HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
Q: What are some of the reasons that have stood out to you about how the Jaguars have been able to advance to the AFC Championship Game?
BB: Well, we're kind of working our way through it here. We're not where we're going to be on Wednesday. We have a lot of work to do. We haven't seen them in quite a while, but obviously, they're well coached. They have a lot of good players. We saw that from training camp. They've been in two close games and they've made a lot of critical plays in critical situations. They've made the plays they've had to make, and that's what you have to do at this time of year.
Q: Is there any relevance from the joint practices over the summer to this game? Can the tapes of those practices help both teams in this week leading up to the game?
BB: I don't know. That was a long time ago. I think right now what it's about is getting ready to play this game. That was a different point in time, different emphasis. I don't know.
Q: What does it say about the Jaguars that they were able to go into Heinz Field and finish off the Steelers during the first postseason run in 10 years?
BB: Very impressive; yeah. They did a great job. Again, they do a lot of things well, play good defense, can rush the passer, can stop the run, turn the ball over, can run the ball, have a lot of explosive players in the passing game, they're good in the kicking game, they're very aggressive in the kicking game. They're well coached. I know that, for sure. They've handled the situations that have come up in those games very well - fourth-and-1 in the first quarter, things like that. They've really done a good job, so yeah, it's impressive.
Q: Do you see Tom Coughlin's signature as an executive all over Jacksonville's roster, especially on defense?
BB: Yeah, I don't know. I know Dave Caldwell's been down there for quite a while, has put a lot of that team together. Tom came in and exactly how that's worked between Tom, Dave and Doug [Marrone] and the other people there involved down there, I mean, you'd have to really ask them about that. I don't know.
Q: What do you see from the speed of this Jacksonville defense?
BB: Well, they have some fast players. Some big players, too, like Marcell Dareus, Malik Jackson and guys like that. I mean, they've got a lot of good football players. They bring a lot of problems. They bring speed, size, power, instincts, athleticism. [Jalen] Ramsey - I mean, he's a big corner now. They've got a lot of good football players that have a lot of skill.
Q: How rare is it for them to have four legitimate pass rushers along the defensive line and what have you seen from that group in your early preparation?
BB: Sure; yeah. They're very well balanced and you don't see that a lot. You don't see that type of balance with good pass rushers, but as you said, they have a lot of good ones and they do a good job. They have good players that do a good job with their scheme, so yeah, it's all good.
Q: Can you speak to the effort of your offensive line last Saturday vs. Tennessee and what you've seen from them as a whole this season on a daily and weekly basis?
BB: Yeah, they're a hard-working group, along with their coach. They work hard. They come to work every day and really do a good job of preparing. They work hard in the weight room with Moses [Cabrera] and their conditioning and so forth. They do a good job in there, too. [They're] just a group that really grinds it out. I have a lot of respect for what they do and how hard they do it.
Q: And what about their performance against a really solid defensive line like Tennessee has?
BB: Yeah, they played hard. We had to pass block them quite a bit. We threw the ball, but they also did a good job in the running game. We got some yards there and tried to balance it off. But those guys work well together. They work well individually. They compete well individually with their training, and preparation and one-on-one execution, but they also operate well as a unit with communication, blocking adjustments and so forth that a lot of times come right after the ball is snapped. They've done a real good job for us.
Q: What similarities have you noticed between Jacksonville's defense, Seattle's defense and Atlanta's defense since their defensive coordinator, Todd Walsh, also worked under Pete Carroll in Seattle?
BB: I'm sure there's some similarities in their overall concept and so forth. But, the players are different and therefore everything's, you know, different players; even if it's the same scheme, it's different. We'll have to really spend a lot of time here and study over the next couple of days of making sure that we completely understand, completely, what Jacksonville is and how they do things - if it is the same or if they have variations and differences. We'll have to really dig in and find all of those things out. I'm not trying to be evasive about Jacksonville here, but we didn't know who we were playing until last night and we're really starting to get to work on them now. We haven't been working on anybody except for Tennessee and I don't think it's really smart to base everything off of something that happened in August. A lot of water under the bridge since then. We'll spend a lot of time here in the next couple of days of finding out as much as we can about everything that will help us.
Q: How have you seen Deatrich Wise, Jr. and Adam Butler continue to progress throughout their rookie seasons and maintain a productive level in what has been a pretty long year for those guys coming out of college?
