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Transcript: Bill Belichick Video Conference Call 8/21

Read the full transcript from Bill Belichick's video conference call with the media on Friday, August 21, 2020.


August 21, 2020

BB: On behalf of our team and our organization, first of all, I want to send along our best wishes to Coach [Ron] Rivera. Ron's been a good friend and certainly a person that's had a great career in the National Football League. He's a quality person, player, coach so just want to send our best wishes along to him and hope for a speedy and complete recovery. Hope that he's doing well. We're wrapping up the week here with a day that we're starting to put some things together, different down-and-distance situations, we've covered most of the major kicking situations. Obviously, not a lot of end-of-game type plays, I'm not talking about that, but just the general situations that come up, the normal situations that come up on offense, defense and special teams. I think we're getting to the point here where we've hit most of those and review them again today. Next week will give us a good opportunity, I would say, to start practicing and hitting on the second, third times through type of thing so that we're closer to where we want to be in terms of understanding, not just what we want to do, but how we want to do it and what are some of the variables that can come up. We had a pretty solid week of practice, three days of contact and high-speed practices the other days. We're really coming into the next week-and-a-half or so, the really important weeks of the camp in the development and preparation of our team from an overall standpoint. Then the final week or 10 days obviously will be more focused on Miami. Just keep taking it day-by-day here and try to string some good days together and build our consistency and overall fundamentals of our team that we'll need to carry us throughout the games this season.

Q: How difficult does the lack of preseason games make it for your personnel staff to scout players as releases are made around the league?

BB: Well, everybody's in the same situation. They're all looking at the same information so those are the decisions you've got to make. It's not an uncommon situation. There's plenty of times when players aren't able to participate in parts of training camp, sometimes they don't play in preseason games and then their name's on the waiver wire at the 53-cut at the end of the year. So you just have to go on the information that you have. Usually that's a much smaller percentage than what obviously we'll be dealing with this year, but that's the situation.

Q: We haven't seen a lot of Justin Rohrwasser this week. How has his progress been in terms of field goals and assimilation into the NFL?

BB: Everybody's making progress. Everybody's making progress.

Q: We've asked you about quarterbacks and decision making in training camp practices before and what an interception might mean. This year, because it's different with no preseason games, do you look at those types of plays any differently? When you see an interception happen, how OK is that in your mind based on knowing quarterbacks are trying to figure out what they can and can't do at this point in time and does that change at all given the changes in this offseason?

BB: Well, I don't think over-evaluating one individual play for any player at any position is usually a good evaluation tool. All players have good plays out there, all players have bad plays, as do the coaches. So I think you look at the body of work. We're running hundreds of plays and it's the composite of all of it. I don't think it's one play by anybody. Of course good plays are good and plays that aren't so good, aren't so good. But we all have those. I think it really comes down to the consistency and the overall performance of players and I would say, the progression and the track that they're on. Are you improving, staying about the same or possibly declining? I would say we don't see a lot of declining because guys are working out there every day and they're generally getting better, but sometimes maybe it's the rate of improvement and the overall consistency.

Q: Going back to 2006 or 2007, we used to see Brian Belichick helping you on the sideline. How cool is it now to have that come full circle and have Brian on the staff as a position coach?

BB: Both Stephen [Belichick] and Brian have grown up a lot and they've come a long way, especially when I've had a chance to see them their whole lives. But they've been around a lot of football, they've seen a lot of football. They've seen things done from a different perspective than other people. But in the end, I don't know anybody that knows our football program better than Stephen, who's been in it a little bit longer, but Brian as well. They've just lived their whole life with this program. So all the things that we do, for all the different reasons and how it all ties together and so forth, they have a very good understanding of all the things that are involved and how it all is interwoven. And that's valuable to me because they have a perspective of that. We have a lot of good coaches on our staff, I'm not saying that. Those guys are very, very good coaches and very proficient and they do a great job. But it's a little different to see it from the perspective that Brian has seen it from, or Steve. They all help, they're all valuable and I'm glad we have them.

Q: What's the progress been like from second-year offensive linemen Hjalte Froholdt and Yodny Cajuste and what have you seen from them in camp so far?

BB: I think overall Jim [McBride], our second-year players have in general taken a good step. They're all way ahead of where they were last year. Specifically on the offensive line, Yodny is again, a guy who hasn't played a lot of football, just his background and so forth. So he's learned an awful lot. He's a very smart kid and he's got good physical talent. He's strong, he's explosive, he can run well, he can do a lot of different things. It's really about refinement and technique and anticipation and things like that. He's taken a big jump there. Yodny obviously missed the whole year last year, even missed more time than Froholdt did. But he's a guy that has a lot of experience playing the position that he's played in college. Again, it's really for him more of getting back into playing and being consistent, and his footwork and hand punch and technique and balance and things like that. Training in the weight room and conditioning and so forth are great to put a player in position to compete in practice. But from a football standpoint, especially in the offensive line working against other bodies and having your balance, being able to have that hand-to-hand, close-quarters contact, there's just no substitute for that. So we've have three days in pads and those guys need a lot of work on that. We're getting better, making progress but we've got a long way to go.

Q: What kind of growth have you seen from Gunner Olszewski since you first got him in here last spring?

