New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday, August 20, 2008.
BB: This week is flying by pretty quickly, it is kind of like a Friday for us. It seems like we just played, well I guess we did. So we are chugging along here. Again, watching Philadelphia as usual and they look pretty good. They are solid in all three phases of the game. They have some real good skill players, good offensive line, always good on defense, strong in the kicking game, and some explosive players so this should be a good test for us. Just trying to get our preparations done as much and as thoroughly as we can here in such a short time to give the players a chance to go out and compete. We are fighting a clock a little bit but that is okay. It puts some urgency in our preparation. I don't think that is ever a bad thing. So that is our deal today.
Q: How much stalk do you put into the third preseason game?
BB: We try to emphasize every opportunity we get to prepare for our regular season opener. So that is all of training camp practices and all four preseason games. I think they are all important and we try to maximize all of them. Each game gives the players the opportunity to fine-tune their skills, techniques, reactions and all that in preparation for the regular season. This [game vs. Philadelphia] is a good one. It is a good opportunity against a good football team. The guys that get the chance to participate in the game, I'm sure they will be able to utilize that to help them prepare for the season. Not everybody will, but the guys that do, that will be good for them. The guys that don't, hopefully they will get it some other time or they have already gotten it.
Q: Where is the gray area from now until the end of training camp or preseason that says to you, I now have to start getting the guys that are going to play the reps that they need?
BB: I think that process has already started. I think it has been going on for awhile. You never really finalize it. It is still a work in progress but I think that has already started. Some guys get more reps than others. Some guys are ahead of other guys and those guys get more reps. Guys that are behind other guys, they get fewer reps or maybe they get more reps in other phases of the game depending on where their role happens to be at this current time, but we all know that can change in a hurry. We try to keep everybody ready in all phases but somebody has to get more reps than somebody else, it certainly isn't balanced at this point and it hasn't been in a little while.
Q: In your mind, could you make your final roster reductions today if you had to?
BB: Well sure. If today was the day we had to make our final roster reductions than we would make them but it isn't. I don't think that is a great exercise of my time as opposed to getting the team ready to be a better football team, which encompasses a lot of things. I am not saying we don't have an eye on our roster, we do - but as far as making final decisions and going through the final analysis that you would do. When that time comes, which is pretty lengthy and pretty thorough, I don't know that right now is the best time to do it. If we had to do it, we would do it. It wasn't that long ago when this was about the time when we had to cut to 60. That would be a pretty big cut.
Q: When you look at Rodney Harrison and John Lynch as players, what similarities do you see and what differences do you see in two guys that have played combined more than 30 years in the league?
BB: Well, similarities I think are both guys have been very productive. They are hard-hitting impact players. Both of their presences are definitely felt on the field. They played in different systems, so that is different but I think they are both good tacklers. They are very instinctive and efficient players. They get to the ball. They are around the ball and make a lot of big plays. Over the course of their careers, there are a lot of those for both of them.
Q: Could you envision a scenario where Rodney Harrison and John Lynch would be side by side on the field together?
BB: I guess it is possible. I don't know, we will have to see how it goes. This is only John's [Lynch] second practice so we will se how it goes. We are getting him ready for some different situations. Rodney [Harrison] has been involved in some different personnel packages, roles and so forth. How that will all work out, we will just have to wait and see.
Q: Do you have an update on Tom [Brady]?
BB: He is day to day.
Q: How do you feel about Ellis Hobbs in a dual role as cornerback and kickoff returner?
BB: We have a lot of players doing a lot of different things. Again, how will those roles work out down the road, we will just have to wait and see. Players that have done different things, whatever they happen to be, different roles on offense and defense, multiple positions and different roles in the kicking game and how that fits together -right now we do it so we have depth in all of those spots. What we feel is best for our team in any given game and to start the season - that all remains to be seen. I wouldn't want to not prepare those players for those situations and then something come up down the road and tell the player we want you to do this and the player really hasn't done it this year and hasn't done it in a competitive situation. So we are just trying to get everyone ready and prepared on a broad base and then we will be more specific as the regular season becomes closer and we get more refined in those roles based on who the players on our roster are and whose going to the game.
Q: There has been a lot of talk around the league among the owners of increasing the regular season to 17 games. There would also be some reduction in preseason. When you do that how do you get back up quarterbacks?
