New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick
July 29, 2001
BB: Good morning. We took the pads off them this morning. We'd been going pretty hard the last five practices and we thought this would be a good time to cut back on the contact a little bit. The tempo and the intensity have been good and we want to try to keep it high so we'll… We cut it back this morning, we'll be back in our regular shoulder pads and shorts this afternoon and resume the contact tomorrow. I think they've gone about that with good intensity and we want to try to keep those spirits up. I spoke with Andy [Katzenmoyer] last night and there's really not much new to report there. I don't think he's much closer to anything from where he was the day before so that's kind of status quo. To me, the ball's really in his court on this one. Terry Glenn's got a sore knee, he's day-to-day as is Walter Williams with his groin and Matt Light's got a… he rolled up on his ankle yesterday, his ankle's kind of sore today. He's probably going to be a few days. I don't think we'll see him for at least a few days here anyways, so… that's the update I've got.
Q: Coach, on Andy, do you think there was a single event that happened to him that caused him to take this turn?
BB: I think in some respect it's related to the neck. But again, I can't comment on what the things are that he's really considering because I don't know.
Q: Has he given you any indication of what he's waiting for?
BB: Not really, Mark, no.
Q: Has he been checked out by a doctor?
BB: No, well we're going to… no, we'd like to treat him and test him at our end. We just don't have him to do that. That would be the normal procedure to follow, if a player had an injury he would come in, he'd report it, we do the tests, we talk about it, we tell the player what the situation is. If the player felt that 'this is a situation I don't feel comfortable with, I want to get a second opinion on it,' or that type of thing, which Andy did, and subsequently had the surgery in Dallas, that would be the procedure. But to just get up, for any player just to get up and go across the street and check in with some guy, that's just not the way we do it, it's not the way it's set up to be done league-wide, not just by the Patriots, but that's the way it is with every team.
Q: Coach, are you going to practice this afternoon?
BB: [Acknowledges yes]. Canceled that badminton tournament.
Q: How long are you going to go with Andy?
BB: I haven't set a time limit on it or a time frame. Andy and I have talked. It's not like there isn't communication there, I think this is more of a decision and a direction that he needs to ascertain at his end. I'm not sure what the time frame is on that, but he knows, I know, we all know that the clock's running. It's football season. This isn't March. It's almost August and he understands that so I'm sure that whatever it is he'll try to do it as quickly as he can.
Q: Coach, how is Josh Rawlings doing? Did his experience in NFL Europe help him?
BB: I thought Josh had a good spring in Europe. I talked to him about it after he came back. I know he thought that the experience over there was very beneficial. He got a lot of playing time. Josh is a good athlete, he played defense for most of his career in college and then just one year of offensive football so that's why we… and then last year of course he was on the practice squad at Kansas City and with us, so most of his time's either been spent practicing or on the defensive side of the ball so Europe was a good opportunity for him to actually get in there and play. He played left tackle and I think playing tackle will probably help him in the long run because of the amount of space that you have to defend and all that. We think he's a little better suited for guard in our system so we're working him a little bit more inside. I think his confidence level's up, I think the experience at tackle has helped him in the long run. In the short run, he's had to re-adjust a little bit to playing guard. That's coming along. He's a smart guy, he's pretty athletic and he gained some valuable experience over there. So I think he's way further ahead of where he was last year. I think it was a good experience for him.
Q: How is T.J. Turner doing?
BB: He's doing okay. He's doing okay. He's a big linebacker, he's 250-plus pounds, pretty athletic. Of course he played at Michigan State, so he has some familiarity with our system. But he's big, he's physical, he's pretty athletic for his size and he's done some good things out there. We've been working him on both sides, both the left side and the right side, we actually worked him inside a little bit in mini camp. So we're trying to settle him into a little bit more of one position because he does have some versatility but we want to zero in as much as we can so that he can grow in that spot. So we're going to keep him outside here for a while and see how it goes. But he's making some progress.
Q: What does Turner need to work on?
BB: I was just walking in off the field with him today and, I really hate to say it but, everything. He has multiple responsibilities, he's a pass rusher, he's in some man-to-man coverage, he's in zone coverage, he's involved in the off-tackle running game. He could use a little work on all the techniques, even though he's doing a decent job with them now, but there are still little things in each of those areas that he can improve on. I told him not to be sacrificing one for the other. You know, don't put all your time into one thing and then let one of the other three areas tail off because they're important too, you're going to have to keep managing all those responsibilities simultaneously. I think he's been trying to do that, but it is a lot to accumulate. But he's hung with it pretty well and he's got some good natural skills, he's been in a good program, he knows how to play, he's pretty instinctive, so he's been doing all right so far.
