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Bill Belichick Press Conference Transcript 11/2

Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday, November 2, 2016.

BB: Alright. This is a good opportunity for our team this week to improve, kind of look back over the first half of the season and evaluate the things that we're doing well, things that we're not doing well and try to reinforce the positive things and try to correct some of the things that need correcting and addressing. We'll also talk about some situational football, you know, the real specific things, things like that, and give the players a well-deserved break. We've been at it now for over three months straight, 50-something practices, 12 games. It'll be a good opportunity for them to catch their breath a little bit and then obviously Seattle - we know what kind of team program they have. We know that'll be tough, so we'll need to have a great week in preparation for them and going forward. A good opportunity for us to really take advantage of the time, use it efficiently, make our team better, improve and that's what we're going to try and do.

Q: Do you have any follow up to your initial comments on the Jamie Collins trade?

BB: I really don't have much to add Tom [Curran]. I've already talked about it. We did what we felt like was best for the team and that was really it. 

Q: Mike Lombardi had some comments about Jamie Collins' effort at times.

BB: Well you should ask Mike [Lombardi] about whatever Mike said or whatever anyone [said]. I'm sure everybody had something to say so go talk to them. I don't know.

Q: I'm asking because of Mike Lombardi's history with this organization as a former assistant to the coaching staff and wondering if his feelings echo the sentiment within the organization.

BB: I expressed my feelings. I think other coaches have expressed their feelings. I'm sure there are a lot of people out there that have an opinion so talk to them. Go talk to them. I don't care.

Q: Why did you feel like it was better to trade Jamie Collins now rather than let him walk in free agency and receive an equally valuable compensatory pick through that route?

BB: Yeah, well I don't agree with that assessment but regardless, we did what we did.

Q: Why do you feel like your team as currently constituted is well-equipped to move on without a player like Jamie Collins?

BB: Well again, that's a much longer conversation. I summed it up and that's the summary of it.

Q: Has the play of Elandon Roberts and the other linebackers made you feel more comfortable in trading a guy like Jamie Collins?

BB: Again, we've already covered it. I mean it's a bottom-line decision. That's what it was. I'm not going to talk about the 500 things that could be talked about relative to it. It's just too long, too cumbersome of a conversation.

Q: Are you referring to your Monday radio appearance as when you've previously discussed the topic of the trade?

BB: Yeah.

Q: We as the beat reporters feel we should have a shot at asking some of those questions as well.

BB: I understand that. Look, the transcript is the transcript Tom [Curran]. It is what it is. I'll restate it - let's read the transcript. We can restate it if that's what you want to do. Nothing has happened between Monday and Wednesday morning.

Q: We try to do a good job asking our own specific questions and having our shot at the topic.

BB: Absolutely. Well, I'm telling you the same thing I said on Monday. Nothing has changed.

Q: How do you balance having a player use his own instincts on the field versus having him play within the context of the defense?

BB: I mean I've coached every player I've ever coached the same way. You have an assignment, you have something you're responsible for and then the instincts come after that. As long as you cover your guy, that's your job. You want to cover him off, you want to cover him on, inside technique, outside technique, back pedal, squat, whatever it is. I mean there's a million different ways to do it. If you have him covered I'm going to be happy about it, you're going to be happy about it, right? So that's the bottom line. Now after that then there is an instinctive part to every play, so I've coached players - that's the way I've coached them my whole career. When I was a special teams coach I had different punters, different kickers. They don't all kick it the same way. They kick it far, they kick it high. I'm happy, they're happy, the team is happy. That's good. If they don't then we've got to try and find a better way to do it. I don't see it any differently now than I saw it when I started coaching. I don't see it really much differently from one positon to another. The techniques are different, the assignments are different but a player's instinct and his style of play - that belongs to each of us. We're all different. But there are certain fundamentals that I think as a coach you are obligated to teach the best way that you know how and work with individual players within that framework.

Q: When did you come to the realization that Malcolm Butler was a number one cornerback and could match up with guys as talented as Antonio Brown?

