Bill Belichick checked in with reporters on Monday to discuss the 2020 draft and how the Patriots are managing through these difficult times that have left teams with limited access to their facilities and a new set of challenging circumstances.
Belichick was sure to acknowledge and thank the healthcare professionals from the start.
"On behalf of the team I want to recognize and express our appreciation and admiration for all the people whose jobs are to treat people and keep our lives going everyday," began Belichick. "We look forward to getting to the other side of this. In the meantime, this has really put things in perspective for all of us. We appreciate all the hard work that everybody's doing to keep us safe and keep our daily lives going."
This was the first time the Patriots head coach had spoken with the media since the end of the Patriots season. While he did put out a lengthy statement after Tom Brady's departure for Tampa Bay, Belichick again gave a nod to Brady and everything he's meant to the Patriots for the last two decades.
"It would of course be impossible to sum up everything Tom did in 20 years into a comment, then or now, but I meant everything I said about him," said Belichick. "I'm sure we'll be talking about him for years and decades to come but right now we're moving forward and focused on the draft."
When asked about Brady's expected successor Jarrett Stidham, Belichick maintained the level-headed and competition-focused approach he's cultivated at every other position on the roster during his tenure in New England.
"We've spent quite a bit of time with both Brian [Hoyer] and [Jarrett Stidham]," said Belichick. "Circumstances will be different this year and we'll see how everything plays out. To start with, I think the main thing is to give everyone a chance to compete, to get people comfortable with the position and the skills that they're playing, the communication that's involved. We'll evaluate the players as we get an opportunity to evaluate them. The spring's about teaching the best we can."
The coach did acknowledge that Brady was the key part of the Patriots offense for the last 20 seasons and that now they'll approach the next starting quarterback with the same focus, playing to their strengths and giving them the best chance to succeed, just as they did with Brady.
"Over the last two decades everything we did, every single decision we made in terms of major planning was made with the idea of how to make things best for Tom Brady," said Belichick. "Whoever the quarterback is we'll try to make things work as smoothly and efficiently for that player and take advantage of his strengths."
With just two quarterbacks on the roster it's a good bet the Patriots will add another in the draft and Belichick sees the usual variety to a group that has good depth to it.
"There's quite a range of players and some of the systems that they played in college are different, either from what we run or what traditional NFL systems would look like, and some are closer schematically to that. That's about the way it always is. There's always a variety of things you the to try to put together and try to look at but certainly there's a lot of interesting players."
This offseason will present some unique challenges for every NFL team. With teams leaning more on technology to meet with prospects and having to execute their draft process from remote locations, Belichick said he was getting better at using the alternative methods that the current situation has put them in.
"All the teams are working with the same constraints," said Belichick. "I think for the most part we all adjusted to that and tried to take advantage of the opportunity to do those things."
Belichick drew comparisons to 2011, when the lockout limited the amount of contact with the coaches could have with players. While the access to training is more limited, there's still a chance to teach even if it's remotely.
"The teaching part of it will hopefully be okay," reflected Belichick. "The fundamental part of it, the execution part of it, the timing and so forth is probably going to be similar to the lockout in 2011 when you were just dealing with training camp and you had to accelerate the teaching, the execution, the teamwork and so forth.
"Relative to the 2011 season, I think we'll have a better opportunity to teach. So that's what we're focused on in the spring, is to get as much teaching done as we can and then we'll see what kind of opportunities we'll have to actually work on the field."