PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
August 17, 2018
Q: What did you see on film that allowed your defense to be effective getting up the field and after the quarterback last night?
BB: Well, we had our moments. We had some pressure from different players so there were some good things there. We obviously allowed a lot of passing yardage. There were times when the rush and the coverage didn’t really marry up the way we’d like it to. Pass rush is part pass rush and part coverage. I’d say overall our team defense was good at times, but we need to have more consistency. When you give up over 350 yards passing, that’s not good. Knocking the quarterback down, that’s good. We need to marry those two together because when we didn’t have the coverage on the rush we gave up too much yardage.
Q: Is that more complex to evaluate when you’re playing with so many different units in the preseason versus the regular season?
BB: Well, yeah, obviously the regular season is more of a true indication of what it is. But all 32 teams are in the same situation here in preseason. I’d say they’re all basically playing it pretty much the same way. We have the same opportunities that everybody else does and we’ll have to figure it out just like all of the other teams do.
Q: What did you see on the Jordan Richards tackle that was flagged after going back and watching the tape? It appeared to be a textbook tackle.
BB: Yeah, I think there’s those plays and then there’s some other plays maybe that were similar plays that weren’t called. We’re just going to have to try and do a good job of getting a clear understanding and these are plays that help define it, of what it is and what isn’t allowed. Again, it doesn’t really matter what we think. What matters is what the officials think and what they see and what they’re going to call. We’ll have to adjust to the way the game is being called, not the other way around. We’ll, again, examine those plays and ask about some other ones that are similar and try to do as good a job of teaching that rule as we can. I’m sure the players will do as good a job of playing it as they can. No player wants to get a 15-yard penalty, so we might have to adjust our style or technique a little bit as we go here.
Q: What have you seen from Keionta Davis that has allowed him to develop some versatility along the defensive line? Did his time off last year play into that development at all?
BB: Yeah, so Keionta worked really hard last year even though he wasn’t able to practice. He was on NFI [non-football injury] all season, but he essentially went through two offseason programs – one during the season and then one in the offseason – because he was restricted to what his participation level could be. That changed this spring and then into training camp and so forth. He’s continued to do all of the things that he could do. He was just limited until we got into this calendar year. He’s been able to work on those things. He still has a long way to go. He still has a lot of things he needs to improve on and refine and react quicker to and so forth, but that comes from not having actively played football for a year, or a little more than a year. It has returned and hopefully those things will come back to him and his reactions and all will continue to improve. He’s done a good job. He’s in good condition. He’s worked hard. I like what he’s been doing.
Q: Is there a competition for the punter position right now?
BB: All of the players that are on the roster are in competition. When they’re not in competition is when they’re off the roster. As long as they’re on the roster there is competition.
Q: How does a guy like Corey Bojorquez compete if he’s not able to show some reps in the first two games?
BB: Well, the opportunities to play have to be earned. When we feel that that’s been done and he’s able to do it, or anybody else for that matter – when a player earns an opportunity and is able to participate for the opportunity then we’ll try to give it to him.
Q: What did Ryan Allen do back in 2013 to earn the opportunity to replace Zoltan Mesko on the roster?
BB: Well, again, that was several years ago. Every camp has its own unique combination of players, circumstances, opportunities and competition for roster spots. There are a lot of things that are involved, that go into that type of question. Honestly we could be here for a couple of hours talking about that. Right now we’re just focused on what’s going on on the field this training camp and this week coming up. We know what the deadlines are for making some decisions, so we’ll work towards those points. There are a lot of things that we have to do in training camp and we try to take all of them into consideration. That’s what we’ve always done. That’s what we’re going to continue to do. The football team will always come first.
Q: Is Keionta Davis a player that would have likely been drafted if it were not for the injury he was dealing with at the time?
Q: Would that have been a relatively high draft pick?
BB: I don’t know. It’s hard to say. Possibly. I’d say he’s in a different category but in a similar situation and a similar – his circumstance is similar to Marcus Cannon – but different in ways, but I would say very similar in some other ways. Marcus was drafted in the fifth round. Keionta wasn’t drafted, but there’s some similarities.
