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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Wed Apr 14 | 12:00 AM - 11:55 PM

Transcript: Bill Belichick Press Conference 1/4

BB: I'll start off here by saying first of all, for all of you, I appreciate the cooperation and the efforts that all of you have made to work through the challenges that we've had this season. I appreciate that and I appreciate the connection that you have to the fans and how interested they are in the team. It hasn't been a normal year for us here, but I know it's been challenging for all of us and I appreciate what all of you have done to help us, help the team and have as much cooperation as we can to make it work and we made it work. So, thank you for that. 

As I said yesterday, we put everything that we had into the Jets game. Today, the players will be in. We have some things logistically to take care of in the next couple days to really bring closure to the 2020 season. So, we'll be doing that and then at some point we'll be moving on to starting to prepare for next year and so forth, but really there's a lot of loose ends to tie up here for this year. Certainly, we'll be dealing with some protocols and still working through health and safety issues and so forth that will just be part of this offseason that will definitely be different than what they've been in the past, things like that. So, in terms of next year and all that, I'm sure there are plenty of questions about that. In all honesty, really haven't done anything there, certainly haven't made any decisions and other than talking about some logistical things, really haven't done anything so there isn't really too much for me to say about that. 

I'd say just a quick reflection from me on the year would be, as I said yesterday, how much I respect and appreciate the team and the staff and the sacrifices that everyone has made so that we could even have a season, so that we could play football and play it competitively. We worked hard throughout the course of the year to improve, to try to move to a higher level, which we did – again, still fell short of where we wanted to be, I'm not saying that – but I appreciate everybody's effort and we all learned a lot. I certainly learned a lot as a coach. I had to coach and do things that I've never done before, do things differently, and I learned a lot about our players. This was a very educational year from all the social justice meetings and things that we had in the spring which carried over into the season. I think our team did a great job of that. We had great leadership from Jason [McCourty], Devin [McCourty], Matt [Slater] and many others – Brandon King, guys that are involved in just many, many different aspects of that. But, most importantly, just bringing the awareness within the team for each other and us getting to know each other and appreciate each other's background, story and thoughts. And that was very, again, educational for me, as well as everybody else. I think we all benefitted from it, and again, things that we've done this year that will help us going forward. That would certainly fall into that category – probably at the top of that category.

As I said, we'll wrap things up and then move on. We'll see how things go in terms of scouting, the combine, the salary cap and so forth. There are really a lot of unknowns, a lot of question marks at this time, where normally I would say I've been able to plan out a schedule that's pretty accurate that we can stick to through the course of the spring. At this point, a lot of those questions have yet to be answered, so we can't definitely provide direction as to what we'll do, how we'll do it or what our opportunities will be. So, we'll take that as it comes and in the meantime, do things that we can do in terms of self-evaluation, self-scouting and things like that. So, that's really pretty much where we stand at this point, so we've got a lot of work to do and we'll do what we can when we can and try to be as productive and efficient as possible.

Q: When you get into these self-scouting and self-evaluation meetings, what determines your posture moving forward, whether you're aggressive or more conservative? Because of the season you just had, might this offseason be a time you are a little more aggressive than usual?

BB: Well, I think we always try to do what's best for the football team, and that's a combination of long-term and short-term. Honestly, I don't know how we could be any more aggressive than we were for the last five years – I'm talking about the '14 to '18 period, well I'll throw last year in there, too – and last year, so for the last six years, really, and so there's a residual to that. But, I would say we're always trying to be aggressive. We're always trying to improve the team in any way we can, whether that's a play, a technique, a personnel decision, whatever it is, and we evaluate every single thing that we do. We evaluate it on a regular basis. Some things are done weekly, some things are done monthly, some things are done at the end of a particular period of activity as we go through a normal year cycle. So, I wouldn't characterize it as anything different than what we've always done, which is to try to do the best that we can for our football team. Now, again, that takes into consideration some long-range planning, which we have to have, but a lot of short-range planning, too. 

