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Transcripts: Patriots Conference Calls 10/8

HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK

CONFERENCE CALL

October 8, 2018

Q: Tom Brady said this morning that the team should have put up more points offensively against the Colts but were hurt by the turnovers. How would you assess the team's ball security through the first five games of the season?

BB: Well, we haven't had a game yet without a turnover, so that's definitely a goal for us every week. Hopefully we can hit that this week. Yeah, I agree with Tom.

Q: When a ball goes off the hands of one of your receivers and ends up being intercepted, do you view that type of turnover differently than just a typical interception?

BB: Well, that's part of the execution of the passing game. Sometimes the timing between the quarterback and the receiver, where the ball is located or what the receiver does right at the end of the route where he does or doesn't do the thing that the quarterback thinks he's going to do or vice versa, and then sometimes those balls end up not being either where the receiver thinks it's going to be or the receiver is not exactly where the quarterback thinks it's going to be. Those are things that you just have to work on and fine-tune and execute. That's why the execution of the passing game has to be so precise in this league. Defenders are close by and if the ball is not caught cleanly it could get into their hands. Really it just comes down to execution.

Q: What have you seen from Kansas City's defense that makes you believe they could present problems to you this coming Sunday?

BB: They're very good defensively. They do a good job. They're well-coached. They mix it up well and then they have a lot of disruptive players. They've got several guys on the front – [Dee] Ford, [Justin] Houston, [Chris] Jones. [Anthony] Hitchens is a very experienced linebacker. There's experience in the secondary with [Ron] Parker, [Steven] Nelson, [Orlando] Scandrick, [Kendall] Fuller. Not all of them have been there for their whole careers. Guys like Ford and Jones have; [Allen] Bailey. They do a good job. They're solid across the board – their front, their linebackers, safeties, corners. They mix up the scheme. Yeah, they do a good job.

Q: What has impressed you about Patrick Mahomes through the first five games of the season?

BB: Yeah, pretty much everything. He gets the ball to all of his receivers quick, quick release, sees things quickly, can extend plays, got a great arm, got a fabulous arm, can throw the ball out of the stadium. He makes good decisions, accurate, gets the ball out on time.

Q: Does a quarterback's arm strength mean more than just how far he can chuck it down the field? Mahomes seems to be able to get some of these throws to the sidelines out there pretty quickly.

BB: They do, yeah. No matter where it goes, it gets there pretty quickly. The further the quarterback can throw it then the more you've got to defend. If the ball is on their 20-yard line you've still got to defend to the goal line against him. He can rip it.

Q: Does his arm strength allow for more variance in Andy Reid's offense this season?

BB: Well, I think Andy's always done a good job of attacking the field, all parts of it. I would just say Mahomes has a real good arm. Other quarterbacks that Andy's had in Philadelphia and Kansas City have, too. Look, every guy has his own individual traits and characteristics. But Mahomes has a big arm.

Q: Do you recall the time in the NFL when the spread offense first started becoming an effective approach to put stress on a defense?

BB: I would say in the 80's.

Q: Was there something that changed that led to that? Was there a rule or personnel in particular?

BB: I don't know. I'd say that's when it evolved. In the 70's you didn't see a lot of multiple receiver sets. You didn't see a lot of the tight end being flexed out, empty formation, things like that. In the 80's, you had [Darrel] Mouse Davis and the run-and-shoot philosophy came into the league and that extended into the 90’s. Then you had the one-back offenses with [Don] Coryell, which was late 70’s to Joe Gibbs in the 80’s with the Redskins, Dennis Green in Minnesota and so forth. The three-receiver sets for some teams became big chunks of the offense and it kept expanding from there. I would say the 80’s. If I had to pick a time it would be that decade for me.

Q: What was your evaluation of Patrick Mahomes when he was coming out of college and did the type of system he played in at Texas Tech make him a difficult player to evaluate?

BB: Yeah, again, we look at all the players. When you're picking 61st, I mean there's a lot of guys you can eliminate. I wouldn't say we spent an inordinate amount of time on players that at 61 we had no chance of getting, or whatever it was, two years ago when we traded for [Brandin] Cooks. We didn't have a first round pick, so I'd say no, we didn't. You could probably list 30 guys that we obviously scouted them in the fall and we were aware of them and we worked on them and so forth, but they weren't a factor for us in the draft just based on where we were drafting and where they were going to go.

