Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick
Video Press Conference
June 16, 2021
BB: This'll be our last full team workout and rookies will be here a little bit longer in June, but it's certainly been good to get the team on the field and to see everybody participate or the ones that can't participate. We have a few guys that are in various stages of rehabilitation and so forth, but it's good to see the guys that are out there. Some new players that we haven't worked with before and so, it's been good. I think the attitude's been good, work ethics been good, and we obviously have a long, long way to go, but we've certainly made a lot of progress, covered a lot of ground here. So, we'll try to finish up with a good day here today and then get ready for training camp.
Q: How would you sum up what has been accomplished so far and are there any updates on possible joint practices?
BB: We're still working through some details and logistics on training camp and that includes whatever we might do with another team. We still really don't have any or a great direction from the league on training camp. We have some information, but there's still some other information that is outstanding and so, when we get everything, we'll put it all together but we're not quite there yet. I'd say to summarize the spring, it's been a buildup. We started with a foundation and a lot of individual fundamental type things and gradually built those into group settings and as you've seen the last couple of days, more team-oriented things, whether it be punt protection and blitz pickup and things like that, that are kind of moving forward that we didn't engage in a couple of weeks ago, wouldn't have been ready to deal with at that point. So again, we have a long way to go. We have a lot of things to cover, but at least we've, I'd say gotten a start into the majority of things that at least we started on them, two-minute, red area, third down, special teams units, those kinds of things, so I feel like at least when we get to training camp, will be the first time through on that stuff.
Q: Henry Anderson is a guy you've played against numerous times, obviously in the division and before that, what have you seen firsthand now working with him in these OTAs to reaffirm the decision to sign him in the offseason?
BB: Henry [Anderson] is a smart player and he's got quite a bit of experience and he's been in different systems and done different things. He's really played all the way across the front, from the end of the line to interior positions and he picks things up quickly. So, it's been good to have him working with other players and in communications with various linebackers and defensive linemen and we've rolled through a lot of combinations, as I'm sure you've seen out there, but his experience and intelligence and overall understanding of the concepts in both the running game and the passing game I think are good. He's been really good to work with and I look forward to working with him more in training camp.
Q: Can you just talk about Damien Harris' growth over the last two seasons, but especially last year and now leading up through this offseason and the growth of him as a player?
BB: Damien [Harris] works extremely hard. Works at all phases, all aspects of his game, certainly his conditioning and training, running game, passing game, protection, route running, catching the ball. He's a hard-working kid that just tries to do whatever he can to help the team and he's got a lot of skill and can contribute in a variety of ways and he's looking to improve and upgrade where he is in every area. So, Ivan [Fears] and Vinnie [Sunseri] have worked hard with Damien. He's responded well and I think he's off to a really good start in preparation for the season.
Q: Relative to Stephon Gilmore not being here, not to get into the whole situation, but do you know where he is?
BB: I think again, I'll keep the conversations between myself and the player private and certainly not going to get into injury reports now. It's a little early for that.
Q: You've been down this road dozens of times over the years, so not speaking specifically on Gilmore, what level of crisis would you put this at?
BB: I don't know. I don't really do levels.
Q: How difficult might it be for a young player at the quarterback position, like Mac Jones, to grow into the leadership part of the position when there already is a more well-established leader like Cam Newton already on the roster?
BB: I think those things will happen naturally and run their course. I think right now, all of our rookies need to really focus and concentrate on becoming a professional football player, making that commitment in all the areas that they need to make it in, learning the plays, the playbook, the techniques that go with the plays, the adjustments that go with the plays and be ready to execute their assignments and their job. Until anybody can do that, I don't really think there's very much leadership that takes place. We all have to be able to do our job and until we can do a good job at what our job is, then it's hard to earn the respect of the other people that are on the team. So, it's got to start there and that's where it is starting. We'll see how that goes. I think that'll all happen in some kind of natural pattern, so we'll see.
Q: Jimmy Garoppolo said you stayed in touch with him, including congratulating him when you led the 49ers to the Super Bowl, so I was wondering if you've reached out at all to Tom Brady this offseason to congratulate him on winning the Super Bowl?
BB: Again, I think I'll keep those conversations privately between myself and the other people that are involved. Appreciate the question.
