PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
November 10, 2023
BB: Alright, it's good to be in Frankfurt. We got in this morning, it was a good flight in. Got in this morning, kind of rolling along here. It's a beautiful facility, so we look forward to getting out there this afternoon, wrap up our preparation and be ready to go on Sunday.
Q: You have quite some Germans on your teams during the last 10-15 years with Seabass [Sebastian Vollmer], Jakob [Johnson] and Markus [Kuhn]. What did you learn about Germany and German culture from them?
BB: I learned that when they were saying things to me under their breath in German, it probably wasn't complimentary. No, they were all great to coach. I loved all three of those players. It's just that Markus, you know, we didn't have very long with his injury. Seabass we drafted, he had a great career with us, and Jakob came as an international player and developed into a solid NFL player. He's had a great career. So, those guys are all – the three of them – very hard-working, smart, great teammates, good team players, very unselfish and honestly a pleasure to coach.
Q: Trent Brown didn't travel with the team, was due to the personal issue or the ankle injury?
BB: Yeah, both.
Q: The Patriots have a very big community here in Germany. What do you expect of the crowd on Sunday?
BB: Yeah, I mean, we'll see. That's great. I hope we give them a lot to cheer about.
Q: You seem to be enjoying this, as long as you been in the league, getting to have an experience like this to play in a new country, what does this mean to you?
BB: It's obviously a unique experience. It's great for our team, our players, our staff. It's a great experience. We've played a lot of NFL games, this is one that will be a little bit different, just like Mexico City and London were. It's a good opportunity for our team, I think we'll just make the most of it and enjoy it. Obviously focus on playing well. Regaining our focus and preparation here the next couple days and go out there and hopefully play our best game of the year on Sunday. That's our goal.
Q: We had a discussion last week with the Dolphins arriving earlier and the Chiefs coming here late. Did you have to think long about arriving only on Friday or did you discuss coming earlier?
BB: Yeah, we looked into it and talked about it. This is what we've done for the other games, you know the London game was basically the same schedule, so we stuck with that.
Q: And it worked since you won all those games?
BB: Well, I think the overall preparation at home, not trying to bring all of our stuff here, but trying to do the majority of the groundwork at home and cover all the things. Then come here today and review it – today and then tomorrow – and then play the game. It felt like that was the most efficient way for us. But, it could be different for other teams, I don't know. I don't need to comment on that. For us, we felt like it was the best way for us to operate. We've done it that way before, I think everybody is very comfortable with it.
Q: Your career is really amazing, over 20 years of coaching or even more and winning all those trophies, how do you motivate yourself in times like at the moment?
BB: I enjoy it. I enjoy all aspects of it. The preparation, the team building, the competitiveness on Sundays, the guys that I work with, you know, the staff, the players, it's a great environment, the ownership. Everybody works together to try to work towards a common goal. Honestly it beats working. I enjoy it.
Q: We are from Spain, so part of the community is very supportive of Kayshon Boutte, we would like to ask you if he will be active for this Sunday?
BB: We'll see how all that goes. Kayshon has had a good couple of weeks here. It's definitely trending in the right direction, so that's been good. We're looking forward – again, we appreciate all of our international fans from all the countries. Certainly Frankfurt – I know we have a Croatian group here in Frankfurt – Spain, France, Italy. We'll take them all.
Q: I wanted to know how the game last week between the Chiefs and the Dolphins might have informed any of your preparation logistically or understanding that it's a new playing surface, anything you studied from that game that might help on Sunday?
BB: Well, most of our preparations were pretty well set, but there were some other things that came up from a game operational standpoint. We have a week at looking at somebody else doing it and seeing what they did and how that worked out, and there are a couple of things we're going to adjust based on that. So, it's definitely helpful seeing the game a week ago, on the field, on the surface. Different scoreboard, different kind of configuration of the stadium, things like that, so it will be good tomorrow to just go over and walk that and just kind of get little bit of a feel for it.
Q: Concerning the adjustment to our stadium, and since it's conceived as a soccer stadium, we saw last week the scoreboard being hit by a punter, is there any adjustment you had with special teams about the stadium with that as something they might do?
BB: No, that's actually something that has come up in a couple of our games before, where the ball has hit an object – whether it's a scoreboard, or it could be the wire that the camera goes on or something like that, and you just replay the play. That's all covered. We'll see whether that happens or not, but I don't think it's really that big of a factor for us. If the kicker or punter hits it, then we'll re-play the play.
Q: Your defenses usually are amazing. The last two weeks, the front seven has had problems, more in third downs, maybe from the [Matthew] Judon injury. What are you doing to change the dynamic in the front seven on third downs?
BB: Well, third down is such a critical down. So, we have to do a better job there on both sides of the ball, both picking them up on offense and getting off the field on defense – fundamentals, technique and some awareness things. The Colts are good there. They do a really good job of staying out of long yardage. They run the ball well, so they don't create too many of those long-yardage situations relative to the rest of the league because they have such a good running game. Getting in long yardage is hard, but regardless of what the down is, it's the most competitive down unless it's fourth down, and we've just all got to do a better job there.
