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Transcript: Bill Belichick Press Conference 8/17

Read the full transcript from Patriots head coach Bill Belichick's press conference from Tuesday, August 17, 2021.


August 17, 2021

Q: Have you seen in the past, maybe improvement from guys from that first day to that second day? How much is the importance from you there in terms of evaluating their improvement from day one to day two of joint practices?

BB: Well, I hope so. We'll see. Look, I hope we all improve, so that's why we're doing it. It's to get better every single day. I'd say the big thing for today is what we're doing is a lot different than what we did yesterday. Really all our work today is going to be in the red area. Of course, some of the fundamentals are the same, but there are a lot of things that are different down there. It all happens at a much more condensed space, whichever side of the ball you're on. It doesn't matter. Offense or defense. Again, basic fundamental techniques. A lot of those are the same, but they do change just because of the nature of the plays, the nature of the space that you're working in and how to gain leverage, how to maintain it, how to defeat it and so forth. It's really a little bit of a different game in that area of the field. We're going to work down there pretty much exclusively today. It's not like, well we ran this play yesterday, and we're going to run all the same plays today. That's not really what's going to happen today. There will be a few repeats, but again, the game is just a lot different down there. It's a great opportunity for us to work on that. We'll get a lot of snaps in the red area. Probably as many as we would in a couple normal weeks of practice against a different team with different players in a different scheme, so this will be a really valuable learning day like yesterday was for us as well. That's what we're doing today.

Q: I have a question about how you decide to work on what you do work on in practice. For instance, yesterday, for us getting to watch that hurry-up period at the end of practice. That's a drive that obviously you could be doing something like that at the end of the half, but if you have to win a game, that probably only happens once a game. It's one of many drives in a game. How do you determine how much time you should be spending on that because it's obviously an important drive, but you might only get 17 of them during the regular season at the most? Does that make sense?

BB: Yeah. It makes sense. Sure. That's the way it is with everything. Plays that are critical, game-winning or changing plays, you want to make sure you are good on those. If it's a hands team recovery, if you recover the ball, you win the game. I don't know how many times that's going to come up during the year, but if you're covering the ball, you're probably going to win the game. If you don't, then you're going to have to deal with some other stuff. Probably lose or have a good chance to lose. You can't spend the whole practice working on onside kicks, but when it comes up, you got to be able to execute it. Whether it's a two-minute drive, an onside kick, a last punt of the game, whatever happens, those critical plays you want to make sure you can execute them as well as possible. How much practice time does that take? More than what's really the right amount, but because it's such a critical play, you put a little more into it. The better you do it, then the more efficient you are doing it, the more confident that you are in your team to be able to do whatever those situations and whatever those individual plays are, then probably the less time you need to work on it once you've shown you can do it well. Then you move on to something else.

Q: In those potential game-winning drives, or those attempted game-winning drives, do the players have to get more comfortable with taking risks that they wouldn't otherwise take? Is that a hard thing to get down? Especially the quarterback position, obviously, the guys that are making a lot of the decisions back there.

BB: Every situation is different. There's no two that are the same. You can generalize them and put them into certain categories, but each one is a little different. Certainly, they're different because of the team you're playing against and what that team does. Whatever offensive plays they run, and whoever their go-to players are, and whatever defense that team runs, and whatever type of defensive coverages and blitzes and pass rushes they use and so forth. That all changes. Every one of them is different even if you have the exact same situation in terms of time and score and all that. It's still different when you put a different defense up there. Again, you try to cover general things, and then you try to cover some of the finer points that might only come up on a very random or infrequent basis. If you're able to take advantage of it, it could make the difference for you. A lot of that is mental. A lot of that is watching those situations and talking about them and understand what to do and anticipate there. You only have so many two-minute drives in practice. It's not like they can do seven or eight of them in a single practice. You get what you can out of them, and there's also, like I said, a mental side to that as well of watching those sequences or putting yourself through the mental exercise of those sequences and then what to do and what the call would be and what to think about and all that. Ultimately, you want everybody to be on the same page there. You don't have time to tell everybody what to do. Everybody needs to know what to do based on the situation and the time. The quarterback has a lot of important decisions to make, and so does the defensive signal caller, and so do the guys that end up handling the ball. Whoever the quarterback gives the ball to, most of the time it comes out of his hands. Somebody else gets it, then they have to make decisions with it. They're all different. They're not the same. There's some general categories, but they're all different.

