HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
Tuesday, October 13, 2020
BB: We continue to make adjustments here on a regular basis, so we will make the most out of the opportunities this week and we'll be ready to go on Denver here for Sunday. So, hopefully we can stay on track and continue our preparations from last week. They'll obviously roll over into this week with some adjustments, but those will be relatively small compared to the overall scope of the preparation. Looking forward to getting back to playing here and coaching.
Q: Was it another good day of no new positive tests?
BB: Yeah, again, there's a series of tests every day. Really I'm not going to get into that every time. We have multiple results during the day, we have a couple different tests, there's other things going on, so if we have something to report on that, we'll report it.
Q: What have you seen from Nick Thurman over the last year in terms of his development and how he might be able to help you if called upon?
BB: Yeah, well, Nick's a hardworking kid. He's played a number of different roles for us, he's been active here a little bit this year and he's had an opportunity to practice with our defense, not just the scout team. He's, like all of our second-year players, made significant improvement over the course of the offseason and started the year this year and we'll see how it goes. I'm sure if he gets an opportunity, he'll be ready to go.
Q: Are you guys on track to continue working and meeting as normal right now?
BB: We're on track to play on Sunday, let's put it that way.
Q: How are your players handling all this uncertainty and all the abrupt changes in the schedule over the last few days?
BB: Well, we've been dealing with changes all year, going all the way back to the spring, the start of the offseason program, virtual meetings, OTAs, minicamp, training camp. So, I think we all have gone through this year with a very flexible attitude and understanding that things are going to change and we're going to have to make adjustments. I think that the players, the coaches, the staff, that everybody's handled it pretty well. I mean, whatever we've had to do, we've done. We've tried to make the best out of our opportunities, and that's what we're going to continue to do. We know we're going to have to be fluid and flexible. I don't think that's going to change, and so we'll just kind of take it day by day and do the best we can with each opportunity that we get. If we have to change off our normal routine – with what's been normal this year, let's put it that way – then we'll do that. But, look, that's the way the whole year has gone, so I don't think it will be any different.
Q: You mentioned yesterday that any player on the COVID-19 reserve list has to go through a medical clearance process. Will Cam Newton or Stephon Gilmore take steps toward receiving that clearance today?
BB: Yeah, I'm not sure exactly what the schedule is in terms of when those guys will do the things that they need to do. Again, some of that has to be scheduled outside of the building and so forth. So, I'll leave that to the medical department. I don't know exactly what their schedule is.
Q: Does the team have any input at all when it comes to a game being postponed? Did you guys have any say in whether or not the Denver game would be played on Monday?
BB: Again, that's not really something that I think any individual team has a lot of input on. There's so many factors involved there. A number of games had to be rescheduled or readjusted and that gets into scheduling and dealing with other teams, as well. So, I think that the league did the best that they could to try to work out the schedule where everybody could play their games and there would be as little disruption as possible. How that affected the teams that were involved is really a decision that they would make based on multiple factors, many of which I'm not even aware of. So, I think they've done a good job of trying to, in our case, just assess what the situation is here, but then whatever the scheduling decisions are, that's not something that we have any control over, especially in a situation like this where you have multiple games involved in a schedule adjustment.
Q: This season, you have played more snaps with six or seven defensive backs on the field than any team in the league. What advantage do you see with playing with so many defensive backs on the field?
BB: Well, a major part of defense is being able to defend and react to what the offenses are doing. We've played teams that have had a certain style of play on the schedule, have had certain personnel groups and skills within those groups. So, we've defended them the way that we feel is best and the way we match up best as a football team. We'll continue to do that. What group that is and so forth, we'll just have to see how that goes week by week. But, we've always been that type of a defensive team. Certainly, things that we do are reflective of what they're doing. We can't control that. Offensively, when you have the ball, you can put whoever you want out there, you can give the ball to whoever you want to. Defensively, you can't – you don't have that type of control. We may or may not be using that personnel group going forward or those personnel groups going forward. It would depend on who we're playing and what they do and obviously game situation.
Q: Were you impressed by the way Damien Harris was able to jump back into things at Kansas City despite missing the first several weeks?
BB: Yeah, Damien had a good week of practice. As you said, he was impressive in camp and was in good condition, ready to go and was able to put together some solid days of practice. I think that as a coaching staff, we felt that he'd be ready to go Monday night in Kansas City and he was and he ran hard, ran well. So, glad we have him and look forward to having him back out there.
Q: So much of what you guys do as coaches is communication, adjustments and extra work after practice. How difficult has it been for the coaches, especially with what you're dealing with now, to have those conversations amongst the staff or with the players to make adjustments, teach and make corrections?
