PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
July 30, 2023
BB: Alright, grinding through training camp here. Good day off yesterday, gave the players a chance to get a little bit of rest and gave the staff a chance to get reorganized here for the week coming up. Big week for us, we've got a lot to do and looking forward to getting it kicked off today and rolling through the week. Finishing up with a stadium situation thing on Friday night.
Q: More redzone today?
BB: A little bit, yeah.
Q: Full pads for tomorrow?
Q: Bill, there was a report that you had Zeke (Ezekiel) Elliott in for a visit yesterday. I know you have been very complimentary of him in the past, can you shed any light on that report?
BB: Yeah, again, I'll pass on the guys that aren't on our team.
Q: How important is it in today's game, I guess Bill, for running backs to be able to do a little bit of everything? Pass protection, run between the tackles, all that.
BB: Yeah, I don't know. I mean, we run the ball, we throw the ball. James White didn't run the ball between the tackles very much, he was a pretty good player for us. LeGarrette Blount did, he was a good player for us, too. So, yeah, I don't know.
Q: Coach, can you talk a little about Christian Gonzalez through three practices? Just some thoughts on that.
BB: Like all the rookies, he has a long way to go, making progress, learning every day. You know, new calls, new situations. As our offense evolves and does more things, it presents more problems for the defense. As the defense expands their scheme, it creates more problems for the offense. So, there is a lot of new learning and teaching, new situations that come up every day. Christian is a smart kid, working hard, getting a lot of reps out here. He's getting better.
Q: Coach, have you noticed for [Demario] Douglas and [Atonio] Mafi, working with them at the Shrine Bowl have they started from maybe of a little higher point at all?
BB: It's pretty minimal scheme what we've put in down there. We did more than that the first day of rookie minicamp. But yeah, they are doing fine though. It didn't hurt them. It gave us a good chance to work with them. They're doing good. I think it is all about the same. I don't think that game gives you a big jump on anything, no.
Q: Are you comfortable with the depth in your running back room where it stands?
BB: Yeah, everybody that's out here, we're working with is just trying to get better. It's who we have on our team now. We'll see what happens going forward.
Q: What makes an offseason award winner for you guys?
BB: We take input from all the coaching staff members. The strength staff, conditioning, on the field, meeting rooms, classroom, leadership, so a little bit of everything.
Q: Is it attendance based? Or is it...
BB: That's a factor, yeah. Participation is a factor, sure. All those things are all kind of taken into consideration. Kind of nominate the guys and pick the ones that we think are most deserving. There's a lot of guys that had great offseasons. I wouldn't limit it to our offseason award winners, but they stood out.
Q: How much do they set the tone for leadership, too, Bill?
BB: That's part of it, yeah. Part of it's again, leadership, participation, improvement. It's not any one thing, we just kind of put all together and take guys from various positions. It's hard to compare an offensive lineman to a defensive back. You know, weight room numbers, speed and things like that. Within the groups, those guys were the ones that stood out the most.
Q: What's your first impressions of Demario Douglas and how have you seen him progress here at the start of camp?
BB: Yeah, Douglas had a good spring and he's followed it up with a few couple good practices here. Again, training camp is a marathon, it's not a 100-yard dash. So, just keep grinding them together day after day. We've been in the red area. We'll move out into the field and then we'll get into third downs, start putting it all together. Pads haven't been on yet, so that's part of the evaluation for everybody, so we'll see. Everybody has got a long way to go, but we're making progress, guys are working hard, you know, we are getting better. So, we'll see where it goes.
Q: When we spoke with Kendrick [Bourne] back in the spring, he said he was pretty disappointed in his performance last season and made some changes to his offseason regiment. Have you seen the kind of improvement you want to see from him?
BB: Yeah, KB's [Kendrick Bourne] has had a really good off season. Really good.
Q: In what way?
BB: Everyway. Physically it was good, mentally it was good, participation was good. He was good on the field, good off the field. Yeah, he had a really good offseason.
Q: You guys have 90 players right now.
BB: We are.
Q: Any new ones that we might see today? Any changes?
BB: Like what?
Q: I was thinking running back?
BB: We have 90 players on the roster right now.
Q: I didn't know if there was any let go —
BB: We'll announce the roster changes if we have any, Mike. We couldn't put anybody on without taking somebody off. That's where we're at. Maxed out.
Q: Bill, obviously you value the ability or the versatility of a Jalen Mills and his ability to adapt to what you want him to do, or what he needs to do to help the team?
