NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS VS. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 2017 ● MERCEDES-BENZ SUPERDOME
Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick
First of all, I am really proud of the way the team put in work this week. It was a long week but we had a really good week of preparation. Our team showed up this afternoon. I have a lot of respect for the Saints and what they do. Our team responded well to this week of practice and made some plays early in the game. That was a good thing. A lot of different people contributed. We got a lot of good plays from different areas: offensively, defensively, and (in the) kicking game. Some situational things came up, so I thought we handled things pretty well. (I) Thought that Matt (Patricia) and Josh (McDaniels) did a really good job on the sideline with the communication issues we had during the game. That was challenging but they handled that really well. All things considered, (there) not too many problems. We're going to turn the page here, look at another good week and get ready to go against the Texans.
On Tom Brady's leadership early in the game:
"I think our whole team competed well. I think there's still a whole lot of things we can do better. I think there are a lot of things we need to work on. I think we are a long way from where we need to be, where we want to be. I think we just need to be working on that. I think we have made some progress all the way across the board, so that is a good thing."
On if his communication issues were headset related:
"Communication was difficult."
On getting the crowd out of the game early:
"We always try to play well early. Whether we're home or away, we always try to get off to a fast start. We did things well early in the game so we were able to get that going."
On satisfaction with the team today:
"We had a good week of work. We practiced hard. We had a good week of preparation. We came down here, played hard. That is what we needed to do. We still have a long way to go. We have a lot of work to do and we are close to where we need to be. We made progress from last week, so that's what we want to continue to do going forward."
On health of players:
"We'll do the best with what we have, the best we can."
On importance of getting off to a fast start:
"We were able to do that, so it was a good night. We always try to do that. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. We were able to do that today. They turned the ball over, offensively, which is a good thing. We were able to make fourth down stops on defense. Those were key for us. Those aren't turnovers, but they are (effectively) turnovers."
On frustration with communication issues:
"I'm not talking about it. I said what I had to say."
On making third down stops against a team that was ranked first in the league last year in third down conversion rate:
"It was huge. Third and fourth down (we were) both able to get off the field defensively. That was the good part, but we gave up some plays which wasn't so good. We were able to convert on third down. That was key for us. That's a tough offense to stop. They have a lot of good players that are very well-coached and a great quarterback. Anytime you can get them off the field or even let them get down into the red area and hold them to a field goal, it is a good job by the defense."
On if balancing the passing and rushing game could be the key to the success of the offense:
"Could be. We do not really keep track of that. Just try to drive the ball, get points, and create wins. That's not really what we focus on. We're trying to win."
On James White's consistency going into the season:
"James (White) always does a good job for us. He's good with the ball in his hands. He'll do a lot of good things for us. He's a good solid player for us. His role is important and he does his job well."
On limiting Brandin Cooks for his first game back in the Superdome:
"We came down here to try to win. That's what we came down here for. I'm not really concerned about the stats. I mean, I know everyone else is but we came down here to try to win."
PATRIOTS PLAYER QUOTES
Quarterback Tom Brady
You had talked about having a higher level of competitiveness and attitude after last week's loss to Kansas City. What did you see from the team in that regard?
"It was a good for quarters of great competition. We got off to a good start. We did some good situational things. We left some out there I think, but it was a good win. To be 0-1 with a 10-day break felt like a year, but it was good to go out there and get a win."
*You made some remarks last week about what was lacking in the Thursday night performance, were those elements in place this week? *"I think all the veterans had a chance to say what they wanted to say to their different groups, whether it was your own unit or your offense or defense or the whole team. The NFL is tough, every game is tough, every quarter is tough, every play is tough, and you can't take it for granted. In order to win, you have to go out there and compete and compete as hard as you can on every play. We did a good job of that today and I'm glad it resulted in a great win for our team."
Did you hear the chatter this offseason that the way to beat the Patriots was to play more man coverage defense?
"There's a lot of different formulas. At this point, I've played a lot of different things. Man, zone, blitz, I mean everything. I think good defense is good defense and good offense is good offense. It comes down to a lot of individual matchups, winning them, and making the plays. Whether it's man or zone, everyone has to be on the same page. If you're going to get man, you better beat it, if you're going to get zone you better beat it, if they're going to blitz you better beat it. Otherwise, you're just going to get more of it."
Do you think you disproved that theory today because they seemed to be playing a lot of man against you guys?
"Yes, they played a lot of it. We made plenty of plays, but every team has different strengths. We play Houston next week and they have a certain style that they play. They will be confident in their plan. We go into every game with a plan and ways we want to attack other teams. It really comes down to our execution. If we don't execute very well, everything looks good. No matter what you call on defense, if we aren't doing the right thing and we aren't making plays it results in no yards or negative yards and that looks good for the opposing defense. I'm glad we executed. There was a lot of tight plays and we made them. I wish there were more we would have made, but hopefully we can try to make that improvement this week."
Can you talk about your trust with James White?
"(He makes) A lot of big plays. Every time he touches the ball it's important. He is just so dependable, consistent, tough, and hardworking. He shows up to work every day to do his job as best as he can with the best attitude. He is team-first all the time and he's just a great teammate. I've played with a lot of great teammates and James is right there at the top. I just love his effort and style. They have a great room, that backfield, and Ivan Fears does a great job with them. We got a lot out of the running back position today."
Was that a matchup you thought you could exploit coming into this game?