BB: Well, at the start of the season last year [there were] the players that we had on our roster and that was the opening game, that's the way it went for that game. Had there been a different game, had there been a different [opponent], I don't know, so I mean if that's what you're referring to then those were the circumstances we were presented with. We did what we thought was best for the opening game against Pittsburgh in 2015.

Q: But did you notice anything in that offseason after a roster shakeup at cornerback that Malcolm Butler would be well-suited to step into that role?

BB: Look, there are changes on every team. I mean there are changes in this league on every team in free agency. Don't act like free agency never happened before.

Q: But did you know you had a guy that was ascending into the role of a starting number one cornerback?

BB: I think we've all talked about ad nauseam the usual - with most players the jump between their first year and their second year. Not with every player but with most players, so he would fall into that category, as would I would say nearly every other player that I've coached. Not all but most every other player that I've coached there's a jump from year one to year two. What does that make him? What is his role? I mean all that is to be determined. But you take a player like Shane Vereen who I would say made a jump from year one to year two - you probably wouldn't think so because it didn't show up on the stat sheet, didn't show up on his production. That didn't show up until year three but actually there was a lot of growth in the player from year one to year two. It just wasn't as evident but by year three it was evident so maybe it's year one to two, maybe it's year two to three, maybe it's year one to three, however you want to look at it. But there's a growth period in there for most players; not all.

Q: Most people seem to be taking Mike Lombardi's comments regarding the trade as being the opinion of the organization. What are your thoughts on that?

BB: Look, Mike [Lombardi]'s one of the smartest people that I know. He's one of the smartest people I've worked with and he was a huge asset to me for the two years that he was here. Mike's a smart guy and he studies football and he knows it very well I would say on probably all teams. So you talk to Mike.

Q: During the bye week how much of a balance is there in reflecting and thinking 'OK, we've got to scrap this because it's not working' and saying 'If we can improve this we'll be alright.'

BB: Look, you have to answer that question every week, not just the bye week, and you do something that doesn't work out well so what are your options, get rid of it or continue to do it and see if you can improve it. That's the judgment you make. If you really feel convicted that you can do it well then you put more resources into it and try to improve it. At some point if it doesn't go well then you might decide that 'We've tried, we've invested a lot of time. We've invested in this and it's still not working. Maybe it's time to move on to something else.' And then you make that decision. I can't sit there and tell you what the book on that is. I think you evaluate each one individually but that's what coaches do. That's what we do. We evaluate it, we look at it and maybe it's a difference of opinion in the room on the staff like 'Look, I still think we can do it if we just work harder on it,' versus 'We've put a lot into it. Let's do something else. We seem to be on a dead end here,' for whatever the reasons are and there could be a multitude of reasons. That's a whole other conversation but in the end you have to make that decision. It's a bye week decision but it's a weekly decision, too. You just have to decide what direction you want to go. I think in a lot of cases you can improve things. [For] some teams that's just not their thing. You have to find something else but that's true in every season. Each year I think you have to find a little bit of a different way to win. You can't do everything exactly the same way you did it a previous year. Your team has changed and the teams that you're playing may have changed or you may be playing different teams and maybe that dictates that you do something a little differently than you did it in the past against a different set of opponents. Those are the judgements that the head coach, the coordinators and the position coaches make whether it's an overall scheme thing or whether it's an individual technique thing. It can be a technique thing, too, like 'Look, here's the way we're doing this technique but it's not as affective for us as we want it to be.' Do we keep working on it or do we modify the technique and do something a little bit different for whatever the reasons are; our players, their players, their scheme, whatever it happens to be.

Q: Based on your experience are you more likely to stick with what you're doing midseason or switch it up?

BB: It depends. I mean we've done both. We've gotten to points, again, it's not even a midseason conversation. It is a midseason conversation but it could be anytime really and just say 'Look, I'm done with this.' I've said that before - 'I've seen enough. I'm done with it. We're going to do something else. We've tried and it just didn't work,' or 'I believe in it. We should be better at it than we are.' It's maybe circumstantial why we don't have production. Eight guys are good, one guy is bad. The next time its eight guys are good and a different guy that [isn't]. If we just get this right we'll be OK but we just haven't been able to do it. Well maybe you keep trying.

