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Transcript: Bill Belichick Press Conference 7/25

Read the full transcript from Patriots head coach Bill Belichick's press conference on Tuesday, July 25, 2023.

PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK

PRESS CONFERENCE

July 25, 2023

BB: Ready for training camp here? It's good to get going, always good to get going. We'll have a majority of the team come in today, and we've been working with somewhere around 40 players here in the last few days. It was good to get started with that group and it will be good to get everybody out there in the next few days. It's obviously a process of onboarding and getting things rolling here, but we have the schedule laid out with the league for what the time and practice protocols are, so we'll work through that and next week we'll be ready to put on the pads, get out there and start real training camp. It is a good build up process and it's good to get going.

Q: The 40 or so that are already in, how would you describe their condition and how they have reported to camp?

BB: Again, it's hard to evaluate that now because of the buildup process. We're building up, I don't think it's been over taxed. It is what it is, it will be that way for a few more days, just so you know.

Q: Bill there was an incident in June with Jack Jones, obviously he got arrested. What is his standing with the team?

BB: Yeah, Jack will be out there. It's a legal situation that I can't comment on, that's ongoing.

Q: Do you plan to stand by him while the situation is ongoing?

BB: I can't talk about it. It's a legal process.

Q: How was your reaction to it, personally, aside from anything legal?

BB: Yeah, I can't comment on it, Tom. I'd love to, but…

Q: It is going to be smoking hot this week. Is that good in your mind?

BB: We have no control over it. Whatever it is, it is. We can't control it. Whatever we get, we get.

Q: Lawrence Guy [Sr.] wasn't here for minicamp. Has he reported?

BB: Players report later this morning.

Q: Do you expect him to report?

BB: Yeah, I guess so.

Q: Do you know if he'll report?

BB: Well, we will find out in an hour or so. I don't know. I haven't been in there. They are doing physicals. That gets started here in a few, I don't know, 8:30 a.m., or somewhere in there; I don't do physicals. Doctors do those.

Q: Do you believe the situation that kept him out of the spring has been resolved?

BB: I hope so, we'll see. It's football season. Most players play football in football season. We'll see how it goes.

Q: Also, during the down time, DeAndre Hopkins visited here, but then signed with the Titans. What was your reaction to see him sign with another team?

BB: We talked to a number of players from the middle of June until now, we're talking to other players now, so there is a lot of roster movement this time of the year.

Q: Is there any disappointment, or how did you all feel seeing him go to a different team?

BB: It's like the hundreds of other players we deal with through the course of the year. We have so many roster spots, some sign here and some sign somewhere else. When there is an agreement, there is an agreement. When there is not, there are 31 other teams.

Q: What is it like to have Aaron Rodgers in the division this year?

BB: Well, he is obviously a great player. Right now, we are just focused on our training camp and trying to get our team to do things the best we possibly can. We can't worry too much about the other 31 teams.

Q: He is a great quarterback, was there any level of putting the film on for him or did you all start to think about it?

BB: Look, every team has added players, drafted players, added players to their roster. There is no roster that is the same as last year. All 32 are different. So, as we get information, we'll see how things play out. We have a couple other teams on our schedule ahead of them that we have to deal with, but when we get to the Jets, we get to the Jets.

Q: Going back to what you did in the spring to set yourself up for the start of what you are doing now, what have you observed from your team that makes you optimistic that a good season could be ahead of you?

BB: Well, we will just take it day by day. Things we did during the spring, we accomplished a lot of things; there are some things that need to be addressed. We did some things with the players that were here based on their needs, specific situations and why they were here, which I think was beneficial to them. Now that we get everybody, we'll continue the spring process, OTAs and veteran minicamp to conclude the rest of that type of work, obviously non-padded, OTA tempo-type practices until we are ready and able to get into contact practices, which will be next week.

Q: You guys made two signings yesterday, what stood out to you from Diego [Fagot] and Jalen [Hurd]? 

BB: We want to work with them.

Q: How much do you change year to year with your approach, in terms of this is the structure of the camp, this is what we're going to do schedule-wise, this is what we're going to do from a conditioning standpoint? Do you constantly tweak things and are there any tweaks this year that you're looking forward to seeing how, logistically, they will work out?