BB: Yeah, no that's great. We have a lot of guys like that in the secondary. Mills, Myles [Bryant], obviously Jon Jones, and then other guys like Marcus Jones, working at corner and some safety, inside and outside. So, it's different matchups, different coverages that help those guys who have experienced different positions and have those skills. So, he's a smart guy; he can do a lot of different things. We have several guys like that in our secondary, and that gives us a little more flexibility. So, we're shuffling some guys around now, so they get an opportunity to work at different spots. We'll nail down where they are, either based on game plan or as the team evolves. But, right now, it's kind of good to get everybody a few snaps — if that's what they do — in different spots.
Q: Can you replace a player like Devin McCourty with just one player, or might it take extra bodies?
BB: No, I don't know. We'll see.
Q: Bill, Keion White, kind of a unique body type I guess, for the defensive line. Is he someone who can play inside and outside?
BB: Yeah, we'll see. Sam Roberts is a little bit in that category, too. We've played him some inside, some outside. So, yeah, we'll see how it goes. [Deatrich] Wise [Jr.] does that; again, we have three or four guys that, obviously, guys like DG [Davon Godchaux], Lawrence [Guy Sr.] and Carl Davis [Jr.] are really inside guys. [Josh] Uche, [Matthew] Judon, Anfernee [Jennings], for the most part outside guys, and then you have a few other guys that can play in different spots, whether it's inside 3-technique or move outside, play 5-technique, defensive end. So, it gives our front some versatility between the odd spacing, even spacing, playing inside versus playing outside. Some of our inside linebackers can play both, too. Our linebackers can play inside and outside, so obviously, we've had that going back to [Dont'a] Hightower, [Jamie] Collins, [Mike] Vrabel, guys like that, and then more recently with [Ja'Whaun] Bentley and Mack Wilson [Sr.]. Those guys can flip from inside to outside. So, yeah, but Keion's doing well. He's done well.
Q: How do you feel about the talent and depth level at the tighter positions?
BB: Well, we have who we have on the team right now at every position. So, everybody's out there working, we're getting better, we're putting the team together and we'll see how it goes. I mean, we haven't had pads on; it's hard to evaluate the big positions until there's any kind of contact. So, we'll see.
Q: Bill, I know Brian [Belichick] hasn't been able to be on the field with you guys. What kind of challenges does it present when you're down a man on the coaching staff?
BB: Alright. Well, Steve's [Belichick] coached the safeties for a number of years, V'Angelo [Bentley], Mike [Pellegrino]; I think we're alright. He's in the meetings, just not out on the field.
Q: Coach, just going back to Keion just for a second, do you have to kind of start slow with a guy, even if he projects as a versatile guy? First training camp, first week of training camp, do you have to ease him in?
BB: Well, I mean, you've got to see what they can do. If you don't put him in those spots, it's hard to see what they can do. So, if you go too slow, then you're down the road a ways, then you're like, 'Oh, well let's try him somewhere else.' Then, you've got to go back and start from scratch. So, I don't think that's necessarily a great progression if you want to see. You might as well try him — try not to overload him —but try him at a couple spots, see how it goes and then whichever way you go, at least you have a foundation. But, it's hard to take a guy in the middle of training camp, in the middle of August and say, 'Okay, you've been playing outside all the time, now we're going to play you inside,' vice versa. I mean, there's just so much of a base that you'd have to rebuild. So, sometimes it happens; I'd say I'm not a big fan of that.
Q: It's the second season that Bill Murray has been converted from defense to offense, how do you see his progression?
BB: Good. Bill's obviously way ahead of where he was last year. We ended up making that move last year, right before the start of training camp. I talked to him in late June, early July, whatever it was, and he got off to a really good start in training camp, and then hurt his ankle against the Giants and kind of had a hard time catching up after that. He missed like three weeks in August or whatever it was. So, he had a full spring this year, now in training camp, so he's way ahead of where he was technique-wise, understanding terminology. I mean, Bill's a smart kid; nobody works harder than Bill Murray. I mean, he's an all day, every day worker. So, yeah, he's doing well. We're excited to see how he does when we get the pads on, start being able to put the techniques that he's worked on, his strength and explosion and see what that looks like in padded practices.
Q: Bill, he's not the first guy that you've done that with. What are some of the things that you look at and say, 'We can translate this to the other side of the ball?' Whatever it is: offense to defense, defense to offense.
BB: Yeah, well, just the skills that he has. Bill's got good size, he's a very strong kid, he's smart, understands football. Speed's always an issue on defense, and we just think he's got a good playing style, good personality and good physical skills for offense. We're not saying we couldn't move him back to defense because I think we could, but where we were last year when we made the move and then this year, we're still relatively inexperienced at guard. I thought it would be a good competitive situation for him and give him a chance. I mean, he just wants to play, and so we'll see if he can.