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Transcript: Bill Belichick Press Conference 8/21

Read the full transcript from Patriots head coach Bill Belichick's press conference on Monday, August 21, 2023.



August 21, 2023

BB: It just felt like after the game, you know, we had a little bit of time there in the locker room to just kind of look at the situation and made the decision that the best thing for the team would be to come back here and not go to Tennessee. It was a hard decision. As much as we'd like to work against them, just tried to balance the situation. There was a number of things involved. Came back yesterday, Isaiah [Bolden] came back with us. It was good to see him. I had an opportunity to talk to him. He's alert and traveling with the team, so that was good. I thought that Dr. [Scott] Martin, Dr. [Gian] Corrado, Jim Whalen [Head Athletic Trainer], they were obviously right on top of the situation and did a great job of handling it and taking care of Isaiah. He was able to be released after being in the hospital after the game and come back with us on the plane. Obviously, things checked out medically for him to be able to do that. Back here this week, last preseason game, a lot of things that we still need to work on. I thought we made progress, a lot of progress, working against the Packers. I really appreciate the opportunity and the cooperation that we got from Coach [Matt] LaFleur and the entire organization. You know, Joe [Barry] on defense and Rich [Bisaccia] in the kicking game, we got a lot of good quality work that helped our team – players, coaches, staff, everybody – get better. So, we'll push ahead this week here and go down to Tennessee and finish up the preseason and then start getting ready for the regular season. So, we've still got a lot of work to do here, a lot of things that will be happening in the next seven or eight, whatever it is, days in terms of rosters and things like that, but that's what it is this time of year, so nothing new there. It's just imminent, and we'll get ready for it.

Q: Bill, in a situation like Saturday night, as you're trying to figure out whether to suspend the game or not, I'm curious what your preference would be, kind of generally speaking. Is that something where you think the head coaches, because they know their team the best, should probably be the ones to make those decisions or do you prefer that the league kind of steps in and has the final say, perhaps to keep things uniform?

BB: Yeah, I don't think it really matters what I think. In the end it's a league decision, so whatever they decide, that's what it is.

Q: You mentioned Dr. Martin. I guess you would say it's his first year sort of taking over, right, for Dr. [Mark] Price? How significant is a transition like that when you switch doctors when you're leading a football team? What does that entail and how did this experience sort of highlight that?

BB: Alright, well Scott''s been with us before. He's been with the Revolution for, I don't know, over a decade. So, he's pretty familiar, we're familiar with him. He's familiar with us, but the fact that he's in charge and running things, he's been great. He's been great to work with. I think he's been at every practice, around all the time. He's been very helpful in terms of educating me, specifically, but working with Jim and our strength and conditioning staff, our training staff and getting to know the players on an individual basis. You know, he's put in a lot of time. He's done a great job, looking forward to working with him. The medical situation here's good. We have a great hospital to work with and all that, but I just thought that those guys really did a great job with handling a very serious situation quickly, efficiently, and with the expertise that they all have.

Q: A quick football one, if that's alright. I saw Kendrick [Bourne] make a couple of catches early in the game, looked like he had a good block in the running game. How would you describe the type of offseason and camp that Kendrick has had, sort of asking after watching him the other night where he showed up, it seemed like, a couple times?

BB: Yeah, he had a good spring. That spring led into having a good training camp. He's done very well in all phases of the game. He's played multiple spots, caught the ball well, blocked well. He's had a good camp.

Q: I wanted to ask you, first, about kind of how attitudes have changed in regard to player injuries. In the past, obviously, games would continue, and how pleased you've been in that realm in that environments are created where there's more of a focus on player safety?

BB: I mean, I think that's the right way to go, the right emphasis. It's obviously a process. There's a lot involved. The sport's the sport, it's a contact sport, so there's always going to be an element of collisions and contact, but try to make it as safe as possible. I think a lot of the rule changes have been beneficial, you know, blindside blocks and things like that. I think everybody wants it to be as safe as possible and still maintain the part of the game – the speed, the contact, the skill – that's the excitement of the game, so it's just a balance there. Really just trying to focus on coaching our team, getting our team ready to play, and those other decisions are not really mine to make.

Q: Mac [Jones] first preseason action, what have been the biggest areas of growth you've seen from him through camp and what did you think of his performance on Saturday?

