Patriots HC Bill Belichick conference call (10.22.19)

Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick:

On what the game against the Browns mean to him personally, given his experience in Cleveland:

“I know it is a big game for our football team. That is No. 1. Like I do every week,  I want to try to prepare our team do the best job I can to give the players an opportunity to play competitively against a good football team. The Browns have a lot of explosive players in all three phases of the game. They make a lot of big plays. They are very disruptive on defense, and pretty much everybody on offense can hit the homerun from anywhere on the field. They are a really tough team to prepare for on a short week. We have a lot of work to do. It will be a big, big challenge for us. (General Manager) John Dorsey is really accumulating a lot of high-level talent all the way across the board. This is really a game about these two teams. I do not see it as an individual thing.”


On QB Baker Mayfield and challenges defending Mayfield:

“Baker is a really smart player, has a lot of talent, can make all the throws and has a terrific arm. Tough, has taken some hits and hangs in there. He can make extended plays with his legs to either find more time to throw or scramble for a key first down in the red area on third down and things like that. He is a big threat and a tough guy to handle. He is obviously smart. (Head Coach) Coach (Freddie) Kitchens gives him a lot of latitude at the line of scrimmage to change plays, make adjustments and things like that. You can see he is very much in control of the offense and the line of scrimmage procedure, whatever it is exactly what they are doing. Clearly, he is making good decisions and getting the team into good plays or out of bad ones, however you want to look at it. The execution of the RPO game, things like that have been impressive. Second-year player, he is doing a lot of good things.”


On DE Myles Garrett and his thought process when watching Garrett on film:

“Thinking about I wish we didn’t have to play against him. He is pretty much impossible to block. They put him in a lot of different places so you do not always know where he is going to be, but wherever he is, you better find him and block him or he will ruin the game. Got great power and explosion. Good get off. Very athletic. He is blocked but then he does not stay blocked. He comes free quickly and escapes and gets off blocks. Plays with a lot of power. He is certainly not a finesse player. He is a very explosive, powerful guy that is also athletic enough to do very rare things. He can close ground in a hurry and get off blocks with his strength, quickness, explosiveness  and instincts. He is a smart player. Finds the ball and finds it quickly. He impacts the game defensively. Better be able to handle on their play or he can ruin a game for you.”


On if Patriots WR Josh Gordon is expected to return to practice this week:

“We just got back from New York a few hours ago so we have not practiced yet this week. I do not know the answer to that question. We will have an injury report on Wednesday like we do every week, and that injury report will be based on what his practice participation availability is. We will see what that is when we get to Wednesday.”


On if he and Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniel are almost on ‘auto-pilot’ given their time together and preparing during a short week:

“Certainly, Josh and I have a lot of experience together, and I am very fortunate to have him as a member of the staff. Josh does a great job in every area, whether it is personnel evaluation, game planning, game management and so forth. He is an excellent teacher. He has a great knowledge of the game not just from an offensive standpoint but from a total team standpoint. Has a good perspective as a former head coach and some of the other dynamics that go into the bigger picture of the team, not just the offensive part of it, which obviously he does a great job there too. No, I do not think anything is automatic in this league. I think every week its own challenge. It is its own game. I do not think that we could assume that anything is going to be like it was last week because it is a totally different team, different players and different schemes. It is totally different. This week is this week, and last week was last week. I do not see a big correlation between the two. If you watch the games in the National Football League, it is about what you see every week anyway. One team looks great one week and looks different the next week. I do not really care what happened last week or some other week. We have five days now to really do our best to prepare for a very good Browns team that has had extra time to prepare. They have already practiced for us. We have not even game planned for them yet so they are way ahead of us. We have a lot of work to do. They are extremely well coached and have a lot of great players. A big challenge for us.”


On challenges WR Odell Beckham Jr. presents:

“Kind of the same conversation we had with Garrett on the other side of the ball. He is a game-breaker from any place on the field. Very hard to tackle. You  saw the play against the Jets where he took an RPO, a slant or seam route and goes 90 yards for a touchdown. He can score from anywhere on the field running by you and making acrobatic catches or catching a short pass and breaking tackles getting through the defense that way. He is another player that has been moved into some different locations, formationally so  you do not always know exactly where he is going to be. Coach Kitchens and their offensive coaches do a great job of not only moving him around but moving other players offensively into different locations so you just defensively are challenged to first of all find where the great players are and then secondly to be able to defend them. That is a big challenge, but he is a dynamic player, and we have played against him before. He is a tough guy to handle. I have a ton of respect for him as a football player. It is a good receiving group. (WR Jarvis) Landry is certainly another highly targeted player and certainly you can’t have a conversation about the Browns offensively without talking about (RB Nick) Chubb. That guy is a really impressive player every time he touches the ball which is a lot. Mayfield and you have all three tight ends, a couple other receivers that they roll in there. It is a lot to get ready for and it this very experienced offensive line, guys who have played together. This is a very solid group.”


