HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
Tuesday, May 31, 2022
BB: Morning. Another great series for the Celtics, so congratulations to the team, the staff, the organization. Great accomplishment, looking forward to seeing that play out. Also keeping track of Danny [Woodhead]. One more step to get to the U.S. Open, so, pulling for him. But yeah, just on our end of it here, just another day trying to stack some days together here. Teaching, building on our foundation. Fundamentals and scheme installation. Really just one day after another here. Trying to put one foot in front of another and keep moving in the right direction. It's good to see those guys out there, and we're getting better. Got to keep grinding it out.
Q: Is the scheme installation different this year with Mac, just seeing him evolve, do you start to do things differently around him, obviously on offense?
BB: Yeah, we're doing offense with him.
Q: Going back to what you were talking about initially, how valuable, over the course of the time you've been here, with all the success all the teams have had, is that inter-team camaraderie -- has it been a valuable part of your experience?
BB: It's been great. It's been great going all the way back to when Rick was here when I got here. Bruins, Red Sox, Celtics, it's been a great relationship with our players and their players, and the teams and coaches, from my standpoint. It's been great.
Q: Do you wind up sharing at all? Coaching or personal? How you deal with this?
BB: Yeah, sure. Some things in common. Both in Boston, pro sports. Some of those guys move on, like Doc or Tito or Tony, who was here, obviously, briefly. Dave Dombrowski, guys like that. It's good to stay in touch with them, even though they're in different organizations, still going to pull for the home team. The relationships there, they extend past the initial introduction.
Q: On this Celtics team, what have you observed from them that maybe you could apply to -- whether it's your own team or from a coaching perspective?
BB: Obviously, they've played great in the playoffs and two-thirds of the season. Really consistent, lot of good players. Played really good defense. They're tough, they hustle, play smart basketball. Pleasure to watch. Fun to watch.
Q: How often do those conversations with coaches from other sports extend into 'how to communicate with the modern athlete'?
BB: It's a lot of things. I'm not sure.
Q: I would think that would be one thing that would cross?
BB: Yeah, probably does. It's a million things.
Q: Bill, speaking of the conversations with other coaches or executives, you had Ron Wolf at the last practice, able to watch. What's it been like sharing those insights or experiences with Ron?
BB: Yeah, it's been great. Yeah, Ron's awesome. He's one of the guys that really is one of the founding fathers, one of that group -- you know, Phil Graham, experiences in Oakland with Al Davis and of course the Packers. He brings a great perspective, too, totally unbiased, he wasn't part of any of the acquisitions of any of our players but they're always here. Get his thoughts on them -- very interesting to get what he thinks because there's no bias for any reason one way or the other. Yeah, he's been great. Ron and I talk a lot of things not related to football, you know, we were on the top 100 committee together and that was really interesting to get his insights, it's a totally different team and perspective. I think we saw a lot of things the same way, but there's some things he's more familiar with and vice versa. It's fascinating to talk to him about some of the players that he'd been with, and what they were, and guys they competed against. So it's great to have him here. Hopefully he'll come back.
Q: Reporter Zack Cox put out a thing about how Tyquan Thornton is the lightest receiver you drafted -- do you look at the way the game continues to evolve, the game on the field, and it makes you have to react?
BB: We change that every year.
Q: Those profiles?
BB: And their values. Like what a third receiver was when that was written and what a third receiver is now, and for a corner for example, or a fullback, you know, positions that are higher percentage play times versus lower percentage play times. That significantly changes the value, you see that in salary structures, we look at that as well at the end of the year, what positions -- how does that look just economically, that is a sense of the value, league-wise. We can do whatever we want to do, but it certainly gives you perspective on how the league values certain positions. I understand that the quality of the player at that position has a lot to do with it as well, but you start to average it out, different 3-year cycles, 5-year cycles, 10-year cycles, whatever we want and see what the value of players is league-wise and we can look at what it is with ours. I mean, some of the players you probably have to exclude because of -- you know, they're extremely high value which would skew it a little bit, but still, they're all relative. Yeah, we're constantly adjusting.
Q: Bill, speaking of evolution of the game, I'm curious about kick returns and touchbacks, understanding that these roles have kind of depressed the impact there in certain terms where there's more touchbacks or just fewer yards returned -- does the role of someone who can be elite in that skillset -- because it's harder to overcome those circumstances -- provide still as much value as he might have 15, 20 years ago? Is that still something that's as valuable in today's game despite the overall depression of the impact of the role?
