Bill Belichick Q&A

Posted on August 20, 2007 
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Thanks to the Patriots’ PR staff, here’s the complete Q&A with Head Coach Bill Belichick’s morning session with the media:

BB: This is the week where we begin to transition into our regular season schedule. We’re still in camp, but we’re starting to transition into that and kind of shift into more of a game preparation and more of a regular weekly schedule. The players have moved out of the hotel, the ones that wanted to anyway and things like that. We’re definitely not there yet, but we’re taking as step there. There are a lot of things that we’re trying to work on. Some things that are just general things that we need to do to get ready for the season. Some things pertain to Carolina. Some things pertain to the Jets and the opening part of the season. So we still have a few personnel things, we want to try to let guys work in different positions so that we can build depth on our team when we go to a 45-man active roster, that we have enough depth to get everything covered. We kind of have a lot of balls in the air this week. I think it’s an important week for our team in terms of its overall development. Going down to Carolina at the end of the week, I’m sure that will be a tough game down there. That’s kind of what we’re doing this week here. Like I said, we have a lot of things going on.

Q: Is the fact that Laurence [Maroney] wasn’t wearing a red contact jersey indicate that he may be closer to playing in the game on Friday?
BB: Yes. It certainly puts him closer. He’s made steady progress.

Q: How important is it to you that he at least get some game work? Is there anything about that position that would make you feel comfortable saying he doesn’t need the game contact?
BB: No, I think everybody can benefit from being on the practice field and playing. The amount might vary a little bit depending on what you’re trying to get done, but I think it’s beneficial for everybody.

Q: Is saving a player’s legs a little bit at that position might be a little more important just because of the wear and tear of the season?
BB: Again, I think an individual player’s situation varies from player to player, but I think in general, players need to practice and play to get ready to play. I think if we just want to save everybody, we would just be sitting around here for six weeks and not do anything, but I don’t think we’d have a very good football team. But I think everybody would be safe. I don’t think that’s the answer. There has to be some middle ground between working and getting the team to be able to execute to a certain level and at the same time you don’t want them worn down by the time you get to the season, but you have to be able to go out there and play competitively against pretty good competition in this league. We’re just trying to find that balance and it’s not the same for every player. I’d be the first to say that. But from a team standpoint, you’re trying to manage it for everybody.

Q: How much do you expect Vinny Testaverde to play over the next two games?
BB: He’ll play some. I don’t know. We haven’t really set the playing time for this week. He’ll definitely play some. We haven’t even talked about it really.

Q: What did he bring to the team last year and what do you hope he’ll bring this year?
BB: I think Vinny can still play the position at a good level and that gives us depth and experience at that spot. Each year is its own new year, so we’ll evaluate based on what we see this year and how it goes here in the coming practices and the last couple of preseason games. He brings a wealth of experience and I think he’s still, based on last year, was able to do the things that a quarterback needs to do to be productive in this league.

Q: Tom [Brady] made a comment on the radio this morning about if it’s possible he would like to have a few days off for the birth of his child. Would you be agreeable to letting him have a few days off? How have you done that in the past?
BB: I think there are situations between a player and a coach and the team and the personal situations, those are all talked about and dealt with on an individual basis. It doesn’t matter who the player is. There are plenty that have come up through the course of the year. I’ll deal with them like I do all of them.

Q: Last year you chose to start the season with two quarterbacks on your roster. Any reason this year to go with three?
BB: Well, that hasn’t been decided. We’ll make the decisions that we think are best for the football team. Each year is different, each situation is different. I don’t think it’s important to go back and talk about last year. I think where we are this year is where everybody feels comfortable at. Vinny and I talked about it. He was here and worked out with us in the spring for the mini camps and we decided that this is what we’re going to do. We talked about it later and so here he is.

Q: Are there set rules for offensive lineman on stunts?
BB: Well, in terms of picking up stunts on the offensive line, it depends on what the protection is, and so how many people are involved in the protection, and then it also depends on the timing, the way the stunt is run. There certainly are rules on the way you want to block them. That depends on what protection your in, but then within that, like anything else, the variable is the timing of it and when the guy comes around. You can say you want to switch him, but if they’re grabbing, then you really can’t switch them and you need to stay with him. So there’s stuff like that. I wouldn’t say it’s black-and-white by any stretch. But you have to be able to handle all of those things, so you have rules on how you’re going to do it and you practice it and the defense runs them to try to mess up the way you’re doing it and get a guy free. That’s the game within a game.

Q: Would you consider having a pure kick return specialist on your team? Would he fit?
BB: If he’s good enough, if you think he brings enough value to your team. There are teams in the league that have kickoff specialist, purely a return specialist, I would say coverage specialists, that really maybe aren’t even that big of a factor in the return game. They’re basically on the team to cover punts and kickoffs. I think you can justify anybody on your team if he was good enough and he made a contribution that you thought was worthy of that position depending on what the rest of your team makeup was and how important that position was for you. Absolutely.

