FOXBORO - Patriots head coach Bill Belichick spoke with the media Friday morning about Sunday's upcoming battle with Los Angeles.
Q: Did you get a chance to see the unfortunate news regarding Rick Forzano’s passing?
BB: Yeah, I talked to his family. Yeah, it’s obviously sad to hear that.
Q: How has the team responded to this week of work from your point of view?
BB: Yeah, it’s a big challenge obviously. Getting ready for the Chargers – a good football team, great football team. A lot of work to do. We’ve still got a little more time but we’re gaining on it. We’ll be ready to go.
Q: The gap in age between Tom Brady and his teammates obviously gets bigger and bigger over the years. How do you see him handle that adjustment and still be able to connect to teammates that he’s often much older than?
BB: I think when you get out on the field, football is football. I’ve dealt with the same thing. When you call a play I don’t think anybody looks at how old somebody is. Everybody has an assignment, a job to do. Hopefully you can go out there and do it well and help your team win. I think Tom’s well respected off the field for his preparation. He obviously does a tremendous job with that. You’d have to ask the players that. I don’t know.
Q: With temperatures expected to be in the 20’s on Sunday, is that an advantage over the Chargers on Sunday?
BB: They’re a good football team. We’re playing the Chargers. We’re not playing the weather. Whatever it is, it is.
Q: So there’s zero advantage there on Sunday?
BB: Yeah. We’re going to be on the same field.
Q: What’s your biggest concern about their defense being able to get to Tom Brady on the edge?
BB: Well, they have a good defense period. They cover well. They rush well, pursue well. They’re well-coached. They have a good scheme. We’re going to have to execute whatever we do at a higher level than they do to be successful and that’s a big challenge. It’s a good football team. They’re good in all three areas.
Q: I know from my standpoint I’m tired of discussing the game and ready for Sunday to finally arrive. How do you deal with the anxiety of the week leading up to the game? Is it more of a challenge in this instance coming off a bye and getting the Sunday game as opposed to a Saturday night?
BB: I’m sorry to put you through it. It’s a normal week for us. I mean, they played on Sunday. We didn’t find out who we were playing until Sunday night. It’s really a Sunday to Sunday preparation for us. We couldn’t prepare for anybody last week. It was one of three teams. It is what it is.
Q: How impressed have you been with Sony Michel’s ball security this season?
BB: He’s done a good job. Yeah, he’s done a good job. Ball security has been a lot better for us in the last – it was bad in the early part of the year. It’s gotten better. It needs to be good at this time of year. Hopefully it will be.
Q: Is that something he’s worked on weekly in practice as well?
BB: Everybody works on it every week. We’ve worked on it since the first day we walked out on the field in the spring. Every day in training camp, every day in the season. There hasn’t been a day this year we haven’t worked on ball security or taking the ball away. There’s nothing more important than that other than points. But ball security and ball possession are at the very top of the list. We work on it every single day.
Q: With his history of fumbles in college, was that something you made a priority when he arrived here?
BB: It’s a priority for everybody. I don’t care if you’re in the league 20 years, 10 years, or one game. It’s a priority for everybody who touches it. Our football team needs that. If we don’t have it then we’re probably not going to win. It’s a priority for everybody.
Q: Tom Brady has mentioned that when he doesn’t throw an interception there is a higher rate of winning. How do you balance maintaining aggressiveness offensively while also noting that a lack of turnovers is a good indicator of victory for you?
BB: Yeah, there’s a lot of factors that go into that and they’re all important, so you try to do as many of them right as you can.
Q: The Chargers employed a lot of six and seven defensive back looks last week, something you’ve done in the past with your teams. Do you go back and look at any of that film to see how the offenses you were facing responded?
BB: They’ve been doing that here for multiple weeks. It was seven against the Ravens but that was because [Jatavis] Brown got hurt. But it’s been six. It was six against us last year. I mean, there’s plenty of film of them using six defensive backs. Now they used five when they had all of their linebackers healthy at the beginning of the year but that hasn’t been – [Kyzir] White got hurt, [Denzel] Perryman got hurt and then Brown got hurt at the end of the season. Obviously, Coach [Gus] Bradley has done a great job of utilizing his personnel and getting people, his best players, in position to play. They’ve been doing it.
Q: Do you see that as a trend in the league? More defensive backs?
BB: I don’t know. Right now I’m just trying to worry about getting ready for the Chargers. I’m not trying to analyze trends in the league. I have no idea. What’s important to us is what happens this week. What we do, what they do. That’s really all I’m focused on.
Q: Do they play mostly split-safety or post-safety coverages defensively?
BB: Mostly post-safety. They do play some split-safety coverages, but it’s a much higher percentage of post-safety coverages.
Q: How has Melvin Gordon looked to you since returning from his MCL injury?
BB: He looks good. All of their backs look good. Their backs – they play on all three downs. They can catch. They can run. They can run after the catch. They’re hard to tackle. Whichever guy is in there is a problem. Usually it’s just one, but sometimes there are two of them. I don’t want to say it doesn’t make any difference. It does make a difference but they’re all good. I don’t think you can minimize any of them. They’re all explosive. They’ve all made big plays for them. [Justin] Jackson’s in there in some of the end of the games, biggest plays of the year for them, and making plays. I’m sure they have great confidence in him which I can see why. Certainly [Austin] Ekeler and Gordon have made their share of big plays too. I mean, they lead the league in yards-after-catch; two guys on the same team. It speaks for itself. They’ve been very productive.
Q: How familiar are you with Anthony Lynn’s system and has he changed it at all since he moved from the AFC East to the Chargers?
BB: Well, we played them last year. So, I’d say between last year and this year their system does certain things. They have a lot of variety. They have a lot of complementary plays. I’m not saying it’s just one thing, but it is what it is. There are variations off it that they use to create problems and handle adjustments, things that they’re presented with to deal with them. They’re well-balanced. They have a lot of good players. They can attack you in a lot of different ways – backs, tight ends, receivers, running game, passing game, great quarterback, very experienced, can make all the throws. They have a lot of weapons at their disposal. Depending on what you do, they’ll move in one direction or another to try to attack you and [Philip] Rivers is very good when there’s multiple plays to pick the one that attacks the defense. He’s very good at that.
Q: Is there one single thing you can point to that provides a team an advantage playing at home in the postseason?
BB: I don’t think it’s any advantage. Last week three of the four road teams won. The advantage is the team that plays well. That’s what we’re going to try and do – play and coach our best game Sunday afternoon. That’s our goal.
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