BB: Gunner's improved tremendously. Again, both physically and from a football standpoint. He's a smart kid, he works extremely hard. He's tough, he's very, very competitive. He needs to learn how to do a lot of different things for us and he continues to work on things that will expand his opportunities. So it'll be interesting to watch him take advantage, or try to take advantage of those opportunities, and watch him play and see how all of that's coming together. His overall background, knowledge, understanding, being a professional athlete, training, some of his fundamental athletic skills – he's refined those quite a bit and he's much, much, much further ahead from where he was last year, similar to other second-year players that we just talked about. He's certainly in that group.

Q: With Tom Brady having been around for two decades, is it ever strange to not have him around this year?

BB: Well, we've had a lot of great, great players over the course of that time. You could have the same conversation about all of them. Tedy Bruschi, Rodney Harrison, Ty Law, Logan Mankins, Rob [Gronkowski]. You could go right down the line. It's professional football. It's the National Football League. Every team has changes every year. We have them, so does everybody else and I think right now, everybody's focused on this year. We're looking ahead, we're not looking backwards at anything. We're trying to look ahead and look at what our opportunities and challenges are that we have coming forward this season, for the 2020 season. So that's really where our focus is.

Q: The NFL released travel guidelines the other day. Do you expect these guidelines to greatly affect how you operate for road games and are you able to do any sort of dry run on how road trips are going to go?

BB: Right. So we have people in our organization, that's really what they focus on. So I work with them in terms of the coordination of that. There were some travel guides earlier that as you said, were, let's call it refined or modified, that we got recently. And so I'm kind of leaving it with them to go through those and then we'll have a meeting in the near future to talk about the changes and how that would affect us. We've talked about how we're going to try to do things and certainly we have to make sure that they're all within the protocols that the league has issued. And so if they're not, then we can talk about what changes we need to make. It's my understanding I think that we're pretty close on that though with all the things that we would want to do, we'll be able to do. But there may be one or two things there that we have to do a little bit differently – well obviously there are things we have to do differently, but things that we had planned on doing that we might have to modify. My sense on that is we're pretty close. Are there some I's to dot and T's to cross? I'm sure there are, I know there are, and we'll work on that. We're four weeks away from our first away game so it's coming up, but I think that we're pretty well organized on that. We've talked about things we have options on, which way would be better to do it, things that we haven't done before. I don't know, we'll see how that works. There may be some trial and error in that or maybe we'll do something and everybody will feel like this is the best way to do it. So we'll kind of have to wait until that actually happens. But I'd say in the meantime, I feel like our preparations are pretty well on-target and of course we'll be in compliance with whatever we need to do.

Q: You have a lot of long road trips this year. Are these travel protocols going to affect your travel plans?

BB: I don't think so. I think that we'll be able to stay with the schedule that we had initially planned on. But certainly there are a lot of details to be worked out, not only at away games but also at home games because there are travel policies and game-day policies that are going to be different there as well. So, we'll deal with those all in time and some of the things that we might have an opportunity to dry run or rehearse or look at, if we can do that, we will. Taking a trip isn't one of them, but there are other game-day policies that we can implement to make sure everybody is comfortable with those going forward. I'd say it's going to be a combination of those things. But in the big picture, I don't think our travel situation will alter too dramatically from what it's been in the past.

Q: Jarrett Stidham appeared to struggle a bit during team period yesterday. How important is it for you in your evaluation of a player to see him return the next day to practice and respond positively to the corrections that were made and take that step forward again to show that he's putting that in the rearview?

BB: Well, again we talked about this a little bit earlier. I don't think it's really good for us as a coaching staff to over-evaluate an individual play when we have so many plays to work with. Every player makes mistakes out there, every player gets corrected, every player gets coaching points on things that they can do better, differently. I would say ultimately we're going to reach a point where we have to really evaluate what the performance is. I think in the early stages, there's definitely a timing, confidence, anticipation issues that are different from player to player, depending on who they're in there with, and what the play was and how things unfolded and so forth. Sometimes those are mistakes, sometimes they're learning experiences, sometimes it could be mistakes by multiple people involved with a specific part of the play that have to be ironed out. Again, our job is to evaluate the overall performance and progress of the players. I think as we get a little bit further into camp that's easier to do when everybody has done their assignment multiple times in multiple looks and they're confident and they know what they're doing and all that. The first time through for any of us doing anything doesn't go as smoothly as what it does when you've had multiple repetitions at that experience. That's what our job is, that's what we'll evaluate and it's certainly an ongoing one that I think is going to become more important in succeeding days. The first day or two, three, whatever, is not as critical as going forward when you've been through things multiple times.

Q: It's been a few years since we've seen an assistant coach on the team with the defensive coordinator title. What does an assistant coach have to show you to earn that position and that title? What goes into whether or not you name someone the defensive coordinator for a season or not?

BB: Each one of those situations is different and unique. I've been a head coach, I've been a position coach, I've been a coordinator and I've coached on all three units. I would say the focus around here isn't really on titles as much as it is on getting the job done and doing the things that help the team. Whether it's titles like general manager and coordinator and a bunch of other stuff like that, I don't think that those titles necessarily are that important. In some cases there's reasons for doing it or not doing it, but every situation is different. What's more important to us is the overall performance of the team and the person's role in that performance. That's really where our focus is. Not the titles that go next to everybody's name and all that. Sometimes those are, I would say, more confusing than anything else. I think each person knows what their assignments are, what they need to do, what they're responsible for, and that's to me the most important part of all that. I would say that we aren't really all the concerned, I'm not all that concerned, about some of the other things that go with that. Teams that have eight assistant head coaches and three coordinators on each side of the ball and different things and so forth – we're not going to do that.

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