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Bill Belichick Press Conference Transcript 9/3

Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference on September 3, 2017.

BB: Well, obviously, we made the required moves yesterday to be in compliance with the league roster limits. I would say that this is one step in a process. I think we're going to have more, like every team in the league is, have other transactions here whether it be today, tomorrow or in the near future that will be important in the development and composition of the team. I'd say at this point, really, it's a little too early for me to comment on the composition of the team because it's still really a work in progress. It's one step, but certainly I don't think we're at the finish line. I can't imagine that any other team in the league would feel that way either. I don't think we're any different from anybody else. In the meantime, we're still plugging away here on Kansas City. I thought we had a good start yesterday, but it's going to be important every day this week because of all of the things that Kansas City does and how difficult they are to prepare for that we continue to string good days together and be able to move forward in our preparation so we're as ready as we can possibly be on Thursday night. There's a lot going on outside of the preparations for Kansas City, but really our focus needs to be on that. That's where it is other than Nick [Caserio] and some of the personnel people's involvement in some of the transactions that we've made and I'm sure will make.

Q: How much interaction did you have with the newly acquired Phillip Dorsett coming out of college?

BB: We had gotten a good evaluation of him.

Q: What traits does he have that made you want to work with him?

BB: He's a pretty talented player. He was a first-round draft pick. We'll see. We'll start working with him today and see how it goes.

Q: What do you think made him a first-round pick?

BB: He was productive. He's fast. He caught the ball well, made big plays.

Q: Do you see him factoring in at punt return?

BB: I don't know. We'll see how it goes.

Q: What went into the decision to trade Jacoby Brissett?

BB: To acquire Dorsett.

Q: Was that a tough move given the toughness and some of the things that Jacoby showed you as a rookie?

BB: Well, if you want to get something you have to give up something. That's what trades are.

Q: What traits does Cassius Marsh have? Did he have some positional versatility coming out of college?

BB: Yeah, defensive end.

Q: Did he perform some tight end duties?

BB: That's like [Mike] Vrabel-type tight end. He's a defensive player. He's a defensive end.

Q: What have you seen from him in terms of the last three years in Seattle?

BB: He's played defensively. He's played in the kicking game. We'll see how it goes.

Q: You mentioned that Marquis Flowers played in a similar special teams system in Cincinnati. Could there be a similar transition for Cassius Marsh and Johnson Bademosi here on special teams?

BB: Yeah, I think we'll probably get a better gauge of that when we spend a little more time with them. I'd say we have a little more familiarity with Darrin [Simmons'] system [in Cincinnati]. We'll just have to see. Between Joe [Judge] - we'll just have to see how it goes. I'm not sure.

Q: Was there some urgency to make these acquisitions with players who play in the kicking game given some of the problems that Kansas City can present on special teams?

BB: No, I'd say this is more of a - at this point I think we're trying to get our team ready for the season. I don't think it's geared towards acquiring a player for one game. I don't look at it that way, no. We're going to have 15 games after this so I don't think we're going to want to shuffle our roster each week, take guys off, put guys on just when we play a new opponent. That's hard to do. I don't see that.

Q: Is this one of the tougher days of the week when it comes to the first week and you now have to balance the personnel side and the game-planning side?

BB: Well, it's always hard to release players; that's emotionally and personally. That's difficult for any coach. But in terms of that and the game preparations, it is what it is. It's early September. We do it every year. It's what we do this week. We've done it every year. That's what we do and move on.

Q: Does Cole Croston have any chance to play center? Have you ever seen him at that position?

BB: Yeah, we'll see.

Q: What stood out to you about him this summer? He seemed to be out there and working every day.

BB: He's improved. He's worked hard. He's improved. He's still got a long way to go but I think he's making progress. 

Q: When making these roster decisions how frequently do you have to weigh not just what a guy can do for you this year, but also what he can do down the line at his position in future years?

BB: Yeah, well, I mean you have to take that into consideration. I think as a head coach, and Nick [Caserio] as the personnel director, we have to have a vision on 2018-2019. We're going to have a team those years. We're going to have a schedule so we can't ignore that and we don't ignore it. You balance that with this current team - whichever year it is, in this case 2017 - and you try to strike a balance there. You look at each player and then you look at the overall composition of the team, where you're at on all of those things - players, contracts, draft choices, salary cap and so forth. It's all part of it - not that you're making final decisions for future years, but I think you just want to have a general idea of what your position is and where you're going to need to go and what your options are going to be and if you feel comfortable with those or if you don't feel comfortable with them, how to make the most of them, or even if you do feel comfortable with them, still how to maximize them. Yeah, there's definitely a component to that. I think that Nick and I look at [that] as opposed to an individual scout or a position coach or something like that. And I've been in that position, and I know when you're in that position you just don't have the overall access and that's not really the job either. Having done that job, I've been in both spots. I know how that goes. That's what it is really. Assistant coaches and scouts give their opinion, give their view on whatever the specific situation is, but on a bigger picture frame sometimes there are overriding factors or factors that aren't available. That information is not available to everybody. Again, when I was an assistant coach and a coordinator I always gave my opinion but trusted the decision making of the people that were making those decisions - the general manager, the head coach, whoever it was. But yeah, certainly I don't think you can neglect next season. We're going to have a team next season.

Q: When you look at Jimmy Garoppolo's contract situation and Tom Brady's age, does the trade of quarterback Jacoby Brissett leave open the possibility of being very thin at that position come March?

