Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Friday, July 30, 2010.
BB: We got the first day out of our way yesterday. That's always a first step - getting a lot of those things taken care of, kind of the logistics, start getting into the routine. So now I think we can really, hopefully, get into a good flow here in training camp. We've got a long haul. We've got a lot of work to do. That's a big part of camp - just going through it day by day, putting your team under stress, see how they react to those situations, judge their conditioning, their staying power, their mental and physical toughness, durability and all of those things. We're starting that process and we'll grind through it, but I think that's an important part of getting your team ready for the 16-game regular season schedule that we have to face. There's no place I'd rather be, so I'm happy to be doing it. Derrick [Burgess], of course, wasn't here yesterday. We expected him to be here. He's not here. This type of situation certainly isn't unprecedented. We'll just deal with it going forward. I'm not exactly sure that I know all the information that I need to know, so that's what it is for now. We'll just take that day-by-day. Otherwise, we'll get back at it a couple times today and see if we can improve on yesterday.
Q: Have you talked to Derrick?
BB: That's about the status of it right there. We'll just take it and see how it comes.
Q: Did it come as a surprise to you?
BB: We expected him to be here.
Q: Does him not being here leave you thin at that position?
BB: We'll see how it goes here. Look, you hate to not have all of the players out there all of the time, but when that does happen - and it's inevitable that it will happen for one reason or another - then that gives other players opportunities. The guys that have the opportunities to play have worked hard and are competitive and want to take advantage of it. Every player wants an opportunity, so the guys that get it, I think they are ready for it and they'll try to take advantage of it and do the best they can.
Q: What were your expectations for Derrick going into this season and coming off last year with another year in the system?
BB: To compete on the team like the other 79 players that are here. My expectations are the same for every player: come out there, be in good condition, work hard, do the best they can. That's what I expect every player to do.
Q: When you look back at Tom Brady's year last year, especially the way it started, how much was he limited by not being able to practice as much given his rehab?
BB: I think we talked about that quite a bit. I don't think the rehab was an issue. He was here from the first day of the offseason program and the first day of passing camp and all of that. He missed some time in training camp after the Washington game, but he was here from day one.
Q: Where is he this year and how much work do you think he has done in the offseason?
BB: I think like every player...every player is really in about the same boat here right now. They all have a long way to go. They've come in, practiced for a day, or two days, or three days, or whatever it is, however long they've been here. The quarterbacks came in [for their] first practices on Monday. There are a lot of things to work on. We worked on a lot of things in the spring and then now is the time to really start to develop timing and consistency and the whole padded practices and feeling the rush and all those things the quarterback has to deal with - time management and game management and so forth and so on. Each year is a new year. We all start all over again every season. It's the same for every player. Tom works, I think, as hard as anybody does. He's very professional and he's got a great work ethic and he's very intelligent, so I'm sure that he's done all those things. But still, there's no substitute for being out there with the other 21 players and putting it together from a team standpoint - offensively, your group, but also recognizing and dealing with whatever the defense is throwing at you that day.
Q: Was this offseason at all different for him than offseasons in the past, do you think, as far as from what you saw?
BB: You'd have to talk to him about his offseason.
Q: You've talked about that in the spring, him not being here in March and then coming in for the team stuff. After that was that at all different or no?
BB: It was a little different from the '09 season. It wasn't that much different from the '08 season.
Q: Players like Brandon Tate weren't on the field much last year because of injury, but were on the team all year. Is he more a rookie or more a veteran in terms of where he is because while he was around the team, he wasn't on the field?
