Read the full transcript from Patriots head coach Bill Belichick's press conference at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday, September 27, 2023. New England Patriots
HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
September 27, 2023
BB: Alright, good morning. It's always interesting to look at Dallas here, obviously, a really good football team. They've been good for quite a while. They made a few adjustments last year. You know, Jerry [Jones], Stephen [Jones] put together a great organization. Mike [McCarthy] has kind of evolved things a little bit this year, offensively, with his role in it. Dan [Quinn] does a great job with their defense, which is once again near the top of the league in a lot of categories, most importantly points. Bones [John Fassel] does a great job with the kicking game. They're very aggressive, best returner in football. So, it's a well-balanced team. I think Coach McCarthy has done a really good job balancing the team out. They obviously have some great players down there, eight guys in the Pro Bowl last year, most in the league. That's kind of been their history, always had a lot of very good, high-profile players, going back about as far as you want to go back - maybe not until 1960, but not too long after that. They've got a lot of firepower, run the ball, done a good job with the running game. [Tony] Pollard leads the league in touches. He's got a lot of carries. [CeeDee] Lamb is dynamic, great, great receiver, obviously we had problems with him two years ago, three years ago, whatever it was. [Brandin] Cooks is an explosive player. They have a really good offensive line. So, they're good on offense and, defensively, the front is very disruptive. [Micah] Parsons obviously, every stat you could ever want, tackle for loss, pressures, quarterback hits, sacks. [DeMarcus] Lawrence, Osa [Odighizuwa], they've got a disruptive front and they play a lot of guys, similar to what we saw last week with the Jets. They'll roll those guys through there, good depth on the defensive line. A lot of experience in the secondary with Steph [Stephon Gilmore], [Malik] Hooker and then [DaRon] Bland outside. They got [Jourdan] Lewis back. He was hurt the first part of the year, preseason, didn't play against the Giants, but he's back in there now. So, good experience in the secondary. Then, [Leighton] Vander Esch, a really good middle linebacker, real smart guy, runs the defense, has a lot of range, a lot of size, really athletic kid, smart kid. He's versatile, does a lot of things for them, plays in the deep part of the field, plays linebacker, plays on the edge of the defense and they do a lot of different things with him. I know Coach Quinn has a lot of praise for the flexibility of their defense.... A number of different things with some guys like [Jayron] Kearse, Vander Esch and Parsons, guys that are versatile and can play different spots on the line of scrimmage, off the line of scrimmage. Even in Vander Esch and Kearse's case, you can see those guys in the deep part of the field, and you can see them on the line of scrimmage, which is pretty unusual. But, that's kind of a run down on their group. A new kicker, big leg, missed his first kick but has been good since then, had a good preseason. I can see why they kept him, a really strong leg. [C.J] Goodwin's really another leader on special teams, another one of the [Matthew] Slater, [Deonte] Hardy type of guys, that are really the flag carriers in that group. So, pretty experienced team, added Mazi [Smith] on the defensive line. He's part of the rotation, gives them another good defensive lineman in there. A lot of experience on this team, they go out there and they do a lot of things well. You can see why they have the consistency that they've had. Mike's kind of, I'd say, changed things around a little bit this year, and it looks like that's working out pretty well, too - getting things the way he wants them, helps them with kind of the complementary game that they've been trying to play. Mike's always done a good job. He's always been a really hard guy to coach against, gives the defense a lot of problems, schematically, and then obviously, they have good players. So, there you have it. That's Dallas.
Q: How has the experience coaching Zeke [Ezekiel Elliott] been for the first month or so?
BB: Great. Yeah, he's been great - comes to work every day, tries to do what you ask. That's all you can ask for.
Q: Mike McCarthy's obviously been an offensive coach for a long time in this league. What are you seeing from his offense now as maybe it's evolved over the years?
BB: Well, like I said, he's taken over the play calling from Coach [Kellen] Moore. Coach [Brian] Schottenheimer's in there. Brian's always done a really, really good job. I mean, he does a great job of attacking defenses, coming from the whole [Kyle] Shanahan tree and so forth, West Coast with Shanahan. They run the ball a lot. [Tony] Pollard's got a lot of carries. They've got a lot of explosive players, starting with Cooks and Lamb, but they're well balanced - formations, they do a good job with game planning, obviously the quarterback's really good. You know, Mike has a well-balanced offense and well-balanced team. That's what's hard, is it's not just one thing. You've got to deal with a lot of different problems.
Q: Stephon Gilmore is in year 12 now. What have you seen from him, returning to Dallas, and just how impressive is the career that he's putting together?
BB: Yeah, Steph's had a great career. He plays on our right side. [Trevon] Diggs played on the left, and then last week they moved [DaRon] Bland out there and [Jourdan] Lewis played inside. But, yeah, Steph looks kind of how he's always looked - long, disruptive and really good ball skills. You've got to be careful throwing the ball around him. He'll catch it.