Q: Have you experienced that before?
BB: Sure. Yes. Sure. Absolutely. Even going back to when I was in Baltimore, Detroit. We had guys, and that was back when the roster sizes were smaller. Howard Stevens did for us in Baltimore. I forget what the roster size was back then. It was maybe like 42 or something like that, so it was even harder to afford that. Those guys, some of them played really just on the coverage teams. That’s through the years at Detroit, at the Giant and at Cleveland. If the player is good enough, and he contributes in a role, then depending on what the rest of your team makeup is, you could definitely justify it. I don’t think that would be a problem at all. Now, it’s going to make you go short somewhere else. I understand that. But depending on how important the role is and how well the player does it, absolutely.

Q: Can you talk about Chris Patrick and how that came about?
BB: We evaluated Chris on the supplemental draft. One of the problems with players at that point in time is just your roster size. You’re committed to a lot of guys. We were actually a little bit over the limit once our draft choices signed and we had to release some players when our draft choices signed right at the beginning of camp and most teams are in that situation. It’s hard sometimes to get those extra players in because you have to release somebody to bring somebody in, guys who have been with you through spring camps and all of that and you want to get a look at them. Just the way it turned out, there were some things that we liked about Chris and now that we are a couple of weeks into camp and certain things have gone on with our roster, we found that we had a couple of roster spots available and we added him and we added Vinny and it just kind of worked out that way.

Q: Was there anything in the Giants game that helped in that decision?
BB: No, not really. Really most of our evaluation was based on what we saw at Nebraska.

Q: With the guys who are on the PUP, are we getting closer to a point now where if they’re not on the practice field within the next couple of days, they might be in jeopardy of not being able to play in the season opener?
BB: I think we’ll judge each case individually. Each guy is kind of in a day-by-day situation. I think they’re all making progress and certainly the closer it gets, the less time there and you cut it closer and closer. When is the breaking point and when is the deadline, I don’t know. We’ll certainly have to decide something at the last cut, whether to carry them active or keep them on the Reserve/PUP for October. At this point, they’re in a day-to-day situation. They’re all working hard. They’re all making progress and when they’re ready we’ll put them out there. We’re getting closer, I’m just not sure exactly when that’s going to be.

Q: Do you feel like having competition at certain positions can really help push players and maybe you get a better performance out of certain guys because they have someone pushing them?
BB: Sure. Sure. Absolutely. I think it pushes everybody to a little bit higher level and I think it also pushes the guy on the other side of the ball. When there’s competition at a spot, then both guys are working hard to try to earn it and that’s making the guy on the other side of the ball better because he’s facing two good guys, or he’s facing two guys that are competing. Really everybody is competing, but I know what you’re talking about, when you get a situation like that, but I think it helps everybody involved. Oftentimes, there’s enough of those in a training camp in a competitive situation that kind of forces everybody to move up there with that, a little bit higher intensity or competitive level of play on the practice field.

Q: Do you feel like if you have great depth at a position, that can help the competition be better?
BB: A lot of times you do to get good competition from that type of situation, but again, really our competition is the Jets, it’s San Diego, it’s Buffalo, it’s Miami, it’s Cleveland, it’s all of the teams that we play. So we’re really competing against them everyday, even though they’re not out there. But that’s really who the competition is. A lot of our practice, as you know, we’re really working for each other and the offense is running plays for the defense and the defense is running plays for the offense. You run them at a level that’s productive, but you don’t want a whole bunch of guys on the ground in piles and blindsiding guys and stuff like that. That’s just not a good way to practice. There’s a competitive spirit and there’s a competitive level, but there’s also practicing smart so that you can improve and not put guys or put your team at risk. Again, that’s kind of the balance that we’re trying to strike.

Q: This week, are you going to ramp up the film study and the scout team just to see how some of the guys react?
BB: Well, as I said, this week we’re kind of in that transition mode where we are probably going to be a little bit more on Carolinas than we were on Tennessee, but not as much as in the regular season. We’re not to that point. We’re still working on some general training camp things and again we’re also sprinkling some things in there that we want to do early in the season to keep working on those. It’s not a full-scale regular season preparation kind of game, but it’s more than we’ve had the last couple of weeks, put it that way. We’re moving in that direction, both on the practice field and in the meetings.

Q: Is there anything that you learned from last year with integrating the new receivers that has helped you this year speed that process along?
BB: I think a lot of training camp and preparing your team for the season as you start off with a general plan on the rate you’re going to install things and how you’re going to work on them and what you’re going to practice, and then as you go, we meet on it every night. We talk about the practice schedule and what we need to work on and how things are going and do we want to stay on schedule or are we going too fast or maybe are we going a little bit too slow and we need to pick it up a little bit, certain players are ready for more and then you have to balance that out with positions when you have players that are short at a certain positions and maybe another position is heavy with players and how to try to balance the work load and so forth. It’s really pretty much, even though we have a general schedule and a general plan, there’s a certain degree of fluctuation on a daily basis – how much hitting we do, what the speed of the drills are, how much individually do we do, how much team work we do, how much group work we do and all of those kinds of things. Then each coach individually has to make decisions on how many plays certain players get or when to switch them or which plays they want them in for, so forth and so on. That’s really a day-to-day type of thing and, offensively, it’s not about one position. It’s about the entire execution of the unit and that’s ultimately what we want to try to do, is to try to be an efficient offensive team and that includes everybody. So, everybody is important and everything we do is important. It’s not geared towards one position or one guy or one play or anything. It’s a composite. That’s how we try to look at it.


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