PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
December 13, 2023
BB: Alright, good morning. It's good to be back at it here. We're back on the field today. You know, Kansas City is obviously a great program. Andy [Reid] has done a tremendous job there, as he did in Philadelphia. He's really got a good football team, a well-balanced team. They're good on defense. They're good on offense. They're good in the kicking game. You know, Andy does a good job, they're really well coached, so we're going to have to play well, coach well and play well in every aspect of the game. Offensively, of course, it all starts with the quarterback. He's a great player, does everything well, can make all the throws, athletic, got a lot of poise. He's a clutch player, can't say enough about what he does for their team. [Isiah] Pacheco's done a good job running the ball for him, really tough runner, good vision and good contact balance. Obviously, [Travis] Kelce and [Rashee] Rice has emerged in the passing game. So, inside the offensive line with Joe [Thuney] and Creed [Humphrey], really solid there. Some of the really good offensive players all the way across the board. Defensively, [Chris] Jones is a major problem, like he always has been. They have a good scheme, they put a lot of pressure on you with different looks, different blitzes. Getting [Nick] Bolten back, that certainly helps him. He's a quality player, runs well, very instinctive and kind of their defensive signal caller/communicator, he does a good job. Good specialist, [Tommy] Townsend was an All-Pro punter last year, [Harrison] Butker hasn't missed this year. They had a return game between [Kadarius] Toney, [Richie] James, [Mecole] Hardman, who's out, obviously. A lot of guys that have returned, they're a good return team. That was a big play in the Super Bowl. With Toney's return, he was able to set up a winning touchdown, so they're explosive there too. Again, a really quality team that's balanced throughout offense, defense, special teams. Well coached and present some scheme problems. They've got some players that can ruin the game if you can't take care of them. So, there we have it.
Q: Where does [Trent] McDuffie show up for them?
BB: Usually, he's the nickel corner. He plays outside on base defense, and then plays inside. They're mostly in nickel, but not always. Occasionally he plays outside nickel, sometimes when they use three safeties. But most of the time he's the slot defender.
Q: What type of corner is he?
BB: Slot corner.
Q: I mean, what does he have going for him?
BB: They blitz him a lot. He's been a pretty productive blitzer. He's an instinctive guy. He's quick. He's been productive for them, disguises, he's a smart player, and he plays smart in there.
Q: For you guys, offensive coaching staff wise, you see Ross [Douglas] leave and Adrain [Klemm] not there. You're down two, thinking like a penalty kill in hockey, are you just going 5-on-3 here or do you move some people around to try and make up the difference?
BB: A lot of what we're doing is what we've been doing. We're not going to put in a whole new set of schemes at this point. We've refined it and game planned it. Yeah, Troy [Brown] will handle the receivers. We've had two offensive line coaches and two receiver coaches. So essentially, we've had another person to take care of both of those. Help take care of them.
Q: I wanted to ask you a question, speaking obviously for yourself and your understanding. Do you have an understanding that Robert [Kraft] will not ask you to be back for the next year?
BB: I'm getting ready for Kansas City. That's what I'm doing.
Q: Did you guys attempt to keep Malik [Cunningham] when the Ravens signed him off the practice squad?
BB: Yeah, but I think they sold him on the opportunity, the offense. He and Lamar. Certainly, their offense suits Malik better than probably any other offense in the league does. It makes sense. As a quarterback.
Q: Is your understanding, Bill, maybe more opportunity to play for him? Obviously, he was doing a few different things here for you guys. But is it maybe the opportunity to focus on quarterback then?
BB: Yeah, you're going to have to talk to him about that. I don't know.
Q: Going back to the spring and summer, you guys had Trace McSorley early on as part of the quarterback group. Do you feel like it's important to have a quarterback with some mobility or mobility as one of his strengths to be part of that position group?
BB: It's something to look at. All players have their individual strengths and weaknesses. Try to get the ones that have the best opportunity to be productive and help your team.
Q: With the remaining, now three, practice squad places open, is it your intention to bring in a quarterback?
BB: Yeah, we'll see how it goes. I'll talk to Matt [Groh] and the personnel staff and see what our options are. I don't think it's an absolute necessity. Yeah, we'll see how it goes.
Q: With Ross leaving, how unusual is it for a coach to leave a staff at this point? Is that more of a college game or college schedule?
BB: Yeah, they're on a totally different schedule. They've already had multiple major schools hire new coaches. And obviously, coordinators that are with those coaches are the next step. It's just a different cycle. That window opens and closes at a different time frame than the NFL does.
Q: Are you anticipating Adrian [Klemm] won't be coming back to the team this year?
BB: It's really a medical decision. We'll see how that progresses. I would say not this week.
Q: Coach, you're obviously a really man-heavy defense, but you tend to play man over half the time against Patrick Mahomes. I was wondering what difficulties does he present when you're trying to play zone coverage against him, especially with the chemistry that he's got with Travis Kelce?
BB: There's a place for all different types of coverages. I would say I don't think it's a great idea to sit on one thing against Mahomes, no matter what that is.
Q: Do you want to keep coaching? Is that something that you want to continue to do?
BB: Yeah, I'm getting ready for Kansas City.
Q: I understand that you're getting ready for Kansas City, but have you and Robert discussed your future beyond this season?
BB: Getting ready for Kansas City.
Q: What continues to make Travis Kelce so dangerous?
BB: He's got a real good feel for how to play, how to get open. He has a great chemistry with Mahomes. A lot of his plays come on extended plays, loose plays. He certainly gets his share of run a route, get open, and get the ball, but I would say a lot of his plays don't come like that. The play starts and then something happens, and then he adjusts the route. Or, Patrick scrambles, and then he finds him. He does a good job of getting open. He's got good size. Even when you cover him, there's a place to throw the ball where the defender can't get it. He's just big and has a big catch radius. He's good with the ball in his hands. He's a good runner after a catch. He's got a strong, stiff arm. I wouldn't say elusive, like a slot receiver elusive, but he's a hard guy to tackle because he's big and athletic. They get him on some design plays, bubble screens, and things like that where they almost hand him the ball. He can make yards with it after the play, like they do with other players. There's a few of those for him, too.
Q: Did you get to see the lateral play that Kelce made last game, and what was your take on that?
BB: They've done that before. I don't know if that was designed or not, I think it's kind of part of the play. You've got to be careful on those situations where the ball is in the middle of the field and a player hangs out outside on the sideline. That was a good, well-executed play on Kelce's part of it.
Q: Going back to Ross Douglas for a second, is this a case where the team let him leave? Would you have an opportunity to prevent him from going to another program?
BB: Technically, no. It's a college position. It's not an NFL team.
Q: What made Christian Elliss someone you want to work with?
BB: We've seen him, played against him earlier in the year, kind of followed him through the year. Depth at linebacker is always something you're always looking for, every team's looking for, especially at this time of year. So, I had an opportunity to get it. Look forward to working with him.