BB: Yeah, Phil [Perry], I would agree with that. I think that's, honestly, that's been pretty impressive to me. Those guys have done a good job. A lot of times you see the rookies [have] the length of the season affect them a little bit. I'd say with those guys, in particular, they've done a good job of every day coming through, coming here with a lot of consistency, work ethic. They get here early. They do extra. They don't act like it's too much for them or the season is too long. They have a good energy level every week and that's been impressive and they've continued to improve. I would say they haven't leveled off. They've gotten better, both individually, and in their preparation and understanding what our opponent does and so forth. That's really not an easy thing to do because as the season goes on there is a lot more information to digest. There's more games, there's more situations, they've run more plays, we run more plays, we have more things that we have to match up against that. It's really the preparation part of the game increases as the year goes, on and that's sometimes hard to really keep piling it on week after week because each week really gets a little bit harder to prepare for the next team because the volume has increased a lot more from what it is in the early part of the season. Not that there isn't a lot of early preparation. I'm not saying that, but when you have 14, 15 games of situations, and plays and different things they've shown, it's just a lot more volume than what you have in Week 6. They've done a good job of that.
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR MATT PATRICIA
Q: Is there anything you learned about your defense's ability to contain Marcus Mariota that you can compare to or prepare for with Blake Bortles knowing that they can both beat you with their arm and legs?
MP: I think Saturday night was kind of, just to speak about that, I think those guys did a good job in trying to execute the game plan for that particular quarterback. It's different every week. Those guys, they're different players. They are both very athletic guys that can run and they do a great job of getting out of trouble and putting themselves in space when they have to to either extend a play or run or gain some yardage. So from that standpoint there's similarities but they offenses are different and the role players around them are different. It's just kind of a different look. You know, everybody is a little different from that standpoint. But I think on Saturday night, I think those guys tried to do a good job of executing the game plan for the most part. There were certainly some instances where we could've been better and maybe a little bit more consistent and we're going to try to make sure we improve on those areas. So as far as Saturday is concerned that is really what I saw from that game.
Q: I wanted to give you the opportunity to address the reports that you and the Lions are close to an agreement on moving on to Detroit after the season ends.
MP: Yeah, you know I'm really just in the same place as I was last week. I went through the process that the NFL allows us to go through and during the bye week I was able to have the opportunity to talk to a couple teams, which I did, and then quickly turned my focus to a very good Tennessee team and now I'm on to a very dangerous Jacksonville team. There's a process involved with that. There's things that the league sets out guidelines and I followed those when I could and fortunately, the good part about it for me is those are set up so that I can really focus on my job that I need to do and that's get ready for Jacksonville.
Q: It seemed like Blake Bortles did a really good job early in that game with something you guys do well and that's getting their offensive players in space and making plays, especially in play action. Did you observe that same characteristic from Jacksonville's offense yesterday?
MP: Yeah, I mean that's Jacksonville's offense in general. I think Blake Bortles does a really good job of understanding the skill players that are around him. So it's going to start with the run game. Their offensive line, we're talking about a really big, strong, consistent offensive line. A group that does a great job of both the run game and the play action game which obviously complement each other. I think they did exactly what they wanted to do and what they've been able to do with giving the ball to [Leonard] Fournette and allow him to get downhill and get those tough yards. He's obviously a very dangerous player so when he does get out in space, that ability to just make those big plays. You're talking about a group that's basically led the league in rushing all year. Very dangerous from that standpoint and then what that allows them to do is open up that space maybe behind the front line there for the play action passes and those big plays downfield. So they're certainly doing a great job of complementing the run game with the play action game, the play action game with the run game. They'll move the quarterback quite a bit. They'll get him out of the pocket, they'll run some boots, try to get him in space and then be able to use his other skill players whether they're moving in the horizontal direction across the field, the tight ends, big targets in that situation also. I think they did a great job of executing that game plan which they've done here the last several weeks. I think, again, and with the ability of Bortles to sneak in a run or a scramble situation, his athletic ability and his ability to run just makes it a very dangerous group.
Q: How would you describe Leonard Fournette's running style? What value do you see, if any, in the work you guys did in training camp?
MP: I mean obviously where we are right now in the season with Fournette, just a big, strong, physical runner. A guy that really can get the ball vertical into the defense quickly. He has a great combination of size and power and athleticism that makes him very difficult to bring down. So I think his run game obviously fits the style that they block in front of him. His ability to continually just be that workhorse for the offense definitely just pops out on tape. The speed and his ability to make big plays are a big problem so if you don't have a - if you've got an easy play he can just get outside or get through the line of scrimmage quickly and into the secondary then he's very dangerous in those situations. [He's a] really, really good player that has just been very explosive for them and been able to kind of carry their offense. So big challenge for us there. I would say from the preseason it was just such a long time ago. We're trying to - I think everybody has kind of changed. They've changed. We've changed. Hopefully everybody has kind of evolved from there so we're just trying to really take a look at what he is now and try to defend that first.
