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Transcripts: Bill Belichick and James White Press Conferences 12/31

HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK

Tuesday, December 31, 2019
Press Conference

BB: As we talked about on the conference call yesterday, Tennessee's obviously a really good football team, doing a lot of things well. Very explosive offensively – probably as explosive as anybody we've seen in a while. Sound on defense, as you would expect with Mike [Vrabel] and Dean [Pees] and the good players they have there. So, it'll be a big challenge for us here. It's a great opportunity here to advance. This is what we work for all year, so I think we're ready to go – we'll be ready to go. We're not ready yet, but we'll be ready to go. I think our team has a good attitude this morning, and we'll have a good week of practice and be ready to let it go Saturday night. But, these guys are tough. They're really a well-balanced team. They've had a lot of success in the last two-thirds of the season. You can see why.

Q: How tough is A.J. Brown once he gets the ball?

BB: He's really tough. Yeah, hard guy to tackle. He's fast, strong, he's quick in the open field. They get him the ball in space, and he takes those 10-yarders and turns them into 60-yard touchdowns. Yeah, he's really good.

Q: What are your thoughts on Ryan Tannehill, his deep ball and Tennessee's big-play ability?

BB: Yeah, he throws a good deep ball. He throws a lot of intermediate routes. They have a lot of catch-and-run plays, too. So, I mean a lot of their big plays are not 80-yard bombs. But, he's thrown the ball very accurately and making great decisions.

Q: Is this one of the more efficient offenses you've seen in a while?

BB: They're very good, yeah. They're very good.

Q: Have you seen improvement in Ryan Tannehill's game this year?

BB: I thought he played well in Miami. He's playing very well. 

Q: Overall, the Titans are No. 1 in red-zone offense. What do you see from them inside the red zone? What makes them so difficult to stop in the red zone?

BB: Honestly, they're not in the red area that much. They score from way out a lot. But when they do get into the red area, they're good. They run it and they throw it. The ball gets spread around pretty good; there's not just one guy that they're throwing to. They do a good job of getting the ball to everybody and they have, obviously, the best running game in the league. When you combine those two things and the quarterback – the quarterback can move down there, too. But, honestly, they've skipped over the red area a lot. For the amount of scoring they've had and the amount of plays, you know this is 16 games, not a lot of red area plays. 

Q: How would you describe their offensive scheme? Is it like anything that you've faced this year or in recent years?

BB: Well, we practiced against them for a week. I don't know how you'd get a better look at it than that.

Q: What are the things you look for to gauge the attitude of your players?

BB: Well, they've been working on Tennessee. They know what we're talking about, they ask good questions, they've been spending time watching them. 

Q: What stood out to you about Tennessee during the preseason practices? How have they grown since?

BB: Well, again, the big focus for us was us, and the big focus for them was them. It wasn't a matchup of scheme and all that it was just trying to get your team ready to play for the regular season. It was good to work against them. We've seen plenty of ourselves all through the spring, so that was good. Both teams have evolved a lot and again, we weren't really scheming against each other we were just doing what we do to try to improve our basic fundamentals and techniques. That's what that was for and I feel like we accomplished that. You can't help but see what they're doing on the other side of the ball, that's what you're practicing against. I wouldn't compare that offense to something else when we sat there and watched it for basically four days. 

Q: What stands out to you about Logan Ryan's play?

BB: Very productive. Logan's had a really good year. He does a little bit of everything. They blitz him some, some man zone, blitz zone, he's very good on disguise, all the things that he's always done well. He has good hands – made a good play on the ball like he did in the preseason game against us. He's a smart, instinctive player. He's had a really good year. Probably one of the better starters – well, nicklebacks – we've seen all year. Played very well. 

Q: How have you seen Joe Judge progress and handle his role with the wide receivers this season?

BB: Joe's done a great job. He's done a great job with the kicking game, and as you said, he's expanded the role a little bit and that's kind of had a little bit of a ripple effect in the way we've organized the kicking game, but that's all worked out pretty efficiently. Joe's done a good job of organizing that, as well as taking care on some other things with the offense and particularly receivers. So, he's done a good job. He's an excellent coach.