BB: Yeah, of course. Can't get him the ball. You have the best kicker off return in football, and he mostly saw touchbacks. Ones he brought out are 8, 9 yards deep. He had a big play for us start of the Super Bowl, but there's just not many opportunities, most teams would take him out of the game -- so, no, it doesn't have the same value.
Q: Does it do the same on the other side for guys who might be specialists in terms of covering those plays?
BB: Yeah, well it's just in general depressed the whole special teams value, because the number of plays that the skill and the ability of the specialist has kind of overwritten whatever you have or don't have in terms of your coverage. Connor's really good at placing the ball and hang time, but there's lot fewer opportunities. Here, having to deal with the weather and all that, you're going to get more here than you will some other places, but still not what it used to be.
Q: Bill, we see a lot of teams both in college and NFL use run-game coordinator and pass-game coordinator as titles -- are those just new titles on jobs that have always existed or has there been a change in what you've seen in coaching that led to that?
BB: You'd have to ask them.
Q: So you've never talked to coaches who have had a run-game coordinator?
BB: You have to ask those teams. I couldn't speak for some other team or organization.
Q: Malcolm Butler -- how much does his practice approach look similar to you from what you saw when he was here before?
BB: Malcolm works hard, like he always has, very competitive, out there scrapping for balls. His aggressiveness, play style -- we're not in pads, but yeah, looks like it's about the same.
Q: When you're evaluating a guy like that, who's taken a year off, what are some of the challenges in deciding whether they're ready for return, whether they can be a contributor in their return?
BB: We dealt with a lot of that last year, guys who came back from opting out. Hightower, Bolden. Multiple guys, so, case by case.
Q: Bill, Josh Uche hasn't played a ton in his first couple of years here. Steve called him a big piece of the puzzle for this defense, and last week we saw him line up inside, outside -- is that because you're trying to figure out where he's best, or do you think, despite not playing a lot to this point, he's capable of wearing multiple hats for you guys on defense?
BB: We'll see how he does. I agree, I think he is a big piece of our defense. We'll see exactly what he turns out to be.
Q: Do you think he has that inside-outside versatility similar to what we've seen of Dont'a [Hightower] in the past here?
BB: It's a stretch to compare almost anybody to Hightower. You're talking about one of the best linebackers that's ever played here.
Q: Would you welcome Dont'a back for this season?
BB: Let's talk about the players that are on the team right now.
Q: Have you been pleased with the way the rookie class has acclimated themselves?
BB: Yeah, I think they're trying. They have a long way to go as all rookies do. They're trying, they're getting better. Still have a long way to go. Some of it's football, some of it's being a professional athlete, some of it's adjusting to the lifestyle, the demands -- physical and mental -- that they haven't faced before. Certainly the competition is a big step -- for some more than others, but it's a big step for all of them. It's a giant step for some of them, for others it's a big step.
Q: Bill, just wanted to get back to that topic of the changing values at certain positions, changing prototypes -- at the receiver spot, would the ability to create explosive plays be something that would be more highly valued now than it was, say, in the 90s?
BB: No. I don't think so. I think there's always a pretty high value on that.
Q: I remember having a conversation with Kevin Kelley when he was at Pulaski Academy, he said that the numbers indicated that -- at least, this was at the college level, I don't know what the numbers are for the NFL -- explosive plays were right there with turnovers in terms of being predictive of who wins and loses games, is that--
BB: It's always been -- I'm not sure about wins and losses, that's probably true, but certainly scoring. You give up an explosive play on a drive, they're going to score. You get an explosive play on a drive, you're going to score, and the stats would definitely back that up. Don't have one, then the reverse is true, so I think those are always -- not sure about the exact numbers on it, I'm not going to sit here and say I've got those memorized, because I don't, but we talked about that at the Giants, some years ago -- 40. I don't think that's fundamentally changed. The Roy Greens, the real explosive players that we played against -- Gary Clark, guys like that, that seemed like they averaged 20 yards a catch -- guys were a real problem.
Q: Is it true that you passed along some tips to Danny Woodhead to put him in position to potentially qualify [for the U.S. open]?
BB: No, just pulling for him. If he's relying on me, he's in a lot of trouble.