BB: I mean, it's a good observation, but I think we've tried to do what we've been doing. We try to be thorough in the breakdown of our plays and the fundamentals that we use on each play and communicate those to the players. Some of it's been more virtually, some of it's been in position meetings, that kind of thing. I'd say we've probably had overall more individual meetings this year than we've had historically in the past to try to separate and distance, but the good part of that is it allows more individual and direct communication between the coach and his players. The downside of that is there's a little bit less overall communication and total understanding of everything that's happening because you don't hear other coaches tell the players beside you or in front of you or behind you what they're doing and where it all kind of ties together. You rely on your position coach to do that. Our coaches do a good job of that, though. I'd say the individual coaching might even be more than what it's been in the past. I'd say the overall team meetings and team coaching or team group work – whether it's film or installation or game planning, game plan adjustments and so forth – probably a little bit less than in the past. Again, that's kind of the trade off, but that's what we've tried to do. We've tried to make the meetings smaller, which are definitely better on the virtual end of it. When we had those in the spring, but carrying over into training camp and the season, there's been probably a little more of that than what there's been in the past in terms of the in-person meetings. I think the individual corrections are definitely getting made, and like I said, maybe a little more than in the past. I'd say bringing together some of the overall things, we could use a little more time on that, but we just try to handle them with the way that we're set up so that we're not spending more time together than we feel like is really necessary. But, it's a balance. It's a great question. It's a balance and something we've talked about. Maybe we have the right mix, maybe we don't, but that's something we're aware of and we want to try to use our time as efficiently as we can to get everything covered.
Q: Individual players on your offensive line have shown positional flexibility so far this season. How much of a credit is that to Cole Popovich and Carmen Bricillo and their job in replacing Dante Scarnecchia this season?
BB: Yeah, well, Cole and Carmen have both done a good job. I think that, again, that's the biggest position on the team, the offensive line. You have five guys out there on every play, and sometimes another guy on the goal line situations or things like that, but it's at least five out there on every play. That's really more than any other group other than the defensive backs, if you combine all them together, but when you separate them between corners and safeties, it's a big group. Having two people working with those guys – and again, we have players that have quite a bit of experience and then we have some other players that have a lot less experience, including Mike [Onwenu] and Justin [Herron] who have only played four games here so far. So, there are different needs there, but the flexibility that those guys have been able to show, with Justin playing both sides and a little bit of guard, Mike playing both guard and tackle, it's been pretty impressive what they've been able to do. But the other guys as well – you know, Joe [Thuney] switching and gotten a lot of leadership from Isaiah [Wynn] and Joe and certainly Shaq [Mason] and David [Andrews] when they were out there. So, overall, that group has worked hard. They have a good level of communication and understanding. There's certainly a lot of room for improvement there, but it's heading the right direction. As some of our younger players get a little more experience and as we get a little more experience playing together consistently as a group, that will help us, as well. So, players and coaches have done a good job there. It hasn't been easy, but they've worked very hard to have a solid level of performance.
Q: How would you define what this challenge has been like for you personally having built such a structure of communication and consistency, to have everything thrown into chaos over the last few weeks? Has it been just that, or have you been looking to try to make this situation work and have you gotten some benefit from that?
BB: Well, again, every year is different and every situation's a little bit different. I mean, we've had long weeks, we've had short weeks, we've had things we've had to adjust to in the past. This year's adjustment, as I said, started back in the spring, so it's not like all this got thrown on us in the last week or two. So, all the virtual meetings, the distancing, the lack of spring and so forth, we've just adjusted to it the best that we can. Not saying it's perfect, and there's always room for improvement and we're constantly evaluating what we're doing to try to get the most out of it, but the players have been very cooperative. The players have also given us good feedback as to what they feel like is beneficial, what's working for them. So, we've made some adjustments from that feedback, as well as just constant communication on the coaching staff where one coach or one group of coaches might talk about something that's effective for them and then other groups or another position coach will try that as well and get feedback from his players and things like that. I think we've learned a lot. We're trying to find ways to teach and communicate and operate better and as efficiently as possible. I'm not sure that we're there yet. I'm sure we'll see other things as we go along through the course of the season. I don't feel like when we walk out on the field for a game that there's a lot of gaps in our preparation or in the team being ready to go. I mean, there are always things after every game that you can do better – I'm not saying that – but I don't feel like when we walk out there, we're just void of being able to cover or do certain things. We'll just keep doing the best we can and if we have to make other adjustments, then we'll make them and try to figure out how to make the most out of our time and our opportunities.