Q: The Titans have gotten a lot of sack production from their secondary, how aggressive are they? Do they pick their spots or do they blitz frequently?

BB: They mix it up, they mix it up. They blitz secondary players and they blitz linebackers, and then they fake up there and don't blitz anybody. They do a good job. Dean and Mike do a very good job of keeping the offense off balance with a variety of what they do defensively, so they're not very predictable and they give you a lot of different looks, but it's all things that they're pretty familiar with and they play well. It's not like a couple blitzes each week and it's a bunch of new stuff every week – that's not really their main thing. They have a good plan and a good package and they have good variety in it, they mix them up, they keep you honest. If you're looking for one thing over here, you could get something else over there and vice versa. They kind of make them look the same and make you figure it out after the snap. And if you guess wrong, then they, like you said, they've gotten a lot of sack production out of their DBs. They don't bring them all the time, but they bring them enough that you've got to worry about it. If you're watching the wrong one then somebody else will get you. They do a good job.

Q: How does Logan Ryan's intelligence show up on film? Do you have to account for that when you're going up against a player that you know how well he prepares?

BB: You certainly don't want to try to make it easy on him. It's hard enough as it is. I don't think you want to do things that – you think this is the way that he's going to play it, I don't think you want to see if he's going to play it well. You figure something else out or maybe stay away from that – pick your spots on how you want to attack it. I mean, that's really true of every player. Certainly, we have a lot of respect for him and he's been very productive and he knows us well, knows our receivers well and our offense well. We'll have to do a good job on him. [Kevin] Byard is another guy who gets his hands on a lot of balls and he's a very instinctive guy and just shows up around the ball. Those two guys in particular have really stood out in their production.

Q: What have you seen from Rex Burkhead in the last few games?

BB: Rex has been a solid player for us. He does a lot of things well – plays in the kicking game, plays on all four downs, catches the ball, blocks, runs, gets tough yards, can make plays out in space. I think he's always been like that. He's had good opportunities and maybe had a little more production, but whenever he's had opportunities, he's been productive for us. 

Q: What do you remember about A.J. Brown from his pre-draft visit?

BB: Impressive. Look, there's great receivers down there, the receivers and the tight ends. They had a real explosive group and he was a big part of it. He was impressive; he's obviously done well. When we practiced against him, I think that was about the first time he was getting on the field, I don't think he had done a lot before that, and then we saw him out there those couple days of practice and gradually, through the course of the year, it's hard not to notice somebody who's made so many explosive and big plays. He's a tough guy to handle. He's big and he's fast, good with the ball in his hands, smart kid. They move him around. He does a lot of different things. He has an extensive route tree and it looks like obviously there's a great chemistry between him and Tannehill. They've been very productive together. 

Q: Chase Winovich has been pretty productive this season and you've spoken about how deep you can play your defense with so many players on the field. What has allowed that? How have you seen him progress?

BB: Chase works hard, he's a really hard working kid. Football is important to him. He is very attentive when you correct him and give him coaching points. He tries to do everything exactly the way you want him to do it. He's improved a lot. He's got good talent, he's big, he's fast, he's smart, he's got good quickness. He can handle himself in space and he has good in-line power. So, he does a lot of things well. 

Q: How hard is it to mimic Derrick Henry's size, speed and physicality in practice?

BB: Pretty much impossible. I mean, there's not a lot of guys like him in the league. We've had some experience against him, and that's a little helpful, I would say. But in the end, you watch one film and you see the way his running style is and he has good variation of runs. I mean, he can make you miss in space, he can drop his pads and run with power and run over you. He's a good inside runner, good outside runner, and catches the ball well and he's got speed to go the distance. He doesn't get caught much. He gets a step and then he's able to finish it off. He's got a good stiff arm. He breaks a lot of tackles in the secondary from guys that just can't get close enough to wrap him up – he just pushes them away. So yeah, I mean it's hard to simulate all of that, but we'll do the best we can.

Q: What makes their play-action game so effective?

