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Bill Belichick Press Conference Transcript 8/14

BB: Going through camp. Good day for us today to get caught up on a few things that we need to do, independent of Jacksonville and Houston tomorrow. So, just some things that we need to work on that are Patriot things. Looking forward to being in West Virginia working with the Texans. That will be a good opportunity to improve our team this week. Big week for us.  

Q: Can you maximize this opportunity with the Texans without revealing too much about what you're doing in training camp?

BB: Yeah, this is really about us getting better. This isn't about a big strategy session for the Texans. This is just trying to make our football team better. There are obviously a lot of things we need to work on. The Texans are a very good football team, very competitive team, so I'm sure we'll be able to evaluate a lot of things individually and work on our fundamentals and just move our team along, get closer preparing for the 16-game regular season schedule.

Q: Have you found that these joint practice trips do anything for your team in terms of team building or camaraderie?

BB: Sure. Yeah, I mean, look, every practice, every trip, every situation's an opportunity. So, we always try to make the most of our opportunities, whether here or somewhere else, one day, two days, three days – whatever they are. We'll get as much as we can out of this, try to.

Q: Is Keionta Davis a player you were interested in in April or did you just become interested in him recently?

BB: No, we've done quite a bit of work on him. I worked him out at Chattanooga myself in March. I mean, he's a good player. I don't think he's any secret. We were able to add him to our roster. We'll just go forward with it and see how it goes. 

Q: You had the same five offensive linemen play the majority of the snaps together last year, but Ted Karras worked with a few different groups. What makes him able to perform well despite change on either side of him?

BB: Well, a lot of our continuity on the offensive line came at the end of the year or maybe I should say after the beginning of the year. If you remember the beginning of the year, we didn't have [Nate] Solder in Arizona. Shaq [Mason] was not a full time player for a couple weeks. He was coming back, as well. So, actually, Ted played quite a bit for us early in the year. Cam [Fleming] started at left tackle for us in Arizona. So, early in the year, actually, we used more than just those five guys. So, you never know. Ted has played guard and center for us – primarily guard, but played center. He also played a little bit in college there, so he has some flexibility on those inside positions. [He is a] smart kid, tough kid, works hard, in here every day. He's a grinder. But, we know that it's every position, but on the offensive line, you're one play away from not having the continuity of those five guys, so we have to prepare for that.

Q: What have you seen from Glenn Gronkowski over the past year and through his first offseason with the team?

BB: Yeah, hard-working kid, quiet, a little different personality from Rob [Gronkowski] around here, but he just comes in every day, works hard, runs well, has played for us in the kicking game, some as a pass receiver, some as a fullback, so he has a little combination skills there. Just trying to develop kind of that role for himself, but he's a hard-working kid that's improved. He was kind of on and off the practice squad roster last year for the last, I don't know, I forget how many weeks it was – eight weeks, whatever the time frame was – but this year has obviously been a lot more consistent, as you said, through the offseason program, through OTAs and through training camp. But he's been durable, hasn't missed a day, hasn't missed anything. Just continues to work hard and get better.

Q: With a player like Brandin Cooks, how important is it for him to control his speed and know when to turn it on and off? Is that an element that you look for in a player?

BB: Well, I think all players like that, there's an element of that to them. A guy who plays every play can play hard. But, realistically, there's another level, there's another gear at certain times, whether it be critical plays or a particular play. I'd say, in my experience, some of the good or great players have been able to identify and achieve that kind of play. Lawrence Taylor was one. He played hard. He was a tough player, one of the most competitive players I've ever coached, but every play wasn't the top play. But, every important play was. If it was the fourth quarter or third-down situation, you were going to get his top effort on that play, which is when you really needed it. Not saying that he didn't play the other plays hard – he did – but there was another gear based on the situation or the importance of a particular play. And he could recognize that. He could identify, 'OK, this is it.' And he had the ability to reach down and get that top effort on that play when you needed it the most. So that's, I'd say, one thing about the great players like L.T. Some guys, you look at those plays and you kind of say, 'C'mon, this is the biggest play of the game,' and that's not his best play. I don't think I ever said that about Taylor. There may be some other plays along the way that you're like, 'Hey, we could do a little more than this here. We could do a little more than that, OK.' But never in a critical situation, the biggest plays of the game. I think that's what made him a great player. But, you know, I saw that from a lot of guys through the years playing against them and players that I coached, guys like [Randy] Moss or [Tedy] Bruschi, [Willie] McGinest. Some of their biggest plays were at the most critical times, which is what made them great players – Troy Brown. Again, there's another guy you know is out there on every single play, on every punt return, covering kicks, field goal block – I mean, you know, you name it – guys like that. Troy was out there, took a lot of snaps, played on defense, but in the most critical plays when you needed him most, you were getting his top effort. You were getting his best play on that play. You know, I think that's a special quality that those players have. Not saying Brandin does or doesn't have it. I don't think we've really been through that enough with him, but I think there's an element of that. Kind of like you guys. You know, you write your best stories on Sunday or whatever. Yeah, have some good ones, but then when you really need that top story, that's when you really push the pencil a little harder on the paper. 

