so to speak might not be as beneficial in the second half. Is that fair to say?
BB: I think there's some, yeah. Somewhere in that ballpark. Yeah.
Q: In looking at the wide receiving group, you brought in three guys over the last few years. Jakobi Meyers is still here and still producing and making plays. Can you just talk about the team's reliance on Jakobi?
BB: Jakobi's a good player. He's certainly come a long way from where he was his rookie year. He's really learned how to become a good slot receiver. But he can do things on the perimeter as well. He's good in the blocking part of the game and run force. Some of the more sophisticated routes he's had more experience with and, so he's done a good job on those. Got good hands, good catch radius. Good quickness to get open. Plays primarily on the inside, but not exclusively. Most of the other players I think we're talking about had played more on the outside. I think it's a good compliment between the guys that have come in, in their positions, and Jakobi in his position.
BB: Very good and continues to get better. He's a kid that got better through the course of his first year, from year one to year two, year two to year three and now year three to year four. Not just on the field but off the field preparation, leadership, adjustments, anticipation, all the the above. Smart football player.
Q: How tough is it to lose Ty Montgomery who played in one game? How confident are you in Rhamondre [Stevenson] and Damien [Harris] to be out there on third down?
BB: We feel good about our depth in the backs. We have good backs. It's tough to lose Ty, but we have a couple good players there. Then we have young players behind them. So we'll see how it goes.
Q: Do you anticipate there's a chance he still could play this season?
BB: He's on IR right now.
Q: So he could come back?
BB: We'll see how it goes. I don't know. If he's healthy, we'll bring him back. Sure. He's healthy we bring him back. How that will all turn out, I don't know. We'll see. I'm not a doctor.
Q: The process of play a game, come back, make the corrections, turn the page, prepare for the next team, heard you talk about it a lot over the years and the team's mental toughness to do that. Whether you have a tough loss like this week or even a win. Have you learned about this team yet? Like how they're handing it?
BB: Yeah, this is a good chance, our first chance really to do it. Last week we were away. It was a different situation. We were in a routine but now we're in, I'd say, more of a normal routine. I think that will be beneficial for us to get into that routine. Really establish it this week, and that will carry us out hopefully through the rest of the season. I mean other than a couple of other odd ball weeks, but for the most part. So I think we'll see how it goes here today.
Q: What do you see from Minkah Fitzpatrick and with their safeties? Do you feel like they rotate those guys a lot in the back end or is it kind of just play their positions?
BB: I think there's certain things that [Minkah] Fitzpatrick does that they want him to do that he's good at. So they use him in some of those situations, which I would expect. Not saying the other guys couldn't do them, I don't know, but they prefer him. He's productive doing that. So some of those roles, I would anticipate. He would continue to do those. He's productive at them. They could change it, but I'm sure we'll see him doing some of the Fitz things that are, I wouldn't say they're unique, I would just say they are more prevalent with him.
Q: [Pat] Freiermuth obivously looked good. What do you remember about [Pat] Freiermuth coming out of the draft? What did you see from him as a rookie?
BB: Yeah, good player. Athletic kid. Big target. Catches the ball well. Competitive blocker. He's got good size, can cover some people on the end of the line of scrimmage. He's done a good job for them. Had a couple of big plays last week. So he's part of their good skill package. Good skill group. He's one of them. They definitely see some plays that are kind of, his kind of plays. Where he's kind of the only receiver or by far the primary receiver. He's come through for them, so I'm sure they'll continue to give him those opportunities.