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Transcript: Bill Belichick Press Conference 1/9

Read the full transcript from Patriots head coach Bill Belichick's press conference on Monday, January 9, 2023.

BB: Just a couple of quick comments on the game yesterday first of all. Again, as I said after the game, Bills are a good football team. In the end they made plays they needed to make to win. [Josh] Allen made two great throws on the third down and then second-and-10 play, as he is capable of and does. Those were great plays on their part and not good enough plays on our part. Then obviously the two long kickoff returns. It was just too much to overcome even though we had some other opportunities that we could've and should've been able to take more advantage of. So really, that was pretty much the story of the game. We talked about all that yesterday. Just a quick reflection of the season and honestly there'll be a lot more time spent on all of this later. But our record is right around .500, which is what it's been kind of all year. With that, some good things and some not so good things, so nobody's satisfied with that. That's not our goal. We need to try to improve on that. Need to improve on it. So, that's all of us. Accountability everywhere, starting with me, coaching staff, players, each unit are all things that we will address. That process will start probably later today. So up until this point, certainly last week, everything was focused on Buffalo and our opportunity to play our best game against them and get into the postseason. We weren't able to do that. So, we'll begin to turn the page, and move on to do the things and start to do the things that we feel like we need to do to improve our team, be more competitive and have better results. So, that hasn't started yet. We're still in the wake of yesterday's game. So, that's kind of where we are for right now. However, that goes, I'm sure they'll be a number of different aspects to that. But as we do every year, evaluate everything, and try to make the best decisions we can to move forward, to be more competitive, to have a stronger team in the future. So, Robert [Kraft] and I will talk about that, talk about that as a staff and certainly individual conversations with many of the players, as we always do, well, all the players but there's some that are obviously more urgent or will be more timely than others. But it'll be a comprehensive course of action as it always is. I don't see the process being really any different, but we need to have better results. That's really the bottom line. That's where we are for today.

Q: When we asked you about the offensive play calling this season, you stressed that it was a process. Now that the season is over, do you think the process was successful? Do you think that you'll be keeping Matt [Patricia] and Joe [Judge] and the offensive coaching staff in the same positions next season?

BB: As I just said, we'll evaluate everything that we've done. From me on down to everybody else and evaluate things and make improvements where we feel like we can. Again, there were a lot of positive things over the course of the year in all areas that we can build on. But in the end, it wasn't what we want it to be or need it to be. So that'll all be – we'll look at everything.

Q: Curious how you feel just these are grinds of a season. How do you feel about coming back for a 24th season as head coach? Is that something you want to do?

BB: Yeah, I think I just talked about that. Process will start today.

Q: A couple times this year, Mac [Jones] said that the season just wasn't the smoothest sail. I'm just wondering what did you learn about him over the course of this year.

BB: I think every year you learn everything. You learn the players, the team, how certain teams handle and react to certain things, what things are easy for some teams and what things are hard for some teams. Sometimes that includes players, certainly signal callers, operations and so forth. Again, we'll look at everything and continue to try to find the best ways to operate. I think a lot of things were streamlined and became more efficient during the season but there's still a lot of room for improvement. So we'll continue to look at those and address them.

Q: I understand you're about to undergo the full season review as you detailed. But you've also broken-down film in 16 or 17 games this year, preseason, every training camp practice, the OTAs. How could you have done a better job coaching this season?

BB: Well again, I think what I would do is just go back and take a full look at it. Again, we've been very caught up in game-by-game-by-game and preparations on Buffalo. You're right, we've addressed some things. But those are all short-term decisions and short-term solutions. How to do something this week, how to do something on a particular play, again that depends on who you're facing and so forth. The end of the year process is a much different comprehensive process where you look at an entire season, an entire system, a different way of planning for long-term, you make more long-term decisions versus a specific game plan or a particular thing that might involve a specific player. It's a whole different process. They're related. I'm not saying that. They are related. But I think it's a whole different process when you're looking at an entire preparation for a season versus trying to make the best decision you can for a particular upcoming game and situation that you're trying to prepare for there. They're just different. But in the end, I have to do a better job and we have to get better results.

Q: With Mac Jones health permitting, is he a player that you envision being your starting quarterback next season? Or is this a position you need to reevaluate this offseason?