Q: When you faced Cordarrelle Patterson in the past, what were some things other than speed that presented a challenge to your defensive coaching staff?
BB: Well, he’s a very talented player. We knew that when he was in college when he came out of Tennessee. He was drafted in the first round. Defensively, in the times that we played him, that usually comes into being part of the scheme. So how the Raiders or Minnesota used him and who else he was in there with and where they aligned him and so forth were probably more of the focus. Obviously, the kickoff returns and other things he did in the special teams area were very noteworthy as well, but we were aware of his physical skills and we talked about those. But the way he was used was specific to those teams and their offensive and special teams systems. That’s how we looked at it defensively.
Q: Are there examples of times in your career where you’ve evaluated a player and thought of him as a product of the system that he’s in and that there could actually be more to him and his skill set?
BB: Yeah, I’d say it happens all the time. It happens every year. For whatever reason, players are in different systems and you look at it and you feel like in your system it might be a little better fit than where he was somewhere else. That’s not a criticism of anywhere else or anything else. It’s just, I’m sure the teams look at some of our players the same way and it’s the same thing in the draft. Yeah, I think it’s very common to see a player in another scheme or another system and you picture him in your system and you maybe see a little more productive player than what you see somewhere else. I think that’s fairly common, I would think, with every team I’ve ever been on, or every team I’ve ever coached, including as an assistant coach.
Q: I’m sure there are times where it works the opposite way, correct? Have you brought in a player and realized perhaps why he wasn’t performing that way with his previous team?
BB: Well, that area is a very inexact science – drafting and acquiring players and so forth. Until you actually get them in the system it’s a little bit of a projection and there are hits and there are misses. I think that’s true with every team. I haven’t seen the team yet that’s hit on all of them.
Q: What went into the decision to limit the special teams exposure for Cordarrelle Patterson and play him strictly on offense through the first two preseason games?
BB: Right. Again, all of the things that we do in preseason games are based on a combination of factors and we put it all together and do what we feel is best. That’s an individual player, the unit that he’s in, what he’s done on the practice field, who the other people are that are involved and what’s best for the team. When you combine all of those things, that’s what leads to most of the decisions in preseason games and so forth. Not all games go the same way. Sometimes you play more of a particular type of play or maybe more offense or more defense in the game based on that individual game. Then those things don’t always work out evenly or the way you planned them or the situations don’t come up like you would think they might normally would. They come up a little bit differently so then that skews what the opportunities are for an individual player, a group of players, a unit and so forth. You just have to do the best you can to try to, as I said, in the end do what’s best for the football team and try to balance all of the other things out. That’s the way it always is. It’s never going to change. That’s what preseason football is in the National Football League. I’ve never treated it any different in any of my years as a head coach. I don’t see how you really can do anything other than that.
Q: Are you at all surprised about how athletic Ja’Whaun Bentley is and how well he has performed in pass coverage?
BB: No, I wouldn’t say so. He was a four-year starter at a Big Ten school. There’s a lot of good players in that conference. You can watch the guy play for four years. No, I wouldn’t say it’s a big surprise.
Q: What kind of range has Bentley exhibited out there on the field moving across the field?
BB: Yeah, Ja’Whaun’s done a good job for us in all areas. He has good size. He plays with good power. We saw him make a couple of tackles the past two weeks on the goal line or in close quarters, and played with good power against blockers, and runners, and short-yardage and goal line situations. He’s been in space. He’s a very instinctive player. He finds the ball and has good awareness of the ball, the receiver, the route the guy is running and so forth. He learns every day. He’ll learn every week. There’s still a lot of things that he needs to see and he needs to work on, but he’s getting better every day. He’s a very intelligent player with good football instincts and a good background. He can handle the communication, and signal calling and adjustments that come with playing the position that he plays, which is generally right in the middle of the defense where a lot of things can happen. But he see’s things well and can sort them out and make good pre-snap decisions and make good post-snap decisions and make them quickly. Those all play to his advantage.
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