HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
Monday, September 6, 2021
BB: Well, first of all, on behalf of the team and the organization, just want to send our deepest sympathy and condolences to David Patton's family, his wife, his children, and his friends and his other loved ones. David was a great contributor. When I first got here, he started in 2001 and he was a great contributor, both on and off the field. He was an inspiration to his teammates, his coaches, and everyone in the organization. His leadership, because of the example that he set and the way he competed and performed in big games, he was one of the most respected players, honestly, that I've ever been around and it's just with a great deal of sadness that we heard that news on Friday. And again, our hearts go out to the Patton family. Also, I just wanted to kind of take a second and clarify an answer to a question I gave the other day relative to vaccinations. No player has been released or kept because of their vaccination status. That's not part of the equation. My comment relative to the vaccinations are, really the way I feel, is that that's an individual decision for each person to make as a team. We're better off if everybody is vaccinated. And that being said, even if everybody was vaccinated, that doesn't solve all of our problems as we've seen multiple players and head coaches and assistant coaches throughout the league test positive for COVID even after they have been vaccinated. So, it's still incumbent upon us to be vigilant in really our daily hygiene and decision-making for the health and safety of each of us individually and our team. So, we'll continue to follow all the league protocols as we always do but that's not a factor in any players release or non-release on the team.
Q: It's obviously been a much different pre-season for [Dolphins QB] Tua Tagovailoa and I'm curious if you can see that on the tape, that maybe he's a little bit stronger, another year removed from the surgery and just playing with more confidence.
BB: I thought he played with a lot of confidence when we played them last year in December. So, he looks good to me.
Q: Has [Dolphins WR] Jaylen Waddle helped sort of change the calculus of their offense in terms of their speed and maybe forcing defenses to spread out a little bit more or is it a little too early to be talking about that considering it's just preseason?
BB: Yeah. I don't think any teams in preseason are game planning and doing the things that they're going to do during the season. I think that all of the games that I've seen and the teams that we've played against and the teams that we've looked at closely are running the things that they want to. They are the basics that are the foundation of what they do and how teams, how if specifically Miami will utilize their skill players and offensively. We'll just have to see. I'm sure that they're well coached down there. They have smart players, a good coaching staff. I'm sure that they'll find ways to put them in difficult situations for the defense, but what exactly those are, I don't think that's really unfolded yet, nor would I have expected it to be shown in preseason. So, we'll just have to see on that, but Waddle's an outstanding player. He is very explosive, very good with the ball in his hands. He's fast. He's a tough kid. I have a lot of respect for him coming out last year and saw quite a bit him at Alabama, so I'm sure he'll help the team a lot but exactly how they use them and so forth, we'll just have to wait and see.
Q: I know he hasn't been with the team very long down there in Miami, but what have you seen from OL Greg Little?
BB: I mean, again, I think that Miami's got a good group of offensive linemen and they've added a lot of young players. It's really a very young offensive line and individually you can see them getting better. You can also see them improving in groups or in combination with the guys that they're playing with. And again, we'll see how all that plays out here when we get to the regular season, but it's a pretty solid group with good depth and I think they have pretty good competition down there at those offensive line spots. Like I said, they've added a lot of young players in the last two, really two to three years. Just a couple of those guys were there when [Dolphins Head Coach Brian Flores] Flo got there, but most of them are new.
Q: I know this time of year, we talk a lot about just with the season opener, there's no tapes so there's a somewhat of a projection of the game planning is a little bit more difficult on predictability. Does the familiarity you have with Miami, not only from a roster standpoint with players, you've had up here now down there and the coaching staff reduce that in a normal year? How does that familiarity, if at all in your mind kind of change the season opener relative to other ones you got?
BB: Well, I think there is a lot of continuity on the defensive side of the ball in Miami. Offensively, Chan Gailey was the offensive coordinator and play caller last year, so we've seen what we've seen in the preseason games, but how much that'll change with George Godsey or however the play calling gets distributed down there, relative to Chan who's not there anymore. Again, we'll kind of have to see on that. In some aspects, I think there is a level of familiarity in probably how they play, although I'd say that they made a few changes, at least in preseason. They've changed a few things that they're doing differently from what they've done in the past, but how much we'll get those and whatever else they have, again, I don't know. That's part of opening day.
Q: This question is about the group of unrestricted free agents that came in this offseason. Obviously, they came up through different organizations. How would you describe how that group from what you've observed has transitioned to the Patriots?
BB: Yeah, they've done a good job. Most of them were here in the offseason and the couple that weren't have been strong participants once they came to veteran minicamp and training camp, but we have a lot of things that need to come together from players that weren't on the team last year, for whatever reason, whether they were opt outs or rookies, or came from other NFL teams combined with the players who were here last year. Some of those roles are the same. Some of them may be different. So, we'll just have to see how everything comes together. It's really a lot of moving parts as we start the season relative to where we were at the end of the year, last season. So, in December of 2020, not relative to where we were last week. So, as the regular season games start, we'll see how all that goes.
Q: What has Kyle Van Noy brought to you since he returned from Miami? And what did you perceive you were going to lose when he went to Miami?
BB: Well, it's good to have Kyle back. Kyle's a productive player for us, he's versatile, he does a lot of different things and can play multiple positions defensively. So, that gives him a lot of value and gives us some versatility that's always good in defending the different type of all kinds of systems that we go up against. So, how that may change from week-to-week, I don't know. We'll just have to see. Maybe it won't change at all. I don't know. We'll just have to see how it goes.
