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Bill Belichick Press Conference - Mini-Camp 2002, Day 1

To read a transcript of the press conference, click below.

BB: This is kind of a culmination of about a week and a half of passing camps that we have started previously so it is good to get most everybody out there, start doing some things as a team as opposed to a lot of the individual training and drills and specific things that we have been doing individually up to this point. This is starting to bring it together and from that standpoint it is good to get going and good to get everybody back out there on the field. We had a couple of guys, I am sure that you saw that weren't out there. Donald Hayes was excused today for personal reasons he will be back tonight and a couple of injured players that didn't participate, but for the most part we have got a good group out there that we need to start working together and get a lot of people reps. We are really trying to roll everybody through pretty much equally so everybody learns and understands their position and what is going on. This isn't really any kind of a big evaluation camp because there is no contact. It is more of a teaching camp although we are certainly looking to see how people do things without the contact, the execution of the plays and learning their assignments and so forth, but in terms of a real good evaluation obviously that won't start until training camp and it rained today.

Q: I noticed that [Andy] Katzenmoyer wasn't out there today, have you heard anything from him?

BB: Yeah there is nothing new to report on Andy. It is the way it has been all year.

Q: Nothing new meaning that he is going to be waived or he is going to retire?

BB: He's wherever he has been for the last three months, wherever that is.

Q: You haven't talked to him?

BB: No I didn't talk to Andy, no.

Q: Brock Williams, you didn't have him last year, but he was a third round draft choice, you thought highly of him obviously, where is he now in terms of potential?

BB: I think physically he really doesn't have any limitations, it is just a question of getting back into it, you know he hasn't played football in over a year. I think he is a little rusty and needs to get his techniques and his footwork refined and that type of thing, but physically I think that he is pretty close to, I mean he is able to go out there and play obviously I think that he needs to work on his skills, but it is good to have him out there. That is a guy that we didn't see at all last year and we really didn't see much of either of the tight ends as well. I mean we saw a little bit more of them than we did of Brock. So those are a couple of guys that have been here that are kind of new faces on the field, but guys who have been around for a year.

Q: During a camp like this do you spend more of your time dealing with guys like Arther Love, [Jabari] Holloway, Brock Williams and the rookies then you would the veterans? How do you divide your time on the practice field?

BB: That's really a good question. I think that there is a little bit of pull from several different directions. Certainly the young players you want to see how they are coming along and what kind of progress they are making and where they might and might not be able to fit in, but at the same time you want to see how your team is coming together and how that group is functioning. From a coaching standpoint we have some new things scheme-wise, some new pass patterns, some adjustments on defense, some running plays, you want to kind of see how those are looking as well. So it's really combination of looking at the younger players, seeing how they fit into the more veteran group. See how the veteran group is fitting together and of course there are some new faces in there too, guys like [Christian] Fauria, Rick Lyle and Steve Martin and people like that that we have signed as well and then also from a scheme standpoint some of the adjustments and things that we have made in the off-season we are starting to take a look at here in mini camp and we want to see what those look like. We know what they look like on paper, but now that we are actually doing them we will see how that is coming together. So there are a number of different things as a coach I am kind of, I am looking at young players here and looking at a new play here and a veteran combination.

Q: Any of the scheme stuff that you can detail, whether it is offensive or defensively, that is maybe specific to guys that you have added?

BB: No it's not so much that. I think it is more taking a look at last year. I think it took us a little while offensively to really get our running game going and for us as a coaching staff to get a real good feel for Antowain [Smith] and what things he does best and what things he can probably be most successful with in conjunction with our line. So some of the things that we ran early in the year last year we have really moved away from and some of the things that we had more success with last year, we have put that as a little bit more of an emphasis point, so you know things like that. Maybe not totally new, but as we evolved during the season there were some things that were better than others. The same thing defensively where we started off last year in much more of a three-man line and finished up in more of a four-man line so in this camp the emphasis is on cleaning up some of the four-man line things that we did at the end of the year, but now kind of starting with that as opposed to starting with a three-man line and building to it. We are starting a little closer I think to where we finished the second half of last year.

Q: Do you get a sense that the team has put the Super Bowl and all of the celebration behind them and they are focused on what is ahead?

BB: I hope so. I hope so. This season has started and it is all about our aggression and passion for achieving success this year. We have just got a bunch of zero's up there just like everybody else does and we are going to face a lot of challenges this year and we need to prepare well and work hard to be ready for them and I hope that is where we are at.

Q: Is there any part of you that worries that the players could be made too comfortable by this new place and that they could get a little "softer" because of it?

BB: I don't know. I think that is a fair point, but basically what we were trying to do is set up a more efficient and more functional system. So for example in the weight room instead of having only 12 guys in the weight room we can have 25 guys in the weight room working just as hard, lifting just as much weight and then be able to go out on the field and run them together in one group rather than have to break it up into five different groups because our weight room couldn't hold enough people at once and we just didn't have any space for the equipment. I don't know that this weight room should correlate into less work or less energy in it. I think we can just do it a little more efficiently. We have some new machines and equipment that we will be able to work on some areas that we were maybe a little deficient at in the old place just because we didn't have the room to do it. The same way in the training room. We have some equipment and some space to do some things in terms of rehabbing our players that I think we can do a better job with than we were able to do up there. I think that is the same thing with the meeting rooms. I think it is just a little more conducive hopefully to better learning, a little better learning environment. So I don't think it is really with the intent to go soft as it is the intent to be more efficient and be able to do things as well as we can particularly in the physical area of the players, the rehabbing and the training.

