HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
August 15, 2022
BB: Morning, everyone. Got a lot going here this morning. Big week for us here, getting ready for Carolina. Second really big week of training camp here after last week's work against the Giants. Spoke with Coach Rhule several times. I feel like this is a good opportunity for us. He's been great to work with. Panthers have been great to work with. So, I just look forward to the opportunity to compete with them tomorrow and Wednesday. Today's kind of a good day for us to clean up some things that we need to work on from last week, and going forward into this week, obviously, we want to continue to install and add things on a regular basis so that we'll be ready. As ready as we can be when we get to September. I look forward to the week, and hopefully we can get off to a good start here today and string some days together this week.
Q: What are some of the best things you get out of joint practices?
BB: There's so many things. The individual matchups are good. We've been working against each other for a long time, so new individual matchups, schemes are different. We'll see some different x's and o's, but also maybe techniques on the way guys pass-rush or route-running or things like that. And, I would say, less predictability of practice. We kind of know what's on the other side of the ball and what we can and can't do. Some things we aren't going to see from the opposite side of the ball. With a new team, everything's kind of new, so it keeps you on your toes and forces more communication and more awareness, and we need that.
Q: Do you ultimately get more out of the practices than the game on Friday?
BB: Yeah, in some respects, you do. We had a couple of great situations come up in the game against the Giants: the Giants got the ball at the end of the half and they were backed up, and they drove the ball and got it around midfield and then they couldn't quite get into field goal range and ultimately had a Hail Mary situation at the end of the half that they ended up scrambling on. Same thing at the end of the game: we took the lead, they came back. A lot of our players obviously weren't in there in those situations. The great thing about practice is our players get more opportunities at those situations, especially guys that probably have a higher chance of being in there during the regular season than were in there at those two points in the Giants game, as an example. So, a lot of reps out here for our players. Obviously more reps in practice – when you add all the practices up – than there are in the games. Just more practice opportunities, more chances to get better, more ways to improve, and more things you can find that you need to work on. I mean, in the end, the games have a lot of value too because it's a game, and it's structured differently, but there's certainly a lot to be gained in practice. So, they're both really important.
Q: When it comes to play-callers and going through that process, what is the nature of that process – is it competitive like it is for the players, where you're competing for opportunity and being evaluated?
BB: No, that doesn't have anything to do with it.
Q: Then how would you characterize the process?
BB: We don't have time for that. I appreciate the question, I really do. I know how interested you are in that subject, and I'd love to be able to shed a little more light on it, but, honestly, it's a much longer conversation. Hey, just trying to help out.
Q: You spoke last week about the team being in pretty good health. How big of a factor is strength and conditioning with the joint practices coming up and resting a good chunk of the roster in the game last week?
BB: Well, the players that played a lot in the game did less in some of the practices leading up to the game, and the players that played less in the game or didn't play at all in the game, did a lot more. So, I think when you look cumulatively, over, call it Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, which actually we have – the volumes are pretty close. So, some guys played a lot in the game, but really didn't get a whole lot of practice reps. Now, they did in the stadium practice, where everybody got a lot of reps in, so those were split up pretty evenly. But from that point on, I would say the overall number is sort of the same, but some of the numbers were a lot higher in the game, some of the other numbers were a lot higher in practice. Both in terms of number of plays and actual volume of what the player did, I think it balanced out. Not perfectly, but it balanced out.
Q: What's your relationship with Matt Rhule?
BB: I have a ton of respect for Matt Rhule. Matt's done a tremendous job at Temple, ran a great program there, then of course went down to Baylor and did an outstanding job down there. Then look at the Draft this year: the number of players that came out of Baylor this year, they were really his players. So, on all levels, whether it's recruiting, motivation, strategic development of players – not all the players at those two schools are necessarily the top high school prospects going there, but he turned out a lot of good players. Had a good connection with him when he was at Temple, some mutual friends there and so forth. I followed him and watched him come into this league. I have a ton of respect for the way he approaches the game. He's a football guy, so we have a lot in common there. Really enjoy football.
Q: What has Sam Roberts done well this summer and what does he still need to work on to earn a role on the team?
BB: Sam, like a lot of our rookies – I think you could really say this about just about all of them – he's fast, he's certainly had some good moments and good plays. It's a big jump for him: the level of competition, scheme, everything else. He was one of the best where he played, and that's flipped now. He's a talented guy, he works very hard. He's improved a lot. He's got a lot of room to grow. His fundamentals and his recognition and obviously experience in the league – he has a long, long way to go on that. But, he's better every time he steps onto the field, he's been healthy, he's been on the field, he's gotten a lot of reps, which is how you improve. I like working with him, but we'll see how it goes. He's got a ways to go, but he's making a lot of progress.
Q: What have you seen from Vinnie Sunseri as he's taken over the running back room?
BB: Vinnie does a great job for us. Football family, so football's his whole life, just like Josh McDaniels, guys like that that grew up with it. So, he has a lot of football experience – not just the actual resume experience, but just life experience of being a football family, being around football his entire life. He's got a really good feel for the game. He came in and worked on defense, now he's worked on offense. I think he sees the game well, he understands the game: what defenses do to offenses, how offenses attack defenses. He was a player – of course played here. He has a good feel for player-coach relationships, relating to players, understanding what players are going through at this level. Different than myself, who didn't play – I just had to figure out what those were, I never actually experienced them myself. Vinnie, Jerod [Mayo], Troy [Brown], those guys like that add a lot to – they help me, and they add a lot to understanding putting the whole team together and where guys are at different points in their career. Older guys, rookies, and so forth. I think he's got a really good skillset and has helped us a lot and will continue to grow. He's only been doing it at this level now for a short amount of time. Had a great year at Alabama, working, obviously, in a great program there with Coach [Nick] Saban and the other coaches down there as well. So, glad we have him, he's done a great job for us.
Q: What have you seen from Ja'Whaun Bentley, particularly from a leadership standpoint?
BB: Ja'Whaun's got great leadership ability, I think you saw that all the way – however far you want to go back – but even going back to DeMatha, high school, and his role there and some of the things we talk about in high school, then of course at Purdue. Then he got hurt, he had a little set-back there, but then he came back. The conversations, comments about him and what he was with his team, whether it was high school team, college team, and then what we've seen here where he's really come in and grown from his rookie year. He's had a very strong voice, but not overpowering. But he has really good leadership. Each year it's gotten better. This year, he's had an outstanding training camp. He's a very smart player, he understands situations, calls, adjustments – knows how to apply them and does a great job of communicating. He's a very good communicator. I know Jerod [Mayo] and Steve [Belichick] have spent a lot of time with him and encouraged that. Of course, Jerod was probably the best communicator on defense we've ever had here, so I'm sure that Bent's learned a lot from him, but at the same time, he has a lot of those natural qualities himself. He's done a great job for us. I'm really glad we have him. He and Devin [McCourty] do a great job of leading the defense: Bentley in the front seven, McCourty in the back end. And they work together well.