Belichick: Rivers is 'really good at everything'

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick looks on during the first half against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium.Photo: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick Conference Call

Q: What are the qualities that have allowed Philip Rivers to be this successful for so long?

BB: Yeah, he's really good at everything. He's very accurate on the deep ball, sees coverages well, sees matchups well, goes to the right place, throws the ball accurately. He's a big, strong guy that can stand in the pocket and handle himself with guys around him. He does a good job at the line of scrimmage of controlling the offense, the protection. Obviously, the offense runs through him and he does a good job of getting the Chargers either into good plays or out of bad plays, however you want to look at it. Obviously, his durability and his consistency – I mean, the guy has started over 200 straight games. That's pretty impressive. He does everything well.

Q: Is it particularly hard to throw a scheme or something at him that he hasn't already seen before?

BB: Yeah, I don't think you're going to find something that he's never seen before, but at the same time I don't think you want to just sit in something and tell him, "This is what we're in. What do you want to do about it?" I think he'll make you pay for it. You've got to try to keep him off-balance. But yeah, I don’t think you’re going to come up with something he's never seen before. I agree with that.

Q: What does it say about the Chargers that they've been able to have so much success on the road this season?

BB: Well, they're a good football team. Let's start with that. They've been in a lot of close games and they've won a lot of close games. They’re a good football team. They're good on offense. They're good on defense. The kicker's had a great year. They've won a lot of games everywhere.

Q: What have you seen from the return units for the Chargers, especially with a guy like Desmond King? What do they do as a group that has helped them open up some big returns both in the punt and the kick game?

BB: Right. Well, King's done a good job for them as you mentioned. So has [Travis] Benjamin – he's definitely there if they need him too. So, they have good returners. They have a good return scheme. They do a good job of getting those guys started. Their corners do a nice job of holding up on the vice. They have some basic kickoff returns that really attack you in all three places – to the boundaries, to the middle and then to the field. I'd say it's really about good execution and getting the returner started, and having a good returner, once he gets started, that can make some plays with the ball in his hands.

Q: How do you feel like your coverage units have developed as the season has gone on here? How have those groups grown with some of the new in-season additions and where do you feel like they are at now?

BB: Yeah, well, we'll find out where we're at on Sunday. We're playing against a very good return team. So, again, it'll take a great team effort from everybody. No one guy is going to stop King. We're going to have to execute well as an entire unit. That'll be a big challenge for us this Sunday.

Q: How much work did you guys do on Melvin Ingram during the pre-draft process back in 2012?

BB: Yeah, I mean, obviously he's an outstanding player who can do a lot of different things, very athletic, strong, physical, good pass rusher. It was a long time ago. I'd say based on the way he's played in his career, he's had an outstanding career for that team. They're very good on defense with him and a lot of other good players.

Q: What do you remember about the one year you spent coaching Kliff Kingsbury?

BB: Yepa, right now I’m really just focused on trying to get ready for the Chargers and I think the people that aren’t involved in the game, we’ll talk about them some other time.

Q: How have you seen your linebackers improve in the passing game with covering running backs out of the backfield this season?

BB: Well, we spend a lot of time on pass coverage at all levels. All of the guys we have – linebackers, safeties, corners and so forth, we spend a lot of time on that all year from Day One. We work on it every week. Each week is a challenge and certainly this week it will be because of the quarterback and the running backs and tight ends that they have. These players are very skilled. They’re very athletic. They have a great quarterback and a great scheme to challenge every part of the defense so they can get the ball to their receivers, their tight ends, their backs depending on the coverage and matchup and how the play unfolds. They have a lot of options, a lot of good options and we'll have to be able to defend all of them. It'll certainly be a big challenge for us to do that.

Q: How big is the home field advantage for a team, in particular the kickers with the weather being a factor? How much time or planning goes into that part of the kicking game during the week?