Q: Back to Mac Jones, how have you seen him kind of digest and kind of figure out the playbook and the situations that you throw at him as you add more to his plate as the spring and summer goes along?
BB: Well, like all players, all young players, a lot of newness, a lot of new experiences, a lot of new terminology. The first or second time through its learning, after that it's more of an opportunity to do something you've done before and increase the level of competition or level of execution. And so, I think that's where Mac [Jones] is. That's where all of our rookies are. When things happen that they haven't seen or experienced or heard before, there's a big learning curve but then that curve flattens out a little bit as things happen repeatedly and get more comfortable with it and execute it better. So, that's going to be taking place for quite a while for, I would say, all of our rookies at every position.
Q: Devin McCourty yesterday was talking about considering that at this time last year, everything was virtual, and you didn't have the ability to be together and in the locker room and on the field together, how vital that is for building relationships and leading to winning. Can you just echo that sentiment and talk about how grateful you are to be able to get back to some normalcy this year?
BB: Yeah, 100%. I couldn't agree more with that. It's been great. I mean, I always enjoy this process of meeting the new players, wherever they come from, college or another pro team or whatever the case might be and working with them and see the team grow and develop and come together at this stage, which is very early, but it's an important starting point that every team has to experience. So yeah, very grateful to be able to do that, to have in-person meetings with our coaches and other staff members, support staff members that are so integral to the team's operation and success in all the different departments. We've had a lot of, I would say growth this spring in those areas and part of that is because of the restrictions from last year. So, we've had to combine some things or make up for a little bit of lost time, but yeah, very much appreciate the opportunity to have kind of a normal fundamental spring and have normal relationships with your team and that's been, yeah, I very much appreciate it and I'm thankful that we have that opportunity this year.
Q: Can you add some insight into McCourty's comment about how building these relationships at this time of year leads to winning later in the season?
BB: Well, again, this is a time of year when there's more time for interpersonal relationships. You get into the season and they certainly happen then too, but I know everybody's focusing on their job and the scouting report and the game plan and their assignments and studying film and packing a lot into a day and a week of preparations for the game and personal training and recovery and rest and so forth. A lot of that's individual, as it should be and a lot of it's very team-oriented, but there's a little bit less time for, I would say some of the interpersonal relationships and interactions, whereas now the days are shorter, there's a little more time. There's time to interact with other teammates, other families, go do things and everybody's here and there's a little more time to do that. So, I think that's a very good observation. Again, not that it doesn't occur during the season. It definitely does, but I'd say the opportunities are just a little bit better at this time of year.
Q: When you bring in a player like Jalen Mills who has played so many different positions in the past and can play so many different positions, do you use this time of the year to kind of experiment with him in multiple spots and see where he fits in best? Or did you already kind of have a pretty firm plan of where you want to use him when you signed him?
BB: Well, I think it's always good to have firsthand experience with the player to be able to be with them in meetings and walkthroughs and then practices and to see how things work with that individual player and Jalen's been great. He obviously has experience, but he's a sharp kid. He's played a lot of positions as you referenced and has a pretty good overall understanding, grasp and instinctiveness about playing football, regardless of what the position is. So, the fact that he, like many others, have worked at multiple spots, just gives them a better conceptual understanding of what we're doing. So, instead of just learning, and sometimes, in some cases, memorizing particular assignments for one spot, when you play multiple spots, it helps you to learn and understand not only what you're doing, what the guy beside you is doing or the guy around you is doing and how you can help him or how you guys can work together on certain problems that are created by the other side of the ball. So, Jalen's experience throughout the defense, playing in different spots this spring, which we've done that with all the defensive backs and the linebackers and the defensive lineman for that matter too, they've all played multiple positions and that I think helps them learn, again, the overall concept of what we're trying to do defensively on a particular call.
Q: What has been your assessment of working with Newton through minicamp?
BB: Yeah, pretty much the same as what it was last year. Cam works hard. He's very professional. Really does a great job of doing what you ask him to do, trying to do what you ask him to do the best that he can and to run and give leadership to the team, which he does that on a very consistent basis throughout the day, day to day, hour to hour. He does a good job of all that.
