PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
September 29, 2023
BB: Alright, Friday morning here.
Q: Are you staying outside today?
BB: Yeah, see what happens out there. We talked about how bad it was going to be last week, and it barely rained.
Q: You and Terry Francona were in Boston at the same time, and kind of at similar stages when your teams were first winning championships. Did you have much of a relationship with him and what are your thoughts on him retiring this week?
BB: Yeah, I had a great relationship with Tito, loved having him here. I had a good relationship with all of the Boston coaches, really. But yeah, he was great, very supportive, and I was down there in training camp with him, spent a decent amount of time with him.
Q: Did you keep track of him after he left?
BB: Yeah, a little bit. You know, it's hard, still got a lot of loyalties here, too. But, I love him. He's great.
Q: What kind of progress have you seen with two of the rookie offensive linemen, Atonio Mafi and Sidy Sow?
BB: Yeah, Jake [Andrews], all three of them. Yeah, they're out there working hard every day, getting better. It's a tough position to play, long way to go, but they're improving.
Q: You said over the summer that Jabrill Peppers is taking a forward, I forgot the exact verbiage that you used about Peppers this summer, but how have you seen that continue into this season?
BB: Yeah, Pep had a great offseason, good training camp. He started this year healthy, and last year he missed all spring. I forget when he started practicing, somewhere around the middle of training camp, middle of August, something like that. He's just way ahead of where he was, plus he has all of last year under his belt. So, he's way ahead of where he was last year, looks good out there.
Q: The other day when you ran down the Cowboys, Jerry Jones and a lot of the Cowboys staff, personnel, Gil Brandt was someone that you had a relationship with as well. I was curious, he passed away not too long ago. What do you think about his legacy – what he meant to you, what he meant to the game of football and his time in Dallas?
BB: Yeah, Gil had a big impact on both the college and the pro game. With [Clint] Murchison [Jr.], [Tex] Schramm, Brandt and [Tom] Landry, it was a pretty formidable operation they had down there, 20 straight winning seasons, or whatever it was. It was a lot. Gil was a college scout, so he spent a lot of time with the draft and college players, all the way – I mean, when I talked to him a few weeks ago, he was asking about our draft choices. So, and then of course, it goes back to my dad. He was a college coach and they had a relationship from Gil scouting, and my dad being a scout and being at a lot of games that Gil would be at, looking at different things. So, I knew him through my dad, and of course [Roger] Staubach down there, all that. Then, when I got to Cleveland, Mike Lombardi and I spent a lot of time with Gil just trying to get some insight from him on team building and so forth, things related to not the coaching side of it, but the scouting side, the administrative side of it. When Gil stepped away from the Cowboys, then I obviously spent a lot of time with him at that point, really going back over scouting systems, grades, various other tips and so forth that he had. So, he was a great friend, great person, glad to obviously see him get inducted into the Hall of Fame a couple of years ago. What a great legacy he left, did a lot for the game, did a lot for scouting. Guys like him and Bucko [Kilroy] really are the pillars of pro scouting and college scouting. Gil was one of those guys that because he saw so many college games and so many college teams, had a lot of influence with college presidents on who to hire and so forth, because he had seen all the college coaches – the coordinators at other schools where they weren't going to get the head coach, but who are the up and coming coordinators, coaches and so forth. I know he had a lot of influence with college presidents and college ADs who were looking to hire, and outside of their circle, who do they really know? Maybe the guys in their conference and all of that, but Gil really was a national resource. I'd say there was a period of time there when – I don't want to say controlled, but had a lot of influence in the college hiring process, and probably did all the way up until the end, because he was still very well connected within those circles. Not just the coaches, but ADs, college presidents, a very respected guy in all circles.
Q: Is that where the nickname 'Godfather' came from?
BB: Probably. Everybody owed him something, probably a lot more than one favor. He helped out a lot of people. I wouldn't even be able to count the number of people that he got jobs for, especially head coaching jobs. Which then, that rolls into another however many people they hire – eight, 10, however many are on their staff – it's a big ripple effect. He was like a tidal wave, a lot of ripples in the water from wherever he landed.
Q: Christian Gonzalez was named Defensive Rookie of the Month. I was just wondering what you've seen from him and what it's like to see him get recognized so early on in his career?
BB: Yeah, it's great for him. It's not really what we're in it for, though. So, just trying to win games, get better. Of course, getting a recognition like that is probably a good sign that things are going fairly well, but there's still a lot to work on. Every week's a new challenge. Congratulations, but really our goals are different and bigger than that.
Q: We saw Pharaoh Brown get some snaps at fullback last week. What kind of traits do you look for when you are inserting someone into that role on a full time or part time basis?
BB: Well, he's done it before, so he's had experience with it before. So, there's some advantages to being in the backfield, and there's some advantages to being on the line of scrimmage. He can do both, and it gives us some flexibility, you know, create some different blocking angles, blocking patterns, play actions, those different spots.
Q: I know we're dealing with a small sample here, but after the Cowboys lost [Trevon] Diggs, before the Cardinals game, did you see anything structurally – man/zone splits or anything defensively – that shifted after they lost one of their better players in the secondary?
BB: Yeah, I think it would be hard to couple a tendency based on one game. I'm sure DQ [Dan Quinn] did what he felt was best in the Arizona game, whether that's what he would do against us or not. I think it's definitely too small of a sample. But, [DaRon] Bland's been a good player for them, and they were going to get [Jourdan] Lewis in there anyway. So, Lewis and Bland were going to kind of – it looked like there was some kind of a competition with those guys at star. Lewis was out, but now he's back, and he's been back for a couple of weeks. So, I think those are their four top corners – [Stephon] Gilmore, Diggs, Blanc, Lewis, so three of them are out there. I'd be surprised if he overhauls the defense, let's put it that way. That would shock me.
Q: Have you seen his [Dan Quinn] defense evolve? I mean, you've had plenty of battles with him over the years.
BB: Yeah, it's definitely evolved. Being in the NFC, we didn't see him too much, but from Atlanta, 21' in Dallas. He's definitely changed some things that he did in Atlanta, coverage standpoint, some fronts. But, we all have. That's part of it. He does a good job. Dan does a great job. I think he's a really good coach.
Q: Mike McCarthy's still there, but different coordinator – have you seen anything different from Dak Prescott this year?
BB: I think Dak's talked about his game. I think his comments are probably more relevant than mine.