Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick Transcript
September 21, 2022
BB: Good afternoon, how we doing? Ravens week. As always, good football team. Steve Bisciotti, Ozzie [Newsome], now [Eric] DeCosta, John Harbaugh, been a while with consistency down there. Put out good teams every year. Well balanced teams, offense, defense, always good on special teams. It’s a big, big, big challenge for us this week. Looking forward to digging into these guys, getting them ready to go on Sunday. I think the Miami game really just showed how explosive they are with the kickoff return, long run, long pass for touchdowns. We know they can score on defense with their ability to create turnovers. One of the best turnover teams within the last, whatever, five, 10, 15 years, whatever you want to track it. Strip sacks, ball hogging guys in the secondary, and an outstanding kick blocking team, field goals and punts and returns. They can really hit you on just about every play if you’re not careful. Got to play a good fundamental game, have to play smart situational game. It’s a physical football team that likes throwing the ball. Compliments that with some explosive pass plays. Obviously, [Mark] Andrews, one of the top guys in the league in his position. Big target, great hands and makes all sorts of plays for them. Had a huge year last year and is building on that this year. Just a well-balanced team. It’s going to take a good effort from everybody all the way across the board to do well Sunday, but that’s what we’re gearing up for.
Q: Bill after starting two weeks on the road, how nice is it to get back at home, normally home schedule and have the fans back here at Gillette Stadium?
BB: Always good to play at home.
Q: Bill, I know it’s only been two games with Mike Macdonald as defensive coordinator there, but any similarities to what the Ravens have been for years? I know he has a Ravens background.
BB: Yeah, he was there for six years.
Q: Pretty similar then?
BB: Yes, pretty similar. Yes, pretty similar. Yes. Obviously Wink [Don Martindale] has put his flavor on it, Mike has put his. Again, it’s two games, so we’ll see how it all plays out with more evidence in, but right now, there’s certainly a lot of carry over from what they’ve done in the past. But, there’s some differences, too. It’s not the same, but it’s similar.
Q: Did you guys do much work on Lamar [Jackson] or get to know him at all in 2018?
BB: Yes, he visited here.
Q: What do you remember about him from that pre-draft process?
BB: Great visit. Spent a lot of time with him. Really interesting guy.
Q: Obviously see him [Lamar Jackson] grow in the league, obviously came in and questions about whether he could be in the pocket. Does it seem as if he’s answered some of these questions?
BB: Without a doubt. It’s the type of the player, the MVP type of candidate. I think he’s more than answered them. But, we’ll see what his contract is, that will answer them.
Q: Bill you had some success against them in 2020, how much does that play a factor into the game planning, do you got back to that and look at some of the ways you’ve had success, particularly Lamar?
BB: I think that game is going to be quite a bit different this time around, for a number of reasons. We’ll look at all our games against them. The 19 game down there, the 20 game, but they’ve had a lot of changes, we’ve had a lot of changes. I think the guys that will be out there on the field for us are quite different than what we had out there in 20. You’re looking at the same thing with the Ravens. They drafted 10 players this year in the first four rounds, so certainly a youth movement there. We’ll look at it. I don’t think it’ll have much bearing on the game.
Q: Bill, when a player makes a play and gets excited, especially a celebration particularly like Nelson [Agholor] on Sunday with the big play before the end of the half, how do you balance encouraging guys to be excited about making a big play and looking back at the play, Nelson did a little ball flip as he crossed the goal line, was that pretty close to one of those DeSean Jackson plays where you let go of the ball before you go into the endzone. How do you balance letting guys celebrate versus ‘hey, you’ve got to take care of the ball.’
BB: Well, I think it’s a lot different when it’s a play that ends — a touchdown or a turnover. That’s a lot different than catching a 20-yard pass and then you have to run another play. It’s not a touchdown. Look we’re all happy when we score. We’re all happy when we turn the ball over. Things like that, the plays that end the series, if you will. There’s a little more time for that, and the players get excited. They should get excited. They’ve worked hard all week, trained hard. Go out there and make a big play, then they should be excited about it. But, when there’s another play to play, I mean you’ve got to keep playing, you don’t get excited until the drive’s over. You finish a drive, no different than sacking a guy on first down, you’ve still got second and third down. We’re not even off the field yet. That all comes with playing the next play. All the other things that come into play, ball security, finishing the play, things around the goal line, possession of the ball around the goal line and all that. We talk about that all the time.