BB: Yeah, I think we review it every year. Obviously, we've had a number of changes over the years in the structure of the camp, how many practices you can have, what type of practices you can have, what you can do at practice, etc. My first year in the league we went to training camp on July 5, first game on September 21st. We had six preseason games and three preseason scrimmages, so of course it's different. At the Giants we had, I don't know, 50-some practices before our first game. Padded practices. So, it is what it is. Things have changed, so we change. We always look at what we're doing, everything, whether it's training camp, schedules, everything, and try to evaluate it and see if there's a better way to do it. New ideas, sometimes those things work out well and sometimes we go back to the way we were doing it before. We try to be as efficient and productive and do the best job we can preparing our coaches and our players. Absolutely. Constantly evaluating.

Q: Do players arrive at a certain conditioning because there's a compressed training camp that might be better than 1977 with the Broncos?

BB: Yeah, I don't think the issue is really conditioning. You can run around a track forever, but that's not really football conditioning. You need 21 other guys out there to simulate football and the reactions of football. Until you get other people doing things that you have to react to and adjust to, and perform, it's not the same. Unless you're a specialist, a kicker or punter, those skills transfer a little bit more, but when you're involved in an offensive, defensive or special teams, normal type of play, until you get the other 21 guys out there it's really not the same. Conditioning's conditioning, but playing football is more than conditioning. Conditioning is part of it, but reactions and communication with your teammates, situations, down and distance and field position, all those things, until you get out there and do it, it's definitely not the same. Running around a track, being in great shape, being able to do a couple hundred sit-ups and all that, I mean that's great. But, until you start playing football, play contact football, play reactionary, the split-second timing, decisions and critical execution that comes at this level of football, until you do it, you're not doing it. You can talk about it all you want, but that's not the same as doing it.

Q: Coach, just on training camp, a lot of teams are still using college campuses. Have you ever considered going back, or is that just way too far down the line at this point?

BB: Yeah, I think there's fewer teams doing that, but yeah, there are still some. I think it depends on the team's individual situation. Again, when you were going away to training camp for six, seven, eight weeks, it's different than going away for training camp for two weeks. Our going away to training camp now is a week in Green Bay and a week in Tennessee. Last year, it was a week in Vegas. When you start subtracting those weeks out of training camp, they're training camp, but they're not at your facility. It's a lot of moving. When we went down to Bryant, you know, you move your whole operation down there. Your weight room, your training room, your locker room, all of your technology now, which honestly, we didn't have back then. When I started, we had a lot of film projectors and a lot of paper and pencils, really. Now, the whole IT world, it's a lot different. I think it's a lot harder to move the whole operation, but we do it for road games, obviously, and for some practices against other teams during preseason. I'd say, logistically, those are big moves.

Q: You gave DeVante Parker a contract extension a month ago. What have you seen from him over the last year that made you want to do that deal?

BB: Every year, obviously, we talk to players on the team who are on their last year of their contract, RFA's or whatever it is, and we were able to reach an agreement with him, which is great, and [Ja'Whaun] Bentley. Two good players who are under contract into the future, so it's great. We're glad we were able to work it out with both players.

Q: How have you seen Ja'Whaun improve over the years?

BB: He improves very steadily and consistently. He missed time when he had the bicep, but for the most part since then, he's been very healthy, durable. He's a signal caller, obviously taking a bigger role in the communication defensively without Devin [McCourty]. He did that anyway, but he's stepped that up even a little bit more. Somebody has to be the decision maker defensively, so now it's fallen a little bit more to him in certain situations and so forth. On and off the field, he's a great worker, a leader, a very positive voice, communicator on defense, and a good football player. His playing time's gone up, he's taken a bigger role on third down with more snaps. He was playing maybe half the snaps three years ago, and it's significantly higher now.

Q: Bill, I think you mentioned last year that the first few practices of training camp builds as an extension of OTAs, more installation than evaluation. Is that true again this year?

BB: Yeah, absolutely.

Q: So, at what point does that convert to more evaluation?

