HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
Q: Was there a mandate from Patriots' owner Robert Kraft to trade Jimmy Garoppolo?
BB: Mike [Giardi], I haven't read the article. I've already commented at length about that situation. Nothing has happened since then, so I don't have anything to add to it.
Q: What have you seen from your run defense this season, and during times where the play was inconsistent is tackling one of the issues that led to that?
BB: Well, I think, honestly, you could ask that question about any part of our football team. The answer is all about the same. There's been some good things. There have been some things that aren't what we want it to be. We continue to work in all areas on the coaching, fundamentals and overall execution of all parts of our game. It doesn't really matter what it was or wasn't some other week - good or bad - it just really matters what it is Saturday night. That's what all of our focus is on, is trying to get our total performance to the highest level we can on Saturday night.
Q: What have you seen from Titans' running back Derrick Henry and his knack for gaining yards after contact?
BB: Yeah, the Titans - they've done a great job all year with their running game and their run defense, and last year, too, for that matter. They've been very consistent. Defensively, they're at the top of the league and offensively they're very good, as well. Two great backs, a quarterback, so definitely a problem as a runner. They have a good, sound scheme with good players. They do a very good job running the ball. Their backs break a lot of tackles. They design plays well. They're well coached. They're a good fundamental team and they do a real good job of running the ball and they do a real good job of stopping the run.
Q: What do you see on film from Marcus Mariota that makes him so efficient with the ball in the red zone?
BB: Yeah, he's a smart player. They give him quite a bit of responsibility. He can, obviously, handle it well. He did a very good job running the no-huddle offense and making plays and adjustments at the line of scrimmage against Kansas City. If he sees a situation in the passing game that he doesn't like he's very strong and athletic enough to extend plays, whether that's buy time for the receivers to get open, throw on the run or in some cases advance the ball himself. He can do all of those things and he does a good job with the decision making process as those situations occur. That goes in the red area, third down and out in the field. He's a smart player that has good judgment, makes good decisions.
Q: In the ESPN article last week, you were characterized as furious and demoralized following a discussion regarding the future of the quarterback position. Would that be an accurate characterization?
BB: Well, first of all, I don't really know what you're talking about. I haven't read the article, so I don't know what that refers to. Look, Mike [Reiss], we've been through this before and I know you want to report on things that are inaccurate and unattributable and I'm not really interested in responding to all of those random and, I would say in a lot of cases, baseless comments.
Q: How would you describe the way the team has approached its work this year in regards to tuning out some of the outside noise that goes on around the team?
BB: I think I'd really just answer that question as it relates to our play. Overall, we've done a lot of good things this year. I think our record reflects that, but it really doesn't matter. We're in a one-game season now, and so we'll turn all of our attention and focus to having the best performance we can have on Saturday night.
Q: What have you noticed about Tom Brady's focus going into Saturday at this point in the season?
BB: Well, the players were here on Thursday and they were off over the weekend. We'll come in today and start on Tennessee. We've had a few days of kind of trying to from the coaching staff preparing for three teams and now it's Tennessee. We've been through a little bit of a process here the past three days trying to get ready for the postseason and now we know exactly what we're doing. Tom always prepares well. He's one of the hardest working players on the team. He's had a long history of that. He's very diligent in his preparation.
Q: What changes have you seen from Marcus Mariota since you faced him during his rookie season in 2015?
BB: Yeah, I don't really think the game from two years ago is that relevant. All players improve a lot over that period of time, especially young ones at that point in their career, certainly at that positon. Mariota's had a good year. They really have been in the playoffs here the last couple of weeks. They had to win their last regular season game. He brought them from behind 21-3 against Kansas City in Kansas City for a playoff win. I think his performance speaks for itself. I don't think what happened two years ago really has any bearing at all, whatsoever, on this game. I couldn't find any relevance to it.
Q: Is there any truth to the report from the New York Daily News that you have interesting in possibly coaching the New York Giants?
BB: Right now my interest is trying to do the best I can for our football team to get ready for Saturday night against Tennessee. That's where my total focus is.
Q: Is your intention to definitely be back with the Patriots next season?
Q: What does it say about the Titans in general that they were able to come back from an 18-point deficit on the road in a playoff game?