Before we sign off here, I just wanted to take a couple minutes if I could and just again formally recognize Ernie [Adams] and the contributions that he's made to this organization and, frankly, to myself and the league. Ernie's had such a big impact on our success here with the Patriots in so many different ways, from his organization with Scott (Pioli) in the personnel department and the grading scale and so forth to strategic coaching, situationally, game-planning in all three phases of the game - offense, defense, special teams - team building, personnel acquisition and so forth. I've leaned heavily on Ernie for 21 years here and going back to Cleveland and New York and our relationship which started at Andover over 50 years ago. Ernie's been a great friend. He's certainly been a great asset to this organization and to me personally, and I think that a lot of the things that he's done have also been recognized by other coaches and other staffs in the league and a lot of people that are doing things that he does for different organizations. But some of the things that he really, I would say started and uncovered and showed the value of them here, but his versatility and ability to do so many different things and his passion for football is really second to none. This will be his final practice today. We'll miss him but always welcome him back. Hopefully, he'll come back and visit us. I'm sure he will but I just have a personal appreciation for Ernie and all that he's done and on behalf of the organization, I want to thank him, as well. Ernie's one to, kind of, stay behind the scenes, but now we're going to put him out in front for you here this morning as a special thank you to all of you who've participated in this call and Stacey [James], I'll turn it over to you and Ernie here and give you guys a chance to fire at Ernie like you fire away at me. So, thank you and we'll see you in training camp and I'm going to step aside here and let Ernie take this seat.
Patriots Football Research Director Ernie Adams
EA: Good morning.
Q: How would you sum up this ride?
EA: I would say it's been incredible. If you told me when we started that it'd be 21 seasons with nine Super Bowls, I'm not sure I would have believed you, but we just grinded it out one day at a time and that's what it's been. You know, I tell people I have a really hard life. I live in the place I want to live and well, winning a lot of football games. It's hard to beat that.
Q: The question that you've probably heard more times than ever and all of New England wants to know, what does pink stripes mean?
EA: Well, I go back to my Wall Street days, everything we did we said was proprietary trading information, so I'll leave it at that's strictly an inside joke and proprietary football information.
Q: Once a Patriot, always a Patriot.
Q: What will you miss the most? Is it the strategy, the comradery?
EA: All of the above. I mean, it's getting ready for the games, playing the games, being involved in them is great and of course, the fact that we've been able to do it at such a high level and won so many games. I mean, that makes a real difference. But for one thing, if you don't win a lot of games, you don't get to stay around.
Q: For everyone who wonders, how would you sum up your job with the Patriots and what you've been doing over these years?
EA: Basically, my job is to figure out as many things as I can to help the New England Patriots win football games. In the end, that's what we're all about here. That's what we do. So, whether it's strategy, personnel or anything else. The thing that's been great about my job, is I've never really had any constraints put on me. I could go in any area I thought would help us and hopefully I've made some positive contribution.
Q: Did you enjoy being a man of mystery during your career and did it help you at all do what you ultimately did to help the Patriots win so many games?
EA: Well, I don't think I'm a man of mystery, particularly inside the organization with the people I work with and I've always felt that the best thing you can have on a football team is to have fewer voices speaking because if you get multiple voices speaking, there'll be inevitably some inconsistencies develop and then there'll be a what he said, what he said. We've just tried to eliminate all the distractions.
Q: Did you ever get a kick out of being a man of mystery of people having sort of no idea what you did?
EA: Well, again, the people I really care about are the people inside the building that I work with and I've never really thought that that was an issue here.
Q: Will you still be involved in some way, shape or form going forward?
EA: Bill [Belichick] has all my contact information.
Q: As you go into retirement, nonetheless, your impact and legacy will be carried on by all the players and coaches that you had an opportunity to make an impression on. So many have talked about going to you for rules, explanations, or raved about your attention to detail. How meaningful is that? How would you describe the relationships you've had these last 20 years with not only the young players coming in, but these young coaches you've had a chance to watch?
EA: Well, it was really 46 years ago I started with the New England Patriots as the very, very junior person and now I find myself at an advanced state of age where I've been around quite a bit. So, if there's an opportunity I have to help a young player, help a young coach, I think that's part of my job, is to always take it and give them some insight.
Q: What do you remember about the first time you interacted with Bill's dad?
EA: First time with Steve [Belichick Sr.], well he told me some great, great stories about Navy football. Of course, he had such a deep understanding of the game. It was a real privilege to get to know him.