New England Patriots HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
VIDEO PRESS CONFERENCE
November 18, 2020
BB: First of all, I apologize for keeping everybody waiting here. Just had to clean up a few things this morning. But, the Texans, I think we all know this is a very good and talented football team. Their record doesn't really mean anything to me. What means something is the way they play, the way that they're coached and the talent that they have on the field. They're very good at everything. I have a ton of respect for Romeo [Crennel] and I think extremely highly of him as a person and as a coach. He's a great leader, and I know that he'll have his team, his players, his organization ready to go and ready to compete, as he always does. Offensively, this is probably as explosive or more explosive than any other group in the league, certainly anyone that we've seen. The tight ends are good, the backs are good, the quarterback's good and they have great depth and quality at receiver, from [Brandin] Cooks, [Will] Fuller, [Kenny] Stills, [Randall] Cobb. It's a very explosive team. They move the ball. They don't turn the ball over. [Deshaun] Watson's done a great job of protecting the ball and making good decisions, while at the same time being at the very top of the league in explosive plays and yards per completion and so forth. They have a good complement with their running game and the RPO schemes that they run. It's very challenging to defend. Defensively, as always, Romeo's teams are sound, well-disciplined, good fundamentally. And, this is a very good coverage team in the kicking game. They're fast, they're hard to block, they create a lot of problems with their speed and explosiveness and covering kicks. Overall, it's a very experienced team. They've got guys in all three phases that have played a lot of football and good players - some with the Texans, some they've added to their team in free agency and trades - but they've put together a very good group and they're good in all three phases of the game. They're good at pretty much everything that they do. They've been in a lot of close games over the last few years and had a couple tough losses this year, but their record could look a lot different with just two or three plays, if those two or three plays had turned out differently in some of those games. This is a very explosive team, and again, a team that really doesn't beat themselves. They don't commit penalties, they don't turn the ball over, they don't have a lot of mental mistakes defensively and give up big plays. They just don't do those things. We're going to have to grind it out and earn it. We'll need a good week of preparation and practice to put ourselves in position to do that.
Q: Julian Edelman and Justin Herron could start practicing today if they were medically cleared to do so from IR. Do you have plans to start the clock on either of those players today?
BB: I think we'll do what we would normally do in that situation, Mike [Reiss], and that's to work towards that goal, but not start it until we're sure the player is ready to start. So, we'll warm them up inside, see how they feel and put them through the part of their rehab and just see where they are, where we think they are, where they feel they are relative to starting the clock on them practicing. Neither player has had a setback. They've both progressed in a positive direction. It's just really a question of whether they're ready or not, and is that today, is it tomorrow, is it next week. I'm not sure what the time frame is on that, but I think they're all moving in the right direction and the decisions really on this, before we start the clock, we just want to make sure that they're confident and we're confident that they're ready for participation in the next stage of their return to play.
Q: The Texans are ranked fifth in the NFL in receptions of 20+ yards. How much more difficult is that on your defense with guys like Fuller and the ability of those guys to get open, plus Watson's ability to move around in the pocket and wait in situations like that, too?
BB: Yeah, they have a lot of speed at receiver with Cooks and Fuller and Stills and Cobb is kind of sneaky fast. And then you have the tight ends who both run well, and Duke [Johnson] who, when he gets extended, they'll run him on a wheel route or put him in empty formation and have the opportunity to get the ball to him if the matchup is good and so forth. It's, again, definitely an explosive group and they've got a big offensive line that does a good job protecting. So, this is a hard team to defend. It's going to take good team defense. There's no one guy you can say, 'We'll stop this guy and we'll be OK.' They just have too many guys and the quarterback is too good. As you said, he can extend plays, he can make all the throws, he can get the ball down the field, he has a nice touch and doesn't turn the ball over. He does an excellent job of making good decisions and not giving the ball away. Yeah, it will be a big challenge for us, but there's a lot of speed out there. And again, every play is not a go route, but they make you defend them and then that opens up a lot of other things in the passing game and the running game, as well. As I said, we're going to have to play good team defense here.