"I think all offseason we were trying to put different guys in different positions. We have a lot of versatile running backs. Dion Lewis, Rex Burkhead, James White, Brandon Bolden, Mike Gillislee catches the ball well, and all of them are good matchups against linebackers. If we get them great and if we don't then we will have to do other things. If we have to run it then we will run it. I thought they all ran hard, made some great runs, made some great cuts , and protected the ball well. It was a really good game."
When did you see the too many men up field? What did you see that and what did you see?
"Well, I snapped it and I was looking right at him when I snapped it and he was probably three or four yards away from the sideline. I was just trying to get the penalty. I didn't see a penalty on the field and I said 'what the heck? I saw him." They said they were going to review it, there was 12 on the field, and we got the call."
Does it amuse me that you have to go to the officials and point that out?
"I wish they would have thrown it right away to take away all of the drama."
You did that on the touchdown today also and let them know it was within one yard of the line of scrimmage?
"Yes, I thought it was. When I saw it I thought he was pretty close. Those are some judgement calls sometimes with a yard or a yard in a half. They ran something on the next drive and threw a touchdown pass. He was like three yards down the field. I was like "If we got away with one then they definitely got away with one.' I went out there and thought ours was legal. It is just a man coverage play. Everyone has them and the officials call them differently. I thought me made a good play and it was a big touchdown."
Can you take us through the Rob Gronkowski touchdown connection?
"He had a crossing route and I was able to hold onto the ball with great protection. We sort of made eye contact. I think he me just put some air on it and I saw it was open behind him. If he does wheel then the linebacker doesn't have any vision on me and it worked out just like I hoped. I let it go, he turned, found it, caught it, and ran. He's a tough guy to tackle in the open field. It was a big play in the game and we need some more plays like that. If a play breaks down, it is not necessarily the first type of the route call. Guys make adjustments, work hard on their routes, sound cover, and find open space. When you make those type of plays like that, it hurts the defense pretty bad."
You guys have been so good after a loss, is that psychological and what do you do psychologically to make sure it doesn't snowball?
"I don't know. We try to put a lot into it every week. You don't win every game, obviously. You try to compete as hard as you can. I would say there is definitely a level of critiquing that you do when you do lose that you don't really do when you win and our coaches were all over us this week. They want us to get it right and to get it right now. All of these games are important, going on the road it's hard to win in this league. I thought it was a great team effort in all three phases."
Did you hear all the Boston fans? It seemed like a road game for the Saints after a while?
"That was good. Hopefully they are all on Bourbon Street. It is a good road game to come to. I heard them. There was a lot kind of spread out on that first level. It was great to see that support. We've had that a different places and it was fun. It's always great coming on the road and it starts with all the crowd noise and the momentum and then at the end they are cheering for our team. It was a great way to end the game."
Wide Receiver Brandin Cooks
On returning to New Orleans:
"It was cool. It was fun to come back here and play. I just thought of it as another away game to come here and do our best to help the team win."
On playing for the Patriots:
"It's been amazing. I thank God for the opportunity. This whole time has been special. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else."
On starting fast today:
"I think that it was big for us, not to just start fast, but to finish strong as well. I think that that was our motto all week. I think that is what your motto has got to be in this league, to start fast and finish strong because you have to play all 60 minutes."
On blocking to help a teammate score a touchdown:
"It's the best when you do what you have to do to help your team win. If it's blocking, then so be it."
On the team playing with a lot of energy":
"I think that was just the message all week, just to come out…and play with energy. I think that we did that in all three phases of the game."
On how Tom Brady led the team:
"He just led vocally. He led by actions, so that's the biggest thing that you can ask for from your quarterback. He did just that."
On if he talked to Sean Payton:
"I said hello to him before and after the game. There is a lot of respect there. It was good to see him. I wished him the best of luck."
Running Back James White
On the win:
"Guys were energized. Guys were into it. We wanted to have a fast start. We did that and continued the momentum throughout the game. That's what we went out there and did."
On running effective screen plays:
"We just work hard at it in practice. The more we work at it, the better we get at it. The offensive line does a great job of getting downfield when we run screens. It's a good play for us."
On having success on offense:
"You study the film. Sometimes they (the opposing defense) can run something different than we study on film. Coach (Josh) McDaniels did a great job of putting us in the best position to be successful. He calls the plays. Sometimes, it works out like practice, and sometimes you have to adjust and make some adjustments. We just go out there and fly around, everybody on the same page."
Tackle Nate Solder
On everything clicking today on offense:
"Sometimes, we put some things together that we need to put together. That's the way that we need to play. Going forward, the more that we can do of that, the better we are going to be."
On what they did well offensively:
"We scored some points, which was good. We held the ball for a while, which was good. I can't let go of some of those bad plays (though). I'm so focused on that. I've got to get back in there, study the film, learn where to improve, take the coaching, and do it all on the practice field and just try to get better."
Defensive End Deatrich Wise, Jr.
On his NFL experience so far:
"It's been great. I just want to give honor to God, because He's the best…It's just been great, these last two games. I just want to keep showing my teammates and my coaches what I can do for this team."
On if he is caught up after missing some of training camp:
"I am still learning every day. I am really behind right now. I've got to catch up. I am still learning. I'm a rookie, so I still have a lot to learn about the game, about the playbook, and about this whole thing."
Safety Duron Harmon
On the team's play today:
"Up front (they) played amazing, the way that they handled the run game. Hat's off to those guys, to really make them (Saints) one-dimensional and help the pass rush and the pass coverage. We were definitely a lot smoother and a lot better than last week. It's not where we want it to be. It's the second game. We know that we are going to have some mistakes on the field that we are going to have to learn from, but I would rather learn from them this way then the last way (last week's loss)."