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Transcript: Coach Bill Belichick Press Conference 12/22

Read the full transcript of Patriots head coach Bill Belichick's press conference with the media on Friday, December 22, 2023.

PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK

PRESS CONFERENCE

December 22, 2023

Q: What did you see from Marte [Mapu]?

BB: He's got a little more playing time last week. Maybe a few weeks before that maybe.

Q: Has he been coming along?

BB: Yeah, he gets a lot of reps in practice on the scout team, and then, cumulatively, piling up on defense. So, it's good to see him get an opportunity, made a couple of good plays for us. Same thing in the kicking game, punt team, kickoff team. So, progress. We've got pretty good depth at that position, so we've got some pretty good players in front of him.

Q: On the same lines with the depth, Adrian Phillips just maybe playing a little more in the kicking game this year. What would you say about his –

BB: Very professional. He does whatever we ask him to do, ready to go. Stepped in, played well when he's had the opportunity. Same thing, we have a lot of depth at that position. But, he's done a good job for us in the kicking game. He did a really good job when Cody [Davis] was out. He was a personal protector for the punt team that first third of the season. So, a guy you can really count on. He just does everything he has to do.

Q: Were you ever made aware that there was an issue with the kicking balls on Sunday?

BB: Yeah, we were aware of it in the first quarter.

Q: Did you ever get an explanation for how that happened, or what happened?

BB: Well, the officials handle that, and they were underinflated by 2-2.5 pounds. I think you could see that by the kicks. Both kickers missed kicks. [Harrison] Butker hadn't missed a kick all year. Kickoffs, we had two of them that almost went out of bounds. So, they had six balls. It was both sets of balls. It was all six of them. So, I don't know. You have to talk to the League about what happened on that because we don't have anything to do with that part of it. They control all that. They fixed them at halftime, but didn't do it before then, which is another question you could ask. But, we don't have anything to do with it. Were we aware of it? Definitely. But, as I understand it, they were all the same.

Q: Considering what happened 10 years ago, the money that was spent on that, is it just sort of wild to you that something like that could happen, whatever it is, nine years –

BB: Again, the things that are out of our control, I don't know what the explanation is. But, it was the same for both teams. So, whatever that means. I mean, [Harrison] Butker had a perfect season going.

Q: Coach, not a lot of people were aware that you actually used to coach for Denver back in 1978. Just wondering if anything stands out to you from that season or just kind of the organization in general still that pertains to this day?

BB: Yeah, it was a great year for me. It was a great experience. The two years before that, I was in Detroit – coached the tight ends and receivers in Detroit. And then, in Denver, I went back to working on the special teams – worked on special teams in Detroit, too – but worked more on special teams and the defensive side of the ball in Denver. And, that was with Joe Collier and Richie McCabe, so it was Stan Jones, Bob Zeman, Richie McCabe and Joe Collier. And then, I did the breakdowns and stuff like that. So, I learned a ton out there. It was a graduate course from Joe, from Richie about the secondary play, and just in general the 3-4 defense. And then, we played a over defense. It was like a version of a 3-4 Detroit, but it was a little bit different. Joe played the 3-4 defense that he played in Denver, which was –the spacing was the same, but it was configured a lot differently than what we eventually ran in the Giants when Coach [Bill] Parcells came. So, Baltimore was all 4-3. Detroit was a different version of odd spacing, 3-4 defense in Denver. Then, we played 4-3 for a couple years with Ralph Hawkins in New York. And then when Coach Parcells came, it was all 3-4, but it was a different type of 3-4 defense than what Joe ran in Denver, even though the spacing was the same. And that was – looking back on it – again that was a great learning experience, because I saw kind of the same thing, but they were actually very different in the way they were coached and the way they were – the schematics of it. And, of course, that changed some of the fundamentals too. The red area coverages that Joe ran out there, I'd say at that time, he was pretty far ahead of his time. They're pretty common now, but at that time they were pretty unique for the most part. So, that was a great experience. I really didn't have too much interaction on the offensive side of the ball, other than – I was there, but I wasn't in those meetings, and that type of thing. We lost in the playoffs there, but had a good team the year before – they had gone to the Super Bowl, beat Oakland three times. So, coming off of that year, coming off the 77' season, they lost to Dallas in the Super Bowl. So, a lot of good players, a lot of really good players out there, and a lot of good coaches, a lot of good experience that I gained. Babe Parilli, who was quarterback coach – they had [Craig] Morton – I learned a lot from Babe, too, because I spent a lot of time with Babe. He kind of mentored me from the opposite side of the ball. I mean, I asked him a lot of questions and bothered him a lot, but he couldn't have been more accommodating, from just the quarterback coaching perspective, because that's something I hadn't done. So, I learned a lot out there that year.