Q: When you're evaluating Cam [Newton], obviously one of the biggest tools in his toolbox is his ability to run the football and be mobile. He's such a big guy. Obviously can lower the shoulder if he has to. How do you evaluate him more over the course of this summer knowing that that really doesn't come up very often? That's obviously not something you want him to do in practice, or even in joint practices.

BB: Well, that's really true of every player, Mike [Giardi]. It's really the same. We're not tackling guys, but there's nothing more important on defense than tackling. The running backs and receivers aren't getting tackled. Their ability to handle the ball and make yards after the catch or with the ball in our hands is critical to their position. There are a lot of things like that that you can't evaluate, but it is what it is. We do what we can do. That's what we have preseason games for and live practices for, but those are limited opportunities, but they're important ones.

Q: We're watching Cam work with the ones, offensive line basically extensively, and Mac will get a series here or there with them. In your past history, how difficult is it for someone like Mac to then come in with the one offensive line and make that quick transition, or is that just much simpler than what we make it out to be?

BB: We've told all the players from back in May when we started, which is the absolute truth, is not to spend a lot of time worrying about who else is out there with you. Worry about what you're doing and try to get it right. I think that's the most important thing for each and every one of us is if we would focus on what our job is, how to do it well, how to do it better, how to improve on it. Again, that's all of us; coaches, players, everybody. That's really what we're trying to do. Spend a lot of time worrying about who else is doing something else and who else is out there and not out there or whatever is honestly a total waste of time and energy. It's not productive, so we don't need to worry about it. I think it's a lot more important for the offensive linemen to play with the offensive linemen than it is for the quarterback to play with the offensive line. The same thing on defense. It's important for the linebackers to play with the linebackers than it is for the linebackers to play with the secondary or whatever. You can keep going. The punt team; those guys need to be ready to work with each other, but at the same time, if somebody else is in there for whatever reason, then again, the most important thing is for them to do their job properly and work with whoever it is next to him. That's something they can't control. If we start worrying about all the things we can't control, I would say it's going to be a long year. 

Q: I just wanted to ask you about how you felt about the physicality yesterday. I'm sure from team to team, maybe everybody calls a non-tackle-to-the-ground practice the same thing, but maybe it feels different team to team. When you get two teams together, I'm just wondering how you saw it play out yesterday? If you liked the level of physicality between the two teams?

BB: Yeah. Coach [Nick] Sirianni and I talked about that before practice. Talked about it after practice. I think the working tempo was good, and I think we all got a lot out of practice. I think they felt like they did. I know we felt like we did, and it was very similar. Honestly, probably as similar as we could get to the way we would have practiced without Philadelphia if we just practiced with ourselves. I think that's an important part of developing your team is learning how to practice and practicing so that you get better, the guy you're working against get better, both sides of the ball get better. At the same time, it's not a full speed level, but it's a level where we can work and improve and try to minimize the risk to having a lot of guys on the ground and having piles and things like that. That's how we practice. It's obvious that's how the Eagles practice. I thought we had a good working practice, and I thought that Shawn [Hochuli] and his crew did a good job out there of identifying infractions and making sure that we understand what is and isn't permissible. Some of them are obvious, but there's obviously a lot of grey out there. I thought it was great to have Shawn and his crew there with the holding calls and the defensive pass and offensive pass penalties, as well as some fundamental alignments and things like that, but really it's the hand to hand, close quarters fighting, whether that's in pass coverage or pass rush, run blocking and so forth. I thought those guys did a great job of identifying those plays for us so that we can learn from them and make the proper corrections based on what they saw. It doesn't matter what we think. It's the way they see it, and that was helpful as well. It was good.

Q: When Chase [Winovich] is doing what he does best, what does he bring to the team?

BB: Well right now Chase needs to just start to get his reps back on the field, and we'll bring him back. He has rehabbed. He has been cleared to practice. He is off PUP. We'll just take it day by day. Depending on what we are doing that day and so forth, work him into areas that we feel like he's ready for. Obviously he needs to work in every area because he hasn't done much. We'll just try to catch him up the best we can. He'll work hard, and he'll do what he can and just take it day by day.

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