HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
January 5, 2020
BB: As I said last night, I've got a ton of respect for this football team, the players and the coaches. We all put a lot into it this week – I think put everything we had into it. I thought we got a lot of great leadership from a lot of players, certainly our captains. I thought they, in particular, played extremely hard last night, as the entire team did. Unfortunately, we came up basically a point short. Nobody feels very good about that, nor should they. That's the type of competitive team that we have. Proud of the way these guys have worked and competed all year. Wish we could have done a little bit more, but that's life in the NFL. That's really about it. We're less than 12 hours here from the end of the game; I'm sure there are a lot of questions about the future. Nobody has thought about the future. Everybody's been focused and working on Miami and then Tennessee, and that's where all the focus should have been and where it was. Whatever's in the future, we'll deal with at some later point in time. We're certainly not going to deal with it now. It's always a tough ending to the year, but that's – we lost to a team that was a little better than us last night.
Q: After the game, Matthew Slater said it was important to understand that the loss last night didn't define the team. How would you define the characteristics of the team this season?
BB: I think Matt put it well. Matt did a great job after the game of capturing the moment of the situation and everyone's feelings. I wouldn't have anything to add to that. I tried to articulate it the best I could and that's what it was, what it is.
Q: How do you feel about Steve Belichick's performance this season?
BB: I put everybody, really, in the same category. Our coaching staff, our players work extremely hard all the way back to the spring, training camp, through the season. I thought the entire team competed, gave their best. Sometimes it was good enough, sometimes it wasn't. We try to keep improving, all of us, starting with me. There are plays or decisions or things we'd like to have back, to do over again, but we prepared and did our best in the situation and we just came up a little bit short.
Q: Do you have a timeline in your mind for when you'd like to sit down with Tom Brady?
Q: Would you like to get clarity on his situation by the time the new league year starts?
BB: Honestly, look, I know it's out there, just like there's a lot of other things out there. We could bring up 50 questions just like that one, and I told you what my state is on that. You can ask all 50 of them and it's going to be the same answer 50 times, Ben [Volin]. We've been working on Tennessee, it's 12 hours after the game, not going to talk a lot of things about the future because it's not – I'm not prepared to talk about it.
Q: I don't have 50 questions...
BB: I'm sure you do – you could name 50 guys, 50 coaches. I mean, there's plenty. You could talk about anything you want about in the future. They're all questions that need to be answered at some point in time by the organization, by myself, by the coaching staff, by some of the players. But, those are collective decisions that are not made by one person. They're made collectively, and there's a lot of time, thought, effort and communication that goes into that. Now is not the time.
Q: I certainly appreciate that. If Tom says he wants to come back and play...
BB: It's the same answer that I just gave you. We can just keep going if you want to.
Q: Did you hear the whole question? If he says he wants to play, is he your quarterback next year?
BB: Yeah, I got it. I gave you the same answer that I just gave you on the other ones. We can go through some more if you want to, it's fine.
Q: What about you, will you be back here coaching this team next year?
BB: I've just answered all these questions. All the future questions are the future. We're less than 12 hours after the game. I think anybody that's competitive and has been in this type of situation, all your focus is on the game. It's not on something else. Hopefully, you can respect that, but if you can't, then I've done the best I can to explain it. I'm sorry. It's as simple as that.
Q: Is there any pride that you take in having a guy that was in your organization for a long time coming in here and coaching his team to a win?
BB: I'm focused on our team. I'm not focused on the other 31 teams or the other 1,500 players in the league. I'm focused on our team.
Q: It's early relative to when your seasons usually end. How does that extra time allow you to approach this offseason?
BB: We'll look at that – unfortunately or fortunately, however you want to look at it. Relative to the 2020 team, we have more time and we'll try to use that time as productively as we can. We'll sit back, we'll take a look at what the priorities are, what we can try to accomplish and then make the most efficient use of this time that we can. That's what we'll do. Has all of that been laid out yet? Absolutely not. That will be one of the first orders of business.
Q: When you get in positional evaluations and player evaluations, is it more difficult when you wonder what would have happened if there was a better group around someone at a particular position? Do you get into the variables involved?
BB: I think any time you look ahead to the next team, you think more about the future than the past. Whatever it was, it was, in 2003, 2005, 2011, 2015, 2018 – you pick any year you want. Whatever it was, it was. In the future, it's the 2020 team and to a degree beyond that. I think that's really where the focus is.
Q: I just mean the immediacy of this play didn't work well and the player who was involved might have been in a bad spot due to something beyond his control. Is that hard to evaluate?
