HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
September 1, 2021
BB: It's always a difficult day to talk to players that have worked very hard and given everything they've had over an extended period of time, weeks, months and in some cases, years, and tell them that they're not going to be on the roster at this point in time. It's hard for everybody, and I respect what our players both on and off the roster right now, players we had in training camp, what they did, what they committed to and how hard they worked. It just goes without saying that it's not an easy situation for anybody; the team, the player, or the teammates that see those things happening along the way, yet it's something that we all know is part of playing professional football, and we all signed up for that. This comes with the territory. That being said, there was a lot of roster movement in the last two weeks. They'll continue to be significant roster movement throughout the league and on our team. I'm sure in the next few days, some of that movement on other teams may or may not affect us. We'll just have to see how that goes. Just in general, I would say that the roster building process is far from complete, and we'll be starting to assemble a practice squad today. If past years are any indication, I'm sure that that process will also continue for a period of time until that's resolved. There's a lot of movements still to go. I think it would be inappropriate for me to comment on some positions, some situations that are really still in the process of, that are not final point yet, that there's some process that's involved or going on, and some of that I know will happen. Some of that, I don't know what'll happen because it might be dependent on other things in the league. So that's really kind of where we are here for today, and at the same time trying to start getting ready for Miami. Really the most important thing right now is to try to put the best roster together that we can to compete during the season. Before we really get to Miami, see what they're doing because they're also in the same situation there. They're putting things together on their end just like we are, just like every other team in the league is. We know a lot about Miami, but there are still things that are probably yet to be completely determined, and I'm sure they feel the same way about us. The process has begun, but we're still a ways from really being able to really dig in on them until some rosters are set or certainly more definitive than what they are right now. That's where we are today.
Q: When it came to Cam Newton, was there a desire to have him stay with the team in a backup role or was that never presented as an option?
BB: I'm not going to go through all the different things with any player on that, so we'll just leave it the way it is and go from there.
Q: Was that a difficult decision to make, Bill?
BB: Well, I mean, I don't rank them. We make decisions, and then we execute them and go on and take it from there.
Q: How much did having those three days to himself for Mac Jones help him beat out Cam for that position?
BB: Yeah. I don't know.
Q: Did Cam's vaccination status have anything to do with him being released?
BB: No. You guys keep talking about that, and I would just point out that I don't know what the number is. I mean, you guys can look it up. You have the access to a lot of information, but the number of players and coaches and staff members that have been infected by COVID in this training camp [around the NFL] who have been vaccinated is a pretty high number, so I wouldn't lose sight of that.
Q: Why was releasing Cam in the best interest of the team?
BB: That's our decision, and we've had weeks of meetings on all players, so it'd be impossible to rehash everything that happened at that position or any other position, but ultimately there's a lot of factors that are involved, and we made our decisions.
Q: When did Mac earn the job, and for you, what solidified him earning it?
BB: I'm not going to go into details of decisions and the timing and all that. We'd be here forever. It's a process. It was a very competitive situation at that position. Both players took pretty close to an equal number of repetitions, and in total, between practice games going all the way back to the spring. That's what it was.
Q: It's no stranger how difficult your playbook is. How do you feel like Mac, as a rookie, has handled it and will handle it this season?
BB: I don't know how anything will happen. I mean, that's all to be determined in the future. We'll see. I don't know.
Q: Just now you're pointing out that you said it was a high number of players who've been vaccinated have been affected by COVID as well. I guess the point with Cam was that he didn't get sick, but he was still affected by it, so that didn't play a role in your decision?
BB: No. We have other players on the team who aren't vaccinated, as I would say, probably does every other team in the league. We've had minimal throughout the league. There've been a number of, quite a high number I would say, of players who have had the virus who have been vaccinated, so your implication that vaccination solves every problem, I would say that has not been substantiated based on what's happened in training camp [throughout the NFL] this year. That's all.
Q: How many players on the team are still not vaccinated?
BB: Again, I'm not going to get into that. Those are all personal decisions, and it's not my place to talk about another person's decision or medical condition.
Q: Rookie quarterbacks in this league tend to make mistakes, and correcting mistakes obviously is extremely important. How has Mac responded to the corrections at this point, especially in not making the same mistake twice?
BB: There's a lot of mistakes made in this league by everybody. Head coaches. Veteran head coaches. Veteran players. Rookie players. You name it. Everybody in this league makes a lot of mistakes. It's very competitive, and there's a very fine line and a thin line and margin for error. I probably make more [mistakes] than anybody. In the end, we all try to do our job the best we can. Try to do what's best for the team, and that's what everybody's goal is no matter how many years they have or haven't played or coached or anything else. That's really the goal of everyone. I don't think it's something that really gets broken down by years or number of games or anything like that. I think we've all seen very experienced players and coaches make rookie mistakes. If you want to call them that, so that doesn't exclude or include anybody or anything. We're all responsible for our performance every time we go out there. It doesn't matter what you have or haven't done in the past. The outcome of the game and that judgment will be based on that current competition.
Q: What qualities does Mac have that you like? You drafted this guy in the first round. What does he do that you like?
BB: We've talked about that. First of all, he's had a high level of production. I feel like he's been able to show an ability to do things the way we want them done at a productive level. He's young. I'm sure he'll continue to learn and grow. We'll see where that goes, but that's why we drafted him. I think he's come in and performed at a level that supports that.