Q: Bill, you referred to [Mark] Andrews, there are multiple tight ends, and also with [Patrick] Ricard in that group-
BB: Well, he’s not a tight end now.
Q: But I’m saying as a big body.
BB: He is a big body. He is a big body.
Q: How do they use those guys to kind of compliment that explosiveness with [Rashod] Bateman, [Devin] Duvernay, some of the other players in terms of the running game but also in the passing game, that physicality with those particular players?
BB: They run the ball and those guys fake the run and then they throw it to [Rashod] Bateman, [Devin] Duvernay and [Mark] Andrews and all their pass players. Miami got hit on a couple plays where there wasn’t a lot of depth on the defense, they split them and went for long yardage. But, they attack the running game very aggressively. It’s really a gap running game with the running back, and obviously the quarterback is a big part of that. Then when teams come up too fast, they either throw it in front of the deep guys or throw it over their head, depending how deep the deep guys are or aren’t. I don’t think they’re really looking to get the ball to Rashod [Bateman]a lot. I don’t think they’re necessarily looking to have [Rashod] Bateman in. They’d be a part of the running game, in the box. Those guys compliment each other — more guys come up, more space there is for the speed guys on the back end. The more they stay back, the more space there is for the running game inside. They do a good job at that.
Q: When you see the Ravens’ defense give up 28 points in the fourth quarter to Miami would you expect their defensive game plan to be tightened up preparing for you guys?
BB: I think those are all just one-time plays. I’d be surprised if they happen again.
Q: You’ve faced two tough offenses but there’s only one Lamar Jackson. What’s it like working with Jerod [Mayo] and Steve [Belichick] as they prepare to prepare the defense for this challenge?
BB: There’s challenges every week, but certainly the Ravens have a lot of them. It’s the quarterback, it’s his passing game, the running game, his ability to make loose and extended plays, the explosiveness of their receivers and tights ends and him. So there’s challenges every week. We’ll have to do the best we can to defend those threats and schemes that they run. They have a good balanced scheme. They do a good job at attacking defenses. We know that. So I’m sure they’ll have a good plan for us. We’ll have to be ready to defend the knowns, but also adjust to the unknowns when those show up in the game. So every play is not a gadget play, or something we’ve never seen before. I mean any good team has a core group of plays, and that’s their bread and butter and they have some things to come off of them. It’s important that you’re able to defensively defend all of them. But that’s a lot easier said than done. Those guys have a lot of weapons. They’re well coached. They’re a pretty experienced team, other than the rookie center, but he’s a pretty good player. Played a lot of college football. They have a veteran offensive line, quarterback, skill players. They’re tough, well coached.
Q: Does Lamar [Jackson] remind you of anyone over your years as a coach as a passer and the way he runs?
BB: He’s pretty good. I don’t know. He’s got a lot of talent.
Q: Billy Yates started the game on the sidelines as opposed to up in the booth. Is that a setup you plan on keeping moving forward?
BB: Possibly. We’ll take a look at it.
Q: Why did you make the change?
BB: We thought it was the best thing for the team.
Q: I wanted to ask you about physicality. In the aftermath of the game Nelson [Agholor] talked about wanting to play with an edge. I think he broke a couple of tackles. Jakobi [Meyers] finished a couple of plays at the sticks, close plays that he powered through. Talking to [Matthew] Slater on Monday he said, ‘you want to be the hammer, not the nail.’ How important is that part of the game for you? When you’re saying, ‘hey these are the things we have to do,’ is that at the top of the list pretty much every week?
BB: Yes. Yeah that sums it up. Thank you.
Q: Over the three stints Jamie Collins, what have you liked about him as a player over his time here?
BB: Yeah Jamie’s [Collins] — I love Jamie [Collins]. Great kid. He’s been good for us. Not on the roster.
Q: Jabrill Peppers, how would you characterize his playing style?
BB: We’ll see. I haven’t spent a lot of time with him. He played a little bit in the preseason. Played a little bit these last couple of weeks. I think he’s developing a role and a style in our defense. We’ll see how it all plays out. He’s smart. He’s tough. He’s aggressive. He wants to be involved, but there’s also a level as a defensive back, where you have to have a certain degree of patience and decision making. There’s usually nobody behind you. So it’s a little bit different than when you play nose tackle. There’s some people behind you. That’s not the case when you’re a safety. But he’s a good player. I’m glad we have him. He has some versatility. Really helped us in the kicking game. I think he’ll help us defensively. He’s already helped us. He made a couple of good open field tackles last week. So we’ll see how that builds along.