BB: It says they're a good football team. They're balanced in all three areas. They do a great job in the kicking game. They've got a great punter, kicker, returner. They can run the ball. They can score points. They play good defense, turn the ball over, stop the run, play good situational football. They're very well coached. They have a lot of talented players. They compete well. They play hard. They're tough, mentally tough. I mean, that's what it says about them - they're a good football team - which they are.
Q: With Dick LeBeau as their defensive coordinator, how similar or different are there defensive schemes compared to what he run for Pittsburgh over the years?
BB: Well, I'd say Dick's defense is very similar to Dick's defense; Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Tennessee. Dick's a great defensive coach. He's a great coach, was a great player. He's been a tremendous asset and has made so many contributions to the game of professional football in the National Football League. There are few coaches that I think you could put above him in terms of the amount of what he's accomplished and how much respect I have for him, how much respect all of us in the league have for him and what he's done. He's had a tremendous career. He's made this game a better game and he's done a lot for the coaching profession. He certainly revolutionized the game with his zone-blitz philosophy. That's certainly stood the test of time, but Dick's defense is Dick's defense. It's not anybody else's defense. He can utilize his personnel and find ways to create matchups and take advantage of, whether it's by scheme or by player, by individual matchup, to put problems and put pressure on the offense. He does an excellent job of that. His play calling is outstanding. He does a great job of keeping teams off-balance and making it difficult to execute offensively against his group. They play very good situational football. They're well coached. They're good fundamentally. They don't give up many big plays. They don't give up any easy plays. You've got to work for everything, but they're very sound. It's hard to gain many yards against them. You have to run a lot of plays together and they're good at preventing that because they just don't allow you to get into a good rhythm or get into consistency. And again, it's hard to move the ball with big plays. They just don't allow many of them. He does a tremendous job. I've learned a lot from watching what he does and talking to Dick. I've been very fortunate to have the opportunity to spend some time with him. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him as a person, as a coach, for everything that he's done, everything that he stands for. He's a great contributor to the National Football League.
Q: Does the team ever use any of the media negativity as fuel to help propel them towards their ultimate goals?
BB: Yeah, what we're going to do is utilize the time that we have to structure, and practice and prepare as efficiently as we can to be ready to go on Saturday night against the Titans. That's what we're going to do. I know everybody in this organization is committed to that. We've worked all year to put ourselves in this position. Now we have after the Wild Card weekend. Things have been reseeded and we know what our challenge is. We know it's a big one and we're going to do our best to meet it. That's what we're going to do.
Q: Is this another 'ignore the noise' situation?
BB: It's just get ready to play the Titans. That's what it is.
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR MATT PATRICIA
Q: What do you see from Delanie Walker as he continues to play at a high level deep into his career?
MP: Yeah, I mean, obviously a tremendous athlete, someone that has done a great job of taking care of his physical ability, which is demonstrated out on the football field. You know, extremely smart guy, works well in their system. They feature him in a number of different ways. They'll move him around to try to get him the ball. He's in there in the run game and the passing game, so it's hard to get a detail as far as exactly where he's going to be. Very athletic guy, he's got extremely good, smart route-running ability to find open space, great hands, very trusted player - just a guy that in a critical situation you're going to count on to come up with a big play. Obviously, somebody we saw very closely a couple years ago and had another big play against us. This is really just a great player in the tight end position. There's so many of them that you face through the year, and this is one that he's definitely at the top of the list. So, very productive guy, extremely trusted by the quarterback, so it will be a big challenge with him.
Q: We know you went through the head coach interview process the last few days. Where do you see things headed at this time?
MP: Well, you know, that was a process that took place through the course of a couple days there in the weekend or a day in the weekend. It's always a learning experience, like when I've been through it before. You know, you have the opportunity to learn about some other franchises and get a chance to talk about how they do things and really just kind of broaden your whole overall education of what the NFL and the different organizations are. So, it's always a very informative process. It's interesting when you go through it. The good part about it is when it's done, then you really just kind of flip your focus back to the task at hand. So, really at that point, it was the three teams trying to prepare for who we were going to play, and then it obviously got narrowed down and full steam ahead on Tennessee trying to get ready to defend a very talented group. So, quickly we've got to turn the page and get all of our attention and focus, details to getting ready for them.
