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Bill Belichick 7/29: "This will be a week for us to get into situational football"

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media prior to training camp practice at Gillette Stadium on Tuesday, July 29, 2014.


BB:** We're kind of starting our second week here. Some guys have been here a little bit longer than others but I feel like basically we're kind of heading into the second week. We had a little break in the action yesterday and it gave us a chance as a staff to get caught up on a few things in terms of our planning; make sure that we get everything right the best that we can this week as head into these next four days prior to the weekend, prior to heading down to Washington. [We] talked a little bit about where we're at. We had a schedule, we're pretty close to that but there are always a few things to modify. This will be a week for us to get into situational football: third down, two-minute, down-and-distance situations, things like that as we progress ahead to try to get ourselves ready for more game type situations. Big week for us; we need to get a lot done this week and put ourselves in position to start competing from here on out, really next week and all the way through the rest of the season. This is our last chance really to work with ourselves on our preparation to get our team ready to play on a team-wide basis.


Q:** You claimed Tyler Gaffney on waivers yesterday. What did you see from him in the scouting process that made him a player of interest?

BB: Tyler had a real good year last year. [He] went to Stanford and then was in baseball for a year and had a big year last year. I think he's a good all-around back that we want to work with. He was available, so we'll see how it plays out here.

Q: You guys like those baseball players, they've worked out pretty well for you.

BB: Not necessarily. I don't think that's any kind of prerequisite; a coincidence.

Q: Are there any specific skills from baseball that translate to the football field?

BB: I don't know. Maybe he can throw the halfback pass, I don't know.

Q: Hand eye coordination?

BB: I'm not sure.


Q:** What kind of impact has Vince Wilfork made on the field the first week of training camp?

BB: Yeah, obviously it's good to have Vince out there. But he, like everybody else, has a long way to go; a lot of things to work on. He missed most of the season last year. He's working his way back in. I think there are a lot of positive signs. I don't think he or anybody else is where they need to be, coaches included. We all have a lot of work to do. I know he's working hard at it. It's good to have him back out there but we all have a long way to go.

Q: I know there's a lot of evaluating going on in training camp, especially getting guys on the bus and making sure they're in the right seats. Is that process the most enjoyable for you during camp?

BB: I mean training camp is where it all comes together. You try to put your team together in the offseason the best that you can based on your opportunities. It's one thing to have a bunch of names up on the board and cards and all that. It's another thing to actually see them out there on the field working, working together, seeing how different people can play with each other in different schemes, different situations. We're doing a lot of coaching. Right now we're doing a lot of teaching, some that we did in the spring but some that's a lot different because of being able to put on pads and do some other work that we weren't able to do at that point. There's coaching, there's installation, there's getting ready to play another team or teams as we go forward, there's evaluations, there's evaluations of individuals, there's evaluations of groups of players, different personnel groupings, your line configurations, different, again, whether it be goal line or nickel or subsets or whatever it happens to be. There are really a lot of balls spinning in the air. You're trying to get ready for the opener. You're trying to get ready for a 16-game regular season schedule. There are a lot of things, a lot of targets to try to hit. I'd say it's pretty much impossible to be on all of them. You're always kind of giving something to take something. Trying to find the right players sometimes limits your scheme a little bit. Expanding your scheme sometimes skews the evaluation of the players. Getting ready for the opener isn't maybe necessarily the best thing to prepare for a full season; preparing for a full season cuts you short a little bit on the opener in certain respects. You have to try to balance it all out. I think that's what training camp is, is trying to do the best you can for all aspects of your team. Something has to give a little bit one way or another but we all face that same challenge.

Q: Some of the defensive guys went out to Arizona in the offseason to work together with someone outside the organization. I know Tom Brady has sought outside counsel as well. When that happens, how does that work logistically? Do they need to get clearance from you?


BB:** Based on the way the rules are now, there's only so much time we can work with them. We can't really work with anybody – you can't really talk to them until the start of the offseason program, that's April 21. You can't work with them the first two weeks they're there so now we're into early May. So, from early May, whatever it is, like May 7 until June 15, let's call it, whatever that is – six weeks – that's really the time that the coaches have to spend with the players and then training camp. So you have another big block of time. Players that want to get better, players that want to improve, players that want to continue to train and not just sit around and wait for the pages in the calendar to flip over, the way we have the league schedule, then they proactively go out and work on things that will help them be better players. I totally respect that. I wish we were able to give them more help and more direction and the use of our facilities and the expertise of our coaching staff and support staff on all levels – training, lifting, conditioning, nutrition and so forth. But the rules are what the rules are so we're not allowed to work with them. But I don't expect the guys to sit around and watch sitcoms all day. I'd like for them to be out there doing something. I wish we could do more with them. But we're restricted as to what we can do. That's the way we want it set up, that's the way the league and the players and all want it, so that's the way it is.

Q: Is it ever a challenge combining what they learned while training with outside counsel once they get here?

