New England Patriots HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
October 27, 2021
BB: It's interesting if you take a look at the Chargers this year and kind of see the transformation from where they were last year to this year. Coach [Brandon] Staley's obviously come in there and done a great job with creating confidence and lot of, I would say, positive momentum for the team. They're a very good team and have improved in a lot of areas. Defensively, we saw what he did with the Rams last year. We got a really good look at it. They were the best defense we saw. They had a great year. They're very well-coached, and he's carried that over to this year with the Chargers, and they've been great in some tough situations. The offense has had the ball, the possessions on the plus side of the 50, no touchdowns so far this year. Things like that. They've really risen to the occasion. They get you in third-and-longs, it's pretty much all over there. [Joey] Bosa, [Derwin] James; they've got a couple of guys that could really ruin the game, but he keeps a lot of pressure on the offense, on the front, and that'll be a big challenge for us. Offensively, they've got just a great group of skill players. [Justin] Herbert had a great year last year. He's doing the same thing this year, and it's the big four there with [Keenan] Allen, [Mike] Williams, [Jared] Cook, and [Austin] Ekeler. They're all a problem. They're all out there a lot. They can hit you with big plays. They're good catch-and-run players. They're good in the intermediate passing game. Ekeler's good in the running game. They've got multiple tight ends and wide receivers. They even have [Joshua] Palmer in there, so they've got a very good group of skill players, and certainly a quarterback that can get the ball to any of them anywhere, and he can extend out of the pocket. He's had several big plays on boots, scrambles, and that kind of thing where the play doesn't look like much, and then he turns it into something. They're a very explosive group. Really can score from anywhere on the field. Williams ran right through Cleveland for whatever it was, a 75-yard touchdown. Long play. They lead the league in fourth quarter scoring, so that's a problem. They just keep going for the whole game. You might hold them down for a while, but they've been able to put up a lot of points at the end of the game, which is a good thing for them. Bad thing for everybody else. The kicking game, certainly a lot of improvement there. Obviously, this week they made two really strong moves to address the kicking game. I think that just speaks to the importance of it and the commitment they have to it this year. [Andre] Roberts and [Dustin] Hopkins are two big additions to that group that they've acquired this week to go with the other core players. They've done a good job there. Coach [Derius] Swinton's come in, and they certainly have an element of running surprise-type plays. They're a team you've just got to be alert for that they, in the past, with where he's been, we played him when he was in San Francisco with Coach [Jeff] Rodgers in Arizona. Chicago in the past. If you're sleeping, they'll nail you, so you've got to be very alert against them, and we'll have to do a good job of their ball handling and ball security and, obviously, coverage on Roberts. That'll be, like it always with him, that's a major problem. Some of the same players played in the game from last year, but overall, it's a different looking team and the way they're put together. I think the offensive line is a good example of that. They really got five new starters on the offensive line now. They've lost a couple guys there with [Bryan] Bulaga and [Oday] Abushi, but they still got [Rashawn] Slater in the first round, signed four free agents on the offensive line, plus Cook, so they really put a new group together there. Like I said, with a couple injuries, that probably isn't quite where they want it to be, but you can definitely see what they're doing. It's a good football team that's well-coached, and they've got good leadership. I've been really impressed with where they are; the job Coach Staley's done. Certainly, last year, defensively, I don't think you could play much better than the Rams played. Big challenge for us this week, but we're excited, looking forward to it, and we'll be ready to go out there and see if we can be ready to go on Sunday.
On how much they can build off last week's win against the Jets:
BB: Well, every day is its own day, so whatever we do today will be based on what we do today. It won't carry over from yesterday, or last week, or last month. It's a challenge for us every day, and we're all going to try and meet it.