Q: Duron Harmon mentioned that the defense has had some trouble defending mobile quarterbacks this season. What do you see from Marcus Mariota in that area?
MP: I mean, an extremely athletic guy, so there is a huge factor of mobility with him. But, you know, he's a very strong-armed quarterback, he can extend plays, he can scramble to run or he can get out of trouble and then find his receivers downfield. He also has a run element to him and the run game is very extensive. Coach [Mike] Mularkey and Coach [Terry] Robiskie do a good job of really scheming up the run plays with different formations, different looks and motion. When you have a quarterback threat that's also part of the run game, along with [Derrick] Henry and [DeMarco] Murray, who are both very talented players, it's kind of a triple threat that you've got to defend. So, I think the task at hand with him is not only going to be in the passing game and contain and being able to defend the routes that they're running and how they scheme that up, but there will be a big element to the run game with him and tackling is going to be critical. He's a very tough guy. This guy is a physically tough player. You definitely see that on film. You see some evidence of him throwing blocks, obviously, if he has to do that, too. So, just an overall really competitive, very good, outstanding football player we've got to defend.
Q: In your opinion, how has this coaching staff been able to keep the players focused amid outside distractions?
MP: You know, I think our players do a great job every week of coming in and just preparing for the task at hand. That's really our main focus, week-in, week-out. I think they do a really good job understanding how competitive the teams are we play each week, Tennessee being the one that's up right now, and understanding that we've got to dive in and study and learn the different players and their positions, the quarterback position, the running back position, the skill players - [Rishard] Matthews, [Eric] Decker, [Corey] Davis, those guys that are out there - and understand how they get lined up, along with the tight ends. Again, they do a great job with the tight end position in this offense, so there's so much to learn every week on top of really studying your opponent, making sure that you know how they attack a defense and how they get lined up and where they put themselves in position to make plays, and then on top of that trying to study the game plan. So, it's a week process that just takes time as we go through the week and to really kind of be in that routine of focusing each day on whatever the point of emphasis is for that day. I think when you get in those sort of routines, then that's what we're trying to do to build towards the end of the week to play to the best of our ability here, which will be Saturday night for us this week.
Q: What have you seen from Derrick Henry, and what is the best way to combat a running back with that kind of size and power?
MP: Yeah, great question. I mean, this guy is a big back. He's downhill, really does a good job of running strong with good leg drive and explosive ability to create big plays. Everybody's kind of at the point of attack with him. The ball can go anywhere, so there's really not just a one side of the formation that he's going to run to. The ball can really kind of hit wherever it goes, and certainly someone that's going to have a lot of attention on our end to make sure that we're doing a good job of wrapping him up, and we've got to do a good job of tackling and getting everybody to the ball because he does a real good job of just making one tackler miss. He has a great stiff arm, which kind of defeats the first guy that's there, and then he gets the extra yards and the run after contact. So, just a big, powerful, strong runner. Again, downhill but can also get the edge because he has good balance and speed to do that. And then, again like I said, if it's a one-on-one tackling situation, it's extremely difficult to get him down in that instance.
Q: What is your relationship like with Bob Quinn, who worked in New England for several years?
MP: You know, I have relationships with guys throughout the entire league, and I obviously like to maintain my relationships to the best of my ability. But, really right now, my focus is on Tennessee and just trying to get ready for what we've got in front of us. That's kind of my main thing right now.
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR JOSH MCDANIELS
Q: We know you went through the head coach interview process the last few days. Where do you see things headed at this point?
JM: No idea really. You know, just obviously did what was allowed and then have kind of refocused on moving into this week and getting ready for Tennessee. So, I have no other information, and that's about where it stands right now.
Q: Specific to the Titans, when you look at their defense under Dick LeBeau, is this basically like the Steelers back in the day? What do you see from the way they challenge you?
