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Transcript: Bill Belichick Press Conference 1/16

Read the full transcript from Patriots head coach Bill Belichick's press conference on Sunday, January 16, 2022.


January 16, 2022

BB: Morning everyone. We got back in kind of late last night, so not totally obviously finished with everything here, but just a few comments overall. First of all, I appreciate you guys. I know it's been a challenging year on a number of levels to cover the team and deal with some of the restrictions and so forth that we've had. So, appreciate you showing a lot of patience and cooperation on that. Have a lot of respect for the players and the coaches and just in general, the team, the support people. This group's worked extremely hard, and they've given their best. We all gave our best. It obviously didn't work out for us the way we wanted to last night and ultimately the results of the season, but the effort and the again, cooperation and ability to adjust and professionally do things and do things the right way, is very much appreciated by me. You know, we had our ups and downs in the season, slower start, some higher points in the middle of the season and didn't finish the way that we wanted to. I think we need to, and we'll go back, and take a longer view of just everything. Certainly last night's game was important and not in any way trying to minimize that, but at the same time, there were 17 other meaningful games, so 18 in all, that I think we really need to look at and see how we can do a better job of everything, coaching, playing, schematically, whatever adjustments we need to make there and so forth, and just in season planning for next year. And so, that'll be a thorough process as it always is. Again, the day after the season with the players and the rosters, definitely not a time to make those decisions on any level. The team level or the player level. We all need to step back and again, catch our breath, take a longer view of things and at some point, we'll talk about certain situations, players that aren't under contract, players who whatever their future is, or is with the team or whatever their individual situations are, those will all be dealt with at a later point in time. Certainly not today or tomorrow or the next day. I know there have been some questions about staff members, previous staff members that were here and so forth, other staffing around the league and all that, again I've been totally focused on Buffalo. I haven't even thought about any of that. And so that's, again, another process that's certainly out in a distance. So, haven't really given any thought or time or attention. We put everything we had into Buffalo and as I said last night, they clearly were the better coached team. They played better. They had a much better night than we did, and they certainly deserved to win. They played a good football game and that's why they're moving on. So, that's kind of where we're at here. We have some end of the season things to address and just clean up as we head into the offseason but most every all-action points will be at some later point down the line. And there are some things in looking at next year, on the big picture, some things that we'll be able to control. There will certainly be some changes and things that we'll have to adjust to and then there'll be some unknowns, kind of like there are every year, like there were this year and the year before. There's a little bit of that every year, but I'd say the last two years, we've had to deal with things and adjust to them and that's part of it too. I think we have to recognize that and just understand that there are going to be things going forward that we can't plan for. Not specifically. So, there will be a period of adjustment and so we'll just see how all that plays out. Again, those things are out of our control. So, we'll wait and see what the offseason program looks like, what the spring looks like, what training camp looks like and so forth. I'm sure at some point in time, we'll get more definitive direction on those and then we'll address them there. At this point, it's even really hard to have a detailed plan on the offseason program, just until there are some more things that are kind of ironed out with that, so just as an example. So, that's kind of where we're at here. Players will be in tomorrow and wrap things up there and then as coaching staff, we've got things over the next couple months, the normal things that will come up, the draft and pre-free agency and evaluating the season and so forth. So we'll start working on those, again over a longer period of time. So, we'll take that when we get the opportunity to do that here. That's where we are. Again, appreciate everybody and the patience and just working through another year with us.

On how he personally feels about coaching and if it's something he still wants to do in 2022:

BB: I would say that would be accurate. 

On his overall feeling about the team coming off this game against the Bills where it was a non-competitive game and if there is concern there:

BB: Yeah, well I think we have to take a good long look again, not at just one game, but at all 18. You could argue that there were elements of last night's game and some other games, but you're right. Last night's game was the least competitive game that we played last year. So again, is that what we are, or is that a bad night? We'll see when we start playing again next year, I guess.

On looking back on Mac Jones' season and how you would categorize his season:

BB: Mac helped us a lot and we look forward to working with him next year. We all have things we need to work on and that goes for every player and that'll be part of the conversation with every player and for the coaching staff, what we all individually and collectively need to improve on. And so, that's a process that we go through with each player and so there's no need to single out anybody because there's nobody to single out. It's the same for all of us, coaches, players, support staff, other people in the organization. We evaluate everything we do and there are good things we did and then there are other things that we need to improve on or maybe change or adjust or whatever it happens to be. We'll address those and then try to do whatever we can to help, not just the team on the field, but the overall operation of the team and how we can do things more efficiently and do better.

