PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
CONFERENCE CALL WITH NEW ORLEANS MEDIA
September 13, 2017
Q: What stands out about Thomas Morstead and has made him an effective punter?
BB: Everything. I mean, he's got great leg strength, placement, technique. He's a good situational punter, handles the rush well, good directional punter, good plus-50 punter, can change field position. I mean, he's really good, really good.
Q: Do you prepare your team differently when you're getting ready to play Morstead?
BB: Yeah, you take the jugs machine, crank it up on high and shoot the ball up 55 to 70 yards downfield a yard from the sideline, like he does most of the time. You know, not many guys that can punt the ball like him. Again, it's not just his distance but it's placement, accuracy. I mean, his plus-50 punts are like from the minus-40. He's just different because of his strength and power and control.
Q: What makes Jordan Richards a candidate to play linebacker for you?
BB: Well, we have different roles in our defense, so depending on what we ask a certain position to do or certain role to do, then we put players in there that we feel like have the skills to do that. You can call him whatever you want to call him, but in the roles that we put the players in, if we feel they have the skills to do it and they're comfortable in it, then we play them there.
Q: What have you learned about Brandin Cooks since acquiring him?
BB: Brandin works extremely hard, very detail-oriented kid, practices hard, is here every day, really tries to do things exactly the way you want him to do them and coachable, dependable. He has a very good skillset. He's been great to work with. He's great to coach.
Q: Did you pursue Cooks or did the Saints come to you with that trade possibility?
BB: Yeah, well, in the end, it all worked out, so that's really all that matters.
Q: When Cooks was coming out in the draft, how much were you interested in him then?
BB: He was selected before we had an opportunity to pick, so we never really had a chance to draft him. You never know how the draft is going to go, and there are draft day trades and everything else, so we scout all the players in the draft because you never know how it's going to go on draft day. We spent time with him in the draft, before the draft.
Q: You do a good job of rotating your running backs. What's the key to getting the ball to all of those guys?
BB: Well, our goal is to move the ball, score points and try to win games, so that's really what we're trying to accomplish. We do what we feel like we need to do to do the best we can with that. That's really the goal.
Q: What's it like going against a coach like Sean Payton and trying to scheme against him?
BB: Well, I have so much respect for Sean, what he's done, what he's done for the game, what he's done for that franchise. We've had an opportunity to work together on several joint practices and offseason things like that. I've learned a lot from him. He's been a good friend, and I have a ton of respect for him as a football coach and as a person. But, this week is a competitive week between the Patriots and the Saints. I'm sure we'll both put our very best efforts into trying to win the game on Sunday, and then after that things can change a little bit. But, this week, it's a highly competitive situation and everybody will be doing their best to perform their best on Sunday.
Q: What do you think Payton's impact has been on the game?
BB: Well, I mean, he took a franchise that hadn't had a lot of success, hadn't won a playoff game in 30-something years, to a few years winning a Super Bowl title and consistently being one of the most competitive teams in the league.
Q: When you look at the joint practices you've had with the Saints over the years, does it make it easier to prepare for the various personnel groupings the Saints will use?
BB: Well, again, those practices are geared more towards evaluating the younger players on your team and preparing your team for the regular season. We're not scheming and game planning against each other. In fact, we tell each other kind of what we're going to do so we can prepare for it so we can give the players an opportunity to know what they're going to do and evaluate how they perform in that setting. It's a totally different situation. There's, I'd say, very little carryover. Joint practices are great because Sean's great to work with. He handles his players and his staff in a very professional way so that when you work with him, your team can get better and his team gets better and it's productive all the way around. It's great cooperation and communication. That's a huge benefit to working with Sean and working with the Saints organization. As far as scheming and game planning and X-ing and O-ing it, that's not really what the point of those practices are.
Q: How rare would you say it is to coach in a game with two quarterbacks as accomplished as Tom Brady and Drew Brees? Do you think their longevity is specific to them or part of a growing trend in the NFL?
BB: Yeah, I don't really know about the trends. I mean, they're both great players, no doubt about that. They've both had tremendous careers.
Q: What do you think is the most impressive aspect of Brees' game?
BB: Well, again, it's pretty much everything. I don't see any weaknesses. He's productive in all situations – big plays, third down, red area. He's athletic, he can extend plays, he's a good decision maker, gets rid of the ball quickly, sees defensive mistakes and opportunities very well. He's got great vision and anticipation, good game management, good situational football player. He's smart, very accurate. Not really any weaknesses to his game.
Q: How many similarities do you see between him and Brady?
BB: Well, I mean, they're both great players. They both have had great careers. They both do a lot of things very well. Different systems with different teammates, so it's never going to be the same. But, they've both been very good.
Q: What did you see out of Austin Carr in training camp?
BB: Austin worked hard, was out there every day, primarily played in the slot for us, had a good training camp, was productive in preseason.
Q: What do you make of the differences in time each team has to prepare for this game? Is that something that NFL schedule makers should consider?
BB: Yeah, we're just really focused on getting ready for the Saints. Other things, like schedules and so forth, we don't have any control over, so you'll have to talk to somebody else about that. We don't have anything to do with that.
Q: When you're evaluating the Saints offense, how much does Alvin Kamara remind you of other backs that they've had over the years and what stands out about him?
BB: Yeah, I think all those guys have similarities and Sean uses them in similar ways. Kamara's got a good skillset. He can do a lot of things. He can run inside, run outside, catch the ball, return kicks. He's got good playing strength and balance, good speed for big plays and is an excellent receiver. So, he has a lot of things going for him. He's a hard guy to match up against. He's got good skills.
Q: In Zach Line*'s film from the last game, does anything stand out to you about what he can still do?*
BB: Well, I think you saw it on the first play. I mean, he's got great power, very good run instincts, runs well. He's a guy that, if he gets a little bit of space, he can turn it into a big play in a hurry. I don't have any question about his play-making ability or the impact that he can have on the game. He's a very talented player that I have a lot of respect for. He works hard, he's tough, he's dependable, very team oriented. I'm sure he's a great addition to their organization. I'm sure he'll have a great year. I know he's trained for hard for it.
Q: What did you see from Peterson when you brought him in for a visit this offseason?
BB: Yeah, all the things that I just talked about.
Q: Was there a reason you didn't sign him?
BB: Well, I mean, in the end, we make decision that we feel are best for the football team. There are a lot of players out there, there's a lot of options, and we visit and work out a lot of players and we go through that process with a lot of draft choices, too. I mean, you can't have everybody on your team. You can only have so many guys.