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Bill Belichick 8/5: 'No other quarterback I’d rather have quarterbacking our team than Tom Brady'

Posted Aug 5, 2014

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media prior to Patriots-Redskins joint practice in Richmond, VA on Tuesday, August 5, 2014.

BB: First of all, after looking at the film from yesterday and just talking about the experience out here, I thought it was a really good day for our football team. We got a lot better. The Redskins are a good team; they do a lot of things well and gave us a lot of challenges and certainly things we need to look at on film and correct and understand how to do better. I thought that both teams worked well with each other. It was great work but also good cooperation. It’s kind of what we came down here for. I think that, as I said, Jay [Gruden] and the coordinators – Sean [McVay], Jim [Haslett] – have really done a really good job with the team. They’re fundamentally sound, they compete well, they play well and I thought we had real good cooperation out there. Nice setup, a lot of fans – saw a lot of Patriots fans out there yesterday. That was good; didn’t expect to see that. But we’re looking forward to a good day here this afternoon, try to cover some situations and then build on that for tomorrow’s practice. We’ll just add situations and just getting into more of a game-type of routine like we’re going to need to do Thursday night. We’re looking forward to another day out here.

Q: It seems like you and Tom Brady have been together so long that it seems like you guys have more of a partnership than the typical head coach-quarterback relationship. Do you agree with that? If so, how did it get to that point?

BB: Well, I don’t know. Tom and I came in together the same year. His rookie year was my first year with the Patriots. I feel like I’ve had a good relationship with Tom since he’s been with the team. Even as a rookie, even though he didn’t play and wasn’t active on the field, he had a very active role off the field with the scout team and the preparation. We had a lot of young players; we had 20-some rookies on that team. He was kind of in charge of those guys doing extra on their own and learning our system and so forth. He’s always had a real, I would say, strong leadership role on the team. Even the year he didn’t play in 2000, certainly as he became the starting quarterback in 2001, which was also just coincidentally the year that [former quarterbacks] Coach [Dick] Rehbein died in training camp, about this time as a matter of fact, that Charlie Weis and I kind of split up the quarterbacking responsibilities that Dick had. So, Charlie took the quarterbacks half the time and I took the quarterbacks the other half the time. That, I would say, started the kind of daily relationship with Tom. Really ever since then, since the 2001 season, I’ve met with the quarterbacks at least two times every week and then in a lot of cases, five or six times depending on what, the way the staff broke down that particular season over the last 15 years. I feel like Tom and I do have a good relationship and I have a lot of respect for Tom. No other quarterback I’d rather have quarterbacking our team than Tom Brady. I guess that’s the best way I could sum it up.

Q: How do quarterbacks and coaches get on the same page in this league? What’s your advice?

BB: I can’t really give you an answer to that question. I don’t know how it works on other teams; other coaches and other quarterbacks. Everybody has their own way of doing things and their own setup. Again, for me, it hasn’t been the same every year. There have been years where, as I said, I met with the quarterbacks on a daily basis. 2001 would have been one of those years. There were other years where I’d just be with them a couple times a week. It’s not anything that’s set in stone but it’s certainly a important relationship to have. As a head coach, you want your quarterback to be able to control the team, the way you see it [and] want it controlled when he’s out there on the field. The last thing you want is to be looking out there and kind of have the feeling of, ‘What’s going on? What are we doing? This isn’t what we want.’ That isn’t where you want to be. I’m fortunate I haven’t had that feeling very many time, rarely have I ever had that. So, being on the same page with a quarterback, whatever it is you’re trying to do, whether it’s strategy, plays, where the ball is going to go on a play. When we call a play we get a certain defense, we know where the ball should go on that play. That’s part of it too. Tom does a great job of that.

Q: What kind of development have you seen from Ryan Mallett?

BB: I think Ryan has been solid for us all year. He had a good, I thought he got off to a decent start in the spring and then he missed the last week, the last three or four practices, whatever it was, but that really hasn’t affected him now. He’s come back and done everything, done very well. Like everybody out there every player, some plays are better than others. Ryan has good poise in the huddle, good presence on the field, handles the team well and absolutely knows the offense from A to Z and can make the adjustments and whatever changes, communications, checks, we need to make. He’s shown good ability to do that, he has a lot of physical talent. He’ll get an opportunity to – he really hasn’t had an opportunity to play in a regular season game in three years so he’ll get a lot of playing time this year in preseason and hopefully continue to improve.

