PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
October 14, 2022
BB: There we go happy Friday.
*Q: Same to you. *
BB: Yeah, what do we got cooking here today? A barrage of questions.
*Q: What did you see from Kevin Harris in the preseason in terms of his running style and what he may be able to contribute coming up to the roster? *
BB: Yeah, we'll see how it goes Mike [Reiss]. But no, ran the ball the well. Ball security wasn't very good. Hopefully that's better. He's worked at it and he knows that. He was a productive player at South Carolina. Had some production in preseason. We'll see how it goes.
*Q: If a player is listed as questionable today, what do you have to see from them today or tomorrow in order for them to be active for Sunday? *
BB: So, a player is listed as questionable on the injury report today? You're not talking about practice; you're talking about the game injury report?
*Q: Correct. *
BB: Yeah, we follow the NFL rules on that. Whatever the players status is, wherever he falls, whatever category it is then we list him appropriately. Again, we make a decision whenever that decision can be made. Sometimes it's a game time decision. Sometimes a player could be listed like that and even if he was healthy, he might not be activated because of the number of activations that we have to have based on for competitive reasons and not injury reasons. But we still have to list everybody based on the NFL rules, so that's what we do. Then if they're out then they're out, and if they're not out then we can make a decision competitively whether that person will or won't play.
*Q: Gotcha. I know that last week you said that Mac Jones was a lot better than the previous Friday. How has he been looking this week to you? And then also since we really haven't been able to talk to him over the last couple of weeks, how has he been handling his first major injury? *
BB: Yeah, Mac [Jones] I think is making a good improvement. We'll see where he is today. Certainly, he's doing a lot more this last Thursday than he did last Thursday. I'd imagine Friday will be the same thing, but we'll see. Again, if a player has an injury, he goes out and does whatever he's capable or instructed to do. Then we see how he responds and what happens. Nobody knows the answer to that question. So, if the next day he feels better then he does more. If they next day, he doesn't feel better or has soreness or whatever, then we back off and then try it again once he feels like we're at the next read. So, it's a process of steps. When you go one step, then you go to the next step. If you can't make it through that step, then you step back and step through it again. So, nobody knows how they're going to feel tomorrow after what they do today. I don't know how anybody's going to feel that are in that category. We'll see where it is. If it's better on Saturday than it was Friday, then maybe it's a gameday workout. If it's worse, then we probably would downgrade the player. If it feels great today and tomorrow feels great, then we're good to go. But that's why Saturday is an important day in this whole process. I know everybody wants a definite answer, but it's just totally unrealistic to be able to do that. I don't know how a player's going to feel after three days of practice depending upon what the volume is or the intensity is. That's impossible to know that until you actually experience it or he experiences it. So, we'll see.
*Q: Thank you. *
*Q: That's why I prefer going day-by-day. *
BB: You took the words right out of my mouth. I've tried to avoid that phrase and give it a little break. I think I kind of maximized it there. We'll give that a break for a few days, but it may be coming back.
*Q: Thank you. *
BB: You're welcome.
*Q: You mentioned a couple weeks ago, obviously whether or not he's ready to play is up to the medical staff and to him I think you said. But then if he's deemed ready to go then it's your decision. Do we want this player at X-percent versus another player at a different percentage? Is that decision yours at this point or not yet? *
BB: Alright, so we're using a lot of pronouns here, so I assume we're just talking generically. We're not talking about any specific player, which would be pointless to talk about any specific player.
*Q: I was asking about Mac [Jones]. *
BB: In general, until the player is medically cleared to play then there's no coaching decision involved. Once the player has been medically cleared to play then I would say in consolation with the player and the medical staff, what is the player being asked to do? So, a kicker has a sore leg and the decision is, well he can kick field goals up to a certain range but wouldn't be able to kickoff. Alright, then as a coach that's your decision. You could say alright ok we'll take this player at let's call it 80% and here's what his field goal range would be-80%. And he's not going to kickoff and play under those circumstances assuming that the player also felt comfortable doing that. Right, so that kind of would be an example of a player playing at less than a 100% but functional to a point. Understand that you're going to have to get somebody else to kickoff and you're not going to be trying maximum length field goals. That would be an example, so just put that into some other position and take some other player and have the same conversation if it gets to that point. That would be the hypothetical situation. I think it's easier to say that and think about that with a kicker who has a very specific job rather than getting to somebody else. Like if it's an offensive guard, he can only run so fast straight ahead. How much is he going to pull? That gets into like a whole other rabbit hole that none of us want to go down.
Q: I guess a better way to ask my question would be, can you tell us if he's been cleared? Or is that to follow up on Chelsi's [McDonald], something that wouldn't happen until Saturday?
