PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
BB: Alright, well, we started another week here yesterday. It's another good opportunity for us to really make some progress as a team and individually, which we all need, so hopefully we can do that and take advantage of these days and look at the corrections from the Washington game and address some of those. There's still a lot of other things we need to move forward on, so we'll do that. As I said, hopefully we can string a few good days together here this week and make some real progress.
Q: When you're working with young linebackers who don't have much experience in coverage, what sort of things do you work on with them to help build that skillset?
BB: The techniques that they use on different coverages and against different types of pass patterns and different types of receivers. Because, at that position, you could end up covering a receiver, a tight end, a running back. I mean, the whole thing about pass coverage is we have more guys than they do in pass coverage most of the time, so there's help somewhere. So, it's knowing where your help is, knowing how to use it and what help that extra person can provide for who - deep, short, inside, outside, whatever it is. So, the coordination of all that is really - there's a lot of teaching there.
Q: What is your impression of Jason McCourty so far this offseason and training camp?
BB: Very professional. Yeah, he's great - hard-working kid, smart, has experience. He's picked things up well. It's been good.
Q: Was Jason McCourty not playing on Thursday night a result of you knowing what you had in him or an injury?
BB: The guys we played, we played. The guys we didn't play, we didn't play. We'll play other guys this week and we'll see how it goes. I mean, you all know I'm not talking about anybody's injuries, so there's no point in even bringing that up. We're not going through that. Can't look at everybody every week - there's just too many guys. So, some guys will play one week, some guys will play more the other week.
Q: What traits stand out to you about Keionta Davis and have you seen progress from him since last year?
BB: He's made a lot of progress. He's a versatile player, has got good physical skills, played well at Chattanooga. As you said, he didn't really get a chance to do much last year other than train, but he's trained hard, he's in good condition, he's getting his timing and reps back on the football side of it. He's made good progress, so hopefully he can continue to progress.
Q: Is he a guy who had any experience playing inside or was he purely a defensive end when he came here?
BB: He mainly played end at Chattanooga, yeah.
Q: When it comes to kickoffs, how do you balance working on what you want to work on in these preseason games while not putting everything you want to do in the regular season on film?
BB: Well, I think you can work on fundamentals that apply to a different scheme, even though you don't run the exact same scheme. But, I mean, again, there's not that many - I mean, look, there's only so much you can do, and everybody's pretty much seen everything one way or another over a period of time anyway, whether it's this year, last year, however far back you want to go. So, there's not a whole lot that's like, I would say, brand new. So, in the end, it's your personnel or their personnel and seeing how it's utilized. We know whoever we play, they're going to try to use their best players and create opportunities for those guys, and we'll try to do the same thing. That's all a little bit game planned or a specific to a particular situation or a game, but the fundamentals are fundamentals. I mean, you don't put in a whole lot of new fundamentals each week.
Q: Even with the new kickoff rules, do you think what you'll see in the preseason is...
BB: The new rules aren't really new rules. They've taken out a couple things. They haven't really changed anything. I mean, you still can block who you can block. They took out the wedge and they changed a couple of alignments, but that's not really - I mean, there's a lot of teams that lined up five by five to kick the ball off. I mean, in the history of football, there's like probably at least a billion examples of that. So, they shortened the take off a little bit, alright, and they have changed the alignment a little bit. I would say for a lot of teams, the alignments on the kickoff return, really teams had those alignments anyway. I'm not saying it's the same, but there are a lot of teams that did align like that. There are plenty of examples they showed in the coaching tapes when they talked about this rule where they showed teams lined up last year the way they lined up and like, 'This will be a legal alignment this year. This would be an illegal alignment' - not that anybody was illegal last year because the rule wasn't in place, but they were just showing examples of, you know, a guy lined differently by a yard or two made it legal or illegal. But, again, you're talking about a pretty minimal adjustment in terms of alignment, and they took out the wedge. Alright, so that's eliminated, so unless every return is a wedge, then you can run the returns that you were running or maybe modify them a little bit, but it's taking out something, not putting it in. And, honestly, there weren't that many wedge returns in the last three, four years anyway. I mean, there were a couple teams that run them, but it wasn't like you saw it every return every week like it was in the 70's or there where everything was either a three- or four-man wedge. I mean, that was the return. That's just not like that anymore.
