New England Patriots HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
Friday, September 24, 2021
On Malcolm Jenkins' career:
BB: Tremendous. Tremendous, great career in New Orleans and then Philly and now back to New Orleans. Really one of the better safeties through the years that we've competed against. Fortunately, he's been in the other conference, and we've only seen him a few times, but really does everything well. Very instinctive, smart player that can control the defense. Good tackler. Good cover player. Always around the ball. Really, really good football player. I know he has a lot of positive impact on his teammates and team, and coaches that have coached him just have so many positive things to say about him, so I'm not familiar with that, but just in terms of watching him play, that all comes out. I haven't seen a lot of him, again, fortunately, but when I have, it's all good.
On what stands out about a Sean Payton offense and if he has seen a change in the Saints' offense without Drew Brees:
BB: I think Sean's always done a really good job of using his personnel, and it's not like it's a whole bunch of new plays every week. That's not really what he does, but he uses his players effectively. He uses a lot of personnel groups, so more personnel groups than any of the team in the league, and those combinations. They operate very quickly. They're on and off the field. They're in that little huddle. They're up to the line and the ball's snapped, and if you take time to break it all down, you can sort of figure out, yeah, well, this is why he's in this set, and that's why he's doing this and that, and that's what this guy does well, and that's where he's got in there, but it's hard to do it during the game because it happens so fast, and then as soon as that play is over, he's got somebody else in there and a whole other set of personnel, formations, motion, ball snap, and so it's hard to stay ahead of Sean just because he operates so quickly with so many variables. All the receivers play. All the tight ends play. The backs play. There's two different quarterbacks. There's a lot of stuff, and then just the breadth of the offense from, you know, his time there since whatever it was, '06 or whenever he got there, you know, there's a lot of volume, and if you watch a game, I think you look at it and say, I've seen that play before. I've seen that play before, but it might've been two years ago, or it might have been eight games ago, so he's got a pretty good breadth to his system, and he continually does things that they know how to do that they're familiar with, but he dresses them up differently, or maybe it's something that he hasn't used in a while and you're not preparing for it, but it's something that's really a part of their system, and it's not really a new play for them. Again, he does a good job attacking defenses and matching things up that create problems for your defense, and so when you're looking at film, you're looking at what he's done, but that was against somebody else's defense, and it's really hard to predict how he's going to treat you and what matchups he's really going to try to exploit. Obviously, we know Kamara's going to get the ball, and there's some things that are pretty straightforward, but the details of it and how he does it all are very creative, and he moves very fast, and so I think that's the problem that it creates is how fast he moves and how quickly the defense has to recognize and adjust, and then they're on to something else. They're very good situational team. They obviously are coached that well and know what they're doing, and you better be ready to play good situational football against them, or they'll slice you up there, too.
On if he is more excited than usual for Sunday's game because of the respect he has for Sean Payton and the Saints:
BB: Well, we have respect for everybody in this league. Everybody has good players and good coaches, and they work hard, and they're all accomplished or they wouldn't be here, so each week is a challenge, but you know, when you play a team like this once every four years, there's a lot of water under the bridge from one game from the seventeenth game to this game, and the seventeenth game is relevant, but so are a lot of other things that happen along the way, and you just have to try to figure out how to best prepare your team. Again, defensively, I'm speaking for the things they do. Offensively, you know, Coach [Dennis] Allen takes a little different approach, but they've been very successful, too. They've had the best run defense in the league in the last three years, and again, they're a good situational defense as well. They're outstanding in the kicking game, so there's surely no plays off against the Saints. Doesn't matter what the play is. They're capable of producing an explosive play, and you can't really leave any stone unturned against them.
On how he draws from plays he used several years ago in preparing for this week's game:
BB: That's a great question, Bob [Socci]. Often times it comes with a lengthy game plan meeting, but you know, some of the things you try to do, or you try to attack the defense. In this case, we're talking about our offense and their defense. You try to attack the defense, and so what are the areas you want to attack? You fall back on, you know, your menu of things. Man-to-man coverage, zone coverage, pressure, over, under, good defensive end, good defensive tackle, good corner, good whatever it is, and then you also have to take into consideration what you've done, what you're good at and also what they've seen. Sometimes you run a play, maybe not because you think it's like the greatest play against this defense that's ever been drawn up, but because you've done something in the last couple of games that's kind of developed a little bit of a pattern that you want to break, and so the motivation for running the play, maybe isn't necessarily that it's going to just kill this defense. It's just that, well, this is a complement to what we've been doing, and it's a good sound play, and if they had kind of overplayed our tendency, then maybe we'll have an opportunity here, and then there are other plays that you think, well, this is really a good scheme play against this team, and if it's one you haven't run in a while, then you have to measure the creativity of the play with the execution, so now this is a great play if we run this, but you can't always predict what the defense is going to be in, and if you catch the right thing, then you know, you might have what you're looking for, and you might have an explosive play. If you catch something else, then you know, you've got to be able to execute it against a different defense or a different coverage or whatever, and if you only run the play once or twice, and you're counting on, well, they're going to be here, and then you get into the game and you call it and it's something else, then you kind of don't have much, right? That's kind of the balance of picking out a play that looks good against some things, but there's no absolutes. You can never, I think, be a hundred percent sure where they're going to be and what they're going to call. They have enough variety in what they do that if it matches up, great. If it doesn't, you need to have some kind of an answer for the play in the event that you don't get the look that you're hoping for or expecting, so however you create that. Those are the kinds of things that you go back and forth on, and if you always knew what the play they were going to run was, or what defense we're going to be in, it'd be a lot easier to call plays, but that's not the case, so as a team, you have to be able to execute whatever it is you call against multiple things. Of course, you have a lot more control on offense than you do on defense, but it's still some of the same fundamental issues, so that's kind of, I would say, the nuts and bolts of the decision-making process, and then what actually gets decided, you know, then that, of course, rolls into maybe you have a couple plays, a way to attack a certain coverage or whatever, and the quarterback's like, well, I really like that, and it might be, well, this one's a little harder for me, or it's not as clean. I like this other one a lot better. Well, then you go with the one that the quarterback likes better, obviously, because he's the one who has to read it and throw the ball, or if it's the running back, maybe it's here's a couple running plays, but the back really is better at doing one thing than the other, and maybe you set that preference because of who you're going to have running the ball on that play, whether that's, again, we have several backs and depending on who's going to be in there doing it, maybe you might prefer one over the other based on that person's style or the type of runner he is, so, again, there's a number of things that go into it, and those are some of them, and that leads to sometimes some longer game plan meetings.