Q: From the outside we've seen Blake Bortles kind of ride a statistical roller coaster over the course of the last year-plus or so. How much of that is him, how much of that is game to game and scheme to scheme and when he does click like he did yesterday against the Steelers, what seems to be working for him?
MP: I think first of all, let's just speak about Jacksonville and where they've been here, obviously working through the playoffs. We're talking about a team that's playing at an extremely high level including the quarterback so previous years, previous games doesn't really matter. What the focus is right now is what they've done lately and obviously they're playing at a very high level. I think he's done a great job of just executing the game plan, making sure that they get the ball to the right players whether it's the passing game, the run game, whether it's a particular play where he's got to keep the ball. I think he does a good job of evaluating the defense, being able to make changes at the line of scrimmage when he has to and putting themselves in a really good play. I think he's trying to make smart decisions and make sure that they don't put the ball into the other team's hands. I think all of that shows up here on film. I think that's why they've had success here in two critical, huge games. They played a lot of good situational football too that showed up. So I would say they're obviously operating at an extremely high level. This will be the best team we've faced this year. So when you get to this point in the season you've got to play your best.
Q: What is your working relationship with Brian Flores and what he's meant to the success of the defense this year?
MP: Yeah, I mean as far as Brian and myself we obviously have a great, very strong working relationship as I do with all my defensive coaches. Josh [Boyer] and Brendan [Daly] and Steve [Belichick] and all the guys I work with every single day. I have a great group on the defensive side of the ball that coach extremely hard. They really prepare their players very well. It's been great. We've been together here for a little bit so things like that, we grind it out week to week and try to figure out the best way that we can to game plan to win, put our guys in good position to be able to go make plays. I think it's been great to see all of them develop and Flo [Brian Flores] and I have been together a long time. He's been here a long time as with myself and Josh and so I really just enjoy all of it. We have a good time. We work really hard. We put a lot of long hours in but we're trying to do the best we can to help the team win. It's part of [being] a coach. You have those relationships with players. You have those relationships with other coaches too. We spend a lot of time together and those are the parts that I enjoy the most.
Q: Jacksonville's defense tends to win the turnover battle and that seems to be helping them win games. When your defense is on the field, is there any added pressure to help win that turnover battle maybe by getting more aggressive in forcing turnovers?
MP: I don't think you really compare one, Jacksonville's defense to our defense. I think we don't play Jacksonville's defense. We've got to play their offense so we've got to make sure that we can go out and defend what their offense does. If we have those opportunities to get the ball or turn the ball over, it's something we are definitely trying to do and the pressure to do that is something we emphasize all the time. We're working really hard to try and get the ball when we can. Teams do a great job of protecting it against us and like I said, for us, our game plan is going to be trying to make sure that we defend the skill players that they have and the game plan that they're trying to run against us and to make sure that we're putting ourselves in a position to win in that situation. I think there's a lot of great players in the league. There's a lot of really good offenses and defenses and I think we just try to make sure we stay on our focus of our task of handling their offense first and foremost. That'll be the biggest thing for us before we start worrying about maybe some other aspects of the game because then you just get distracted from what you're supposed to do, if that makes any sense.
Q: Jacksonville seemed to be setting up some longer passes last week with play action. It's sort of a balance between defending a big runner like Leonard Fournette while also making sure they don't pick up those chunk plays. How do you balance that?
MP: Yeah, that's obviously the most difficult part of what we have to try to do this weekend and that's the great complement that they're able to do for their offense is when you have that really strong run game and the really good play action game with it. They do a good job too in the drop back game. The three-step stuff where they're getting the ball out quick. So they have a full complement of offensive plays that they will mix in there but certainly the easiest assessment is to look at the run game and the play action game and see how those do relate to each other. It's definitely a situation where you've got to be really disciplined with your fundamentals on defense. You've got to do a great job of making sure you read your keys and take a look at the backs, take a look at the offensive line, make sure everybody's doing their job in the back end and from the coverage standpoint and play just good, solid team defense from that standpoint.
Q: What adjustments have you made in the front seven this season?
