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Bill Belichick Conference Call

Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick talks about the status of the Super Bowl XXXVI Champion New England Patriots.To read a full transcript, click below.



BB: I think you all have the transactions from yesterday with Jace Sayler and all that. You know, we've got a number of other guys whose contracts will be up, and some of those we are involved with. I think it would be unrealistic to expect that all of those would get done here before the first of March. But we are working on some of them and if we get anything done, of course we will let you know about that.

Just to review the situation of where we are right now, when I saw the players last, which was in different time frames, be it after the game or on the plane or at the parade, I encouraged all of them to get away and forget about football for a while. I said not to let one season run into another and just relax and enjoy it a little bit, mentally refresh themselves a little bit. We want them to physically get some rest and try not to gain too much weight. They will be back when the offseason program starts. That will be in a couple different phases, but that's kind of the schedule that they are on.

From the coaching standpoint, it's really a little bit different. We are out of the frying pan and into the fire in terms of evaluating last season, evaluating our roster and some of the strategic things we are doing, football play books, game plans and all those kinds of things. Really the most important thing for us right now is self-evaluation. We're trying to determine not only how things went last year in different areas, but more importantly how to improve them. Looking forward, we have to determine how we are going to meet the various challenges we've had to meet.

We're going at a pretty good pace trying to get caught up. We are also heading into free agency and the combine this week. Without question we are well behind where we would be as a coaching staff at this point going into those things. But Scott [Pioli] and the scouting people have done a good job of gaining a lot of information. That's what they do. We're trying to get caught up with them, and I'm sure that as we undergo this process we'll be involved in it. We're just a little further behind than we were last year.

One coaching update would be that Charlie [Weis] and I are going to continue to handle the quarterbacks the way we did last year. That decision has been reached and that's how we'll do that.

I'd say the big thing for right now for us is to try to evaluate things from last year, prepare for the offseason and the things in the spring, because I think that's really where the foundation of last year's team was. We'd made a lot of gains before we even gotten to training camp on the football team. I think it's important that we try to keep those things in place again this year. Our mode right now is pretty much day-to-day. I know you'll probably have a lot of long-term questions and I probably won't have too many good answers for you because the most pressing problems are the ones that have to be handled immediately. The ones that can wait are waiting. That's about it, and I'm happy to try and answer any questions if you have any.

Q: Can you talk about why you and Charlie decided to keep the quarterback coaching situation as it was last year?

BB: We thought that it worked out fairly well. There were some things that we had to logistically work around, but by the end of the year I think we had gotten comfortable with it and felt like based on where we are at this year…and I think it is hard to make a lot of changes because we are so far down the road in terms of preparing for next year and the things that we have to do, that we just felt like that it would be best to keep it the way it was, that that would…it was efficient and it would give us the most continuity and enable us to not only get the job done, but stay focused on all the things we need to do.

Q: Did you talk to Tom [Brady] or Drew [Bledsoe] about that? Did you get input from the players?

BB: We pretty much made that decision as a coaching staff. We talked about some other options like we did when Coach Rehbein died, but in the end we…that's the way we are going to do it this year.

Q: Was the decision based in part on some positive side effects from you and Charlie having to take over the reigns last year in terms of your own involvement? Were there some good things that came out of it for you and Charlie that made you want to continue it?

BB: Yeah, I think there were. I think that…you know when you are the head coach one thing you want to do is be as much on the same page with your coordinators as you can and that's a lot easier said than done because there are so many things that go into offensive and defensive game plans and adjustments and so forth. So the majority of the 2000 season I spent with the defensive coaches and then I spent a lot more time with the offensive coaches and the offensive system this past year. So it helped me, but I think it also helped Charlie as well and it just smoothed out a lot of things for both of us.

Q: Have the Raiders contacted you about talking to Charlie about their coaching?

BB: No.

Q: Does a shorter offseason maybe affect the quarterback-coach position as well, maybe less time for a coach to come in and learn the system?

BB: I think that was small part of it, not so much him coming in a learning it, but us having enough time to teach it to him.

Q: You talked about self scouting and the need to go through that period right now. People might say that this team won a championship, where did they go wrong? I imagine you must be finding dozens of places where things can be changed. What would some of them be?

BB: Well we are always looking to improve and wherever we can improve it we'll try to improve it. You know I am not saying this is a rebuilding situation. I'm not trying to characterize it that way, but we evaluated everything we did last year. Some things we thought worked out pretty well, other things we want to tweak a little bit to try to improve them, other things we thought could be a lot better. For example a 1-3 start, I think we need to do better than that next year. So trying to address our start of the season, we didn't start off well in 2000 and we didn't start off well in 2001, that's one are that we can improve in right off the bat. You know we are just trying to, again, take it day to day and address all…you know right now it's the offseason program, that's the next time that the team comes together and we start working with the players. How can we have a more productive offseason. We are moving into a stadium. There are a number of logistical things that, they always change from year to year and we just have to try to manage those the best we can.

