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Bill Belichick: No excuses when it comes to new faces

10.07.13 at 4:27 pm ET
By
Bill Belichick

Bill Belichick

Bill Belichick has never been much of an excuse-maker, and so when he was asked Monday if the expectation levels for the 2013 Patriots might have been a little skewed considering all the new faces on offense, he didn’t pull any punches.

“I don’t know what you mean. Everybody that’s out there has been out there, played a lot of football for us this year. I’m not really sure what you’re referring to,” he said. “Other than Matt Mulligan, those guys have all been here, most of them for multiple years.

“We just didn’t overall offensively perform to the level that we did last week or that we’re capable of doing. I think everybody is accountable for that: the coaching staff, the players,” he added. “Again, I certainly give Cincinnati credit there. They have a good defensive front and they played well, but we have to do a better job than that. We put ourselves in too many long-yardage situations. We couldn’t convert in the red area and had some consistency running the ball but not nearly enough in the passing game, and not in any critical situations. We have to do better in all those areas. That’s all of us. I don’t think it’s any one guy or any one thing. I don’t know who the new faces are – Matt Mulligan — but everybody else has been here all year or a lot longer than that.”

Here are a few of the highlights from his Monday morning Q&A:

Looking back, do you just chalk it up to one of those days where you don’t have any luck? It seems like there were a few plays there where you were just unlucky and it wasn’t your day.

“I think there are always going to be a few of those plays in the game, in every game, that you look at and say, ‘Well, that was fortunate for us, or that was unfortunate for us.’ I think you just have to live with those and you hope that they all even out in the long run. I think what’s more important is to control the things that we can control. That’s what we just need to do a better job of. You’re right; sometimes the ball just takes a funny bounce. Sometimes that’s in your favor and sometimes it isn’t. but there are things that we can control and that’s where I think our focus really needs to be, is what we can do a better job on: coaching, preparation, execution, decision-making, situational football, all those things. We have to do a better job on what we can do there.”

On the third-and-15 play from the two-yard line, what did you see from that play when you went back to watch it? Was the defense unsettled before the snap and did that have any impact on what happened in the play?

“Yeah, I think it definitely had an impact on it. It’s a play that we’ve dealt with before. The other team is in a long-yardage situation, just goes on a quick count, like Cincinnati did, and just runs everybody down the field. We’ve seen it through the years, [it’s] not anything that’s revolutionary. But they did a good job of it, they got set, they snapped the ball quickly. We definitely weren’t set when the ball was snapped. We had a few guys moving into position and I would say, mostly we got into position but obviously it wasn’t good enough. It was a good play on their part and it was not a good play on our part. But I think it was definitely a strategical play that worked for them. They caught us on it. Nothing illegal about it, everybody on their side was set. We just weren’t ready when the ball was snapped and they hit us on it.”

When something like that happens, would you like a timeout there in retrospect or is that not an option because it’s going so fast? The flip side is you needed those timeouts at the end of the game.

“I don’t really think it was a timeout situation. They hadn’t done that, it wasn’t like it was a problem that they were going at a fast pace and we couldn’t get the call and go get lined up. It was just on that particular play, they turned it into a quick snap situation. We just weren’t well enough prepared for it. It obviously wasn’t well coached on our end. That’s my responsibility. We should have been better prepared for it, but at the same time, we’ve dealt with no-huddle, quick-snap offenses from the first day of training camp, the first preseason game and all the way through the year. So quick snaps and being ready to go and all that, that’s always part of the game. That was really the issue on it, just being set and being ready to play. From a coaching standpoint, we obviously, and I, need to do a better job of preparing for it. That situation I don’t really think kind of happened too fast to take a timeout. I don’t think anybody really realized that there were going to go as quickly as they did, because that’s not really their pattern on third down. I think that’s what threw us off, was the tempo. But there were several times in the game when we substituted when they tried to go no-huddle, like on the goal-line play, on the second goal-line play down there, we were able to get our goal-line all the way down to the 1-yard line, then [Brandon] Spikes made the play in the backfield to take it to third-and-one and we were able to get that substitution made. I don’t think that was the problem.”

Can you talk about Ryan Allen and the contributions he made?

“I thought our punt team overall gave us good field position, really all day. The plus-50 punting was good. I think it was five [punts] inside the 20 and three inside the 10. Then a couple times we were backed up, we had good coverage there as well. The punting game and the field position on that end of it was good. I think our opportunities in the punt return game and the kickoff return game that we didn’t really take advantage of some of the opportunities that we had there. If we could have finished a couple blocks, there were potentially a couple big plays to be had there. We just couldn’t quite get that last block or make that one key thing that we needed on those plays to make it a game-changing type play.”

You won the coin toss and elected to receive. How much of that was due to weather considerations and not knowing when the rain was going to come or was it more related to any different viewpoints on the value of the opportunity to have a double score at the end of the second quarter and start of the third quarter?

“Those are the kind of things we talk about every week. There are a number of things that are part of the conversation, the consideration. I would say there were a number of factors. In the end, we felt like taking the ball at that point was the better thing to do. I wouldn’t say it was any one big overriding [factor] but just the combination of all the circumstances surrounding the game. When we put it all together, we felt like that was the best thing to do.”

The Geno Atkins sack, is that one of the plays that is sort of doomed based on the call, with the defensive call they had on or was that something that could have been executed better by the offense?

“It was a play-action pass, one that we’ve run many times through the years. On that particular play, I don’t think Geno really took much of the play-action. He penetrated, we weren’t really able to get a solid block in front of him because we were selling the run. He made a good read and a good play on it. Of course, he’s the type of player that he doesn’t need much. I think obviously we could have executed it better, but it was a good play on his part. He wasn’t taking any of the play-action. He made the play.”

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