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Bill Belichick Press Conf. Transcript - 07/26/02

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             **BB:**Well welcome everybody to training camp and officially mark the end of vacation so we're back at work. I spent a couple days with the rookies and quarterbacks and injured players from last year and that was basically a time of fundamentals and to get everybody back into the swing of things, guys that have been injured, missing time, or guys that haven't been with us before, and of course the quarterbacks, similar to baseball with the pitchers and catchers going early to spring training so obviously today is the day we start to pull it all together. A quick update on the injury situation, will start with Charlie, Charlie is doing much better, I think he's making great improvement and we expect that Charlie will be back on a part-time basis starting next week, and I don't want to really make any comments on his specific medical situation but just from a football standpoint that's what we expect him to be doing next week and then we'll just take it from there we'll just have to see how things go I don't really have a real formula for what the next events are going to be, we'll just have to see how he's doing and how things are coming along. The players that won't be practicing today because of injuries are basically the ones that we expected for one reason or another, and that would be: Tom Knight, Matt Light, Seymour, Andruzzi, Kelly, Cam Cleeland, and Leonard Myers, and of course Antoine Womack. I think other than Womack who is a little bit further apt than all those guys, all the other guys because other players will probably be out for I'd say at least a week and then we'll be pretty much day-to-day with that group from that point will just have to evaluate them and others. I wouldn't expect to see them back on the field in the next week, but after that we'll just evaluate them day-to-day, so that's where we are with that group. The last couple days we've made a couple roster moves, we've released Chris Sullivan, we've released Marty Moore, and we've signed Bernard Holsey a defensive lineman, and also re-signed Riddick Parker who was with us last year and recently with the Jets. So that puts our roster at 79, not including the four Europe exemptions which make sit actually 83 players, and we're one under the NFL limit as it stands currently this second. So . . . fire away.  

Q: How soon after the surgery did you talk to Charlie, and when were you aware that things did not go routinely, and that he was really hurt or at risk?

BB: Well, after he went through the surgery and then I checked up on his condition, and then was surprised at what it was, I have been in touch with either him or his doctors or both, since that time.

Q: What kind of spirits is he in, right now?

BB: I think he's, well a lot better than it was, I think he's trying to get his rehabilitation so that he can come back. I think he's looking forward to being back, but I think he just needs a little bit more rehab before he's ready to do that, and we expect that that'll happen sometime next week.

Q: Bill, can you comment on the impact some of the new guys might be able to make.

BB: Well, it's hard to say, last week, for this past week, for the past three of four days we've been in pretty much a teaching mode, we didn't do a lot of team work, we did a lot of fundamental things, and tried to get them caught up on a lot of things like special teams, some carry over things from mini-camp. I think the evaluation of what rookies will or won't be able to contribute is going to come in the next four, five, six weeks when they get out there and bang away every day at quality NFL players, and we'll see how quickly they come along, or don't come along as the case might be, and evaluate it as it goes. I think to this point the evaluations have been minimal compared to the construction, I think in the coming days/weeks, it will be much more of an evaluation and hopefully a lot of the teaching is in, not that there isn't a lot more teaching to be done, but you know we're going to have to start evaluating against real NFL competition and that'll start this afternoon.

Q: What is your message, or what will your message be in talking to the payers?

BB: Well I think the message this year is pretty much that same as it was last year, and the year before. I think every year when you got to training camp you have a lot of the same, I mean there a always some individual things that vary a little bit, but there are a lot of the same issues. You have to establish a football team and you have to prepare for the opening part of the season and your opening game. Whether it's recovering punts, whether it's stopping the run, converting on third down, playing goal line defense, returning kickoffs, whatever it is, all those things need to start in your mini-camps, and then build in so that when you come into training camp you're ready to go out there and execute those things on a team basis, and that's really where we are. I wouldn't say our schedule's really too much different other than a little tweaking here or there really too much different from what it's been last year or the year before. All those areas will have to be addressed and they'll have to be ready to compete with the teams that we're going to have to play against. I think that the opening of our season, the first month of the season is a target for us, the last two years, as we all know we have not started well, 0-4 and 1-3 and we have a target this year on the first quarter of the season to try to improve that, starting with Pittsburgh. but you know this first four games are, that's a quarter of the season that we can, I think we can improve on from what we've done the last two years, and that will be what our goal is.

Q: Is the message easier received because of last year?

BB: Well, I think last year was different from other years, and there is no question about that, I'm not trying to say that last year didn't happen and that it was just another year and that kind of thing, and the Ram game was just another game, I'm not saying that, but that was February, and the preparations for this season started the day two days after that last game, and so I think that what were trying to do and the messages that are being given are similar to ones given in the past, and if there's a difference its because we're trying to find a better way to do something or trying to find a way to be more productive, or address something as I mentioned opening the season that, it wasn't as successful as we wanted it to be last year so what can we do to improve it and that's really the nature of the message and what our purpose is and what our targets are here at training camp is to get ready to play a 16 game season, is to get ready to play those first four games in the first quarter of the season, and to get our team at a high level competitively in September where as I said for the last two years, we haven't really been there.