Q: For you winning the Super Bowl, how does it compare to how hypothetically you thought it would be to win a Super Bowl? The reality versus what you dreamed of all those years?

BB: It's better. I don't want to say it is business as normal because it's not. It has been different. In the 2000 season I showed a horse race and we lost the game and I was a moron. This year we showed a horse race and we won and now I'm a horse racing expert and go to the Kentucky Derby and all that. So it's different, but as a coach and the way the seasons run together for the coaches you just can't sit around and reminisce about it for very long. There are just too many other pressing issues for the team and I'm sure that Miami and Buffalo and the Jets and all the other teams, they don't care about that. We've got to really just look to press forward. But it is a great feeling, you go out publicly and people are thanking you and telling you how much the season meant to them personally or their families of their relatives or so forth and how long they've supported the Patriots. And those are, I mean it is great to hear those kinds of things, it great to feel like you made an impact on a community.

Q: What are your plans for Drew Bledsoe right now?

BB: Right now we are really trying to address the things that are most pressing: the players that don't have contracts and some of the free agency issues. Other things, the players that are under contract, those are all things that…they'll get taken care of in due course, but we're not trying to do anything with anybody, that…I mean there are no active negotiations or anything like that if that is what you are asking. I mean I think what all the players should be doing right now is relaxing and coming off the season and then there will be a time when they can start preparing for the next one.

Q: How difficult do you think it is going to be to re-sign [Roman] Phifer? He is a California guy with a son in L.A., obviously he doesn't have any real ties to this area?

BB: I mean he's got some football ties, but no it is not his natural…it's not where he grew up. I don't know, I think that every player that is not under contract that you try to sign there are always some things that you have to work out and sometimes they work out and sometimes they don't. I can't really put a percentage on how difficult it will be or what the percentages are that it will or won't happen. We'll try to do what we can and if it works out then both sides will be happy and if it doesn't then maybe it wouldn't have been a good deal for either side. I mean that's usually the way that it works. You want both people to be happy when they sign a contract. Roman was when he came in here last year and so were we. So hopefully we can create that same environment this year, but we understand we are not going to be able to do it with all the players, that's just reality.

Q: Getting back to Drew, on Friday teams can start calling and formally offering things. Have you prepared yourself as a staff for that eventuality of the phone ringing on Monday and having to weigh draft picks or players or whatever it may be?

BB: Well I think it's the same…it's not anything specific toward any player. If the phone rings we'll answer it and see what's on the other line, but I don't know any action…we are not contemplating taking any specific action.

Q: Last year at this time you had a good idea for a game plan for signing players and it was a big part of what you did. Is it going to be more difficult this year to do what you did, do you have to have as many signings, have you identified some of those free agents that might upgrade your operation?

BB: The thing that we are looking for are good football players. That's what we try to identify and it's a lot easier to identify those players when you have them on your team and you've had them in your system. When you are looking at them from the outside in you have to look at other teams in those evaluations. So we are trying to find good football players and we found a couple guys like Mike Vrabel who didn't have one mental error the entire year or Roman Phifer who played over 1,000 plays for us this year or Marc Edwards who's one of our most dependable players. So if you can identify and find those players and see where they fit into your system then that is really what you are looking for. And how hard or easy that will or won't be this year, I'm really not sure at this point. We'll look for them and whether the right fit will be there, whether it will be able to work out, we'll just have to see how that goes. You know free agency is a long period and some of the players that came to us last year didn't come to us until at the end of that period. So where it is in March and April and then where it ends up in June and July…it's all part of a work in progress.

Q: You mentioned logistics at the beginning of the call, obviously with the changeover to the new stadium there will be a difference in how you operate. I am thinking about the training facilities, have they told you how long until you can move into that and what kind of effect does that have on the training program?

BB: We are working in the old building and we will be here probably through April and maybe into May and as long as it is standing. I mean as the stadium is coming down around us I don't know how long this structure is going to be up by itself. We'll do our training out of here until we can move into the new stadium. It sounds like will be sometime in May.

Q: Where does the organization stand with some of its own free agents like Antowain Smith and Roman Phifer and are there guys in particular that you would like to see back with the team next year?

BB: We have interest in all those players that aren't under contract, but again until we have anything that we can, that's a done deal, then we are not going to report it and it's not done. We are in conversation and communication with them, but realistically they are not all going to be done. Some of them want to be in free agency and they want to see what else is out there and that's is understandable. They paid their dues, they've earned that right and that's part of the process.

