With Patriots Training Camp set to open on Wednesday, Bill Belichick kicked off his 23rd season with New England on Tuesday with his first virtual media availability of the new year. Even at 70, the head coach expressed his continued excitement to get things rolling as the entire team has now reported.
"It'll be good to have everybody here today, we'll get some of the preliminary things out of the way to start camp and by this afternoon and tomorrow, when we get the field, we'll be able to kind of pick up where we left off at the end of the spring," said Belichick, adding that the start of camp will be an extension of the teaching portion of the offseason as the team brushes up on some final details before the real competition kicks in.
"We'll continue to install things that we didn't get to in the spring and try to have everybody ready to go when we are able to start padded practices and preseason games, work against other teams and so forth, as we build in a training camp," Belichick continued. "So this is four or five days of a ramp-up period, and that will be a lot of teaching. Iron out some wrinkles here, work out a few kinks and then be ready to compete and practice and play."
One of the biggest differences for 2022 is the return of Mac Jones as the starting quarterback. Belichick relayed that Mac is much further along in the football "conversation" with his coaches after getting a full year of experience, and the hard work he's put in over the offseason has already started to pay off.
"I think Mac has done a great job, he's worked extremely hard," said Belichick. "He's got a tremendous work ethic in all areas. I think there's a dramatic improvement... it was physical work and conditioning, working on his mechanics, working on his footwork, working on his understanding of our offense, of opponent defenses, of situations, all those things. We've talked about all those things in varying degrees.
"He's made tremendous strides and, you know, he did a great job last year, but he's starting from a much, much higher point this year than where he started last year."
Along with the rest of the NFL, the Patriots are once again at the bottom of the mountain, looking to make their way to the peak, step by step, inch by inch and it all starts Wednesday on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium.
"We all need a refresher, we all need to work ourselves into the position that we need to be in to compete and to perform well in the National Football League, and certainly none of us are there yet. No coaches, no players, nobody we all got a lot of work to do. So that's what training camp's for."