MP: You know, again, I think we've talked a little bit about all of the previous and past and where we were before. I think our goal is kind of the same every season. It's trying to make sure we improve each week and get better and that's what we're trying to do. I think really, unfortunately, none of that matters up until this game. The only thing that matters is how well we play against Jacksonville this weekend. I would say in our front, look, those guys are working really hard. I think we've got some young players that are in there that are trying to improve. We've got some older players that have been here for a while that are really doing a great job of playing with good technique and trying to play solid up front along with the moving parts that we use in the front just in general. I think those guys are working hard, they're studying, they're trying to learn, they're continually trying to work at the little things which is important for us to improve in the technique. It might be an eye control thing, it might be a hand placement, it might be just a leverage thing that we're - some each little part each day trying to improve on. I think those guys are really going after that from that standpoint and understanding how important that is for them to play well at this time of year. I just give those guys credit for the work that they've put in but that's what we expect every year. We expect to try to get better as the season goes on. I think it's a good complement with the front end and back end. Those are always related whether it's a, you can say front end but a lot of times there might be guys in the back end that are in the front or down in front positions. So it's just kind of in general as a team, trying to improve. Like I said, unfortunately none of that really matters. The only thing that's going to matter is how we go out and play on Sunday so that's what we're trying to focus on right now.
Q: What did you see from the run defense and how much did that tie in with your success on third down as well?
MP: I think the run defense, there was some good and some plays that I think that we've got to do better on so we looked at those on the sidelines and tried to get those improved as we went through the game. That was kind of a focus for us there. It's a good run team. They do a really good job up front like similar to what we'll have to face this weekend too. But I think those guys really tried to come out and play aggressively in the run game, tried to play physical and really make sure everybody was disciplined with their assignments. So I think that was something as the game went on that we got a little bit better with. They had a couple big plays in the run game that we've got to try to improve on. Certainly early down always relates to third down. Obviously the better you do on first and second down then the better situation you hope to be in on third down. We kind of got to defend whatever those are though. There was definitely some third and shorts in there that we had to try to stop and then some third and long situations that you had to go out and defend. I think for the most part on third down, like I said earlier, those guys tried to really do a good job of executing the game plan. It was kind of some moving parts there a little bit that I think those guys handled really well from a communication standpoint. Tennessee is a very dangerous team from that standpoint on third down with the ability of the quarterback to extend those plays and he's done a great job to make plays in those situations. We had to be really kind of conscience of that and to make sure that we were in a solid situation all the way through.
Q: What have you seen from Deatrich Wise and his work off the field and maybe some of the ways in which he has improved because of that work that you've noticed?
MP: [He's a] young guy obviously from the beginning part of the year to the end part of the year has made some great improvements. He's really trying to understand how we do things. I think just overall of learning how to be an NFL football player and how we play here defensively. There's certain things that might've been different than what he had done in college. The biggest part for him in the study, the work in the film room, the class room and kind of the concepts of what we do defensively are a little bit more familiar now than they were maybe at the beginning part of the year when it was all kind of new. I think the best thing that we kind of get into as the season goes on is once you kind of get into that rhythm of what your weekly schedule is - Monday is this, Tuesday is this, Wednesday is this and as you go through the week I think kind of being on that schedule helps all those young guys get into a rhythm of how they prepare for the games week in week out. I think that has also been a big part of it from an off the field standpoint that has allowed him to really narrow in on his preparation to go out and play. There's certainly areas that he's still got to improve on and get better but I'll say he works extremely hard at it. It's very important to him and he really cares about trying to make sure that he can execute the game plan that we're asking him to execute at a high level. [He's a] very conscientious guy who really wants to try to do it the right way. From that standpoint that's all you can really ask for.
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR JOSH MCDANIELS
Q: Having been around the game for so much of your life, what are your thoughts on the fact that Tom Brady is playing in his 12th AFC Championship?
JM: Yeah, that's a remarkable statistic for anybody. Obviously, it's a testament to Tom and what he's been able to do over the course of his long career and all the things that he has done, all the work he's put in to be able to be a part of so many good teams that have accomplished something and had an opportunity to play in this game. So, it is - experience, at this point, it doesn't mean as much as playing well, I know that. But, for somebody to have played in this game that many times, certainly that's a remarkable achievement, and I know he's going to be focused on his preparation and doing all that he can to help us play our best game against the best team we've played all year in Jacksonville on Sunday.
Q: Is Jacksonville the toughest defense you've faced this year? If so, why?