Q: You said regarding Katzenmoyer, the longer it goes the harder it gets, as a team how long can you go before you just have to move on?

BB: Well when we have something to say about we will say something about it. In the meantime there is nothing really new to say.

Q: Clearly you can't be happy that you haven't spoken to him in three months?

BB: Well, you know it is what it is. We have been here before. This isn't really new ground.

Q: Last year's veteran free agents had a big impact on the team's success, how do you think you do with this year's group in terms of what you want to fill and what you got?

BB: Well I think part of this year's group is last year's group obviously. One of the things that we wanted to do last year with a number of the players that we signed was to sign them to multi-year contracts. Obviously we didn't do that with all of them. Antowain Smith being one example, but there were a number of players that did sign multi-year contracts and that was with the idea that we wanted to go forward with them for an extended period of time not just a one-year rent a player type of system. A lot of those guys have carried over and then we have added some new players. I think it is way too early to see how they are going to fit in. Obviously we wouldn't have signed them if we didn't have good feelings about them and vice versa. I don't think they would have come here if they didn't feel like they had a place here, but a lot of that needs to be worked out as we get down the road. I think each guy has a good, solid package and that is why we acquired them. We are just going to have to be patient with some of them, say a guy like Cam Cleeland who is not out there right now, but at some later point in time he may be a factor in things and we think he will, but we are going to have to be patient with a player like Cam.

Q: Last year you made a lot of key acquisitions in training camp given that success do you feel that you are not under any pressure to hurry up and try to sign anybody right now?

BB: I wouldn't really say that it's a matter of pressure it is just more about trying to do what you can do to help your team. When we can come to an agreement with a player and feel like he can be productive in our system and there is a need for that player or that player's role then we will get it worked out, we will do it. Whether that's June 1st, July 1st, July 15th or April 1st there really isn't a…I don't think Scott [Pioli] and I have ever really worked on a real timeframe where we would say, 'We have got to get this done by May 15th or we have got to get this done by June 1st." I mean if you can do something that works you do it and if you can't then you keep hunting and turn over some more leaves and see if there is something that will work for you and sometimes those things take care of themselves. Sometimes younger players come through and step up or maybe somebody that you are not really counting on, but then after some time goes by and they start performing then you can start to count on them.

Q: What do you make of [Tom] Brady's off-season? There has been a lot made of some of the things he has done, did you talk to him at all after the Super Bowl and he was the MVP, you have been around long enough to know what was coming, did you talk to him at all, 'Everybody is going to want a piece of you, you are going to be under scrutiny more than ever' that type of thing?

BB: Sure, yeah we talked about that. I don't think that is any state secret. I think that the way that you have laid it out is exactly the way it is. I am sure that he is in a lot more demand then he was last year.

Q: Do you worry about it at all?

BB: Well I think Tom has worked hard this year and that is the main thing that we were looking for and I think he's worked as hard as anyone on our team this off-season.

Q: He has been under scrutiny, he's under the microscope every time he shows up some place people start questioning what he is doing, do you feel for him a little bit?

BB: I think it comes with the territory. I think for a starting quarterback or an MVP Super Bowl quarterback that comes with the territory. When you are a fourth string quarterback you can go somewhere and be less conspicuous then when you are in the spotlight.

Q: Has there been any change in his approach, not just from a work standpoint, but in terms of being more assertive, being more of a vocal leader?

BB: Yeah I think that's probably accurate. I think that Tom has had good leadership for both of the years that he has been here and it increased last year during the season, but I think that he stepped it up even a little bit more this year in the off-season. I think from a coaching standpoint too, because of what his position is this year and how different it is from the beginning of last year and certainly the beginning of 2000, that Charlie [Weis] and I look at it a little bit differently too and now it is a little more important to know of these three patterns which one does he like the best because he'll be the one that is throwing them. So we have asked him to be a little more assertive there with, 'Here are your choices what do you feel better about?' Because you always want your quarterback to have confidence in the play or the strategy that you have got called and sometimes you look for input for him.

Q: But you don't think that the off-field demands have affected his preparations?

BB: You would have to ask him that.

Q: Is Cleeland still out with an Achilles or is there something out?

BB: No he is rehabbing from the Achilles surgery and I think he is on schedule. I think that it is going to be fine. He is not ready right now.

Q: Will he be ready for training camp?

BB: Well I think he will be ready for the season. I can't give an exact date of when he will back, but he is making good progress. He has certainly come a long way in the last month, six weeks and I think that we will see him out there.

Q: With the rain did you think of moving practice into the bubble?

BB: Nope.

