PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
BB: We're just, I'd say, moving a little bit closer to football. Situations, down and distance, field position, crowd noise, multiple special teams periods as opposed to just focusing on one thing, some live tackling, things like that. Third day in pads, starting to grind through it. I think all of those things are good. We've just got to keep stringing days together, take advantage of our opportunities to go out there and improve and trust the process. Today will be another good opportunity for us to do that. Again, having multiple and consecutive days together is what we need at this time of year, so we'll try and take advantage of it.
Q: What did you think of the energy level at yesterday's practice? Is that something that you gauge as you go through camp?
BB: Yeah, a little bit. I think it's more, honestly, about the execution and the performance. Which, look, anytime you have two teams competing against each other, if one team looked good then the other side didn't look good and vice versa. Again, I think the idea is just being able to do things right and if it doesn't end up right, then to coach off of it and try to correct it. If you do it wrong, then the only correction is let's try to do it right. If we're doing it right and we're not getting, again, the result that you want, then you try to improve it incrementally, as is the other side. So, that's the constant competition.
Q: How would you assess Patrick Chung's quarterbacking skills?
BB: I'll stay away from that one.
Q: How would you assess how Stephon Gilmore has come along through the spring and into training camp?
BB: Yeah, I think he's one of the players that we talked about a couple of days ago that's in that second year that has a higher level of comfort in the overall program, the defensive system, the communication with teammates and understanding of techniques and so forth. We have a lot of players that fall into that category and he's one of them. I think that's been evident since the beginning of the offseason program in April. He's done a good job, done a solid job for us all year. He did a solid job for us last year, but this year we're starting at a much higher point.
Q: Is Dwayne Allen in that group too?
BB: Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely.
Q: What have you liked about how he's handled himself this offseason?
BB: Yeah, same thing. He's had a great offseason, has worked really hard, has improved himself, has improved the techniques and doing things the way that we try to do them. He's helped younger players like Will [Tye], and Jacob [Hollister] and guys like that. He's been a great teammate. It's starting from a much higher point and we're on a lot higher ground than we were at any point last year. Even though he started the year with us last year, a little different than [Phillip] Dorsett and Marquis Flowers and guys like that, that came in midseason but still, like Gilmore, it was still starting behind where the players who had been here previously were starting.
Q: Are the reports true that you guys are bringing in Eric Decker?
BB: Any announcements that we have on personnel will be when they're completed, if they're completed.
Q: What has impressed you most about Eric Decker from your time coaching against him?
BB: Yeah, I kind of refrain from commenting on anybody unless they're actually on our team.
Q: How would you assess how well Tom Brady has played during this training camp?
BB: Yeah, I'm not going to get into a lot of individual assessments. I think all of us - I'd speak for all of us, and myself included - we're in a process. We've been in camp for a week to 10 days depending on when they came in, when we came in, when we started. We're making progress. We all have a long way to go. We're all a long way from where we need to be, but we're all a lot further along than we were a week or 10 days ago. It's part of the process. We're just grinding through it. We've all got a long way to go.
Q: You've been coaching for so long that some people may think this is just the same old routine for you each season. Are you still expanding your coaching each season as you get later into your career here?
BB: Yeah, well I think whoever's making those comments is obviously somebody who hasn't done this. The things I worked on in the offseason aren't what I'm doing now; draft, free agency, cut up films, so forth and so on. This is different.
Q: Does it ever feel like it's become comfortable to you?
BB: No, each year is a new year. Each year has its own challenges. Again, each year we all have to regain our - to the best we can - our ability to perform our jobs. That's what I'm trying to do. I think that's what all of the players, all of the coaches - we're all trying to do that. None of us have coached a game or played in a game in a long time. That'll be coming up soon, but we've got a long way to go.
Q: The average retirement age in this country is 63. I've spoken to some of your players that have been here for a while and they say they see no difference from you now compared to the work ethic you showed 10 years ago. How do you maintain that level of intensity?
BB: My dad told me age is just a number, so I'll just look at it that way. I'm not really worried about it.
Q: Tom Brady turns 41 today. Looking back, could you have ever imagined this kind of longevity from him back in the early 2000s?
BB: Yeah, I mean, look, in 2003 I was worried about 2003. In 2006 I was worried about 2006. Right now I'm not thinking about 2028 or whatever year it is. It's not really the way I look at it. We take what we have and look at a year, next year, that kind of window. We don't think about where some player on our team is going to be 10 years from now. It's not really part of my thought process to be honest with you. Not at this time. We can look back, but at this time I'm not thinking about getting a player ready for the 2029 season. I'm just not thinking about that.
