PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
August 18, 2023
Q: What have you observed the last few days with how Zeke [Ezekiel Elliott] has integrated himself into the team?
BB: It's been fine, a couple days spending a lot of time with Vinnie [Sunseri] and the ability in terms of just getting caught up on the terminology, things on the offense and all that. He took a few snaps yesterday. So, you know, we'll work him into it here and see how it goes.
Q:*And how would you describe his physical condition from what you've been able to assess to this point?*
BB: Yeah, I mean, he's only been here two days. We haven't really been able to practice with him, so not so much teamwork. But, he's done things. He worked out with the strength staff on Wednesday. So, it's coming along. He's definitely not there yet, but we're getting there.
Q: Hey, Bill. It sounds like pretty intense practices last couple of days: physicality, some jawing back and forth between the teams. I just wanted to ask you, what did maybe those outward displays of intensity or emotion during these two practices tell you about your team?
BB: I don't think that's really what it was about. We had, I don't know, upwards of 150 snaps. I'm not sure exactly what the number was; I'd say, well, it's probably more than that. I'd have to add them all up. It might be closer to 200 when you get into the kicking game and all that, but we've a lot of snaps here. So, we've benefited a lot from working against the Packers. They are really good to work against. They do a good job on offense, defense, special teams. They're a well-balanced team. They have a lot of good players to work against. We've benefited a lot from that, just the competition and you know, seeing the different style plays and seeing different types of players. So, it was really good working against the Packers. The facilities have been great, and it's been two good days for us here.
Q:*Bill, what kind of growth did you see from the team, even from Wednesday to Thursday? Looks like they performed quite a bit better, at least from the sideline from what we saw on Thursday compared to Wednesday.*
BB: I think this was good. We talk about some of the things that Green Bay was doing, some of the things we were doing, how to adjust them and how to make them better. We saw them and made some adjustments, and they did, too. They gave us a couple new looks on Thursday that we had to work through. It was really good work for all of us; good work for the coaching staff to see something on the field, correct it, go back out there later and practice, have it come up again and make the adjustment. For the team to be able to make those adjustments as well, those were great learning situations and communication on the respective sides of the ball between the coaches and players, players and players, and then there was obviously more of that in the meetings after Wednesday's practice and before Thursday's practice. We didn't really have a scouting report here, obviously; it is what it is. The scouting report is going out there and practicing against them. So, it was great work all the way around, really beneficial.
Q: One real quick follow up on that. Obviously, during the regular season, you can't play a game, watch the film and adjust for the next day to play the team again. So, what can you take away from being able to make those adjustments after reviewing things the day before?
BB: Yeah, that's what we do. Figure out the problem, what it is. Identify it, make an analysis and then fix it. Again, that can be coaches, that can be players, a combination of both. I mean, there's multiple things that could be involved there. But, that's the game. So, like I said, it was a great experience. When you practice against the same players 30 times or whatever it's been going back to the spring, you see the same guy every day, there's the same team every day, there's a lot less of that. There was a lot more of that up here in Green Bay, and like I said, it was good for all of us.
Q: Morning, Bill. Just to kind follow up to that, Mac [Jones] had said on Wednesday after practice that his favorite part of the joint practices was coming back and being able to bounce back the next day. What does that do for a team, and how do you handle the passion the team showed in what they were doing, but also controlling their emotions as they go about their business?
BB: Right, well, it's really pretty much the way you described it, Dan [Roche]. You have to go out there and play competitively, but at the same time play good assignment and communication football. The communication is really with us, what we do, not anything else. So, being able to take those situations and make those adjustments in between plays, in between series, after the play and so forth, that's all really an important part of the whole process here, as well as we talked about competing against a different scheme and obviously different players. So yeah, it's all good. It's a good opportunity not just for one position, but for every single person, player, coach and unit to do that.
Q: Just a quick follow up, you talk about the players that don't practice will play in the preseason games and vice versa. Do you have any thoughts as far as maybe getting the starters a series or two, or how do you approach the preseason game No. 2?
BB: Yeah, we'll talk about that as a staff. It's one of the things we're going to talk about this morning, kind of where everybody is here. We'll take stock of the team's physical condition after a couple practices, availability and things like that and then make those decisions a little bit later on here today and prepare for tomorrow.
Q: Hey, good morning, Bill. I just wanted to ask you, understanding this is just two days and two practices, but what were some of the most important things you think you learned about your team the last two days?
BB: Again, it's a long process here. So, each day is an opportunity, and I think as you just continue to put more pieces together, you see how it comes together. So, it'll be interesting to see how things go tomorrow after these two days. There was certainly a lot of, as you mentioned, growth by individuals and units, and situational understanding. But, then we'll see how we can put it together in a game and obviously there will be a lot of corrections and things to deal with after the game. But, hopefully we can continue to make progress in terms of getting used to playing with each other and communication, awareness and things like that. The awareness on our team is a lot different than the awareness of another team and what they do. So, that's something that always has to be continually updated, and that's football. Each day, and really each week, is its own individual challenge. So, we'll see how we do with this one.
Q: Good morning, Bill. I just wanted to ask you about, obviously, Devin McCourty retiring leaves a significant gap when it comes to leadership and play calling. Over the last couple days, what did you see in that realm, and who do you see stepping up into the leadership roles? How important is that play calling, particularly given the way these practices have evolved and their dynamic?
BB: Well, there's a number of people that are involved in secondary communication, like there always would be. It's not just the free safety, or Devin or whoever it is. It's more than that, but that's a big part of it. But, I think all of our safeties have done a really good job with the communication. Pep [Jabrill Peppers], [Kyle] Dugger, AP [Adrian Phillips], Jalen's [Mills] done a really good job with him working in there. He's also worked at other positions in the secondary as well. Myles [Bryant] has also taken over some of the communication with Jon Jones not participating here this week. So, again, depending on what the situation is, where the communication is involved, whether it's the entire secondary or whether it's a particular part of the defense: a bunch formation or how to handle a certain receiver alignment based on where the back is, where the tight end is and things like that. Those are all calls that are not necessarily made by the safety, but sometimes more by coverage players: the corners. So, collectively, they all have to do a good job. If we're on the same page, then that's a good start. Even if we're all wrong, if we're all wrong together, we're still better off than being half one thing and half something else. So, just making sure that everybody is working together on that. But, as a group, those guys have really done a good job of collectively communicating together, being vocal and making sure that everybody, including the linebackers that are involved in that, know what's going on. Obviously, we've had some mistakes out there, and we missed a few things. But, I'd say generally speaking, it's been way more good than bad.