BB: Yeah, I though Mac did a solid job. Both quarterbacks did, I mean, again, when you're out there with 10 other guys, no matter what position you play, there's an element of the team operation, so quarterbacks, receivers, offensive line, protection, running backs, blocking, etc., it all goes together. The biggest part of growth for our team is just everybody working together, and improving our timing, not necessarily communication in terms of what to do but just seeing things the same way so that we can react to them the same way. That just comes through repetitions and a lot of snaps and some experience doing it. Mac's done a good job in his role on that, but there's other things that he can't control. There's other people that he's out there with that have to get used to him, he has to get used to them. We've worked some of these things together, but there's some new things we're doing, and a couple of new players, obviously, that just take a little bit of time to break in and get that timing and, I would say, seeing it the same way down.

Q: Just a question about cancelling the practices, the joint practices. How does that change your week? How does that change your preparation for the regular season? Will the starters play more in game three? What kind of adjustments do you have to make now with the practices being cancelled?

BB: Well, we'll talk about that today, and we'll be on the field tomorrow. We really have two days this week. It's a shorter week, so we'll have practice tomorrow and Wednesday and head down to Tennessee on Thursday. We'll spend some time this morning, today, going through what we need the most, how to get the most out of these next two days, because it's really a two-day, I would say, planning process, rather than one. We've got to figure out how to maximize Tuesday, how to maximize Wednesday. We kind of know what Thursday is going to look like, and today is going to be a day to review the film and kind of go back over the Green Bay game and even some of the things that came up in practice, and then we'll be moving on. So, we'll take today to figure out what the priorities are, but we want to address the priorities over the next two days, so that's what it'll be. Thank you.

Q: Bill, since the preseason started, you signed a couple of guys who have experience in the XFL or the USFL. I'm curious of what your impressions are of, in kind of the limited sample size since the spring leagues have been reintroduced, to having the opportunity to sign players in the middle of training camp who've played football fairly recently in those leagues and to bring them in.

BB: Well, most all those players, and I think you've probably seen it on the transactions, whether it's us or any other team, if you need depth at a certain position generally what you see throughout the league is teams would try out anywhere between three to six, seven players at that position. It's pretty obvious that they're looking for someone to play that spot and a lot of those players don't have very much experience. Either they're rookies to first-year players or, as you mentioned, are in another league. So, a lot of the times those workouts have an affect on bringing in the player at this time. If you bring in a player right now, he needs to be kind of ready to go. It's not like you have time to have a month of training with them and all that. If you sign a player in February, that would be different. I would say the workout, the conditioning, the fact that it looks like the player's ready to go, works in his favor in terms of signing a player in that situation. The players that are coming from that league probably have a little bit of an advantage, in that they're in good condition, they've been playing, their techniques or whatever at their position they've been working on and they are maybe a little more proficient on those. Sometimes, after those workouts the conversation is, somewhere a long the lines of, "Well this guy, probably would be a better player or a better guy to work with, but he's just not in good condition, he's just not ready to go. This other guy is ready to go, he's in good shape, he's fundamentals are pretty good." Again, we understand what the players are, they're available. It gives them an opportunity, kind of, I would say, to take the time and the skills they've been doing in the spring and as long as they've been continuing to work and stay on top of that, a lot of the times they just look better than the other guys you're comparing them to. I think it definitely gives them an advantage and you can see the players on film recently. You have recent film of him, so you can have some gauge of his speed, athleticism, toughness, play-making ability and I understand it's at a different level. At least there is something to take a look at. [Jeremiah] Pharms [Jr.] is a good example last year, a guy that came in, was in good shape, played well, played hard, was productive and his career is still continuing. Guys like that, they are able to take advantage of that opportunity so that's been good for players like that, to get that extra shot. Great question.

Q: I thought that J.J. Taylor looked really good the other night. I was wondering, what are the biggest areas of growth that you've seen from him during his few years here and what does he need to do to earn a spot on the team?

BB: J.J. has just gotten better every year. He works extremely hard, very diligent guy. Had a couple good things in pass protection, which with his size is always a little bit of a challenge, but he's a tough kid and strong for his size. So, that's an area that he's really grown in and just in general in the passing game. I thought he did a good job with the screens and some of the catch-and-run opportunities. He's always been a good ball carrier and physical runner for his size. I mean he's not little, he's short, but he's a thick, strong kid. His versatility, handling punts, playing on the kickoff team, playing on all three downs offensively, his versatility, he wasn't able to do that three years ago. So, his versatility and his overall skill in the passing game, both of those have improved.

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