BB: Good question. I don't know. I think that is the issue. The fewer preseason games you have, the fewer opportunities you have for the younger players. It doesn't matter what position they play. Then we had the Europe League or World League and that was supposedly to develop young players and now that is not in place anymore. If you have young players on your roster and you don't have preseason games, then I don't know where you get them experience. I think it makes it a lot harder for them to make the team. If you want to develop young players you have to have some type of opportunity and time to develop them. If you are not going to play preseason games and shorten the preseason, I don't know how you develop younger players. When do you do it? You have 14 OTA [off season training activity] days. You are not going to develop them then. I mean you might get them started. I think that is the problem. The shorter you make it, the harder you are going to make it on younger players and development of younger players. The longer you make it, it might be more than some veterans need and there are some other issues with that. It is a give and take. It is a balance. I think you can argue it both ways.
Q: Would you be in favor of partnering with a minor league team?
BB: Right now, I am just really trying to coach one football team. I would like to see us perform a little better than we have. I think I really have a full time job. As far as trying to conquer the world and save the sport, I will leave that to someone else.
Q: Are either Matt Light or Stephen Neal any closer to getting on the field?
BB: I would say they are closer. They are getting better everyday.
Q: When you cut guys, do you talk to each guy individually?
BB: I would say 95 percent of the time.
Q: How hard is that for you? Do you explain the reason why they are being let go?
BB: We explain the situation to them. I mean there are a lot of different scenarios. Each case is a little bit different. You know all the different scenarios but whatever they are we sit with them. Scott [Pioli] and I sit with them, talk to them and tell them what the situation is. It could be a lot of different things. We have released a lot of different players that have ended up coming back here. Sometimes it is not as final as it is in other situations. Then we notify their representative and tell them the same thing or have a conversation with them so that the player and his representative are all informed of the decision and everything that goes along with the decision, which could be not too much to quite a bit.
Q: As being head coach and having the last say - have you ever second-guessed yourself when cutting a player?
BB: Well, some cuts are harder than others and whatever the final decision is a lot of times it could come down to going either way but it's got to go one way or another. You have to make a decision and you have to go with it. I have been in those situations before. Even though you are releasing the guy, you know it is close. He probably knows it's close but you have to make a decision. Once you make the decision you have to go with it. There really isn't much else you can do. It's tough. It is a hard part of the business. We go to camp with 80 players and we have to go to 53 so 27 players have to get released. That is just the facts. Every team is in the same situation. It is the hard part of the job but it is one we all know from the beginning what it is going to be. Twenty-seven guys are not going to make the 53-man roster. Unfortunately, that is part of this game and is the competitive aspect of it. Maybe not all of us by most all of us have been on the other side of that somewhere along the line, whether it is a player, a coach - we have all been on that side of it sooner or later.
Q: When you bring in a veteran guy like John Lynch who has a lot of experience in the league, how tough is the process of bringing him up to speed?
BB: Well, he has a lot of experience. I don't think we are doing too many things that he hasn't done before. Most of them he has done, it is just the question of new terminology or applying a particular technique to a certain call or a certain formation. It is just getting things categorized properly so that when A happens we do this, when B happens we do that, and when C happens we do something else and here is how we do it. There is definitely an adjustment period and there is a period of time that it takes to see those things, get comfortable with them and get comfortable with your teammates around you. It is not one guy making that adjustment; it is multiple people that have to be coordinated. It takes some time, it takes some communication but John [Lynch] works hard at it and understands conceptually what we are doing. I am sure he will make the adjustment a lot quicker than players with less experience and less "instinctiveness" than what he has for the position. He still has to do it. That is what we are in the process of. I can't give you a time frame of when we will be at a certain point. It is a little bit of a dynamic between what we are seeing. Another words, we are seeing Philadelphia's offense this week but if we are playing a different team some other situations might come up different than this one. If we were playing another team we might not see some situations that might come up in the Philadelphia game. Just because the regular season starts doesn't mean that everything has been covered and has been done as thoroughly as you would like it to be done. That is the point where you are and you just go from there. Then it becomes a building process throughout the course of the year. We will try to get as much of that covered as we can - with the team and with each of the individual players, even the new guys. Some of the new guys we have on the offensive line or John [Lynch] in the secondary, LaMont [Jordan] or whoever else it might be we will try to catch them up the best we can so they are ready to start the season but there will still be more work to be done after that.