HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
VIDEO PRESS CONFERENCE
August 4, 2021
BB: We're moving through the week here. Yesterday was a good opportunity for us. Our first opportunity to get out in pads and work on the fundamentals that we certainly need to work on. Today we'll be back in shells and we'll come back in pads tomorrow on Thursday. It's always good to get started on those fundamentals, and that'll be a lengthy process, but we're underway. We've corrected some things, and hopefully we'll be able to do them better on Thursday and then our succeeding practice and game opportunities as well. I think the team's continuing to show up and work hard on a daily basis. We just have a long way to go. A lot to do, but we're getting there. Making some progress here slowly but surely. Hopefully we can see things come together here a little bit by the end of the week in terms of completing our installation and then really focus on next week getting ready to compete against Washington.
Q: You always have a lot of former players come back to practice to share their words of wisdom to the players and you guys. I've noticed Tedy's [Bruschi] been back a lot. What does a guy like that bring to you, your coaching staff and your team?
BB: Well, those players are welcome, and it's great to see him. Certainly, Tedy's meant as much to this program as just about anybody. He was a tremendous player and leader and inspiration both on and off the field. He had a great career, and I appreciate his friendship and his support. Certainly, anybody with the kind of experience that he has could lend some good insight to all of us. It's good to see him back.
Q: So I know obviously before you sign someone like Nelson Agholor you watch a ton of film on him, but what have you learned about him since you have got him in the building this summer?
BB: Any time you work with somebody on a daily basis and on an individual basis you just learn a little bit more about their personality, their learning methods and what they've done before and how that relates to what they're being asked to do now, and that's different for each individual. It's just building relationships like it is building a relationship with anybody else. He's good to work with. He works hard. He's very detailed and wants to be detailed. Wants to do things the way that they need to be done and be where the quarterback needs him to be and with the right timing and so forth. Just got a good skill set and has been able to play a couple of different positions for us as all the receivers have. We've moved them all around a little bit here in the spring and in training camp. We'll just continue to do that.
Q: It looked like there were moments yesterday where players were tackling to the ground, which I'm not totally sure if that's something you've done before in camp. Is that a change in training camp philosophy for you? And if so, why?
BB: We've tackled before. We always try to do some tackling prior to the start of preseason games. So we'll continue to do that.
Q: Are there any restrictions on players when they are doing that sort of stuff in the preseason? Obviously you want to work on that part of the game, but I'm sure part of every team's focus this time of year is trying to limit injuries as much as possible too. Are there any restrictions or do you have any messages for players before you get into that kind of stuff, or is it just kind of go for it when it comes to those spots?
BB: Well, we have various practice tempos, and that's something that takes a little bit of acclimation for the players. Although I think overall this group's done a done a pretty good job with it. But yeah, we have different practice tempos, or certain things are permitted, and other things are not permitted, and that can change from drill to drill as to how competitive we are all the way to being fully competitive other than the quarterback. Part of that is learning how to practice, how to practice together, how to practice at a good tempo where we can execute our assignments, work with the other side of the ball. But at the same time, try not to take any unnecessary risks. At some point you have to learn how to play football, so that's part of training camp.
Q: Are you willing to share whether you are vaccinated?
BB: Yeah. We're not going to get into that.
Q: Do you think that you will be disclosing at any point what percentage of the team is vaccinated this year?
BB: I don't know. Those are really medical questions.
Q: Are you comfortable with where the team is in terms of vaccination at this point?
BB: I mean we're here. We're practicing. We're going through our training camp routine and schedule. So that's what we're doing.
Q: A lot of your front seven guys have talked about the excitement that they have trying to figure out where they're fitting into your schemes. I'm wondering what that process is like for you as you learn where they best fit?
BB: We'll see how all that goes. I think at this point it's really more about trying to expose the players to the fundamentals and the techniques that they'll be playing. Let them get comfortable with that. Just kind of let them understand how to play a base block, how to play a double team block, how to rush the passer from various alignments, how to run games, how to read certain plays and so forth. That's really where we're at. We're not really anywhere close to game planning or how are these guys going to play together or where is this guy going to play or that type of thing. We're really just trying to install the defense, understand what the terms mean, understand what our different alignments and movements are, how to execute them, and then at some point we'll start to put things together. What we've done so far is pretty basic. We're not trying to run any exotic things and we're not ready to run them. That's not really helpful for the offense to have to deal with something that might come up on a rare occasion during the season. I think what everybody needs right now is the basics and then work on the fundamentals and the techniques in our basic plays against fairly basic plays on the other side of the ball as well, so we can establish a good base on those fundamentals and then build from there. We're a ways away from that. We'll see how it goes, but again, part of it is just being able to see the players play and evaluate them and see potentially where, what kind of versatility or flexibility they have or what some of the best things they do are maybe what they need work on and so forth. Those things are hard for defensive linemen. Those are hard for anybody to evaluate until you can have practices like we had yesterday, which is the first one of those. It's hard to evaluate offensive and defensive linemen based on non-padded practices, but you can teach them and we can learn what to do, and we can improve some of our footwork and fundamentals and things like that. With no contact, it's hard to evaluate.
Q: You mentioned Tedy Bruschi earlier. A couple other former players of yours, Troy Brown, Jerod Mayo on the coaching staff. How have you seen them develop as coaches over the past couple of years?
BB: Yeah Troy [Brown] and Jerod [Mayo] have done a great job for us. They both bring a lot to our coaching staff, to the team, to the entire organization. They obviously have a lot of experience, and they have a perspective on the game as players that most of the other coaches on the staff don't have, at least at the professional level. So you know, that's good there. They work extremely hard. They're well-prepared just like they were as players, and they're excellent role models, and they're young. They're not that far away from when they did play, and they can relate to a lot of the things that the players are going through, whether it be time management, preparation for practice and how to study and so forth. They're a great resource for those players as well as for, in general, myself and the coaching staff on those topics like that that they were very good at and have more experience with than the rest of us do.
Q: I wanted to ask you about Kyle Van Noy and Dont'a Hightower; two guys that have had a lot of experience in your defense, obviously leaders and weren't here last year. Have you noticed their return so far? What has it been like getting both of them back? Has it been a seamless transition for Kyle and with Dont'a? Is he ready for football again after taking a year off?
BB: It's been great to have both of them back. I think all of us need this preparation time and training camp. Some of the practices we had in the spring training camp to be ready for the preseason, regular season games. So, I think that's across the board. Every player, every coach, experienced, inexperienced, with the team, not with the team last year, so forth. We all need that. That's what training camp is for, but they've done a good job there. Both very instinctive players as well as have a good grasp and understanding of our defensive system. But beyond that, they're able to process information. A lot of it new looks, new situations and make good decisions and also help their teammates execute in those situations as well through good communication or anticipation of a problem that they can recognize and adjust to pretty quickly. So yeah, it's been great having those guys.
Q: When you dip into free agency at various times, are there certain programs that you look at and say, you know, the way they coach their players, we can sort of get a read on how that player will fit in our system and how their personality will sit in our system, or is it just a case-by-case basis?
BB: I'd say everything's pretty unique and individual. All of us are different. All players are different. Our skills are different and personalities are different and all that. In the end I think you're trying to bring people onto your team. Whenever you bring them on, whatever that is, whether it's a free agent, a trade, a draft choice, you try to project that player into your organization and what his strengths are and possibly what his weaknesses are and how you're going to deal with those weaknesses. How if you think you can change them or improve them or put them in a situation to minimize them. Whatever it is. That's all part of the planning for bringing somebody into the organization.