Q: I think we left some meat on the table with the physicality. Is there anything else you wanted to add to that?
BB: No I’m good. Thank you.
Q: What’s Lil’Jordan [Humphrey] brought that’s allowed him to carve out a little bit of a role here? It seemed like he had some positive impact in the run game the other day.
BB: No doubt. I think some of the toughness that we were talking about. Made a big catch there on that second-and-long that got us into a third-and-short there in the last drive where Mac ended up scrambling. So he’s had a lot of tough yards in preseason. Made some tough catches over the middle. Fought for some extra yardage. Run if they catch with the ball, blocked, played in the kicking game, it’s a big plays for us. In preseason, downing kicks and covering kicks. He’s an interesting guy. Doesn’t really fit a mold for a certain position. But he’s a good football player. So glad we have him.
Q: You’ve talked a lot about 50-50 balls. Kind of going back even to early in camp with DeVante [Parker] and Nelson [Agholor] obviously has a touchdown this past weekend. Have you had to work at all with Mac [Jones] on being more risk tolerant? Maybe throwing to guys who are covered and just trusting that could be a good decision?
BB: I think that’s always a part of any quarterback, receiver, coach passing game conversation. It’s always a conversation, who’s covered, who isn’t? Just because there’s a guy there, depends on the matchup, depends on the pattern, depends on the play. Sometimes it depends on the situation. There are a lot of variables there. We try to talk about them. The quarterback has a split second to make those decisions, and he crosses it and does what he thinks is best.
Q: How difficult is that knowing how much a turnover can swing a game? Just being comfortable with that gamble?
BB: Well again all the things I just said play into it. It would just depend on if it’s a 10-90 gamble, then it’s probably not a good idea. But if it’s a 90-10 gamble, then it probably is a good idea. But there’s all circumstances that play into it. Again all the things I just mentioned.
Q: Has Mac [Jones] gotten better in your opinion year one to year two as far as judging those percentages?
BB: He’s gotten better at a lot of things. But it’s similar to what he dealt with in college. Good receivers at Alabama. There’s some matchups that he took that were good decisions. But again, I think you have to kind of separate out what’s — it’s not all equal. There’s a lot of factors that come into play. I think you have guidelines and then within those guidelines you — the quarterback has to make the decision with the ball in his hands in a short amount of time. I’d say Mac [Jones] does a good job at that.
Q: They use a lot of motion in their running game. What does that challenge the run fits when they add on blockers with the motions?
BB: It’s three weeks in row we’ve seen a lot of that. Miami did a lot of it. Pittsburgh did a ton of it. A combination of misdirection and with all the motion as well. So you have a lot of motion and then you have some kind of hard ball plays. Then you have all that motion. Then you have some misdirection plays to go with it. Play actions to go with it. It really forces a lot of eye discipline for the off-the-ball players, the linebackers and safeties. The guys who are on the ball, they don’t see all of that. They see the blocking scheme in front of them, who’s attacking them, who’s blocking them, and what type of block are they trying to make on them. They react to that. Whether it’s a cut-off block, a reach block, a base block, high arm, whatever it is. They’re really playing the blocker and finding the ball. It’s the guys on the second level, the linebackers, the safeties, could be corners involved, whoever those players are, trying to sort out who’s got who depending on what coverage you’re in. Who’s got who? Do we switch it? Are we locked? Is it a three-man switch? Is it a two-man switch? Who’s got the back after he fakes, after all the crisscrossing happens? Who’s got the quarterback? Just takes a lot of discipline, and I’d say pre-snap communication. So when the ball’s snapped kind of knowing what you’re doing and then recognizing it after the snap. If pre-snap communication is fouled up then it’s hard to get it right. So it starts with that and then everybody has to kind of see it the same way. There’s multiple things to see. Again, you try to set rules, guidelines on how to play those things. They’re not all the same. There’s a difference between a tight end missile motion across, a wide receiver missile motion across, a back missile motion across. Those things are all — the offense does that to try to keep you off-balance and keep the defense confused or hesitant. So they’re kind of the same. They’re not all the same. That’s the idea. But we have to classify the way we classify them. And then again, all see them as they unfold. It’s challenging. The Ravens do a great job with it.
Q: Can you confirm that the team is trading Justin Herron to the Raiders?
BB: No. But when we can, if we can, we will.
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