New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick, Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels, and Defensive Coordinator Matt Patricia address the media during their conference calls on Monday, January 1, 2018.
HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
January 1, 2018
Q: With rumors swirling about head coaching opportunities for both of them, how important has the consistency been with having both coordinators, Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia, on your staff for the past several seasons?
BB: Well, I think our staff has done a good job this year, as they have throughout the years. I've been really fortunate to have a lot of great coaches and coordinators on the staff, so that's been a real positive for me and a positive for our team and our organization. I don't really know about the rest of it. We'll see how it goes, but those guys have done a great job for me.
Q: What did you see from your defense on third down that allowed you to hold the Jets from converting on a single opportunity?
BB: I think the players did a real good job this week. They addressed some of the things we could've done better in previous games. Those guys really worked hard to put in a little extra time, and effort, and concentration and perform well. We made enough plays and certainly at the right time. Third down is the right time to make them. We made enough plays to get off the field. We created a couple of long-yardage situations, so a couple of those were benefitted or helped by things that happened on earlier downs, but our defense had a pretty solid day yesterday; not perfect, but had a pretty solid day in a number of areas. But, third down was big for us.
Q: What is it about Marquis Flowers' skill set that fits well into the third-down defense? Is it his quickness or ability to run well that allows him to remain on the field in those packages?
BB: Well, as we know, the passing game is about space, and there's space between the rushers and the quarterback and then there's space between the quarterback and the receivers. It's being able to defend that space defensively with the 11 guys that you have between the pass rush and the coverage, and whether it's man, or zone or some combination. Whatever it is, you're just defending a lot of space on the field and having speed and athletic players on the field on third down. That's really what everyone in the league does on both sides of the ball. You want them on the field on offense and you want them on the field on defense, whether they're part of the rush or part of the coverage. Marquis has done a nice job for us. As he's gained more experience and confidence in our system we've been able to do more with him. He's been very productive for us. Again, defense is team defense, so without everybody doing their job in coverage combined with the pass rush and either hitting the quarterback or forcing the ball out on time, if those things aren't linked together then the other one will break down and you're not going to have a successful play. It really comes down to all 11 guys doing a good job and that was the key to it.
Q: What can you say about the job Nick Caserio has done bringing in players that fit your system and, in particular, the linebackers that he's helped bring in that have been versatile enough to fit the various roles you ask of them?
BB: Well, in this league, defensively, you have to be able to defend against a lot of different things from week to week, or even sometimes within the same game. We see players with a lot of size and power, and then sometimes we see players with a lot of speed and quickness. Whether those are backs, or tight ends, or quarterbacks, or receivers, but the skill players come in a lot of different shapes and sizes and they can be effective in different ways, so you have to match up to them in different ways. You combine that with multiple offensive schemes, spread schemes, condensed schemes, schemes that feature a lot of speed and vertical-type plays, schemes that feature power and misdirection and plays like that, power inside runs versus outside sweeps and crack tosses, so screens and, again, the quarterback-run plays where they design run, or a part of the run-pass option, or a read off of an inside dive and a quarterback keep. You just have to deal with a lot of different schemes from week to week and you have to deal with a lot of different types of skill players that are all very good from week to week. So, having players that can match up to multiple challenges, whether they be scheme challenges or personnel challenges, is important because everything and every guy we see – they're not all the same – as you know, by any means. That versatility, somewhere along the line, I think you have to either have it or you have to have enough people to match up to the matchups that your opponents give you. That's not always easy to do, but that's another way to try and manipulate it.
Q: Does the number of different schemes you see increase once you reach the playoffs?
