PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
BB: Obviously, here we're coming down to the wire relative to the first preseason game. So, we've got a couple days to work on getting ready for Washington. Obviously, there's a lot of things that we need to work on, no matter who we play, so that will be part of it, too. But, [we are] in the start of a preparing for a team process, so that's the next phase of what we're into, and we'll just kind of progress all the way through training camp with doing things that we need to do and starting to prepare for opponents and so forth as that transitions into a regular season type of schedule. So, I think we'll gain a little bit of strength in numbers here, hopefully, with a couple days of rehabilitation and rest and so forth. So, hopefully we can go out there and have a couple good days of practice and be ready to go Thursday night against Washington.
Q: How hard did Malcolm Mitchell work to try to get back from injury?
BB: He did everything he could, did everything he could. It's unfortunate that didn't work out, but I don't know how he could have put any more into it than he did.
Q: In his Hall of Fame speech, Randy Moss talked about the friendship that he had with you off the field. How important is it for you to have strong personal relationships with your players off the field?
BB: Well, Randy - it was a very special relationship. I think, just logistically, you just can't have that kind of relationship with everybody. There's just so many players and so many hours in the day. That was one that, through a variety of circumstances and more of the way that Randy came onto the team and again other circumstances that were involved there, it just kind of evolved that way. I don't think any of us necessarily planned it. It just worked out. But, I learned a lot from Randy. Randy had a big impact on me as a coach. He taught me the game from a perspective that I had never really seen before or understood before. I'll always be grateful to him for that, for doing that. But, he was a great person to have on the team. He did a lot of, in his own way, team-building events - like the Halloween party, things like that - that a lot of times went below the radar. He didn't do them for publicity. He didn't do them because he wanted to be recognized for it. He did it because he wanted to do it and it was the right thing to do. You know, he brought a lot of kids up to games every week, bused kids up from West Virginia, gave them tickets, bought them tickets so they could come to the games here at Gillette Stadium and things like that that a lot of people don't know about. But, that was just how generous and what a big heart Randy had.
Q: What did that mean to you to hear Randy talk about the team and what you meant to him?
BB: Yep. Yeah, of course.
Q: How does the heat this week affect how you conduct practice and preparations for Washington?
BB: Nope. It might be hot when we play. Whatever it is out there, we'll play through. So, if it's hot, cold, windy, still, sunny, cloudy, rainy - we're going to get all of them sooner or later. So, just work through it.
Q: Whether it's Jordan Matthews or Malcolm Mitchell, how difficult is the decision on a player's future with the team when he's injured?
BB: Yeah, each situation is different. There's no straight answer on that. Every situation is different, and in the end, I would just say I have always tried to do what's best for the football team and I've always tried to combine that with what's best for the individual and the player and his career. I've talked to players about that and talked to them about their situation, and whenever possible, we try to come to the best mutual decision. That's not always possible, but when it isn't, we try to create a situation that's the best we can make of that situation. So, making the best of a bad situation if that's what it is - that's how I try to approach it.
Q: What are your thoughts on Eric Decker so far?
BB: Yeah, a very experienced player. He's got good size, had good production in the league. We'll see how it goes.
Q: Did not having joint practices this year allow you the luxury of installing your offense and defense at a different pace than you normally would?
BB: No question. That's exactly what it is. When you're going up against a team like yesterday and today, which we would have done last year, and then we would have to put a lot of things in ahead of that. It would change the installation schedule and the pattern and so forth. Not saying one is good or bad, they're just different. Yeah, we're absolutely on a different pace, 100 percent, and there are some advantages to that and there are certainly some advantages to working against a different opponent. So, we'll take the opportunities we have and try to make the most of it. But, yeah, 100 percent that's the case.
Q: It seems like we've seen Kenny Britt take some steps as he recovers from injury. Can players still have a strong offseason if they're recovering from injury?
BB: Look, we all have opportunities every day, and we try to make the most of those opportunities, whatever they are. They vary from day to day, but whatever they are, we try to make the most of them. So, whether that's in the spring, whether it's in training camp, during the season, I think each of us tries to - each member of the team, each coach, everybody that's involved in the performance of the unit - tries to have a productive day for themselves and for their group and for the team each day. So, that's what we all try to do.
Q: How has Trent Brown integrated himself after not practicing much in the spring?
