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Belichick: ‘Good All-Around Effort’ and More Following Patriots Victory Over Titans

The Patriots head coach met with the media to discuss the team’s performance following their 36-13 victory over Tennessee on Sunday.

The New England Patriots have won six straight, and continue to be the hottest team in the AFC. The Pats improved to 8-4 on the 2021 season with an impressive Week Twelve victory over the Tennessee Titans. Quarterback Mac Jones threw for 310 yards with two touchdown passes. Wideout Jakobi Meyers had five catches for 98 yards receiving, while Kendrick Bourne added two touchdowns. Kicker Nick Folk made five of six field goal attempts, all en route to New England’s 36-13 win on Sunday in Foxboro, Massachusetts.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick met with the media, both postgame on Sunday, and again on Monday morning. Here are some of the highlights from Belichick’s meets with the media:

Postgame: Sunday, November 28

(transcriptions by Patriots Media Relations)

Opening statement:

“Good football team, a lot of good competitors, tough guys there. Proud of the way our guys stepped up. We missed some opportunities in the game but again, we're going up against a good team. It's going to happen. But in the end we were able to not turn the ball over and take the ball away, made a big fourth down – two big fourth down stops there on the goal line, one six minutes to go in the game. I thought our special teams came through for us again and good coverage, and you know, competitive yard in the return game. Gunner [Olszewski] really helped us out at the end of the half and had a couple sparks there and thought we covered well and Nick [Folk] banged them through like he usually does. Good all around effort. Again, left some plays out there. Certainly some things we could have done better. But you know, we'll take it and move on, finish this game up tomorrow and get ready for Buffalo.”

On the team coming together at the right time:

“Yeah, I don't know. Play Buffalo on Monday night. We'll see. Eight games – look, eight games isn't enough to clinch anything or win anything. We have a long way to go.”

On the problems created by the Titans’ running game for the Patriots on Sunday:

“They did a better job of coaching it than we did. We have to coach and play better.”

On kicker Nick Folk’s performance on Sunday:

“We have talked about it a bunch of times this year. Really consistent. Does a great job in all areas every week. You can really count on him and he's delivered for us time after time. Really fortunate to have him, his consistency. Not easy kicking out there as we saw on the other side as well. So yeah, Nick is very professional and very consistent.”

On J.C. Jackson’s ability to make plays:

“Look, there's great plays defensively to have that awareness and recognize it and use proper technique to get it out. We talk about it but ultimately the players have to make that split-second decision as they are coming out on the ball and coming out on tackle and be able to get that punch and get that pressure on the ball cleanly to get it out. Sometimes it comes out. Sometimes it doesn't. But if you don't punch at it, it's not going to come out as much. Players really worked hard on that starting back in October, really, started putting a bigger emphasis on it for us and to help our offense just going the other way for us there, too. And it's nice to see that start to come out on the other side here, so hopefully we can keep doing that.”

Follow up on Jackson's ability (Is it practice? Preparation? He's always in the right place at the right time? Does the ball just find him? Why is he always around it?):

“It's probably a little of all of those.”

On the leadership of safety, and team captain, Devin McCourty:

“He's been big for us for 13 years or whatever it's been. Yeah, Devin gives us great leadership, a lot of confidence back there in the secondary. Makes great adjustments and helps get some things straightened out when they give us different looks and formations and splits and so forth. He's a very aware player and has good understanding of the defenses than any player I've ever coached in the secondary. He really knows what everybody's doing and can make quick decisions on the field. It's not just knowing what to do but being decisive and doing the right thing. It was a great play. Very similar to the play he had in the Cleveland game where he had tipped it and almost got it on the over-route. Similar-type play but really kept it alive and J.C., you leave any trash laying around, he's going to pick it up.”

On Kendrick Bourne’s performance on Sunday:

“KB [Bourne] has given us a lot of explosive plays through the course of the years. He made a great catch and run here today and I thought Jakobi [Meyers] made a really timely block on the sideline to kind of get KB down there and KB ran well on the sideline, didn't go out of bounds, fought for the extra yards. Had a nice, stiff arm. Finished the run, so that was it. It was a great play by KB. He's done that a few times. You know, those explosive plays are just such game-changers and obviously today we didn't do a great job in the red area. We left a lot of points on the field but when you get a play like that where you can run it in the last 40 yards and not have to – not have to run a dozen plays down in the red area makes it a lot easier. Love to see those plays happen. Obviously missed a couple opportunities there earlier in the game. But that was a great play.”

On the prowess of the kicking game:

“Yeah, again, it's the whole team. So the kickoff team starts with a kick. You know, coverage, they tried to run some sideline returns, double teams going to slam it up in there and you have to battle through those and then they try to bring it back to the field, and as you start to overplay the sideline rushes and the back side start to squeak down, sometimes there's an opportunity at the back side like Gunner [Olszewski]hit at the end of the half or like [Chester] Rogers tried to hit there and I think we tackled him inside the 20-yard line. Again it's everybody doing their job. It only takes one guy to break down, lose his lane, lose his leverage, miss a tackle and in this league, these guys are gone. So a good job by the players on the outside setting the edge. Good job by the guys inside winning their blocks and holding their lanes and their leverage and good job of tackling and got some good kicks. The punting game was pretty solid, too, with Jake [Bailey] and the protection. They tried to rush us, so that leaves it up to Justin [Bethel] and Slate [Matthew Slater] to make the play. When they make the rush, we have to get in there and block them and we have to count on those two guys, if they return, a lot of times those two guys get doubled and you need everybody covering. Those guys play well together. They work well, play off each other, good preparation, good communication. Hopefully we can keep doing that. But there's no question, putting them on the long field, that's the best way to play defense.”

