PATRIOTS DEFENSIVE BACK DEVIN McCOURTY
November 8, 2018
Q: Do you notice any schematic differences between having Coach Brian Flores calling plays this year as opposed to Coach Matt Patricia doing it last year?
DM: Not really. A lot of our defense is very similar to what we've been running the last eight years I've been here. I think, as always, if someone else is calling the plays, you might call a different call in different situations, but the menu of plays that we have and that we run have been very similar.
Q: Is it weird to play against a team that has so many players that were on your team a year or two before?
DM: Not really. I'm one of the longer tenured guys here, so it seems like between coaches and players, each week there's a guy or two. So yeah, it's more, but I don't think it kind of changes how you go about it. It's kind of very similar. Especially I think for us, you're talking about on defense, with D-Lew [Dion Lewis] and [Josh] Kline. There's so much turnover, I don't even know how many people on the team know Josh Kline. It just happens in the league, and I think the longer you're somewhere – like you've been covering us the whole time I've been here, so you look across and you're like, "I was once interviewing all those guys in the locker room." But there's so much turnover in the NFL, you kind of get used to it week in and week out.
Q: I know this game is a destination game for a lot of Patriots fans. Is there any motivation when you look up in the stands before the game and you're like, "Wow, we've kind of taken over this stadium?" Because they're calling it the "Tennessee takeover."
DM: Oh really? I don't know, I guess we'll see. I remember when [Tom] Brady came back against Cleveland, and to start the game, we heard the Brady chants. It was crazy. I think for us, we don't really think about that. When we go away, we think of the hostile environment, so that's what we always think we're walking into. It's always a pleasant treat when we walk in there and it can feel like a home game. Hopefully, all the people traveling from New England to Tennessee enjoy Nashville not too much on Saturday and can do some screaming Sunday.
Q: How do you feel the team is holding up physically and are you guys sort of antsy to win this game and get a little time off?
DM: Yeah, I think guys are just doing what they've got to do. I've noticed that in the league, whenever your bye week comes, it comes. I think we try to do as much as possible to take care of our body and you kind of try not to even look towards that. Next week will feel good to get a little downtime. But as you know, here we never know what the bye week looks like. So, we'll see how it goes. I think guys right now are just locked in on trying to go get a win in Tennessee.
Q: You guys seem to always kick it up a notch defensively this time of year, the second half of the season. What do you attribute that too?
DM: I think just the continual work. I think the NFL season starts with the first three or four games and all the predictions come out. You're either great on offense, bad on defense, great on defense, bad on offense. You're either going to have a Super Bowl chance or you won't. And I think after that, people kind of think everything's set in stone. I think here, everyone thinks of the season as a continual, gradual process of getting better. We work hard on the practice field – you guys see it. Days like last week, a short week, we were still in full pads on Thursday preparing and getting ready. So, I think that enables us to get better throughout the year. I think you start to see it because, like you just said, now we're approaching our 10th game. That's a lot of football that has been played since training camp, preseason, all those regular season games. So, you would hope you can start to improve, and I think we've just got to continue to do that because we're only getting a little past halfway.
Q: On a different note, the amendment that restored voting rights to felons passed in Florida, which was something that the Players' Coalition had supported, was that gratifying to you?
DM: Yeah, it's been pretty cool to see some of the things that we've been able to dive into and study and lend our platform and voice to. To see some of those small changes happen in Washington and I believe it was Louisiana, too – just to see those little things that the Players' Coalition has been involved in throughout the country, all the different guys doing things in their city, I think just speaks volumes of the work that can be done when we do kind of put our focus on that and drive towards it.
Q: Do you think the orange shorts that you all have now –
DM: I heard that became a story. We just like having some shorts to get in the tub with. That's all I'm going to say. You can't complain about that.
Q: You've seen Dion Lewis when he was here wreck opposing teams' game plans. How do you contain him when he starts to get going? Because when he does get going, it's tough.
DM: We owe it to each other to not make anyone have to make a one-on-one tackle with him in the open field. That's hustling, that's everyone getting to the ball – screen-plays, check-downs, running plays. He's a guy – ball's supposed to go to the right, can end up on the left. You saw against San Diego, it was like a 35-yarder where he got wrapped up first 12 or 15 yards down the field, broke four tackles. I think we all have to come with a mindset of gang-tackling him, not letting him in the open field. It's very similar to a couple weeks ago when we played Buffalo with LeSean McCoy. I was very fortunate to play LeSean McCoy in college, and when he finally left, there came Dion Lewis. So, I've been seeing this for a while and know he's a tough guy to bring down, passing and running. I think it's an all-11 type of thing. We can't name one guy that we'll put on him and shut him down. It's going to be a team effort.
Q: Did you call Logan Ryan and Malcolm Butler and those guys when the calendar came out and you knew you'd be going down there?
DM: Those guys don't know me this week. So, it's rough in our friendship. We all talk a good amount during the season but there hasn't been much interaction during this week.
Q: Guys like Dion Lewis or LeSean McCoy give you a lot of different moves in the open field. In basketball, they say to watch the player's hips. When you try to break down to tackle a guy like that in space, what are the things that you have to do to avoid having your ankles broken?
DM: Hope he chooses the way I choose. I always tell guys, when you get in the open field with some of these guys – like you said, you've got to read the hips and do your fundamentals. Sometimes it's going to look like how we draw it up on a fundamental, head across tackle. And other times it's you get a shoelace and the guy trips and falls. You've just got to try to find a way to get him down. If you go into the game and you bat 100 percent, you walk away like, "Man, I did great today in the open field." If you miss a tackle or two, you've got to just stay confident because open-field tackles against Dion [Lewis] are going to come up. It's going to happen. They do a good job of trying to get him in space. You've got to stay confident going down there and try to make those tackles.
Q: Do you look at this week as a chance to show your improvement against mobile quarterbacks? You struggled against Mitchell Trubisky in Chicago, so do you view this as kind of a measuring stick?
DM: I think for the most part, though it's about going to get a win. I think in doing that, it involves us not letting the quarterback kill us moving outside the pocket. But, I don't think it's like one of those games if we go out and we stop [Marcus] Mariota from running around, we're set for the rest of the season, no matter who we play. But, it's something that we do have to work towards this week and we have to really be locked in. Obviously, it's something we talked about against Chicago and [Mitchell] Trubisky did a good job. We don't want to walk away from this game with that same feeling of, "We knew we had to keep this guy in the pocket and we didn't do a good job." So, it's definitely our focus this week.
Q: Do you have to do a little bit extra when you play a mobile quarterback because you have to be aware that he can take off?
DM: I think it always comes down to your job, your responsibility on that play – all of us, all 11 guys within our defensive scheme changes. We don't know when it's going to come up, but when you're a coverage player and you're supposed to be in coverage, we've got to stay in coverage until he crosses that line of scrimmage and he can no longer throw it. Then it's all 11 guys. But, I think until then, guys that are involved in keeping the quarterback in the pocket, taking the quarterback down – D-ends, linebackers, safeties, corners every once in a while – they have to do that. But everyone else, when we draw it up and you're in coverage, we can't abandon that first and let him run all the way up to the line of scrimmage and then throw it over our heads because that's just another big play.
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