BB: Look, every player has been coached by more than one [coach]. You go to high school, college, camps, other personal trainers and so forth and so on. I'm sure we've all gained things from all those different ones. But once we come into this system, then everybody has to try to do what's best for our team. Sometimes that's a little bit different than what they were doing somewhere else. But we have to run a team here. Look, we're open to new ideas and we certainly have changed some of the training things, the techniques, the things that we do based on information that we get as a coaching staff or as a training staff, conditioning staff, whatever it happens to be. If we can find a better way to do it, we're all for doing it and improving our program. We're always striving for that. So, wherever those suggestions or ideas come from, whether it's us visiting another college or something or talking to somebody that is in area of expertise or again, sometimes it's players coming to us from college or from another organization saying, 'Hey, this worked well for me, maybe it's something we should do.' So, yeah, we've done that from time to time. Sometimes we think it's a good thing for us. Sometimes we think, with all due respect, we have a better way to do it. We certainly can learn and improve what we're doing. The doors aren't closed to that at all.

Q: How much progression have you seen from Ryan Wendell through the years?


BB:** A lot. When Ryan first got here, he couldn't even make our practice squad. He was a camp player, wasn't on our practice squad at the beginning of the season. We brought him back to the practice squad during his first year, I want to say in like October or somewhere in there. He has worked his way from there on to a consistent practice squad player to a roster player to playing more plays, or whatever it was, played as many plays as anybody in the league did. I'd say it's been about as big of a progression as really any player could have, any player I've had or any player could have – maybe Steve Neal, but it's the same kind of thing, guys that weren't even on the practice squad that eventually became starting players in the NFL. That's a pretty big jump. It took a lot of time, a lot of hard work and he's certainly done his part and worked hard. He's a very smart football player and doesn't have many missed assignments, does a good job with communication from the center position with the offensive line. He had very good coaching in college with Pat Hill. He had good coaching here with [former offensive line coach] Dante [Scarnecchia], now Googe [offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo]. He's also been the beneficiary of people that have been able to train him well, like [Patriots assistant strength and conditioning coach, formerly at Fresno State] Moses [Cabrera] did out at Fresno [State] or [head strength and conditioning coach] Harold [Nash] and Moses are doing now. Physically he's developed. So, he's had a lot of good people to work with. He's taken advantage of that. He's put in a lot of sweat equity himself and he's got a good result to show for it. It's a great story. It's a great example of perseverance and dedication and hard work with good results; I love to see it.

Q: What makes you stick with a guy that can't even make your practice squad when he's not as physically imposing as Steve Neal?

BB: I think the improvement. I think as long as the player is improving you keep working with him and see how much more improvement they make. If they continue to improve then you continue to work with them. At whatever point you think it's kind of leveling off or you've reached the high water mark, then you have to decide whether that's good enough. If it's not and you don't feel like it's going to get any better and it's not good enough, you probably need to look for somebody else. But as long as that arrow keeps pointing up – you're never really sure exactly how high it's going to go and we all know that there's a lot more to playing football than just straight physical testing abilities. We see that with a number of players on our team. Testing and all is relevant, I'm not saying it's insignificant and ability is certainly, a certain level of it is required. But we're playing football, we're not track athletes, we're not individual test athletes. We're football players on a team. [If] a guy can improve and contribute to the team, then he'll eventually have a role for the team.

Q: To an untrained eye, it seems like Ryan played better in 2012 than 2013. Do you feel like the arrow is still going up and improvement is still going on?

BB: Again, I think every year you start all over again. We all do. Within any year certainly we all have our moments that are good and we have some that aren't so good that we'd like to have back. So, I'm sure you could find good and bad plays from all of us that have participated – players, coaches, every position, every year. I think when you look at the overall performance, the overall projection of where you think the player is going to be based on whatever – his age, his experience, his work ethic, his training or age, whichever way it's going, there's a certain projection there but you wait and let it play out. I think that's where we are in training camp now for really all the players. They've all trained, they've all been through the spring. They've all worked to put themselves in this position. Now we go out there and let them compete and see how it unfolds. I don't know how it's going to happen. Certainly if we would have projected Ryan Wendell and Steve Neal their rookie years; none of us would have thought [Tom] Brady for that matter. His rookie year, he didn't do anything either. None of us would have thought that those guys would be the contributors they ended up being. That's why we go out there and have training camp. That's what competition is about. Sometimes you find out things differently.

Q: How has the transition from Dante Scarnecchia to Dave DeGuglielmo been, especially with young players? Are there any similarities between the two and what have you seen yourself?

BB: I think they're both good coaches and obviously Dante was here for a long time, did a great job. Googe has picked things up well. He's been in our system, similar system when he was in Miami and the carryover from when he was with the Giants and the Jets. It's certainly similar. He's in our system and he has good experience. Each coach has, we all have our different styles. No two are the same but Googe is smart, he's well prepared, he has a good rapport with his players. He's a good communicator, works hard, has a good level of experience so I'm definitely pleased with the job he's doing. We all have a long way to go. There are things we all can improve on and certainly as a staff when you have new people on your staff or there are new responsibilities like [tight ends coach] Brian [Daboll], like Googe, like [defensive assistant] Brendan [Daly], there's a certain time period in terms of building your staff chemistry, your staff communication and just tying up some loose ends that's just part of the process. It's no different than having new players in your system or having new coaches in your system. There's a certain element of development that needs to and is taking place and we'll continue to do that. I think that so far we're, again, we went through the whole spring with him. It's not like he just got here yesterday. We've been at this for quite a while.

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