Q: In terms of the Buffalo win and the Vegas defeat, it seemed like something was starting to finally click on the offense. There was a first-package rate in terms of motion for that offense, but then obviously Kendrick Bourne getting injured at receiver. It seemed to kind of damage your chances last week because your receivers weren't getting much separation against Washington. I know the other gentleman asked about Boutte, or just in general, are you hoping that the young guys in the second half of the season can go and make an impact and just sort of give the offense some life in that regard?
BB: Alright, well, each week is different, different team, different opponent, different scheme, different players. We'll see how we match up this week against the Colts. Last week was last week against a different team, different players, different scheme. So, we'll see what happens this week. Of course, our goal offensively is to not turn the ball over and score points, whether that's explosive plays or converting in the red area. So, that's our goal every week and that will be our goal this week. Hopefully, we'll do a good job.
Q: Obviously, different opponents, but have you and Coach [Bill] O'Brien had discussions about – the way offenses have developed now in the NFL, there is a lot of motion at the line of scrimmage – have you guys sort of tried to implement that into the game plan or hoping to have that going forward? I think in the first half of the season we didn't see a lot of that in the Patriots offense. It seems like, as I mentioned before, with that injury, it seems like there's a real adjustment to try and get that a part of the offense week in and week out.
BB: Again, there are advantages to going in motion. There are drawbacks to going in motion. If we can use it to our advantage, we'll use it. If we don't think it helps us, we probably won't. It's pretty much that same discussion each week.
Q: Over your time with the Patriots, you've had tremendous success. How do you look back at that legacy you've planted in the NFL with the Patriots, and how do you see your current team strength-wise?
BB: Well, honestly, I don't spend too much time focusing on that. Really, right now, it's just about getting ready to play the Colts and doing the best job we can in preparation and then competitively on Sunday against the Colts. So, that's really my focus right now. As far as what happened in the past or analysis of the team this year and all of that, we'll worry about that later.
Q: What went into the decision to keep J.C. Jackson at home and do you expect him to be available to you after this trip?
BB: Yeah, I think he'll be available. No, he's not on the trip.
Q: What went into the decision to keep him home?
BB: That was the decision. I won't get into it.
Q: Players have spoken a lot about how deep you'll go into previewing an opponent in team meetings, dating back to ownership, history. I'm curious how, in discussing the Colts this week, the magnitude and the history of this moment – playing in Germany – might have shaped any of your messaging to the team this week, understanding that the point is to win, but it's a unique week?
BB: Yeah, well I'd say the front end of the preparations are a little condensed this week. Again, this is a team that we've played each of the last couple years. There are other teams that we're less familiar with, like Washington – we hadn't played in four years, so they'd undergone a lot of changes. Honestly, this week has been a lot more about getting ready for the preparation on this game, and of course that leads into some of the bigger-picture things, but maybe a little less focus on that just because we're familiar with this team and a little shorter preparation on the front end. It's really three days into two on the front end – Wednesday, Thursday, Friday into Wednesday and Thursday.
Q: Do you have the chance to see some of Frankfurt, some of the cultural stuff or also the players?
BB: Not yet. We just got here this morning and had some meetings over at the hotel, got on the field today. We'll see how it goes. I'm kind of running on fumes here, so not sure how long I'm going to last tonight.
Q: You're a great historian of the game. Did you ever think when you broke into this game that you'd be playing in different countries? This is now the third different country you've played in. Where do you see the game going in the next 50 years? Do you think it will e a truly global game?
BB: Yeah, I don't know. That's probably over my pay grade. I'm not on the marketing side of things. Soccer is football, football is soccer here. I don't know. That's a good question. But, I mean, the sport here is great. We played games in the spring in the Europe league for several years. That kind of dissolved, but I know there are other local American football teams in Europe, and I've communicated with some of them. The sport's grown, and nothing would really surprise me. There would be some logistical issues at some point, but I don't know, maybe you could work those out. Interesting question.
Q: In my 23 years, I've been a Patriots fan, I've never seen a love so much. I think Germany is good for you. How are you feeling in Germany?
BB: Love is in Germany. I've heard that a couple of times. People are great – beautiful, friendly. Thank you. I appreciate your hospitality.
Q: You said you've spoken to football teams over here before? In what capacity? How did that work?
BB: Well, most of them have reached out to me, saying we have a team here, and we go from there.
Q: Is that something that is important to you to be available to help grow the game in that respect?
BB: Yeah, well, most of it was during the summer, not during, obviously, football season. Sometimes, they'd look me up or I'd just randomly bump into them. They've given some jerseys or hats or stuff like that, souvenirs from those teams, like 'just wanted you to have this', that type of thing. Informal, I'm not formally associated with anybody.
Q: In general, you like if somebody reaches out to you, whether it is somebody that coaches here or something like that?
BB: Well, a lot of them are American that have transplanted and ended up here that are involved in some sort of European American football team, that either I have a connection with or a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend. It's pretty random. It is interesting, shows it's a small world.
Q: Is there a room in your house that has all those things they give you? Do you save any of those things?
BB: Of course, you bet.
Q: Flag football has been a hot topic for the upcoming years, and probably having the best young talent being involved in it, do you think this will have an impact maybe in the development of future players going into the NFL? Like, some skill transfer or awareness or something?
BB: I don't know. That's a good question. Not really too familiar with that aspect of it, so I'd have to probably do a little more research there. Sorry.