Q: Overall, what was the experience like working with Cam Newton this season and what kind of timeframe do you expect to make a decision on whether you want him to return next year?

BB: Yeah, I don't know anything about a timeframe. Again, I think I've expressed my thoughts about Cam multiple times over the year. I expressed it yesterday. Nothing has changed. So, yeah, I mean, we'll just look at everything in the offseason. As I just said, we'll take a full evaluation of all the things that we do and have done and look forward and I'm sure, as we do every year, we'll want to modify some things. Again, we've learned a lot this year. There's some things that we did this year that we've never done before. How much some of those will or won't be a part of things going forward, I don't know. We'll certainly evaluate them. Even if things went back to, let's call it, normal, there might be some things that we'd want to change based on our experience this year that were new and we felt they were productive. So, we'll just take our time and be thorough with those. We do a regular self-scout, and again, we do a periodic review of everything, but it's a little harder to do during the season, just to be as thorough as you want to be because of the urgency of the next game. We don't have a next game right now, so this gives us a better opportunity to try to make the decisions that are best for the football team, both based on past experiences and on future impending decisions.  

Q: You came out of free agency and the draft last offseason with Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham and then waited until the summer to sign Cam Newton. When you look at the team's production, do you think you did enough at quarterback this year?

BB: Well, again, I would say that throughout the course of the year, you always try to do what's best for the team at that point in time and for the timeframe that you're working through. So, that's what we did; that's what we'll continue to do. We can always look back and second-guess things that were or weren't done, but I'd say really the most important thing for us is to look at future decisions and try to make the best ones that we can. 

Q: What did you learn from the experience this year regarding the way you tried to assimilate and advance your young players, particularly the first and second-year guys, considering the challenges of teaching them the complexities of the scheme and what you're trying to accomplish offensively or defensively? How do you make sure they maximize the time to improve this offseason?

BB: Well, I'd say the short answer to that would be the limited value of the virtual meetings and the maximum value of in-person meetings and walkthroughs. What you think you're getting done in a virtual meeting and, I would say, what's actually accomplished are two very different things because it's so hard to measure and gauge the feedback, which you can do in person in a walkthrough or in a meeting scenario. We found over the course of the year that those were – I can't even put a percentage on it – but they were infinitely more productive than virtual meetings. Virtual meetings are fine for dissemination of some, I'd say, basic information, general information. But, in terms of the team working together, especially a team that doesn't have a lot of experience together and that was true in certain positions, I don't think there's a great benefit to it. There's some, but it's not anything close to what doing it another way would be. 

Q: In retrospect, how much do you think that affected the production of your young players, particularly early in the season?

BB: Yeah, I don't know. We had a choice to do it. I know what the preference was for the players and the staff. If there's an option, that's the option we would take. If there's no option, then there's no option.

Q: When you look back at the totality of the season, how much did your COVID shutdown before the Week 4 game affect the overall season?

BB: Yeah, I mean, I think we talked about that at the time and in subsequent weeks. So, I mean, I don't have anything to add to it now.

Q: What are some of the things that you learned this year even about yourself that keep you motivated to keep going into a 47th NFL season?

BB: Yeah, I don't know. Look, I'm going to try to do whatever I can to help our football team in whatever way I can. So, things that I've learned I'll try to apply and maximize the benefit from them and try to take the experience that I've had, whether from year one, to whatever the years were in between, to certainly this last year – because things were this year probably closer to what they're going to be next year, if I had to guess – and how to best utilize those. 

Q: What are some of the challenges that your scouting staff is experiencing because of the limitations posed by COVID? How much more difficult might some of these evaluations be because of opt-outs and lack of ability to get out for visits, etc.?

