Speaking at a soft level that made it difficult to hear his responses (a tip of the cap to the Patriots’ media relations staff for getting the transcript done quickly), Bill Belichick held a relatively brief day-after conference call with reporters.
A focus of the discussion, of course, was the critical 15-yard penalty against DT Chris Jones in overtime that negated a 56-yard field goal miss by Jets’ kicker Nick Folk.
Belichick, like team captains Matthew Slater and Rob Ninkovich had done Sunday, said in his opening statement that the fault did not lie with Jones.
“The field goal play at the end, I think Chris [Jones] is obviously trying to do the right thing by stepping up and taking responsibility but that’s not his responsibility, it’s ours. We just have to do a better job of coaching that. It’s not his fault, that’s one me [and] the coaching staff, we just have to do a better job there,” Belichick said.
In discussing the call during his post-game press conference, Belichick noted that “we weren’t on the second level when we pushed him” but it appears this is where the mistake was made by New England. There is no mention of players coming from the second level in the actual rule, Rule 9.1.3, which was enacted before this season.
Game referee Jerome Boger clarified to pool reporter Mike Reiss that the rule states that one teammate cannot push another teammate into the opponents’ formation; on replay, Jones is pushing Will Svitek forward just after the snap.
Belichick was asked on Monday where he got the notion of second-level players being part of the rule, and he said, “Because obviously we are wrong. What else is there to say? We’re wrong.”
Asked further if the rule was not properly articulated by the league, Belichick responded, “Look, it’s our job to understand the rules. Whatever the bottom line is, we didn’t do it properly. So what else is there to say?”
As much as Belichick said it’s a coaching error, one question came as to whether Jones was simply acting on instinct, but again Belichick pointed the finger at himself and his staff.
“No. We have to coach him better. What he did was basically what he was being told to do. We just have to coach it better. That’s not Chris Jones’ fault.”