PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
BB: Good morning. How are we doing? Ready for the next part of camp? I hope we are. This is a big opportunity for us here these next few days. We kind of got off to a start here with a couple unpadded practices and then a couple padded practices over the weekend, cleaned up a few things in the stadium and then hopefully these next four days we can really grind it out here and make some solid progress individually and as a team. And then, obviously, next week will be starting into somewhat of a preparation week for Washington - not full-scale, of course - but we'll have to transition into that. So, we've got some good opportunities here for real solid training camp days, and we're going to take advantage of them and get the most we can out of them in each of the situations and the fundamentals that are so important to build on this time of year. Hopefully we can get that done.
Q: We've seen guys working on the punt return game. How has Isaiah Wynn hung in there in that aspect of the game?
BB: Good - better than expected.
Q: When you reviewed the tape, was the coaching of Julian Edelman and Braxton Berrios up to standards?
BB: Yeah, you'd have to ask Isaiah about that. I'm not sure what they told him.
Q: In the process of camp, do you step back to appreciate the reaction that the team had for that moment?
BB: You know, I don't know. I don't know. It was a good way to end practice. It was fun.
Q: Does it ever frustrate you at times that you have a more limited time to develop players in training camp than when you began coaching in the '70s?
BB: Yeah, well, a lot of things have changed since then in a lot of areas. So, football is one of them. There's a lot of other things, too. We're in 2018. We embrace it. We're going to do the best we can with what we have to work with this year, whatever that is, and that's the way it is every year. Every other team is working under the same guidelines as we are, so we've just got to use our time efficiently and effectively and build our team the way everybody else is getting a chance to build theirs.
Q: What are your thoughts about the competition between the wide receiver group as a whole?
BB: Well, we'll see. We've got a long way to go. I think it's too early to start our evaluating right now. We've had part of the process, but I think we're a long way from the finish line at that position and every other position, so we'll just have to see how it goes.
Q: Is the level of NFL experience you have in that group unique at all?
BB: Yeah, I think you see that every year in different positions. Some positions have more experience than others. Occasionally, you have a position where guys have a lot of experience, like the safety position. Not only do those guys have a lot of experience in the league, they have a lot of experience together on this team, which is pretty unusual. Then, sometimes there's other positions where you have new faces, so it is what it is.
Q: Now that the pads have come on, has teaching the new leading with the helmet rule become part of your practice routine?
BB: We always have coached fundamentals and proper techniques as we believe in them and as we're instructed with the rules. So, that's always part of it.
Q: Has the league come in yet to show the videos and explain how it's going to be called?
Q: Do you feel like you have a good grasp on it? There seems to be some confusion league-wide about what is and isn't going to be called.
BB: We know what we know. We'll see how it goes.
Q: Do you know specifically the line play - how it's going to be called in the trenches?
BB: Yeah, we know what we know. We'll see how it goes. I think you'd have to talk to Al [Riveron] and people in the officiating department about that.
Q: You have a handful of guys, like Marquis Flowers and Phillip Dorsett, who came in midway through at various points last year. How have they done this offseason with the opportunities they have been given?
BB: Yeah, it's certainly been a big advantage for them to be here from the very beginning. I think we've seen that with a lot of guys and even some players that came here at the beginning of the year last year, but kind of the second time through. A couple of the players you mentioned were in-season acquisitions. There were other players that it was their first year, but now their second year they've just moved way ahead in terms of, I would say, their confidence, their understanding and certainly the overall performance that we've seen to this point in all the things that we've done in the spring and in training camp. So, it's different than the rookies who go from Year 1 to Year 2 but similar for a lot of guys being in the second year of a program. But, certainly the guys that got here, that had to just jump in and start swimming in the middle of the season, that's tough, and they did a good job for us. This year, they're way, way ahead of where they were, obviously, last year. And, so, when we get to the similar point in the year - whether that's September for Dorsett or Flowers or whatever the case might be - that I think the full year will really see a substantial improvement. But, we've already seen a lot of growth from those players. There was a lot of growth from them during the year last year, but yeah, being able to start at the beginning is the best way to do it. Sometimes it's not always possible, it doesn't happen that way, but it's the way you'd like to do it.
Q: What do you see from Brian Schwenke that makes you want to work with him?
BB: Yeah, well, Brian has some experience as a multi-position player. We'll put him in there and see how it goes.
Q: You've been pretty deep on the offensive line. Is this just a case where it's rare to see a player with that type of experience available, so why not capitalize on it?
BB: Yeah, we thought it would be beneficial for our team, so yeah.
Q: With a position like wide receiver where several guys are down with injury, how challenging is it for you in terms of the using the guys who are available and making sure they're not overworked?