BB: Mac has the ability to play quarterback in this league. We have to all work together to try to find the best way as a football team, which obviously the quarterback is an important position, to be more productive than we were this year. So that's incumbent upon all of us. We'll all work together on that. Again, look for better results.

Q: The success you've obviously had over the last two decades plus has established the end goal which is obviously winning a championship. How far do you feel you're away from being a Super Bowl contending team at this point? What needs to be done in order to get back to that level of competitiveness?

BB: Well, we were within winning a game yesterday of being in the postseason. We didn't do that, so that's where it has to start. Can't do anything in the postseason until you get into the postseason. There were other opportunities along the way during the year, not just yesterday, but yesterday was really the – that was our postseason. We weren't able to advance. Until you get past that, there isn't much to compete for.

Q: Why did the offense regress to a point where since 2000, it had never scored as few touchdowns. You ended up with 31 you had 28 through 16 games which 2000 was the last time it was that few. Why did that happen?

BB: Well, we'll have to, again that'll be part of the whole process that we go through. As I said, we need to be more productive on all levels, offense, defense, special teams. There's room for improvement everywhere. But that's certainly something we need to do is score more points.

Q: I want to ask you about your rookie class this year throughout this year. Guys like Cole [Strange], Tyquan [Thornton], Brenden [Schooler], Marcus [Jones] really stepped into relatively big roles in the second half of the season for your team. I know your coaches must have done a lot of work behind the scenes, but how big of a role do you feel your veteran players have played in helping them get to where they are today? How do you feel about your draft process outcome, rookie class development overall this season?

BB: Right. There's a couple parts to that question, so let me try and go backwards here if I can bring it all together. Certainly, there were a lot of examples where players in the rookie class showed promise and gained some experience. We'll try to build on that. They'll learn from that and build on it. Year two is a different year, not everything goes in a straight-line progression. Some players start their career quickly and show promise their rookie year or part of their rookie year and sometimes that levels off, sometimes that ascends. Some players don't do much their rookie year, [Tom] Brady for example, and end up turning into a different level of player later in their career. It's really hard to tell how that's going to go. I think it depends on certainly those players having opportunity, the players that gained experience and had production, have an opportunity to build on that. It doesn't always go that way. Some of the players that didn't have very much production or maybe didn't have very much opportunity, James White would be another player in the past that you could put in that category. As a rookie, didn't have any production, neither did Tom and they became great players in this organization. Year two is related to year one, but in a way it's a little bit independent of year one. That's a lot of time a combination of opportunity, player development and the players commitment and recognition of what he needs to do to improve, whether he had a productive rookie year or not. Certainly, we've seen players come in and have productive rookie years and then go on to have great careers and build off of that. It's a great question and everybody's in their own unique situation on that, each player is. It will really be in large part, up to them, to determine how their career goes from here, in year two and in subsequent years. It'll be interesting to see how that plays out, but certainly from a team standpoint, the players that did get experience, the players that did have an opportunity to perform, there's a much better evaluation of those players and certainly in anticipation of what they will be able to do or maybe some things they need to work on or maybe some things that they aren't going to be able to do so well and how you work around those. That's a part of the process, but I'd say year two is always an interesting process because it doesn't always go in a straight line. Some players can ascend very quickly, but that doesn't necessarily happen with all players, so we'll have to see there. Yeah, overall, they gave us a pretty decent level of contributions for the year and that's good. We've had a couple of years of that, so hopefully we can continue, and those players will continue to develop in more of a straight-line course like Kyle Dugger or somebody like that, that has kind of been steady in their progress versus low to high or maybe high to more moderate. Good question, thank you.

Q: Your offense, your stats took a dramatic step back this season, do you think the decisions you made in the offseason for the coaching staff, some of the personnel decisions, do you think now that the season is over, that you put your offense in the best position to succeed this season?

BB: Well, every decision that we've made has always been made with the intent to do the best thing for the football team. That's the way it always will be. That's what it's been, that's what it'll be going forward. At different decision points, you have different opportunities and as those go along or come along, we'll continue to evaluate them and always do what we feel is best for the team.

Q: How has your viewpoint changed, if at all, on the importance of having coaches with more extensive past background, specifically on offense, in leading roles?