BB: Well, it just depends on who you play. Whoever you play, look, the best team that we face is the next team that we play. They'll be a team that's in the playoffs and has won a postseason game. So whatever they do, they'll probably continue to do a very high percentage of it because it's gotten them this far. It will have gotten them a playoff win next weekend. Whatever that team does then we're going to have to deal with the elements of them not only doing it, but doing it at a very high level and very successfully. We'll just have to wait and see who that is and what their points of emphasis are and who their dangerous players are, but we know they'll have some or else they wouldn't be playing at this time of year and they wouldn't be able to win next week without those elements in place. We won't know that until we know the team, but we know they'll definitely be there. It'll be a big challenge for us to get ready for that once it's identified.
Q: You've rotated quite a few bodies on the defensive line, but how important have the contributions of Lawrence Guy and Malcom Brown been to the interior of the defense?
BB: Yeah, those guys have done a good job. As you said, Ricky [Jean Francois]'s done a good job for us, as well, and Adam [Butler]. So, they've all had different roles. Our defense changes a little bit each week as our opponent changes, but Malcom and Lawrence have taken a lot of snaps and it's good to have both of them back in there together. We were starting to get to that point right around midseason and then Malcom missed a couple of weeks there and he's back, so it's good to have as many healthy and productive players on the team and on the field as we possibly can. We'll find the roles that best fit them based on game plan and situation and try to use them accordingly.
Q: What has Lawrence Guy been able to add to the locker room from a professional standpoint with the approach that he takes?
BB: Yeah, he's been great. Lawrence is a great teammate. He does a real good job of, I would say, trying to help the team in any way he can, whether that's on the field, off the field, scout team reps. Whatever he can do to help the team, he's always trying to do that. So, he's earned the respect of all of his teammates, all of his coaches, everybody in the organization because he has that kind of attitude. He's a very unselfish player, but hardworking and he's been productive for us. He'll do whatever the team needs him to do and wants to do what the team needs him to do. That's a great attitude. As I said, that's the type of attitude that everybody admires, respects and makes him the type of teammate that everybody looks up to.
Q: Did the Jets consistently devote extra resources to covering Rob Gronkowski?
BB: No, that's just the way it worked out. That's just kind of the way it worked out yesterday. Again, sometimes you call plays and they work out one play, and then you call the same play and you hit it against something different and it turns out another way. It's the quarterback's job to read the coverage, find the open receiver and Tom [Brady] does a good job of that. That's the way it goes.
Q: Was there anything that stood out to you about James Harrison's play yesterday that showed his instincts and awareness put to use given his lack of experience in your system specifically?
BB: Well, as I said after the game, I thought James worked real hard last week to try to, in the roles that we put him in, to try to understand those jobs, the communication, the adjustments that need to be made and tried to play and do things the way that we needed him to do them in the game. It wasn't perfect but I thought he did a good job of trying to do that. He had some productive plays for us. The strip-sack was certainly an experience play where he went for the tackle but was able to wrap his arm around and put some pressure on the ball and knock it out. Those are the kinds of plays that experienced players that have been there that can make more than the tackle. They can cause ball disruption as part of the tackle. But, we'll just keep going forward with it and see where it goes next week. I'm not sure how that will evolve. I don't know who we're playing or what we'll be doing. We'll try to put all of our players – not just him – but all of our players in the best position we can to have the most competitive performance that we can get because that's what we're going to need.
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR MATT PATRICIA
January 1, 2018
Q: It has been reported that a few teams have submitted requests to interview you this week. What are your expectations for this week and are you planning to interview with any of these teams?
MP: Yeah, I mean I have no idea about any of that. None of that is even really applicable for me right now because I don't have any information on that. I'm in normal mode – came in and graded the Jets. [I'm] trying to take a good look at what we did on defense yesterday and try so see where things that were positive and things that we've got to get better on and working to make sure that we have a good, productive week this week and try to improve those things.
Q: This is your sixth season as the official defensive coordinator in New England. In what area would you say that you've grown the most as a coach over the years here?
