New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Monday, August 10, 2009.
BB: This morning we started on preparations for Philadelphia. We kind of did a normal Wednesday preparation day, first [and] second down. This afternoon, we'll do some third down work and finish up tomorrow [with] red area, two minute - stuff like that. [We're] cramming it in here to a couple days, but that's preseason. This will be a good opportunity for us down in Philadelphia. They're a good team. They really handled us last year, hopefully we can be a little bit more competitive this time around.
Q: Now that Adalius Thomas has been here a few years now, is he able to maximize his abilities better?
BB: Yeah, A.D.[Thomas] is a very versatile player. He does a lot of things for us at the linebacker position. Some of them are more toward the defensive end's responsibilities other more towards linebacker and even inside corner, nickelback type thing, depending on the coverage and the call and so forth. He's a pretty versatile player. [He's a] smart guy. Physically, he can do things. Mentally, [he] is versatile, so he really helps us out defensively and helps broaden our scheme.
Q: Can you touch on Brandon McGowan and how players like that are part of the team building process?
BB: We brought in Brandon late, just before the practices in May. He had some real good moments out in Chicago, had a couple setbacks out there injury wise, but I think he's a player with good talent, toughness in the kicking game and also on the defensive side of the ball. He kind of worked himself into a starting role and then was injured. I think he's certainly got some physical potential. [He's a] tough, hardworking kid that shows up in the kicking game and also on defense. We'll see how that role plays out, but he's a competitive guy with some versatility. [He] runs well, good hitter, good tackler.
Q: With about a week or so in, how is Andrew Walter?
BB: Andrew gets a little bit better each day. [He's] a talented kid, good arm, accurate with the ball, getting used to our offense and a lot of the things we do [are] a little bit different from what he did out in Oakland, but he's had experience in the spread offense from Arizona State. So it's not like he hasn't done it before, but not as much recently. He's coming along and working hard at it. I think he's more comfortable in the huddle each day so that's good.
Q: For guys that just showed up or just started practicing like Derrick Burgess and Ty Warren, will they play on Thursday?
BB: We'll do it all on a case-by-case basis. The players, their situations are a little bit different, each one of them, so we'll talk about that and make sure that if they are ready to play then we'd certainly consider playing them. If they're not ready to play, then that takes care of that. Part of the next couple days - Sunday, today, tomorrow - is seeing where some of these guys are [and] what, if anything, we want to have them do on Thursday night.
Q: The tight ends are shaping up to be one of your more competitive competitions. For someone like Benjamin Watson, who is missing time, does it help that you that you already have his resume and know his body of work or would you prefer seeing more of him on the field?
BB: I'd like to see every player on the field. That's an easy one. We'd like to see them all out there. I don't think it really matters what any of us did last year or any other year. We're into a new season and that goes for everybody: coaches, players, veteran players, rookie players, guys that were on this team last year, guys that were on another team last year. We're starting a new process. We all need to get ourselves ready. That encompasses the whole team. There's nobody that's exempt from that.
Q: Yesterday you said that Vince Wilfork is probably the best at his position in the league. Do you think he's underpaid?
BB: Well, I think we all know what the salary structure in the NFL is - the draft choices and in the other categories the players fall into, so that's what it is.
Q: Going back to the tight ends for a second, does the fact that you've brought in a couple of veteran guys that are fairly proven in this league does that change the dynamic of the competition? Does it put more pressure on a guy like Benjamin Watson to stay on the field?
BB: I don't know. I think it depends on how you look at it. I would say most players are competing with themselves, try to do their best and play at their highest level. You can really control what everybody else is doing out there or not doing. I think for the most part, most competitors, most athletes I've been around try to compete and do the best that they can. Whatever somebody else does or doesn't do is out of their control. I'm not saying they aren't affected by it, but I don't think it really helps them to be worried or consumed by it because the there's nothing they can do about it and whatever the coaches decide, the coaches decide - those are coaching decisions. Player decisions come on the field and that's reflected in their performance. I think that's what the player should be focused on and I think that's what most of them are focused on. I wouldn't say that's 100 percent of the time, but I would say it's a pretty high percentage.
Q: Is there a big overlap of skills between Alex Smith and Benjamin Watson?
BB: I think they all can do everything to some degree. I don't think they're so specialized that they can't be competitive in another area: run blocking, pass blocking, route running, catching, adjusting, doing different jobs, being versatile and all that. I think they can all do that to some degree. One guy might be a little faster and one guy might be a little stronger, but I'd say - relatively speaking - that they all can do everything they need to do, maybe to a little different grade. We'll see how all that turns out. We've only been at camp a little over a week. We've got a long way to go there.
Q: What do you consider are Benjamin Watson's strengths?
BB: [Benjamin Watson has] got a lot of strengths. He's fast. He's athletic. He's a real smart guy. He's versatile athletically and he's versatile mentally, so he can do a lot of things. He can play on the line. He can play off the line. He can play detached. He can play in close. He has a good skill set.
Q: I know there is no right or wrong to this stuff, but in regard to hitting in camp, how does a coach know when to take his foot off the pedal and is there a point where you feel like it's a risk to have guys out there in pads hitting?