BB: Well, first of all, I don't know what the options or opportunities are going to be in the spring. That hasn't been defined yet. They were very limited last year. It was only a couple days, really, and then information from workouts came from like independent combines and colleges kind of did their own pro days and then sent you the results and things like that. We'll see what it is this spring. I don't know. If this spring is the same as last spring, then it will be about the same as last spring – virtual interviews with the players and the information as you can get it and so forth. In terms of the past, no NFL scout was on campus to talk to players, talk to coaches or watch practice or anything like that. There were games that you could buy tickets to to go to the game, but that's the way it was for the entire league. Again, how all that will be going forward, I don't know. You know, it limited obviously exposures, and as you said, there were some players that opted out. That's similar but different to a player that was injured and missed his senior year or missed his last year or missed most of his last year and is still draft-eligible. You just have to evaluate what you have to evaluate. You know, less information is less information. That's really all there is to it, and what we'll be able to do this spring or what we won't be able to do is yet to be determined. But, I think we should plan for probably less than more than what it's been historically. Compared to last year, I don't know. We'll just have to wait and see. We haven't gotten anything definitively about how the combine will be done. We can look at leagues like the NBA and see what they did with their combine. Maybe the NFL combine will be similar to that, maybe it won't, I don't know. We'll just have to see how all that goes in terms of the spring scouting and information gathering process. But, the fall scouting has basically been off of film and whatever virtual or phone call communication could be done with a staff member or a pro liaison or however the colleges set it up.

Q: I know you mentioned the schedule for the next few weeks is very fluid, but when do you expect to dive into the self-scout and self-evaluation portion of that?

BB: Well, right now, we're really putting the final touches of putting that in place so we can do it more efficiently. So, making sure that things are organized and the information is set up in a way that it's, I'd say, most easily attainable or most readily available to be analyzed and looked at. So, I think everybody's put a lot into this season. It's really been a daily process since late July. There was no bye week, there was no break, there was no break in the testing, there was no break in the availability of everyone pretty much on every day. So, I think we can all use a breath of fresh air and a break to get away from things for a period of time. But, during that time, I'm sure that I know our staff, and even though we're away, we'll still have access to information and we'll start working on it. When we come back after that period, then we'll eventually get to everything. We'll have to prioritize what comes first and what comes second and what comes third. There's a list of things that we'll accomplish before certainly the deadlines – the start of free agency, the start of the draft, the start of whatever OTAs are or aren't. We'll get things done well ahead of that schedule, but it will be a combination of working through all those things. 

Q: When you do get to making that list, do you have any areas that you know will be at the top of things you need and want to address this offseason?

BB: Yeah, again, we would address everything. I mean, everything's important. Something's got to go at the top and something's got to go 10th and something's got to go 20th, but we're not going to ignore something just because it's lower on the list than No. 1. We'll address everything. Some things are more important than others, but again, there's some things you can control the timing on and some things you can't. So, if you can control the timing on it, then that's sometimes easier to do. But, if you can't control the timing and you don't know when things are going to happen, then you just kind of have to take them as they come. So, there's certainly an element of not knowing what opportunities and what options might be available. Like what we have sitting here today, and what we're going to have a month from now, and what we're going to have six weeks from now, and what we're going to have two months from now, I don't think you can tell us that. I don't think we can predict it with certainty. I think there are options there, I think there are things that you can look at, but some of those may or may not materialize. And so I think you have to be prepared if they do; you also have to be prepared if they don't. So, I mean, that's the way it always is. You have to have a degree of flexibility and if you can capitalize on an opportunity that's unexpected, then that could be a good thing. Everything that is going to happen is not on the table right now – far from it. So, in terms of players, which is I'm sure what you're asking about, there are players that are restricted free agents that will be signed by their teams that will not be unrestricted free agents and there are players that are under contract with teams that will be released, just like there are every year. So, it's not like this has never happened before. But, that's just the facts. So, in terms of players, what are all those things and so forth and what are the specifics that go with them? That's certainly not definitive now and I wouldn't expect it to be for honestly quite a while. So, we'll see. 

Alright, well, thank you. Appreciate everyone's cooperation and look forward to catching up down the road here. Safe travels.

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