Q: What is it that has led to more opportunities to rush the passer for Kyle Van Noy this season?

BB: Yeah, some of it is game plan. Some of it is game situation. Kyle has a lot of versatility for us. He can do all of the things really that a linebacker needs to do. Play the run, rush the passer and play in coverage. He does a good job at all of them and his versatility has been valuable for us.

OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR JOSH MCDANIELS

CONFERENCE CALL

October 8, 2018

Q: When you go into a game, do you ever design your play calling based on the opponent’s ability to force turnovers? Kansas City forced five turnovers yesterday. Do you ever consider that aspect when you’re calling plays, or is it all about relying on your team to execute the offensive game plan?

JM: I think you have to consider ball possession on any play that you call or that you run in terms of the overall design and execution. Certainly, I would say, there’s plays that inherently have more risk involved with them, and you need to be sensitive to that and smart about whether or not, one, you want to do it, and two, how and when you call it is another situation that I think you need to be aware of. It’s our responsibility to try to put our team in a position where they can do things well that, number one, takes care of the football, and number two, it gives us an opportunity to move it forward and eventually score points. So, I don’t think you can ever lose sight of the fact that turnovers are the No. 1 statistic in terms of dictating your opportunities to win in our league. So, I think we always have to be mindful of that, and certainly our players are, as well.

Q: Have the Chiefs made many defensive changes from a schematic standpoint since you saw them last year? They were mostly a man-to-man team last year. Is that essentially what you’ve seen from these guys, and how have they adjusted with a couple of key players either being hurt or now with other teams?

JM: Yeah, there’s new players on this team, for sure. Guys that we need to do a good job of getting familiar with this week that we don’t know as well, along with some of the guys that we certainly competed against in the past – the [Steven] Nelson’s, [Ron] Parker’s, [Justin] Houston, [Dee] Ford, [Allen] Bailey, Chris Jones. I mean, these guys, we’ve played against them a number of times – Eric Berry is still there, obviously. So, they have some new guys that we need to get familiar with, I would say, at all three levels. There’s different guys that we haven’t played against. So, that will be a challenge, certainly something that we’re on today and we’ll be on all week with our guys, and I’m sure they’ve already got a good head start on that, as well. And then, schematically, they do a number of different things. They’re not going to sit in one thing and do it over and over and over again. They’re a difficult preparation. They challenge your ability to identify what they’re doing. You know, they play man, they play zone, they blitz, they cover, they drop eight, they’ll bring secondary defenders, the linebackers certainly are involved in the pressures. So, Coach [Bob] Sutton – I mean, they’ve done a great job of changing it up. They do a great job of not letting you get comfortable, not letting you get into a flow or a rhythm as best they can, and this is a huge challenge for us – a team that we’re going to have to do a lot of work on this week and certainly be ready to go. It’s a big challenge for us on Sunday night.

Q: Reggie Ragland seems to have found himself in the middle of that Chiefs defense. What have you seen from him that makes him tough to go against?

JM: Yeah, physical guy, certainly can get downhill and create some disruptive plays in the running game, not an easy guy to block when they blitz him, makes tackles, he’ll run and chase, plays with good effort. He’s a seamless fit in the middle of their defense and provides a physical presence in there. Good player, surrounded by a lot of good players at that linebacking group in general. That’s a really good group all around. They’ve got good edge players, good inside players, make a lot of tackles. So, he fits in well with them and their group as a whole is a really difficult group to block.

Q: With Julian Edelman and Josh Gordon on your wide receiver depth chart, how much more flexibility do you have with this offensive grouping and with play calling in general?

