HC Freddie Kitchens conference call with Patriots media (10.23.19)
Q: What were your impressions of the Patriots defense Monday night?
FK: Unbelievable. They kept the pressure on all night. They were able to have success early and what they did – any time you get a shutout in this league, it’s pretty remarkable.
Q: How do you prepare a young quarterback for the disguised looks the Patriots use?
FK: Well, I think you just have to study film with him. You see what they’re going to do, or what you think they’re going to do. But, I think you have to have a base of understanding of your process and sometimes you just go play the game and you go with what you see. You make sure your eye’s in the right spot and know how you react to what they do. That’s the best-case scenario.
Q: What type of player are the Patriots getting in Mohamed Sanu, and how do you prepare for a guy like that?
FK: Well, I think he’s an excellent player. He played in some big games for Atlanta and was very productive for them for a long time. So, it just adds to the weapons that they can use, and of course we’ve got to account for him also, along with everyone else.
Q: What’s the benefit of having a bigger, physical slot receiver?
FK: Making tough catches is always the first thing you think of – contested catches. A lot of times in this league, that separates the good receivers from the ones that are just out there playing is the ones that can make the contested catches, because if you cover them the way you’d like to cover them, there’s always going to be contested catches. Defensively, New England does a lot of things – keeps them in man coverage, things like that – that makes you make contested catches.
Q: How would you assess Baker Mayfield’s performance thus far this year?
FK: I think he would be the first to tell you it’s not good enough. But, overall as a team, we haven’t played good enough. We expect a lot more out of ourselves. As long as we just keep getting better each and every week – we’ll see where we’re at the end, but everybody needs to do their job and everybody needs to play better.
Q: What have you seen from Jamie Collins this year?
FK: Well, he’s very active. Jamie’s a good football player. He’s physical, he can rush the passer. He’s very versatile; he can cover, he can rush, he can play the run. So, Jamie’s a good player. Jamie’s been a good player for a long time.
Q: Is he doing things in New England that you didn’t see from him in Cleveland?
FK: Well, I wasn’t with him but last year, so I don’t want to get into that too much. I just know that Coach [Bill] Belichick and those guys put him in great situations, and they put all their guys in good situations to succeed. Once you do that, you have to have a player that is able to physically and skillset-wise hold up and make it work, and Jamie’s definitely one of those guys.
Q: Does Stephon Gilmore change your game plan on getting Odell Beckham Jr. involved?
FK: Well, you’ve got to have a plan for several different things, and I think we just want the best out of Odell. We’ll continue to try to put him in spots and positions to make plays, and hopefully he makes them.
Q: What do you see when you look at Stephon Gilmore on tape this season?
FK: Well, he attacks the football. He plays the football. You have to finish catches with him because he gets the ball out. Even when you’ve caught the ball, he’ll attack your arm. He plays tight coverage and then he competes for the football, so that’s a great combination for a defensive back.
Q: How important has Myles Garrett been for your defense, and how much fun are you having coaching him?
FK: Myles is a good dude to be around. He comes to work every day; he wants to be good. He practices the way he wants to be and become, and I think it’s just – Myles is still a young guy, so the ceiling is definitely up for Myles, and he’s going to continue to get better and better. I’m pleased with what he’s done so far this year, but I continue to want more out of him, and I think he wants more out of himself.
Q: You were in Arizona when Justin Bethel was there. What did you learn about him from being around him for that stretch of time?
FK: His size and his speed, the combination, and his ability to get down the field and be physical at the point of attack. His instincts on special teams is second-to-none, and Justin’s a very good player. They’ve got a hell of a player with him.
Q: When he came into the league, was that something you guys saw right away, or was that developed over time?
FK: He was a good player right from the very beginning on special teams, and he was more of a developmental guy at the corner position. I think he’s come along a little bit in that area, but he makes his living in special teams and he’s one of the best special teams guys in the league.
Q: How do you account for the Patriots’ willingness to run quarterback sneaks in short yardage situations?
FK: Well, I mean, the quarterback sneak, if you’re willing to do it, is one of the more successful plays if it’s inside the certain range that you like to run the quarterback sneak. So, it’s hard to defend. You just try to knock the line back and see where it falls, but you have to make sure you’re gap-stable. But also, if they pitch it outside, you’ve got to be able to defend that as well. So, there’s only so much you can do, so if you’re willing to do it, it’s usually successful.
Q: With how well the Patriots defense has performed to this point in the season, do you feel like you need address and remove any mystique surrounding them with your offense?
FK: Well, I think they have television sets and guys these days are all on the internet and stuff like that, so they’re well aware. I’m not going to try to fool them to think that, you know, we’re going in to play a normal team. We’re not going to play a normal team; we’re going in to play the New England Patriots. They do a good job coaching, they do a good job playing, they do a good job doing their job, and anytime that happens, you’re not going to go in and they’re not going to beat themselves. So, it’s very difficult to play against teams like that because their mistakes are going to be very limited. You have to make sure you don’t beat yourself and make them beat you. And going back to the quarterback sneak, I do think there’s a technique to it from a quarterback position, and I think Tom’s [Brady] one of the best to ever play the game in that area.
Q: How were your sneaks, Freddie?
FK: I did mine more with power, not with technique. So, mine were pretty good. It’s just, you just lean on them and they kind of move back.