Q: He's got some explosion. It seems to be very noticeable.
BB: He does. He's rocked some people out there. Not only the tight ends and the backs, but he's also rocked a couple of the linemen on some pass rush and pulls and that kind of thing. He's a pretty explosive guy, he's got a good lower body and a good set of legs and he's explosive from the waist down.
Q: Was there one part of the game that he was exposed to more at Michigan State?
BB: Well, you know at Michigan State he played mainly inside. He didn't play very much outside, he mostly played in the middle. Now there were certain defenses where he would walk up on the tight end and that kind of thing, but for the most part he played inside linebacker. I think he actually feels more comfortable and I think we feel more comfortable with him outside in our particular system. That's a little bit of a transition, I think when you're an inside linebacker you normally get a little bit more exposure to coverage, less to blitzing, you know if you blitz from the inside, you're pretty much running straight up in there, whereas on the outside you have a little more space to speed rush or power or come inside and work the tackles or the backs, whoever's picking you up, so those kinds of things are a little bit different for him. But as I said, he actually feels a I think more comfortable outside even though the bulk of his career at college was played inside.
Q: Do you think Glenn's injury was related at all to what he did or didn't do this offseason?
BB: I'm not sure. He's got a sore knee, I'm not sure exactly if it could have been prevented or not prevented. That would be a tough one.
Q: Is it possible to have too many receivers? You seem to have great competition at that position.
BB: I don't think it's possible. Having too many good football players isn't really a problem. It's a nice problem to have. I think the competition is good. Again, when I think back to when I was in Cleveland, my last year there in '95, our fifth receiver at the beginning of the year was Keenan McCardell. So, that's pretty good. And he ended up being productive for us that year, too. Now he was growing into it, I think he's become a lot better since the '95 season, and he was pretty good then, but I think his game's even grown in the following seasons when he went to Jacksonville, became more of a starter and all that, but still, he was our fifth receiver in Cleveland, so… and he was productive. Competition's good, and we'll just see what happens, again, a lot of what we're talking about right now is just on paper and after a few days of camp, let's hope those performances stand out as well in the game action.
Q: By getting more receivers, do you hope to ease the defensive pressure on Glenn and [Troy] Brown?
BB: Yes, exactly. There's five eligible receivers, the quarterback has five, potentially on every play, five people that he can throw to. The more balance you can have in that group or at least have four people in that group, a lot of times one of those five is maybe designated more towards protection and blitz pickup and chipping, speed rushing in and that kind of thing, for example like in the run-and-shoot offense, which is one of the most explosive passing offenses to have, the fullback very seldom is involved in the passing game, other than screens. So you could do it with four, but to have four or five legitimate threats, people that can make plays, that the quarterback has the confidence to get the ball to, and if they can do something with it, that's really what you need in the passing game. Last year, we had the two receivers with minimal production from whoever else was on the field, whether it was another receiver, the tight end, the backs overall. Even though the tight end numbers when you add them all together were decent numbers, but we still would like more production out of that spot, whether it comes from a tight end or it comes from another inside receiver or it comes from a back or whoever it is. The defense is really just trying to defend against two or three, less than four guys in the passing game, it's just easier to defend, so if you can get four or five people out there that are threats, that the defense has to worry about, that the quarterback knows when the coverage is light on them that we can go to them, then that helps your offense immeasurably.
Q: Is the ultimate goal to get the defense to play Glenn or Brown one-on-one and exploit that?
BB: We can't control what the defense does, so it's up to them. It's a little bit like playing basketball. You can play Jordan straight up and give him his 50 and try to shut everybody else down or you can try to hold Jordan to 20 and hope the other guys don't kill you. I'm sure you'll see both through the course of the year. So many have multiple receivers that are threats in the passing game, some defenses will try to take still… will try to take away who they think are the one or two best guys and say well, we're going to take them away and make the other people beat us, which can happen, or they can say okay we're just going to play everybody straight up and make sure these other guys don't beat us and we'll let the better players have their catches but we're not going to get beat by everybody. So you usually see a combination of both philosophies one way or another depending on their personnel and how they feel they match up against it.
Q: Is there a point in the first week or so when you realize what looks good?
