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Bill Belichick Press Conference Transcript 9/8

Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Thursday, September 8, 2016.

Q: What went into acquiring cornerback Eric Rowe and what have you seen from him?

BB: Eric played safety and corner in college so he has got some versatility. He has mainly played corner in this league, but you know, has some length. We'll see how it goes but I think he has some positional versatility, a smart kid, has got some length, has some speed.

Q: Did you see him having a lot of varying responsibilities in the defensive backfield last year in his time with Philadelphia?

BB: Mainly at corner. He played corner, yeah.

Q: For his length how rare is his quickness? He appeared to have pretty good testing numbers in the shuttle drill during the combine.

BB: Yeah, I think athletically he has a good skill set and that gives him the versatility, at least in college, to play those two positions [cornerback and safety]. I'm not saying he's going to do that for us or not do it. We'll have to see how it goes. I don't really know.

Q: How does the process of bringing along a versatile guy like him into your system work? Do you try him in one spot and see how it goes or move him around to see what works best?

BB: Yeah, we try to get him ready for, obviously, a smaller role this week. I don't think we can get him ready to do everything, get him ready for a smaller role. But between practice, for the show-team practice for the offense we do a lot of working guys into different spots; tackle to end, corner to safety, vice versa, inside to outside linebacker, guard to tackle on the offensive line, things like that. So, that gives us an opportunity to look at players at more than one spot when you include the practice plays.

Q: What do you remember about Eric Rowe from when Philadelphia came to play here last season?

BB: It was a bad day for us, I remember that. So, yeah, he was part of it.

Q: Do you feel like there are some things that he will be able to contribute this week despite the short turnaround or is that impossible?

BB: No, I mean look, we've brought in guys on shorter notice than this but obviously we'll just have to see how it goes. We spent a lot of time meeting with him as the game plan goes through the week, early downs, third down, red area, special teams, just kind of where we feel like the right spot is, the sweet spot for this game, and then reevaluate next week, next week. I'm sure the game plan will be different and he'll have more under his belt and so forth. He's working hard to get everything and even some things that he won't be doing, he's working hard to learn those. It's the same process we went through with [Barkevious] Mingo last week, so we've been down this road quite a few times. It all depends on the player. It all depends on what the game plan is and what his role - just how it evolves. There's no really straight-line formula on this.

Q: How hard is it to determine if a guy is going to put in the kind of extra work a guy like Barkevious Mingo did in order to catch up on everything?

BB: Well, you give him information and then you test him on it and you go out and practice it and see how he does with it. It's one thing to get it in a classroom. It's another thing to be able to recall it and give it back. It's another thing to be able to go out there and be able to execute it in a practice situation and then in a game situation where you can't control what's going to happen. You can only practice it against so many things and then in the game you may get a different look or a different something. So, you know, I mean all of those are a part of the gauge, if you will. It's not perfect.

Q: Jimmy Garoppolo said yesterday that things are running smoother now that it is just him and Jacoby Brissett at practice. Would you agree with that?

BB: That's his opinion.

Q: What is your opinion?

BB: Well, you asked him how he felt. That's how he feels.

Q: Do you feel things are running smoother now that you have just two quarterbacks?

BB: When you ask somebody for their opinion, that's their opinion. So, I'm not going to disagree with Jimmy's opinion because that's how he feels and he's entitled to feel however he does. He answered your question, so I'm not going to tell you how somebody else feels. I mean that's ridiculous. 

Q: Bruce Arians said yesterday he has coached against your defenses a dozen or so times. Has his game plan been pretty consistent in terms of what he has tried to do against you?