On Justin Herbert scrambling outside the pocket:
BB: They'll bring him out three, four, five times a game. They're not running quarterback sweeps and that kind of thing. They probably could, but he'll extend plays if their receivers are covered, which they're usually not, but in some instances where they are, he's able to escape in the pocket and run for a first down or extend the play. He's had a couple of extended plays, kind of like [Zach] Wilson. We talked about Wilson last week. He has a couple extended plays where he throws 20, 30, 40-yard plays. He's got good vision, but he's athletic. He can run. He can get out of the pocket. He's no statue back there, that's for sure. Very accurate and can make all the throws.
On the new defensive concepts Brandon Staley has created in Los Angeles:
BB: Well, as I said, he's put together a very aggressive front, depending on how you want to call it. There's a lot of five linemen, and you don't see that a lot. They've got a lot of hard guys to block at the line of scrimmage, similar to what he did with the Rams. Some different personnel, obviously, using a player like [Joey] Bosa, who's one of the top players in the league, [Derwin] James, guys like that. He's done a good job of putting them in position to be even more disruptive than they would normally be just by moving them around, especially Bosa, forcing the single blocks that he gets. This guy's hard to block, and this guy's a really good player.
On what he has seen from Asante Samuel Jr. and how it feels to play against his former player's son:
BB: It makes me feel old, but it's been going on for a while with Orlando Brown, and there's been a whole bunch of them. It's a good, solid secondary. It's a solid defense all the way through. They're good up front. They're good at the second level. They're good in the back end. They have a very sound scheme. They make you earn it. It's hard to earn it, but they definitely don't make it easy on you. You've got to string a lot of good plays together. You're going to have to convert some third downs. They get you in a kind of long-yardage situation on third down. They've converted most of those, and they're as good as any team in the league. It'll be a challenge for us, and they've done a good job turning the ball over. They're, whatever it is, plus three or four in turnovers, but more important than that, they're like plus 30 points. They've turned the ball over and scored touchdowns. The other team has turned the ball over and kicked field goals or got nothing out of it, so those have really been big swing situations that have come up in their games. They've done really well with that. That's definitely a sign of good coaching.
On practicing indoors today:
BB: Yeah. It'd be pretty hard to do much of anything out there. I'd say a little less wind, we'd probably be out there, but it's just trying to throw one in a hurricane. We're playing indoors this week.
On the post-snap movement of the Chargers' safeties:
BB: Coach [Brandon] Staley does a really good job of keeping you off balance, and, again, we're going to have to make some good post-snap decisions on a lot of things, whether it's movement, rotations, how the coverage plays out. They do a good job of matching routes. What looks like zone or what looks like some space closes very quickly in the passing game, and, again, they're very well-coached. They do a good job of, as the pattern develops, they just pounce on it. It really plays like man-to-man, but it's not man-to-man, but it turns out to be man-to-man. Those are challenging for the receivers and the quarterback because the match zones are tough. If teams can do a good job matching zones, like the Chargers do, then that puts a lot of pressure on the offense.
On if matching players in zone is a concept he and Nick Saban came up with in Cleveland:
BB: I think that's been going on for a long time. Nick plays a lot of it, but that goes back to, oh my god, we're talking about that back when I came in the league in the 70's. It's a combination of Cover 1 and Cover 3, or some type of blitz-zone, however you do it. I know there's a lot of people who do it, but if you're good at it, it can be really tough for the offense. If you match it and you miss one guy, then that's the downside of it.
On if the Chargers can get creative with how they use Derwin James:
BB: Yeah. Definitely. Again, he can ruin a game. He's very instinctive. Fast. Quick. Good tackler. Smart player. You've got to be ready to block him behind the line of scrimmage and on our side of the line of scrimmage, but he sees things quickly and reacts quickly. He's a hard guy to block, especially at the second level, and with the guys they have in front of him, you start trying to get through to him, and then you're a little light on somebody on the line of scrimmage, and that doesn't always work out well either. He's a very productive player.
On if Shaun Wade's injury status is trending in the right direction:
BB: Yeah. It's trending in the right direction. When he's ready, he's ready.
On what his relationship is like with Coach Brandon Staley:
BB: I've never coached with him before.
On if he has ever talked to Coach Brandon Staley before:
BB: Yeah. Minimal.