JM: Yeah, I mean, no question. They have really, really, really good players at all three levels of the defense. They're very well coached. We had an opportunity to practice against them in August, and that was apparent then and it's apparent now that they're very well-coached, rarely out of position, know what they're supposed to do in each one of their calls. They get lined up and play fast and aggressive and have got an incredibly disruptive front that's deep and talented. They've got really fast linebackers that are very disruptive that can do everything that you need linebackers to do - they run, they tackle, they cover, they turn the ball over, they blitz well - and then you've got a really, really good secondary that contests a lot of throws and makes it very difficult to have a lot of success in the passing game. So, there's nothing they don't do well. They're very talented, their scheme is difficult and they're well-coached, so this is going to be a huge challenge for us. We're excited to start our preparation today for them with our players.
Q: Can you talk about the offensive line's ability to get to the second level and to help the backs make plays by blocking in front of them in open space?
JM: Yeah, you know, we have an athletic group and they take a lot of pride in all areas of their job, and that's certainly an area that you have a chance to make explosive plays when you can get out in front of people in space and get people blocked past the line of scrimmage. Whether it's a screen or a run play or the backside of a run play or some type of a loose play in the passing game, obviously they all play with great effort and they try to do their job every play. They take a lot of pride in it, they work really hard in practice to be well-prepared and they care a lot about helping the team win in every way that they can. So, we're fortunate that we've got a good group. Obviously, they're well-coached. That's certainly a testament to Dante [Scarnecchia] and how he prepares them and he has them ready every single week, and they play awful hard for him and do everything they can to help us win on a weekly basis.
Q: Do you see any similarities between the Jaguars defense and what you've faced in the past with the Seahawks and the Falcons?
JM: Yeah, there's some similarities, but like I said, each year is different. Each team has some - the players are different, certainly, and there's certainly little things here and there that each coaching staff has implemented or changed or does more of than the other. So, there's some definite similarities relative to some of the scheme and the way they play, but by and large, our focus is certainly going to be on this team this year against these players. Those games in the past don't really have a whole lot in common with our preparation this week, and we've got to do a good job of studying up and getting to know these guys - not only what they do but who's doing it. So, excited to get started on that here today.
Q: What are your thoughts on Danny Amendola, what he brings to this offense and specifically what he's done this season?
JM: He's one of the all-time great teammates, no question about it - very unselfish. However big or small you tell him his role's going to be on a week-to-week basis, he embraces that. He prepares really hard. He cares about doing it right. He's always ready to go however much you need him or are going to use him, and he's as competitive as anybody else we have. He plays hard on every single snap and will do anything for the team to help us win. So, I don't know that I could give a greater compliment to a player than that, and he always plays big in the big games. So, he's a guy that you trust, that you want in the game, that you can count on and you know you're always going to get his best effort. Like a lot of our guys, he can take himself to another level and try to do a little bit more than maybe what's done in the past, and he does a great job of preparing hard to be able to do that. It's a testament to him, how much he cares about his teammates and our team in general and love having the guy. It's a privilege to coach people like him.
Q: How would you characterize the Jaguars linebacker group's ability to cover? Would you say that their athleticism and speed is rare at that level, especially between Myles Jack and Telvin Smith?
JM: Yeah, it's as fast a group as we'll play, no question. As I said before, I don't know what they don't do well because they run and tackle, they make plays behind the line of scrimmage in the running game, they blitz well, they're very fast. So, run and chase from behind, they can do that. They play with great effort. They cover well. They're asked to cover a decent chunk of the time. They're asked to cover well, whether that's backs or tight ends, and they do that. You saw Jack make an interception yesterday on third down and in man-type coverage on a tight end. So, they make plays on the ball, they pressure, they tackle well, they run, they hit, they give great effort, they blitz well, so this is a very, very talented defense, period, and their linebacking corps obviously is certainly one of the best we've played all season and definitely the fastest.
Q: Can you reflect on your friendship with Tom Brady over the years?
JM: Wow. Well, I mean, look, I've been fortunate to have the opportunity, going back all the way to 2004, to have an opportunity to coach him as a football player but also to get to know him as a person. A lot of things have changed since 2004. Now we have kids and married and got other hats that we wear - husband, father - but certainly he's as good at those other things as he is as a football player, if not better. He's been a great friend - had a great relationship over many, many years with him. It's been a privilege to coach him, and I'm excited to get to prepare with him again for another one of these games that we're fortunate to have another opportunity to compete in. So, looking forward to that and I know he will be, too.