New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his conference call on Friday, September 4, 2009. Please note: Portions of this call are of poor audio quality.
BB:It's been a busy day. We're working on a number of different things here today, going over the Giants game, of course, and taking some evaluations and also, not just of players, but some of the things we were doing. [We're] trying to work through our roster situation. [We're] starting to finish pulling all the information together on Buffalo from the preseason, and then of course you have all the other things going on around the league, other teams' cuts and different personnel moves and so forth. [We're] trying to evaluate all those different variables. We're working on it. You have the transactions from today. It's never easy. These are the hardest couple days of the year, really, for all the coaches in the National Football League. To tell players that have been working hard this year, and in other cases maybe a lot years before that — such as Billy Yates — that you're going to have to release them today; it's a tough conversation to have. Like I said, Billy has been one of our real solid guys here through the years, very dependable, very tough, comes to work every day, gives you 110 percent. Billy's a guy that every coach would love to have on his team. So that was a hard one. In any case, we're moving forward through the process and that will be completed by tomorrow to be compliant with the league roster limits and in conjunction with that, trying to get our team ready for opening day, but also with an eye toward all 16 games and having the best roster, best team that we can have for the long term, as well as for opening day against Buffalo. That's the activity here over the weekend.
Q:With today's release of Andrew Walter, do you anticipate going forward with two quarterback or do you think there will be a third option there?
BB:That's really a hard question to answer, Mike [Reiss]. I'm not sure. We'll have to wait and see what our different options are, not only what players are available in one way or another, but also in terms of how we want to manage our roster. There are so many moving parts to the process, with different positions and with the overall makeup of the team, and looking at the 45-man active roster, and the different players that might or might not be available throughout the league. So I'd say it's a possibility, not a certainty. We'll just evaluate it on a case-by-case basis as to how we feel the best makeup of our roster this year will be.
Q:Does Julian Edelman's history of playing quarterback in college factor into that decision at all?
BB:I don't think that's really much of a factor in it, Mike [Reiss]. He's worked as a receiver and as a returner and we feel like that's really his position. That's where he'll continue to get most of his work and he needs it there, too. You're talking about converting a guy to that position in the National Football League. There're a lot of things that he needs to learn and practice – and he works hard, don't get me wrong – it's just the volume. I would see him more at those other positions than at quarterback.
Q:What were the flaws with Andrew Walter that made you see it might not work?
BB:I think all the players that were on this team brought a lot of positive qualities and talents to the organization or we wouldn't have had them here. In the end, we had to select the ones and we'll go through the process of selecting the ones we feel are best for this team and in the composite makeup the best team, in our opinion. That's what we've done and what we'll continue to do. I think Andrew [Walter] had a lot of positives and we talked about those when we signed him and I still think that they exist. It's just that in the end we have to make decisions that are in the best interest of the entire football team. So that's what we're going to do. We have a lot of players that we released who are talented players that have played in the league or that will play in the league or will be competitive to play in the league, and you can't keep them all.
Q:Bill, just kind of shifting gears here a bit, I know Mike Wright didn't play the other day, but what are your thoughts on him after missing a portion of August? And does he fit a little differently inside the 4-3 than he would in a 3-4?
BB:Mike [Wright] played quite a bit last week against Washington, along with other players that were playing in that game. We tried to switch the playing time emphasis this week so we could look at some other people with extended playing time. I think Mike's a versatile player. He's played a lot of different positions for us, really on all the lineman [positions] — he's been on a tackle, he's been on a guard, he's been on a center in different schemes. I think he has the ability to be effective in all of those, though the techniques are different and the reads are a little bit different. But Mike has the overall strength and quickness to be able to match up at a number of those different spots. That's why he's done those and he'll probably continue to do them
Q:Is there any update on Matthew Slater at this time?
BB:No, we'll evaluate all the players here over the next couple days and try to get a little more information. We'll have all that for you on the Wednesday injury report, I'm sure.
Q:Could you comment on Terrence Nunn and what he's done since you brought him in to camp in terms of carving out a role for himself on the roster or the practice squad?
