Foxborough, Mass. - Although the Patriots players were given the day off, it was a busy day Monday at Gillette Stadium. The players will have today and tomorrow off following Sunday's win over San Francisco, returning on Wednesday and Thursday before getting a long weekend away from football. While there was no media access to players, offensive coordinator Charlie Weis held a press conference at 11:30 a.m., followed by defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel and then head coach Bill Belichick.
Because of the amount of material that was covered in the three press conferences, here's a recap of the highlights:
- Weis was adamant that he wouldn't have accepted the head coaching position at the University of Notre Dame had he not been allowed to finish the season with the Patriots. "It's important enough where I told Notre Dame if I couldn't do that, I didn't want the job. That's how important it is. When I went through the interview process, I said, 'I can't take that job if I can't finish the one I have now.' Because I felt I owed it to the organization, the team of course, but I also think I felt I owed it to New England. That's how strong my conviction was. If it cost me the job, I wasn't going to take it."
- When asked whether any of the current coaches on the Patriots staff would make successful NFL coordinators, Weis chose not to make any distinctions in the group. Speculation persists that the Patriots next offensive coordinator could come from the current coaching staff. "What I'm going to say about this one is that I've been with a group of guys now for multiple years, and I don't want to pick one over another. Jeff [Davidson], I'm very fond of and have the utmost respect for him. But to talk about Jeff I'd be not talking about Dante [Scarnecchia] or Ivan [Fears]or Brian [Daboll] or Josh [McDaniels]. I just don't think it's my business to be endorsing somebody for Bill [Belichick's] offensive coordinator."
- Weis also noted that he hopes to talk to other coaches who have made the transition from the NFL to a college head coach, specifically mentioning Nick Saban, Tom Coughlin and Dennis Erickson.
- Weis said he believed he has been spending about the same amount of time on his Patriots offensive coordinator duties since he accepted his new position at Notre Dame, citing that he views it as a "training camp mentality" and works on less sleep."I think it's been pretty close. It's just mean that my hours get pushed a little later at night. This way, you can do the right thing by the Patriots while at the same time not neglect Notre Dame." Belichick added that he didn't think any aspects of Weis' position have been compromised. "I think that Charlie has done a good job at what he's done, from the beginning of the year through the entire regular season. I think he's done an outstanding job. It was our most productive year offensively since I've been here, by far, and one of the most productive years in the history of the franchise."
- Crennel noted that the Patriots are going to prepare for their first playoff game as if cornerback Ty Law and defensive end Richard Seymour will be able to return from their respective injuries. "That's the way we're going to approach it. Those guys, they're rehabbing and they're working, so we have a week here during the bye week. So then next week, the week before the game, we'll see where they are and then we'll make a further determination at that time how we think they can help us." He added that he doesn't foresee it being difficult for Law to return in the playoffs after missing the final nine weeks of the regular season. "I think a guy with Ty's ability and Ty's experience can go out and line up and get enough done to help us win the game."
- Crennel made it more than clear he is interested in the head coaching vacancy with the Cleveland Browns, currently the NFL's only opening. This week is the one-week "window" for NFL assistant coaches currently with playoff teams to interview for head coaching positions. "Any ones that come along or that are available, I like to hear from. At this point, Cleveland is the only one that's available. I have not heard from them yet. If they call and ask for permission, Bill [Belichick] has always been good about coming right to me and letting me know what the situation is. If they call and ask for permission, then I'd be more than willing to talk to them." Crennel, who also added that he feels more prepared for the interviewing process this time around, said he'd also be willing to listen to offers for collegiate head coaching positions. "If that come up, I would definitely consider that and take a hard look at that to see if that's what I wanted to do. Anytime people are interested in you, I think that's a positive."
- When asked about the NFL's minority hiring process, Crennel said he thinks progress has been made. "I think that we are making in-roads. We're making in-roads because there are more numbers. When you look at the NFL and what's happening as far as hiring goes, the coordinators are the guys who have the opportunity to become the head coaches. For a while, there were not very many minority coordinators. Now, I think there are more minority coordinators than there has ever been, and that's where the pool is chosen from. We've made some strides. There's still more work to be done, but we're headed in the right direction."
- Belichick began his press conference by congratulating the team on its second consecutive 14-2 season, and then spoke about how the team will go through its scouting process in preparation for one of their three potential playoff opponents - Indianapolis, San Diego or the New York Jets. "It's a new season. We have a lot of preparation to do. We'll try to get as much of a jump on that this week as we can. So we'll have to spread ourselves out a little bit and try to get some situations covered internally that we need to handle regardless of who we play, and at the same time familiarize ourselves with our potential opponents next week."
- Belichick said that he's less concerned with the current health of the team than where it will be in two weeks. "I don't know if it really matters where it is right now. I think it's going to matter where it is two weeks from now. Right now we'll try to take these next few days and try to do everything we can to get our physical conditioning as good as it possibly can [be] for our next game. Hopefully it will be better in a few days or in two weeks than it is today, that's the goal."
- Belichick indicated that while he takes it as a compliment when the Patriots are mentioned as a model franchise, he also takes such talk - both criticism and accolades - in stride. "That's a compliment, but I just try to do my job. Things are positively said, things are negatively said, criticisms are made, accolades are given. What I try to focus on is our future opportunities and achievements. I'm sure that in a short amount of time, if things didn't go well, that there would be some other things said. Hopefully I wouldn't go jump off the bridge when that happens, so you take it in stride."