BB: Oh, sure. There are some things that we talked about last night in our staff meeting. There are some things that are looking relatively good in different areas of the team and there are other things that we're already saying, we knew that this was going to be a little bit of a problem and that's been verified on the field, we're going to have to either work around it or try to change something to strengthen it a little bit. When you have a problem, there's one of two things that you can do. You can try to strengthen it or you can avoid it, or maybe a combination of both. And if you have a strength, then you obviously want to try to play into it as much as you can, knowing that if you don't have two strengths, that one strength is only so long. You have to have some kind of balance. So yeah, you see those things but again that can change quickly, it can change in a hurry. There are times when you can walk off the field and… I remember back in '80-whatever-it-was, '84 or '85, when [Lawrence] Taylor got suspended, no, it must have been '88. It was '88, because Pepper [Johnson] was there. We were standing out there on the practice field one day, we're looking at [Carl] Banks, Taylor, Pepper and Harry Carson. It looked pretty good. Then we find out Lawrence is suspended for four games and we sat in there in that meeting that night and we're looking for a linebacker. It didn't look quite as good. So, somebody can get hurt, somebody can… something can happen, somebody's performance can drop off unexpectedly. For whatever the reasons are, things can change in a hurry.
Q: In the Katzenmoyer situation, do you plan on him not being here?
BB: To tell you the truth, Andy's situation, even last year, was still a little bit of an unknown to me. He's a player that's talented, but I don't think Andy has even… has really established himself as a dominant football player in any particular area for the Patriots. Even in '99, when he played for Ted [Johnson] when Ted was hurt, and then at the end of the year he didn't, and then last year, he did some good things, showed a lot of promise, but for a variety of circumstances he got hurt at the end of training camp and early in the season, and even early in the season he would rotate with [Tedy] Bruschi and Johnson. The three of them were kind of playing those two spots as Ted Johnson was coming back so what I would have liked to have seen last year was Bruschi, Johnson and Katzenmoyer be able to compete through the year and come out at the end of the year and say, okay, of these three, these are our two best players and this other guy's going to be the backup or, their all pretty equal and we're going to find different roles for them, split time or whatever, but that never really materialized last year. Then after the surgery, coming in this year with Andy, it was a little bit the same as last year, you know, try to get his level of performance, get his game up to the highest level and evaluate where the best place for him fit in for the way our team is. He has a lot of potential and can do a lot of different things but I'm not sure that he's really ever been able to really nail down what his role is. Whether it be in sub defense or regular defense or in the kicking game or in any of those areas, something's always happened to sort of keep that from ever being strongly determined. And that's what I told Andy at the start of the season, and even in the offseason, that he needed to establish, or re-establish, however you want to look at it, solidly, his role on the football field, which is still the case.
Q: Is there anything jumping out at you at that other corner spot right now?
BB: I think the whole corner position is very competitive. All six of those guys out there, and Terrance [Shaw], when he came back, even though Terrance wasn't out there for long, but he had a very strong showing in the mini camps and then the one practice he was out there, I think all six of those guys are very competitive, with [Ray] Hill and [Leonard] Myers being the younger guys, and Hill being a good special teams player, and Ty [Law] and Otis [Smith] and Terrell [Buckley] and Kato [Serwanga], who's stepped up a little bit, I think overall that those four guys are pretty competitive.
Q: Do you want one guy to take the spot?
BB: Well, sure, you always like to see a player step up and dominate the position and be all-pro players and shut down every receiver they play against, but I don't know that that's going to happen. I think in the meantime, we let the competition unfold, let them play. It's competitive because they have a good receiver group to work against and I'm sure it will be competitive in the preseason, especially when the Giants get here, or starting when the Giants get here and then in the preseason games, we'll see how that competition unfolds. Whatever the best combination is when we get into multiple corners, in the nickel and dime packages and that kind of thing, we'll have to let that unfold. I wouldn't rule anybody out or anybody in in that competition. I think that will all take care of itself on the field. I think it's healthy. They're all working hard and they're all very aware that there are other good players out there and it just improves everybody's level.
Q: What are your impressions of Brad Costello?