Q: Coach, you mentioned the 3-4 and odd spacing. I was wondering how do you differentiate those and how have you seen them change from your days with Denver to the modern day?

BB: How have we seen what change?

Q: The structures evolve and how teams kind of use them. You mentioned there were different variations in spacing and things like that.

BB: Are you talking about the 3-4 defense? Right, well, Pittsburgh has their 3-4 defense. I would say that's a lot different than – way, way different than what Joe's defense was in Denver. The spacing is the same, but the coverages and the way the defense is structured is just a lot different. In Denver, we played the ends in five techniques. Pittsburgh plays them inside the tackles. We call it 4-I. They over, over, shift and some under. Joe, at Denver, we'd go into a game with 50 different fronts. So, the 3-4 became a 4-3. It became an over, it became an under, it became an even, it became a multitude of fronts and stunts that went with those fronts. But, we really only ran, call it two coverages, three coverages. But, the variety of the fronts were – it was hard to block those fronts because there were so many different looks, so many different combinations. And, we had good players. We had Rubin Carter on those who was really good. [Lyle] Alzado, who was good, [Barney] Chavous, who was good. Then [Randy] Gradishar – [Tom] Jackson and [Bob] Swenson were the two outside linebackers, so they were both really good. They could rush. They could set the edge. Jackson was fast. So, those guys on the front were a real problem. If they just sat there and never moved, they would have been a problem, then, when you put all the different combinations together. And, Billy Thompson is the safety who was really one of the best. I mean, I've coached a lot of good safeties, but he's right up there. He's one of the best ones I've coached, that I was with. So, it's just a different system, that's all. Again, it was a good learning experience. When came to the Giants from New England and brought the 3-4, his version of the 3-4, which was from Fritz Shurmur. Fritz was in Detroit when I was there. When we played that over 5-2 at Detroit, Bill's 3-4 was a lot different than Joe Collier's. As a coach, I kind of sat back and saw some ways to maybe merge some of those things together, which as I've gone on in my career, I've taken some things that Joe did, some things that Bill did, merged them together along some other stuff, too.

Q: This season, how has David Andrews, with all the challenges, how has he shown himself as a leader?

BB: Fantastic. Fantastic. He's been, I mean, it's been as good as I've seen, honestly. Every day, his performance on a daily basis is really exceptional. Attitude, effort, communication, energy, leadership of the younger players, leadership of his peers, communication, you name it. Look, like everybody who plays a lot of football, you get banged up, you're going to deal with some stuff during the year. He's shown a lot of physical toughness to play through that, a lot of mental toughness. He would never come out of practice for a play. We have to take him out to help manage some of the bumps and bruises that he has. But, this guy is a warrior.

Q: He came out the other day with the cut-off sweatshirt look and said he got it from you. What do you think about that, with him coming out with that look?

BB: My fashion trends. One of the things I'm known for, fashion.

Q: You haven't had to face him very much throughout your careers, but what kind of challenges does Sean Payton's offense present?

BB: Sean does a great job. Sean's a really, really smart guy, has a great background in terms of just football fundamentals, toughness, a playing style that's a little bit of a throwback style, but at the same time very creative. Understands defenses extremely well, and knows how to attack defenses and really puts a lot of pressure on the defense. Almost every play he runs, especially once he runs against you, and he may run other stuff against other teams that wouldn't be that big of a problem for you, and you probably won't see it. The things that you see are things that are designed to give you a headache, and they usually do, especially if you can hit it right. Sometimes, the plays don't match up, but you can see what he's trying to do and come out of there saying, 'Well, we were fortunate we were in this defense and not that defense because that would have really put us in a bind.' They play fast. There's not much no-huddle, but the tempo that they play with in the huddle, the motion, snap the ball, receivers are aggressive. [Lil'Jordan] Humphrey, guys like that, guys that he's had, [Michael] Thomas in New Orleans and all, so they have a very aggressive style of play. Play with a fullback, play with multiple tight ends, play with heavy linemen. Then, you have to deal with a passing game, too, that's obviously got a good quarterback and multiple good receivers, good tight ends. Tight end's been hurt a little bit, but you've got to deal with a heavy run, heavy personnel with an aggressive running game, all the way to multiple receivers and good skill players with a very mobile quarterback. I think the offensive line, he's done a good job of – those guys have really, I'd say, continued to get better on a week-to-week basis. [Quinn] Meinerz has had a good year, [Mike] McGlinchey, [Garett] Bolles, [Ben] Powers. Sean's built certain things around what he – what the team is right now. I don't know if that's what it'll be eventually, but what it is right now, We've done a good job of building and playing into those player's strengths. He's got a bunch of veteran players in there that know how to play, know what they're doing. Kind of once they've got going, they've played really well. A ton of respect for Sean. He's one of the best. We had a common experience through Bill Parcells. We've both been yelled at a lot. We share a lot in common there.

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