Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick, Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels, and Defensive Coordinator Matt Patricia address the media during their conference calls on Tuesday, November 28, 2017.
HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
November 28, 2017
Q: How much value is there in the screen game if the yards aren't there or aren't there consistently?
BB: Well, I mean any plays you're not making yards on, it's hard to get excited about those. Our screen game hasn't been as productive as we need it to be. We need to, obviously, coach it better and execute it better. We're not getting enough out of it. It's disappointing.
Q: It would seem that you have the personnel to execute it, so is it something consistent holding it back or is it just a breakdown here and there?
BB: I think it's a combination of things. We've run a lot of different types of screens – receivers, backs, tight ends, quick screens, slower screens. We're just not doing a good job. I've got to do a better job of coaching them and we've got to do a better job of executing them. It's as simple as that.
Q: Can it still be a positive influence and force the defense to slow down a bit despite not gaining the yards you'd like?
BB: I don't know. Based on what we're gaining on them, they should be happy every time we run one.
Q: How similar is Joe Judge's job to the other coordinators and coaches in terms of preparation, film study and game planning each week?
BB: Well, I mean it's similar in that he has a responsibility for the units that he has. It's different because each unit is comprised of different players and there's a lot of situational football that comes up in the kicking game. Not that there isn't on offense and defense, but there's an awful lot of situational football in the kicking game that, again, involves a lot of different people. Usually, on offense or defense you have about the same 12-13 guys you're dealing with. On special teams you could have all of the linemen on the field goal team, all of the defensive linemen on the field goal rush team, and all of the linebackers, tight ends, running backs, defensive backs, receivers on coverage teams, and return teams and everything else, plus the specialists and all of that. So, there are a lot of moving parts, a lot of decisions, a lot of getting everybody on the same page and you start factoring in weather, like we had on Sunday, where the wind affects the kicking game a lot more than it affects the passing game, then that's another variable that has to be taken into consideration, too. Yeah, there's quite a bit there. Joe does a great job with it. Bubba [Ventrone], they both do a great job. It's different, but it's similar in terms of the responsibility and all of the things that have to be handled one way or another.
Q: With all of the big plays from special teams the past few weeks, how does that speak to the job that Joe Judge and Bubba Ventrone are doing this season?
BB: Yeah, they do a great job. They do a great job, and the players do a great job. They really work hard at it. They put in a lot of extra time. They take it very seriously, as they should, but they do and they take a lot of pride in it. It's great to see that extra work pay off.
Q: Darrelle Revis had mentioned that it took him some time to get adjusted here in 2014 but that once he did, everything went smoothly as the season progressed. I'm curious if you see that same kind of pattern for Stephon Gilmore and, if so, what kind of role has Josh Boyer played in his development this season?
BB: I don't know about the first part of it, Mike [Petraglia]. Every player is different. Every situation is different, so I don't know. But yeah, Josh does a good job with those guys. I mean, look, all of our assistant coaches, they spend a lot of time, individual time, with their group of players, their individual players and that's a very important role that they have, especially with new players and making adjustments and so forth to our overall program and system. So much of that is done by the position coach. The head coach and the coordinators have their role, but the position coaches all do a great job of working with their groups of players, really drilling deeper to help them understand and give them the finer points of their position, or of the scheme or something that our opponent is doing and constantly helping them to stay ahead in their responsibilities and their role on the team. Yeah, those guys, they all do a great job.
Q: What sort of contributions will you lose with Nate Ebner now being place on Injured Reserve? Also, we've seen Jordan Richards play a bit as the personal punt protector. What can he bring to that role on special teams in Nate's absence?
BB: Right, well, of course we'll miss Nate but, again, that's an unfortunate part of the game. We have other players that have worked hard that will get an opportunity, and I'm sure that they'll go out there and do their best to make the most of their opportunity and provide a high quality of play for us. That's what a full team is about, how everybody depends on each other and how we need everybody. Hopefully, that'll be the case. We certainly expect them to do that and expect them to step up and do their job. That's really been a great strength of our team. Hopefully, it will be going forward and there will probably be other examples, somebody else that we will need to do that along the line. I don't know who or when or exactly what it'll be but, hopefully, everybody will be prepared and we'll be able to continue to be productive with the players and the people that are in there.
Q: What have you seen from Jordan Richards in particular on special teams?
BB: Yeah, Jordan is a very smart player, very instinctive player, does a good job on his preparation. He really knows what we do and our opponents. He's a good communicator. I have a lot of confidence in him. I know all of our other players and coaches do, as well. He's a young player that has experience, but he's shown that he's very well prepared and ready to go.
Q: Can you talk about the challenges that Tyrod Taylor will bring this week?