BB: Good. Brad's a guy that we signed at the end of the season and anytime… You know, I have a lot of respect for Lee Johnson. I'll say that right off the bat. And I've coached a lot of punters. I've coached Jennings, I've coached Landetta, Tom Tupa, those guys are all real good punters and Lee Johnson has had a tremendous career. A terrific career. But any time a player's at the age that Lee is at, you never know. Again, each player has to come in and re-establish his level every year. And when a player's… Lee's past his prime, we all know that, so, you don't know where you're going to be the next year, so we wanted to have Brad as a younger punter who would be in competition. And again, even though Lee had a pretty good year last year, this is a new year. Brad came in, he was pretty heavy in December, we brought him back in January, talked to him about his weight, his conditioning, not only what he needed to do in Europe, but also how he needed to do it and we put a plan together for him. He's lost a lot of weight, he's improved his flexibility. Brad went down, Brad Seely, I'm sorry, went down and worked with him in Florida practicing, he went down there and saw him practice and worked with him down there and then talked to him through the course of the season in Europe on his technique and punting and so forth. He missed a little bit of time over there when he came back to get married. But overall, I thought that not only has he gotten a good year of experience, but he's changed his body around a little bit, he's improved his strength, his overall power, certainly his flexibility. He's a guy that can kick off, he's also had some experience holding, so he's starting to… he couldn't come in early because of the rules, I think he's come in here in good shape and he's starting to hit the ball pretty well. I think that's another competitive position. Dan [Hadenfeldt] has got a good leg, too. All three of those guys can punt and both Dan and Brad have some kickoff ability. So overall I think the kicking situation is pretty competitive with Owen [Pochman] and Adam [Vinatieri] and the three punters. Now we're a little heavy at that spot and I get reminded of that quite frequently by offensive and defensive coaches and the personnel people here too, you know, 'we're carrying a lot of specialists.' They're lobbying for guys who play offense and defense. But, I think the competition there is good and at this point, we just don't feel like we want to give up on anybody in that competition, we want to keep it going.
Q: Could you explain the quarterback situation?
BB: When we started off camp all the quarterbacks came in and the reps were pretty equal for all four of the quarterbacks. It was basically just split into quarters and they all took their turns with the main emphasis being technique and getting their arms ready and working with footwork and that kind of thing. As we're into camp now, we've got to start splitting up the reps a little bit differently, obviously Bledsoe gets the most reps and then Huard is definitely second and then it alternates between Michael [Bishop] and Tom [Brady] and we try to monitor that and vary it from day-to-day. We keep stats on all the quarterbacks, every throw they make, every completion, what happened, whether it was dropped or overthrown, or whatever it was or… Again, as we get into the preseason games, those guys will all get their opportunities to play. As we know, one of the prerequisites for a backup quarterback is to be able to play with limited reps. The starting quarterback gets the majority of the reps in practice. It's like what happened in the Buffalo game last year when Drew got hurt, hurt his thumb, John [Friesz] came in and he came in with essentially no practice. It could be like that in any given game, you never know when or how that's going to happen if it's going to happen. That's what they have to be prepared for, so Damon and Tom and Michael will all get relatively fewer reps because we have an established number one quarterback and whoever plays is going to have to play with less than full preparation because Drew's going to get the, unless he gets some type of long-term injury, then someone's going to take that spot, then in the meantime that's the way it's going to go. Damon's getting a little more because he's second and he has a little less familiarity with the system.
Q: Have you set up the QB rotation for the preseason games?
BB: I haven't, no, we haven't set up on that. I think that we want to try to get Drew maybe a little bit more playing time than we did last year, we had five preseason games last year, where we have four… We want to try to use the Giants practice to get our veteran players a little bit more time against the Giants because they'll probably be playing a little bit less in that first preseason game so they'll get a little more practice work whereas some of the younger guys will get a little more game action against the Giants. But I think that Drew will probably get a little bit more time this year in preseason, relatively speaking, than he did last year. And then we need to get Damon ready because Damon at this point is our number two quarterback. And then Tom and Michael will have to… we'll have to do the best we can with them. I'd like to see both of them play, but there's only so many snaps.
Q: Do you like the idea of keeping four QBs like you did last year?
BB: If the ability warrants it. I don't think you can ever have too much depth at that position. We saw a couple of teams last year in the league lose guys and be scrambling on that last cut to try to find a backup quarterback or in a couple of cases a starting quarterback. That's a tough position to be in. Depth at quarterback… that's not a bad place to have it. But I will just say that about the quarterback position, they're all NFL-caliber quarterbacks and they can all go in and play in the National Football League. The thing that both Tom and Michael have to establish that Damon is ahead of them on is that they have to be able to show that they can go in and win. Damon has shown that he can go in and win in the National Football League. Tom and Michael haven't had that opportunity but they haven't put themselves at that level yet. To me that's what separates Damon from the other two guys. He's won in the National Football League and that's not easy to do, so…