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Transcript: Bill Belichick Press Conference 9/28

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference on Monday, September 28, 2020.

Q: Mike Onwenu has been on the field quite a bit this season. What are your thoughts on his performance and what he's done to earn the opportunities he's received so far?

BB: Well, Mike's shown a lot of versatility. He played right guard at Michigan, and that's pretty much the only spot he played. Here he's worked both guards and worked at right tackle, and right tackle was a new position for him. Left guard, even though guard is guard, footwork is all different over there where he played yesterday for Joe [Thuney]. It's kind of like playing left handed when you've been playing right handed your whole life. I think he's done a really good job. He's a smart kid, he's got a lot of physical playing strength, he's a good athlete, he's got good football smarts and awareness and he's done a good job for us, playing right tackle and then yesterday at guard he handled some good situations. He learned a lot and he's still got a long way to go but did a lot of good things.

Q: What is your evaluation of the defense at this point? Are they ahead of schedule in your view? How do you go about evaluating the unit in a season when there was no preseason as compared to previous years?

BB: Right, well, we don't really have a schedule, we just try to go out there and compete every week and win each game. That's really the measuring stick for us. But, I think we've gotten better each week as we should, as every other team in the league has, so we've just got to continue to improve. There's a lot of things that we need to work on, and certainly we saw another good offense this week with the Raiders and Coach [Jon] Gruden does a great job of game planning. He gave us some problems. There's some things that we need to obviously coach better and play better, and I would say just work as a unit in some situations that we need to improve in our execution of those. We certainly see another great offense again this weekend, so we just have to keep improving and keep trying to play well enough to give up fewer points than we can score.

Q: How will having fans in the stands for the first time this weekend affect your preparations from what you did the first three weeks?

BB: Yeah, we'll take a look at it, Mike [Reiss]. I don't know. We'll see. It certainly won't be anything like the 70,000 we saw the last time we were there, or however many it was. But, yeah, we'll take a look at it and then see what we think we need to do. Not sure.

Q: Knowing the Chiefs play tonight and you have more work to do on them, how do they challenge you in all facets of the game?

BB: Yeah, well, I mean they're really good. It starts with an MVP quarterback and great offensive coordinator and head coach. Andy [Reid] does a tremendous job putting pressure on the defense. They've got a lot of good skill players, a lot of experienced players. I think the backs are a big weapon for them, both in the running game and in the passing game. So, yeah, there's a lot to stop. We're just going to have to play good team defense and there's no one guy you can key on, there's no one guy that's going to stop this offense. We're going to have to play well collectively as a team.

Q: After watching the film, what were your impressions of your defensive performance yesterday on Darren Waller?

BB: Again, the Raiders do a good job of using all of their skill players and backs, tight ends, receivers. At times, we were able to neutralize Waller and jam and all that. He got a couple holding penalties on us, but overall, it was obviously more of [Hunter] Renfrow than anybody else. Again, just trying to play good team defense. We mixed it up – we played some zone, we played some man – so in zone defense, there's nobody specifically assigned to him. It wasn't all matched up in man coverage, so sometimes we were able to play defense that he wasn't the featured guy on the pattern.

Q: Have you seen Sony Michel running better as he gets healthier? You have some good depth at that position, especially with Damien Harris eligible to come back and James White coming back at some point. Could you envision a scenario where you're playing five running backs, or will a tough decision have to be made at that position?

BB: Yeah, you just never know how that's going to work out. A couple years ago, we had good depth at running back and then we ended up playing a receiver, running back and everything else, and so it just all diminished in a hurry. That might not be the case here going forward, we might have good depth there, and we'll just try to do the best that we can in terms of game planning and creating opportunities and personnel groups and plays or whatever it is to try to attack our opponents. But, I think you've got to be careful about changing your whole offense just to work a couple guys into the lineup if that's going to detract from something else. So, there's a balance there, but it's good to have depth. As I said, we certainly had times when we haven't had it, so it's a good thing when we have it and we'll have to figure that out. That's a good problem to have, though, is having a lot of good football players.

Q: Deatrich Wise's touchdown was a highlight yesterday, but it seems he's been able to get underneath guys' pads and drive them back. Would you agree with that assessment?

BB: I definitely would. Yeah, I thought D. played well. He's played the run game – that's an area that he really focused on in the offseason and in training camp and we did, as well. He and Coach [DeMarcus] Covington really worked hard on that. I think his run defense has improved and he's given us a lot of solid play there. Of course, we know he can rush the passer, but he's done a good job of mixing in edge moves and rush techniques with some power and some more power-type rushes – long arms, things like that – so he's got a good complement and a good repertoire there where he's got three or four different pitches he can throw. But, I think the big thing that he's really worked hard on and improved is his run defense. So, when you combine all that, he's given us three real good weeks of play here.

Q: When the schedule works out where your next opponent is on in primetime the day after you play, do you watch the game like the rest of us with commercial breaks and commentators? Or do you wait until you can look at the film?

BB: Well, the film is a lot more helpful for us, but yeah, I mean I'm sure I'll have the game on and try to probably work on some other things while that's happening. But, yeah, we'll pay attention to it, just see how things unfold just to get a little jump on things in the morning. But, it certainly shortens the preparation, but I mean, I think this is a game where both teams know each other pretty well. We've played each other multiple times here in the last few years. Even though every game is different and there are different players, there's still a lot of the same players and a lot of the same coaches and the same schemes that will continue to present themselves. How much they show up or don't show up, that's another thing. I mean, both teams have an element of game-planning to them, so we'll see how much things actually match up the way they have in the past. But, in terms of familiarity with teams, I think this is one of these games where it's not quite a division game, but it's pretty close.

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