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Transcript: Bill Belichick Press Conference 7/27

Read the full transcript from Patriots head coach Bill Belichick's press conference on Thursday, July 27, 2023.

PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK

PRESS CONFERENCE

July 27, 2023

BB: Alright, so, where are we here? Day two? It's more than that, but really day two. We're just trying to keep stringing these days together, building off each day, moving ahead, but also trying to review the things we do and get better at them. Correct the mistakes from the day before. Dog days of camp; it's coming up.

Q: A big red zone focus yesterday, what should we expect in terms of the focus for today for you guys?

BB: Yeah, well, we didn't do any of that in the spring, so we'll pick that up here in these OTA-type training camp days. 

Q: So, more of the same today?

BB: Yeah. Well, we're still on OTAs really, from a practice schedule standpoint.

Q: As far as going from minicamp to now training camp, have you seen any jump from anyone that's stood out to you?

BB: No, we've only been out there one day. It's just a continuation.

Q: Bill, it's early on, but year to year, how do you usually see the offense and defense progress throughout training camp?

BB: I don't know. Every year is different. We'll see how it goes.

Q: What's it been like working with Ty Montgomery [II]?

BB: Good, yeah. Better, a little further along than year two. But, yeah, Ty's great. Smart kid, versatile, he has a lot of skill.

Q: How would you define his position?

BB: Versatile.

Q: Speaking of that, Bill, just how important is versatility and speed to a defense nowadays?

BB: Yeah, I mean, it's good. I don't think everybody has to be versatile, but it's good to have two or three guys that can get in those gray zones, whether it's personnel matchups, scheme, some of those kind of transitional down and distances where it's not as clear cut as it is at other times. But, you need a lot of people that can just go out there, do their job and do it well. But, yeah, along the line, you need a couple guys that have some flexibility. 

Q: Are there more players now in that gray zone than there were maybe 10, 20 years ago?

BB: I don't know. There's a lot more offensive personnel groups than there used to be.

Q: So, is it almost by necessity, defensively? I'm just thinking of the last few years, I don't know if this is backed up by numbers, but…

BB: It depends on what the offense is doing. I mean, look, if they stay in 11-personnel the whole game, if that's what they do, then I don't know; it's not a big mystery. The teams that use 21, 12, 11, maybe a couple different versions of 11 depending on who the tight end is, or maybe they have a gadget receiver, use two-back sets, two halfbacks, that kind of thing. If a team uses six, seven different personnel groups, then probably you're going to want to defend them differently. If they don't, then I don't know that you'd want to play one group seven different ways; I'm not sure about that. So, defensively, you have to react to what the offense is doing. I mean, there's certain things you can control, but they put four receivers on the field, that's a lot different than putting three tight ends on the field. It's just not the same. Defensively, you don't have that kind of control.

Q: So, how much value does somebody like—we spoke to Kyle Dugger yesterday—he's somebody that can do a lot of different things. How much value does he bring to the defense?

BB: Yeah, no, Kyle's a really good player. Yeah, he's big, he can run, he can tackle, he can cover, he can blitz. Yeah, he's great. These guys are great. That's why they go high in the draft, premium for them and they end up getting a lot of money. That's what they bring.

Q: Bill, how would you describe Hunter Henry's offseason?

BB: Great. Good. Really good. One of our best.

Q: And what made it one of your best?

BB: He's here every day, consistency, he made a lot of improvement. Of course, last year, he was coming off of a surgery, but this year, he had a really good, productive offseason from a strength and conditioning standpoint. Last year, it was more rehab. He was very productive on the field, gave us good leadership, he's great.

Q: Bill, when a player has a big jump production-wise like Josh Uche had last year and now they're more of a focal point for other offenses to stop, what allows a player to continue to have that success the following year, after a big jump?

BB: Well, I think that's what separates those players. You get guys that are targeted every week that can continue to perform at a high level. Those are the special players.

Q: Anything particular on the defensive end at that position that Josh plays that can take him even a step further?

BB: Continue to improve and work, yeah. Being in good shape, having good physical skills and continuing to work to develop your game. If you only have one pitch, you're a fastball pitcher, then eventually they're going to hit it. Sometimes, you've got to come up with a second or third alternative pitch, pass rush moves, route running, whatever the case might be. If you just only have one thing to rely on, then eventually in this league, someone's going to be able to handle it. So, you better have an alternative, either different match ups or an alternative move, so they're not just sitting on one thing.

Q: When a player like Josh builds out his repertoire, which we discussed with him last year, is that a conversation between him, Joe Kim and DeMarcus [Covington], you, or is it on the player? How does that conversation go?

BB: Yeah, all of the above. Sometimes you have that flexibility as a player, and sometimes you don't because of your assignment and the situation. Part of it's having a variety; part of it's also knowing what the parameters are, what you can do in certain situations. It's not all the same.

Q: I noticed a couple of days ago, I know we want to focus on football, but with Patrice Bergeron retiring, what stood out to you about him and the career he had over the last 20 years?

BB: Yeah, I mean obviously great. All of the coaches that have been here, Claude [Julien], Bruce [Cassidy], Jim [Montgomery] now, everybody's raved about him and what he's meant to the team, the organization, just in all the things. It sounds like he was kind of their Devin McCourty, just did everything right. A great leader and player, so congratulations on a tremendous career.