BB: Yeah, well, when you lead the league in rushing, that's a good place to start. But, the quarterback makes good, quick decisions and the receivers are big targets. I mean, those kids are big and they've come inside and made some big plays. They've made some big plays outside, too, and down the field. So, they make their passes and their runs look the same. It's hard for the defense to recognize the difference, and if they just get a step on you, Tannehill's done a good job of sticking the ball in there in some tight spaces before the defense can recover off those play-actions and hit them. So, it's really just good execution all the way around. The running game helps the passing game, and good execution in the passing game always helps the passing game – good quarterbacking, and the receivers taking 10-yard plays and turning them into 50-yarders. So, it's just a lot of guys doing a good job.

RUNNING BACK JAMES WHITE

Press Conference
Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Q: How would you describe the mood and atmosphere around the players?

JW: I think everybody is excited for the opportunity. Everything we want is still out there in front of us. [We] have a good opponent, the Titans. We played these guys last year. They're a well-coached, tough football team, physical team. It will be a great challenge for us. Everybody is excited. It's still playoff football and this is what you play for, from OTAs, training camp to now. It's the moment you play for.

Q: What stands out to you about the Titans defense?

JW: They're physical, they capitalize on your mistakes, have a very good secondary who – everybody back there can catch the football, so you make a mistake, they're catching the ball. They run a couple different looks – try and run some jab blitzes, all that good stuff – and they're very well-coached. We've played them a couple times and it's always a tough football game. Have to bring our A-game.

Q: What stands out in the way the Titans defended you in particular in the game last year?

JW: They switch up the looks every now and then. It could be different people covering you and what not. They mix up their man calls and zone calls. You never know what they're going to do, they could come out with a completely different game plan than when we played them last year. You can watch the film for personnel, but you've got to be ready to adjust when the game day comes around. They're going to come out here with a lot of confidence, they've been playing well the last few games, and like I said, got to play our best football. 

Q: How much can you draw out from the time you spent with the Titans in the preseason?

JW: You can draw a little bit from it. Obviously, they could do things differently than when we practiced against them and what not and the preseason game. You can take the way that they were coached for the practices, how physical they were, the energy that they play with and you can look at the one-on-ones that we had, all that good stuff from the team drills, but you've got to study the game film as well. Got a lot of game film to look at. They're a talented team, they've been playing well, especially this last stretch of the season in order for them to make it to the playoffs. They're going to come in here with a lot of confidence.

Q: You played against the Titans last year, you spent part of training camp there and they're coached by a guy who understands this organization pretty well. Does that familiarity change anything about this game?

JW: I don't think it changes anything. We've played them a couple times and we know they're well coached, going to be coached similarly to what we're coached. They're going to come out ready to play. [Mike] Vrabel will have those guys fired up; they're going to be excited. We're going to be excited, too. Got to go out there and play our best football. We haven't done that a couple games in the last stretch of the season, but the beauty of it that it's still out there that we can play our best football. I think that's what everybody's excited about.

Q: How much improvement have you guys made in the screen game over the last few weeks?

JW: I think we made a good improvement. Screen plays are team plays. It takes everybody for them to be executed, from quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, offensive linemen, tight ends. They can create a huge play for us. If Coach [Josh] McDaniels dials it up, everybody has to be on the same page to get it done and it usually creates big gains for us. Those plays are called, you just want to try to create a big play.

Q: What's the level of confidence in the offense right now that when your backs are against the wall, you can come through?

JW: We always have confidence, no matter what the situation is. Coach McDaniels does a great job of dialing up good plays in those types of situations. We all know that we have to execute when those situations arise. We practice those situations all year long in practice and when they come up in a game, I think everybody is confident to go out there and get the job done. Whenever our back's against the wall, you've got to be able to answer.

Q: How challenging is it to recover from last week and get yourself reset to go?

JW: I don't think it's very challenging at all. It's still playoff football, like I said before. Everything we want is still out there in front of us. Just got to recalibrate – short week, good opponent, just got to be ready to go, go out there and have fun, play physical, know your job, do it to the best of your abilities. You never know which play is going to make a difference.

Q: Tom Brady was hard on himself from the last game. What have you noticed in how he's preparing for this game?

JW: Like I said, we're all preparing for it to the best of our abilities. We all didn't play our best football last week, and we all obviously wanted to play better but we didn't. Can't sulk on that. It's a playoff game here, you play to play in these games right here. We're all excited to get back out there.

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