BB: Well, Bruce has a pretty, I'd say, diversified attack. So, they do a lot of things that they do consistently. [He] did them in Pittsburgh and a year in Indianapolis and in Arizona, but every game has its own variations and its own individual matchups and all of that. He's a very creative coach. He has got a foundation that he builds from and then he can also expand that into whatever areas he feels like you're vulnerable at. He does a good job of it. You kind of know what they want to do but there are a lot of changeups, there are a lot of variables that he'll throw at you. I think if you just read the article last year in Sports Illustrated you get a sense of how broad their game plan is, how many options they have. I mean it would be impossible to get ready for all of those just based on the volume of what they do, but I'd say that's reflected in the way they play. There are a lot of things that are consistent and then each week there are things that you haven't seen before that you wouldn't have been able to practice [against], whether that's moving players into different positions and doing the same things, or doing new things or doing things that - something they've done a lot of and then off of that they set up something else that you haven't seen but it's a complimentary type of play. So, [they're] tough to prepare for. He does a great job. They have very, like I said, very good skill players so they're hard to defend no matter what they're doing.

Q: What have you seen from Bishop Sankey the past few days and what did you like about him before you brought him in?

BB: That's another guy we did a lot of work on in the draft a couple of years ago. He came out with James White. [He's] a player with good skill [in the] running game, passing game. We've used him in the kicking game here in the last couple of days and that showed up. He can run. He's athletic. He's another smart kid that seems like he can handle a decent volume of information. He has been good. We're getting to know him, getting to integrate him into our system and its been positive. We like him, like having him.

Q: Do you envision him as more of a sub running back or is he a guy that can run between the tackles?

BB: Well, that's a good question. He has done both, kind of like James [White] has. James has done that more for us but in college he carried the ball a lot. Sankey did both at Washington. He can run, he can catch, he has been involved in the return game, special teams, so we'll see how it all plays out but I think he has a variety of skills.

Q: What is your reaction to seeing Rob Gronkowski and Dont'a Hightower be named captains?

BB: Good. It's what the team wanted and clearly those guys have a lot of respect and a lot of leadership on the team and that was reflected in what the players felt in choosing them. Yeah, I think all four guys [Matthew Slater, Devin McCourty, Rob Gronkowski, Dont'a Hightower] are good selections. But again, it's who the team wants and you can just tell by the votes what the support is and obviously those four guys had a lot of it so that's who it should be.

Q: Who is the next man up at quarterback if you have to move beyond Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett during Sunday night's game?

BB: Yeah, well we have our plans for that.

Q: But you don't want to reveal that for obvious reasons, correct?

BB: Yeah, I'm not going to get into a game plan on Arizona. That's not what this is for.

Q: Since Julian Edelman has experience throwing the ball could he be the guy?

BB: We have plans. Look, we have to back up every position so we have plans to back them all up.

Q: Was the release of Josh Kline just a matter of younger guys moving ahead of him on the depth chart?

BB: We just in the end had to do what we felt was best for the team. I have a lot of respect for Josh; undrafted player, came in, was on the practice squad, earned his stripes, played a lot of football for us. In the end we just can't keep everybody and had to keep the players that we felt like were best for the team based on the way it's comprised this year, but I'd say to an extent now. But yeah, if we could have kept 54 [players] then we would have kept 54, but we can't.

Q: What does it say about the young interior lineman that you have that they have been able to work and move up the depth chart and earn your trust?

BB: Yeah, well, it has been a competitive position, and again, versatility is a part of that positon as well. Normally we try to take seven linemen to a game. Sometimes we take eight. Anytime you have more versatility at those positions it enables you to manage your roster, and so those guys like [Ted] Karras and Joe [Thuney] have shown some position flexibility. They give us more depth with fewer players, if you will. That's all part of it, too.

Q: I know you don't spend a lot of time on Twitter…

BB: Yeah, none. You can set that bar below the ground because that's where it's at. It's not even [close].

Q: Well, Sean Payton recognized the Tom Brady banner on Twitter and was asked about it. He mentioned how much he respects you and Tom and the team, and I'm curious what his support means to you?

BB: Yeah, I mean I have a good friendship with Sean. We go back quite a ways. We've had a great working relationship, great professional relationship and a good personal relationship. So, I always appreciate his support. He has had ours, we've had his. You can't say that about everybody but certainly he has been a good friend and a good supporter.

