Passing along some highlights from Monday afternoon conference calls with Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia.
McDaniels on what needs to happen for wide receiver Brandon Lloyd to become more involved in terms of catching passes:
"I think that’s really a function of a lot of things. Brandon certainly played hard and has played hard all year. There have been games where we’ve targeted him a lot. And there have been other games where based on the way somebody may play us, we target him less and the ball may go somewhere else. I think Brandon keeps doing his job and trying to execute his assignments well. We’ve never been a team that likes to force the ball to one person or another, although it may seem like that at times because certainly players get targeted more in certain games. Really, the biggest emphasis point we try to make to our group is to try to find the guy who’s open or who the defense doesn’t take away and to get him the football. Tom usually does a good job of that. Yesterday, certainly, he didn’t have a lot of action in the passing game, but hopefully that will change, or could change, based on the way we get defended. He's done a good job of running good routes and getting open and being available when his opportunities present themselves. He’ll continue to do that; I know him. And hopefully we call things that give him an opportunity to get the ball, and then when that’s really where we should go with it, hopefully Tom finds him and we connect."
BB: "Bess is a real good player. He’s one of the best receivers we see inside in the slot. I thought Kyle played well; really had a solid game in terms of coverage, tackling, made a play on the blitz. But again, I think that’s also a function of the overall team defense. Sometimes a pass rush helps out the defensive backs. Sometimes the coverage helps out the pass rush and all that. Overall defensively, I thought we for the most part did a fairly solid job. We had some plays that weren’t the way we’d like for them to be, but overall it was a pretty consistent game for us -- good on third down, a couple stops in the red area... Kyle certainly held up his end of it and did a good job, as I said, in all phases of the game, not just coverage -- run force, opportunities he had to rush. It was solid."
MP: "Obviously Bess is a great player for them, a very productive receiver and obviously a key part of that offense. They have a lot of good skill players so it’s a great challenge for us to play against them every time we face them. In general, like always, we have some different schemes and stuff that we played coverage-wise and Kyle Arrington plays inside a little bit in those schemes and did a good job for us handling the assignment he had to do and the job he had to do. It was really a good job by him."
Patricia on the defense generating pressure (three sacks) in the absence of key players, highlighted by two sacks from Trevor Scott.
"I think every week different guys have to step up in different roles and be able to handle the assignments they are given and perform at the highest level so whoever that is -- Trevor had a couple of really nice plays and did a good job for us out there. We had a number of different guys playing in the front and all of them contributed in their own way, particularly some stuff that might not necessarily be seen in the final stats or in the individual statistics. But all the guys were doing their job and doing the things they’re supposed to do to either create some penetration or some pressure themselves or free it up for their teammates. It’s like every week we have guys that are playing and guys that aren’t playing, and it’s just part of the process every week. Everyone just has to step up and handle their role or their assignment that week to the best of their ability and obviously Trevor did a great job, but really all those guys up front tried to do that."
McDaniels on what has turned for tight end Daniel Fells, who has become a big contributor after being a healthy scratch just a few weeks back.
"Well, there’s always a lot of consideration that we put into how we’ll play the game, and along with making those determinations, you have to consider how you would play the game if you lost a specific player and it maybe bumped you out of a package or two. For some of those games, I think if we would have lost Rob, it would have probably been more of a three-receiver game or some other combination of personnel groupings. We had a few games there where [Visanthe] Shiancoe was kind of in the mix in terms of playing a role there to help us... I think it’s just really a matter of a decision on how to play the game or how to handle the game if you incur an injury at a certain position. I think he’s done a nice job with his opportunities. He's certainly played a lot of snaps the last two weeks. Like all of us yesterday, we could do things better. We could play better, coach better, and I think that would apply to all of our players and coaches. We’re going to try to do a better job going forward. But he has been ready to go and obviously he's helped us significantly the last two weeks."