Q: In your experience how close can you come to that ideal of a psychological blank slate?

BB: Well that's the way it is every year, that's the way it was last year, that's the way it was the year before, that's the way it was for me the 26 years before that to. Every year is its own year, that's just the way it is, that's the way it is in all sports, that's certainly the way it is in football. We're in a situation here where we have a lot of new faces in camp, some are players that were in the league, others are new players, rookie players, people that are just coming on to the team, there is certainly a process where have too not only integrate them into our system but also try to see what the best mix is, we want to try to create as much depth as we can for ourselves on the football field for example we'll have players working in multiple positions and working some different combinations, so that when we get into the season and we build some depth and have to build some depth on our 53 man roster that some of that has already been put in the bank in training camp whether that be on the offensive line, fore example last year when we had centers playing guard, guards playing center that kind of thing, whether its on the defensive side where we have linebackers plying down, down guys having to drop occasionally, sub-defenses where people are changing the positions and that kind of thing, all that as a base is built in training camp and those are some of things we'll be doling this week.

Q: In 2000 you said that the conditioning level wasn't nearly what you had expected. Last year you said it was much, much better. How does this year compare to last year?

BB: I'd say its similar to what it was last year. I think individually it gives you a little bit of an idea of where certain guys are and that's what it does indicate, but I think overall as a team, good not great.

Q: Did anyone not make conditioning runs?

BB: Well, we have a number of things we do today conditioning is part of it we also do some of the other testing, I'm going to have to get together with Mike and evaluate how everybody did on all aspects of it. Its kind of like a decathlon event, its not just the results of the 100 yard dash.

Q: In talking to Charlie, do you get the impression that he wishes he did not have the surgery now?

BB: I really wouldn't want to speak for Charlie, either his opinions or his medical condition, the thing I've really talked about with Charlie is from a football standpoint, how we're going to proceed, what the short-term goal is and then take it day by day after that. I think the specifics of his condition whether it be medical or mental, or so forth, those are his that I don't feel that I should or am really qualified to comment on.

Q: You guys are close; did he ask you what you thought? Did he seek your opinion before he had this surgery?

BB: We talked before it happened, put it that way, but that's not my field.

Q: But as a friend, did he say, do you think?

BB: Right, but I'm not a doctor, and certainly don't know anything about internal medicine, so I wouldn't really feel qualified to tell you, Charlie, or anyone else whether they should or shouldn't, because I really don't know anything about it, I would be driving blind on that one.

Q: What about the perception that owners look at appearance?

BB: Well I think that I've proved that you can overcome that one.

Q: How is it going to change the way you divide up responsibilities?

BB: Well it think that the, most important job that the head coach has is training camp, is to get the team, and that's the entire team ready, special teams, offense, defense, picking the right players for the roster trying to not only be ready for the first game, but also get an idea of how your players are going to develop, who might get better, who might slide, you take a lot of things into consideration, its an important job for the head coach to do, and its one really that no one else can do. The offensive line coach, is looking at his lineman, he's not looking at the secondary, and the linebacker coach isn't thinking about the tight ends and vice versa, they're trying to strengthen their area of responsibility, and of course the coordinators are responsible for their side of the ball and so forth, but some point it has to be tied into together, and that's an important thing. What's a little bit different at this particular time is I'm working more specifically with the quarterbacks, and I'm not sure what the time frame on that is going to be, but as time goes on in training camp I'm going to have to make sure that I allocate enough time to work with and assemble the entire team for the good of the organization and the good of the football team, so that's something that's going to have to transition a little bit. The other coaches on offense have really absorbed a lot of Charlie's duties and then when Charlie returns we'll have to see how those get redistributed in time back to him. We're hopeful that that all takes place in due course, I just cant give you a specific time frame or any dates when that's going to happen, hopefully that will happen next week when he returns on a part-time basis.

Q: Do you feel that the team not being respected can be used as motivation?

BB: I think that there are a lot of buzz words out there, whether its respect, you can move right down the line. I don't think that's really what its about I don't think its trying to put a tag on a team or an attitude or find some word that represents what everything stands for I think this is a point in time, when you go back to work you start putting the building blocks down you lay it brick by brick, and if you don't have a solid foundation its going to be hard to move up to higher ground, and that's where we're at here at the first day at training camp. We haven't won a game, we haven't made a first down, we haven't scored as point and those are goals we're going to have to achieve to be successful and we're going to have to build the blocks so that we have a chance to do that. That's where we're at here at training camp, its about getting started its about doing the fundamental things, its about putting those together, starting to build our package, evaluating how the players fit into it, which new players and which older players will change the chemistry and the makeup of the team, I don't just mean off the field chemistry but I mean performance chemistry and that's going to take a little time to do it, but that's really what we're doing, and I don't think right now where we're rated, and what we're ranked or what ever other adjective describes this team is important, what's important is our work ethic and our attitude towards putting together, and doing the things that we need to do to put together a football team that will be competitive the first month of the season, because that's what our target is, our target is the first month, and we'll worry about October, November, and December after that.