Q: You mentioned having to strike a balance in joint practices this week given that you play the Texans in Week 3. Where does that affect practice the most?

BB: You know, Bill [O'Brien] and I have talked about it. I mean, honestly, I don't think it's that big of a deal. I mean, I think this is another event that's hyped up by a lot more of the people who are watching it than the people who are involved with it. So, I mean, look, we played this team three times in the last two years. Half their coaching staff coached here. It's not a big secret how we run a certain play or how we coach a certain defense, and I'm sure they're coaching it the same way when we played against them. That's not really what this practice is about. It's not what the middle of August is about. It's about building your team's conditioning, building your team's fundamentals, building your team's awareness, having them learn to play together with each other against good competition. That's what we're going to do this week. We're not going to show them our triple reverse and they're not going to show their triple safety blitz and a bunch of other garbage. That's not what this is about. It wouldn't be about that with any team, but it's certainly not about that with these guys. They're a tough, sound, fundamental football team. We've seen that and we know that from their coaching staff and the way they prepare and the way they coach and the way we've competed against them. This is about us trying to get better, them trying to get better, and when we play each other in the regular season, then we'll game plan and we'll strategize and we'll do everything we can do to try to win the game. They'll do the same thing. That's not really what this week is about. Honest to God, Bill and Mike [Vrabel] probably know our calls as well as we know them, and I'm sure we know a lot of the ones that they use because they're the same ones that we use, but I don't think that really is – I mean, that's so overrated in my opinion, not in everybody else's, but in mine. I'm just trying to get our team better this week. That's what we're going to go down there and do. The rest of it, I say, is like way less than 1 percent in my mind.

Q: Now that you and the staff have seen the tape of the Jacksonville game, does anything specific jump out at you in terms of assessment that didn't during the game?

BB: Yeah, a lot. I mean, we've gone through it, I'd say, with a fine-toothed comb with the players to look at every little thing to make sure we point it out, both good and bad. You know, as you go through games during the season, a lot of points are repetitive. In this case, this is the first game we have to correct, so there's a lot of things like cut blocking or tackling or open field blocking or kick coverage or things like that that we practice, but this is at a different tempo. In some cases, the techniques are a little bit different, so we go into great detail with the players and as a staff looked at it to make sure we do a very good job of coaching it and that everybody understands how we want to do this situation in real games, as opposed to a practice situation that maybe we've talked about but we haven't actually been able to execute. You know, we learned a lot from that game. We'll learn a lot from this game. The practices are good, but there's some things that come up in game situations that are just different than practice, that you just can't quite simulate in practice. So, [we are] going through those thoroughly and in detail and making sure that we know what we want to do, how we want to do it the next time we get a chance to do it, which might be this week, might be next week against Detroit, might be the following week against the Giants. You know, I don't know, a certain situation may not come up again. I'm talking about like a contact situation or things that we don't practice in practice. When those come up, hopefully we'll be able to do them better, but we want to make sure we thoroughly explain it and that there's not – again, because, in some cases, [this is] the first time it's really come up this year.

Q: How do you evaluate players who excel in a game but struggle in practice or vice versa?

BB: Yeah, well, it's all part of it. You know, it's a big mosaic. It's not just one polaroid snapshot. This is it. This is the player. It's a lot of things put together. Sometimes things happen in games that are circumstantial. It could be a good play that's not really a good play. It's more of our opponent making a bad play than us making a good play. Sometimes we might have a bad play that's really done pretty well, but it was just an exceptional play by our opponent. Normally, it might be good enough, but it wasn't good enough in that particular instance because they were just a little bit better than we were on that, but it wasn't like it was just totally misplayed. Again, it's, I'd say, a closer evaluation, a closer scrutiny looking at the competition, who are we competing against. In some cases, some guys we're playing against in preseason probably aren't going to be playing a lot of football in a month. Some of the guys we're playing against in preseason are going to be solid or very good or elite NFL players, and there's a difference in competition between that. So, it's not all the same. We try to look at all of it, and the more consistency a player has, the better. Guys that only stand out every once in a while, regardless of whether it's in practice or a game or a play here or a play there, we're all looking for more consistency than that. The more they can do it, the better, [and] the more they can help themselves. Honestly, every player in this league has enough ability to go out there and flash a play here or there. If they can't do that, then they're probably not in the league for very long, but all the guys that are in the league have enough ability to do that. We all respect that. It's the good ones to the great ones that can do it down after down, series after series, week after week, which includes on the practice field because those are competitive situations, too. So, we try to look at all of it.

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