PATRIOTS DEFENSIVE BACK DEVIN McCOURTY
September 20, 2018
Q: Is there a mindset you guys have or a switch you flip for the practice week after a loss?
DM: I think it’s just a bad taste in your mouth. I think it’s like – I don’t feel like we’re probably different than any other team. If you go out there and you don’t perform the way you want and you lose, it’s – you want to get back out there, you want to play right away and you can’t. But the one thing you can do is go out there and prepare and make sure you play better that next week. I think it’s always been that sense of urgency around here. It doesn’t even need to be said. I think guys understand how to approach the week and make sure we go out there and we play better than we played last week.
Q: Is it good to have Cyrus Jones back?
DM: Yeah. When I walked in, I saw him in the cafeteria and just started smiling. His locker was right by mine when he got here as a rookie, so just continuing to talk to him and trying to encourage him and have leadership, to me, more than just as a football player and a corner but like as a guy who’s been in the league now my ninth year — even when he left and went to Baltimore, texting him, seeing how he was doing. It was a good feeling to see him come back in here.
Q: We saw him running a little bit with the safeties in practice today.
DM: I don’t know what you’re talking about. I didn’t see anybody doing anything but myself.
Q: So, there wasn’t a ‘41’ in your group?
DM: I didn’t see anything but myself playing safety.
Q: What kind of problems does Golden Tate present, particularly with yards after catch?
DM: He’s a running back once he gets the ball in his hands. [He has been] that way since 2010, whether it’s a tear screen outside, whether it’s an under-route, an over-route, catching the ball in the middle of the field — great vision, good balance, breaks tackles, stiff-arm. He’s really a running back when he gets the ball. I think he has all of those traits. So, [he is] a very tough guy in space, and obviously he’s a really good receiver going vertical or going anywhere on the field. So, tough guy and I think the toughest part about all of the receivers is they line up everywhere. It’s not – even though Golden Tate plays inside a lot, it’s not like you can come out and say you know, “Marvin Jones is on the left, [Kenny] Golladay on the right, Tate inside.” You know these guys will be anywhere throughout the game, so that makes it tougher to kind of know where they’re at and cover them as well.
Q: What’s your opinion on Josh Gordon and the fact that his locker is right next to Tom Brady’s? What can he bring to this team?
DM: That’s a lot of, “I don’t know’s.” I don’t – he’s only been here for I think two days now so I wouldn’t say I can formulate an opinion on him. But, we all know he’s a good player. Excited to have him here and he seems excited to get to work. We’ll see how it all shakes out.
Q: Is the biggest challenge with the Lions their downfield passing game with the combination of Golden Tate, Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones?
DM: Oh, no doubt about it. I think you play against a team with these three types of receivers that can obviously get behind you, catch the deep ball but they can run away from you and score. And, you look behind center and there’s one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL. It’s just a tough offense to play against. I think quite naturally everyone talks about their pass game, but I mean, we’re all really familiar with LeGarrette [Blount] and what he brings in the running game and then [Kerryon] Johnson. I think the biggest thing in the pass game — once you add [Theo] Riddick, there’s a lot of threats out on the field, I think in all areas of the field. That makes them extremely difficult to try to go out there and shut down for four quarters.
Q: What are the keys to improving in covering running backs and the ways teams are now using them to get the matchups they want?
DM: Yeah, it’s tough. I think we get good practice because we see it every day with James [White] having that ability. You know, to have a guy – I guess James, Rex [Burkhead] and Sony [Michel] – of these guys who are running backs but once – whether it’s a check-down, whether it’s a designed play for them, they’re receivers once they get out of the backfield. So, it’s difficult. Sometimes they get the matchup they want, other times you try to get a safety or a defensive back on them, but to try to map that out each time is what brings difficulty to the defense. Sometimes they get an advantage a little bit with the matchup. I think the biggest thing is we have to know what defense we’re in, where’s your help, how to play that defense effectively, whether it’s a running back out of the backfield or a guy in the slot — like we have to just know what we’re in and do a good job of that.
Q: Are you seeing more offenses turn to that and use running backs as a passing option?
DM: Yeah, I think throughout every team you can find different styles of running backs, and I think that’s really taken over the league. There’s not many teams that have one guy, the Le’Veon Bell’s, the David Johnson’s, and even they have — obviously you see with James Connor, another really good back. But, a lot of these teams have guys that can hurt you multiple different ways. And, it’s not just one guy being a workhorse, but it’s three or four guys that you have to know each time one’s in the game, or what is he really good at, what are his type of plays. So, it forces the defense to think about something else which makes it hard to play defense. But, I think you have to have awareness, watch film and know what those guys are trying to do.