BB: Brandon had a little bit of an unusual situation last year compared to most rookies. He didn't participate in training camp because he was on the PUP and then didn't come back until before we played Tampa, before the London game, or the Miami game - around there. So his situation was a little bit different. He wasn't in training camp. I mean, he was here for training camp, but he wasn't participating on the field, so from that standpoint, it's his first training camp. But I think Brandon would be the first to tell you that his preparation for this season is way, way, way ahead of where it was last year. From a physical standpoint, the rehab and everything is over with. From a learning and technique standpoint, he's had a good offseason of working with Coach [Chad] O'Shea, Coach [Scott] O'Brien in the offseason program and the passing game. Physically, he is in good condition. From a technique standpoint and from a learning and understanding standpoint, he's way, way ahead of where he was last year. Now that being said, he still has to go out there and do it and develop timing and the consistency and all of that that training camp and preseason games and so forth bring, but where he is starting now and where he started even when he came back onto the team there in October, it's a big gap.
Q: From your experiences, do young players tend to make the biggest jump from year one to year two?
BB: Generally, I would say that is true, yes. Probably 90 percent of the time, but we've seen plenty of players that maybe haven't done a lot in year one, haven't done a lot in year two, and then year three becomes a big year. That does happen, too. I think to me, as long as a player is improving and he's getting better, that's really the curve that you are looking for. You can't always identify when that time is going to come, but as they're cresting, sometimes it's the middle of year one, it's the beginning of year two, it's the end of year two, it's the middle of year three. We can cite plenty of examples of players who had their big year in year three.
Q: Is it a matter of just getting to know the system, understanding expectations?
BB: I think that's a hard question to answer. It could be a lot of things. I think each situation is a little bit different. Sometimes it depends where the player came from, what his background was, what type of system he played in, what he was asked to do, how quickly he can learn to do the things he's being asked to do here. Some cases that's very similar to what guys were asked to do in another program - techniques and things like that. In some cases it's a very different. The level of competition can be a factor, too - what type of players he played against in college relative to the level of competition here, just the whole schedule, the length of the season, the maturity and so forth. There are so many variable that go in there, I'd have a hard time just saying it's this one particular thing. But I think when you scout players and you bring them in to your program, you usually have an idea of where you think they are. Whether it turns out that way exactly, you don't know until you spend time with them and have them in your program on a consistent basis. But you have a sense that some guys are probably going to be a little closer to being ready than others.
Q: With the big draft classes you've had the last two years, do you have any sense of how much you are going to be able to count on those two classes this year?
BB: No, that's what training camp is for. I'm not sure how much we can count on anybody. That's what training camp is for. Every year is a new year. It's a clean slate for all of us. We all have to go out and reestablish our level of performance, whether it's players, coaches, whoever it is. It doesn't make any difference. We all start from scratch and we've got refine our skills and our abilities to perform and again, whether that's play calling or making decisions or throwing passes or kicking field goals or making tackles. It all starts back at square one and part of that was in the spring, but now a bigger part of that is in training camp and preseason. I don't take anything for granted and I have the same expectations for myself that I do for everybody else, and that's that we all have a lot of work to do, including me.
Q: You mentioned a clean slate. Can you give your rationale for the redecorating and taking all the pictures down?
BB: The walls needed painting.
Q: Were you happy with the production of the running game last year or do you feel like you need to go out and make any significant changes?
BB: Again, I think every year is a new year. I don't know how our running game, our passing game, our punt coverage or anything else is going to be this year. We're going to go out there and work on all the phases of the game and try to get them to the highest level possible. I don't take anything for granted. What we did or didn't do last year, that was last year, that was last year. We'll see how we can do with all those things this year. We need to work on everything. We've got a lot of work to do and it's all important.
Q: How do you think Taylor Price handled missing some of the spring camps while he was finishing school?
BB: Well, he was behind but I think he's working hard and he's making it up. I'm sure in time he will catch up. I'm not sure exactly when that will be, but he's definitely gaining on it. He's a smart kid. He works hard. He didn't come from a really sophisticated passing game in college. He's had to learn a lot of things, but he's picking them up and I think the time that he's been with us has been productive. He's gained at a fast rate. How that will all turn out, we'll have to wait and see, but I think he's doing well.
Q: Is that a small part of the draft evaluation - kids who you know are on the quarters system?
