HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
VIDEO PRESS CONFERENCE
September 7, 2020
BB: Just start out with a big congratulations to Authentic and all the Massachusetts connections that we have there – Sol Kumin, Jim Pallotta, Madaket Stables, Bob Baffert, for their victory in the Kentucky Derby last weekend. Great Massachusetts connections there. Sol and Jimmy and gave those horses to Bob and as usual, did a tremendous job with them. Hats off to those guys and Authentic and I hope that he can do what Justify did, if that's possible. Anyway, we're obviously moving into our Miami preparations now with the roster set. I'm sure there will be more transactions here in the next few days, but the bulk of it anyway, being set after the cut down on Saturday. Just looking forward to getting the regular season started and just taking it day-by-day here trying to improve and control the things that we can. We have a long way to go, a lot of work to do, but these players have really been diligent about everything – their preparation, their training, good habits and just continue to work hard and improve every day and so that's really what we need to do and that's what we'll hopefully continue to keep doing. Try not to over analyze and over think things too much, just try to play good, solid football. That would be a good start for us. Hopefully we can do that.
Q: Looking back over the last four or five months, are you pleased with how the process has gone, if you look at where we were as a country and where the NFL was in the spring and now it looks like the season will kick off this week?
BB: As it relates to the country and all that, that's way out of my league and my control. It appears like, from a league standpoint, we've been able to manage the situation pretty well. There have been minimal true positive tests, I mean, when you take all the false positives out of there, it's been minimal, particularly in recent weeks. Hopefully that will continue. I know all the coaches and players and staff that are involved in this process are looking forward to it on our end. And from other teams I've talked to, I get that same feeling as well. We'll see how it goes here. College football is underway. Looking forward to watching Navy play tonight and see how that's going but we're all looking forward to getting going. That's a good thing. I'd say, six months ago maybe there was some uncertainty. Each day the confidence level around here has grown in the process in what we're doing. Hopefully that will continue through the season and beyond.
Q: A lot of changes on defense this year, a lot of familiar faces no longer here. How do you see everything coming together on that side of the ball right now?
BB: Well, we haven't had a lot of changes here since we started in July, so we'll add the new people and the guys that were here have given us a lot of experience and leadership. We'll see how it all comes together, you know? I don't know.
Q: For you as a coach is it refreshing in a way to have so many faces and guys in new roles and is it different for you as a coach and teacher?
BB: Every year is a different year. Every year brings new challenges and different players and we play different teams with different coaches and different players. It's never the same. Everybody in this league is very talented. Every team has talented coaches, talented players and they work hard and have a good system. We know we'll get challenged every single week. That's the league that we're in and it's a great league to be in and that's really one of the things that, I think, those of us in the NFL can enjoy, is just the high level of competition on a consistent basis. And there's consistent change. Every team we play has made changes; we have changes. That's the National Football League. That's the way it is every year. That's the way it is on every team.
Q: On the radio this morning, Cam Newton called his fit here a 'match made in heaven,' saying it's exciting to play for a coach like you. What excites you about coaching a player with Cam's skill set?
BB: Well, I think we've talked about that. He's come in and do everything we've asked him to do. He works had. He's obviously a very talented player and looking forward to continue to work with him. We'll just take it day-by-day, but he's given us everything he's had and we've tried to put the team in the best position we can competitively. We'll see how that all comes out. I'm sure a lot of things will change as the season goes along. We are where we are for right now and just keep trying to get better every day.
Q: On the in-stadium sound situation this year – what is your understanding of what that will be and how odd that might be? How important was it to go through that game simulation, maybe to get accustomed to that?
BB: We've been working with the noise almost on a daily basis, so in the stadium, that was another opportunity for us to do that, but we've done plenty of it. We'll see how it all plays out. It looks like what we've had out there other than during the stoppages of play for TV timeouts and change of quarters and things like that. So, I think that'll be what it's normally been. I'm sure the feeling will be a little bit different. Hopefully we can focus on the jobs that we have to do and how we have to coach and play to compete against the Dolphins and the rest of it's all out of our hands. It is what it is, but we've worked in noise, so we'll be prepared for whatever. For those conditions, I think it's been pretty standardized as opposed to, sometimes the high up-and-down fluctuations that have come in the past that doesn't look like we'll be dealing with that this year. This will be more of a constant level.
Q: From an offensive and defensive perspective with no fans to begin the season, does that help offensive communication or hurt them with the defense being able to hear the calls from the line of scrimmage more?
BB: Well, I don't know who it helps or hurts. It's the same for everybody. Whatever our defense can hear, theoretically their defense can hear and vice versa. It seems like there's less of a home-field advantage, if you will, in terms of controlling the crowd noise. Silence has its advantages and noise has its advantages. We've played in both. Looks like this will be somewhere in between. Like I said, we've practiced in it, we feel like we have a handle on it. We've certainly dealt with a lot worse on both ends. So, we'll see how it goes. Maybe we'll have to make some modifications along the way, but at this point I think we've experienced what we think we're going to experience the best that we can simulate it. We'll just have to see how it actually plays out. I'm not expecting it to be a major advantage or concern one way or the other.