MP: That's probably a really hard question. I think every year you try to grow, you try to learn as a coach and I think you do that every day, every week. You certainly deal with different players every year and those dynamics and those relationships are different. You learn how to deal with some different situations, a lot of things that come up maybe one year that didn't come up the next, how to handle those or work within different parameters. Then certainly we're always trying to learn and gain an advantage of knowledge in the scheme of everything, but just kind of the overall of how we do stuff. I mean I've been very, very lucky to be at such a great place for a long time and work for Coach [Bill] Belichick. [He's] a great coach to follow and try to learn from and try to expand my knowledge. So we're constantly trying to compete whether it's just internally as a coach to be better, whether it's out there on the field with an opponent. I think that's kind of the drive that you have every day as a coach to try to make yourself better, to try to help your players be in a great position to perform on Sunday.
Q: What did you see from James Harrison and what gave you confidence that he would be able to fit right into your defensive scheme and work out so well yesterday?
MP: Yeah, I mean I would second exactly everything Coach [Bill] Belichick said. Certainly it wasn't all perfect but from a guy who came in and really tried to, from the first minute he was in the door, learn and understand what we were doing on defense and how he could be implemented into that. The study and the questions were great going through and walking through and putting a lot of his own individual time in this week to get caught up to speed. It's like anything. We get new guys in the building – when we get players that are new to our defense we try to put them in a situation we think they can fit the best and be able to try to be productive. So we tried to do that again last week and we'll just see how it goes this week. I thought from his work ethic, I think Coach Belichick hit it right on the head. Everything he did to try to come in and really learn and put himself in a good position to go play yesterday was tremendous.
Q: What stood out to you in terms of the reasons for your success on third down yesterday?
MP: I think the guys did a really good job of executing the calls on the field. There were some different looks that we got obviously from the Jets. They had some different packages and things like that that they threw at us, but I would say we'll always go back to the week of work. So let's go back to Wednesday and Thursday during the week where we really started first talking about third down and really trying to make sure we improved our third down work compared to where we had been the previous couple weeks and get it back to what we had done the previous weeks before that. I think those guys accepted that challenge and really tried to rise up to it. I would say they did a good job with the communication and, again, recognition and then made a few adjustments in the game that I thought those guys did a great job of handling once we kind of saw what they were doing.
Q: In the package you sometimes use with seven defensive backs on the field, Marquis Flowers seems to be almost leading that group. What have you seen from him when you call on him for that role?
MP: I think Marquis has done a really good job of trying to work a couple different packages in our defense right now and understand some different alignments and things like that. You know, the group that we'll put out on third down or second down or first down, it's all different. But, pretty much similar to what we do week-in, week-out. I think, from a standpoint for him on the field in those roles, [it is] just really being able to communicate and help some of the other guys get lined up. But, it like's everything. It's a full group effort. I think those guys are all in there trying to help each other – Marquis and Trey Flowers and Eric Lee and Adam Butler, certainly when he's in there, and [Deatrich] Wise. So, it's kind of a different group mixture all the way through. I think one thing that he does, which is great in a lot of those situations, it becomes a much more opened up game. There's more speed on the field offensively and Marquis plays extremely fast. He hustles, he runs, he has really good speed, so it's something that kind of just fits his skill set really well.
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR JOSH MCDANIELS
January 1, 2018
Q: What did you see yesterday in terms of areas that concern you going into the playoffs?
JM: I think the next time we play, usually when you get into that situation, it's the best team that you've played. All those areas – you can name any one of them – you need to have your best, so whether it's overall execution, finish on plays, third-down execution, ability to take care of the ball, red zone, two-minute, how you start the game. You know, there were certainly some positives yesterday. We started the game the right way, didn't turn the ball over, did some good things in the red zone, scored before the half, but overall just not as well-executed as we would like, and we certainly have plenty to work on this week to try to prepare and have our best performance the next time we line up and play.
Q: There are a number of reports of teams seeking permission to interview you for their head coaching jobs. How do you balance those requests with preparing for your next opponent with the Patriots?
