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Bill Belichick Conference Call with Miami Media

Posted Oct 23, 2013

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the Miami media during his conference call on Wednesday, October 23, 2013.

Q: The Dolphins have made a lot of personnel changes. What’s the biggest thing that stands out to you that could cause challenges compared to last year?

BB: I think they’ve definitively improved in a lot of areas. Certainly personnel-wise, they’ve added a lot of firepower offensively. Of course, the quarterback, [Ryan] Tannehill, has another year of experience. The backs are good, they run hard, they make quite a few yards on their own. Defensively, it’s a very good front. Again, obviously a couple additions up there, like [Dion] Jordan and of course the linebackers, [Dannell] Ellerbe and [Philip] Wheeler, those guys run well. [Brent] Grimes is a good player. I think they’re better across the board. They had three good wins to start the season and they’ve had a couple tough weeks. We can certainly relate to that, but this is a good football team. [They have a] big punter, good in the return game, overall good on special teams; good coverage players. It’s a good football team.

Q: The Dolphins run a lot of looks and blitzes. Is it tough to prepare for a defensive that isn’t doing the same thing all the time?

BB: Yeah, absolutely. I think Kevin Coyle does an excellent job with the defense. They give you a lot of different looks: they play man, they play zone, they pressure, they change up their fronts and their looks. They got us several times last year on things. They don’t sit in the same thing all the time. You have to deal with a lot of different problems and a lot of good players. I think they do a good job. They hustle, they have good team speed, they run to the ball well, they make a lot of plays in pursuit. It’s a good, sound defensive football team.

Q: What has impressed you or what concerns you the most about the Dolphins three tight ends?

BB: They all play, all do a good. [Charles] Clay has definitely been a big play player for them, as he has in the past. He’s had long plays, he’s very capable with the ball in his hands. I think he’s very competitive as a blocker too. He’s more than just a receiver back there; he does a good job of being aggressive and sticking it in there, competing in the blocking game. [Michael] Egnew and [Dion] Sims, they compete well as well, too. They utilize all their personnel: all the receivers, backs, tight ends. They give you a lot of different things to defend.

Q: What specifically have you seen Ryan Tannehill make the biggest leaps in on film?

BB: I’d say, number one, they give him a lot of responsibility at the line of scrimmage. They gave him that last year, but it looks like he has more command this year in terms of changing plays or protections. I think he’s done a good job of identifying problem looks and has been able to get the Dolphins several times probably out of whatever play they were in – I don’t know what they had called – but into a play that went to the weakness of the defense for significant gains. A lot of that credit needs to go to him for making those decisions. He does a good job of using all of his weapons offensively: the running game, throwing to the backs, the tight ends, receivers, slot receivers, outside receivers. He does a nice job of spreading the ball around, reading coverages. I’d say overall he looks like he’s much better at seeing the field and using all of his players in the passing game whereas maybe last year I think there were times where it seemed like he was more locked in to either one side or one guy. Now, I think his vision has definitely improved, his accuracy, particularly on the outside throws. They throw a lot of outs and comebacks and plays like that right on the sideline where the receiver is kind of just kind of getting his feet down as he’s going out of bounds. So, good timing, accuracy throws and I’ve seen a lot of that from Tannehill this season as well. I think he’s doing a lot of things better. Plus, we know he can run. He’s active and mobile in the pocket. He presents a lot of challenges for us.

Q: Ryan Tannehill has 11 turnovers and seven touchdowns. What does that indicate to you?

BB: I think you have to look at some of the individual plays. I don’t know if you could really put all those on one player. A lot of times, I would say in my experience, it’s usually a combination of things. Every once in awhile it’s just a careless play by somebody handling the ball, but a lot of times there are multiple things involved. I think that’s a question really that could be better answered by the team where those are occurring. I would just say from the outside in, I think overall they’ve done a good job offensively of utilizing all their players, attacking the defense with the running game, with the passing game, with the vertical game, with their speed and they’re a well balanced offense that’s well coached and has a lot of good players. That’s what I’ve seen.

Q: The offensive line has had trouble protecting Ryan Tannehill. What do you see on the offensive line and particularly at right tackle?

BB: I think, again, a couple times they’ve gotten into situations where they’ve been behind or long-yardage and had to throw. That’s a problem for any team. I think overall they’re a pretty solid group. They have a couple big guys like [John] Jerry and [Richie] Incognito inside. [Mike] Pouncey is as good a center as we’ve seen – very athletic, runs and pulls probably like no one else in the league that plays that position. [Jonathan] Martin and [Tyson] Clabo are athletic guys that are asked to do a lot of things in their offense; not just block the guy on them but a lot of times they’re running to block guys in the running game that are three, four yards away from them. They make a good amount of those blocks. It’s not easy to find guys that are that athletic that play that position and have to handle all the things that they do. Look, everybody has plays that they’d like to have back that aren’t perfect, but I think overall those guys have given them, that offensive line has given them a solid level of performance.

Q: There’s a report that in the Dolphins game against Baltimore, there was a pushing incident on their field goal attempt and the Dolphins turned that video into the league and that put the referees on alert and that led to the penalty against you guys. What do you think about that? Have you heard that and is that a true story? Are the Dolphins responsible for your loss in any way?

BB: We’ve moved on from the Jets game. Our focus now is on the Dolphins. We’re going to do everything we can do be ready to go on Sunday against them. That’s where we’re at. We’ve moved on from all the other games this year.

Q: We saw some early season frustration from Tom Brady. It looks like things have settled down a little bit. Can you tell me more about the receiving corps and Brady? Is he still as accurate? Are the receivers performing up to your standard? What do you think about the passing game?

BB: I think as a total football team, I would include everything on this – passing game, running game, offense, defense, special teams – there are a lot of things that we could do better and we need to do better. Coaching, playing, execution, we’re just not as consistent as we need to be in any area of the game. We have to coach it better, we have to execute better, we just have to be more consistent all the way across the board. I think that’s where we are as a total football team. I wouldn’t single out any one area more than another. We’re all working hard to try to improve at each spot. That’s how it goes for everybody, from the head coach to every player, assistant coach on the team. we’re all in the same spot on that one.

Q: What jumps out at you about the running backs group? With Reggie Bush gone it’s been Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas.

BB: How many yards those guys make after contact, how many yards those guys make on their own. They run well, they run hard. A lot of times they push the pile and grind out two or three extra yards when it looks like they’re really stopped or certainly a lot of times where they’ve broken tackles, gone through, I’d say, relatively small holes in the line for big gains. They have good vision, good quickness and good strength. They don’t go down easy with arm tackles and sometimes guys that don’t wrap up, they just bounce off them and keep going for extra yards. I think those guys have done a real good job running the ball, both inside and outside. I’ve been impressed with the running of both of them.

Q: Are you guys the same old Patriots? As the team that has dominated the AFC East for the last decade, are you guys still that team?

BB: Every year is a new year and 2013 will have its own results across the board in the league for every team in every division. There’s a lot of football left to be played, we’re not even halfway through the year yet. Who knows how anything is going to turn out? I think there’s a lot of football left. There are some teams that are going to improve more than others and that’s what we hope we’re going to be, is a team that will get better every day, every week, that our best football is in front of us. That’s what we’re trying to do. We’ll see. There’s a long way to go. I think things are a long way from being decided. We’ll just have to see how it all plays out in 2013. We know we have a big challenge this week against the Dolphins. That’s really all we’re thinking about is just this one game.