Quick hits from Bill Belichick, Josh McDaniels

Quick hits from conference calls with New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels:

Chance to clinch the division. With a win over the Dolphins on Sunday, the Patriots can clinch the AFC East. Belichick, of course, will spend very little time harping about the implications of Sunday’s game. He's on to Miami.

“We wouldn’t waste a lot of time on that,” Belichick said. “It is what it is. It’s what the standings are. So we will probably cover that in about 15 seconds and move on to Miami. That’s what we need to talk about. We need to talk about how to play offense, defense and special teams against the Dolphins a lot better than we did the last time we played them, which wouldn’t take much.”

Dolphins’ backs against the wall? With this being a must-win game for the Dolphins, Belichick doesn’t see the Dolphins’ defense drastically changing anything. He knows they are a tough, aggressive defense regardless of week-to-week situations down the backstretch of the season.

“It’s the 14th week of the season. I don’t think they are going to put in a new defense this week any more than we would or anybody else would,” Belichick said. “Of course, they will maybe modify some things they are doing for a particular situation, but they have been pretty successful at doing what they are doing. I don’t think there will be a lot of changes.”

McDaniels on offensive tackles. Coming off a tough matchup with the Chargers’ edge rushers and heading into this week’s rematch with the Dolphins’ aggressive pass rush, McDaniels praised his offensive tackles’ performance from Sunday night. McDaniels said he is proud of Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer’s progression.

“I think both our tackles have been playing increasingly better as the year has gone on,” McDaniels said. “I’m really happy with what they’ve been able to do. Certainly, they have to block a lot of marquee players on the edge that their job is to sack the quarterback. Our tackles have to do a great job of protecting the spot for Tom [Brady] to be able to make throws. It’s a great challenge every week.”

Solder’s struggles. On a handful of plays against the Chargers, Solder was spun around and tossed off-balance by multiple pass rushers. Those who play left tackle are placed under a microscope, and in the grander outlook, Solder held his ground considering the workload a left tackle faces each week.

“In terms of overall technique, that’s an overall position where depending on who the rusher is, you may need to approach it a little differently,” McDaniels said. “If you are off-balance, if you get caught with a guy underneath you, certainly when you throw the ball 40-something times in a game, there’s a lot of opportunities for that guy to try a lot of different moves and things that counter what’s not working. And I thought Nate did a great job responding.”

Tannehill’s game management. It’s no insult when Belichick describes someone as a good game manager. He calls it a compliment. Belichick explained why Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill's label as a game manager is a positive and what he sees in Tannehill’s development this season.

“I think they give him multiple options on every play. I think it means they give a lot of responsibility,” Belichick said. “He’s the one that has to at the line of scrimmage get them out of a bad play if that’s what’s necessary. And then after the ball is snapped, decide what to do on the play, whether it is hand the ball off, keep it and throw it. I think that’s a lot of responsibility to give a player. So, they have a lot of confidence in him and he does it well and has done it well.”