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Transcript: Bill Belichick Conference Call 12/31

HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK

CONFERENCE CALL
December 31, 2018

Q: How would you assess the job that Josh Boyer has done with the secondary this year?

BB: Yeah, Josh does a good job with that group. He’s a very good fundamental coach and he’s very good at breaking down and analyzing the passing game. He’s been a huge help since he came here really in different capacities when he was quality control and the corners, but he has a big role in our pass defensive strategy and, obviously, he’s brought along a lot of younger players over the period of time that he’s been here in terms of technique and building confidence and so forth. This year we’ve probably had more defensive backs and maybe more different defensive backs. We’ve had a lot of different combinations with our safeties and corners on the field, so that’s even been a little more prominent this year. But yeah, he does an excellent job.

Q: How did you come across a guy like Josh Boyer, who before arriving in New England, was a coach at a small school in South Dakota at the S.D. School of Mines & Technology?

BB: Yeah, well Josh worked for Dean [Pees] at Kent State. So, Dean recommended him. We interviewed him. Again, he came in as a quality control position and really was helpful to Dean because he also had Brian [Flores]. He worked for the entire defensive staff, but because Dean was the coordinator he worked kind of more closely with Dean and Dean had worked with him at Kent State, so it was a little bit of a natural connection there and I went with Dean’s recommendation because it was a guy that was going to be working pretty closely with Dean.

Q: What is it that makes a positional coach turn into a good coordinator? Is it more than being able to communicate well with the rest of the players as well as the staff?

BB: Well, that’s a tough question, Mike [Petraglia]. That would probably involve a lengthy answer in terms of hours, not minutes. But, there’s so many components to being a coordinator. When I was a special teams coordinator, that was a little bit different because at least at that point in time you really didn’t have a staff. There was maybe one other person that you were working with. In my case, it was Romeo Crennel, but then as an offensive or defensive coordinator you’re running an entire staff and the play-calling is a huge responsibility and you have to work with the coaches in order to get everybody on the same page. Sometimes there are different opinions or options as far as how you want to do something and there’s one reason for doing one thing or there’s another reason for doing another thing. You have to make those decisions and you have to do it in a way, with a leadership style and a communication ability to, I don’t want to say satisfy everybody, but do it in a way so that you’re not creating confrontation and dissension and that you’re doing it in a cohesive way because it is a decision that has to be made and not everybody can be happy with every decision. Although, we all are a part of once the decision is made, we go forward with the decision whether we’re happy with it or not. But, I would just say from a leadership standpoint, decision-making, being responsible for the entire game on your side of the ball or whatever area it is as opposed to just a position group is quite different. There’s so many things that go into all of those and it’s dealing with coaches, it’s dealing with players, it’s play-calling, it’s game management and certainly understanding the bigger picture on the other side of the ball too; what they’re trying to do. Again, as a position coach you’re very in-tune with what’s directly across from you, but if you’re coaching the defensive line or the linebackers maybe you don’t look at the secondary as closely. If you’re coaching the secondary you don’t look at the defensive line and the offensive line as closely. But, when you’re the coordinator you have to find a way to look at everything, but at the same time rely on your assistants to look at those things in more detail than you can because you don’t have time to allocate that. The time for the details in every area you have to pick and choose the ones that you want to focus in. You’ll be responsible for all of it. There are a lot of things involved in that position.

Q: Have you ever known position coaches that are comfortable where they are and don’t want to ever consider a coordinator position?

BB: Absolutely. Many, many. And that’s not a negative. I’m not saying that negatively at all, but yeah. There’s plenty of coordinators who don’t want to be head coaches and plenty that do and plenty of position coaches who don’t want to be coordinators and plenty that do. Yeah, I think there are people that fall into all of those categories. Quite frankly, they’re all valuable and I don’t know that you want everybody on your staff to be all one or all the other.

Q: Adam Butler seems to have improved and is able to play more comfortably out there this season. How have you seen him improve this year from last year?

BB: I agree with that, William [Bendetson]. I think he’s definitely improved, but most players do. Again, that Year One to Year Two is a time when all of us – players and coaches – we all went through it. The first year you’re kind of just trying to keep your head above water and swim as fast as you can to keep up but it’s hard. The second year when you have been through it once before, you have a better idea of what you’re doing. You have a better idea of what to expect in terms of the overall schedule and the season and so forth and you have a better idea what to expect from your opponents and the other factors that come along with playing competitive games. All of that is valuable information. It’s valuable experience and a lot of it comes from Year One to Year Two. Some of it comes during the course of Year One, but when you get a chance to start over in Year Two, you’re able to usually put those things in place, get off to a better start and just build from higher ground then the starting low point that we all started at our first time around. Yeah, he’s certainly done that. His communication skills are good. He does a good job of handling the communication on the defensive line with games and blitzes and things like that. Sometimes formation adjustments and those type of things. He’s in the middle of the formation so he can generally see those and is in a position and a proximity to relay or make those calls to his teammates. He’s a smart player that can adjust quickly. He’s done a good job for us on the punt return team as well, which wasn’t a big role for him last year so he’s been able to expand his versatility and his value to the team by those added responsibilities. Yeah, he’s improved in every area.

