PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
October 13, 2023
BB: Going to Vegas. Spent a lot of time there these past 14 months, four trips to Vegas.
Q: Kind of like a second home?
BB: Kind of, way more time in the last 14 months than the whole rest of my life.
Q: Any spots you like to visit there?
BB: Been at the stadium four times.
Q: Bill O'Brien said this week that Malik Cunningham is one of the most improved practice squad players that you guys have had. What have you seen from him since the season started and he's been working on practice squad?
BB: Yeah, Malik's really worked hard and made a lot of improvement. He never really played in the kicking game at Louisville, so he's started to show up there, never played receiver – didn't look very good either, in the spring, but he's really improved there. He can catch the ball, but just route running and finding zones and things like that. But, it's come pretty naturally to him. He plays a good amount of quarterback. He's competent there. He's a smart kid, works hard, and the opportunities he's had, he's shown a lot of improvement. It's a little too early for an induction ceremony here, but definitely a lot of improvement.
Q: I remember you saying, 'he's not Jalen Hurts', but is he somebody who could get an opportunity on game day?
BB: Well, he's definitely trending towards – anybody who keeps improving is going to eventually probably get an opportunity to play.
Q: You talked about familiarity with Vegas. Does that help in game planning this week, heading into the matchup with Josh McDaniels?
BB: Yeah, it's pretty much the same conversation every week. We know somebody. They know somebody. We've had somebody. They've had somebody. The more time that gets removed – last year was different – I'd say this year, there's more space in between, probably a little bit less of a factor. Certainly, we know them. They know us, but really you could say that every week.
Q: What were the teaching points from the way last year's Vegas game ended?
BB: Pretty much like every game. You go through the corrections, go through the mistakes that we made, the things that we did well, try to emphasize the things that were good and try to correct the things that we need to do better.
Q: How close does Tyquan [Thornton] look in terms of being ready to come up and help you?
BB: We'll see. Friday is always a big day for those guys after going through Wednesday, Thursday practice – where are they on Friday? Guys that haven't practiced, are they good to go? They could be kind of sore, not a set back, but need a little bit more time. So, I think today is usually a good indication on those players on how the two heaviest practice days have affected them or not affected them. So, we'll see.
Q: Just staying at receiver, I was curious, Jalen Reagor, just since having him on the practice squad – what have you learned about him as a guy and as a player?
BB: Yeah, he's a first-round pick. He's a talented guy. You know. It's a different system than he has been in. He's been in two other systems, Nick [Sirianni]'s system, the Philly system, which is kind of a West coast system and then Kevin [O'Connell]'s system, which is more of a [Sean] McVay, [Kyle] Shanahan version. We're a little bit different than that, so some of the terminology and things like that. But, he's been out there every day, works hard, done a good job on the scout team, so he's definitely coming along. I would say all those guys we picked up early in the season – Will [Grier], [T.J.] Luther, Reagor and then the defensive lineman, you know, Manny [Jones] and Trysten [Hill]. Those guys have all, with consecutive weeks here, started to look better, more familiar, put them in there on some of the things we're doing, not just the cards. They can start to do some of those things, and then they have those periods where they're kind of the lead participants. So, those guys are all making progress.
Q: Between his time San Francisco and now with Vegas, what have you seen from Jimmy [Garoppolo] in terms of his development as a quarterback since you guys had him in the building?
BB: Yeah, Jimmy is a good quarterback. He's got a good record. He can do everything you want a quarterback to do. He's athletic, good arm, can make all the throws and has won a lot of games. I mean, he only played in, what, a game and a half here, whatever it was? I forget, not very much. I mean, we saw Jimmy every day. We saw the talent and the ability to be a starting quarterback. That's what he was drafted for and that's what he is. He's had a good career and I'm happy for him.
Q: I know he hasn't been here long and doesn't get to take a lot of snaps, but what has impressed you about Will Grier thus far?
BB: Yeah, just what you said. The opportunities he's had, he's done well with. It's just hard to get that position a lot of reps. He's a smart kid, throws the ball well. He's got a good arm and has picked up and learned things. Just going to keep going here and try to keep feeding him as much as we can, but there's only so many snaps out there. Obviously, everyone needs them.
Q: With the new concussion protocols over the last few years, is it difficult to get a player back from a concussion if he suffered one the previous week?
BB: That's a medical question. So, it all depends on the doctor and patient and protocol and all that gets resolved. It's totally out of my hands, I'm not involved in it.
Q: Bill, we heard from Mac [Jones] this week, and he's looking to find that joy again in football and having fun with it. Have you noticed anything different about his mood or attitude this week heading into the game?
BB: I think we all are. I think the whole team feels that way.
Q: We've seen Raekwon McMillan be on the sideline in games while on injured reserve. What can he provide the team?
BB: Yeah, Kwon's been great. He's been great. He's been here basically every day other than some rehab he did at the end of August. He's been here every day, engaged, involved. It helps him learn. He's been a good voice of experience, knows the defense, knows the NFL, knows our situation, knows how we do things. He's been a great help to the younger players, but also just kind of good leadership, good inspiration for all of us. He's doing what he can do. He's doing all he can to help the team, and I think everybody totally respects and appreciates that. He's been awesome.