BB: I think as a coach you do what you feel is best for your football team in every area, whether that's practicing in pads, conditioning, not conditioning, meeting longer or meeting shorter. Whatever it is, you do what's best for your team and there's a balance on that. I think you try to practice in the right way to minimize risk and minimize potential for injuries, but inevitably they're about to happen even if you take all the precautions in the world. I don't think we can just sit around and talk about it all year, here's what we're going to do and sit down, hold hands, chant and talk about what we're going to do. Somewhere along the line, you got to get out there and perform it on the field and somewhere along the line you've got to perform it in practice to have a chance to perform it in a game situation. It's pretty unlikely that if you can't do it on a practice field that all of a sudden, magically everything will crystallize and you'll have a lot of perfect plays run in game situations. I just don't think that's realistic. You know, get out there and run them in practice. I think it's hard to expect those kind of results to happen in games. With that being said though, a wall of diminishing returns and there's a point where you've got to balance with what you're doing and who you're doing it against. Sometimes less can be more, so I don't think there's any good right or wrong answer. I don't think there's any specific criteria. I think as a coach you have a feel for your team and your staff has a feel for their individual groups of players, which that's important to me, too, how they feel about their specific player or groups and that's not always in balance. Sometimes one group is under a little more stress than another based on numbers or the practice schedule or what you're asking them to do. You try to balance all those things and do what's best for the team.
Q: How do you deal with the roster limits?
BB: The rules have changed every couple of years since I've come into the league: roster size, IR rules, Europe guys, exemptions - all that. It seems like every year there's some kind of different nuances to it or they change the rules, so whatever the rules are, whatever the roster limits are - that's what our limits are. If they change, we'll change. If they don't then we'll do it the way we're doing it and try to do what's best for the team. That's why you see a lot of teams, when you look at the waiver wire, you see a lot of player movement on a daily basis. Guys that are coming and going for one reason or another on different lists or different categories, players being signed, players being released, it's that time of year. There's a lot of player movement on every team. That juggle in your roster is going to take place whether you had a Europe league, didn't have a Europe league, had exemptions, had an 80-man roster, had an 84-man roster, had a 75 - whatever it is, there's still going to be some of that anyway.
Q: There was a study released that 80 percent of retired players, two years out of the league are either broke or divorced. How much time as a coach do you spend advising your players and warning them?
BB: I think we have a very good program to introduce the rookie players into the National Football League when they come to our team and on a regular basis we have different player programs to provide information or assistance if needed to our players, and also the league runs a program that incorporates some of those things as well that they handle that all the players have to participate in. I think there are a number of things going on there and I think ours is good. I think our players get a lot out of it. I think they appreciate it. I know we put a lot into it. I think we have a lot of good people come and contribute to it, so that's what we do. Is it perfect and can it be improved? We do that every year. We try to find better ways and more effective ways of doing things, but there's a lot of things that change out there and we try to keep up with those and at least keep the players abreast of them. In the end each player has to make his own decisions about his life and his career and his business, so that's personal, but there are other criteria that I think you can at least make the players aware of so they at least have that information to help them make good decisions. That's what we do. I do think it's important. I think we do a good job of it.
Q: Have you had a discussion with Tom Brady yet about how much he'll play in preseason?
BB: I haven't had that discussion.
Q: Do you know when you'll have that discussion?
BB: I don't have it scheduled right now, no.
Q: The play that Benjamin Watson made in the playoff game against Denver, do you use those plays as teaching lessons in terms of making sure that players particularly on special teams and change of possession plays that they stay involved in the play?
BB: I mean we coach that all the time: effort, finishing plays, covering after interceptions, tackling the interceptor, covering on kicking game, effort plays on defense on reverses and screen passes and things like that that are kind of loose plays in space that the more people you get to the ball the better chance you have of condensing the field and making the play versus letting athletic skilled players getting the ball in a lot of space. Absolutely, those plays are coached a lot. They are coached on how our team plays them and sometimes we'll use examples of how to play those plays or sometimes how not to play them as they come up.
Q: Shawn Crable came off the PUP list yesterday and he wasn't out there this morning. You said yesterday that you can't wait for guys, at what point do you say, 'we can't count on this guy'?
BB: I think as there are a number of players that weren't out there at practice today and there will be some that didn't practice this morning that will practice this afternoon. There will be a lot that practice in both and there will be some that won't practice in either one. I think each player's situation is different and we'll manage those players based on the recommendations from the medical and training staff on how to do what's best for the player and also to a certain degree the coaching staff-on how we want to manage those players, their practice reps and their physical conditioning or physical situation and some of that is about the player. Sometimes it's a situation where we want to try to give more reps to another player and back off of one player's reps and it's not injury related. There's no set formula for that. Again, it's trying to do what's best for the team and trying to manage the team. Pretty much every player's in that category one way or another.
Q: You referenced the Europe league, what are your thoughts on the arena league?
BB: Right now, my thoughts are really on our football team, training camp, getting ready for the season [and] the Philadelphia Eagles. I'm not really into solving the world's problems and all that. I'm just trying to coach our football team.
Q: Can you compare Ron Brace and Vince Wilfork? Have you liked what you've seen so far?
BB: Anytime you have two guys, two defensive linemen inside on the center and guards, as opposed to one and two linebackers, then you create some different matchups, different opportunities, different leverage points on the offense. We've done both all the way through camp with a 3-4 look and a 4-3 kind of look, so those three inside spots are occupied by a different couple of combinations and some different techniques. We'll see how that goes. Maybe one will prevail over the other or maybe there will be a combination of both those kind of looks. We'll have to see, but Ron and Vince are big guys, athletic, certainly can hold the point and are extremely stout, but when they penetrate or shoot the gap or try to get on the edge of a blocker instead or right over the top of them, sometimes they can be pretty hard to stop. They get a lot of momentum heading into the gap and-if you don't get over in front of them they can penetrate and be disruptive. It creates some opportunities like that. We're working on those things. We'll evaluate them and see how it goes. As we get further along then we'll either use one, the other or some combination of both.
Q: By the way, since you were curious, Tom [Brady] was not bad on "Entourage" last night.
BB: Like compared to me on Rescue Me? An Emmy-type performance?