Q: You mentioned the other day how the competitiveness really ramps up when the pads go on, on the line, jamming receivers and stuff like that. When they are out here without pads, what are some of the more valuable sessions, do you think?

BB: The preparation for when real football starts, yeah. There are things we can work on, obviously, and things we're getting better at. We'll see what happens when it all comes together, which it hasn't yet, but it will.

Q: Yesterday, Mac [Jones] mentioned that he felt like trust was a big word this year for training camp, but he was talking mostly about player-to-player, you know, he wants his receivers, his offensive players to trust him.

BB: Yeah, that's always the way it is with any quarterback and receiver. It's the way it is on any team, any team sport. The guy you're lined up next to, guys that you're lined up ahead of, or in front of, or behind, or whatever, just being on the same page and being confident with him so that you can be aggressive. If you're not, then there's a little bit less aggressiveness because there's that tentativeness of what's he going to do, what are you going to do, how are we doing it. That's what team sports are. It doesn't matter whether it's football, basketball, whatever it is. You've got to count on the people that you're with, and they have to count on you.

Q: For you, I guess from a leadership standpoint, somebody playing that position, how much trust do you have in Mac that you'll get the leadership you expect from him?

BB: I trust all of the guys on our team. If I didn't, they wouldn't be here.

Q: Mac was asked about his relationship with you, and he said it was good, and he said the big thing was that we had a conversation and it was about a fresh start, a clean slate. Did you guys have that conversation and was that something that happened early in the offseason?

BB: Yeah, I'll keep all my conversations between the players private. For respect to the players.

Q: Speaking to that relationship though, reverse that to yourself, was Mac correct when he said that 'I think we're good'?

BB: Yeah, again, I'm good with all of the players that are on the team. Absolutely.

Q: Bill, over the next few weeks when you evaluate kickers and punters, and you're doing two snappers, two holders and two kickers, how do you balance, I guess, the overall evaluation of the operation with the individual results?

BB: The best you can. Yeah, it's not perfect. You've mentioned a lot of the factors that go into it, and of course, we're not in game conditions. It's practice, so the game conditions and joint practices, that'll be part of it, too. We'll just have to do the best we can. It looks like it's pretty competitive with all of those guys. I would think that if they're not here, they're probably going to be somewhere in the league, most, if not all of that group, so we'll just have to see how it goes. But yeah, it's very competitive and we'll just have to do the best that we can to sort it out. Game opportunities are limited. There's a lot of practice opportunities, so we'll just have to balance that and try to figure it out. It's a good problem to have though; it's good to have that kind of competition.

Q: Rhamondre Stevenson got a lot of snaps last season, got a lot of touches. What allowed him to take on such a heavy workload?

BB: Physically being able to do it. Mentally he's good, his conditioning, durability. I'd say the way that we try to manage that, all of those things are a factor.

Q: You mentioned earlier Kyle Dugger as a player who commands, you know, draft capital and then gets paid. Is that a conversation you guys have had, prior to the season heading into a contract year, about potentially extending him?

BB: Yeah, again, I'm not going to get into any contract conversations. That would be private between myself, or the team and the player.

Q: Is there anything the coaching staff does specifically to get these rookies integrated with the team early in training camp?

BB: Yeah, a lot. We've probably already had 50 meetings with the rookies. They are here longer than everybody. They have an hour longer with some type of meeting time or walkthrough time, or something, on a daily basis. Obviously, we had the rookie development week when they first got here and we've had a long spring with those guys. They're working hard; we're catching them up as much as we can, but obviously, there's a ton of time and energy invested in that group, absolutely. A lot.

Q: Yesterday, we had a chance to talk to Matt [Groh]. How much more responsibility has he taken on in his second year in that role?

BB: How much more responsibility? I don't think he's taken on any more. When things comes up, he takes care of them. If they don't come up, then you know, he doesn't have anything to do. I mean, he has things to do, but, you know. He has a wide range of responsibilities, and when things fall into his area of responsibility and his buckets, he deals with them.

Q: How much freedom does it give you to sort of let him have some…

BB: Yeah, Matt does a great job. He's very smart, very thorough, has a great background in so many areas, football, non-football, scouting, legal, you name it. He's done a lot, and so I have a ton of confidence in him. He's great. He saves me a lot of time and he's very well prepared, gets all of the information and then we talk about it and figure out what to do between Matt, scouting, coaching, ownership, whatever it has to be.

Q: There was a report that you guys were in talks with Dalvin [Cook] to bring him in for a visit. Can you confirm that?

BB: Yeah, I'm not going to talk about players that aren't on our team. That's a long standing policy that I'm going to continue to stick with.

Q: First look at JuJu Smith-Schuster on the field yesterday, just what did you see from him yesterday?

BB: Well, he's been here all spring. JuJu's great to work with, a really smart kid, a lot of experience, done a lot of different things. It's merging them into some of the things that we do. Some of those are the same, some are different, some are new. Some things that he's doing we're incorporating into what we're doing because he's had success with them, but he's great to work with. He's always ready to go, very alert, attentive, smart kid. So, we're glad we have him.

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