BELICHICK PRESS CONFERENCE – AFC TITLE GAME
Q: How did you feel about the production you got from your depth at the linebacker position and what do you think was the issue with the third-down defense in the game?
BB: Yeah, our depth there at linebacker really came through for us and like we talked about after the game, it’s one of those situations where everybody’s got to be ready to go. You never know how it’s going to go in the playoffs. We talked about the situation in the Super Bowl against Carolina where we end up with two guys playing safety who hadn’t played all year after Eugene Wilson and Rodney Harrison went out. It’s just everybody being ready and being ready to go and they did a good job. Dekoda [Watson] gave us some good rushes there on the edge. Darius [Fleming] and Jonathan [Freeny] both stepped in. Of course, Jonathan has played a lot of football for us this year and Darius has played multiple spots from defensive end to outside linebacker to the inside linebacker spots. All those extra sessions, things that he does after practice and things like that really paid off. Darius is a hardworking guy that doesn’t say a lot but he’s always trying to do extra to get better so it’s good to see him, not surprisingly, but good to see him take advantage of the opportunity. He kind of did that for us a little bit last year in the kicking game when he was on the practice squad most of the year and then came in and played well for us in a lot of big games down the stretch. Third-down, I’d say a combination of a number of things. At times it was not enough rush, at times it was a good rush and not enough coverage or losing leverage on coverage. There were some obviously good plays by the Chiefs. They ran some good routes, made some tough catches in traffic. [Alex] Smith made some good throws. We were close on a few of those but not close enough, but it was good execution on their part so I’d say a combination of all those things but giving up 60 percent on third-down is not good enough.
Q: How did you feel about Shaq Mason’s performance on the right side of the offensive line as opposed to the left side that we have seen him at more frequently and what kind of toughness did Sebastian Vollmer show last night?
BB: Well, first of all I thought there were a lot of guys on our team that showed a lot of toughness, and many of the guys that you referenced or even from the previous question right before that, guys that were on the injury report that didn’t practice or hadn’t played in a couple recent games or are playing but are battling through whatever it is, some kind of discomfort. We had a lot of guys do that. It was really an impressive thing from our team. On the offensive line, you know Shaq, you’re right, hasn’t played very much at right guard this year and with Tre’ Jackson unable to play yesterday we just made that move last week and I thought it worked out OK. I thought that Shaq played well. Marcus [Cannon] did a great job over there on the right side. He had some very, very good blocks – pass blocks. Josh [Kline] and Sebastian, two of our most experienced guys working together on the left side and that probably benefited us on some of the gains and stunts and those kinds of things that showed up over there. I thought that they all held up pretty well. [Bryan] Stork was out for a little bit and then he came back but David Andrews has given us quality play all year so those are really the six guys that played. Cam [Fleming] wasn’t in there but those guys all gave us a lot of toughness, good competitiveness. I thought we pass-blocked well and there were a lot of cases where we kind of cleaned the pocket or gave Tom [Brady] a little bit of extra room or room to step up. Sebastian and Marcus did a good job on some very good edge rushers.
Q: How has Patrick Chung embraced the challenge of covering some of the league’s better tight ends this season? Read
BB: Yeah, he has done a great job for us all year [covering] tight ends and even receivers in some games. He has had a great year for us. [His] tackling [was] really good again yesterday. I just can’t say enough about the challenges that he has had and really has gotten not a whole lot of help. Pat’s a real competitive kid. He, I think, embraces those challenges and really studies the players that he’s going to be matched up against and he has played very competitively for us all year against really one good guy after another. He sees a pretty good guy in practice too, so that’s a battle as well.
Q: What is it about his skill set that allows him to cover these bigger tight ends?
BB: I mean really I’d say he has pretty much got it all. He’s athletic. He runs well. He has got good quickness and he has got good playing strength. He’s bigger than most corners so he has got a little more size than corners do but not as big as linebackers, but he has got good quickness and he plays with good technique and he runs well. For his position for a safety he runs well, so there’s not a lot of those guys that can run away from him and he has got the quickness to match those inside routes that are kind of designed to limit quickness, which is a good matchup against linebackers but a lot of safeties – they come up short somewhere along the line. It’s tough to match up on those tight ends. It’s hard to find a guy that’s 260 pounds that can match him, so you put bigger guys on him and a lot of times you lose on speed and quickness. You put smaller guys on him and a lot of times you lose on size, so trying to find that right guy is hard and that’s why the tight end is such a hard matchup because those guys are so hard to cover.
Q: What did you see from Nate Ebner in his ability to return after dealing with his injury?
BB: Yeah, you can put him in there too, Freeny and Nate. Like I said, we have a number of guys who are banged up that are still playing through it but yeah, Nate definitely gave us some – I thought he made a real good block on Danny [Amendola’s] return to kind of get him started along with Chung and Logan Ryan did a good job on the gunner there. Danny made a good play and then Nate gave a good block to kind of get him started there for a return and set up that set up a field goal for us. [He] covered well. Obviously, the offside wasn’t good, that’s close. [He was] probably offside but not by much. It was a close call. In any case it was certainly good to, Nate always gives us a lift and he’s a smart player, makes good decisions out there, and is a physical guy that’s around the ball.
Q: What did you see on the punt return where Danny Amendola was penalized for unnecessary roughness?
BB: I saw him block the guy trying to down the ball. It’s hard to tell from the coaching film where the hit occurred but it was a legal play. We’re allowed to block him. He didn’t give a fair catch signal so he’s allowed to block, and then after the play when [Dezman] Moses came over and snatched his facemask and started shaking him, I’m not really sure what all happened on that. There were a lot of bodies around there, a lot of pushing and shoving and all that. I don’t know, I think you’d have to ask the officials exactly what they called on that.
Q: Was your mindset on the first possession after the onside kick recovery that you only needed one first down to clinch the victory?
BB: Well one first down definitely ended it, no question about that.
Q: Was there anything else that went into the decision to throw the ball at that time?
BB: You’re trying to get a first down. We didn’t really have much on the first run. The way they were playing it, I mean they had all 11 guys up on the line of scrimmage so it would’ve been hard. It would’ve been hard for us to run the ball two more times and get the first down based on what it looked like on the first play and studying their defense all week. If they had taken two more timeouts and even [if] we punted the ball back there clean to them, they’d be out of timeouts with probably in the neighborhood of 45 seconds or so left, somewhere in that ballpark which is a decent amount of time. We felt like we could make a first down and that would end it. I have a lot of confidence in our quarterback and our passing game.