BB: Good. He's been out there every day. He's gotten a lot of snaps. He's worked hard. He did everything in the spring that he could do. There's some things he couldn't do, but he did everything he could do, so he made progress. But, he definitely wasn't at zero. I mean, he made progress in the spring, and then he has taken that and made a lot more progress here in training camp. We've got a long way to go. We'll see how it goes.
Q: With Decker's early experience with Josh McDaniels in Denver, does it seem like that will help him acclimate to this offense?
BB: Yeah, I'm sure it will. Well, he's a smart guy. I know he has recall from some of the things that we do that Josh did at Denver that are carryover. There's a lot of differences, but there's certainly a lot of carryover.
Q: When you are bringing in a wide receiver, do you factor in experience with Josh or other coaches on staff?
BB: Again, every player has their own set of characteristics. They are what they are. And so, whatever they are, that's what it is. There's some things you can build on and take advantage of and connect to, and then there are other things that you can't. Some guys have more than others. I don't think any of them are deal-breakers. I don't think any of them make the deal. It's just part of the overall mosaic that comes with that individual into this particular team, different than any other team, different than any other individual, and then you try to work on how that all comes together. There's common ground and then there's other areas that aren't common ground. With a different player, it might be different areas of a similar conversation. It usually is. And, sometimes some guys don't have hardly any common ground and other guys maybe have a lot more than somebody else does. So, it is what it is. Each one is different. Once you actually make the connection and the person's on your team, then you take it from there and move forward as quickly as possible.
Q: How valuable do you think having one game on film this Thursday night will be in helping you and your staff make adjustments as you get ready for both the kickoff rule changes and the leading with the helmet rule changes?
BB: Yeah, I'm sure it will be valuable. Yeah. We've talked about those things, but actually doing them in game, in competitive situations, it's a little bit different. We saw the Hall of Fame game. A couple situations came up in that game that are good learning experiences for our team, and we'll use those as teaching tools, and then we'll experience it Thursday night and I'm sure we'll learn something there and in succeeding games.
Q: Is there something to the fact that different officiating crews might interpret or enforce the rules differently? Or are you not concerned about that?
BB: Well, I think that Al Riveron and the officiating staff strive for consistency. Will they get it 100 percent? Probably not, but that's what they're working towards. I don't think this is fundamentally any different than say the defenseless receiver situation that came up a few years ago, and over the course of time, I would say everybody has adjusted to that rule - the officials, the players, the fans and so forth. I think we all have a much better understanding and could articulate that a lot better than we could three or four years ago, and that comes through experience. Part of this rule will probably involve some of the same progression. There may be plays that this play was called and this is the same play and it wasn't called and vice versa, but over the course of time, as those things get ironed out and players and coaches and officials and fans and so forth all can come collectively together on the same understanding of the rule and its enforcement and interpretation. Then I think that will improve over time, like it usually does. Where we are on that scale - I mean, are we at 20? Are we at 50? Are we at 80? You know, that's - I don't know. But I think at some point it will move towards, again, the defenseless receiver - not defenseless receiver, defenseless player - because that rule now has been expanded past receivers to players, which I think, again, is a good rule that we all understand. It's good for player safety. I think the league, the officiating department, the coaches and the players have all adapted to it and it's become an accepted part of the game, both in college and professional football. It's good for the game. So, none of us want bad plays. How do you eliminate them? How do you coach them? How do you officiate them? That's a little bit of a process. If it was simple, it'd be done. It's hard. But, we've got a lot of good people working on it. I think everybody has good intentions, and we'll see how it comes out, how quickly it comes together.
Q: How far back does your connection go with Dave Dombrowski?
BB: A ways.
Q: How did you first get connected with him?
BB: Yeah, well, we have some mutual friends. I mean, Dave's done a great job, doing a great job. What a game that was Sunday. What a team they have. I marvel at the way they compete and how consistent they've been, how many people have contributed, just the overall organization - Tony [La Russa], Alex [Cora], their scouting staff. You know, we have a good relationship with those people and they've been great to us. They provided us with a great experience in June for our football team. So, I wish the Red Sox nothing but the best, not that they need any help from me. They seem to be doing just fine.
Q: With the Randy Moss' Hall of Fame induction on Saturday and the Red Sox-Yankees game on Sunday, does that rank as one of the best weekends you've had in some time or maybe ever?
BB: Ever? Yeah, I mean, it was good. I wouldn't put it up there with some of the championships that we've won. I think that would be stretching it a little bit.
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