JM: Yeah, you know, each week’s different and who we have available to us, whether that’s players returning from injury or just in general how we’re going to play the game with the active list, all of that changes from week-to-week at times, and your flexibility and/or ability to change or adapt your game plan around the guys you have is something that you have to do each week. So, you just try to do the best you can with the guys that are going to be available on Sunday and put together a game plan that hopefully can allow those guys to play to their strengths and always take the opponent into consideration in terms of our overall matchups and what playing our group will get from the opponent and how they play in each of those groupings and what they do schematically that may present challenges. So, a lot of different factors go into trying to decide what you want to do and not do on a given week. And, certainly, we’ve added a couple guys that have increased our numbers and hopefully they can continue to be a productive part of our group and our offense as we move forward here.

Q: How encouraged are you by the offensive improvements over the last two weeks? In what areas would you like to see this group improve going forward?

JM: I think this is a big time for every team in the league, and certainly it is for us in terms of just overall improvement as a unit. We never expect to start the season as a finished product and feel like we don’t have room for growth. We certainly had a number of areas where we need to get better in and show progress, and that’s why we practice hard and why we work hard each week. We’re just going to keep our head down and keep moving forward trying to make progress in a number of areas. There’s really no area that I would say we’ve done exactly the way we want it done. So, in every area of our game, we have to try to continue to improve – run game, pass game, taking care of the football, third down, red zone, short-yardage, two-minute, you name it. There’s work to be done, so we’re going to try to do a good job of zeroing in on our preparation and having good practices this week while we get ready for a tremendous opponent in the Chiefs.

Q: What does Julian Edelman provide off the field as far as attitude and holding other players accountable?

JM: Jules works really hard. His preparation is important to him. I think he’s a good example for younger players and any player in general in terms of how he goes about his business each week and prepares for the opponents he’s going to be lined up against, the defense he’s going to be facing. And, you know, he practices hard, he works hard and does a good job of trying to take care of the little things and his body during the week and all the rest of that. We’ve got a lot of guys that are very similar to that, so it makes for a good group, a good room. But, having Jules back certainly is a good, positive thing in terms of just overall preparation and practice. He’s a guy who’s played a lot of football here for us, so it’s good to have him back and see him working really hard to prepare for each week that he’s here.

Q: From your perspective, how important is it to have a productive slot receiver in this system?

JM: Well, you’d like to have production from each area of your offense. Again, it goes back to the whole concept each week of what we have available to us, what are their strengths, what type of defense are we playing, what do they try to take away, what do they do well, are there areas where we feel like we can potentially gain an advantage. But, we’ve usually had a guy in our system that functions well inside and does a lot of different things for us in our offense. Julian certainly has been one of those guys, but we’ve had a lot of them over the years that have been able to do some of those things, including the backs and the tight ends. So, I feel like being able to throw the ball to the perimeter of the field is important. It’s as important as it is being able to throw it inside, and there’s a number of guys in our skill groups that help us in both of those areas.

Q: In terms of the consistency of the running game, how do you feel about where the offense is currently? I think there have been 27 runs in the last two weeks that were 3 yards or less, so while there’s been some big plays, it seems like you’d want more consistency out of that aspect of the game.

JM: We’re always working to try to make each part of our game as productive as we can. So, whether it’s big runs or just consistent, solid runs that put us in good down-and-distance situations, we need to improve in those areas. Like I said, there’s no area that we’re not trying to get better in because we haven’t really functioned at a level in any part of that game that would tell us that. So, run game, pass game, protection, catching the ball, throwing the ball, finishing drives in the red zone, third-down offense, starting the halves – I mean, there’s a lot of different areas where we’re going to be focused on trying to make some progress as we move forward, and the running game is certainly one of them. We’re going to continue to work hard at it.

Q: When you were evaluating Sony Michel coming out of Georgia, was his physicality and willingness to embrace contact something that jumped out at you immediately?

JM: Yeah, Sony’s a tough kid – runs hard, certainly willing to engage in contact, and he was at Georgia, like the way he finishes runs and he’s a tough guy to bring down. So, his run style, I think, fits what we try to do here, and hopefully he’ll continue to improve and get better and make progress as we go forward. But, I think we’ve seen some decent things from him here in the first few weeks that he’s been up and active, and we’ll continue to try to work hard to get better.