Q: With the new 55-man game-day roster, how much did that go into consideration with the roster cut down, knowing you can call up two players from the practice squad on game day? Did that play a factor in roster cut downs?
BB: Yeah, I think it did. I think it played a factor. It was a factor for us and I think it was a factor for most teams in the league. Looks like to me there will be players who play in the game who are on the practice squad who will be elevated, as you said, to a 54th or 55th position. It does increase the roster flexibility and it looks to me like, I haven't looked at every single roster and seen the strategy and so forth but my guess would be that there will be a lot of teams using players from their practice squad on opening day, as you called it, a 54th or 55th player. It does give some flexibility and that played a part in some of our roster decisions, yes.
Q: With the minimum of eight offensive linemen active on game day you can have extra players on the active roster, I believe two for a game. How much did that play a factor in keeping 10 offensive linemen of the initial 53-man roster?
BB: Right, well the only flexibility it gives you is that eighth lineman, similar to the third quarterback rule we had before except that if that eighth lineman plays, it doesn't knock anybody else out like it did on the third quarterback rule. I think the idea of the eighth offensive lineman is fundamentally a good one. When you have seven players to play five spots, the depth on those five spots is a little bit of an issue. You probably feel pretty good about some of the positions that are backed up but it's hard to back up all five spots with two guys or some combination thereof. So, this theoretically would provide you with a backup center, a backup guard and a backup tackle. Of course those guys would have to swing from the left side to the right side but if that's the way you wanted to do it – center, guard, tackle – then that way you don't have to have to have a combination guard/tackle or a combination center/guard for that seventh lineman in order to back everybody up there. Of course you could have carried eight in the past but most teams didn't do that just because of the need to have another player to utilize in the kicking game or some other personnel package on offense of defense. I think this clears it up; it provides for a little more depth and enables you to, I'd say, have more depth on the offensive line. Because really if it's not an offensive lineman, there's really no other player that will play in the o-line. You're not going to have a receiver or linebacker or somebody play in that spot. That's really its own group. That provides more depth and that's probably a good thing for the game. I think it's solid and fundamental thinking behind that that makes sense.
Q: Last week you spoke about how the more practice squad spots and change with Injured Reserve and how different rules this year might affect cut down day. Did things go smoothly as you expected or were you expected with how teams handled their decisions and what the player pool looked like as a result?
BB: No, I'd this went about the way we'd thought it would go. We talked to the staff and so forth prior to the process. This is a year where, as we mentioned earlier, there's kind of a couple spots on the practice squad for a player in the right situation where you can actually expand your roster form 53 to 55. Again, I saw a lot of teams that looked to me like that's what they were doing. The flexibility to put veteran players on the practice squad gives teams a lot more flexibility than what they had in the past. So, we anticipated that. Having said all that, I'd say, created the opportunity for teams to keep more of their younger players in some kind of protected role. There were fewer of those players exposed, draft choices or college free agents or rookies from last year that, might have been on the fringe. A lot of those players were able to be protected this year. There were very few claims. This was a low-claiming year which, again, was expected because teams are trying to protect players and it's just hard to create space to claim a player when you're trying to protect players at the same time. There weren't many trades, I'd say, for some of the same reasons. I think teams have expanded rosters and they are trying to maintain their depth from within their roster as opposed to counting on outside depth to support the roster. I think that's pretty clear through multiple transactions this year. And of course now, when you try to support your depth externally, you have a waiting period for the player to clear Covid protocol, so the idea of bringing in a player, on, call it Tuesday, you might not see him until Friday, which effectively would make it hard for him to contribute very much during the week, where if you normally have a player on Tuesday you would have a chance in a normal work week to have him better prepared to play. Can you do it? Yeah you could but it's a lot harder now, so I think teams are more cognizant of their internal depth and are probably going to be less reliant on external depth, although I'm sure there will be some of that too but you just have to recognize that there's a time lapse before you can actually get to those players and you can start training them or working with them. I'd say that's what it looked like to me this past weekend and that's about what we anticipated it would be.
Q: How much of a difference have you noticed in Nick Folk's range since you've had him back this year? Are you anticipating him up on the 53 with some roster management in the next couple days?
BB: Yeah well, we'll see how the whole roster thing plays out. I'm sure there will be a lot of roster movement throughout the league today, tomorrow, probably even Wednesday, as there usually is. I don't think we've seen the end of player transactions. Well there'd be fewer because there were so many, but I think we will still see a significant number of player transactions here in the next day or two. Nick came in last year in the middle of the season. I think anytime you kick in New England in November and December you see a difference in the way the ball travels, not necessarily leg strength but the results of the kick are a little bit different in November and December than they are in August. So, I'd say it's a little hard to tell just because the conditions are so different. Nick's come in and obviously done a good job with us as we've put him on the practice squad and want to continue to work with him. We'll just take it from there and see how it goes. He's done a good job and hit the ball well. Justin [Rohrwasser] has as well. There's a big experience gap here, but that's not uncommon either. You just try make the best decisions we can on that. We're fortunate we have two players at that position that are, I'd say NFL quality. Similar to the quarterback position, we're fortunate to have depth in those spots and those are good ones to have them in.