Q: Over the last three years the three coaches with the most victories happens to be the three oldest in the league in yourself, Pete Carroll and Bruce Arians. Do you think it is a matter of having so much experience that allows for that success or is there some other common correlation between experience and success at the head coaching level?

BB: Well, you know, I think, obviously, I have a lot of respect for Pete and Bruce and honestly I'd throw Mike [Zimmer] in there, too. Obviously, he got a late start in Minnesota, but I think Mike is a tremendous coach. He has always been very good. His units have always been very productive every place that he has been. That's another experienced coach that has gone in and done very well with that team and that franchise. I think that you look at those three guys and they've all done a pretty solid job. I'd say they didn't come into great situations. They had to build those up, at least in the early part, the early years when they got there. So, I give a lot of credit to those three guys. But yeah, it's something that doesn't seem like a lot of NFL teams are really that interested in. They seem more interested in different types of coaching hires. Those three have done extremely [well]. Again, I'd throw Mike in there. I know you didn't but I'd throw him in there. I think those guys have done really well. I have a lot of respect for all three of them.

Q: Is that a good nod to the value of having experience? Is that fair to say?

BB: Well, as I've said many times, players win games and games that we've won here are because we've had good players that have gone out and won them. I certainly wouldn't want to take anything away from the great players that we've had here that have won so many games for us. That's really where it starts. I don't care who the coach is; without good players you're not going to win many games at any level, so start with that.

Q: Did Carson Palmer's comments yesterday regarding your team's situation bother you at all?

BB: I didn't see it. But I mean I have a lot of respect for Carson Palmer. We've known Carson throughout the years, had him out at the Pro Bowl. I really have a lot of respect for Carson and what he has done throughout his career with three different organizations. I think he's an outstanding person, outstanding quarterback, great competitor and he has had a tremendous career.

Q: It seems that coaching staffs, both collegiately and in the NFL, have grown in size over the years.

BB: No question, they've doubled.

Q: Did it help you as a younger coach coming up the ranks as a part of a smaller staff where you were able to fulfill more roles and wear several hats in terms of responsibilities on the staff?

BB: Well, it certainly helped me. I'm not sure if I can speak for a lot of other coaches because I don't know what their individual experiences were, but yeah it certainly helped me. I was very fortunate in my first job with Coach [Ted] Marchibroda that the staff they had was small and he had come from a large staff with George Allen in Washington. So honestly, I got to do the work that the Redskins probably had nine other assistants doing so it gave me a lot of experience. I got paid what I deserved. It wasn't about that. But the experience was great and then being able to work in the kicking game, work on special teams at Baltimore, Detroit, Denver and then the Giants. Being able to work on offense at Detroit, being able to work on defense at Baltimore, and Denver and the Giants really gave me exposure to every - literally every player on the team - especially as the special teams coach. Other than the quarterbacks -  maybe a couple of situational plays with them - but basically other than the quarterbacks, you're working with every position group and pretty much every player on the roster, so I don't think anything prepared me for being a head coach as well as being a special teams coach did. But, and also I'd say the other thing about a special teams coach, it forces you to learn a lot about strategy and how the kicking game effects situational football. Not that you don't know that offensively or defensively, but when you're the special teams coach I'd say you understand a little more about the - and sometimes you learn the hard way - a little bit about the strategy and the situational play that's involved there. So, the fact that those staffs were small, the fact that I was able to have those different experiences with those different organizations unquestionably was a big benefit, especially that early in my career to have that. Bruce [Arians] is a head coach. He coached under some of the great coaches like Bear Bryant, Jackie Sherrill, Bill Cowher and so forth. So, he has got a long list of mentors. He has had head coaching experience at the college level, at the professional level, position coach, quarterback coach, coordinator. Mike [Zimmer] had a lot of experience, too. His father is a high school coach; things like that. Pete [Carroll], obviously the same thing; coordinator, positon coach, head coach, college head coach, pro head coach a couple of times, third time in Seattle. So, yeah, I mean it all adds up. Sometimes getting kicked around a little bit early in your career; there are sometimes some benefits to what you learn and experience and then later on at some point maybe it helps you or helps to bring things together a little bit.

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