Q: With passing of Dick and Charlie being limited, did you think about hiring a quarterback coach?

BB: No not really, I think that Charlie and I had a good relationship and were able to work effectively last year, and at this point I don't see why that wont happen this year.

Q: How have your expectations of Brady changed through the off-season?

BB: Well I think that Tom's established himself at a whole different level than he had last year at this time. I don't know if things have changed a lot from the off season, we haven't played any games we haven't done anything but continue to prepare for this season and I think that that's been pretty consistent by Tom, but from a year ago, I think that the expectations are dramatically different and there was a point last year when we didn't even know for sure if he was going to be on the team and then he was the third quarterback and then he was the second, and it went on from there. I think since the off season and on into training camp, Tom has continued to show the leadership in both the offense and the team that we saw last year in the season and that continued into the off season, I don't really think that that has changed much, but he has done a good job with it and its been a positive.

Q: The way you assembled the team last year, how much do you think that played a part in guys like Victor Green coming here?

BB: I don't know, I think you would have to ask those players specifically how they felt about that, but again what we're looking for is good football players and what we can provide, and I think fairly and we can see historically that that's the case is a chance and that we'll give an opportunity to players that we think deserve the opportunity and then the coaches job is pretty easy at that point, you just put them out there and let them play and watch them play and its fairly easy to determine how they're ranking, and how its going to fall, so I think that players who are looking for an opportunity and that fell that they're going to get a fair shot, that there is a pretty good chance that they will feel comfortable about the situation here, and that's been true over the last few years.

Q: Lat year you had specific goals, are there any others at the start of this year?

BB: Well I think some of them are pretty obvious, our kickoff return wasn't very good last year, that needs to improve, our defense gave up a lot of yards, a lot more yards than we would like to give up, offensively we didn't score a lot of points, we certainly had trouble scoring points at the end of the season, so those are all areas. Last year we made improvements in the red area, we made improvement s on third down, and things like that, but there are still some very specific areas that need to be addressed, kickoff return, yards, third down conversion on defense, offensive point production, they're still there.

Q: What specific changes will you make in training camp with the death of Korey Stringer, and has the league set any guidelines?

BB: Let me just talk about that on a couple points, number one, I've heard people talk about the best time to practice would be when its cool, two in the morning would be a great time to practice, let me tell you, there are no games scheduled then all the games are scheduled at one in the afternoon for the most part, and there is nor guarantee for any of us that its not going to be hot on Sunday afternoon when we have to play, like it was in Cincinnati, so its pretty well known fact that there is a heat acclamation aspect of conditioning, and there is now way around it, we can talk about it being hot all we want, but to walk out there having to play a game with it being 95 or 100 degrees after just sitting around talking about it is not going to get it done. So at some point the body is going to have to be acclimated to game conditions and the game conditions are beyond our control, the games are scheduled when they're scheduled, and we're going to show up and play them. Whether its 20 below zero or 95 degrees like it was in Cincinnati, those are the conditions that we play in, and the conditions that we are going to train for. Now In terms of our preparations we haven't done much differently the heat is a situation and an area that we have addressed, and our players, there is no more important issue to me or this organization than our players, what's a football team without healthy players, so those issues have been addressed in previous years, we always continue to update them. There are certain precautions that we take and then there are also certain minimum levels that need to be achieved before we can put a player into a competitive practice situation and at that point then we just monitor each players condition, I don't think there is any other way to train for football than to train for football, and that's what we have to do. We try to monitor each player's situation, and two a day practice day after day, is not a game condition, that's a little bit different, but to train for the game conditions you have to train for the game conditions.

Q: Is there a tent on the field to cool down players?

BB: Yes. We have tents around the field. In previous years we've talked about using tents that were used for marketing or the media, so that everybody could be comfortable, player's families and so forth

Q: how do you react to Belichick and genius used in the same sentence?

BB: Well I've heard Belichick and genius used together I've also heard Belichick and moron used together, that's usually the result of a couple plays or the most recent game, or couple of games, and those adjectives relative to those games get attached to your name, so I've seen that go both ways, and I don't think that's what its about, I think we're in the performance business, and we'll be evaluated week to week I've understood that for a long time, and that's the way its going to be in the future, if we win ill probably look pretty smart, if we don't ill look pretty dumb

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