PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
September 19, 2018
BB: So, we’re still working through some transactions on the team, so we’ll have those for you when we start practice. We should have them by then. So, on Detroit, this is a team that’s a very explosive team. Obviously, we have quite a bit of familiarity with Bob [Quinn] and Matt [Patricia] and several other people out there, players as well. But, there’s quite a bit of continuity from what they did last year with their kicking game and offense, the coordinators and some of the schemes that they’re using defensively, things are a little bit different – similar, obviously, to what we did, but certainly not the same. I think that we can – you can definitely see how competitive the Lions were last week. With the interception that got called back, that would have obviously changed that game around. A tough, competitive team, very explosive, can score in a hurry, in the kicking game, offensively and turn the ball over on defense. So, they were very good at that last year, and obviously start off with that type of play against the Jets. We’ve got a lot of work to do on this team, and so we’ll start working our way through it here today. We’re going to have to do a good job offensively of identifying the many variables that Matt will put in front of us, and defensively, in the kicking game, defending two of the most explosive groups that we’ll face all year. So, those will both be challenges for us this week.
Q: So, when you say you’re still working through some transactions, we should not ask about Josh Gordon?
BB: You can ask. I can’t – we’ll talk about it when it’s done, if it’s done, when it’s done.
Q: So, that transaction is not yet done even though it was on the wire yesterday?
BB: That’s correct.
Q: What is still pending in the process?
BB: The finish of the trade.
Q: What’s the last step that has to be made so it’s done?
BB: I guess it has to be finalized, Tom [Curran]. I guess that would do it.
Q: I’ll sign off on it.
BB: That’s one of the key steps we’ve been waiting for. I’ll make sure everybody knows that. Maybe that can expedite it by a few minutes.
Q: Can we ask you generally about Gordon as a player previously?
BB: No, I’m not going to talk about players that are not actually, I would say, on our roster totally. So, when that happens, it happens, if it happens.
Q: Since the trade was on the wire, wasn’t it finalized?
BB: There are terms that have to be met before the trade is finalized, and when those are completed, then we’ll have a completed trade. And, until they’re completed, then I’m not going to get into it.
Q: Did you have a chance to meet with Gordon?
BB: Any other questions?
Q: What kind of similarities do you see between what Matt’s running on defense in Detroit and what you guys do here?
BB: Yeah, there are similarities. There are different players and there are differences. You know, Matt’s had six games out there. He had a lot of games here. So, the volume, the things that have been shown out here relative to what we have done here over that period of time – Matt did here – is quite different. Does he have those things? Yeah. Is he capable of doing them? Yes. Have they all been done? Not to this point. Will they? I don’t know. So, you know, we’ll figure that out.
Q: Were you encouraged by the progress you saw from Cyrus Jones in training camp, and was getting rid of him during roster cut downs a numbers game at that point?
BB: Yeah, again, we’ll defer those questions to players that are actually on the roster at this point.
Q: At what point could you tell that Matt Patricia would become a head coach?
BB: Yeah, look, those aren’t my decisions. We have a lot of good coaches on our staff. I’ve had a lot of good coaches on my staff. What other organizations do is their decision, not mine, so I can’t speak for them. I mean, you should ask that question to the people in the Lions organization.
Q: What do you think makes Matt a good coach?
BB: Yeah, I’ve talked about Matt extensively. I mean, he’s a smart guy who works hard, passion for football, all those things. I mean, we’ve gone on and on about him. None of it’s changed.
Q: How dangerous of a downfield passer is Matthew Stafford?
BB: As good as there is in football. He’s got great weapons. He does an excellent job of seeing down the field in all situations. No matter how much pressure he’s under, he seems to find guys down there. Sometimes it appears that they’re covered, but he can put the ball where [Marvin] Jones in particular, but also [Kenny] Golladay, can go up and make plays on the ball. He’s very accurate and he’s got a strong arm. He can stand in there and make those throws, with or without a rush, in or out of the pocket, stationary or on the run. He’s extremely dangerous – one of the very best in the league for sure.
Q: With Patricia as your defensive coordinator, there were times were the defense got off to a slow start, statistically speaking at least. Here he is with an 0-2 start to his season. What qualities in those slow starts here has he shown as he brought the team back around, which in some cases ended with a trip to the Super Bowl?
BB: Yeah, again, Matt’s a good coach. He does an excellent job in all areas, a very competitive coach.
Q: The Lions have eight sacks through the first two games. What have you seen from their front seven?
BB: Again, team defense. They have very good coverage players, they have good pass rushers and they have multiple variations in their scheme that make it hard for quarterbacks to find open receivers. They do a good job disguising and mixing up their coverages and the looks and the leverage that they play on different patterns and receivers. So, all those lead to problems in the passing game.
Q: How important is special teams this weekend and has the unit improved from Week 1?