On his appointment to the NFL committee to select the special centennial Hall of Fame class:

“I thought it was a great honor to be asked to do that. I have so much respect for the National Football League and all of the great people that have made this league what it is. I have been around for not quite half of it but close. I have been fortunate to be around, compete against, be on the same team as and observe many of the great people in this game so I was honored to be asked to do that. I will give my best and honest input when I am asked to do it. That is what I will do.”


On reports that the Patriots traded for Falcons WR Mohamed Sanu:

“No, nothing is official. I would not able to talk about a player who is not officially on our roster.”


On if there is a point during the season where he has the sense his team will be playing in championship games and if this is one of those teams:

“Right now we are just worried about the Browns. We are not really worried about anything else that happened before or some part of the future. I do not really care about any of that right now. Look, we have a lot of work to do on the Browns. They are a really good football team. They are well coached. They have great personnel. They are a very explosive team so we are just going to concentrate on that and not worry about some other year or some other game or whatever it is. It is not really important right now.”


On Patriots LB Jamie Collins Sr.’s season:

“Jamie has done a great job for us. He is a versatile player, as we all know. He can do a lot of different things. He has made tackles. He has rushed the passer. He has turned the ball over, intercepted passes and been around the ball a lot. An excellent communicator. He does a great job of coordinating and organizing a lot of the things we do defensively, especially when he is in the middle – on the outside some, too, but particularly in the inside spots with some of our other linebackers. He is able to play at the end of the line and inside. He has helped on in the kicking game. He has done a nice job for us on special teams when we have asked him to do that. He is very explosive, powerful guy who is very athletic, smart and instinctive. He has a really good understanding of our system and has been great with some of our younger players and guys with less experienced. Even though he was not here, a lot of the things we were doing or the things we did before, his experience and confidence level in doing those has been very impressive.”


On P Jamie Gillan:
“He is a weapon. He is definitely a weapon. I did not know much about Gillan, but this guy can change field position. The Browns special teams, (RB Dontrell) Hilliard is an explosive returner and you have to be ready to cover him all of the time. He is aggressive, fast, breaks tackles and runs hard. They have a lot of good core coverage players on their team and are solid all of the way through. They are aggressive. They do not always punt on fourth down so you have to be ready to defend their offensive unit being on the field in those situations. Coach Kitchens is very aggressive there. They are a good return team, and they are a good coverage team.”


On the Patriots defense recording 18 interceptions through seven games and the impact of those turnovers:

“It is really about team defense. You have probably seen some of them. There have been times where the quarterback is under pressure or the ball has been tipped and something happened to create those opportunities. We have a very instinctive group of players that make good decisions in coverage and reading the quarterback and making plays on the ball. We have done a great job of catching the ball and made some catches that sometimes defensive backs do not always make. We are always trying to turn the ball over. Those are the big plays in a game. Our secondary has done a great job of finishing those plays. That has been a big key for us, no doubt. Gives our offense good field positions. We have been able to score a couple of times on defense and a couple times in the kicking game so those extra points that you get from your defense and special teams unit are not ones you can really count on, but they are certainly nice to see. The players deserve all of the credit. They are the ones making all of the plays, and they work hard to prepare and make them. They come through in games and have done that.”


On typically having a smaller coaching staff compared to most NFL teams:
“I would say for me, it has worked better to have… It is harder to get a lot of people, the more people you have, the harder it is to get everyone on the same page. I think our overall communication and ability to get everyone saying the same thing as much as possible – even though if we all say the same thing, it comes out a little bit differently because we all have our way of presenting it. We trying to get everybody on the same page. It is a lot easier to do when you have fewer people. It is easier to develop that kind of consistency. As you know, we have lost a lot of people off of our staff since I have been here at various positions, whether it be in personnel, coaching staff, offense, defense, special teams, scouts and so forth. We have a number of young people on our staff that kind of bumps the number up a little bit, probably more than what it really needs to be, but those guys are important because if we lose people, like historically we have, then they are a lot more ready to contribute than somebody coming in new trying to learn the system. That is kind of how we have operated, and it has worked fairly well for us. There is always room for improvement, but I am very fortunate to have a great staff and have a bunch of hard-working guys. Like you said, most of them are from Ohio. I do not know if that is coincidental or not, but in any case, they work hard, they do a good job, they work well with each other and communicate well with the team. We will find out where we are this week. It should be a tough week for us.”


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