PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
August 28, 2023
Q: I saw you guys acquired two tackles via trade yesterday. How realistic is it to expect those players to be able to contribute to you early in the season?
BB: Yeah, I don't know. We'll have to work with them and see how it goes. I can't answer that until we've had them out there.
Q: Kind of a similar question about some of the guys that have been banged up, obviously it's a very different situation, but with Mike [Onwenu] and Cole [Strange] specifically, is it fair to presume or expect those guys to be able to contribute week one for you?
BB: Yeah, we'll see. We'll just take it day by day.
Q: Do you anticipate Calvin Anderson coming off the NFI list before Tuesday?
BB: Not sure. We'll see how that goes. Again, we'll continue to monitor his situation, and when he's medically cleared, then we will have a decision to make. He's not medically cleared. We will see.
Q: Sort of on the same lines, with Riley [Reiff], does that situation look like one where he'll at least be available to you at some point here, or did that come across as more of a long-term thing when we saw him leave the game the other night?
BB: Yeah, I think that's another one we're going to kind of have to wait and see on here. We'll see how it progresses over the next few days and we'll have a better read on it then.
Q: I know you were asked about Tyrone [Wheatley Jr.] on the show this morning. So, about Vederian Lowe, what made you want to work with him?
BB: Yeah, he's a player that we felt like could compete on the offensive line and give us some depth there and see how it goes. Young player, he's played a lot of tackle in his career at Illinois and at Minnesota. He may have some position flexibility, I don't know, I'll have to work with him and see.
Q: Do you expect both players to be in the building today?
BB: I think one's here, and not sure about the flight schedule on the other one.
Q: On the two tackles acquired, it seems like they have some experience on both edges, mainly playing left tackle. Do you see them providing versatility, or are these guys that come and sort of reinforce the left tackle spot?
BB: Yeah, again, we'll have to see. We'll work with them. I agree; I've seen exactly what you've seen. Both have primarily played on the left side, although Tyrone hasn't played a lot of tackle, but they've both also played on the right, and we'll see what else they can do. I don't know, we'll see. Sidy [Sow] played hardly any tackle at all in his career, and he's played a lot of tackle – exclusively played tackle since he's been here. We'll just have to see how that plays out, but they were available, and we're looking forward to working with both of them. We'll see how it goes.
Q: All the trades with the offensive tackles and the linemen, I guess it speaks to the need for every team to have depth at those positions. I guess, how important is depth along the offensive line, given it's really one of the keys to the offense throughout the entire season?
BB: Well, depth's important at every position on your roster. You just don't know when you're going to need it. Sometimes you go through a year, and you never need the depth, and then sometimes you need a lot of depth at certain positions. It's just an insurance policy that you don't know whether you're going to need or not, so one of the things about the offensive line is the amount of teamwork and communication that goes with those five players. So, you know, putting a new one in is not the easiest thing to do. It's never easy, but it's not the easiest thing to do because of the coordination that needs to take place between all five of those players. We did that last year with Conor [McDermott]. We were forced to, and he did a good job of it. It was probably about as good of a transition as I could have hoped for. But, that's not really the way that you want to go. You'd like to be able to have somebody that's familiar with your system, that's been doing it. Whether they've been on the starting lineup or not, at least they're familiar with everything you've been doing, the communication, the calls, the adjustments, things like that, if possible. But, that's again, true of every position. You can't insure all of them, but you try to have as much depth as you can on your roster for those contingencies, not knowing for sure where you're going to need that. Tom Brady got hurt in 2008, first play, first game, and it turns out that you need depth at that position, with [Matt] Cassel. That never happened again, so it's just a little bit of that is unpredictable, but you just have to be prepared. We felt like this was an opportunity to work with two young players that will give us that and see how it goes.
Q: Going back to Tyrone for a second, any mention of his minimal experience there at tackle, how much of your evaluation there for him is really just based on the preseason tape? I know he's been in for a workout, but is that a case of just, whatever the most recent data point is, stats are going to weigh heavy, but especially with a guy with minimal experience as it is?
BB: There are multiple ways to evaluate and gain information about a player. So, that varies from player to player, and different sources and so forth. We want to work with a player, that's why we traded for him. After signing Zeke [Ezekiel Elliott], we felt like we had a little more depth at the running back position and had less depth on the offensive line. So, that's why we made it, and we'll see how it goes.
Q: Sort of following up on that, I was sort of curious about Pierre Strong [Jr.], and sort of talking about it with another reporter yesterday. Just wondering, how much is the change of what you're doing offensively this year from what you did last year, did that change how he fit for you? You know like maybe his skill set was more suited ...
BB: Yeah, I don't think so. I don't think it changed.
Q: How would you sort of sum up that. Obviously, you drafted him in the fourth round last year. He's got a lot of things going for him. What sort of happened? Was it the lack of special teams progress for him that, sort of, didn't help him break through? What happened there?
BB: Well, when you trade for another player, you have to give up something. So, you have to give up something to get something. You're not looking to get rid of anybody, but you had to give up something to get a player that we feel like we needed.
Q: With the understanding that every player in every personnel situation is different, I was wondering if you could expand on the idea of why maybe you make a move on a guy or cut a guy yesterday as opposed to today or Tuesday for example.
BB: You know, there is a number of reasons for that, one of them being just volume. We have to make 37 transactions, and in some cases when the decision is clear cut, I think it just helps the player get a little bit of a head start on his future. If we don't have a spot for him here, because of the relationship that we have with those guys, they've worked hard; they've done what we've asked them to do; they've done their best, maybe there is a spot for them somewhere else. We're giving them the opportunity to get out there a little bit ahead of the pack and at least now they can start putting some feelers out and their agent can start to work on it. I know that the transaction doesn't become official until later in the week, but when a player has been released, he has the opportunity to start to look to see if there is going to be a practice squad opportunity or something else somewhere else in the league. For the guys that have come in and done all that we've asked them to do and worked hard, I hope they get another opportunity somewhere. I hope things work out for them somewhere else. Maybe they're in a better system, fit or another team has less depth than we do and so forth, and some of those guys are going to end up on other teams. So, it's partially to maintain a relationship with them and their representatives. It's things that are already in place here that I don't feel like are going to change and it just accelerates the process for us, because again, we have a lot of things to do in a fairly short amount of time and things that you can do, if you will, ahead of time before the deadline. I'm sure things will get crunched at the end, and I don't want to not give those players at least the time and the courtesy of an explanation and the decision, a closure to it if you will. I think they deserve that based on what they've given me. When you try to do 37 guys in an hour, it can just feel pretty dismissive of what the player's effort and commitment has been. I want to recognize that because some of these guys have worked as hard as they could for the last however many months, in some cases years, and done all they could. Unfortunately, we all know that 90 has got to go to 53. It's 37 players who can't be on the 53-man roster, and we all knew that when we signed up for it. I've been on waivers myself a few times. So, I know what that's like to be told, "You don't have a place here", and some of us end up somewhere else. It's part of the process. Whether it's the right or wrong thing to do, I don't know, but I try to do the best that I can. I try to be respectful for the players and what they're going through and what their future is, if it's not here. I try to communicate that to them in the best way that I can. We deal with multiple people in the organization and talk to their representatives and so forth. We try to handle it as professionally as we can, let's put it that way.