On the challenges this season, what impact did leaders like Matthew Slater, Devin McCourty and David Andrews have on the locker room this season:

BB: Yeah, I think the leadership from our players this year was outstanding. Especially some of the ones that you mentioned there. I'd certainly throw [Dont'a] Hightower into that with Devin and David. James White earlier in the year. Brandon Bolden. Obviously, Slater. Some guys that came back this year and other guys that just stepped up and did a great job, not only in preparing and trying to do their job, but also cohesively trying to tie things together on their side of the ball with the units they were involved in and as a team. I think that we can all be proud of some of the steps that we took off the field in terms of things like social justice and the impact that particularly Devin and Matt had, but also many other players that were involved in that and many other causes that individually we were a part of, and collectively, the team joined behind some of the individuals who made us aware of those situations to try to help in various ways. So, there were really a lot of great team building moments throughout the course of the year both on and off the field related to football and in some cases, maybe not related to football directly but just related to the team. And so yeah, they were again, spearheaded by a lot of the people you mentioned, but I mean, you could throw you [Deatrich] Wise [Jr.] and DG [Davon Godchaux], Lawrence Guy, and again Bolden, and just many, many other guys. I don't want to start naming names and leave somebody out. But in all units, across all different boundaries, in different areas, we have many different things, causes and areas of support and I would say that the players, the staff, the support people, all were engaged in that and I think there were some very positive results there. So, when you combine it all together, yes, certainly a strong level of leadership here and unselfish commitment to the team and for the team doing positive things, both on and off the field. I know that's important to the organization and that's certainly an area that I think we all feel good about in the big picture of being here for a season together.

On Jonnu Smith and what needs to happen to make him a bigger part of the offense:

BB: Well again Mark, we'll go back and again, talk about each player, everybody's situation and so forth and scheme and all that. So, I'm sure there's probably a number of things that, with every player, again, I don't want to single anybody out here because that's really not what this is about. It would be a detailed look at every everything we do. So every offensive play, every defensive call, every player, every aspect that goes into a day, whether it's meeting, practice, walkthrough, film, just how we do things and again, for each player, what they need to work on, what they did well, what we want to continue to do and what we either we're going to change, or they need to change, or maybe some combination of both. Again, all that's part of the offseason, I would say, look back and analysis and then going forward and decision making on again, what we can control and what the player can control, and we'll see how all that comes together.

On if he was surprised about Brandon Bolden's performance throughout the season after stepping up following James White's injury:

BB: Yeah, well, I think it says a lot about Brandon, but I disagree with that. I don't think anybody was surprised by the way that Brandon played offensively this year. I don't think that. I don't think that surprised anybody here, any player or any coach, anybody that's been around Brandon on a daily basis like we have, with the exception of last year in '18, the two years he wasn't here, but you see that consistency from him every day. We've had some very good players play that position essentially ahead of him and healthy through it, particularly James. But I don't think there's ever been any doubt that he could perform well on the field, could be a three, four-down player, which he was. Carried the ball, caught the ball, picked up in blitz and played in the kicking game. He's shown those things. Obviously, the majority of the time we haven't used him in those roles. We spread those roles between him and James. This year he ended up picking up all of them for the reasons that you articulated, and we didn't expect that to happen, but I don't think anybody was surprised that he performed at a high level all year on all four downs, in both offensively and the kicking game. Brandon's a good football player and he had an opportunity to play more offensively this year and he did a great job for us.

On Christian Barmore's season and how impressed he was with everything he showed this season:

BB: Yeah. Well, you know Christian played a lot of snaps this year. He took a lot of snaps in practice. He was a durable and dependable player for us. I think he has a real good future. As we all know, it's a very long season in the National Football League, especially for a rookie that has the time in the spring and then has training camp where they're really challenged a lot more than players who have been through that. It's just the first time through. It's tough and then it's a long season and a lot of time to manage and everybody gets banged up over an NFL season and those are all difficult parts of being a rookie. So, everybody goes through it and this year's group went through it this year and next year's group will go through it next year. I'd say each player's situation is usually a little bit different, but the commonality is that there's some degree of that. So, we've talked to all those players about it over the course of the year, at the beginning and at training camp and during the season, at the end of the season and talking about it and actually experiencing it are two different things. I'm sure all those players will be better prepared, for the length and the challenges of an NFL regular season than they were this year. Like we all were after the first year. So I thought in general, our rookie class was a mature class. They handled things well, but it was their first year and hopefully they'll learn and grow from it and be able to use the experience this year to move to a higher-level next year.

