PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
BB: Giants week. Always a good opportunity for us against the Giants. This is a good organization, a good football team. I think competing against them at the end of the preseason is always a good way to finish up the preseason, get ready to go and start the season. I think Coach [Pat] Shurmur's done a great job down there, really returning to fundamentals, basics, and you can certainly see that in their play in all three phases of the game. This is a long week for us – you know, full week, Thursday to Thursday, so it's a lot different than last week. Hopefully we can get a lot of things done in terms of moving forward, improving our team and taking a final look at the competition on the roster and making some decisions at the end of the week, then moving on. That's where we're at.
Q: Demaryius Thomas started practicing again, and has said that some days he feels like he has explosiveness, and others maybe not so much. What have you seen from him?
BB: Yeah, we'll just take it day-by-day. Yeah, certainly he's done some impressive things, but it's stringing them together. It's being able to do them on a consistent basis and come back and do it again. Really that's pretty much everybody's situation, he just entered into it a little bit later. But we've had guys in that category, the guys that have already gone through that for this year. Yeah, so we'll just take it day-by-day.
Q: Similar for Josh Gordon?
BB: Same thing.
Q: What are your impressions of his physical condition since he's been gone from organized football?
BB: Yeah, we'll just take it day-by-day.
Q: How do you feel things have come together with the staff through training camp and the preseason?
BB: Yeah, we're making progress. I think we're certainly sharper than we were – that wasn't very sharp. But yeah, it'll be a lot different when we get into more situational football and teams start strategizing and game planning more than they have at this time of the year. I mean, I don't think any of the three teams we've played game planned much. We didn't game plan much, just tried to go out there and give the players an opportunity to work on their fundamentals. Do the things that they know and evaluate them based on that, rather than trying to evaluate the team on triple reverses and stuff like that. That's not really what this is for. So it'll certainly get a lot more challenging.
Q: Do you have a good idea of what the 53-man roster will look like, or can jobs still be won Thursday night?
BB: That depends on what happens Thursday night. I don't know. Look, there's a lot of moving parts at this time of year, so I don't know. I don't think anybody really knows. Some may. There's other factors externally that could affect us as well, and we don't know what those are. So we'll just see how it goes, try to put together the most competitive team we can this year, and I don't know how exactly that's going to work out.
Q: Is it tough monitoring 31 other teams this week while you're trying to do your job?
BB: Yeah, I don't do that. That's why we have a pro personnel department. I think Nick [Caserio] and Dave Ziegler and the guys in that department do a great job. I think they're on top of it. I can ask them about any player in the league and they can tell me what that player's situation is, who he's in competition with, how he's looked, what game's he's played in, better than last year, not as good as last year. Whatever it is, they'll be on all of those guys. And at thirteen hundred guys or whatever, there'll be some kind of transaction. With thirteen hundred-plus that'll have a transaction here in the next few days, there'll be very few – if any – guys that we'll – we'll be way over the thirteen hundred. We're looking at maybe thirteen hundred and then some guys are going to make it, some guys aren't, but the guys that are there will be on. So I'd be surprised if there's somebody in that group that we haven't looked at tape on, had a preseason evaluation on, and that we're not up to speed with. That's what the pro personnel department does.
Q: Andrew Luck retired. You faced him six times – what was it like going up against him?
BB: Yeah, he's a good player. I didn't see that [coming], but I haven't really followed them. You know, we all have to make our decisions, he made his. I respect it.
Q: Is there competition for the backup quarterback job, or is it Brian Hoyer's job?
BB: There's competition everywhere across the board.
Q: Entering the season, you were set to face heavy changes in the tight end position. Since then, you've had injuries and suspensions within that group. Has that made it more difficult for you to implement whatever you planned to for the position?
BB: A lot of it was to see how the competition played out, and that's pretty much what it's been this spring, training camp, preseason games. So we'll continue to do that. The players that won't be available for a portion or a small portion of the season, it is what it is. We've dealt with that before. A lot of teams in the league have to deal with that, so that's just part of the equation that we'll have to figure out.
Q: How do you evaluate some of the guys who have missed time with injuries?
BB: Just do the best we can.
Q: You mentioned the coaching staff showing improvements and that it wasn't very sharp. What about it wasn't sharp?
BB: Well, we didn't coach a game for six months.
Q: So the game?
BB: Well if you stopped doing something for six months, do you think you'd be as good at it as if you had done it every day for the previous six months? Of course not. So that's what training camp is for. That's what preseason games are for.
Q: I didn't know if it was game-specific versus meetings or practices?
BB: Well, you go for a long time without – I mean look, you watch practice out there. You train your eyes, you train your reflexes, and you process things a lot quicker when you're familiar with it when you've been doing it. When you've been looking at offseason tape and evaluating college players and doing other projects and things like that, you're not working on that. It's not a bad thing, it's just the reality. So to go from not coaching a game in six months, and to think that for me to sit here and tell you I'm as sharp as I was six months ago when I had done it every day, every week for the previous six months, I mean, I can't say that. I can't imagine anybody could say that.
Q: Can you talk about Hjalte Froholdt?
BB: Yeah. He's worked hard. Good kid, really good kid. He's healthy, he's out there every day. He gets better. He's got a long way to go, but he's improving and we'll just see where it goes. But he's certainly a good player to work with. He's got a lot of strengths and attributes that you like to work with. As a player, he needs experience, needs to fine-tune some things, but he's working hard at those and he keeps getting better.
Q: What factors outside of health may lead you to cut ties with a player before a fourth preseason game or the end of the week when you need to make cuts?
BB: Well, whatever's best for the football team. Those are what the factors are. So if the decision is what we feel is best for the team, then we make it. A lot of factors go into that.
Q: Gunner Olszewski is learning a new position on the opposite side of the ball than he played in college. What did he show you that made you feel like he could come in here and at least make an impression?
BB: Yeah, I mean he's really started from the bottom-up. We needed a little depth on the roster at that particular point in time, the spring. There were some players out and, you know, felt like he'd be worth working with. He's consistently gotten better and improved in the things that we've asked him to do. Again, he's got a long way to go too, but he's showed a lot of improvement. He's been out there every day, he works hard, he gets better. I think he's got some physical skill to work with. Not a big guy, but he's tough, competitive, runs well. So we'll keep working with him as long as we can. We'll keep working with all of these guys as long as we can. At some point we're going to have to make roster decisions and work with fewer players, and then we'll do what we think is best for the team at that point.