BB:Terrence [Nunn] has made some impressive plays for us. He's a player that was very productive in college in a different type of offense, different type of passing game. He's adapted to what we're doing and learning every day and becoming a better route runner and a better technique player to go along with his physical skills. He's continued to make progress on a steady basis and he's done a lot of things to catch our eye and the fans' and everyone else that's seen him play. He's still got a lot of things to work on, but he's making solid progress and had an impressive game last night.
Q:You kept five running backs last year and it could be the same this year. As you construct the roster, if you keep five backs, you have to pull from somewhere else. Where do you see that tug of war and how tough is that decision for you?
BB:Right. Well, last year we kept five backs, three of the guys that are here and then LaMont [Jordan] and Heath [Evans]. The decision of how many skill players to keep when you look at tight ends, receivers, backs – as we know you can only put five of them out there at a time – and depending on how you construct your roster, you have more or less depth at one of those positions. Then, it also plays into probably the linebacker position on defense as it relates to the kicking game, because those players generally have a similar type of job or possibly some return ability, but — in the coverage game — you know, more similar jobs to tight ends. That's really what it comes down to. I think in the end, just to sum it up, when you look at all the things that have to be done on your football team – offense, defense, special teams, goal line to multiple receivers and multiple defensive back groups, nickels, and dimes, and three receivers and four receivers and all that — you've got to have a team that can do the things you want it to do, in terms of personnel groupings, and has some depth on that. [You] also have to be able to handle all the responsibilities in the kicking game, from gunners, to inside coverage people, to wedge blockers, to guys that can play on the wing in the punt team and all that. You look at a lot of people doing different things in training camp to kind of evaluate your depth, and then when you come down to getting your roster, you have to make sure that all those spots are covered. It's really a mosaic of all of that. It's not a third-down running back versus another third-down running back. It's all the things that come into play that those players would do, or the other value that they would bring to your roster that—if they do them — then, you don't need somebody else somewhere else to do them. Or if they don't do them, then you do need somebody somewhere else or somehow you've got to those things filled. It's a very inexact science. With 53 players, which is really only 45, you just can't have the depth that every coach would like to have. Some positions you have it. At other positions, you don't. I don't think there's really any way to ever have the kind of depth that all the NFL coaches would like to have on their roster. It's just not possible. So you pick and choose where you want to have it and the quality of it and then you go with it. If something happens, then you make adjustments along the way. We're working our way through that process.
Q:Speaking of those adjustments, you have to set a 53-man roster tomorrow, but there's always a lot of change after that. Do you feel like you have a little more time because of scheduling to make those final decisions to head into the season?
BB:I think you always want to make them as quickly as possible. The sooner you can get to where you want to be and work with it, probably the better off your execution and everybody's understanding of what there role is and the better they'll be at it. That's ideally what you want to do. Is that always possible? No. Is there flexibility and movement on your roster after you make the decision on Saturday and Sunday and set up your practice squad and all of that? I think, historically, you find that there's still a decent amount of roster movement in those first two or three weeks of the season. [You are] just trying to strengthen your roster where you can, and then usually after that it's more a reaction to events or something that's happening on your team that you need to address to change. But I think those first two or three weeks, there is still a pretty good opportunity to juggle things around to try to strengthen your roster and maybe address depth concerns that we probably all feel like we have when you make the final cut down to 53, just does as you go into the first two, three weeks of the season.
Q:Have you had any conversations with Philadelphia in the last 24 hours?
BB:We have conversations with every team in the league this time of year. That's just part of the communication and that's what time of year it is with personnel.
Q:What do you like about BenJarvus Green-Ellis at the running back position and on special teams?
BB:I think the thing we really like about Benny [Green-Ellis] is his production. When he's had a chance to play, he's been productive really in all phases of the game: as a runner, as a pass protector and a blocker, and as a pass catcher and a receiver. Then, in the kicking game, he brings that same athleticism that we see when he runs the ball and — that same toughness — he brings that to the kicking game and the coverage area and also as a blocker and in the return game. He's a pretty valuable player that's versatile, smart, tough. When he's had a chance to play, he's taken advantage of it and been productive.