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Q: Were you impressed with the resiliency of the Lions in that they got blown out the first week by the Jets and last week they were down and came back to score two touchdowns?
DM: Yeah, but it wasn’t surprising. If you watched the first game, it was tied up in the third quarter. It was a seven-point game, I think all the way down to eight or seven minutes in the third quarter. It was – really when you watch that game, it’s like four bad plays that turned the game around, so I didn’t think like, “Hey, this is some team that’s not going to win a game this year.” Obviously, we know who their head coach is, we know each week they’re going to go out there and play hard, play to the end of the game, so that didn’t really surprise me. They’re a good football team. They have really talented veteran players, so I know we’ll get their best shot at home, Sunday Night Football. It’ll be a tough environment to go play in.
Q: The internal challenges this defense faces right now –
DM: As far as? Like personnel?
Q: To not have Trey Flowers and Patrick Chung, and the struggles you guys had getting off the field on third down last week?
DM: That sounds like week-to-week in the NFL.
Q: Brian Flores mentioned earlier this week that the defense is working through adversity right now.
DM: I feel like here in New England, unless you play offense, there’s always adversity. We’re never good on defense. So, I always take that as, you go out there, you get better, you go play. I mean, we’ve won Super Bowls and still haven’t been good on defense. So, I always think it is what it is.
Q: That’s not the public talking though, that’s your coach.
DM: You mean public as like –
Q: As in Brian Flores said, “We’re working through adversity right now.”
DM: Oh yeah, I’m just saying my opinion. I’m not disagreeing or agreeing with Flo [Brian Flores] but that’s my opinion.
Q: Is there a trick to winning on the road or trying to win on the road?
DM: I think here, the coaches and Bill’s [Belichick] mentality of making it as much the same as when we’re home — whether that’s eating at the same time, how we do our meetings — I think doing that kind of – obviously it’s different but it kind of gives you a feeling of, “Alright, even though we’re on the road, we know the routine. We know exactly what we’re going to do.” And I think that allows you to just focus and go play football. I think that helps us, but for the most part, you have to go do it. Right now, we’re not a good road team. We’re 0-1 on the road. I don’t think we can speak about what’s been done in the past. We have to go try to become a good road team.
Q: Is it tough being on defense here, where maybe you sometimes feel like you’re second fiddle when you have an offense like you do?
DM: No, we play in the NFL. I wouldn’t say anything’s tough. Most of us grew up dreaming of playing in the NFL, so if you’re going home at night and you’re mad because you’ve got Tom Brady on the other side, you’re doing something wrong mentally.
Q: Will you go out of your way to say anything to Matt Patricia before the game Sunday?
DM: Yeah, I’ll say hi.
Q: Have you talked to him at all or texted him?
DM: No, I haven’t. But, yeah, I’ll say hi. We’re not like enemies. I don’t hate him.
Q: Is there something unorthodox about Matthew Stafford’s game in that he can throw from different angles, he’s mobile, he takes some chances at times?
DM: I think you said it all. He’s mobile to move around in the pocket, move out of the pocket, usually not looking to move out of the pocket and then run, looking to try to get one of those crazy angles for him to deliver the ball, usually 40 to 50 yards downfield. I think the crazy thing watching him on film is some of the holes he gets the ball in. Whether he looks a safety off that’s in robber coverage and right by end-cut, but he looks them off, you take half-a-step the wrong way, he fires the ball in the other way. [He is] very talented and I think his arm strength is unbelievable. But, he’s also not a guy that’s just going to sit in the middle of the pocket at, let’s say eight yards deep, and just stand there for the whole game. He’s mobile enough to move around and hurt you. [It is a] tough task to play against, and I think that’s why he’s one of the top quarterbacks.
Q: Eric Rowe talked yesterday about the touchdown he gave up against the Jaguars. Sometimes we see things unfold on the field that look like major issues. When you get in the film room, has experience taught you that often it’s the subtle things that may appear as significant?
DM: Yeah, I think playing defensive back, especially when you’re talking about downfield throws, you want to give yourself an opportunity to make a play at the end of the down. You’ll see it all the time, like you can play great on the line of scrimmage and you don’t finish down the field. You can play bad at the line and then finish down the field. So, I think when you’re up there, you always want to give yourself an opportunity to go make a play down the field, and that’s why Eric Rowe’s been a good player for us. He goes out there and he does that. If he doesn’t, he goes and learns from it, so I think E-Rowe has been a younger guy that’s kind of now turning into a veteran that we rely on. I’m not surprised that he’s able to watch and assess his game and decide what he needs to do next time.
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