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Transcript: Bill Belichick Press Conference 8/31


August 31, 2020

BB: Well, we're moving into kind of another phase here in terms of the ending of the training camp period and the beginning of the regular season preparation week. So, we'll kind of transition through that this week, and then next week we'll be in a full game preparation week for Miami. So, this will, like I said, be a little bit of a transition – trying to clean up some loose ends, finish off some things that we need to do, then also I'd say continue to work on some of the things that we've been doing that need some refinement or a little higher level of execution. So, we'll continue to do all the things that will be closer to game-type situations, as well as obviously continuing to work on fundamentals and basis. But, we've got to move forward so that we're ready to actually play a game. That's kind of where we are this week, and then of course at the end of the week, we'll have to make some decisions relative to the roster, but we've still got a few days to try to continue to sort that out. We'll see how all that goes. That's really more of an end of the week type of decision-making process. So, for the next couple of days here, at least through the middle of the week, just try to continue to build the things that we need built. 

Q: How close do you feel you might be to naming a starting quarterback?

BB: I don't know. When we're ready to do it, we'll do it. 

Q: Mike Onwenu seems to be carrying on a run that Michigan has had with offensive linemen. What have you seen from him and what have you seen from Michigan that has helped them have a run here of producing offensive linemen in the NFL?

BB: Yeah, well, we have Mike and Ben [Braden] on the roster, so that's a program that, as you said, they go way back, all the way to a long way back, but since I've been in the league, Dan Dierdorf and all the ones in between. You know, a lot of tradition there. Coach [Jim] Harbaugh has always done a good job when he was at Stanford and at Michigan of developing those players – tight ends, linemen. He's always been known for that. So, they had four guys drafted last year and it looks like the tackle will be drafted this year, so it's a pretty good group, pretty impressive group to watch.

Q: What are your thoughts on Onwenu and what has he shown you?

BB: Yeah, good kid, tough, has good fundamentals, good playing strength. Like every rookie, especially on the offensive line, there's a lot to learn – a lot of fundamentals and footwork and just playing against I'd say generally play-in and play-out just better players, like everybody does in this league. But, he's making progress every day. Like all rookies, he has a long way to go, but he's out there every day, he's working hard, continues to get better, has been steady, durable, a player that's been on the field every day and he continues to improve. So, I'm glad we have him and look forward to working with him.

Q: How will the transition this week go in terms of the structure of practice? Is it a little bit of game planning sprinkled in or are there different drills you've have the players go through before you turn your full focus to Miami preparation?

BB: Right, so, today's Monday. I think by the end of the week, we'll be into Miami. So, a little bit each day, and that transition will take place over the course of the next several days. It won't be jumping from training camp to in-season, but there will be, I'd say, a gradual progression of both practice structure and what we actually do in practice, how those drills or periods get eventually changed from training camp emphasis to specific emphasis for an opponent. So, that will be, like I said, a four or five day period to encompass offense, defense, special teams and all the things that go with those different units – first down, second down, third down, all the different kicking units. It's not all at once. There will be some things that may relate to Miami and then maybe the next day a little bit more, maybe the next day a little bit more of a regular season practice structure, so it will be a transition period here. It's not all going to happen in one day, but by I would say the end of the week, we should be in a regular season type of format. 

Q: Are these transition days normal and have you done them in years past? Or is the lack of a preseason causing you to have this transition period?