Q: In terms of Adam Vinatieri and the 'Franchise' tag, in some cases that angers players in that it limits them. Did Adam feel that way about that tag or did he figure that it was a late start and you needed the extra couple weeks? How did his team take it when you put the tag on him?

BB: You'd have to talk to Adam about that. I don't really think I can characterize that for him. All I can say is that there is a system in place and that's part of the system. Adam had a great year for us. He's done a good job for us. He obviously made some tremendous kicks under pressure and we think he's an outstanding kicker and we want him to kick for us and that's why we did it, because we want him on this team and we want him to do the kicking and we recognize what an outstanding player he is. It's really done in a complementary way because of how much we think of him and how much he means to our football team.

Q: Have you taken any time off yourself yet and if not when do you plan to take some?

BB: It will be awhile. Usually if you are not in the playoffs or if you are eliminated from the playoffs early then you take that time right after the season to kind of catch your breath and get going. When you get deeper into the playoffs then you have already caught up to the next season and you have to try to get a few days when you can here and there, but there are just too many deadlines that you have to meet along the way and so that is what we are doing, but I am certainly getting more rest than I did at the end of the season and we will make it through the spring. We will be ready to go next year.

Q: How do you and Scott [Pioli] determine which areas, which positions you will look at in free agency and which ones you will go after in the draft? Does it depend upon the strength of those two in either free agency or the draft or are there some positions where you would prefer an experienced player over a rookie?

BB: First of all I think that we would evaluate all of those positions. We wouldn't just limit it to one or the other. But then when you combine that with your specific need then you look particularly in one area or another and if your need is an experienced offensive lineman for example, if that is what your need is, well then you know where you have got to go look for it and at the same time, as another example, if your need is a young linebacker that because of the age of your other players or the contract situation of them then you know where you are going to go for a young linebacker. Once you identify your specific needs then that sends you in a little better direction on how to fill them. Now sometimes it could go either way and in that case then both doors are open. We have several needs. There are a number of areas that we want to try to address and improve and that will take you into both places.

Q: Did any of your players require any offseason surgery?

BB: There are always a few things at the end of the year to clean up. Usually what happens is they rest up for a little bit and see how things have come out after the year. I don't want to get into anybody's specific medical situation, but I think overall we are relatively healthy for this time of year.

Q: Today it was announced that Herman Edwards renegotiated his contract and Jon Gruden signed a contract that is paying him over three million a year and Steve Spurrier as well, do you look at the market at all like the players do and say I am being underpaid compared to my accomplishments and are you in any talks to renegotiate?

BB: I don't want to get into the specifics of my contract. The organization has been great to me and I appreciate what they did to bring me here and I just want to try to produce as much as we can with this football team.

Q: Has any of the activity around the league recently surprised you, have you had a chance to look?

BB: I think things are about the way they normally are this time of year. Teams are adjusting their rosters. There have been a number of coaching changes both at the head coaching and the assistant coaching level and that's the transitional nature of professional football. I would say things are about like they normally are this time of year, nothing really shocking.

Q: Following that up, what did you think about Houston's draft?

BB: It looked like there were some pretty good players that were available to them. I don't think that a lot of those players were on the list because they weren't good players, I think they were on there because of their contractual situation or salary cap charge. I would say Houston probably got some good players out of that. Because they are not in our division I really haven't spent a lot of time analyzing how that team is being put together, but there is no question that they got some good players especially starting with [Tony] Boselli and working right on through. It looks like they will be a good competitive team and they have got a good coaching staff down there already in place so I think that they are probably off to a pretty good start.

Q: For Tom Brady not to be a one-year wonder, from a coaches standpoint, what do you see he has to do and what has to happen here?

BB: Well Tom has got, like all players, there are always areas that every player can improve in, Tom falls into that category and when we start working again with the players in the offseason program the first thing that we will do is to try to address the areas that we feel each player needs to work on to be able to execute better or to make a better contribution to the team if their role is going to change and Tom will fall into that category and so will every other player. Tom had a good year, but he has plenty of things that he can work on and he already knows about several of them.

Q: When will the offseason program start?

BB: We do it in stages. We don't have everybody come in at once, we will do it in stages starting in about the middle of March and I think everybody will be here after that first week in April.

Q: Can you give us an idea about some of the things that you want to see Tom work on?

BB: Plenty of things.

Q: Also in regards to Brady when a player has sudden fame thrust upon him often times it can be a huge pitfall, the endorsements will start coming in all sorts of things will come his way, have you had any chance or anybody talk to him about the potential pitfalls of sudden fame?

