PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
BB: OK, we've spent some time here on the Dolphins, and they're certainly off to an impressive start. This is a really good football team. They're good in all three areas of the game. They lead the league in special teams field position, or in field position. A lot of that's created by special teams, obviously, and their turnover differential. So, done a really good job there, very good in the kicking game, explosive return game, good rushing team, they cover well. And offensively, this is a well-balanced team that's very explosive, has a lot of big plays, run the ball, have a lot of play-makers on the offensive side, including the quarterback throwing and running. And defensively, they're aggressive, they play fast, turn the ball over, really good pursuit team, well-coached, good fundamental team. It's easy to see why they're 3-0. They're playing well, well-coached. They do a good job.
Q: Is this the same style of offense as you've seen from them, even though you're facing a different quarterback than the last time you played the Dolphins?
BB: Well, they're a game-plan team, so whatever Coach [Adam] Gase thinks will work, that's what they're going to do.
Q: The Dolphins use their wide receivers in the running game. How do you handle that defensively, and is the responsibility any different than when a running back carries the ball?
BB: Yeah, it would depend on what the call is, depend on what defense we're in, how any of those plays would be defended. But, they do a good job of utilizing multiple players in various schemes - runs, passes, their plays that get the ball to the perimeter that complement their inside plays. They attack the entire field. They do a good job.
Q: How tough of a matchup is Kenyan Drake based on what you saw from him last year?
BB: He's excellent. He's a good back. He's quick, fast, he can make people miss. He does a good job in line making people miss. He can attack one hole and very quickly cut to a different hole. So, yeah, he's hard, explosive through the hole - he can definitely take a 4 or 5-yard run and turn it into 20. He's, again, a very explosive guy with good vision.
Q: Do they move Xavien Howard from side-to-side or have him follow the receiver? And what did you see from him coming out of college?
BB: Long, really good ball skills, has a good burst. When the ball's in the air, he has good acceleration to go get it. Yeah, they vary his alignment based on the matchup or call.
Q: Do you think Ryan Tannehill is playing his best football right now?
BB: Yeah, the whole offense is playing well. So, sure, he's a big part of it, but they all are. They're good on offense, they're explosive and they make you defend a lot of different things.
Q: How is Danny Amendola utilized in their offense? What have you seen from him through the first three weeks of the season?
BB: Similar to, I'd say, the way we used him.
Q: How is Cameron Wake? From undrafted to where he is now, it seems he is like one of the better pass rushers in the league.
BB: Yeah, no question. He's a great pass rusher. They have two of them, Wake and [Robert] Quinn do a great job. I mean, three of them, really - I think all three of those ends are good. But, yeah, Wake's had a tremendous career. I mean, this guy's just been consistently productive. He's got a great motor, great technique. He's a very productive player. He's a hard guy to block.
Q: Is this as big of an early-season game as you can remember?
BB: Yeah, all games, especially division games, they're all important.
Q: You wouldn't put this in the category of almost like a playoff game? You don't want to go down three games to the Dolphins.
BB: We don't ever want to lose a game. So, I don't really know what you're talking about.
Q: Rob Gronkowski's brother said yesterday that Rob seemed frustrated. Do you see any evidence of frustration with him?
BB: Yeah, I'm focused on the Dolphins, getting ready for this week's game. I'm not talking about last week, last month, last year, anything else.
Q: Is it OK with you that his brother goes on radio and says that?
BB: I'm working on the Dolphins. We're getting ready to play the Dolphins. I'm not talking about last spring, last year or anything else.
Q: The Dolphins have been stingy in run defense. Is that a big emphasis for the offensive line this week?
BB: Yeah, look, they're a good defensive team, period. They do a good job in the running game. They do a good job in the passing game, pass rush, coverage, turn the ball over. So, they're good across the board. [T.J.] McDonald's a strong run player, does a good job and kind of gives them an extra guy down there. When they use him that way, he's very effective.
Q: Is this as speedy of a receiver group as you'll see?
BB: Yeah, it is. They're all - they're very fast. The tight ends, too - I mean, the tight ends are really kind of like receivers. Drake's fast. They split him out, so there's times where it's like having five wide receivers on the field. They're in, call it, 11 personnel, but it's like five wide receivers.
Q: What have you seen from Minkah Fitzpatrick?
BB: He's done a good job for them - versatile player. They've used him in a couple different spots and he's been productive, a very instinctive guy, he's around the ball.
Q: With all of the receiver moves that you've made this year, how much of an emphasis is that to try and get Gronkowski out of double coverage?
BB: Yeah, any move we make is to try to improve the football team. That's what it's about.
Q: From your perspective, how has Mike Tannenbaum helped improve the Dolphins? What is your relationship with him?
BB: Yeah, I have a lot of respect for Mike. Mike's a smart guy, very well-educated, law degree. He's been in the league a long time. He's very good with people, has a lot of good relationships, easy to work with. I enjoyed working with him during the time he was in Cleveland and then in New York. So, I have a lot of respect for Mike.
Q: As a game plan team, and as much as you're always trying to improve any area that might be vulnerable on your team, how do you balance preparing for all of their weapons and also how they're going to try to attack you?
BB: Yeah, Bob [Socci], that's the question every week. We want to do the things that we feel like we do well, the things that we're comfortable doing, the things that we know well. But, at the same time, we have to address the problems that they present. So, it's a balance of trying to find those things. We're not going to put in 10 new defenses every week, but sometimes I think if we just play the same thing, even though we know how to play it, it makes it too easy for the offense or vice versa. So, we've got to try to create that balance where we address some of the issues that they're presenting, but at the same time, stay in a level or in a zone that we're comfortable in technique-wise, adjustments, communication, so we can be aggressive. But, that's the balance you try to strike.
Q: When it comes to Sony Michel, what have you seen from him in games and practices that have shown you that he's got his feet under him?
BB: Yeah, he's working hard. He's getting better every day - got a long way to go, but he's working hard and he's improving.
Q: Is he about where you'd anticipate a player being after missing the amount of time he did in August?
BB: Yeah, I don't know. We just take it day-to-day, try to get better every day.
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