BB: I don't think so. Again, that is maybe one percent of a hundred percent of a player's development. I think that certainly there are a lot of things that will override that and players that come in ahead, eventually I think all that ground gets made up and everybody is on equal footing, whether that is a week into training camp or two weeks into training camp. I'm not sure exactly what it is, but I think that playing field levels out, much more so than missing time in training camp does. I think that's a different component, but missing time in the spring... you want them all there in the spring, but there is an opportunity [to catch up], because when we go back to training camp as we did yesterday, we restarted the installation all over again. So we put in everything from scratch just like we did in the spring. It was at a faster rate, but it was still all reinstalled, if you will. So it does give them an opportunity to catch up on that, whereas if you miss training camp time and then come in after that, then there is no reinstallation. Then you're definitely playing catch up.
Q: With installing so many plays in training camp, do you ever have to worry about the players' ability to retain it all?
BB: Absolutely. That's all we worry about. That's what training camp - that's what coaching is in training camp, is trying to give the players the right amount of information. You don't want to not move ahead, but at the same time, you don't want to move ahead too quickly, where you then have to go back and do it over again. It's kind of like building a house. You cut some corners, and then you don't have the walls put up properly and then the sheet rock doesn't go on right and then you have to go back and fix it up and everything. That's not the way to do it. You want to get it in right, but at the same time, we're on a time schedule, too; we don't have forever. We have a preseason game in two weeks and we open the season against Cincinnati, so we have a schedule where we have to have everything ready by [then], to some degree. You try to manage those two things, but you don't want to move at a pace that's... and at the same time, everybody on your team isn't at the same place. You have some players who are much more experienced and are further ahead than others, so you try to find that balance and that's really what coaching is. Sometimes some groups can move faster than others on your team and so as a head coach and as a coordinator, you have to talk about those things and try to figure out what the best thing is for the team. And that might not be the best thing for each individual player, but again, that's what football is. It's a team sport and we all have to give up some individual preferences when we sign up for the team. That's part of it, too.
Q: What are some of the differences between tackle and guard and what are some of the things you saw in Nick Kaczur that made you think he might be able to make that change?
BB: I'd say the biggest difference is space. There's more space at tackle; you're further away from the ball. As each position goes further away from the ball, you're just dealing with more space. Defensively, those players are usually faster and more athletic the further away from the interior of the field you get, generally speaking. I think Nick has a good combination of skills. He's big and he's physical as an inside player would be, but he's athletic enough to play in space, outside, as he did in college and as he's done for us both at right tackle and left tackle. Some players are tackles only. Some players are guard to tackle. Some players are guard only. Some players are center to guard. Some players are center only, in varying degrees. But we classify players like that in the draft - players that can only play center or guard, but some players can play both. Part of that is snapping the ball and being able to block and execute things with the ball in your hand, which is a separate skill. It's the same thing - there are players that are tackle only and then there are other players that could play guard or tackle. Obviously, I would say Nick falls into that category.
Q: As far as pushing a team and putting them under stress to judge conditioning as well as their mental and physical ability, how much can you change those methods of pushing from year to year, given the turnover rate on the team?
BB: I think the goal is pretty much the same every year. What exactly you do, how you create that, that can vary from year to year depending on the circumstances and what you feel like your team needs. Sometimes you don't get certain things in practice situations, and you need to create them or maybe they come up in preseason games, but maybe you need to create those situations to prepare your team for it. Whether that's on the field or off the field, I think there's an individual preparation and then there's a team preparation and I think you need to be cognizant of both of those and try to do the best you can, but again you're dealing with a large number of people. It's not perfect for everybody. You either have to do what's best for the group or pick out certain individuals and emphasize their needs more than somebody else's because you need to strengthen your team.
Q: Is this a group that you feel you need to be harder on, if you will?
BB: I don't know. We've been in camp for one day. We'll see how camp goes. We'll see how it goes. As a coach, you do what you need to do. If you feel you need to do something, then you do it. I don't know how I'm going to feel in a week or 10 days or two weeks or three weeks. But whatever it is, I'll do the best I can at that point to try to improve the team. Whatever that is, I have no idea.