On Jakobi Meyers’ block, and making it a way that did not get whistled for the personal foul when the defender is coming around:

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“I don't think it's that challenging. It's just a decision that you've got to make on those kind of open-field plays whether it's Jakobi on that play or whether it's a player blocking on a kickoff or punt return, broken plays that ends up in space like that. You can't blind side them. You can't block back towards the goal line. We all know what the rules are. You have to do it in a way that's legal, which he did, and still effective, which it was. So you know, they have taken away some of those blocks out of the game which are obviously good for the game, good for player safety. But I think that was a good example of showing how you can still do it and – from the league and from a safety standpoint, player safety standpoint where still get what we want but we are still able to effectively screen guys out of the play. I think that's good for the game.”

Monday, November 29:

On the team’s overall performance in Week Twelve:

“Each game has its own dynamics. But, anytime we can protect the ball and keep the ball away from our opponents, that is a good thing. Of course, there are things that we need to correct…we will work on those. We’ll work on doing them better, coaching them better and hopefully continue to improve.

On Kendrick Bourne’s touchdown catch-and-run:

“It was just a good concentration play. They blitzed us ,and Mac [Jones] did a good job of getting the ball out against good coverage. KB [Bourne] showed great balance and body control, and made a great play. KB’s doing a great job for us. He’s improved in a lot of areas…there is always a need to work on timing, route patterns for any receivers, but he puts the work in every day to get better.”

Follow-up on how coachable Kendrick Bourne has been this season:

“I think he’s been very coachable. We’ve seen improvements on a lot of things he does. He is a hard working kid. Whether it be learning the routes or working on fundamentals, he does it. I respect the way that he’s tried to do what we’ve asked him to do, and he’s doing it well.”

On linebacker Jamie Collins’ status:

“We’ll see how it goes. He hasn’t been eligible [to return from injured reserve] yet. We will see where that is this week. He’s working hard and hopefully he’ll be back out there soon.”

On the Patriots’ emphasis on getting the ball out earlier on offense:

“I think we’ve tried to do the best we can with it. Early in the season, we had some difficulties there. We’ve done a better job of coaching it; both myself and the assistant coached…all of us. The players have a greater understanding of what we are asking them to do. If we had coached it better in the beginning, maybe the results would have been better in the beginning. But we are getting better and we’ll keep working on it.”

On coaching the stiff-arm technique:

“We work on all that. We work on gaining extra yards and preventing extra yards. A stiff-arm is a good tool to use. It helps a runner on offense and we have to defend it on defense. We talk about all of that. Running and tackling are two of the most important fundamentals in the game…And, of course, ball security…So we work on those all the time.”

On the value of Cody Davis to New England’s special teams:

“Cody has been really valuable. He does so many things to contribute on special teams..most importantly, as the personal protector on the punt team. But I thought that special teams as a whole gave us a big jump start. That one sequence where Cody drew the hold and that put them [Tennessee] back. The kicking plays were really important in setting us up with good field position. Hopefully we can continue to get those..especially this time of year…seems like they pop up a bit more frequently.”

J.C. Jackson’s forced fumble and the role his talent plays in making such plays;

“Sometimes you can see that when scouting a player..but that is something that we emphasize too. Our players do a good job of playing to the whistle. Those types of plays all start with speed. Most of those punch-out type plays come down to the player having more speed then the runner…and technique as well to punch the ball out. The faster players know that it’s something they can work on and utilize that tool. Sometimes linebackers and defensive lineman can use their leverage to do that when coming from behind on a tackle. But it really depends on the player's awareness and whether the tackle has been secured so that they can go for the ball. If the runner carries the ball away from his body, that creates an opportunity, and we coach that. Of course, we’ve been on the opposite side of that too, so we coach it both ways. J.C. Does a good job with that, always.”

On Monday’s game versus the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park, NY:

“Huge challenge. When the schedule came out, we knew it would be a tough game. We look forward to every game …home, away, or neutral site. We need to be ready to compete. Buffalo is a great team. [Bills’ head coach] Sean [McDermott], has done a great job. We have to be prepared to play our best game and that’s what we are going to try to do.”

On Jalen Mills’ progression:

“Jalen’s kind of the defensive Kendrick Bourne. He’s a high-energy guy, durable, always ready to go. He’s physical at the line, jams receivers…plays the ball well and shows good field position. It's a different system than he’s played in before, he’s handled it well…getting fairly comfortable with the communication and new style is always a challenge..but he’s done a great job with it. His communication with Myles [Bryant] has been good as well in the slot. He’s a solid addition..glad we have him, and I admire his work ethic and his versatility.”

On the improvement made by Jonnu Smith in Week Twelve:

“Jonnu has been a good player for us all year. He brings a toughness to the running game. Even when he doesn’t have the ball in his hands, he does a great job for us in both the running game and passing game. In-line blocking continues to be a strength for him, as well as us. When he has the ball, he is an explosive player and is tough to tackle. He gave us some big plays there yesterday. Its was great to watch.”