BB: Yeah, a big challenge, a huge challenge. This guy is really a good football player, very competitive, smart, tough. He's got a good feel for the pocket. He's, obviously, very athletic, hard to tackle, hard to contain. He's fast, he's quick, he's got good balance. He's a good football player and, like I said, a very competitive guy, so in critical situations he makes a lot of the right decisions and does a lot of the right things. He can extend plays. He's got a good arm. He's got good vision down the field, accuracy. You've got to defend him on every play and in the running game that always takes one less guy away from the running game when you have a player like him who you have to concern yourselves that he'll keep the ball or bootleg it or that type of play. Schematically, it takes away a player that you would normally have to defend the running game. It's just one less guy, so his presence, not only when he has the ball, but even when he doesn't have the ball, it affects you. He's a hard guy to handle, a very good football player.
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR MATT PATRICIA
November 28, 2017
Q: What did you see from Lawrence Guy on Sunday and as well as throughout the course of the season so far?
MP: Lawrence is a guy that has really improved through the course of the year, really tried to learn our techniques and has really developed from a run standpoint. [He's] someone that we've got some real consistent play from up front. [He has been] able to play a couple different positions for us. He's one of those guys that moves around a little bit and plays with good hands, good technique and plays strong at the line of scrimmage and has done a real good job now of kind of transitioning into a little bit more pass rush into the pocket and push and be up in the quarterback's face. [He's] just a guy I think from professional standpoint comes to work every day ready to go. He's got great energy about him. He's smart, he learns, he studies the game, he's got a lot of insight too from a player that's been able to do this for a couple years and he'll come in and he'll see something and says 'hey what do you think about this? Is this something we could take a look at? What if we do this?' I really enjoy those conversations when you start to get guys that look at it from a whole point of view of how to better defend an offense. I think he's also brought just a great manner of professionalism for our young guys to follow and just really how it takes to be in this league and what it takes to be in this league. Yeah, he's been great.
Q: With Rick Dennison as the Bills offensive coordinator is this similar to those old Mike Shanahan and Gary Kubiak blocking styles? How much of a change, if so, is that from what you've seen from the Bills in recent years?
MP: Definitely with Rick Dennison we've got a lot of history with him. [He's a] great coach, great coordinator. [We've had] a lot of battles through the course of a couple different organizations. He does a great job with that system. It's kind of a West Coast-based system that he utilizes but Juan Castillo, who's the o-line coach also; you can see influences in the run game. They of course worked together before too. It's kind of a combination. There's a good amount of what you would consider some of the [Gary] Kubiak, [Mike] Shanahan offense from the Broncos that carried over into Houston and Baltimore and then there's some scheme runs in there, some different looks where they're trying to get the ball downhill or to the edge. Obviously the run game is really difficult to defend against these guys – LeSean McCoy, [Mike] Tolbert, [Travaris] Cadet now. I mean guys that can just really run the ball, can hurt you immediately if they can get outside quickly or break through the line of scrimmage and have that burst into the open space. So you've got to really do a great job of making sure you have all of your gaps handled inside and you're forcing all of that up front handled appropriately. I think they do a good job of understanding the talent they have in the run game and then part of the Dennison offense is to utilize that run game to set up then the play action pass game, move the pocket plays, the boots, things like that where they can push the ball downfield. [They'll] try to take advantage of their speed at the wide receiver position, take advantage of their skill set at the tight end position and get the ball to [Charles] Clay and [Zay] Jones and [Kelvin] Benjamin when he was out there and [Jordan] Matthews and [Deonte] Thompson – those guys that can just really stretch it vertical. If you have that kind of combination with the run, the play action and the boot game and then the drop back pass game which is going to do a complement of spreading you both horizontally to get the ball out quick, get it into space, allow their skill players to get as much yardage as they can and then also block it up and throw the ball deep.
Q: Does the fact that you've already gone up against a few mobile quarterbacks, be it Cam Newton, Deshaun Watson or Jameis Winston, help in the preparation for Tyrod Taylor?
MP: Well certainly all of the guys that you mentioned are great players in and of their own right and pose different problems, certainly from their athletic standpoint and their ability to evade the rush and extend plays. Tyrod Taylor is, like Coach [Bill Belichick] said, just a great player, tremendous player, great athlete, can do everything that they ask him to do, get the ball downfield, read coverage. Actually [he's] been a guy that we've gone against here for a while now and to see him develop as a quarterback and to see him improve as a quarterback and really understand the game and have confidence in his ability to make great decisions in the pocket or get out of the pocket and make good decisions is really where you can see him – he's grown as a player. He's just so competitive. [He's] really just a workhorse for that offense so someone we have tremendous respect for. In and of his own right, even going against those other quarterbacks that you mentioned, he's his own player. He's his own style and he's different in that manner and we're going to have our work cut out for us to try to do a great job to defend him. So it's more of our experience going against him in the past. When you have a guy like that that you've watched for a couple years and see how much improvement he's had you try to make that point of emphasis to everybody the best you can. On both sides of the ball things change so certainly our players that haven't played against him before it's going to be a different look when you finally see it live and see his ability and his athleticism and his command of the offense and the way that he can control the game. So it's a huge challenge for us.
Q: As a dual threat for the Bills offense, how do you go about containing LeSean McCoy and keeping him in front of you?
