New England Patriots

New England Patriots

New England Patriots

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 31: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots looks on in the third quarter against the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium on October 31, 2021 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Sunday’s game against the Chargers was the Patriots’ biggest of the Mac Jones era to date. While that’s not saying much – he’s just eight games into his NFL career – it’s an encouraging sign for a team that has struggled to win close games against quality opponents through the first two months of the season.

It was a big win, but a common theme from players after the game was that this was just a starting point for a strong second half from the team. Here’s what Bill Belichick and his quarterback had to say following the win…

  • Head coach Bill Belichick

    Opening statement:

    “A really good win for our team today. The Chargers are a good football team. Coming here and getting the win is a great feeling. Certainly, there are some things that we could have done better. We left some plays on the field, some penalties and non-penalties. We could have coached better, could have played better. We could have taken advantage of a couple of opportunities that we missed on. Again, all and all, we made the plays that we needed to make in the fourth quarter, which is something that we hadn’t done as well earlier in the year. It’s good to see that. It’s good to come out here and get a win. Looking forward to the big game against Carolina. The team had a good week. It’s a big challenge coming here. Two weeks in a row we’ve had fresh teams coming off the bye. The Chargers had a lot of energy. Coach Staley does a good job. We put the ball down the field. I thought we played better in the second half until the last two-minute drive, defensively. Offensively, we moved the ball. We would just like to come out with a few more points. I thought Nick [Folk] kicked well, like he always does. Gunner [Olszewski] had some. The punt return team, not just Gunner, had some good returns to put the offense in good position. Obviously, [Adrian Phillips] AP’s two picks were big differences in the game, really counted for 10 points there. That’s pretty much the story.”

    On Adrian Phillips’ interceptions:

    “He does a good job of seeing the routes, seeing the quarterback, having vision on the ball. Just good awareness. He’s a good football player. He did that when we opened last year against Miami, the first game in the 2020 season where he made the play on the slant route. He makes those plays in practice, too. He knows football and has good hands.”

    On how he’s seeing the team develop week-to-week:

    “We’re just trying to get better every day.”

    On Brandon Staley’s impact on the Chargers:

    “It was one of those days last year where everything went right for us. There aren’t many days like those in the NFL, but we had one last year. We didn’t really put much stock in that. It’s a new game. It’s not the same players. It’s a totally new offensive line. Some of the key players like [Austin] Ekeler and, obviously, [Keenan] Allen. [Jared] Cook is a good addition. Defensively, [Joey] Bosa. We played against [Derwin] James, he certainly makes a difference. Some of the players are the same, some of them are different, but this is a different team. They are playing with a lot of energy. Coach Staley has them on the right track. You see what they have done already this year. They’re going to be a hard team to deal with throughout the rest of the season. They have a good offense, good defense. I’m sure they’re helping the return game. They addressed some areas and I’m sure that it will make them better.”

    On the defense’s performance against Justin Herbert:

    “We did some good things. We gave up some big plays. We need to coach better and play better more consistently. We did enough things to win, so that’s good. On offense, we ran the ball, we moved the ball, we got enough points to win. There’s certainly a lot of room for improvement and we will work on that this week.”

    On why the team will stay tonight in Los Angeles:

    “A few things. It’s the best thing to do.”

    On Mac Jones’ development:

    “Every game is a new game. Each one is a different experience, different defense, different players, different game plan. Week by week, he can stack them together. He has done a good job of that. Each week is a challenge. This defense is different than any defense we’ve seen this year. Carolina will be different next week, too. Mac has done a great job. He prepares. He works hard. He definitely knows what to do. Some things he needs to see and experience. There’s really no substitute for that other than getting out there and doing it.”

    On the Patriots displaying resilience defensively:

    “The same thing on the goal line stop down there. We got stopped on the one and had to punt, then they returned the ball and had good field position on the punt return. Then, we had the fumble and got the ball back after that. I thought our players showed a lot of resilience today, all the way across the board. Not just on defense but in all three phases. The Chargers are a tough team. They put a lot of pressure on it. They are an explosive offense. [Derwin] James and [Joey] Bosa, starting with those two guys, they are really good players on defense. They are centerpieces. Coach Staley obviously is a great defensive coach. He has proved throughout his career, and certainly last year. I thought, as a team, we showed a lot of resilience and toughness. Defensively, it was good after the first drive, settled things down a little bit. We gave up an 80-yard run or whatever it was, but there were some big plays that kind of skewed some of the good plays in there. We did a good job keeping Herbert in the pocket in the second half. That definitely helped us.”