JM: Yeah, I mean, that process – whatever it is – it will take place. I mean, I'm certainly not aware of anything at this point. I've just been focused on trying to grade our tape and work with our staff to try to get ourselves ready to have a productive week here with our guys and get ready to go. All of that stuff, you know, usually takes care of itself. There's a time and a place for all of that, and I've gone through it before, which is helpful in terms of being able to balance that and multitask it. But, my focus here when I come into this building will always be on what's best for the Patriots and trying to do what I can to help us prepare to play our best game the next time we go out on the field.
Q: In what ways do you feel like you've grown the most over the last several years in your second stint with the Patriots?
JM: It's hard to say one area. I mean, look, I'm 41 years old, so I have a lot of people that I look up to, a lot of people that I watch do their jobs that I have a tremendous amount of appreciation and respect for. Bill [Belichick], certainly, is as good a mentor for me as I could ask for. Dante [Scarnecchia] has done a tremendous job for many, many years, and I've learned so much from him. I've learned a lot from the players that you work with. You get good feedback with them. I just think it's important to watch and listen to other people to gather the information that you can and try to make the best decisions that you can make if you're in a position of leadership. Hopefully, I've grown in that area and many others. I always try to do my best in my role, and certainly I haven't reached my full potential in that conversation. I hope I continue to get better and better and better, and that's what I'm going to work for.
Q: What are your thoughts on having Malcolm Mitchell back on the practice field, and what would be a realistic expectation on the possibility that he might be able to help you this season?
JM: It's always good to get our guys back out there. I mean, we enjoy coaching them. Malcolm's a great kid and worked hard and tried to get himself back on the field. I'm happy for him that he's been able to do that. That process is a long process. There's a lot of things that will be involved with that, I'm sure, most importantly his health and ability to do the things that we would need him to do on the field. Those decisions are certainly going to be made by Coach Belichick and our medical people. But, it was good to have him out there. Not sure what that will lead to, as with every player coming back from some type of an injury or rehab. You've just got to let it take its course and do the best you can working with him, and then if and when that time comes when he's ready and can help us and can contribute, I'm sure that that will happen. But, right now, it's just good to have him out there and good for him to be there and be coached and work with his guys.
Q: From a big picture standpoint and your own experience as you have interviewed for head coaching jobs, what have you learned about how Bill Belichick and the Patriots help coaches go through that process without putting the team's goals at risk in doing so?
JM: Well, I mean, all of us here in this building always put the team first. If we don't, then we wouldn't be here, and that is not going to change. We've put too much time and invested too much of our effort and energy and commitment to one another to put ourselves in a position that we all tried to be in heading into the postseason to try to play our best football, coach our best football in January, and that's the most important thing, period. All of those others things, there's a time and a place for all of that stuff, but nothing is going to get in the way of us trying to put our best permanence forward the next time that we go out there on the field. That's what it means to be a Patriot, and we're going to do that and I know I'm going to do that. Anything and everything else, like I said, is secondary to that.
Q: What have you seen from Dion Lewis over the time he's been here that has enabled him to handle so much more in terms of work load and snap count?
JM: Dion Lewis is a special guy. You know, he's come back from multiple significant injuries at his position, which is always a challenge, but it's also a credit to how hard he's worked to do that. For him to continue to just keep his head down, keep working, keep grinding, battling back through all of those things, to put himself in position to just help our team in any way that he's been asked to help them is such a tribute to the kid. He's really a great, great guy to have as a teammate. He works his ass off in practice to prepare himself for the game, and boy, he's really come on and played his best in the second half of the season this year, which has really helped our football team, helped our offense. Really happy for him and excited for what lies ahead for us. Again, he deserves the credit for that because he kept his head down and kept working and kept grinding, and now he's really making a big impact for us. It's great to see. I know everybody's happy for that. We're excited to head into the postseason and see what he does there, too.