PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
BB: It's another good week for us, a good opportunity here to go on the road and play Carolina, a real good football team. They had a good year last year. Obviously, they came up here and beat us so we know what they can do. They have a lot of good players, well coached. They've changed a lot of coordinators, all three coordinators, but it looks like there's still some carryover. They have, obviously, a lot of the same players and have added to the group. It's a good football team. Always well coached, tough. Playing on the road – it's a good environment down there. We're looking forward to that opportunity and kind of getting into a little bit of a routine for the week. Obviously, it's a lot different than the regular season. There's not really a comparison, but there is a routine that we can start to work towards and become more efficient with as players, coaches and just the overall time usage in preparing for a team. So we'll start to put that process into place as well this week. We're looking forward to a good week.
Q: How do you feel about where you are personally, and where the coaching staff is as a whole in your preparations throughout the preseason?
BB: Making progress. We've still got a long way to go.
Q: How have some of the new additions to your staff, like Joe Kim and Bret Bielema, done in adapting to your system?
BB: Yeah, I mean, we're all making progress. We've got a long way to go. I mean, there's still a lot that happens in regular season games that just doesn't happen in preseason games. It's just a fact. Until that happens, we'll see and I'm sure that we'll have to make some adjustments at that point like we always do, like everybody does.
Q: What kind of an impact has Joe Kim and Bret Bielema had on the defensive line so far?
BB: I think collectively our defensive staff has worked well together and I think our players have improved. They're making progress so there's a lot of overlapping and interacting between different units and different coaches. They don't always have the same guys. They work with different players and so forth. It's been good.
Q: Do you start to look ahead to the opener versus the Houston Texans at all this week?
BB: Yeah, sure.
Q: How do you strike that balance in preparing for that opponent but also focusing on this week's game?
BB: There's about 20 things going on at this time of year. That's the way it always is between our team, and preseason games, regular season games, another preseason game next week, evaluating players, making roster decisions, talking with other teams in the league. That's the way it is every preseason, every training camp. That's the way it is now and that's the way it'll be through the next couple of weeks. So yeah, it's a juggling act.
Q: How much does facing a mobile quarterback like Cam Newton help prepare your defense for that kind of challenge in the regular season?
BB: Yeah, every week is a good opportunity. Look, every team in this league is good. They all have good players, they're all well coached, so whatever they do gives us an opportunity to work against that and take advantage of it.
Q: What have you noticed about the cohesiveness of the defensive line so far?
BB: Yeah, overall it's a pretty young group on the defensive line and I'd say a couple of the guys that have more experience like Adrian [Clayborn], and Lawrence [Guy], Malcom [Brown], Danny [Shelton], some have been with our team and some haven't, but they've played in the league. Those guys have been good in terms of giving guidance and direction, setting a good example in work ethic and preparation and technique, things like that. The young guys that have less playing time have worked hard and very diligently with a number of different people. I think they've all made a lot of progress. It's good. We'll just keep competing and see how far it goes and see how it goes.
Q: Are you talking to other teams across the league right now to get a sense of who might be available as roster cuts approach?
BB: It's the same thing we always do at this time of year. It's the exact same thing; the same thing that every team does.
Q: Which is what exactly?
BB: It depends on who the team is and what we're talking about. Every team is different. I mean, you're not going to have the same conversation with two teams because they're not the same. Each one is unique.
Q: What are the primary changes in preparation this week as you get ready for the regular season as opposed to the preparation for the first two preseason games?
BB: Just more preparation for the team; less on us. Change of practice schedule, change of media schedule, change our preparation schedule, change our practice format a little bit. They're all changes.
Q: How impressed are you with Joe Cardona in regards to his ability to balance his football abilities with his military commitments?
BB: Yeah, Joe's a very impressive person on a lot of levels. He's just an outstanding example for all of us. His contributions and service to our country, his commitment to our football team and just his overall personal character and how good of a friend and teammate he is to everybody on the team. He's a tremendous individual and I'm glad we have him, glad we were able to work out an agreement with him to extend it.
Q: Chris Hogan has expressed his desire to become a more vocal leader this season. What changes have you noticed in his leadership style this year?
BB: I think everybody grows a little bit each year, so I'd put him in that category. He's had a couple of years here. He's had quite a bit of success. He has a solid role with the team, so it's not like it's going from zero. It's already at a pretty high level, but there's always higher ground. There's always improvement. I think he's trying to do that as we all are.
Q: How much progress have you seen from LaAdrian Waddle from last season through the preseason now?
BB: Yeah, LA [LaAdrian Waddle], he's done a solid job. He's an experienced player and has multiple years in our system playing both sides. He gives us a solid, consistent level of play.
Q: How imperative is it for any NFL team to have depth there at the tackle position?
BB: Yeah, depth's like an insurance policy. If you never need it, then you don't need it. If you need it, then you're glad you have it. You never know where you're going to need it. That comes into play when you pick your roster. It comes into play when you pick your 46-man [roster] and make your decisions on the 46 men that are going to play in the game. I mean, you can't have depth everywhere. There's just not enough players in either of those to do it, so you have to decide, based on whatever criteria you want to use, where to have it and wherever you have it there's going to be somewhere where you don't have it. Every team is facing those same decisions as to where to have it and where you don't have it. Then if you're dealing with current injuries, that would be if everybody on the 53-man roster at the start of the season was healthy and everybody on the 46-man roster would be the 46 players that would be there based on the 53 that are on the team, but then when you start complicating that with players on other lists or their unavailability or so forth, then that complicates the depth issue even further. But it's what every team in the league deals with, that's what it is. Yeah, that's a challenge.