    On the offense’s final scoring drive:

    “It’s always great to see the offense move the ball and score points. I love it.”

  • Quarterback Mac Jones

    On his performance today:

    “I definitely didn’t have my best day at all. I think everyone around me had a great day, that’s what football is all about. I have to find ways to improve in that aspect of just being consistent and making the throws I know I can make. The offensive line did a great job of keeping me clean. The receivers were getting open, and the backs were running hard and protecting — same thing with the tight ends, they were getting open. You have to watch the film and look at the X’s and O’s of it. But, I think the overall message is just keep playing. It’s not always going to be perfect. For me, sometimes, that’s really hard because I want it to be better than that because I feel like it falls on my hands a lot because that’s what the quarterback is, which is a good thing. But I can definitely play better, and I’ll put that on me. Everyone around me did a great job; special teams, defense played great. I think we just played together and didn’t quit. The effort was there. The guys around me played well, so that’s all there is to it.”

    On the support he received from the run game:

    “It definitely helped me, just being able to feel comfortable with the play-action stuff. That’s how it should work. We have to be able to run the ball and pass the ball. I think the line blocked really hard. The [Chargers] defense, they were a little bit different, but we knew what they were going to do, we just had to communicate well. The line played great and opened up those holes. Then, Damien [Harris], Rhamondre [Stevenson] and Brandon [Bolden] ran hard, so it was good by them.”

    Was it the ‘chippiest’ NFL game he has been a part of, and his thoughts on the non-call on the late hit:

    “It is what it is. I think there was some stuff here and there, but I do appreciate the offensive line and my team for having my back. I think it was just one of those things that I’m not really sure what happened, but we can’t let that affect the next play. With me, I didn’t feel tension or anything like that, I just kept playing. I think everyone on our team did. We played hard and we played for 60 minutes, that’s all that matters. We didn’t play great at times, starting with me, but I think the whole message, like I said earlier, was just finishing strong and playing a four-quarter game and playing all three units together, so that’s the main story.”

    On turning things around in the fourth quarter:

    “I think it’s great. I think we’ve been on the other end of it and being close, but not finishing. We’ve played well early, and then maybe didn’t play as good later on. Today was a little bit of a reverse. We just have to play to the last drive and put our team in a position to win, and let the coaches make all of the decisions. They did a great job of that. When you get a chance to have the ball, you have to put points up. We can do a better job of not even being in that situation by playing better, especially me in certain parts of the game. I’ll watch the film and just move on. I think we didn’t turn the ball over besides the one fumble, but that was just a bang-bang play. I think the other team did a good job getting it out or whatever, but we kept playing. That’s part of the game.”

    What the Chargers did to impact the passing game:

    “I think I’ll just have to watch it. Definitely quick on some stuff, and it that’s just me. Whatever may have happened, I just got it out too quick. I can improve on that. I’ll find ways to know when I need to get it out and know when I don’t, so that’s just part of it. It just starts with the word patience, just reminding myself to have patience and know when to hold it and know when to get rid of it.”

    On the final scoring drive instilling confidence in the offense:

    “I think that’s a good point. The second and third quarter were not good enough. We might not have been in that situation, but we were. I think we just didn’t look at the scoreboard, we just focused on doing our job, holding onto the ball, staying in bounds, no turnovers, and attacking them a little bit in the run game and with the two play-action passes that we had, so that was good. We finished strong. That’s the moral of the story, just finish strong. It feels a lot better to be on the winning side, when not playing as well, than it does to be on the losing side. That’s what you have to take from it. We have to just keep moving forward and not be satisfied, just keep working. Next week, we’ll be ready to go.”

Sign me up for the 98.5 The Sports Hub email newsletter!

Get the latest Boston sports news and analysis, plus exclusive on-demand content and special giveaways from Boston's Home for Sports, 98.5 The Sports Hub.

By clicking "Subscribe" I agree to the website's terms of Service and Privacy Policy. I understand I can unsubscribe at any time.