Belichick: ‘Keep Working, Keep Grinding’ and More After Patriots Ground Jets in Week Two

The Patriots head coach met with the media to discuss the team’s performance following their 25-6 victory over the New York Jets on Sunday.
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The Patriots head coach met with the media to discuss the team’s performance following their 25-6 victory over the New York Jets on Sunday.

The New England Patriots are back in the win column. In a battle of promising first-round rookies, Patriots quarterback Mac Jones outdueled the Jets’ Zach Wilson as New England defeated New York 25-6. Jones would finish the day completing 22 of 30 passes for 186 yards. Damien Harris and James White each contributed impressive rushing touchdowns. New England’s secondary intercepted Wilson four times en route to the team’s first victory of 2021.

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, September 19

Opening Statement:

“[I’m] Proud of our football team today. I thought these guys came back and really worked hard all week, and I thought we made some improvement from what we did last week. Still obviously have a way to go, a lot of things we can do better, but I thought we did a lot of things better than we did them last week. So, we just need to keep grinding, keep working, just keep stringing these days and weeks together and keep improving our football team. I thought a lot of guys stepped up, got some turnover opportunities and took advantage of those. (Zach) Wilson made some pretty impressive throws, that kid is going to be a good player – he is a good player. We had a couple big plays offensively, Damien (Harris)’s run was obviously a big one. It was good to get the ball in the endzone there in the first half. Overall we’ve just got to probably do a little better job taking advantage of our scoring opportunities. Nick (Folk) did a good job, it was kind of swirling out there, it was not the easiest day to kick and he banged through a lot of big kicks there. I’m proud of our team, I’m proud of the way they worked this week and bounced back. We have a big challenge on our hands next week with the Saints, but we’ll enjoy this one for a little while and turn the page and move on.”

On what he observed from Damien Harris this week:

“Damien is one of our hardest working players. He worked hard this week, prepared hard and he’s pretty consistent.”

On what were the best things Mac Jones did today:

“I think we did some good things here, we hit a few balls, but overall we’ve got to do a little better on a few third-down conversions and we had a little pressure. So, it all comes down to good team offense, it’s not just all about one guy. We’ve got to block, we’ve got to throw, catch, get open, run the ball, string good plays together. Offensively we’ve just got to string more good plays together. A little bit of the same thing happened last week, we had good plays, we just didn’t have enough of them. We could have used a few more of them today.”

On what James White does at times to help the team that may not show up on the stat sheet:

“James is one of our best players. He has tremendous consistency, he can really do whatever we ask him to do – third down, first down, run the ball, catch it, blitz pick up. He gives that group great leadership with his preparation and performance, he is always ready to go on gameday. Whatever you need him to do, that’s a guy you can really count on, and yeah he came through big today. He was able to make a number of good plays for us – runs and passes and some key plays. He’s a guy we really count on and he delivers.”

On what he thinks about having a quarterback that will throw blocks and help push the pile into the endzone:

“And (Zach) Wilson made a play on the interception. I mean those are both really competitive kids. I like Mac’s competitiveness. He brings a lot there.”

On the job his defense did against Zach Wilson:

“We had some opportunities and we took advantage of them. You’ll have to ask him about those plays, I’m not sure exactly what happened.”

On what he sees out of Zach Wilson…

“Just some of the throws he made. That last seven route with a minute to go in the game in front of their bench, that was a pretty good throw.”

On what he saw on J.C. Jackson’s interceptions…

“I’ll have to go back and take a look at it. One was tipped and then the other one I think he undercut the route and got a good read on it. Then they double moved him later in the game, so it was a good adjustment by the Jets to take advantage of an aggressive play and then come back and counter off it. That’s the game within the game out there.”

On if the information Kendrick Bourne provided on his experience playing with the 49ers helped planning against the Jets new coaching staff…

“Yeah, that’s always good. Yeah that’s every week, there’s always players on our team that played for another coach or played for the other team or whatever, and they have guys from our team. It’s like that every week.”

On how challenging it is for the offensive line communication-wise with players coming in and out…

“I feel like there’s a lot of challenging things in this league, you’ve got to step up and meet those challenges. We’ve all got to do a better job. We’ve got to coach better, play better and handle the crowd noise. There’s going to be crowd noise in every game on the road this year, won’t be the last time we deal with it.”

Monday, September 20

On the Patriots' run defense on Sunday vs. Jets:

"The Jets did a good job in the running game. They gave us a few challenges. At times it was ok, but there are clearly some things that we need to work on."

On J.C. Jackson’s performance and his progression year-over-year:

“Each year, J.C gets a bit more comfortable in his abilities. His coverage has improved…his tackling has improved…his field awareness allows him to make plays. There are still things for him to work on, but he has gotten consistently better over the past four years.”

On having depth at cornerback:

“It’s always good to have good players at every position. Wherever you can get 'em, you get 'em."

On the lack of deploying two tight-end sets

“It was a combination of things [why offensive plays were called.] Everybody has an opportunity. Whichever ones come up or whatever unfolds, that's unpredictable. We don't throw the ball to just one player. We have different situations for everyone.”

On Nick Folk potentially joining the 53-man roster:

‘I think there will be roster movement from every team in the coming weeks. We’ll see how it goes.”

On Brian Hoyer’s role in helping the team:

“Brian has always done a great job for us. He knows the offense better than least any quarterback. He adds a lot of great insight in explaining plays t players in ways that maybe coaches can’t always do it. Brian helps me with identifying systems that he’s seen and played in…and he knows the offense well. Mac has taken a lot of reps, but [Hoyer] runs the offense when he’s in there…that has worked out well so that we can give Mac more reps. Off the field, there are a lot of conversations…watching film on us, as well as other quarterbacks of other teams…Brian does a good job with all of that. The ways [in which he helps Mac] are all encompassing.”

On Devin McCourty getting the national recognition he deserves:

“He certainly gets it here…I can't really speak for anyone else..But he’s highly respected for the unselfish things he does to help our team. His ability to quarterback the defense, with tackling and coverage…he does it all well. His role is important and crucial..any mistakes he makes are of much bigger consequence, because there is no one behind him. Devin has done it on a consistent level…shows up and does it every day..every week…every year. Can’t ask for more than that.”

On Ja’Whaun Bentley’s progress from 2020:

“He has done well. He took control of the defense last year when ‘High’ [Dont’a Hightower] wasn’t here. He is a great communicator and a physical player. But, he has taken it to another level this year. He is sharper in his tackling, and is playing with more confidence…taking on blockers, jamming receivers. He is also very smart in making adjustments on the defense.”

On the Pats issues at right tackle, and possibly moving Michael Onwenu back to the position, if Trent Brown will be out for an extended period of time:

“Well, we still need to spend a bit more time going through the film…but I think we are alright there. We have three players that have played the position this year. Yasir and Justin have done a solid job. There have been some breakdowns, but that is true of all positions…we’ve just lacked consistency. Trent is a good player…and we want to have him back. But we planned on using both Yasir and Justin yesterday, and we did that. So, now we will focus in on the game plan for this week.”