Q: Is his versatility something that is kind of the gold standard that you try to attain with all of those linebackers that you have, which you seem to be on the way to achieving right now?
BB: Well, if you want to be multiple, be versatile, somebody's got to do it, but I don't think everybody has to do it. Kyle certainly has had a lot of experience playing in multiple positions for us and he's smart, he's a very instinctive player, sees things quickly, can anticipate well, so he has a lot of versatility to our defense for sure.
Q: How important in your opinion is continuity on the offensive line. Just interesting to see you guys obviously acquire Trent Brown and Ted Karras who have experienced in the system and would probably know some of the other guys that they're going to be playing alongside. At that position group specifically, how important is it to have some continuity in terms of their understanding of their teammates, but also the system that they're going to be in?
BB: It's always nice to have continuity. That can be a good thing, but I think it's more important to have good players who are playing well. So, if we put some coaches out there that have coached together and have a lot of continuity, I don't think we'd be able to block anybody, so it really wouldn't do any good. So I think it's more important to have good players that play well, and they've had plenty of time to work together and they'll have plenty more time during the season to work together. But if you can bank on that experience and that background, there's definitely value to that. I don't think it overrides, again, good players playing well.
Q: Are you able to start from a different point when you do get the group together, whether it's in the spring or to start camp? I know we're a long ways from that now, but with this group, because of the experience that they have in this offense, are you able to start at a different point than if you were to incorporate a couple of different guys or new guys?
BB: I mean, maybe you could do that. I would never do it that way. So, I mean, I don't think that'll ever happen as long as I'm here. You don't know how it's going to turn out and if we'd done that last year and started at some point and left Mike Onwenu behind because Shaq [Mason] and Joe [Thuney] and David [Andrews] were already here, I don't think that would've been good for our football team or fair either. So, I guess you could do it that way, but I would never do it like that though. I think you build the foundation and let the players compete and let them play and then, at some point, make whatever decisions you need to make based on the position and the role and so forth, and then try to improve from there.
Q: On J.C. Jackson, he's made an impact really since 2018 when he came in here and I think you've seen him grow every year. Coming off last year with the amount of turnovers he had, how have you seen him get better this offseason and grow off what was a career year, statistically?
BB: Well, yeah, each year I think a player's experience, that adds value to his game just because he's done more and has new experiences to relate it to, played against different players, been in different situations and so forth. So again, we'll see what happens to all of us here in the regular season. Again, when they start, especially at that position in a corner, when offenses start attacking specific players with certain routes or concepts or matchups, then those are frankly the easiest guys for an offense to target because they can generally get them isolated in one way or another. Maybe not on a player they want, but they can usually get them in a position where they know where they're going to be and attack them from there. So, that's always a key part of that position is, there's the regular season matchups and how the offensive coordinators and quarterbacks game plan for the players who play in those spots on all teams, not specific to J.C. or any player, but that's just the way it is. What a team will do based on who's out there is something that every offensive coordinator and quarterback coach has a plan for and how well they can do it versus how well we can defend it. Yeah, it all remains to be seen.
Q: I want to ask you a little bit about managing expectations for Mac Jones and as a rookie going into a new system, how do you go about defining expectations for him on a personal level? And do you think it's important to define expectations on an external level for a rookie who may make mistakes as rookies do?
BB: We all make mistakes. I make plenty of them. So does everybody else. We just try to keep working and keep improving and that's really what each day is for, is to address the points of emphasis that we've identified for that day and work on them and be able to go out there and execute them to a certain level and possibly build on them later on in the week or the next day, whatever the case might be. And then if they come up on Sunday, to be able to execute them well in the game. So, that's really the same for all of us, but we're all going to make mistakes along the way. Rookies, veterans, players, coaches, you name it. So, trying not to make the same ones twice and try not to make too many big ones.
Q: How have you seen him respond to mistakes and how important is that in players development?
BB: I mean, sometimes those terms get a little difficult to define, but there are little things that can be improved on almost everything that each of us does. Without actually screwing it up, you can do something a little bit better the next time. If you get that opportunity again. And I think that's what we all try to learn from. Obviously any major, major errors come with a much higher cost, but we all do things that we can do better the second, third time around and that's not saying the first time wasn't right, but it could be a little bit better. And so, that's football, that's our daily lives. That's pretty much everything. So, that's really what we try to emphasize as coaches is, here's how we want to execute it and how can we improve our execution? Honestly, probably everybody that's involved in the play. It's 11 different guys. It's probably something that several people could do a little bit better, a little bit quicker or whatever the case might be to improve the execution of the plays. So, some of that needs to be told to the player. Sometimes the player knows it before you even tell him about it. He just needs more repetitions or confidence or better technique to make that happen.
Q: On Malcolm Perry, the Patriots claiming him last week, what does he have going for him that made you want to work with him and where does he fit in terms of position?
BB: We'll see. We'll put him out there and see what it looks like. But he's played offensively and in the kicking game and we'll see how he does there and those roles for us. I mean, I don't really know. We only had him one day on the field, so we'll take it day by day and see how it progresses.
Q: What did you see from him coming out of the Navy?
BB: Well at Navy, he really didn't play the position that he plays now or has played with Miami. So, he played quarterback, he played wingback, didn't really play receiver, extended, very much. He was kind of more of a wingback. So, he wasn't a running back. He wasn't a receiver. So, he's somewhere in between, played quarterback, didn't return kicks there. So, he's continuing to, I would say develop the skills and most of which he didn't really do in college.