BB: Yeah, well in the end Tom [Curran], we're going to do what's best for the team and make the decisions that we feel are best for the team. With all due respect, I don't think there are any games scheduled in March. I don't think there are any scheduled in April, so what a team looks like in March and April is relevant, but in the end, it's more what the team looks like in September, or I'd say more importantly in December and January. We never try to build a team for March. We try to build a team for September and then most importantly November, December

Q: All things being equal, would you prefer to carry a third quarterback on the practice squad?

BB: Yeah, well, I always feel that the best thing to do is to make the decisions that are best for the team, so whatever those are that's what I'm in favor of. I can't tell you how that's going to go. We're not talking about papers on a magnetic board. We're talking about real people. We're talking about real football players and a real football schedule. I'm going to make the decisions that I feel will put this team in the most competitive positon to do that. That's all I know how to do. That's all I can do. That's all I will do. How that goes, I don't know. But it'll be in what I think is best. We'll just have to try and figure out what that is with help from Nick and his staff and everybody else. There are a lot of other people involved there, but ultimately my personal objective is to do what's best for the football team. That's what it always is.

Q: Do you think by a guy's third of fourth year in your system that you have a good idea of what player is or isn't?

BB: Well, every player is different. There are positions that are different, but yeah, the more information you have I think the easier it is to make the right decision. Things change, guys improve, sometimes players decline or they deal with injuries or sometimes your system changes, which hasn't happened here, but that has happened in other organizations and I've been a part of those where you have a coaching change or something philosophical changes and then that changes things. The rate of improvement and the degree of improvement can change. Matt Cassel - when he played his fourth year after not playing at all his first three years - performed at a very high level in the 2008 season, right? Yeah, so he was a fourth-year player. Some guys do it in the second year. Some guys do it in the third year. Some guys do it in the first year. I don't know. I don't think there's any book on that. I think you go by what you see and you make your decisions accordingly. But I think as long as a player is improving then that's a good thing. You always want the rate of improvement to be a little bit faster, but if the player is improving day-to-day, week-to-week, year-to-year then I'd say generally speaking you want to continue to work with that player because he's continuing to get better. Once they've leveled off and they've reached the level that they're going to play at on a consistent basis, then you have to decide how you feel about that level of play. Do you like it? Then great. If you don't like it then you try to find somebody who can move ahead of him. If it declines then you replace it if you can. If you can't then you manage it until you can replace it. I mean, it's not that hard really. In terms of making the judgement of what to do, it isn't that hard. Identifying the player's progress and improvement, rate of improvement or lack of it, sometimes there are a lot of circumstances that surround that. Like for example, opportunity, that you don't always have control over. You have to do the best that you can.

Q: Is Jimmy Garoppolo a player that is still improving going into his fourth year?

BB: Absolutely.

Q: It seemed like a roller coaster type of preseason for him both in practice and in games. Are you satisfied with his level of performance right now?

BB: Look, I think that there's not one player that hasn't had their ups and downs through training camp and preseason games, or coaches for that matter. I think that this isn't a straight line for anybody, for any of us, as much as we want it to be. That's just totally unrealistic. So you look at it from a broader stretch. You look at it from three weeks, or the first two weeks of preseason, or all four preseason games, or this preseason compared to another preseason that is comparable. And again, there are still factors there that are variable. They're not all the same. You do the best you can to make that evaluation but I'm sure we'll have varying opinions on different players and their performances. I understand that.

Q: As difficult as it is to release a guy, what's the experience like to tell a guy who is fighting for a roster spot that he has made the 53-man roster?

BB: Well, the reality of it is this is the National Football League and there are plenty of guys that are going to be on rosters today, tomorrow and Week 1 that won't be on them in Week 3 or Week 4. That's the National Football League. You keep your job by earning your job on a day-to-day basis. I think that's one of the things sometimes that players, younger players especially who don't have a lot of experience in the league, can make a poor judgment on. They work hard in training camp. They make the roster, make the practice squad, or earn playing time or whatever it is, and then feel like they don't have to do as much or that they've kind of arrived at a certain point, and a few weeks later other players pass them by and their situation changes. That's not uncommon at all. I think that's hard to sustain a high level of performance in this league, so you start at the end of July and sustain it all the way through preseason games and training camp practices and all of that, but the season hasn't started yet. Mental toughness, consistency, resiliency, dependability, being able to do it day after day after day at high level -  the competition level is moving up now, not down. The players that aren't NFL players are off rosters and the guys who are on them are theoretically better than the ones who are off them. The competitive level is higher weekly in practice. It's higher in games. Some players will rise with that, that competiveness. Competition will push them up. Some of them, it doesn't work that way. If that's the case, then they're going to be replaced. If they don't know that and they make that mistake, they're going to find out the hard way. Yeah, as much as you want to say "Nice job. You made the team," they're not a permanent fixture on the team. They're here until as long as they're doing their job and they're dependable, and reliable, and consistent and improving. Once that curve starts to head the other way, I would say it probably isn't going to last too long. If they can't figure that out then they're probably going to suffer the consequences. Look, that's the NFL. That's the way it is here and really that's the way it is on every team I've been on. I imagine it that way on every team in the league. I know what you're saying - it's a good moment, but it's a castle in the sand. It could be gone very, very quickly. I hope none of our players, young players, guys who this is the first time they've been on this team, take that attitude. I think that would be a big mistake on their part. Hopefully, they won't do that.

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