Q: In terms of the starters working in a controlled environment like this, what benefit do you see to that, since they’re not going to get much time on Thursday?

BB: Right. Yeah, I’d say the big thing would be the situations. We worked against the Redskins on kind of basic situations yesterday: first, second, third down. We did some one-on-ones, inside running drills, things like that, kind of the, if you will, normal situations, so that was good. Today we’re going to get into red area and third down and two-minute and tomorrow we’re going to get into some more situational play and I think that’s where a lot of the value comes on this. It’s hard to get your – I mean, let’s face it – there’s no team in the league that’s going to have their starting offense and starting defense on the field on the final drive of the game in preseason like it’s going to be in the regular season. So in order to get work like that, this is a good opportunity to get it against somebody else. Not only the situations, but just playing against another team in that situation, trying to stop them or trying to score. Same in the red area – we may get a handful of red area plays in the preseason games. Don’t know. We might not. But we know we’re going to get probably over 25 today. Same thing on third down. I don’t know how many third downs some of our guys who are going to have a lot of playing time during the year are going to get in preseason, but by the end of the week we’ll probably have 30 third down situations here. You just can’t get the reps in preseason games like you can get out here on the practice fields. Especially in situational play, I think that’s very valuable for the individual players and also collectively for the team in terms of communication and playing in the situation. I think that’s the biggest value. We had some live contact yesterday for some of the guys that have less experience, less playing time, to give them an opportunity to show what they can do. We’ll see that today and we’ll see it obviously Thursday, so that’s kind of the different priority for those players, so Jay and I have adjusted the schedule to accommodate that.

Q: Rob Gronkowski wasn’t out there yesterday, so that’s the first full practice of camp he’s missed. Can you update us on his status and whether he’s still on schedule for the season?

BB: Yeah, I don’t have any update. He wasn’t out there yesterday. He won’t be out there today.

Q: We talked at the start of camp about the team’s conditioning level and you mentioned that as camp went on, you’d get a better feel for the team’s conditioning level. What’s you big takeaway on the team on conditioning?

BB: I think we’re making progress and I don’t think we’re where we need to be for the opener yet. Again, you can’t get in condition to play football without playing football. You can run around a track and do sit-ups and all of that until the cows come home, but you’ve got to get in condition to play football by playing football. The daily grind of training camp practices, competitive practices like this, game conditions, that’s getting in condition to play football too. It’s a process. Hopefully our team will be ready to play on opening day from a conditioning standpoint, that’s what our goal is and we’ll try to build toward that goal – well, we have been building toward it from the first day of training camp on July 21 or 24, whatever day you want to start counting, all the way to opening day.

Q: In all the conversations you’ve had with Jay, has he ever picked your brain on being an NFL coach and what advice would you give him about having success at this level?

BB: Well first of all, I think Jay is a really good football coach. I think his record and his accomplishments speak for themselves. I don’t think he really needs any help from me. And any conversations that Jay and I have had are going to remain private between myself and Jay. I’m going to respect that.

Q: What about your reason for success that you’ve had in this league? What advice would you give about finding success?

BB: I don’t know. That’s not really a big priority of mine. I’m really focused on this season, not what’s happened in the past, some other season or some other year or whatever. It doesn’t really matter. We’ve had good years and we’ve had years that weren’t as good, but that really doesn’t make any difference. Right now we’re in the 2014 season and I'm going to try to do the best job I can to prepare our team and coach our team to be successful this year. And right now, that’s to go out here and have a good practice this afternoon. That’s what I’m going to try to do. That’s what we’re going to focus on and I don’t think the rest of it is important right now.

Q: From what you’ve been told by officials about how they’re going to enforce illegal contact in the secondary and what you’ve seen in the practices, do you think over time we’ll see an increase in penalties?

BB: I have no idea. I have no idea.