Day: October 7, 2019

Transcript of Champion Super Bowl Coach Bill Belichick’s Conference Call Today As Patriots Prepare for Giants on Thursday Night

by Scott Mandel

Q: What are the ingredients to creating and sustaining a winning culture?
A: That’s a tough question, probably a long answer, might need a book on that one. Honestly right now, my apologies, I’m just trying to prepare our team on a short week for a really good Giants team. A team that’s gotten a little bit of a spark. They are a dangerous, explosive team, they have to try turn it around on a short week. The question you asked is more than I can handle right now.

Q: Did you have a reaction a few weeks ago when you heard Eli Manning was benched? Obviously, Eli Manning has been around a long time, he has history with the Giants, certainly has history with your team. What are your thoughts on Eli, his situation and what he’s done in his career?
A: I have a ton of respect for Eli, he’s a great person, very professional, team oriented. I spent over a decade with the Giants, I have an appreciation for playing quarterback for that franchise in that environment. He’s done a tremendous job, and certainly had a lot of success against us. I have a great deal of respect for him. I’m really focused on trying to coach our team and I need to do a better job of my job and not really looking to evaluate what anybody else is doing. I have my own full plate here, I’m trying to coach the Patriots.

Q: What is your impression of how your defense is playing this early and seemingly this well?
A: We’ve had our moments. Right now, it’s about focusing on the challenge ahead with the Giants. The Giants have so many weapons on offense, a great tight end, two great quarterbacks, probably the best running back in the league, very good receiving group. They are very experienced on the offensive line, they added a lot of players there in the last couple of years. Solder, Zeitler, Remmers and, of course, Hernandez, Halapio has done a good job for them. Those guys have played together, they are in there every week, they haven’t really had any changes all year. They have (Golden) Tate back now, they have a ton of weapons offensively. Well coached, they have a great scheme, they are a well-balanced offense. That’s a lot for me, a lot for us to handle, to try to prepare for and for our players to get ready for all the things that they do and do well. They can run it; they can throw it, throw it deep, throw it to the backs, throw it to the tight end, catch and run plays, play action drop back, misdirection, you name it. It’s a lot to get ready for.

Q: What is different about the Giants offense with Daniel Jones at quarterback?
A: Offensively, it’s probably the same plays. Eli is very good at the line of scrimmage of making adjustments and protections and occasionally signaling routes against pressure and things like that. He may have done a little more of that on the line than Jones has. Jones is fast, and he’s made plays with his legs outside the pocket. The Tampa game comes to mind right off the bat. He’s got the ability to extend plays and also run for yardage to score or pick up critical first downs. He has kind of the sixth receiver element. Both guys are very accurate passers, see the field well, make good decisions. They are at different stages of their career, but both guys are outstanding players. Any team would like to have either one of them and they are fortunate they have both.

Q: I know you guys had Jones up there for a visit pre-draft and I’m just curious what your impressions were of him before the draft, and has he looked like the player you thought he could be?
A: Yeah, we had a great visit. He spent most of the day here, actually spent a lot of time with our offensive coaches, with Josh (McDaniels) and Mick Lombardi, guys that work with that position on the offensive side of the ball. We had a great conversation, talked about a lot of things. He’s very mature, certainly a good understanding of the Duke offense and Coach Cutcliffe and the things that they were doing there. Again, a good grasp of the offensive system—protections, routes, route concepts and why they’re used in different combinations and in certain situations. Actually, I think it was kind of a change of plans, but at the end of his visit, I think he said he had to go somewhere, but then he ended up going to the Giants from here, so even I could figure out there was something going on there. He’s an impressive player and a very impressive person. We had a great visit, and again, playing quarterback in New York is not the easiest thing in the world, but he’s got a lot of maturity and a good head on his shoulders and has good perspective on football and the overall leadership position that comes with that role on and off the field. So, I’m sure he’s done well and will continue to do well.

Q: You’ve never faced Saquon Barkley, but you’ve seen him on film, and I guess his availability is in question for Thursday—what kind of dynamic does he bring to the Giants to change their offense?
A: He’s an outstanding player. You’re right, we haven’t faced him, and I hope we don’t, but we need to be ready for him. He’s a very competitive guy, I’m sure he’s doing all he can to get ready to go. He was close last week, so we’ll probably get him. He can do it all. He’s got great power, speed, they use him well in the passing game. He’s very hard, obviously, to tackle in the open field, he’s hard to tackle anywhere. He’s got good vision, good quickness, he can play in space, he’s elusive, he’s got power, he had 2,000 yards from scrimmage last year. That pretty much says it all right there. Plus, we know he can return kickoffs and everything else, so he’s got a ton of skill, as good as any back we’ve seen on film. We watched a lot of him last year, we didn’t expect him to play in preseason, but just kind of getting ready for the Giants in the preseason we saw a lot of last year’s film and what a player he was for them. And he was an explosive player and a dynamic player this year. I’m sure he’s either going to be back or is close to being back, so we have to be ready for him.