Q: You spoke earlier this week about Devin McCourty's consistency in regards to playing more than 10,000 snaps in the NFL. In your view, where have his contributions been to the winning culture of the franchise, and on they on par with any other player you've coached?
BB: Yeah, well, Devin's contributions there are pretty high. He's had an incredible career and still continues to be a strong force for us out there on the field. He's contributed in really every way we've asked him. So, his roles have shifted from time to time, but his consistency and level of play in terms of communication, dependability, decision making, production have always been at a high level, and he does things to help other players play better, which is really the mark of a great player is somebody who can help the players around him play better by what he does or the roles that he takes to allow other guys to do what they do. His contributions off the field are outstanding, from the football classroom and film watching and walk-throughs and things like that. I mean, everybody plays with a lot of confidence when Devin is making the decisions back there because there's no second thought. Once he says, 'This is what we're going to do, this is what it is,' they know it's right and they can play with aggressiveness and with confidence. You get to that place by having that consistency and earning that level of trust and respect, and he certainly has, whether it's corner, safety, strong safety, free safety, returning kickoffs, covering kicks, holding up on the punt return. I mean, we've asked him to do a variety of things through the years and he always is ready to accept whatever responsibility we give him and he's performed well, whether it's in the deep middle of the field somewhere or whether it's on the goal line. He's in all those situations and all those groups, and he's a guy that you want on the field.
Q: I was hoping to get your reaction to Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller's recent complimentary comment about you and your philosophies.
BB: Yeah, thank you. Well, I appreciate the kind words from Secretary Miller. When you consider the type of leadership that he's shown throughout his career and serving our country, it really means a lot. I'm flattered by the reference that he made. I'd just say, while we're on the subject, I read his point about combatting [transnational] threats and I couldn't help but think and hope that we've seen from other countries around the world and I hope that our country will take action against Turkey and Azerbaijan for their unprovoked and deadly attacks on Armenians. We've seen when humanitarian crisis and things like that, like ethnic cleaning, go unpunished, they just continue to happen. I hope that we can put a stop to that. But, I appreciate the question, Jim [McBride]. It's really a flattering comment from Secretary Miller. What a tremendous career he's had in protecting our freedom and help give us the opportunity to do what we do, and that's coach and play football.
Q: How important was it to add Romeo Crennel to your staff back in 2001?
BB: Yeah, I mean, Romeo, he's a great addition to any staff. I had been very, very fortunate to work with him throughout my career, starting with the Giants when he came in '81 and we spent a lot of time together. I've learned so much from him. He's an excellent teacher, a great communicator, motivator, fundamental coach with a very good grasp of the big picture, as well as the finer details of pretty much every position and every little scheme. So, I've been very fortunate to work with a lot of great coaches in my career, but he would be at the very top of that list. So, I think the world of him and appreciate his friendship and have a tremendous amount of respect for what he's accomplished in his career and great appreciation for all that he's done to not only help me as a head coach, but when we were both assistants and we worked alongside each other, he was a great teammate and person that I learned probably a lot more from than I would have taught him. He's a great man, a great coach.
Q: When Jack Easterby left in the 2019 offseason, it didn't seem like you replaced him with one person internally. How much did it help to have players like Matthew Slater, Rex Burkhead, Devin McCourty and Jason McCourty to do those things behind the scenes? I know they're not replacing Jack, but how much did it help having guys like that in your program when someone like Jack Easterby left?
BB: Yeah, honestly, I think you summed it up pretty well. After Jack was here for six years, you don't replace Jack with one person, but we were very fortunate to have a lot of great players and players with leadership and with some of those skills of brining players, teammates, families together and being good mentors and setting good examples and building a good team chemistry. So, yeah, we've been very fortunate to have that. Certainly, Matt and Devin would go near the top of that list, and some of the players that are part of our team but not here this year - guys like Brandon [Bolden] and High [Dont'a Hightower] and players like that - but then there's a whole other group too that are here in David Andrews and James White and Lawrence Guy, you can go right down the line. So, we're very fortunate to have the strength and quality of the players that we have on our team and in our organization. So, I think your summary of it is pretty accurate.