MP: Yeah, huge challenge obviously. They've done a great job finding different ways to get him the ball, not only in the run game but in the pass game. He is a guy that they have a lot of confidence in out of the backfield and whether it's maybe just a simple play that's a screen or a play that's a check down or a play where they get the ball out in the flat to him quickly and now he in space. Those become right into his strong suit of being out in the open space, being able to make guys miss, being able to get explosive burst plays vertical into the defense quickly. We have to be highly aware of those situations. This guy is a very dangerous player that at any point in time can take basically nothing and turn it into something huge. So that's a big challenge, and that's in both the run and the passing game. You'll see him run both outside but also inside. He has great patience with the ball in his hands. He waits for those holes to open up or a defender maybe to just get out of his space just enough where then he can burst through there and turn a, like I said, little play into a big play. So it's a major problem. They have great skill players. They do a great job of complementing each other with that in both the run and the pass game using their speed to get the ball down field [and] the misdirection type of plays. The tight end position is another position that is extremely difficult with this offensive system to defend. [Charles] Clay and [Nick] O'Leary when he gets in there does a great job of getting open and finding space. It's a huge challenge for us.
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR JOSH MCDANIELS
November 28, 2017
Q: How much value is there in utilizing the screen game, even if it hasn't been productive or gained many yards this season?
JM: Yeah, whenever you call a screen, you're obviously limiting your options in the passing game because it's a one-man pattern, and screens, I think, have always been and will always be kind of hit or miss. When you invest in them, you could end up with a really good play, not always a huge play or big play, but you could end up with good plays and you could end up with other things that happen on them – defensive line grabs the screen back, there's other things where they blitz the other side and then drop to the side that you're screening to – but obviously you're trying to counter teams' aggressiveness. You know, there's a lot of good defensive linemen in this league, a lot of good pass rushers, so if you can create a couple big plays on some screens, it's not going to stop them from rushing, but it may make them think about rushing a little bit more under control at times. They know you have the play, they know you have the scheme, and they have to defend against that. I think there is some value – there's a lot of value in a lot of things you do, even though maybe necessarily each play isn't a huge play itself. The other team has to spend time on it. Obviously, we'd like to improve our production in that area of our offense. We've always taken a lot of pride in executing screens well and doing it properly and trying to gain some chunk yardage in those plays. As of late, we haven't done as well as we would like, and we're certainly going to work hard to try to improve that.
Q: What have you seen from Cody Hollister this year as he has worked on the practice squad?
JM: Cody's well-prepared, very attentive in our meeting rooms, continues to learn each week what we're doing. I think he's got a great attitude towards trying to be able to function in our offense in multiple spots. He works extremely hard on the practice field. He's tough, he's fast and he's continued to work to get better. That's really what all those guys are doing on the practice squad is they're trying to put themselves in a position that when they're needed and they're called upon that they're ready to step up and help contribute in whatever phase of the game it is that we need them. All those guys on the practice squad – Riley's [McCarron] doing the same thing and Cody and we've had a number of other guys that are doing that type of work each week. They get recognized, at times, for their work on the scout team giving the defense a great look. They play a very important role in preparing our team, both offensively and defensively and in the kicking game for each opponent, and they take their job very seriously. Cody does a good job of that.
Q: Even though he only played in two games this year, what do you lose with Martellus Bennett going on injured reserve?
JM: Yeah, you hate for that to happen with any guy, and certainly we were excited to have Marty back and looking forward to trying to build as we went through the year. You know, he was here for those couple weeks and worked hard to get himself caught back up in the offensive system and was fun to be around and gave us some production in the time that he was in the game. We only had him for a short time, so it's not like we've had him for four months. So, we're going to keep rolling along like we normally do. We've got a group of guys that are available to us each week, and whatever group that is, we've got to do the best we can to put those guys in great position to have success and give them each a role that they can function in and play well.
Q: Is the Bills defense similar to the scheme you have played against at Carolina?
JM: There's definitely some similarities when we faced Sean [McDermott] in Carolina and then obviously playing against Carolina this year. Sean's a tremendous coach. Leslie [Frazier] – we've competed against Leslie also, Leslie Frazier. This whole staff does a great job. They're very detailed, a disciplined group, they don't give up many big plays, force you to be disciplined and drive the ball a long way. You've got to have patience against them. They're not going to give it up in one play, and they turn the ball over as well as any team almost in the league. I think they're the fifth- or sixth-ranked team in the league in turnovers, and we've seen all of them. So, they've made a lot of plays to take the ball away from the offense, and they play very well in the red area. So, challenging with blitz schemes, play different types of coverages, disguise well, everybody gets a chance to blitz on their defense – so you have to keep your eyes open at all times or they'll hurt you with some type of pressure – and they really challenge you to be able to execute a high volume of plays per drive in order to move the ball down the field, convert third downs and then ultimately finish in the red zone, where they're very good. So, big challenge. It's going to start with us taking care of the ball, which we didn't do very well the other day, and we need to shore that up and try to do a better job this week against a team that is very good at taking away the ball when you make a mistake on offense.