Bill Belichick Q&A, 7/28

Posted on July 28, 2008 
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Thanks to the Patriots’ PR staff, here’s the complete transcript of today’s Q&A with Bill Belichick and the New England media.

BB: Well, we’re just rolling through the training camp mode here. We are starting to get into a little bit more situational football. We have the officials coming in tomorrow. They will kind of piggy back up off that in terms of making the players aware of some rules changes and how the games called, especially some of the younger guys. As we build through the week here, our situational football is going to start to pick up – red area, third down end of the game type stuff. Kicking situation and plays, all that type of stuff. In addition to our normal installation and the normal training camp routine we have that aspect going in too. That is what you will be seeing out there the next few days. There is not a lot of breaking news on this end.

Q: With the officials coming tomorrow is one of the things they are going to go over the new headset rule?
BB: We’re not going to deal with the headset issue until next week. We have enough to do to try to get ourselves straightened out with our normal stuff before we tackle something new. We’re going to try to make sure we have our basic installation in, substitution procedures and all that instead of adding another thing into the mix. I’m sure there are going to be a time where we are not going to be able to use that [radio system] for various reasons. We are going to have to operate without it anyway so we want to make sure we have that system down. We will look into it at the end of this week or next week.

Q: For a team that substitutes as much as you do, could that be a problem?
BB: That is one of the many problems that we have to address is since there is only one person out there, if he doesn’t have it than we are going to signal them anyway.

Q: How does the rule break down?
BB: The rule is you can only have one helmet out there defensively at a time. You designate two people that could wear the helmet. If one of those players was to leave you could put the helmet on player B.

Q: So it would be like Brad Smith with the [New York] Jets? He brings two helmets to every game.
BB: Exactly. If Tedy Bruschi was one of the radio guys than whoever the other player was would have two [helmets]. If you didn’t use one than you could use the other but if you are taking a guy out of the game for a third down play than you don’t switch the helmet, it would be easier to just signal it in.

Q: So that is a consideration too. To use signals?
BB: I think, from the coaches that I have talked to in the league, the defensive coaches and the head coaches, I think that everyone feels you better be prepared to signal.

Q: To clarify, you can only have two helmets at a game?
BB: You designate two players per game but only one can have the helmet on at a time with the green dot.

Q: [Inaudible]
BB: [If] player A leaves than player B can put on his helmet but there is no player C. One helmet has to be in a box on the sideline. More importantly than that for right now will be the actual communication between the coach and the player and getting organized. On a defensive system like ours, I don’t even know who would be the best player to wear that. We might need to experiment with that a little bit. Quarterbacks have gotten accustomed to getting the play call and getting stuff in their helmet. You start doing that to other guys and they are trying to think about what they’re doing and trying to listen to people talking to them in the headset so it’s not easy. We will just have to see where it goes. That right now is a low priority. If we get to it next week, we get to it next week. Right now, we are just trying to get our stuff installed and learn how to run it. We want to make sure we got it down and deal with that later.

Q: To clarify, you can only have two helmets at a game?
BB: Exactly. That is another option. I think for teams like the [Baltimore] Ravens with Ray Lewis and the [Chicago] Bears with [Brian] Urlacher where that guy is going to be on the field for 95-100 percent of the plays in every situation, he’s the team signal caller anyway. That is kind of easy. For other teams that don’t have that type of situation, it’s a little less clear on what the best way is to handle it would be. For some of the teams I’ve talked to they are thinking about the same kind of issues. There are multiple considerations. On our end it will be a little bit of a trial and error type of thing.

Q: Can you talk about how well [Jason] Webster, [Fernando] Bryant and [Lewis] Sanders have picked things up?
BB: I think that all three players are smart, they work hard [and] they have had some playing experience. They are all kind of different but the fact that they have been here through the off-season and spring camps, I think that they all have a good base heading into training camp. I think that they are all having good camps. Fernando has gotten his hands on quite a few balls. Lewis is a bigger guy and being in pads has helped him to be a little more physical with the receivers, which wasn’t the case in mini and passing camp. Jason has got some good flexibility for us. He has played inside and outside. He is a smart guy and has quite a bit of playing experience as well. I think they are all coming along well. I think we have a good competitive situation there with the veteran players we brought in, with some of the younger players we have, some of the players on the team like Ellis [Hobbs] when he is out there and [Mike] Richardson. We will see how it all shapes up but it seems like a very competitive group right now. Everyone is right in the mix, which isn’t always the case but everyone is right in the pick of it.

Q: Several players have used the word finish to describe this year. Would you say that is the motto?
BB: Well, I think as in anything football or any other job a lot of things are important. Starting is important. Starting fast, getting off on the right foot, getting yourself in a position that you are going to be competitive whether it is in a play, a game or a season. Starting fast, being good fundamentally and not making mental mistakes. Finishing is the end part of it. Sometimes the finish of the play is more important than the beginning play. On a play you can be out of position and then recover and get back into position and make the play. If you don’t you drop the ball or miss a tackle and then you don’t have a good play. We try to emphasize all the stages along the way. I can’t say you can have one without the other on everything. For the most part that is part of it, finishing plays, finishing drives, finishing games and finishing situations. There is no question that is important. It is a point emphasis.

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