PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
August 26, 2023
Q: The kicker situation is sort of fascinating to me, just because Nick [Folk] has been so steady, and you've got Chad [Ryland] with the big leg, obviously younger. What have you observed just over the course of the camp and since you've had these two guys as to where that stands right now?
BB: Yeah, very competitive. You know, we haven't kicked a field goal in preseason, so it's all been touchdowns and no field goal attempts. We've had plenty of them in practice, and that's what we have to go off of. They've both had really good camps, so that's a pretty tight competition. Same thing with the punter situation; Corliss [Waitman] had two huge punts last night, one out of the end zone, so we'll see how that goes. It looks like we've got a very good competition at both of those spots.
Q: I was wondering about the significance of not – I think Nick had the one field goal in the first preseason game – would you have liked to see more in game conditions? Is that just something where – I guess you can't really set that up, right, unless you kick on third down?
BB: Right, yeah. Trying to play the game, generally speaking, that would work out over the course of three games, but it didn't, so it is what it is. Nothing we can do about that.
Q: As we look ahead to the Eagles, there's a lot of balls in the air, obviously, at this time of the year. Jalen Hurts hasn't played. I was wondering how significant that is for you guys, that there isn't preseason tape to see of Hurts and how significant is that for you guys as you shift to preparation looking ahead to the opener?
BB: Yeah, I think that's what it is. I mean, there's three snaps of Ryan Tannehill too, so that's what most teams do. Obviously, our better players have gotten a lot of work in our practices and in the joint practice with Green Bay, so they've taken a lot of snaps. They just haven't been in preseason games. So, we'll see where things are at. I think we have plenty to work with for Philadelphia. I'm sure they've been working on things that they haven't shown, and that's always part of opening day, but we'll do what we can to be ready for it and be ready to do.
Q: When it comes to Chad and Nick, is that something where you would consider keeping two kickers on the roster? In your time in the NFL, have you ever had a scenario like that where you had two placekickers on the roster for whatever reason?
BB: Yeah, we had two kickers last year on the roster for one game. Again, there's a number of things to consider when you look at the whole roster makeup. We'll get into those this weekend and do what we feel is best for the team. That's all I can tell you.
Q: With the offensive line situation, with Michael Onwenu returning to practice last week, have you guys been locked in with him at right guard? Would you consider moving him out to right tackle, or since he's been locked in and played pretty well, is he kind of stapled in at that position moving forward?
BB: Right, we'll see how it goes with the offensive line. It would be nice to have all of the players available, but that hasn't been the case. We'll see how that pans out here over the next few days, and coming weeks, and so forth. But, we'll just have to see how things work out. We have some versatility. We have guys that have played different positions, so we'll just have to see how it goes here.
Q: As you get prepared for the Eagles two weeks from today, what are the biggest areas of focus you feel for the football club to be ready within these next two weeks?
BB: Right, we'll take a closer look at the Eagles. We've seen a little bit of them in preseason, kept up with them a little bit and obviously spent time on them in the offseason when schedule came out. Right now, I think the big thing for us is to get our team established, our roster established, and figure out what the Patriots are doing to prepare for the 2023 17-game regular season schedule. Philly's a big part of that, but we have to see a whole season's worth of football here and make those decisions, figure out what we need to work on this week and combine that with preparation for the Eagles. So, there's a number of balls in the air, but we'll work on all of them.
Q: From an internal standpoint, what do you feel good about and what, obviously, are you looking to focus on within the next couple weeks, just internally?
BB: We'll be working on everything. We haven't had much situational football, like everyone else, in preseason with probably the players who are going to be in there during the regular season games. So, we've done a lot of that in practice, so that's something that we'll have to keep working on in addition to all of the kind of normal situations, normal plays that they need to work on. Then, based on the roster composition, work that in there as well, and then at some point merge that into Philadelphia preparations. We'll be totally in on those preparations the week of the game, but we have this coming week here to work on other things that will hopefully be foundational for us going forward into the regular season, in all areas, not just the Philly game, that we'll prepare for and work through as well. It's a combination of a number of things here, obviously our fundamentals, just basic core fundamentals that go with all plays, or a lot of plays, maybe keep those sharp too. As I said, it's really a mixture of things. Philly's certainly on the horizon. That's part of the emphasis, but we have some things that we need to do that are more just generic season planning things that aren't necessarily specific to the Eagles game, they have relevance to, hopefully, every game.
Q: From a coachability and work ethic standpoint, what have you seen this summer as a whole from Kayshon Boutte? He's someone who obviously faced some questions coming out of college, but really seemed to improve as camp went along and finished strong.
BB: I think just the way you put it sums it up pretty well. He didn't do a lot in the spring, and as camp went on seemed to get stronger and more productive, both in practice and games, really in all of the areas that he worked into. So, that was very encouraging, and he showed explosive ability on the field when he played. So, he's had a good camp, and again, we'll just take a look at everything here as we put things together over the weekend here and then heading into the regular season. But yeah, Kayshon's had a strong camp.
Q: Curious what the thought process was behind the quarterback rotation last night, with Bailey [Zappe] playing and then leaving, and then coming back in for the second half.
BB: Yeah, we wanted to give Trace [McSorley] some snaps as well, earlier in the game, not just wait until the end, and then we played Malik [Cunningham] a little bit too. It was mostly a Bailey game, but we wanted to give the other two quarterbacks some opportunities as well.