Brady is missing Gronkowski and others but has been solid, if not spectacular

Q: What made Nate Solder such a valuable member of your organization when he was there?
A: Nate did a great job for us. His first year, he played behind (Matt) Light, played right tackle, played tight end, and so forth, he played about half the time, but it was in a variety of positions. Then, after that, he took over at left tackle and gave us really solid play there for a number of years.

Q: I know you focus on your team exclusively, but are you mindful at least that two of your quarterbacks (Jacoby Brissett and Jimmy Garoppolo) with the Colts and 49ers are having a lot of success this year, and you had them and did a lot to develop them?
A: Well, that’s kind of the way it is in the National Football League. Every team has players that were on their team that are playing somewhere else and some of them are doing well, and maybe some of them aren’t playing anymore, but that’s the league. There’s plenty of movement throughout the league at all positions with every team. If you follow the NFL, that’s pretty much the same for every team.

SportsReporters’ 2019-20 NBA Previews: Los Angeles Clippers (or, are you kidding me with this talent pool?)

by Scott Mandel

Today, we’re looking at the LA Clippers.

2018-19 season record

48-34 (8th in the Western Conference)

Projected 2019-20 season record

55-27 (tied for 1st in the Western Conference)

Notable additions

Kawhi Leonard (free agency)

Paul George (trade)

Maurice Harkless (trade)

Patrick Patterson (free agency)

Mfiondu Kabengele (draft)

Notable departures

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (trade)

Danilo Gallinari (trade)

Wilson Chandler (free agency)

Depth chart

Starter2nd3rd4th
PGPatrick BeverleyLou Williams
SGPaul George*Landry ShametJerome Robinson
SFKawhi LeonardMaurice HarklessRodney McGruderTerance Mann
PFJaMychal GreenPatrick PattersonMfiondu Kabengele
CIvica ZubacMontrezl Harrell

George is hoping to return “November-ish” from offseason shoulder surgeries

3 key storylines

What will Kawhi Leonard do for an encore?

Leonard is coming off of the best season of his career. While he missed more than a quarter of the regular season, mostly due to load management, he had a historic postseason that culminated in the Toronto Raptors winning their first-ever championship.

Leonard has since seen his stock go through the roof, with our NBA.com Staff ranking him as the best player in the league entering the 2019-20 season.

With that comes high expectations. Not only are the Clippers expected to finish with the best record in the Western Conference next season, they enter the season with the second-best odds to win the title.

For the Clippers to live up to that hype and potentially win their first championship in franchise history, they’ll need Leonard to be every bit as good as he was last season.

There’s some history on the line for Leonard as well. If he adds another Finals MVP to his trophy case, he’ll become the first player in NBA history to win the award on three different teams.

When will Paul George return?

And more importantly, what will Paul George look like when he does?

Like Leonard, George is coming off of the best season of his career. In averaging 28.0 points per game and leading the league with 2.2 steals per game, he received the third-most votes for both MVP and Defensive Player of the Year.

George didn’t finish the season on a particularly strong note, though. Due in large part to a shoulder injury, he saw his production decline in the final 18 games of the regular season. He then struggled with consistency in Oklahoma City’s first-round series with the Portland Trail Blazers in the playoffs, combining for 19-for-61 shooting (31.1 percent) in three of the five games.

George has since undergone surgery on both of his shoulders and is expected to miss the start of the season, eyeing a “November-ish” return.

Having parted ways with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari and a boatload of draft picks to acquire him, the Clippers are betting big on George being more like the player he was in the first half of last season when he does return. If he can, the Clippers could very well have the best duo in the league in George and Leonard. They might even have the league’s best defensive duo since Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen.

The center position

If there’s one position the Clippers are lacking depth heading into the season, it’s centre.

They have two viable options in Ivica Zubac and Montrezl Harrell, but it remains to be seen if they can handle their own against the league’s best centres. Zubac played well after the Clippers acquired him last season, but he’s both young and inexperienced. Harrell, meanwhile, was a finalist for Sixth Man of the Year last season but he’s undersized at 6-foot-8, making it tough to matchup with the likes of Joel EmbiidNikola Jokic and Anthony Davis – three players the Clippers could very well face in the playoffs.

The Clippers appeared to have Joakim Noah in mind for their final roster spot, but Sean Deveney of Heavy reported that his workout with the team ahead of the season was postponed. If Noah doesn’t end up being the answer, their best options on the free agent market are Amir Johnson, Marcin Gortat and Salah Mejri.

The Clippers could otherwise look to make a trade at some point of the season or wait to see if anyone gets bought out. They’d certainly be able to make a compelling case to any free agent, offering both minutes and an opportunity to compete for a title.