On how he thinks the upcoming offseason will benefit the team going forward:

BB: Yeah, well obviously, I think that the extra time, the more time we have together and the more time that we do things together, that the better off we will be. But again, that all remains to be seen. I don't want to get into speculations and predictions. I mean, we'll have the same opportunity that everybody else has in terms of an offseason program, training camp, preparation for the season and 17 regular season games. So, what we do with it relative to what other teams, our competitors do with it, we'll see how all that goes, but we'll do what we always try to do, Dan, and that's take advantage of every opportunity we have, whatever that is, whether that's preseason, whether it's training camp or offseason program, individual meetings, OTAs, training sessions, we'll try to prepare the team the best that we can, the individuals the best that we can and then put the best team out on the field and most competitive team that we can. And that's again, I know I'm kind of saying the same thing here and it's geared towards each individual, it's geared towards the unit that they're involved in and then collectively it's about the team's performance. So I think that's the best way to do it and I think we'll continue to do it that way. We just have to try to find the ways that'll maximize the results. And that's what we're searching for, individually and collectively.

On how he feels about the coaching staff's progression throughout the year:

BB: I think I mentioned earlier, the staff's worked extremely hard. These guys are here early, they leave late. They spend a lot of time detailing things out, looking at things in a very, again, detailed and close analysis to try to find an edge, to try to find a key that'll help their player or that we can use in a schematic way. So, we have obviously coaches that are at very different levels in their coaching career. Some on the back end, some mid-career, some on the early side of their career and I think that's a good blend and it's healthy. There are new ideas and there's a lot of mentoring from some of the older coaches or more experienced coaches with the younger ones and that's a good thing too. So, certainly Ivan [Fears] has done a great job for us in that area. He's been here for 25 years and he would be the number one example of a coach that's coached the coaches and helped the coaches, again over a sustained period of time. So, some of the younger coaches that are here and even coaches like Josh [McDaniels] and people like that, myself, he's been here longer than we have. He's been a great resource and not just in doing his job, but also in helping other people and giving guidance and leadership and just setting a great example on how to work and help the team in any way you can. So, we have a lot of, as I said, younger coaches on the staff in different areas, offense, defense, special teams that are growing and other coaches that have quite a bit of experience that have been in a lot of coaching situations and a lot of big games. So, that's kind of the blend that we have, and I would anticipate that we would have that going forward. We've pretty much had that my entire time here and I think that kind of progression and that mixes of coaches on staff is a good one.

On which coaches, if any, have been requested for interviews with teams that have coaching vacancies:

BB: I don't think it's really my place to comment on other team's jobs or who they're looking for or what they're doing or whatever. So, I'll leave that to them. But whatever it is, obviously we'll comply with and however those situations turn out, again that's generally speaking out of our control. So we'll see what happens if something happens, then we'll adjust to it and react to it. But I don't know. We have a lot of good coaches. It's not surprising that other teams would be interested in talking to them or other staff members, same thing with the scouting staff. I mean, we really basically have that every single year. So how that goes and what'll happen, again I don't know. That's not my decision to make. But certainly if there's an opportunity for somebody that's at a high level that we can't provide here, I understand that they would have to consider that. So we'll see what happens on that, but I think those jobs really should be talked about by the teams that have them and again, I don't really have any input into those situations, so I just kind of stay on the sideline.

On what impact the new veterans that you brought in had on the performance on the team from an on field and off the field perspective:

BB: Well, yeah, that just in total, that group certainly made us a better team. They gave us some high-quality play and it was a very solid, hard working group. Again, some of those players had been here before, players like Trent [Brown] and Ted Karras, and then we certainly had another group of players - I don't know if you're putting them in that category or not - but the players that didn't play last year, like High and Brandon and so forth. So the overall group again, whether new players or new to the 2020-21 team, however you want to look at it, yeah, those players impacted us a lot. I think we talked earlier about the leadership that we had from some of the players that held over, certainly the captains and other veteran leaders that would fall into that category. Guys that have been here for a while that maybe weren't captains but were strong leaders as well. So yeah, it was good to work with those players. It was good to get to know them and I'd say over the course of the spring and training camp, you kind of could see a lot. But then as we got into the regular season and the 18 games here, you could continue to see what they were, maybe what they needed or how either we needed to fit them in, or they needed to fit into various aspects of the team. And so, that was I think a positive, productive process that we know a lot more now than we did in September. We knew a lot more in September than we did in March when a lot of those guys were signed or opted back in, however you want to look at it, and I think we know more now than we did in September. So we'll try to, as I said, take all the things that with each individual player and try to plug them in to their units and from a team standpoint, try to make the team more productive and see if their role is what they need to do to increase their production on team, what we need to do to maybe help their positioning or opportunity to help the team. And I think that's a process again. It's an annual process. It's not specific to this year's group. We've had new players every year, but that's a process that's very common. Sometimes during the year, it's fairly easy to do some things that are maybe beneficial for that player. In other cases, it's harder to do and those are the kind of things you really need to start at back in the spring or in training camp where you build them into the foundation of what you're doing, rather than trying to plug them in. Depends on what it is but there's an element of both there. So yeah, that's certainly part of the long-term conversation. No question.

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