BB: It could happen anytime. There's no deadline on that. The injury report is the injury report. There's a deadline on that and there's a classification on that. That's what we follow. Internally, we can do whatever we want. Not do whatever we want but based on the information that's available we can make any determination that's appropriate. Again, part of that is how a player feels, what he's able to do, what he's not able to do, what the recovery from what his previous output was or wasn't. But no, I'm not going into what we have internally, we talk about the players and all that. No definitely not doing that Phil [Perry]. You can forget about that. File that, it'll go right there.
Q: Wanted to give you the opportunity...
BB: I appreciate that. I really do. I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to talk about Mac's [Jones] medical status. But I'll skip that. I'll pass on it. But thank you for the opportunity. Yeah, okay.
Q: Jakobi [Meyers] came back last week and was real productive. Seems like he's productive with every quarterback he plays with. What does that say about him and his development since he's been here?
BB: Jakobi's [Meyers] development as a player - honestly we've had a lot of guys like that, come in as a rookie free agent, expectations are low immediately. But then as things start to improve, such as his blocking, and his overall route running and instinctive, and savviness, different but kind of like [Julian] Edleman in the development. Not saying they're the same player, they're not. But Edleman's a guy who didn't play much for a while and then became a great, great receiver here. One of the most dependable players we've ever had. That certainly wasn't the case in year two or year three, as he was in that development stage. So, we've seen that from plenty of guys. Again, it's hard work. It's taking the coaching and the instruction and applying it to fundamentals, to understanding our offense, to understanding the opponent's defense, and leverage, and spacing and things like that. Which Players like Julian [Edleman] and Jakobi are both good examples of players who played quarterback, however good they were or weren't a quarterback, that's not really the point. The point is that they've seen the ball coming from their hand, as opposed to always being on the receiving end of it. Kind of where you wouldn't want to throw, and how a receiver can help a quarterback, or how a receiver can kind of fool a quarterback and make it hard for the quarterback to throw it to them. So, I think in terms of being quarterback friendly, let's call it, that's something that I'd say came naturally to him. But no, Jakobi's worked extremely hard. He's developed route running concepts and techniques at multiple positions, inside, outside, play-action, drop-back, quicker throws, knowing when he has more time to operate, knowing when he has to (*snaps fingers *) get open quicker, things like that. Based either on the timing of the play or the situation. So, he's a very smart, savvy football player on a lot of levels. Not just in the passing game, but in the running game and in other formations and things like that. It's been a great time of growth for him. It's really fun to see guys develop like that. Come in and not be very far along but then progressively just keep stacking, and stacking, and stacking and stacking. Myles [Bryant] is another guy like that at a complementary position. Same thing. Free agent, didn't expect much, played a little bit inside and now ended up this year playing safety, playing outside, returning the punts, broadening his skills and proving his overall physical makeup, like Jakobi has, stronger, faster, etc. So, I think you watch guys develop like that, it's really, it's fun to watch. It's a real credit to the amount of work and time they put into it.
Q: Pierre Strong Jr., did you profile him as someone who could be used on first and second down? Or is he more of a third down receiving back role?
BB: Again, when you look at a player like that, that came from the jump from where he played, to where he is now it's honestly kind of hard to know for sure until you actually work with the player. But Pierre [Strong Jr.] has a good skill set. He doesn't have a lot of experience. He's gained a lot of experience since he's been here. But he has a long way to go. Obviously, the passing game is a lot harder for backs than the running game because of all the different things that can happen in the passing game. I know there's stuff in the running game too, but it's a little more natural getting the ball and running with it. Which I would say that needs a lot of refinement with more backs in general. But in the passing game, the different blitz pick-up assignments, the different blitzing techniques that the linebackers or secondary players use that they have to block is usually something that's usually pretty foreign to them, or they lack experience with. Of course, you have the whole passing game, of getting out into the pattern based on whether the blitz assignment comes or doesn't come, trying to figure out what he's doing, and then how to run routes based on coverage, leverage and where the help is or isn't. Sitting down versus keeping it going, and throttling versus accelerating, things like that that are very specific to the leverage and location of the defenders. So, players like James White or Kevin Faulk, well Kevin was here when I got here, but even James White would be a player that became elite at that. Wasn't that when he started, was pretty good at it, had a natural feel for it. Then became elite at it. For another player to go from there, to let's say where James White or Kevin Faulk, or players like that are, that's a longer jump than I would say being a productive ball carrier. But Pierre's fast. He's got good size. He works hard. He's a smart kid. Had a lot of production in the running game in college. Glad we have him. Keep working with him. He's making progress. We'll see how it goes.