BB: It's pretty hard to forecast the weather at this time of year. I wouldn’t worry too much about it until it gets pretty close to game time. Look, everybody’s good in this league. Every team has good players. Every team has good coaches, especially at this time of year. The eight teams that are remaining are all good football teams or they wouldn’t be playing at this time of year. Each player, each coach, everybody will have to do their very best. Certainly on our side of it we'll be doing our very best to have our best performance Sunday and that includes everybody. We'll see how it goes. We'll see what happens. It'll be two good teams and a lot of good players and a lot of good coaches competing out there for the right to play next week. Hopefully, it'll be us. We're going to do our very best to put our best game or our best performance out there. Again, that includes the specialists. It includes everybody.

Q: Given Anthony Lynn's background working under Romeo Crennel, have any of the qualities you've heard about him been reflected in the way his team has played and overcome adversity? Between the relocation and the success we've seen them experience on the road this year they would appear to be a resilient group.

BB: Yeah, I haven’t had a lot of personal interaction with Anthony but I have a ton of respect for him as a player and certainly the job that he's done with the Chargers. As you said, relocating a franchise is not an easy thing to do. Dealing with all of that, all of the other challenges that normal teams have in the National Football League are difficult, but when you throw relocation and international games and some other things that have come up along the way on top of that, I think that that organization has shown a lot of resiliency, mental toughness and certainly a very high level of performance over a sustained period of time since they were 0-4, or whatever it was last year. This team has won a lot of football games and they’ve played well against a lot of good football teams in every area in all three phases of the game. They’ve won a lot of close games so I have a tremendous amount of respect for Coach Lynn, all of the coordinators out there, their staff and their organization. They’ve done an outstanding job. Again, best record in the AFC this year. That's not easy to do. They've earned it.

Q: A lot of the Chargers defensive players said they picked up on tells from the Ravens offensive line about how they would set their feet pre-snap. How often do you guys talk about that from either side of the ball, either looking for a tell or trying to prevent the opponent from finding one of yours?

BB: Yeah, I think a lot of that is – look, there’s a certain element of that every week when you study your opponent as much as players and coaches do in this league. You see a lot of that. A lot of film study and trying to find tendencies about formations, plays, individual tips and so forth and so on. Each game has its own; each game, each player, each unit has their own characteristics of keys and so forth. I think that’s part of football. There's certainly tendencies. I've never coached against a good team that didn’t have tendencies; I’d say pretty strong tendencies. Usually, that’s what makes teams good teams is they do something and they do it well and they can continue to do it even though you have some anticipation of what they’re going to do. But that’s what makes good football teams good. I’m sure that every team we play studies us for keys and tips just like we study them. There’s always things that you can learn or help anticipate. That’s part of the game is knowing your opponent and kind of giving yourself a little bit of an edge on some things you think they’re going to do. Ultimately, there are a lot of variables in that too. I think some of those things are a little bit overrated. Again, you’d have to talk to the Chargers about that game with the Ravens. I can’t really comment on that. I don’t know. But yeah, from our standpoint we try to be balanced in what we do. We certainly have tendencies. Some of which we want to try to balance out. Some of which we know are our tendencies but we do them that way for a reason and we're going to continue to do them that way. I would imagine that’s probably the way it is with most every other team in the league or any other team at a high level of football. There's an element of both of those things.

Q: We had a light-hearted moment yesterday during media availability where Trey Flowers mentioned he had a nightmare about not being able to set the edge. What does it say about him as a player in a contract year, where some players may look at sacks as their most important contribution, that he's having nightmare about making sure he plays the defense correctly?

BB: I don’t know. I’m not an analyst of nightmares. But look, I think our players certainly recognize the importance of our season and where we are with this season and what we've earned the right to do, which is to play in this game and it’s important for all of us to do our jobs the best that we can and perform well. That’s what we're here for. That's what we've worked all year to do is to be able to get to this point. It’s important to everybody just like I’m sure it’s important to everybody in the Chargers organization. I expect it to be a very hard-fought, tough, competitive game like it always is at this time of year between two good football teams and two good organizations. I’m sure everybody has, whether it’s in bed or driving or whatever, somewhere away from the facility, thoughts about the game, about each of our roles in the game and want to make sure that we do them the very best that we can so that we don’t let our teammates down and can perform well and help our team win. That’s what we're all trying to do. That’s what I’m trying to do. We'll see how it turns out but that’s what preparation for a big game is, is thinking about your job and preparing to do it well and going out there and executing it when you get the opportunity.

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