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Transcript: Bill Belichick Press Conference 9/27

HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK

Press Conference
Monday, September 27, 2021

On why the Patriots were not the best choice for Tom Brady in free agency:

BB: Well, I mean, I'm not going to go back and rehash all that. We've talked about that, and really the focus is on the game here, and look, I have so much respect and appreciation for Tom [Brady] and everything he did here and for me and for our team, and we're just getting ready to compete against Tampa this week, and we're going to keep our focus on that.

On talking about Tom Brady's departure from New England in free agency:

BB: We made a statement when Tom left, and that covered it.

On if he is surprised how well Tom Brady is playing in Tampa Bay this season:

BB: Tom's a great player. Nothing surprises me that he does.

On if Ja'Whaun Bentley did not play much in the second half due to injury:

BB: Yeah. Yes.

On the decision to rotate Jahlani Tavai in at linebacker over letting Dont'a Hightower play the entire second half:

BB: Well, we've been rotating our players defensively throughout the whole year, and I feel like that's the best way to manage the situation.

On why that was the best way to manage the linebacker situation:

BB: For a number of reasons.

On if any particular reasons come to mind:

BB: I mean, it'd be a much longer conversation than this one. We managed it in the way we felt was the best way to manage it.

On if there was any thought about going for two when the Patriots scored a touchdown to make it 21-13:

BB: That's always a decision, you know, with a 15-point game there when you score, what to do with that one, so if you kick it, it's a one-score game, if you go for it and don't make it, then it's two-score game, so we elected to make it a one-score game.

On if he wishes he made the Patriots a better option for Tom Brady to return in free agency:

BB: Again, I think we've already covered that.

On what challenges the Buccaneers offense presents:

BB: Well, they have a really good team. They have a very good offensive line. A lot of experience at the running back, receiver and tight end positions. A lot of depth there, so that's a very, very talented offensive football team. Very talented defensive football team, and that's why they're as good as they are. They got a lot of good players. They're well-coached, and they got a really good team.

On why the pass protection struggled vs. the Saints:

BB: I mean, we threw the ball 55 times, so there was pressure on a few plays. There were some other circumstances on other ones, but I mean, overall, I wouldn't say it was bad. There were plenty of times that we had good time. Not every play, but when you throw the ball 55 times, you're going to get some pressure on the quarterback at some point. I mean, maybe not. You hope not, but realistically it's a lot of passes.

On how Mac Jones responded to being hit vs. the Saints:

BB: I think Mac's handled everything well. He's seen a lot. He's seen pressure. He's seen max pressure, max coverage. We've been in all different types of formations. Empty play actions, drawbacks, third downs. Unfortunately, we were in too many third-and-longs yesterday, and he's seen a lot, and I think he dealt with all of it pretty well, but you know, like any young player, there's a lot of room for improvement, and we need to improve just overall as a total football team but certainly offensively.

On if he envisions N'Keal Harry practicing this week:

BB: It's a possibility. It's definitely a possibility. We'll see where he is today, but he's making progress, so we'll probably make that decision in the next 48 hours.

On the decision to play Bolden Bolden for significant snaps on offense after James White went down:

BB: Well, Brandon has by far the most experience of that group and certainly in the situation we were in yesterday, so you know, I thought he did a good job of handling it. That's been a role that he's had in the past, and fortunately, we haven't needed him to do that very often, but when he has, he's done a pretty good job, and I thought he did a decent job for us yesterday. Being thrown into that situation, he handled a lot of blitz responsibilities and patterns, formation, so forth. Ended up being a passing game most of the second half, so I thought he handled it pretty well, but we'll see going forward.

On if he thinks the team should consider making changes to personnel on special teams:

BB: Well, as I've said multiple times, I think we need to just do a better job in all areas, so offense, defense, special teams, playing, coaching, you know, everything. We all need to do a better job, and that's what we're going to try to do.

On if he is using similar coaching techniques from when he was developing Tom Brady for Mac Jones:

BB: Sure. Yeah. We've had a lot of young quarterbacks in here. You know, of course Tom didn't play his rookie year, but his second year was kind of like a rookie year, but you know, we had Rohan [Davey]. We had Jimmy [Garoppolo]. We had Jacoby [Brissett]. We've had quite a few guys here. Kliff [Kingsbury] and Ryan Mallett and all of them, so, you know, I think you learn from the experience of all those guys, and each one's a little bit different. There's some common threads, and one common thread being it's our offense. A lot of coaches may have coached multiple quarterbacks in their first season, but maybe not necessarily in the same type of offense, so I think that's really what we can rely on is how those quarterbacks, you know, what's giving them trouble, what's been easier for them, what we need to do to kind of help the process and so forth, but yeah. Of course we rely on that. Sure.

On if Mac Jones is similar to previous Patriots quarterbacks that were behind Tom Brady:

BB: Well, again, they're all different. When we had to start the season with Jimmy [Garoppolo] and then Jacoby [Brissett], and then Jacoby ended up, of course, having to play, that was a little bit of the same thing. Not quite the same, but we didn't know exactly how that was going to go at the beginning of the year, you know, and then Tom [Brady] came back and that was easy at that point, but the first four games we had to be ready with two young quarterbacks, so yeah. I think you learn from all those experiences, but they're all different, but certainly you take something from them. I mean, I learn things every day.

On the decision to not blitz on a critical third down late in the fourth quarter.

BB: Well, New Orleans on third down, they had mixed in some protection. You know, we pressured the first third down of the second drive, and they protected that and picked it up and ended up hitting I think it was [Marquez] Callaway on the sideline on third-and-nine or third-and-10. Something like that, so that's something that we had done earlier that they handled pretty well. They ran a protection situation. Sean [Payton] does pretty good job mixing that up, so I wasn't that excited about running that again. That didn't go very well first time.

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