Patriots HC Bill Belichick
BB: That was, again, I thought a real good effort by our team today coming off the short week. Those guys did a really good job getting ready for the game. I thought we were able to start fast, play with good tempo early, three turnovers in three plays was pretty good there for the defense. I thought we played well in the kicking game, had a couple of good field-position plays, a good hit on punt coverage, almost got another ball out and made some big plays offensively, a couple of big pass plays down the field to Phil [Dorsett], the screen pass. We were able to play from ahead in this game which was a good thing. These guys really ground it out this week. Like I said, had a good week of preparation. I thought we were well prepared for the game, played a tough game. Cleveland’s a very explosive team and they certainly gave us some problems on both sides of the ball. In the end, the turnovers and our ability to capitalize on those was really good and kind of the difference really. A great play by [Dont’a] Hightower coming out on the strip fumble and [Kyle] Van Noy played that play well, so it was good team defense. It’s good to be 8-0. I know the Ravens have been off for a couple of weeks so I’m sure they’ll be ready to go. It’ll be tough next week but good to get this one.
Q: You just won your 300th game but how quickly do you try and move on to focus on No. 301?
BB: Yeah, pretty quick. It’s a great privilege to coach this team and to coach the guys that I’ve coached throughout my career. Fortunately, I didn’t play in any of those games. That’s a good thing for us, but I’ve had a lot of good players, a lot of great players and they’re the ones that win the games. I’ve had a lot of great assistant coaches on my staff through the wins at Cleveland and certainly here. I was a part of those but, honestly, players win games in this league and I’ve been fortunate that I’ve coached a lot of great ones.
Q: What’s your emotion on a day like this following your 300th win? You’ve noted before that you’re not an easy guy to play for and that there are a lot of demands, so do you take any particular type of emotion into thought here in light of this accomplishment?
BB: Yeah, I mean, look, it’s always good to win. It’s good to beat Cleveland. It’s good to beat anybody. It’s a tough league to win in, so I’m proud of what the guys did, proud of what this team accomplished today, but we’ve got bigger goals ahead. We know the Ravens are going to be tough next week. They don’t care about this game or what I did or what anybody else did, so we’re going to have to turn the page quickly and move on to Baltimore.
Q: Can you talk about Jonathan Jones and his hustle on the forced fumble in the first quarter?
BB: Yeah, that was a great play. Jon’s really fast. He plays with great effort all of the time and he’s made so many big plays for us in the four years that he’s been here. That was a tremendous play. He just tracked [Nick] Chubb down and timed the slap perfectly. I’m not even sure who got the ball but getting it out was half the battle and then recovering it was the other half of the battle. I thought the defense as a team, our effort and hustle on that play really speaks to the level of commitment that those guys have out there for each other and for the team. When you chase a back like Chubb 50-60 yards downfield, knock the ball out and recover it – it was a huge play. Kind of a demoralizing play, but it ended up being a big play for us. It really just goes to their competitiveness and their effort. It was a great play by Jon.
Q: How did Mohamed Sanu do this week cramming into the playbook and the game plan?
BB: Good. He worked really hard. He spent a lot of extra time with everybody, especially Joe [Judge] and Troy [Brown]. Obviously, Josh [McDaniels], Tom [Brady] and the other receivers, Phil [Dorsett] and Jules [Julian Edelman] and those guys. But he worked hard and I thought he gained a lot of ground on the offense. Hopefully, he’ll be further ahead next week but I’m glad he’s here and hopefully he’ll be able to contribute for us.
Q: Were you proud of the offensive line for their effort tonight despite having some new faces in there?
BB: Yeah, absolutely. That’s a good defensive line right there. They’re good inside and they’re good outside. I’d say great outside, probably as good as anybody we will play, certainly that we have played. They’re tough, but our guys battled in there. It wasn’t perfect but we stood in there and battled with them. James [Ferentz] stepped in for Shaq and that was big for us. Ted [Karras] has done it all year and Marshall [Newhouse] has done it for Isaiah [Wynn]. You’ve got to give those guys a lot of credit. They work hard and they’re tough. They keep fighting. Like I said, it’s not perfect all the time, but it never will be against a defensive line like that. They compete hard.
Q: What did you see on the 59-yard screen play from James White and how big of a call was that from Josh McDaniels?
BB: Yeah, it was a great call. They were in man coverage and the linebacker got picked off going across the field on the screen and James [White] made a great run. We had some good downfield blocking, too, that probably added another 15-20 yards, I don’t know, to it, something like that. It was well executed. We’ve worked hard on the screen game all year and we’ve had some big plays on it. Certainly that was a big one at a key time in the game. It obviously changed the field position. It gave us an opportunity to get ahead early in the game which was good.
Q: How much of an effect did the rain have on the game, and when it rains all day like today how much of a difference is there with a turf field versus a grass field like in Washington or Pittsburgh?
BB: Yeah, I’ll just stick to this field because of what it was today. Because of the rain all afternoon the field was very wet, and I’d say it was slick so footing was a problem. Certainly ball-handling was an issue and it was tough. It was tough in pregame warm-ups. There were a lot of, I’d say, mishandled balls. I noticed some by them, definitely by us. Kicking was an issue. The wind was I think stronger in the first pregame warm-up and part of the first half, maybe first quarter, than it was after halftime. After halftime it really wasn’t bad. It seemed like kind of a light drizzle. The wind kind of died down. I didn’t think it was much of an advantage. It blew more towards our sidelines so that affected the direction of the punting a little bit and kicking, but overall I thought it was minimal in the second half. The first half I thought it was a big factor. It was hard to handle the ball, hard to catch it, hard to tackle. We missed some tackles and it’s always hard to tackle when you’re wet and the guy you’re tackling is wet and especially when he’s a good runner like Chubb, who’s strong and physical and can run through some of those tackles. He did a good job of that. But it was definitely a factor in the game, no question about it.
Q: We know you like to have your best corner cover the opponent’s second-best receiver and then you double team their best receiver. Is that the strategy you employed today with Stephon Gilmore on Odell Beckham Jr. a lot of the time?
BB: Well, each week we game plan our personnel and scheme for our opponents and what we do against one team and what the matchups are and so forth might have a lot to do with who they have and the scheme that they use, and also the type of game plan that we’re going to have as well. We can do that differently. We do do it differently from week to week, or even sometimes within the game depending on what those circumstances are. Steph’s a great competitor. I love Steph. He always wants whatever the biggest challenge is. “Whatever you need me to do, whatever the biggest challenge is, put me on that player and that situation and I’ll give you my best and be ready to go.” I love that about him. He’s very competitive and will take on whatever challenge we want to give him. So will everybody else. They all will. Jason [McCourty] and Jon, J.C. [Jackson] – the whole secondary. But Steph has a lot of confidence, as he should. He’s ready to matchup to anybody we need him to matchup against. I thought he played well today.