BB: Well, we always transition from training camp to the regular season. There is some point where we break camp, and then usually we have, depending on how the early part of the season shapes up, yeah, there's a period where we go from training camp to regular season mode. We still have competitive periods where we're working against each other where it's not structured for an opponent but it's more fundamentals and techniques or situations that we can compete against each other on to improve ourselves, but also start to get into specific game planning or specific situations that aren't as competitive because we're trying to prepare for something we're going to see or trying to prepare for a specific situation that we need to play out – the hands team or kickoff return after a safety or things like that – situational plays that are very specific that really aren't general training camp plays. They have more application to real game situations and how much time is left, what's the score and things like that that become more situation specific. That's generally where I would say that's headed. Like, do we know how to line up on kickoff return after a safety? Yeah, we can do that. But, when you start putting specific situations with that, then that changes things a little bit. Those are the kind of things that we're – in all different phases of the game, not just the kicking game, but it transcends into all three phases of the game, as we did on Friday some team substitutions – so situations where we could either go for it on fourth down, or kick a field goal, or go for it on fourth down, or punt it, or the other team is kind of in that gray area where it's not defined. It's not just calling the play and running it, but also having the right communication so that you can execute whatever it is you're trying to do or whatever it is you're trying to defend that they're trying to do. So, those are the kind of things that we need to progress forward on here this week, in addition to the other things I've mentioned. So, it's not all going to happen in one practice, but we'll build into it and hopefully be there by later in the week.

Q: J.C. Jackson has been a competitive player in your program. Entering year three, how much continued growth have you seen from him?

BB: Yeah, J.C. continues to improve. I think his understanding of the defense and his ability to play different spots within the defense has grown, and that gives us some flexibility on a number of levels. He's had a good camp, been out there every day, he's taken a lot of reps, he's in good condition, his techniques and fundamentals are pretty good. So, he continues to make plays for us on the field and expand the things that he can do to provide, as I said, more versatility and for him to create either bigger or sometimes different roles for himself or for his teammates. He's done a good job for us. 

Q: What did you guys like about Jermaine Eluemunor when you picked him up last year? What have you learned about him and liked about him over the last year?

BB: Yeah, well, he's been with us – you know, he was with us all last year. He wasn't here in training camp, but he came at the end of camp and was with us for basically the entire season. So, he's got a pretty good background on our offensive system, our terminology and all that. He's an experienced player without a lot of game experience on our field. He's played tackle and guard, so he's a pretty experienced, versatile lineman that's had an opportunity to compete all training camp here. He's had obviously more of an opportunity without Marcus [Cannon] here, so he's done a good job. He's certainly shown a lot of growth and the extra reps have given him more confidence and more of an opportunity to improve and work with his teammates in terms of communication and picking up line stunts and games and things like that. He's shown a lot of progress. 

Q: How much tougher will it be to sift through the waiver wire after roster cut downs, especially having not seen guys in preseason games?

BB: Yeah, well, that process has already started. Nick [Caserio] and Dave [Ziegler] and their staff, that's what they do. They stay on top of that. Obviously, we can't 100 percent predict how it's going to go, but I'd say we have a pretty good idea of how we think it's going to go. We'll see what happens. Whatever opportunities or decisions we have to make, then we'll use the information that we have, which obviously is limited compared to other years in terms of preseason games, and make those decisions. We'll be ready when the time comes. We'll see how it goes. 

Q: What are your impressions of Joejuan Williams as he enters his second season? Do you see his future more at cornerback or safety or a little bit of both?

BB: Yeah, well, I think we've talked about the second year players quite a few times here. Again, that entire group has really made a big jump here into year two. It's a very hardworking group, guys have put in a lot of extra time, they have a much better understanding and anticipation of knowing what's going to happen, they can react to it quicker and they know much more about what we're doing so they know the tools that they have to use to handle different looks and different situations that come up. So, certainly Joejuan is in that category. Almost everybody other than somebody like [Jarrett] Stidham has position flexibility, has the ability to do more than one thing, including be involved in the kicking game, so they all understand that their versatility is important, as well as mastering specific skillsets. Joejuan has done that, as have most of the other players in that category. The more they can do, the more opportunities they create for themselves, and certainly their improved understanding of our system and league systems and knowing what's going on on the other side of the ball or having a better idea of what's going on on the other side of the ball has helped those guys immensely this season. Hopefully, we'll get a lot of production out of some of those players or hopefully all of them, but that competition remains to be decided on the field. So, we'll see how it comes out.

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