Q: Did you find that when the players came back they were more serious or less distracted because of the success?

BB: Well let's wait and see how it goes in training camp. I mean we are out there for one mini camp practice today. We are really not out there practicing competitively. I mean we are, but we aren't. I mean there is no contact. It's not like it is in training camp. It is more of a teaching camp and again the evaluation comes on the execution of skills, but we all know there is a lot more to football than skill. There is contact and there are collisions and there is a physical aspect that we just don't want to have out there now, players don't have the padding for it. So I think it is a little too early to evaluate that, but what I will say and the point that I have emphasized to the players and will continue to emphasize to them is that two years ago we started off 0-4, last year we started off 1-3, you know I would like to get off to a little better start than that this year and it starts in mini camp and then it goes to training camp and there is the first quarter of your season. We are at a starting point in a certain respect, I mean we have been working I am not saying that, but in terms of a team and coming together as a team this is really a starting point for us this year and we need to build to higher ground then we were at the last two years in the first quarter of the season.

Q: There's talk of Brady's life being under a microscope, but what about your life as a coach who has won the Super Bowl is there an adjustment for you? There are more people at this mini camp then there probably was last year? It seems like everything that you do might get scrutinized a little more, is that an adjustment?

BB: Do you think it has been scrutinized pretty carefully up to this point?

Q: Sure it has, but it goes without saying other people are going to say, 'He did something that worked, let's check in and see what he is doing.' Maybe it doesn't change anything, I don't know…

BB: I don't know I feel like you guys have peppered me pretty good for the last two year so sure there is no doubt that we have gotten more coverage and more exposure and I don't think that is a big surprise that based on last year's success we would have that, but I don't think that is really going to change my approach any. I think we still need to do the same things that we need to do honestly whether we have 100 people here or one person here or nobody here. You have got 16 regular season games scheduled that we have to compete in and we had 16 last year so we are going to have to do the same things to prepare for those games regardless of whether anybody is scrutinizing us or analyzing us or not. I am sure that we will get plenty of suggestions after the game, we will probably get some before the games too.

Q: Are the expectations higher this year than they were last year?

BB: I think they are the same. I think they are the same. I went through my notes, the things that I talked to the team about last year at this time of the year and in training camp and about preparing for the season and after I got through reading it I kind of thought why would our approach be any different than it was? We have a lot of things that need to come together, we have some young players, we have some new veteran players, we have some players that were holdovers from last year, but we are a different team and so is everybody else. We have a lot of challenges ahead of us and we are going to have to meet those and we are going to have to meet a lot of them early in the season and we haven't, like I said, met them very well the last two years, but the things that will make us a successful team this year are the same things that would have made us a successful team last year or the year before that. Being physically and mentally tough, playing smart football, not giving games away, being in condition, being able to play under pressure, being able to manage the clock, all of those kind of things, all of those execution things, all of those things that relate to being able to be mentally tough and handle whatever the situations are that are presented and we know that there will be a lot of them and a lot of them will be different, but we will have to adapt to them as we go through the year like every other team will. Those were big keys to our success. I don't really think it is any different this year. There may be some different problems or challenges this year from last year, but we will have to handle them in the same type of manner and so will every other team. I mean every other team will have them too.

Q: Is there something you need to do differently to get off to a better start?

BB: I hope we will be able to come up with something. I hope we will be able to do better than what we have done the last two years.

Q: Brady had a great year obviously last year, but he is still very young, are there things about his game that he has to work on?

BB: No doubt about it, every single player. Brady is in that category, but so is everybody else. When the players came back for the start of the off-season program in March one of the first things we did was sit down with each player and individually talk about his weaknesses, what areas he needed to improve either physically whether it be a strength issue or quickness or flexibility or whatever it happened to be and also from a football standpoint if there was going to be a change in his role, if we anticipated a change some things we would want him to work on more in the off-season to prepare for the season or if there are things that he has been doing that we just felt like, 'Hey here are the things you do, these are the things that you don't do very well, here is how we are going to help you address those,' and Tom certainly falls into that category, but all of the players do. I think there are always areas that you can strengthen and he is no exception.

Q: Can you get specific on anything you talked to him about?

BB: Well I think his overall understanding of the offense and the adjustments that we make in it. Again, his throwing mechanics can always stand improvement, play-action faking, ball handling. I think there are a number of things that he needs to continue to work on some of them carrying over from his rookie year.

Q: Brady coming back without having a long-time veteran like Drew [Bledsoe] here, does that have an effect, you mentioned that he has been a little more vocal and does he miss anything in terms of dynamics between the three quarterbacks?

BB: I don't really know if it is so much the other people who are or aren't here whether it is [Rohan] Davey or Drew or whoever, I think it's just really in this case a growth of Tom and the position that he is in. Last year he wasn't the starting quarterback at this time, this year he is so it is different for him. So you would expect him to have more command and be more assertive than he was at this time last year. I am not saying that he is different this week than he was in December or January last year because I mean that is the way that he played and practiced last year when he was in this position, but certainly relative to a year ago at this team I think it is different there. How it will be in six months we can take a look at that then.

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