CORNERBACKS COACH JOSH BOYER

CONFERENCE CALL

October 8, 2018

Q: I wanted to ask you about the veteran experience you have at cornerback with Stephon Gilmore and Jason McCourty and what it’s like watching those guys talk through things in meeting rooms, film rooms and on game day.

JB: I think with all of our guys in general, guys that come to us from different places that have had numerous experiences, they can add stuff that has a benefit to the group, and I think it’s beneficial for our younger guys to hear that. Sometimes they see things from a little bit of a different perspective or maybe they’ve seen or done things differently and they kind of bring that to the group, and some of it’s good and we use that. Those guys have been more than willing to help out other guys with the knowledge that they’ve had playing through the league.

Q: How would you asses the Chiefs’ team speed on offense and what kind of challenge does that pose for your secondary?

JB: Well, I would say they have very good team speed. They’re well-coached, they have a good scheme and they have extremely talented players, so it makes it a difficult challenge for us. We’ve got to do a good job executing fundamentals, beating blocks, tackling well, give our players a chance to be successful.

Q: What has Jason McCourty done that has stood out to you to become a key contributor?

JB: Well, I would say the key thing with Jason is he works extremely hard. He’s been very consistent day-in and day-out. He comes in, puts in a good day’s work and I think that’s what we’re trying to do with all of our guys. We’re trying to improve day after day, and the most important things that we usually do are practice and the game field, and I think the consistency that we’ve seen with Jason has helped us on the field.

Q: What are some of his assets in terms of physical traits?

JB: I think Jason has got good speed. He’s about the normal size of most corners in the league. I would say that, you know, from a physical aspect, it’s hard to relate just physical without the mental. I would say he has a very good understanding of football, not just from secondary play but from defensive football in general. He’s seen a lot of things and I think the biggest contributor for Jason is that he’s a selfless player. He works very hard to make himself better and he works very hard to make others better around him. He brings pretty good leadership to our group.

Q: When facing a talent like Tyreek Hill, how do you balance wanting to be physical with him and jamming him at the line with knowing the risk doing that poses?

JB: I think if you look at their skill group as a whole, there’s a lot of explosive players on the field, and again, it would go back to, I would say, the quarterback [Patrick] Mahomes. He distributes the ball very well, sees the field very well and there’s also an element of they’re coached extremely well, so they’re very disciplined in what they’re doing and then their scheme is very good. So, with all of their players, I don’t think you could go out there and do the same thing over and over again. You’d put yourself at risk there. I would say Tyreek [Hill] in particular is an extreme talent. He’s very capable of making big plays at any point in the game, whether that’s run or pass, and he runs all routes – whether it’s intermediate, deep or short – and he can take those short and intermediate ones and break a tackle and be gone. So, his speed is definitely something you have to be aware of, and it’s going to take more than one guy to stop Hill and to stop their entire offense in general. We’re going to have to do a good job playing good team defense.

Q: With the strength of Patrick Mahomes’ arm, how important will it be for your secondary to keep in mind staying back and riding the fine line of being deep in coverage but not giving up too much underneath? Is there a balance there?

JB: Yes, I would say there is. You have to be competitive in coverage, but at the same time, you don’t want balls just going over your head or we don’t want to cut people free. I would say with Mahomes in particular, one, he can make all the throws he needs to make, has a very strong arm. He also has a great ability to extend plays, whether he’s going to do that running or extending it and scramble to give his receivers time to get open. So, we’ve got to do a great job being where we need to be, using our help in coverage if we have any, and making sure that we’re tight on receivers in competitive situations.

Q: Have you seen continued improvement from Stephon Gilmore or is he maintaining the level he reached last season?

JB: That’s the goal that we talk about every day for our players is to be better today than what we were yesterday and to be better tomorrow than what we were today. I think Steph [Stephon Gilmore] really buys into that, and again, I would say with Steph, the thing with him is consistency. He comes in and he works hard every day and we try to do that with all of the guys in our group. I think as a whole, our guys, they come in, they work very hard. They work very hard on the things that maybe didn’t go so well for them, and the things that did go well for them, they try to build upon that. I think consistency has really been the key for Steph, and he’s worked hard at that every day. We’re going to push to continue that to improve each day.

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