BB: Once we can put on pads and start really competing against each other. It's minimal contact on the line of scrimmage, which for those guys, that's their whole game. We don't have pads on, so the competitiveness of the passing game is not what it will be. Jamming receivers and things like that. You just can't, you know? It's minimal.

Q: Do you feel like you saw good progress from Mac [Jones] and the receivers in the new offense during the spring?

BB: Well, again, a lot of the spring was teaching and installation. So, yeah, of course. Timing improves as we do things more, but again, we'll see. We'll see when the real competition starts. We've had a degree of that, but it's not what it's going to be.

Q: There's a lot of talk about what players need to do to get out of training camp, but what do you look for when it comes to assistant coaches?

BB: Well, that's what training camp is for. It's for everybody to work on the skills that they need to work on starting in the spring. Just retraining your coaching skills: your eyes, teaching the players, seeing things quickly, recognizing them. Depending on what your job is, if you're a play caller or a position coach, be able to see what happens on the other side of the ball in real time, and be able to help the players with it. See what they saw and correct them on it. Again, that's something that when you don't do it for a few months, January to, call it, May, you're not as sharp on what you're supposed to do every day. Not every day, but a lot. That trains us for the games and decision making. That's what happens in a game. You get one look at the play, come over to the sidelines and correct the players. If you see it accurately and you can make a good correction, then that could help our team. So, then obviously all the planning, the planning stages so that we're efficient with our time. We only have so much time on the field, so many snaps; every play is important. Who takes it, what play is it, how many times do we run it, what do we run it against and so forth. All those are part of preparing your team for the season and games. So, we've all got a lot of work to do. Players have things they've got to work on, certainly coaches and everybody else in the organization, whether it's trainers, video people, equipment, I mean, it's always sharpening your skills and trying to find a better way, more efficient way to do things, and being well prepared.

Q: Bill, with Jalen Hurd, do you intend to play him at receiver or running back?

BB: Receiver.

Q: Do you have any fond memories of this time of year when you were a kid at Navy, going to summer practices with your dad?

BB: Yeah, plenty of them.

Q: Any you're willing to share?

BB: Yeah, I'm kind of focused on this training camp. We can get into the war stories some other time.

Q: Bill, what are you expecting out of Trent Brown this season?

BB: I expect all the players to go out there and work to perform to their potential and their best level. That's what we're all here for. I don't see it any different with any player.

Q: Well, what did you see out of Trent last year? What did you think of his offseason? Where do you think he is right now?

BB: He's been here the last four days. He looks ready to go.

Q: How do you think he did last year?

BB: I'm not going to get into evaluating each player's performance from last year. We're way past that.

Q: Is JuJu [Smith-Schuster] one of those players that has been here the last four days?

BB: He has.

Q: Has he looked ready to go? We didn't see much of him in the spring.

BB: Right, yeah. He's done everything that everybody has done.

Q: Tyquan [Thornton], too?

BB: Tyquan's here, yeah.

Q: The other 36? That's three, just go through the other 36 while you're at it.

BB: The rookies are here, the quarterbacks are here and the players that had offseason surgery and that weren't able to participate in the spring. Yeah, that's who's here. So, I'm sure you guys can figure out who that is. 

Q: You guys were able to bring back a lot of the players on defense that you had last year, obviously outside of Devin. Does that allow you to start at a higher point, or do you kind of start at the same point every year?

BB: No, I think we've got to rebuild the foundation every year. Again, going back to pre-free agency time, basically your whole team came back every year. Maybe a player would retire, but for the most part, it was the same players. There was no free agency, so they played until somebody replaced them or they retired. So, that was pretty normal. But, you had new players on the team. We drafted [Christian] Gonzalez, we drafted [Keion] White, we drafted [Marte] Mapu, [Chris] Board; we have other new players on the team here, and others. Not just limited to those guys, and other players that you've got to start at the base with them and build their foundation. If we skip over that and throw those guys in at a point where they don't have the foundational communication, awareness, understanding, then they're just going to be lost. So, it's good for all of us to go back and rebuild our foundation, our communication, our terminology, definitions. Some of those have changed. We change them from year to year. We find something new, or something that we talked about before that doesn't really come up much anymore. We shove those things aside and have to make room for something else.

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