Q: Can you evaluate tackling after the first preseason game? Is that a big milestone to see technique in that setting?
BB: Well, running and tackling are two skills that you don't work on from the end of the season until pretty much the first preseason game. You can do a little drill work, but it's not quite the same. So, any player that's involved in any of those, running or tackling, they might have done it before, but they haven't done it recently and they haven't done it at the timing and speed that it occurs in the game. So, there's an adjustment, a break-in period for all of us, and that's part of what preseason games are for. You simulate it in practice, but it's just not quite the same. So, live tackling, there's a lot to learn from that, and we can all get better at it. We can improve our tackling. We can certainly improve our running and breaking tackles. So, that's part of the process.
Q: What have you seen from Isaiah Wynn in terms of his versatility and ability to grasp the offense at different positions on the line?
BB: Yeah, we ask almost everybody on our team to do multiple things. So, sometimes that manifests itself during the year and sometimes it doesn't. But, I would say almost everybody, with the exception of a couple players and a couple positions, have multiple roles.
Q: How has Isaiah Wynn done over this spring and summer?
BB: Yeah, I mean, he's a smart kid. He picks things up well.
Q: How important is it to give each player a fresh start when they come in each season and focus on what they're doing this offseason, this practice or this game, rather than pigeon holing them as a practice squad or reserve player?
BB: I don't know. I'd say it's not hard for me. I think maybe it might be harder for other people. I think sometimes it's harder for the players. They've been in a certain role and they're not used to not being in that role, whether it's practice squad or starter or whatever it is. Sometimes that's the bigger adjustment either way, as odd as that sounds - not always, but sometimes. Yeah, I see a clean slate every year. I can't speak for everybody else. You'd have to ask them that.
Q: Last week, Steve Smith came out talking about his battle with depression throughout his career. Have you dealt with players that have battled depression throughout your 40-plus year career?
BB: Yeah, I'd say I've seen pretty much every medical condition in football in that course of time. I mean, occasionally something comes up that's different, but usually the comment is, 'Well, this is similar to what somebody else had, but here's the little difference.' I'd say I can't even remember the last time we've talked about something medically and I've had that explained to me, like, 'Well, we've never heard of this before. What is it?' So, there are things that are fairly common and then there are other things that are unusual. But, I think over that period of time that you've referenced - thank you for reminding me of that - that over that course of time, it's come up either on our team or in the evaluation of draft prospects, which there's, let's call it, four or five hundred guys a year, in addition to free agents, so players that have been in this league that have had some kind of condition on some other team that we've evaluated, however many that is a year. I mean, you're talking about probably, I don't know, in the neighborhood of 800 to a thousand guys each season. Now, some of those are the same guys, but I mean, I'm just saying that's a lot of people. So, there's not too many things that our medical staff, doctors, trainers, strength and conditioning coaches, that we haven't dealt with, and we have to deal with those on every level - not just treating the condition but also integrating the player back into some type of workload, eventually practice and competitive situations. Now, they may not always get to that point. Something might come up along the way, but assuming that they're still playing football, it's not just treating a guy and kind of putting a band aid on whatever his injury is. It's also finding the right formula and adjusting whatever his training methods are to allow him to continue to play football if he's been cleared medically or if he's in the process of being cleared. So, it involves everybody - not just the doctor - all the people, which in some cases it goes to the coaches, as well, and certainly the strength coach and training staff.
Q: Is there any extra motivation with the Eagles coming here this week?
BB: Yeah, right now we're really just trying to focus on having a good practice today. That's what we need to do, build off yesterday, correct some mistakes from yesterday and go out and have a good day today.
Q: Are there any players in particular who have handled a transition better than others, whether it is going from practice squad to starter or starter to back up?
BB: Yeah. I mean, look, it's different for everybody. Like, each of us has to deal with our own situation every year, and that changes every year to some degree. Every year is different. So, your role might be the same, but the circumstances around you might be different, which then changes your - it doesn't change your role but it affects your role - or vice versa, your role might change in addition to those other things changing. I mean, we all go through that. So, some of us adjust better or worse one year or another year. Some players are more flexible than others. Sometimes circumstances are unusual and that changes the dynamics of it. So, I don't know. It's pretty fluid. It's going to change this year multiple times. I mean, we've only been out here a couple weeks, but over the course of it, there's going to be a lot of changes as we go through the season for all of us.
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