BB: Well why don't you guys leave him alone then if you are so worried about that? I have talked to Tom, but you know we have been talking about this since November and each week it got a little bit more and a little bit more. I think Tom, he handled most of those situations pretty well during the year and we have had a chance to talk about it a little bit, but really the best thing would be if you guys leave him alone then that would cut way back on it.

Q: Last offseason coming off of a 5-11 season there wasn't a lot of pressure, this year you are the Super Bowl Champs, is there a different type of offseason for you guys? Is there more pressure on you to produce?

BB: First of all I don't agree with the first statement about 5-11 and no pressure, but we will leave that one alone for the time being.

Q: Okay lets say no one was looking at you saying you are the Super Bowl Champs, now you are the Super Bowl Champs is there something that you guys have to do to keep the success going?

BB: I'll tell you the way I look at it, the way I look at it is short term. It is a short-term approach and I think that as a team that was one of the biggest reasons for our success last year. It is not about last year's Super Bowl, it is about this week's self-evaluation, it's about this week at the Indianapolis combine, it's about being ready for free agency next week, it's about the offseason program, it's about passing camp, it's about re-doing our playbook and getting more efficient in some of the things that we are trying to do. It's re-evaluating our game plans and trying to find a couple of better things to put in that will help us in certain situations. I think that is really what it's about is trying to get a little better each day and when you come out of a meeting you want to feel like you accomplished something and that you have made a decision or that you have taken a direction that you know in time that that decision will pay off and that is really what we are trying to do. It is not about nine months from now or 11 months from now where we want to be, we know where we want to be, what we want to do is try to take it day-to-day and improve the different steps that you have to take to have a successful team right there along the way and that's really where the challenge is keeping that focus and continuing to make good decisions and there are so many that have to be made, but continuing to try to work and prepare and make good ones at every step of the way.

Q: You have said in the past that there is not a lot of carryover from past season or past accomplishments, but does that change with the Vince Lombardi Trophy sitting in the trophy case?

BB: No we are 0-0. I mean I don't think Miami cares about that, I mean I don't think the Jets will care about it, I mean I don't think that Buffalo is going to care about it either. When we walk out on the field in this division those teams don't care whether we won it, lost it or anything else. They are going to be out there trying to get after us and we better have the same attitude going back.

Q: Has Bryan Cox given you any indication of whether or not he wants to continue to play or whether he might retire and given his limited playing role toward the end of the season is that someone that you would like to have back next year?

BB: Bryan is a player that we have a history with. A lot of people in this organization have a history with. There is a good line of communication there. I think in due course all of those questions will be answered. I can't answer them all right now and they are not done today, but we will continue to talk to Bryan and communicate with him as well as the other players who aren't under contract and try to find something that is mutually acceptable to both sides. Whether that is playing, not playing, whatever the role is, I mean I think all of those things will come out in due course.

Q: Your last meaningful dialog with [Drew] Bledsoe, was it more along the lines of good luck in the future or let's see what happens, could you reveal that?

BB: It was more along the lines of how to beat St. Louis.

Q: You guys didn't talk after the game at all?

BB: Well when the game was over there was a lot of congratulatory handshakes and pats on the back and all of that, but you know we never really came together as a team when the game was over. There was just a lot of individual, like I said, handshakes and pats on the back and people with their families and all of that, I mean it was just pandemonium on the field and then back at the hotel. So I never did have a chance really to meet with the team after the game and it has been pretty sporadic other than that. There are a lot of players that I really haven't had a chance to talk to.

Q: How does your dynamic change this year in regards to the salary cap and the way you stand against that as opposed to the '99 offseason, 2000 offseason, does it feel different?

BB: I would say it is a lot different. Right now we are not in the trying to get under the salary cap mode like we were the last couple of years. We had to make decisions prior to March 1 to comply with the cap. That is not the case now. It is still the case that we want to try to utilize our resources to the maximum and get the most value out of them that we possibly can, but at least right now we are not having to do things just to meet the requirement so from that standpoint it is quite a bit different, but in terms of maximizing the resources and getting the best value for players and getting good football players and identifying them and trying to get them on your team then that process really that is about the same and the steps are the same to get there.

Q: How about Ted Johnson and Willie McGinest do you want them back, I know they are under contract, but in terms of what you just said about value their cap value may not be where you want it to be, would you like to see both guys return?

BB: Well they are under contract, again I think those things with the players that are under contract that they will all be resolved one way or another in due course whether it is a change or no change. The more pressing issues are the ones that don't fall into that category.

Q: What is the status of Terry Glenn?

BB: I don't really think anything has changed since the end of the season.

Q: Well he is not suspended any more or is he?

BB: Well there are no games so no.

Q: Have you spoken with him since the Super Bowl?

BB: There has been no change since the end of the season, I think that is the best way to put it

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