BB: It’s important every week, of course. I’d say this week, you’re talking about a team that led the league in punt returns last year. They had a touchdown called back on punt return last week against San Francisco. [Jamal] Agnew is a very, very explosive returner. He’s dangerous with his speed, his ability to break tackles, his vision, and they do an excellent job. Coach [Joe] Marciano, who I’ve known for a long time, does an excellent job in the return game. They always have. It’s been a big emphasis point for them, and at the same time, they do a good job of pressuring the punter and pressuring the field goal kicker and blocking kicks and forcing issues in protection that delay you from – on punts, for sure – of getting downfield and covering. They do a good job on kickoff returns with their blocking patterns and their variations and they have an excellent returner. So, yeah, all those things are a big problem.
Q: Can you talk about the game Ryan Allen had last week?
BB: Yeah, I mean, look, we’ve had our moments. There are things we need to be better at in every phase – all the six phases of the kicking game – and this will be a big week for it. And we can’t afford to – it doesn’t take much for the Lions to turn those little opportunities into big plays, so we’re going to have to really be on top of it from an execution standpoint, not only with our specialists but all of our core players and also good awareness to the schemes that they run and, again, how dangerous they are with them. I mean, they block kicks, they return them, they do an excellent job in coverage, they have some penetrators that are very disruptive players and they have good specialists. So, it will be a good challenge for us.
Q: Are you continuing to see improvement from Jason McCourty as he gets more comfortable in the system?
BB: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, he had a good amount of playing time last week. I thought he did a really solid job for us. He’s been able to fulfill a number of roles, both defensively and in the kicking game. He has good versatility, he’s a smart guy, has a lot of experience, so those are all positives.
Q: I don’t think he’s played a ton of special teams in recent years, so how have you seen him adjust and take on that role?
BB: Yeah, well, again, we’ve talked about this before, but we have 66 players that play on the primary special teams units, and then there’s another 66 that have to back them up in one form or another. So, maybe you don’t see it, which I understand, but there are a lot of positions that have to be backed up in the kicking game. There are a lot of positions that have to be backed up in multiple defensive and offensive packages, and so players that can do that give you a lot of value and give you the ability to do the things that you do because you have people that you can replace them with, even if it’s one person that might replace 10 different spots when you add all the teams together. But, without that person, then that affects a lot of other things. So, again, it’s not always how many plays a player actually participates in – that could vary depending on one injury or one sprained ankle, one equipment problem, one anything – but from a functional standpoint, going into a game and preparing for a game and the week of preparation for a game, having those players that allow you to have that type of continuity are important to the team’s success. Sometimes it goes unseen or maybe even unspoken, but it’s certainly an appreciation that is important. So, that’s the way I would put it.
Q: A biography on you is coming out this month and you didn’t participate. I’m curious why?
BB: Because I don’t have anything to do with it. I’m focused right now on Detroit, the 2018 football season. I’d like to try to do a good job on that.
Q: I remember in 2004 or 2005, it was reported widely that you were about to sign Jamal Anderson. That ended up not happening. So when you say you’re not talking about Gordon until it’s finalized, I understand where you’re coming from. Is that more related to why you don’t want to talk about this transaction or because you don’t want the conversation about him?
BB: If and when it happens, I’m happy to talk about it. It’s not completed. So, I don’t understand how we don’t understand that. When it’s completed, it’s completed. If it’s not completed, it’s not completed. And right now, it’s not completed. So, next question.
Q: The reason we don’t understand is because we’ve been out there talking about it for three days and everyone thinks it’s happening, but the person that matters says it’s not.
BB: I’m not saying it’s not going to happen, I’m just saying it’s not completed. It’s a process, and when we’re through with the process, then great. We’re in another situation. Right now, we’re not through the process.
Q: Is this more of an indictment on some of the wide receivers that you have or a testament to the hypothetical opportunity of bringing Gordon in here?
BB: I’d say neither.
Q: How difficult is it to replace a player like Patrick Chung in situations like Sunday?
BB: Yeah, Pat’s a versatile player. He does a lot of things and sometimes when a player has that much versatility for you, there’s two or three people that would fill that role between, in his case, defense and the kicking game, or for an offensive player, offense and the kicking game if the player has multiple roles in both units. So, yeah, it’s unlikely that you have – look, we’re fortunate that we have one Pat Chung. To have two Pat Chung’s would be pretty much impossible, so it would be multiple people to do all the things that he does. And, we have a number of other players like that. I mean, I’d say every team in the league has players like that that are guys that there’s just – teams have one of those players, and if he’s not there, you just don’t have another one like that.
Q: What’s the challenge of getting Golden Tate on the ground?
BB: Very challenging. Golden’s excellent with the ball in his hands. He’s good without the ball in his hands, too. He gets open a lot, runs very good routes, he’s a hard guy to cover, but then once he touches the ball, he’s strong, he runs through contact, he’s fast, he’s quick, he changes directions well and he has good vision, so he sees openings and space in the field from his punt return background, kick return background and so forth. When he gets the ball, he can get into those spaces, and he runs through tackles. He has good balance. So, yeah, all those – I mean, Jones does it, too, Golladay, obviously the backs. They have a lot of good run-after-catch players, yards-after-contact players. The backs are good, Tate’s good, Jones is good, too. His quick screens, plays like that, it looks likely to gain 2 or 3 yards, he ends up with 15. So, that’s a big challenge. It’s not just covering him but getting him on the ground.
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