JM: Yeah, I mean, they're very well-coached - that's the first thing you see - and they play as hard as any defense we've seen all year, no question, which is a tribute to Coach LeBeau and his staff and what they're about. They're aggressive, they're fast, they're physical, they pressure the quarterback, they blitz a considerable amount, which he's always done. They're very good situationally - third down, red area they're in the top 10 in the league. They allow the fewest big plays of any team we've played all season. They get to the quarterback in a number of different ways, and then they stop the run. So, this is typical of one of his defenses, not in just the scheme but how they play, how hard they play, the different things you're going to have to prepare and be ready for on Saturday night, and then there's always going to be some game plan element to his approach, to our game, that we're going to probably need to adjust to during the course of the night. So, this is as good a group as we play. You always expect a playoff opponent to be the best team you've played all season, and I would say this is true of this group on defense. It's a group that we haven't played in a few years. We're going to need to get familiar with them very quickly, and we're into our preparation right now and excited to get started with our players.
Q: More than 80 percent of Rob Gronkowski's catches resulted in either a first down or a touchdown this year. What are your thoughts on that kind of productivity?
JM: Yeah, I mean, it's not surprising. Rob's a tough guy to cover. He's got a big catch radius, and the majority of the things Rob does are at least at the intermediate level if not further down the field. So, he's a big target, has been very productive for us in a lot of different situations and hopefully we'll have a good week of practice here and it would be great to see him make some plays and do some of those things on Saturday night. That's what we're looking for.
Q: What do you remember about Josh Kline's time in New England?
JM: Yeah, tough kid, played multiple positions inside for us, very unselfish, good teammate, smart. It doesn't surprise me that he's played a lot of football in Tennessee. This guy's a physical guy, battled through nicks and injuries and those types of things to stay on the field. Just a great kid to coach, great teammate in the locker room and one of those guys you are happy and proud that you got the opportunity to work with.
Q: What have you seen from Tom Brady when it comes to staying focused amid outside distractions?
JM: I mean, he knows exactly how to handle outside noise. His job as the quarterback is always difficult in terms of the preparation for the opponent, and he knows how much time and effort that takes to be ready to play against a really good team. I have no doubt that his focus will be on what it needs to be on this week, like it always is, and he'll have a great week of preparation and practice and be ready to go on Saturday night.
Q: Have you seen Logan Ryan's imprint on the Titans secondary, especially in regards to his leadership? What are your impressions of Kevin Byard, and do you see any similarities between him and Troy Polamalu in terms of what he does at the safety position for Dick LeBeau?
JM: Well, Logan's a very consistent player. He plays his technique exactly the way that you would coach him to play it. He's dependable. He's tough. He does a good job of communicating with the other members of the secondary. You can tell that that's very much a part of what he does and what he cares about doing for those guys. Logan has always been a good football player, a good tackler. He can get his hands around the ball. He can make plays, so he's certainly made an impact for them. And then Byard, I mean, he's very adept at taking the ball away, certainly. I mean, with the number of interceptions that he's been able to create - and he's turned the ball over a number of times this year by himself - he's got very good hands, sees the quarterback, has an opportunity to break on the ball and make plays in the deep part of the field. He's shown the ability to cover and in tight coverage can make plays on the ball, as well. So, he does a lot of things well, and certainly we're going to have to be aware of his location and what he's doing because he's obviously shown the ability to turn the football over as much as he has this year. So, both players are very good. They've got a good group in general - [Adoree'] Jackson, [Johnathan] Cyprien, [Tye] Smith. I mean, there's a lot of guys that have played back there this year for them. They've got a lot of guys that have made plays, and it will be a big challenge for us this week.
Q: How much more work is there to prepare for a defense that you haven't seen in over two years?
JM: Well, you get familiar with the scheme and the players at the same time, so you're just digesting as much as you can, really getting a feel for their identity, what the players do well, what they do within the scheme, what the coaches put them in position to do, how they create an impact in the game and then all the types of things that they do during the course of the situations that you're going to run into during the game. So, there's a lot of things that you have to do and tackle, but it's just part of the normal process that we go through. Every team that we play during the course of the season isn't somebody that we're familiar with, that's for sure. So, we got a little bit of a start on them yesterday, and we're obviously getting into them heavy now. So, this is not a unique experience for us. We're going through a normal week. Our players are going to do the same thing. By Saturday night, we'll be ready to roll.