BB: Yeah, that's always a part of training camp - management. Some positions are deeper than others. That can fluctuate from day-to-day, week-to-week in camp. So, sometimes that barometer goes up and down - not always predictable. So, yeah, it's a part of training camp. We consider that when we go through our practice schedule, what the workloads are, take a look at the drills we're doing and how many guys we have to do them and so forth, particularly when the lines don't match up. So, if you have an imbalance of offensive linemen versus defensive linemen or receivers versus defensive backs or tight ends versus linebackers, however that goes, then that makes it a little bit more challenging because the guys that have the numbers need the work and players that are the position that doesn't have the numbers, you have a hard time giving enough work to the guys where there's depth. So, yeah, that's always a daily discussion in our practice schedule and planning and the player workloads that they have.
Q: Do you have to alter a practice schedule based on the number of guys available at a position?
BB: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, it's common. It's, I wouldn't say, daily but close because sometimes, like I said, you try to find a way to get work to the people who need it and where there's depth. And, where you can't sustain that workload at another position, you have to find a way to modify it.
Q: What does Kyle Van Noy bring to the team in terms of his leadership and intensity?
BB: Kyle's done a really good job for us. He's a player that didn't start his career here but has come in and really has understood the way that we have tried to do things. He's embraced it. He's become very much of a leader in, A, doing his job and doing it the right way, but also helping other guys, particularly guys that transition onto the team as he did. He has a good perspective for that. But, he's been very durable, dependable, he's a smart football player, he's versatile. He can do a lot of different things defensively, in the running game, in the passing game and in the kicking game. So, he's got a good skillset and is a smart player with experience and can fill a lot of different roles for us. It's hard to find players like that. He's been a valuable guy for us.
Q: Was there something that you saw in him or jumped out about Kyle before you brought him in?
BB: Well, we evaluated him coming out of the draft and then there's an opportunity to watch him at points at Detroit and the things that he was asked to do there. Now, that was in a different system. But, when you put it all together and talking to Bob [Quinn] about the situation they were in and what Kyle was for them, those were all parts of the conversation and decision.
Q: You mentioned that third down was an area that would receive more attention later on this week. Are there any other areas under that category you didn't hit on at the start of camp?
BB: Yeah, but they're smaller areas - situational things. Third down would be the next major area that we need to invest more time in.
Q: How far as Danny Etling come from what you saw this spring to what you're seeing now?
BB: Danny, like a lot of the rest of the rookies, has had the opportunity now to kind of get it the second time around. So, when we had our initial installation in the spring, in the OTAs, we have not quite matched it but close to having that same progression here at the start of training camp. So, in training camp, as we've gone through and installed our plays offensively, it's the second time around. We've already installed them once, and now we're kind of re-installing them. So, I think that's always a good process for a new player, particularly a young player, to go through is to hear it the second time. And, now you're not just hearing what your job is, but you're maybe having a better understanding of the overall concept of the play, maybe what some other adjustments are, and you just become more familiar with it. And, you've actually run the play before, so it's not just you see it and you haven't experienced it. Now, when we see it and talk about it, we can refer back to the actual experiences we had with the plays in the spring, and I think that's a good teaching tool for those guys. They can certainly relate to the coaching points that are being made because they've run it. They understand now a lot more what we're talking about than they did when it was first going in. I think that's beneficial to all new players, but especially young ones.
Q: Deatrich Wise and Derek Rivers have been hanging out a lot after practice like they did their rookie years. Is it good to see guys in their second year maybe getting comfortable in the system but still hungry to work hard and practice their crafts?
BB: Yeah, nobody works harder than those two guys. Nobody. So, it's hard to find a time that they're not in this building. They work extremely hard on the field, off the field, their training, preparation, conditioning - you name it. Yeah, they've kept that pace since they got here and they've certainly sustained it in this year. They've made a lot of improvement and they both have upside ahead of them. So, yeah, they work very hard.
Q: Have you seen quarterbacks who struggle with accuracy improve and become more accurate? Is that something that can be taught? Can guys make a big leap in their ability to be accurate?
BB: Sure. Well, yeah - certainly everybody can improve. I don't think you can go from slow to fast, but you can improve your speed. Whether you are slow or fast, there's still room for improvement. And, so, that would transfer I'd say most every other skill, too. If a player, or any of us for that matter, if we identify what we need to do and then put the time and effort and work into it, you're going to see improvement. Now, how much improvement and the rate of improvement - that varies from individual to individual. But, assuming that they understand what they need to do or mechanically how to do it and work at it and try to address it, then you're going to see improvement. So, the rate of improvement is not always a straight line. Sometimes it starts off slow and spikes up. Sometimes it starts fast and levels off. Sometimes it's more of a gradual straight line. At some point, it's going to level off where everybody's going to pretty much peak somewhere. But yeah - and you just have to see how it goes and it takes a little time to try to figure it out. Once a player has reached that plateau, then you evaluate how good it is. If it's great, then great. If it's average or in that range, then you try to maintain it. Then maybe at some point somebody would pass that. If it's below average, then probably another player at some point would be able to come in and surpass it. There's always room for a little incremental improvement, but there's definitely a point of diminishing returns. So, it's kind of the same for every player, but then it's different for every player depending on what stage of that process they're in.
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