Q: A lot of times after a questionable move fans are known to say 'In Bill we trust.' Do you think that phrase is just flat out awesome?

BB: I really don't pay too much attention to what's out there on the outside. I try to focus on the team and do what's best for the team and that's what drives me is to make the best decisions I can for this football team, the organization, ownership, the Kraft family. That's what I try to do. There's no way I could keep everybody happy anyway, so I just do the best I can.

Q: When you make what appears to be a surprising move like the Jamie Collins trade, is that something that you debate internally over months or is it a matter of waking up one day and deciding that today is the time to move on?

BB: Well, I don't really think impulsive decisions are the way to go on anything. Sometimes you have to make quick decisions like in games and things like that where you have a very short amount of time to figure it out and do something. When you have to do that you have to do it. When you don't have to do it then I don't think that's necessarily the way to go but there are times when you have to make a quick decision. You're on the clock in the Draft, you've got to pick a guy or trade the pick, whatever, then the clocks running and you've got to get it done by the time the clock runs out. Those situations are one thing. I think most other situations don't fall into that category but there are some that do. When that happens then that's what you have to do.

Q: When you make a move like you have with players in the past like a Lawyer Milloy or Richard Seymour and now Jamie Collins, how much do you take into account the emotional toll that it could have on players still in the locker room that are close with them and value their ability as a contributor on the field?

BB: Yeah, well unfortunately that's part of this business and I'm sure a lot of you don't want to take into consideration other moves that are made on the roster but they affect everybody. So it might be a guy that isn't a big guy on your radar but to his roommate or to a teammate that's very close to him it is a big move and so I recognize that, I understand that, I appreciate that, but again, in the end my responsibility is to the football team. It's not to an individual player so I make the decision that I make based on what I feel like is best for the team. It's not a personal decision, it's a team decision. If it was a personal decision then there'd be a lot of decisions that would be different. But that's not my job. My obligation is to all of the players; not just to a single individual. I know you want to focus on the bigger names if you will, which is fine. I understand that. But all of the players are important to me. They're important to their teammates. They're important to the organization and anything that affects any individual on the team is important. Not just to three or four we want to single out because of whatever their star power is. I'm not minimizing that but things affect all of the players on the team; not just the few names that are mentioned. 

Q: But outside of their friendships I've heard from many players who over the years have been extremely complimentary of the play on the field of Jamie Collins more so than they would be a guy on the lower end of the roster or the practice squad.

BB: Well, again I think all of the players are important.

Q: How important is this next couple of days to reset for you?

BB: Well again, it's an opportunity to use the time that we have available as efficiently and productively as we can, so that's what we'll try to do individually and as a coaching staff. There are things that if we can get ahead on and that would help us then great; we'll try to do that. 

Q: I mean more personally for you to reset yourself mentally.

BB: Yeah, of course. It's an opportunity for all of us to get a little rest. Again, get caught up on some things that we all need to get caught up on, whether it be in our personal lives or moving forward into the November/December second half of the season, whether it's Seattle - the next game on the schedule. There are a lot of different things that can be addressed that can be helpful moving forward.

Q: What would help you decompress more, sneaking off to your vacation home, playing in a mock lacrosse tournament or spending the weekend at Rob Gronkowski's house?

BB: That'd be a three way tie. Those are three good options. It's a really well thought out question. I appreciate it.

Q: How would you assess the linebacker play as a whole through eight games and what do you want to see from that unit going forward?

BB: I mean again, I think our entire team kind of falls into the same category. We've done some things well. There are some things we can improve on. That goes for each one of us individually, every coach, every player and every unit. So the things that are good are good. There are certainly things that could be better from all of us and from all of the groups and that's what we're working on. I wouldn't single out one group as being dramatically different from that evaluation. We've had some success [but] there are things we can do better.

Q: A move like the Jamie Collins trade often leaves fans wondering how the team is better today than it was prior to the move. What do you say that might help them understand the answer to that question?

BB: It's my professional judgement. 

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