Q: Earlier this week, on the radio, they sort of mentioned Lawrence Taylor's name when bringing up the physical traits that Parsons has. Do they have any similarities in terms of their playing style?
BB: No. It's a lot different defense than what we played in New York.
Q: How so, for those two guys in particular?
BB: Lawrence played outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. These guys don't even have a 3-4 defense - not saying that they should, I mean, but it's totally different.
Q: So, the responsibilities are a little different?
BB: Yeah. Parsons is really a defensive end.
Q: How much do you have to be aware of him at all times? He seems to be able to move around.
BB: They intentionally move him around, absolutely. Yeah, they intentionally move him around. They play him on the end of the line in different combinations, to the field, to the boundary, to the tight end, to the left, to the right, to the open side, I mean, whatever the formula is. So, you know what you're getting there. They do play him off the ball in some pass rush situations, and they play him a little bit at linebacker - not much, but a little bit. But, most of the time, he's on the end of the line of scrimmage. I mean, that's most of it. But, it's not all of it, and you do have to be aware of him, because wherever they put him, there's usually some action going on there.
Q: With [Daniel] Ekuale landing on the injured reserve yesterday, what do you lose there and what are your thoughts on that?
BB: Yeah, Daniel was a good rotational player for us, played on all three downs. So, it's unfortunate, yeah, we'll miss him.
Q: Sam [Roberts] obviously stepped in and played last week after not playing the first two weeks, so there's some depth just at the general position, but how do you feel about the overall depth? With one man down, is that something where you might want to add another layer of depth at defensive tackle with Dan out on IR now and Davon [Godchaux] didn't finish.
BB: Well, I wouldn't say there's a lot of Hall of Fame defensive linemen walking around right now that just aren't with a team. We'll manage the position and we'll do the best we can, whatever that is.
Q: Just curious what is more helpful in your evaluation and preparation for the Cowboys, are you looking more closely at their big wins against the Giants and Jets or the loss because it's more recent against the Cardinals?
BB: Yeah, just look at everything. There's a lot of film to look at, you know? Mike's been there for - this is his fourth year. Dan [Quinn]'s been there. Bones [John Fassel] has been there. [Dak] Prescott's been there. Lamb's been there. Pollard's been there, Parsons, Lawrence. You know, a couple guys who are knew this year, like Gilmore, who obviously we know. But, [Malik] Hooker was there, [Jayron] Kearse was there last year. So, I mean, most of the guys who have a lot of production have been there, most of them. The coaches have been there. So, I think everything is relevant.
Q: Going back to Parsons, just with his athletic gifts, are they the most impressive you've seen since Lawrence?
BB: Yeah, I think comparing players like that's not really - I would just say, I wouldn't put anybody ahead of Lawrence Taylor, period. Maybe I'm prejudiced, but I saw that guy every day for over a decade, and he tilted the field for a decade. So, until somebody does that, and there's a lot of great players - I'm not taking anything away from anybody else, there's a lot of great players that have been in this league, that are in this league - but personally, I'm not putting anybody ahead of Lawrence Taylor. Not yet.
Q: Given your time in the league and Jerry Jones time in the league, decades, do you have much of a connection with him? Have you been able to develop a relationship?
BB: I have a ton of respect for Jerry and Stephen [Jones], and the way they run the organization down there. They've had decades of success. They were really the team of the 90s with Jimmy [Johnson] and they've been good. They've been competitive every year, obviously more than competitive. They've had a lot of great players down there. Tony [Romo] had a great run. Those are great years there with Tony, Coach [Bill] Parcells. We played them here in the early 2000s, but I always keep an eye on them, just the way they do things. They've gotten a lot of players that they've gotten a lot of production from that I'd say aren't big name players - free agents, guys that they dig out down there. I think their scouting staff does a good job. They're very experienced. Almost all of their scouts have been with the Cowboys their entire career, so they home-grow them and they learn their system. I think they manage their personnel really well. Stephen kind of runs that with their personnel department, but, I mean, very consistent organization. They show up every week, every year pretty good. So, I have a ton of respect for them, definitely watch what they do and how they do it and try to learn from it.
Q: Looking at Mac's [Jones] play under pressure this year, do you see growth from him in that area?
BB: Well, I think you've got to look at the whole picture. There's always little things on each play that can affect what happens on the play - some are at the quarterback position, some are at other positions. So, ultimately, it's about team execution and that's what we all need to focus on - the line, quarterback, receivers, the running game and coaching, making sure we have things detailed the way that the players need them detailed. So, it's a collective process on offense, defense, special teams. It's a team process.
Q: So, for the team execution, I suppose then, when pressure has been allowed and Mac has to deliver the ball, has the offense improved in those situations?
BB: We've had our moments. Some things we've done well, and some things definitely need to be better.