BB: Yeah, really, it's pretty much the same question that I think Greg [Bedard] just asked. Again, always do what's best for the football team and at different decision points, we'll always do what's best for the football team. That's what we've done, that's what we'll continue to do.

Q: Is there anything you could share on the reason to share for Jack's [Jones] suspension? Overall, are you encouraged by the progress and potential he showed this season?

BB: Sure, yeah. Both the players last week were – those are separate matters, but both players have been contributors to the team and hopefully will be in the future. I'm not going to comment on the suspension part of it, there's been a grievance filed and so forth, so that will all run its course. We'll deal with that as it comes, but yeah, both players are talented players that have contributed to the team, and I think have a future with the team. At least that's how I feel at this point, yep.

Q: Bill, you said, I think, different decision points, I'm guessing that must mean timing and if that is the case, are you saying basically the timing wasn't exquisite to find someone with more experience for the offense?

BB: That isn't what I said. I'm saying each time you hit a decision point, you look at your options and you make the best decision that you can for your team, whatever that is. Whether that's fourth-and-1 or third round of the draft or whatever it is. As that changes, like where we are today is different than where we were six months ago, twelve months ago, eighteen months ago, those things are all different. Going forward is going forward. Whatever we did in the past, in any area, whether it's play calls, coaches, players, whatever, at that time is what we thought was best. We looked at our options and thought we picked the best one. Some worked out and some didn't. Some were good decisions, some were in retrospect maybe not good decisions, but at the time, they were always what we thought were the best in every area. That's the way it will always be and going forward, we'll always do what we feel is best for the team. That's what I'll do, that's my commitment. I'll always do what I feel is best for the team. Have I made mistakes? Yeah, sure, plenty of them.

Q: And that's, just to establish then, what's best for the team, so many of us on the outside deferring obviously to your expertise, resume, experience, and everything said, 'obviously, he knows better than we do,' but, it did seem a dubious choice. In hindsight, did we have a point?

BB: Again, at that point in time and every point in time, I always made what I felt like was best decisions for the team. That's all I can say. You can have your opinion on them, whatever it is, I understand that, but I always did what I felt was best for the team, in every area, at every point in time, since I've been the head coach of the New England Patriots. I'll always continue to do that. I'll put the team first and do what I feel is best for the team. Whether you agree or disagree with that, that's up to you. I respect that, but I'm always going to do what I feel is best.

Q: What we have such a hard time understanding is why something is best when it is not a straight-line obviousness and we don't get a lot of clarity from you why something that seems dubious is best, so we end up casting a vote. That's a statement, not a question, I understand we're on limited timing.

BB: Got it.

Q: Are you at the point yet where you are considering adding an experienced offensive coach to your staff this offseason and if so, how quickly would that need to happen?

BB: Yeah, I think I already answered those questions, Phil [Perry].

Q: So that would fall under the category, the process, that you referenced?

BB: Yeah, I mean the game just ended, we just finished with the Buffalo game, and I told you that later on today, we would start the process of reviewing. Nothing has changed since ten minutes ago when I said that.

Q: Last year you spent an unprecedented amount of money in free agency, and I was wondering if after the second year, if you've felt like you got the best bang for your buck?

BB: When you look at the National Football League and the salary cap situation, it's the same for all teams. What we try to do is we look at it over a time frame. One year is a polaroid snapshot, but actually there are multiple years involved. At some point, the reconciliation has to come. Our spending in 2020, our spending in 2021 and our spending in 2022, the aggregate of that, was we were 27th in the league in cash spending. Couple years we're low, one year was high, but over a three-year period, we are one of the lowest spending teams in the league. Had we averaged that out in those three years, you would have had the same numbers. Whether it's two low and one high, two medium, three mediums, two sort of high and one really low, whatever it is, there's an average that comes. That's the three-year average, we're 27th in the league in cash spending. I thought that in retrospect, the free agency, we added a lot of really good players to this football team. Some guys have been very productive for us, some guys have had less production than some of the highly productive players, but overall, we're a much better football team with the players that we added. Including the players that we resigned to the team that were free agents, that may not be considered free agents, because they didn't come from other teams, but they were not part of our team, after the 2020 team but remained on the team in 2021 and many of them are still here. They were actually part of free agency, of the process. I think when you look at the aggregate of all those players, that we improved our team quite a bit with that group of players, yes.

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