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Transcript: Coach Bill Belichick Press Conference 12/20

Read the full transcript of Patriots head coach Bill Belichick's press conference with the media on Wednesday, December 20, 2023.

PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK

PRESS CONFERENCE

December 20, 2023

BB: Alright, so looking at the Broncos here. They're a well-balanced team. Obviously, you see Sean [Payton]'s mark on the team. Sean, ton of respect for him, what he's done for his career, just the way he coaches, the way he prepares and just the football coach that he is. I think Sean does a great job. But, just a well-balanced team, very explosive in the kicking game. [Marvin] Mims [Jr.] is having a great year. Both punt and kickoff returns, they really create a lot of field position there. Offensively, good receivers, good running back, really good quarterback. [Russell] Wilson's definitely a problem. Running, throwing, extended plays, similar to what we talked about last week with [Patrick] Mahomes, but runs more, runs more than probably any quarterback in the league other than [Lamar] Jackson. Defensively, they've really kind of hit their stride here the last few weeks, turn the ball over a lot, pretty well-balanced team. [Zach] Allen, Josey [Jewell]'s been a really productive linebacker. Obviously, [Justin] Simmons and [Pat] Surtain [II] are two of the better DBs in the league. You can see their improvement over the course of the year. Turnovers have been a big thing. They've done a good job of turning the ball over and playing good third down defense, and they've been really good in the return game. Those things really kind of sparked their last seven or eight games, whatever it's been, that they've won most of them. So, different group to get ready for than we saw back in '20, obviously a lot of changes. But, they've done a good job. Sean's done a good job.

Q: You mentioned Mims in the return game. How do you feel like your coverage units have been performing this season, or of late?

BB: Not bad. I mean, our net punt is better than what it's been. Some of that's come with some return yardage, but the ball's been punter further. Kickoffs, we didn't have a good one there against Indianapolis, but we haven't covered a lot of kickoffs. We haven't returned a lot of kickoffs.

Q: What has Nathan Rourke done over the course of his career that's caused you to say 'I want to work with him'?

BB: Just the depth at the position. So, we only have two quarterbacks on the roster. A guy sprains his ankle, then you're down to putting a receiver or running back or somebody at quarterback. But, he had a productive preseason.

Q: Talking to Cam Achord yesterday, just talking about Chad [Ryland], he said in practice he seems to be making a lot of these shorter kicks. When I heard him say that it made me think there may be a little bit of a surprise that it isn't carrying over to the games. Do you see it similarly? What are your thoughts on where things are with Chad?

BB: Yeah, I agree with Cam.

Q: You mentioned Broncos showing a lot of improvement this year. Certainly, on offense. Sean Payton had a lot of success in New Orleans. Now, he's having some immediate success in Denver. What is it about his offense that is so challenging for a defensive coordinator?

BB: He does a good job of putting stress on the defense. Whatever the defensive rules and adjustments and fundamentals are, he does a good job of attacking them. They obviously have good players. They started the same line in every game, so they've got a lot of continuity there. Quarterback's a unique player, he's got a lot of skill. Receivers, [Courtland] Sutton's as good as there is – big guy, great hands, contested catches, a really hard guy to cover. He's had tremendous production, especially down the field. So, good players.

Q: Injuries happen every year. With the amount that you've had this year, have you ever dealt with a situation like this where you've had so many injuries with so many important pieces, and how frustrating is that knowing that it's out of your control and out of these guy's control?

BB: Yeah, it's almost all contact injuries. Those are hard to account for – concussions, knees, ankles, shoulders. It's been contact injuries. You've got a couple of sicknesses, flus here and there. Control what you can control. Train the players the best we can, get them in good condition. When you see a contact injury like Cole's injury, it would be a hard one to prevent.

Q: Do you expect Rhamondre Stevenson to come back this season?

BB: Take it day by day.

Q: Coach, what have you seen from your rushing attack the past couple of weeks?

BB: We've had some pretty heavy boxes last week in Kansas City. We've got to be ready for that again. Sometimes it comes down to numbers and blocking the guys we have to block. There are several ways to deal with that, but it makes it a little more challenging. You need more production throwing the ball. Which when we have that, it tends to loosen things up a little bit. So, depending on what we see and how the game unfolds.

Q: How valuable has Myles Bryant been this season, with the changes that you've had at cornerback?

BB: He's been valuable every year. Returning punts. Playing in the kicking game. Playing outside. Playing inside. Same thing last year. He's one of our most versatile players and he's able to handle a lot of different responsibilities. He's had to and he's done a good job.

Q: You mentioned Denver's D's hitting it's stride. They gave up 70 points in Week 3. Now they're in the playoff mix. What specifically have you seen that they've been able to improve throughout the season?

BB: Everything. Take aways have been big. Fundamentals. Not giving up big plays. Tackling better. A lot of little things, but it's all big things. It's all defensive football. They do a good job of defeating blockers. Good fundamental team. They play with a lot of effort. They get a lot of hustle plays, second effort plays, effort sacks, strip fumbles. Things like that.

Q: I know you saw Vance [Joseph] some last year in Arizona. Different team roster. All that, but do you see them carry over that same high pressure, blitz philosophy here in Denver week to week?

BB: No, it's a little different than what they did last year in Arizona.

Q: With the season where it is and obviously playoffs no longer a consideration, do you find it harder to motivate the players and the coaches and everyone to not give up?

BB: We're just ready to go every week.

Q: Any chance Coach [Adrian] Klemm is back this week?

BB: I don't think so.

Q: You mentioned the heavy boxes that you're getting from Kansas City. Is that something that you've seen as a common theme at all recently against your offense?

BB: No, it's varied from week to week. There were a couple games we saw it and some games we didn't. We didn't see it from Indianapolis. We saw it more from Pittsburgh. But, we'll see. They mix it up, I mean they don't do the same thing every time. We saw a lot of it from Kansas City.

Q: What have you seen progression-wise from Kevin Harris?

BB: Solid guy, he's here every day. Works hard every day. Scout team, offense, kicking game, he's worked hard on his pass protection and pass routes. He can carry the ball, but he's worked on other parts of his game, too. So, it's helped him become more well-rounded player. But he's a solid guy. He works and gives you solid effort every day.

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