Q: Is this a big week for the rookies –
BB: It's a big week for everybody. It's a big week for all of us.
Q: Is it big for them in the sense of this opponent being considered a dress rehearsal for the regular season?
BB: We prepared for an opponent last week. Every week is a big week. Every day is a big day for all of us. It's an opportunity for us to get better, for us to improve in the areas that we all need to improve in, and if we don't take advantage of it then it's a missed opportunity. If we have to go back and get it, then it's just more time wasted that we could've been doing something else. It's an opportunity for each of us individually. It's an opportunity for each unit. It's an opportunity for our entire football team. That's what training camp is, it's just a series of opportunities to improve your team to get ready for the regular season opener and get ready for the regular season schedule.
Q: Do you consider the third preseason game as more of a dress rehearsal than the first two games?
BB: Each week of the preseason is a step closer towards preparing for the regular season opener and the 16-game regular season schedule. With each succeeding week, there are more things that are closer to a regular season week. None of those weeks are regular season weeks, but it progressively gets closer and more like it. But it's not it, but it's movement in that direction.
Q: What have your impressions been of the play-calling by Brian Flores thus far?
BB: Again, I think Brian and our defensive staff has done a good job in teaching the players and installing our system. We haven't done much game-planning to this point, but we'll see how that goes as we get into the real games.
Q: Has there been more blitzing under Flores' guidance?
BB: Again, we're not game-planning. We're working on things that we need to work on and that's what we always do in preseason. That's what we've done this year, that's what we've done in the past, that's what we'll do as long as I'm here. That's the way it's always been. That's the way it's always going to be because I believe that's what we need to do, work on the things that we need to work on.
Q: How is the operation of the coach-to-player communication going out in the field with Flores being a new voice?
BB: Each game is another opportunity for us to work on that. Whatever opportunities we get in the game based on the situations and the other team's substitutions and so forth is something that the coaching staff on all three sides of the ball – offense, defense, special teams and the head coach communication to those units and so forth – those are things the coaching staff needs to fine-tune and smooth out and make sure that we do a good job on so the players can do a good job with it. It's all interconnected. We can't control the situations in the game, but we know there are always going to be some. Whichever ones come up, we need to handle them in an excellent fashion. If we're not doing that, then we need to correct it and adjust it and make it better, so when it comes up in regular game situations that we're not losing any time and we're not making mistakes. That's our job.
Q: What are the key characteristics of a back that is productive in the screen game and with James White specifically?
BB: Yeah, well the screen is a team play, so there's a lot of people involved with the screen. Obviously, it's a deceptive play. There's some acting in it, trying to make it look like one thing when it's really something else. That's the quarterback, it's the line, it's the receivers, it's the screen back. Sometimes the idea is to draw the rushers to the screen and throw it over them. Sometimes it's to create some kind of action away from the play and then screen back to the opposite side. There are various wide receiver screens, so exterior screens, kind of middle screens, if you will, kind of around the numbers area. There are screens that are closer to the line of scrimmage. Again, misdirection screens that go to the other side of the ball. There are a lot of different ways of doing that, but basically they're all deceptive plays that you want to try to, again, make the defense think it's one thing when it's something else. No one guy can do that. If one guy doesn't do it then a lot of times a defender will read that and even though the other ten guys could be doing it well, if one guy doesn't then you've got a bad play. Look, defensive players, they key on those plays – reverses, screens, draws, misdirection plays – and some defensive players are very good at recognizing those and that makes it hard. Then it comes down to, of course, like it always does, to execution, whether we can execute the play better than they can execute the defense for it, whatever they happen to be in. That's what this game is, it's a lot of execution, a lot of good fundamentals and a lot of everybody handling their assignment and their responsibility better than the guys on the other side of the ball.
Q: How much was the success of the screen game in your system in the early 2000's a result of the influence that Charlie Weiss had on the offense?
BB: I think all of the coaches that I've coached with have been – we've all had a philosophy on those types of plays, whether it was Cleveland, Charlie, Josh [McDaniels], Billy [O'Brien], Josh. Again, there are different types of screens. Some are good in certain situations. Some are good against certain types of defenses or certain types of pass rushes. Some players are better at certain types of screens than other screens. Sometimes it's a combination of putting all of those things together and doing what you think is best for your team and to attack your opponent. That's a combination of factors.
Q: Trey Flowers is a player that will often stay after practice and work with younger players. Have you seen that have a trickle-down effect on the players at his position?
BB: Yeah, Trey's great with them. He does an outstanding job with his teammates at that position. He doesn't have a lot of practice time this year, but when he does and the opportunities that he has in meetings and things like that, and he's a great example for them. I mean, if they just watch what he does and do what he does, you couldn't do much better than that. Yeah, he's helped. All of those guys are. They do a really good job of helping their teammates, either tell them what they did wrong or kind of showing them what they do that works for them, along with the coaches who, obviously, are very good at instructing the players as well. We have a good give and take in there. There's a lot of ideas that are, I think, well processed. It's not just one way to do it. Some things work better for one guy than they do for another. Different players have different skill sets. I think there's good flow of communication with that group.
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