BB: I think that's inherent in every year, every situation, every team. I've never been a part of a team where – you know, there are things that you take into consideration that happened during the year – injuries, game plans, matchups, et cetera, et cetera. You take them into consideration and you do the best you can to evaluate.
Q: How would you assess your offense through the last few months of the season?
BB: Well, I mean we've talked about this through the course of the year. Look, they scored a high number of points. There were times where it was – in all three phases of the game – there were times when things were good, and there were other times where they were average and there were other times where they weren't so good. There were a lot of things that we'd like to improve on, and that's again, I think you can say that pretty much in every year. Several very, very close games, games that came down to the last, next to last possession in our season – especially the games that we lost, other than the Baltimore game. A play here, a play there, a call here, a call there, a decision here, a decision there and things might look a little different. But, they didn't and that's what it is.
Q: There was a large coaching turnover before the season started, but how would you assess the manageability of your own personal workload?
BB: A bit too many syllables in there for me, Phil [Perry]. Can you give me that in English?
Q: Do you feel like what was on your plate was manageable?
BB: Yeah. Well, look, when you're the head coach of the football team, you can do whatever you want in terms of how you distribute the workload on your staff. That's one of the advantages of being the head coach. When I was a tight ends coach, you coach the tight ends. You didn't have anything to say about anybody else, really, which is the way it should be. So, I try to manage my team and do the most effective job I can to help our football team. That's what I try to. Could it be better? Yeah, I'm sure it could be, like everything else, but I feel that way every year. Each situation is different, each year is different and I can assure you that I'll do my best to help our football team in any capacity that I can as long as I'm here, whatever that might be. Just like everything else. Whatever it was, it was. Whatever it's going to be is hopefully what'll be best for the team.
Q: Would you at least concede that Brady's status is different from the other 50 questions? This is a guy that's been here for 20 years and won you six Super Bowls, and people are wondering if he's going to be here next year.
BB: Everybody's situation on the team is different. There are no two that are exactly the same, but the future is the future for all of them just like it is for Tom and anybody else you want to bring up. Certainly, Tom's an iconic figure in this organization, and nobody respects Tom more than I do. I respect all of the other players and all of the other coaches in this organization, too. I think that everybody that is part of it is an important part of it, and I want to give the proper attention and communication and detail and thought into my input into those decisions. But, any decision's made – it's not an individual decision. There are other people involved, and so there has to be some type of communication, understanding, agreement – whatever you want to call it – and that's not a one-way street. I hope you can understand that. One person just can't decide what everybody else is going to do when players aren't under contract, and we have lot of players that aren't under contract.
Q: How much progression did you see from Jarrett Stidham during this season?
BB: I think all of our rookies made good, solid progress. They're a lot better than they were when they got here. I thought that they, generally speaking, took advantage of their opportunities. There were some ups and downs, like there always are with those players, but overall, I'd say as a group they would all fall into the same category. I wouldn't want to single anybody out, but I'd say they all fall into that same category – learned a lot on the field, learned a lot off the field, learned a lot about preparation and, in the opportunities that they had, were a lot better than they were when they started off doing, even in training camp and in the preseason games. So, I think there was a lot of growth and a long way to go as well.
Q: The Titans exploited the loophole to kill a bunch of time and you were visibly irritated even though it was something that you did against the Jets. What was different about this?
BB: The explanation on how that situation was going to be handled.
Q: Can you tell me what the explanation was?
BB: Well, it's not really my place.
Q: Do you want me to call the league?
BB: Yeah, do whatever you want. Call whoever you want, Tom [Curran]. Whoever's number is on your speed-dial, hit the speed-dial. That's your decision, not mine.
Q: Given how the offense sputtered in the second-half of the season, do you wish you had done more to bolster that side of the ball?
BB: Again, the team was constructed very competitively. I think that was reflected in our overall play during the course of the year. Again, we lost four games that basically came down to the last possession, again, other than the Baltimore game, which that was a pretty competitive game, too. So, I think there's areas in every phase of the game – offense, defense, special teams, running game, passing game, pass rush, pass protection. Wherever you want to go – the coaching, strategy, game planning, decision-making – I mean, all of us. But, had a couple things been a little different, maybe the outcome would have been a little different. So, I think we all had a part in the wins, we all had a part shared in the losses. We've got to try to do better in all of those areas, each of us that are a part of the team going forward, and each of us did that over the course of the year. So, I wouldn't expect that to be any different.