Belichick Discusses The Michael Bishop Factor

Ian Logue
February 5, 2000 at 2:00 pm ET

FOXBORO, MA — Don’t be surprised to see Michael Bishop at some point during next season.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick talked quite a bit about the rookie during Friday’s press conference, and even went on to say that the quarterback coach he hires will have to be someone who not only can coach Drew Bledsoe effectively, but also someone who can work well with Bishop. While Bledsoe is the starter in Belichick’s mind right now, he feels that Bishop is a good enough player to make sure receives the proper coaching as well.

“I do have respect and an appreciation for where [Drew] is and what he needs,” said Belichick. “At the same time, part of the decision in hiring a quarterback coach is that coach’s responsibility to coach Michael Bishop as well. What Michael Bishop needs right now is alot different from what Drew Bledsoe needs. Drew Bledsoe is our top priority don’t get me wrong, but so is Michael Bishop and so is the next Michael Bishop.”

“When you hire somebody to coach a position, I think you have to look at the whole picture of what you want that person to do. I’ve seen this happen before where you hire him with one job in mind and he may be good at that job, but there may be other things that you might want him to do. If that doesn’t work out, you’ve solved one problem but you haven’t solved another one.”

While Belichick didn’t mention any names of any potential candidates, he did take a little bit of time describing the type of requirements that the quarterbacks coach would have with the team.

“That position as with alot of other positions, the requirements are not only to coach the starting quarterback, but also to develop the other quarterbacks who may at some point either have to play, or have the ability to become players,” said Belichick. “So what I’m looking for is a coach who can coach the position thoroughly, and that means all the way from rookie quarterbacks, to veteran quarterbacks, to John Freisz the back up quarterback. They all have different requirements. [It needs to be] someone who understands our offensive system and will not only be able teach the quarterback how to throw a pass technically, but also be able to understand the offensive system and make sure the quarterback understands fully what we’re doing. I think the more that he understands about the offense, the better we’ll be be able to execute it.”

Many of the fans throughout the preseason last year basically only watched the games to see the fourth quarter. Michael Bishop came in and electrified the crowd with his exciting play, and it began a long season of listening to the Drew Bledsoe skeptics call for the veteran’s benching to give way to this exciting rookie. While Carroll said many times at the end of the season that it was very possible we’d see him play, it simply never happened. Belichick says that he’ll do what’s best for the football team, and if that means throwing a “curveball” every once in a while, than so be it. He does feel however that it’s important for a team to know who the quarterback is.

“I think it’s better for the football team to know who the quarterback is, commit to him, and for the quarterback to commit to the team and to move forward,” said Belichick. “Having said that though, I do respect that every situation is a little bit different and you’ve got to do what’s best for the football team. What’s best for the football team is to throw a curveball instead of a fastball every time or to have a change of pace, and there are alot of teams and situations where players can effectively compliment each other. Sometimes it’s a solution and sometimes it’s a problem. I think each one’s different.”

“First of all I don’t know Michael Bishop. I mean all I know is that I saw him play in college, I saw him in some preseason games this year because we opened with the Patriots. But I really don’t know the player so I think until I have an opportunity to work with him it’s hard for me to make a great prediction on what you will or won’t be able to do [with him], especially given the fact he’s only been in the league one year. He’s signed, it’s not like he’s in any kind of limbo contractually. He’s here, so we’ll work with him and see where that goes.”

Belichick also went on to say that he feels that while a rotation can sometimes be a good thing to keep opposing teams off balance, it can also work against you. He says he’ll do what’s best for the team, but he’ll be flexible and take into consideration the players that he’s dealing with.

“Last year I know in playing against the Patriots, there was a guard rotation between Heath [Irwin], Max [Lane], and Todd [Rucci]. Sometimes that can be a real positive thing, but I’ve also seen rotations that can be very negative and I’ve been involved with those. I feel like I’m flexible, I’ll do what’s best for the team, and I’ll take into consideration the people that are involved. Sometimes it’s a solution, sometimes it only adds to the problem.”

Belichick is not afraid to pull a player when he’s playing poorly, because frankly he’s done it for years. He even went so far as to pull Bernie Kosar back when he was the head coach in Cleveland. The veteran was playing poorly at the time, so he started Vinny Testaverde instead. Most people would say that pulling a quarterback is alot different than pulling someone from another position. While some of that is true, Belichick feels that it’s usually not pleasant, regardless of who it is.

“I would disagree a little bit with that though because I’ve been with players and a good number of them,” said Belichick. “When you take them out, maybe some people don’t say anything, but I’ve heard alot of things. ‘Don’t do that to me’, ‘You don’t have confidence in me’, ‘Why am I out?’, so I would say that’s not always the case, believe me. I’ve taken players out of games and something was said, but the pulling of the quarterback is a little bit of a different situation, I’m not trying to say that. Again it’s a situation that I’ll have to make a decision on when the time comes, if it comes. If it comes at that position just like every other position I’ll do what I think is best for the football team.”

The Patriots offense fell apart in the second half of last season, and the previous coaching staff was never able to get it going again. At the time many people blamed the receivers for not getting open, even more blamed the offensive line, and others blamed Ernie Zampese. Toward the end of the year quite a few blamed Bledsoe for not making the plays that they were accustomed to seeing him make. With the amount of talent that the team had, it was hard for many to watch New England finish at 8-8. While Belichick wasn’t here for those games, he knows that when things are going poorly everything looks bad and people begin to point fingers. He’s hoping this season will be different.

“Sometimes when things go well, everything looks great. When things don’t go well, everything looks bad. Usually it’s somewhere in the middle, it’s not always all bad or all good. At the quarterback position just like the head coach, things go good you get alot of credit, things go bad you get alot of blame, but usually it’s something in the middle. I wasn’t here for those games, and there’s some things on film that are maybe technically correctable, but I’m sure there’s a bigger picture to it than that. In summation, Drew’s a good quarterback. He’s had alot of success, he’s become a real leader on this team since I’ve been here during the last four years, and I can see that on the field. What I want to do with Drew is to move forward, not dwell on what has or hasn’t happened. I want to move forward so that he’ll be confident and he’s effective and productive into next season. That’s really where the majority of my focus is rather than spend an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out whether it was the route, the play, the protection, or something else. Certainly there are some things that need to be corrected but more importantly we need to move on and not dwell on all the things that were here that I had no control over or try to find another solution to that problem.”

“We’re not going to be on that train anymore. We’ve gotten off, and we’re going to get on a new one.”

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