Q: At the end of the game, Walt Coleman’s whole referee crew kind of gathered around him to take in the moment as it was his final game. Did you have any sort of connection to him or do you have any thoughts just about how either his crew or other crews have contributed to the game of football over the course of the years as sort of the third team in each matchup?

BB: Well, I saw Walt before the game. Before every game the referee comes over to you in pregame warmups and goes over the things that you’ve talked to – so before each game, an hour-and-a-half before each game, you meet with two officials from the crew and talk about things for that game that they may bring up or you may bring up or whatever it is. And then when you go out for pregame warmups, the referee comes over and just confirms that he’s discussed the things that were talked about in the first meeting and might either follow up on that to see if there are any other questions or comments or anything and kind of go through a little bit of the communication procedure. It’s basically all the same but some crews just do it a little bit differently than others. Just the efficiency or the way they do it, so it’s a good thing. When I saw Walt there before the game we exchanged that, and then I saw him after the game. He’s had a great career. There’s no doubt those guys – all of the officials – they have such a hard job to do. I know we look at the replays and analyze them millisecond by millisecond and everybody has all of the answers on what it should be and what it shouldn’t be. These guys are out there trying to do it live and at full speed. They make so many amazingly good calls and some of the plays are just so close that it’s less than an inch or less than, not even a split-second. Just again, just a millisecond of whether it goes one way or another way. They just get so many of them right. I think their ability to control the game, which I think over the last couple of years, particularly this year, I’ve seen especially in our games, seen very few incidents. A couple of years ago there were brawls and stuff like that. I’m not saying that there isn’t – obviously, it’s an emotional game but I think they do a great job of keeping the game under control of officiating with a discipline that enhances the game without it becoming a bunch of fights and taunting and all of the stuff that we’re trying to keep out of the game. That’s a fine line. It’s a hard thing to do, but they do an excellent job of it and Walt’s done it for a long time. Look, I respect all of the officials. I respect what Walt did and some of the other guys that are now commenting on the games, like Mike Pereira and people like that that have gone from – Dean Blandino – that have gone from officiating to TV or guys like Ed Hochuli that have retired in recent years. What they added to the game during the time that they officiated it, regardless of what their position was, they were incredibly valuable to the game. We saw a short period of time where we didn’t have that quality of officiating and I think we’re all glad that we have the guys that we have and appreciate the job that they do.

Q: What have you learned over the years from having this bye week about how to best prepare for any of the three potential opponents you could face? Is there anything you do now that you may not have done five or 10 years ago in this same position?

BB: Well, I would say not too much but, look, each year is different and so therefore, yes, it is different every year. But the timeframe and the situation is about the same. Every year when you’re in this position, there are three teams you could potentially play and one team that you wouldn’t play the first week, and then you could potentially play any of the five teams the second week. Some of that clears itself up. It’s an unusual situation because the rest of the year you always know who your next game is against, whether you have the bye week or you have an opponent the following week or you’re in preseason or whatever it is. You’ll always know who the next team is that you’re playing and you can set a certain preparation schedule for that opponent regardless of who the opponent is or how long or short the week is that leads up to that game. Here, it’s multiple teams. You have to be prepared for those options, but at the same time you don’t want to create chaos. I don’t think you want to create a confusing situation where you’re trying to do so much that you don’t get anything done, so you have to try to, I’d say at this point, figure out what’s the most productive thing you can do for your team and that might not be the same for every player. It might not be the same for each unit. You might have to find a way to balance some things, but in the end you’re trying to do the most productive thing you can with the time that you have available. That might include not doing anything. It might include resting. It might include film work, practice, fundamentals, scheme plays, situations and so forth and it all would probably be helpful. You just have to decide which ones you think would do the most good and structure it that way. Once you know who you’re playing then it’s full steam ahead on that opponent. Fundamentally, it’s about the same every year but it’s different every year because of the circumstances.

Q: Are there any kind of points of emphasis that you have during these bye weeks as you’re preparing for different opponents?

BB: Yeah, there’s a lot of them. Again, this is different than any game we’ve played this year on a lot of levels. There are things that apply to this game that just don’t apply to any of the other 16 games or 20 games if you want to go all the way back to preseason. There’s certainly a differentiation there. Yeah, it puts it into a different category and we talk about that, explain it and try to recognize how we can use that to our advantage and get the most out of it; sure.

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