Q: Do you ever look back and think "Man, I can't believe Tom has been this good for this long?"
BB: I said he's had a tremendous career. Yeah, absolutely. He's had a spectacular career and he still plays at a very high level; yeah.
Q: Are you doing anything for Tom's birthday today?
BB: Yeah, we'll have a couple of things here.
Q: Are you enjoying coaching as much in 2018 as any other season in your past?
BB: I'm trying to help our team. That's what I've tried to do every year I've been in the National Football League. Whatever my role was, my assignments were, I've tried to do the best I could to help our football team. That's what I'm trying to do now.
Q: Is there anything else that stands out besides the athleticism in regards to Cordarrelle Patterson?
BB: Yeah, he has a lot of good skills; sure.
Q: Other than the athleticism, what has stood out about him?
BB: I mean, he's a hard-working guy. He's out there every single day. He's improved every day. He has skills in offense and the kicking game in a number of different areas, return skills, coverage skills, blocking skills, catching skills. He's got some experience, so he's able to utilize that. He understands his skill set and how it matches up against different types of players.
Q: Did you watch the Pro Football Hall of Fame game last night?
BB: I didn't. I missed it. 17-16; it must have been pretty exciting.
Q: The new helmet rule came up. Did you see how it was applied at all by the officials?
BB: We'll definitely watch that game relative to the officiating, the kickoffs, just some strategy on the kickoffs. I did see a couple of plays on that. But what those two teams are doing, that doesn't mean the other 29 - minus us - [will do] but, you know, those are two good coaching staffs. We'll see what they did strategically on the kickoff and kickoff return in that phase of the game. I'm sure that the officiating department, which Al Riveron does a great job of, he did it last year. I'm sure he'll do it again this year. He sends out weekly, either memos or videos, to the coaches to explain either rules or situations or whatever there is to explain based on what he's seen that week or in previous weeks that are trending and so forth to keep us informed on that. I'm sure he'll do that. That'll help us in the next few days when we start to prepare for Washington. That'll be part of talking about that, showing some kicking and kickoff return plays from this game and maybe there were some officiating plays that were relevant. Clete [Blakeman] came in here last week and went through his presentation on the rules and so forth, which was very good. But maybe they'll be some things to add from this game to inform the players about that came up in the game.
Q: Are you going to have the officials come to a practice?
Q: How has Eric Rowe reacted to the possible opportunity of taking on a bigger role this season?
BB: Yeah, I think Eric's had a solid camp. I don't know what anybody's role is. That's all to be determined based on the competitive performance of the players; theirs and other players at their positon that they're competing with. We'll see how all of that goes. I don't have any control over that. Their performance is in their hands. We'll evaluate it and then do what we think is best for the team. But he's been very competitive. I think he's had a good camp.
Q: Matthew Slater mentioned that you have a good sense of when to ease up or when to push the team. Yesterday we saw you end on a bit of a lighter note with the offense playing defense and vice versa. What informs those decisions from you? Do you get info from the players or is it just a feel for the moment?
BB: Yeah, in some situations, like that one in particular. That was just a flat out challenge that was accepted. It was competition.
Q: Who challenged who?
BB: Again, those are things that I would say are part of the team, part of the team-building, team process. I'm all for competition, and that's not infrequent. We have that in other areas, some on the field, some off the field. In other ways with a group or a guy or somebody in a good way challenges somebody else to do something, then great, let's have at it. If they meet the challenge or they want to accept the challenge, then OK. Who can put a Rubik's cube together faster? It could be a million different things. But sometimes that stuff comes up and "I can do this, I can do that, I can do it better." Alright, well, let's see.
Q: Does anybody ever challenge you?
BB: We've had a couple through the years.
Q: Eric Rowe was in coverage on the Julio Jones catch at the end of Super Bowl LI. Do you think that was a great teaching moment for him in terms of sometimes you'll have great coverage in this league and a guy will still make a great catch?
BB: Yeah, it was a good moment for all of us; coaches, players, anybody who has on the field. Sometimes great players make great plays. I would say, defensively, that's what you want to force your opponents to do, is to make as many great, spectacular plays as possible and not give up the easy ones. Occasionally, sometimes you do everything as well as you can do it, maybe perfectly, and other great players do it maybe just a little bit better. We've been on both sides of that. So has every other team, but that's the National Football League. In this league, players make great plays. Especially on the defensive side of the ball, there are times where there's great execution between the quarterback and the receivers. We certainly see it on the practice field out here at times where you can do everything right and they still complete it, but I think that's what you've got to do. You've got to force them to do everything right. At some point you might have to just take your hat off to them and say it was a great play. Let's see if they can do it again. We try to make it as hard on them the next time.
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