On how he gets a rookie quarterback confident enough to call off a play:
BB: I think that's a really great question, and it's part of the whole coaching process. A lot of times a young player might say, I don't really like that play, and part of it may be he doesn't really understand the full play because he just doesn't have enough experience with it, and so sometimes, you know, the player will come around maybe after you've run the play two or three times in practice and say, I see that now. I really like it. I didn't at first, and this was where it was cloudy, but now that really makes sense to me, and I love this play. Like, I see exactly what we're trying to do, and then sometimes it goes the other way, and it's just one of those things that for whatever reason, one player is comfortable with it, the next player, just for whatever reason isn't, and then you run it, and it doesn't have a good result, and you're like, we kind of knew this wasn't something that this particular player felt good about, and so you just have to make that decision as a coach if they don't like it, or if it doesn't look good in practice, or you're not confident in it, then throw it out. We have enough other plays that we can run, but I think that's developing the relationship with the head coach, the quarterback, the offensive coordinator slash play-caller and kind of everybody being on the same page, but in the games, things move quickly, and things happen quickly, and there's definitely a decision-making element that every quarterback has. He has the ball. He sees what he sees. He has to make a decision, and the coaching is really out of it at that point because things have happened that have overwritten the intent or the execution of the play, but how all that gets decided, I'd say, is certainly a process, and it's no different on defense. It's some linebackers that, you know, that say, well, I don't want to run this defensive lineman on a stunt because he doesn't run it very well. I'd rather just play it straight. Okay. The next guy gets in there and says, hey, this other guy is in here. If he's in there, I'm calling that stunt because, you know, I think that'll be a great call for us in that situation, so something that's a little bit dependent on the personnel, and you know, how confident the players are who are making those decisions, whether it's a coverage adjustment or a stunt or a play call or that kind of thing. The players have to make that decision as the opponent presents it.
On Alex Guererro's comments about his coaching style:
BB: I appreciate the question. I know there's a lot of interest for obvious reasons in next week's game, but we're focused on Saints here, and on Monday we'll get to next week.
On how much Jakobi Meyers has grown since the end of last season and Julian Edelman's career:
BB: A lot. I mean, just really as a player, Jakobi's had a very, I would say, steady growth since he's come here. Undrafted, you know, and really was a little bit of an unusual fit in the offense just from his background, and it's interesting. I've talked to coaches that he had at NC State, and he's just an interesting kid. He's not really the profile of a slot receiver. He's not really a profile perimeter receiver, but he does both, and he has a good skill set that enables him to be multiple, and he's smart, and just doesn't really, I would say, fit the exact profile you would have for one particular spot, but the combination of all of them he does pretty well, and you know, he's become much better in every phase of the game. Blocking, man-to-man route running, inside routes, outside routes, zone awareness, you know, just adjusting to the quarterback, which he's played for now really three different quarterbacks, so that's all part of it too, and he continues to do a lot of the little things that are important not only at his position, but within the entire group and has given a lot of good leadership to the receiver group because he has the most experience in our system of any of those players. Of course, Nelly [Nelson Agholor] and KB [Kendrick Bourne] have played a lot of football, but Jakobi's played more for us, but it's been very consistent. It wasn't just one to year one to year two, but it was, and then year two to year three. He's really moved up every year and throughout the course of each season, too, so I think everybody, I mean, I certainly have a lot of respect for what he's accomplished, and you know, how hard he's worked to work on his weaknesses and improve those areas to become kind of a receiver that can do a lot of different things for us, so I'd say as we wrap this up, that's a good segue into this weekend with Julian [Edelman] being Julian Edelman day. That's kind of similar to what Julian did, and Julian was another guy that kind of, first of all, he was a quarterback, so is he a running back? Is he a receiver? Is he a returner? Well, it turns out he's actually played a little bit of defense too, and Julian also played inside and outside and did multiple things for us and took him a little while to get on the field, probably a little longer than it's taken Jakobi, but in the end, he had a tremendous career. He had tremendous production in every area. Receiving and running after catch and punt returns and was a good blocker. Really tough, competitive kid. Right up there at the top of the guys that I've coached, and so it'll be great to see Julian assuming that he doesn't like roast me or get into a big impersonation, but it'll be great to see him again and recognize him for the great career that he had here and how much he meant to this team, this organization, and how much he stepped up for us in big games, you know, year after year, week after week, so thank you. Appreciate everyone's time. Sorry for the long-winded answers. We'll see you Sunday.