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Transcript: Bill Belichick Press Conference 5/31

Read the full transcript of Patriots head coach Bill Belichick's press conference prior to the first day of open OTAs at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday May 31, 2023.

PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK

Press Conference

Wednesday May 31, 2023

BB: Well, it's good to get back on the field here today. We had a situation with some scheduling and Phase 2. Got done with our workout, good to be back out there. Obviously, a lot of work to do here in the spring, but it's been good. We've had good participation in Phase 1 and Phase 2, and a couple of practices last week. We're just trying to get familiarized, re-familiarized with our system, new players and getting to know each other. It's not about stars or starters, stuff like that. It's really about all of us building a good foundation. It's been a while since any of us have played or coached, so it's good for all of us to get back out there and sharpen our skills whether it be players, coaches, whatever it happens to be. Just trying to put one foot in front of the other, keep improving every day and that's what we've been doing. That will be our plan for the rest of the spring, so looking forward to each and every opportunity we have to do that. 

Q: Bill, you mentioned that working things out from the Phase 2. Can you just explain from your standpoint what happened?

BB: That's in the past, we moved on. Looking forward to getting out on the field today.

Q: Were you on board with everything Joe Judge was doing?

BB: Looking forward to getting out on the field today. It's all in the past. 

Q: Losing those two OTAs, how does that affect preparation, if at all, for this upcoming season?

BB: They got a long weekend. 

Q: Was it disappointing to lose those two OTAs?

BB: We're looking forward to getting out there today. 

Q: You said no starters or anything like that, does that apply for the quarterback position too?

BB: We're working different combinations of groups together, different guys, different rotations, it's not necessarily coordinated. One group might go over four plays, another group might go over three plays, one group might go over two plays, it depends on how many people we have in there and things like that. However it falls, it falls. It's not about that; it's really about everybody getting experience in the system and getting comfortable playing with new teammates and the communication and just like I said, sharpening our skills up out there. 

Q: It's kind of a different position than the rest of the team, though. Do you view that as an open spot right now?

BB: Everybody's out there just trying to get better. Put me in that category, every other player, every other coach. We all have a lot to do, and this is the time to do it. So, that's what we're doing. 

Q: Bill, what have you learned about the second-year players who are coming back and having gained some experience, Pierre Strong, Tyquan Thornton, etc.

BB: We'll see how it goes with those guys. It's always good to get that first year under your belt. We'll see how the progress goes this year. 

Q: Has attendance been what you like?

BB: It's voluntary. It's a voluntary program. 

Q: I understand that, but you could certainly have an opinion if there's three guys out there or 43.

BB: It's voluntary. The guys that are out there we're working with. The guys that aren't there, whatever their situation is and there's varying degrees of that, that's what it is. 

Q: That would stink if there were only three guys.

BB: Whatever it is, it is. 

Q: Bill, how has Bill O'Brien evolved as a coach since you last worked with him?

BB: Bill does a great job. I had a great relationship with Bill all the way back before we hired him the first time. It's continued, so it's been, I don't know, we're getting up there around 20 years, somewhere in there. I love working with Bill.

Q: What makes him a good teacher?

BB: Bill's detailed. He's smart, he's got a lot of experience, he's worked with a lot of different players, different situations. 

Q: Bill, is the system that Bill O'Brien is installing, is that something that's going to be familiar to people who have been with your team for a lot of years, or is it starting completely from scratch?

BB: Yeah, no I would say starting from scratch. Every year is different. You always make adaptations to your system, at least we always do. I shouldn't say everybody does. We do make adaptations to our system on offense, defense, special teams, based on either trends, things that we want to do, things we've seen other teams do that we want to incorporate, things like that. This year, we fall into that category on all three phases as well. A lot of things are the same, some things we've modified. We'll see how it goes; I'm sure we'll make other adjustments as we go through the spring and training camp. 

Q: Bill, this will be your third offseason for Mac Jones. How has he evolved?

BB: Good. I think Mac works hard every day. He puts in a lot of time both in the weight room, in the classroom, works hard on the field. His work ethic is really good, and hasn't changed. 

Q: Bill, can you help us understand what Joe Judge's role will be with the team this year?

BB: Yeah, he'll do whatever I ask him to do. It might change from time to time. He'll be involved in a lot of things.

Q: Will he have a focus, say in the kicking game?

BB: He'll be involved in a lot of things.

Q: Does he have a title yet? Is he Assistant Head Coach?

BB: We'll announce our staff. We got a couple things to still work out, but we'll announce it soon. 

Q: Is his situation, Bill, similar to what you had Michael Lombardi do?

BB: Every situation is different. I mean, Mike never coached.

Q: But he did a lot of things for you though, right? He had to do a lot of things.

BB: Joe's great, Joe's great. Smart guy, got a lot of experience. He'll do whatever we need him to do, and he can do a lot, so he will. 

Q: Bill, what have your initial impressions been of first-round pick Christian Gonzalez?

BB: I would say all the rookies, as a class, it's been good. They've come in, they've worked hard, trying to acclimate themselves to professional football, to the Patriots, to the New England area and so forth. We've got a long way to go, but we've covered a lot of ground, and make progress every day. Getting there. 

Q: Where's Tyquan Thornton at in his development?

BB: We had 14 rookies on our roster last year in various capacities. Again, I would say, pretty much for all of them, similar. Year two, ahead of year one. We'll see how it progresses as we go through practices here and training camp. But, all of those guys are ahead of where they were a year ago mentally, experience, a lot more idea of what to expect, and still a long way to go. A lot of football in front of them, so we'll see how it goes. 

Q: Bill, this is year 40-something for you. What's your excitement level like right now for the offseason?BB: The off-season's been good. I feel like we've taken steps to get better; we'll see how that goes. I'm looking forward to continuing our practices here in the spring, getting everything ready for training camp, and done with training camp, and you know, it's that time of year. Each part of the process has been, I feel like, productive, and we've got a long way to go. So, we'll take it one day at a time. 

Q: Bill, what's your opinion on the new kickoff rule change imposed for the season, and to what level does it impact your team from loss of fielding perspective?

BB: We'll see about all that. I know Coach [John] Harbaugh's pretty involved in that, Coach [Andy] Reid. I think they voiced some comments on it; I would probably agree with things they said.
Q: One phrase that I keep hearing as a tribute to you is, you said, 'Keep the 'foot' in football.' Are you worried about where the league is heading—

BB: I can't ever remember saying that.

Q: No?

BB: Sorry.

Q:r Troy Vincent sometimes references it to you.

BB: Who?

Q: Troy Vincent, I think, said you say that.

BB: Alright. I don't even know what that means, but whatever.

Q: I think it means let's try to keep the punts and kickoffs in the game, and not just bounce a bunch.

BB: Honestly, just really concerned about going out there and having a good day today, let go of the rest of it. It doesn't really matter what I think. Hopefully we had good meetings this morning, guys are ready to go, practice will be well organized, we can get productive plays and reps out of it, and everybody individually and collectively as a team will be better at the end of the day. That's what I'm focused on. 

Q: Bill, DeAndre Hopkins now a free agent, someone you spoke very highly of. Do you guys have any interest in pursuing him?

BB: I'm not going to comment on players that aren't on this team. 

Q: Bill, just judging from your tenure, regarding Joe and the OTA stuff, would it be unfair for folks who read the reporting on it to conclude Joe screwed up?

BB: The whole situation's in the past. It's resolved and we've moved on. Like I said, it was three Phase 2 meetings. 

Q: I'm just judging that your words about Joe make it seem as if, 'You know what? It's not one person that someone should be--'

BB: Look, I'm responsible for it. So, that's it.

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