New England Patriots Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick
June 10, 2021
BB: I think since we last saw you, we're just continuing to work through, grind through here day by day this spring and we've gotten a lot of teaching in and will continue to do that. Just trying to progress a little bit each day, in terms of not really situational football but starting to get into more of football instead of just drills and fundamentals and that kind of thing. Of course, it's all tied together, but just trying to move forward a little bit each day with things that relate to specific situations and so forth. So, we've obviously got a long way to go but making progress day by day and continue to spend time with our corrections after practice and a little bit of new installation for the following day or whenever the next session is and so forth. But we've had some good, warm weather out there. Good Boston weather the last couple of weeks and so that's I think helped us a little bit too with our just overall conditioning and ability to go out there and run around and improve our fundamentals and time on the field and quality of time on the field. So, whatever we get, we get, but that's been good and so, just try to keep stringing these days together as we kind of head towards the finish line here and do as much as we can to teach and instruct our players and our team to be in position to get off to a good start in training camp. So, that's where we are today here, June 10th.
Q: Do you have an injury update on Cam Newton?
BB: Yeah, he's doing alright. He won't participate today, but he's getting better.
Q: So, nothing serious?
BB: No. Well, he's not out there but I think he'll be alright.
Q: When Cam isn't out there, how does that change the division of what you do when you have four quarterbacks and you go down to three?
BB: It just gives everybody more opportunities. So, a lot of the drills that we did were two spot drills, so that's two and two. When you have four or if it's a two-spot drill and you have three, then there's one person at one spot and two in the other spot, but Josh [McDaniels] does a good job of working that out and depending on what we're doing and what each individual player needs and so forth, of trying to get the right amount of work to the guys, however it breaks down. He's got a lot of experience doing that. Josh does a great job of getting everybody prepared and that can come in a variety of ways, from meetings to walkthroughs to practice reps to how he splits them up into individual drills and so forth. So, there's a lot of different opportunities and he's done it very well and continues to do that. So, we've talked about it, but individually, he's the one who has to really make those decisions and he does a great job of it.
Q: What have you observed from Mac Jones during this teaching period?
BB: Well, I think everybody is coming along. Again, there's a lot of teaching, a lot of instruction for any player that hasn't been in this system, and there's plenty for the ones that have, but they're all working at it. Mac's working at it just like everybody else and there's a lot for all these guys to learn and absorb and it just keeps piling up each day but as a group, they've worked hard and we're making progress. So, we're certainly not anywhere near where we need to be, but we're further ahead than we were yesterday or the day before or last week and so, things are moving in the right direction.
Q: How do you think Jarrett Stidham has handled himself in the quarterback competition and do you see a future for him on the team?
BB: Well, the three quarterbacks that were here last year are still here and we drafted Mac, so that is what it is. There's competition at every position and really, I think, any good professional player or any good football player has basically the same mindset and that's to go out and improve his individual performance and go out there and perform as well as he can, and you can't control what anybody else does. You can control what you do and you can control your preparation and your attitude and your performance and that's what you go out and do. That's what every player does or should do and Jarrett's done that. I'd say so has really, pretty much everybody else on the team. That's all you can control, so you go out there and do it.
Q: How important in your view is this time period of the OTAs and the mini camp for rookies to get up to speed and how do you determine whether or not they are picking up what you want them to pick up?
BB: It's hard to set up a teaching schedule for an individual player. You set up your teaching installation in a progressive way, a pyramiding way, so that you lay a strong foundation and build up from there. You build up for the entire team. You can't just, let's say gear it towards one guy or gear it towards another guy. Some players are going to be at the right pace, some players are going to be a little behind that pace, some players with experience may be a little ahead of that pace and then each position coach can kind of tailor that to the individual that he's working with and where they are in that progression. So, guys that have less experience or are behind for whatever reason, then you try to position coach and sometimes other veteran players will try to help that person with additional film time or classroom time or whatever it is, particularly if a player's not on the field practicing. If he's on the field practicing, then he's able to use those practice reps to work on if it's an individual fundamental skill or a team concept, the execution of a play and that type of thing. So, there are a lot of different ways that a player learns and progresses and for some players that are advanced, a lot of times you take them and work on something that's very specific to what they do that maybe the other players at that position don't do and they try to work on things that would really help them and improve their play that we may not get to for a while, but if they can improve their individual skill, then when we come to those plays and those techniques, they'll be more proficient at them. There's a general overall learning, progression and structure. That gets modified for each individual by the position coach and ultimately you try to put the player in a position where he can go out and compete and practice and show us what he can do and then that can lead, if that's done well and done at a high enough level, then that would give the player an opportunity to compete in preseason or game situations. Some players, for whatever reason, may not practice as well as they play. Some players may not play as well as they practice. Practice and games aren't the same. I mean, there's a degree of carry over, certainly, but some players play and react and they're able to utilize the physical nature of football to change or improve their performance differently than what you see in a practice setting. So, it all adds up. It all helps the player's progression. The evaluation ultimately comes in competitive situations and we're not really in those yet. In fact, we're quite a ways from them, so guys will go out and they'll, like all of us would do the first time you do something, make a mistake, not do it correctly, learn from it, go out and may be pretty good at it. So, it's hard to evaluate people off of just one or two opportunities of doing something but over time that accumulates and the more information you have, the more opportunities you have to evaluate how a player is doing and how he's progressing, whether he's leveling off, whether he's improvement is spiking, or maybe gradually inclining, then the more time you have, the more better chance you have of being right on those evaluations. And then of course, there's a lot of other factors that come into it as well that could be relevant. So, we're not really in the evaluation process at this moment, we're in the teaching and trying to get the team to a point where we can compete against each other in the preseason against our preseason opponents or joint practices or whatever the case might be and then those will be the real evaluation periods.
Q: Have you brought in someone who could be described as a vaccine expert to speak to your players about vaccinations and if not, do you plan to do so?
BB: Well, I mean, first of all, we'll comply with whatever the NFL policies and rules are as it relates to all that. So, that's all out of our hands, out of my hands. Every team will deal with that. I don't think there are teams that have done any more than we have in this area. So, I feel like our players are informed and have the opportunity to be informed. I'm pretty comfortable with what the organization, Mr. Kraft and our training and medical staff, with what we've done for everybody here. But there's always new information. There's always updates. Situations change, sometimes expectedly, sometimes unexpectedly, and we'll always keep everyone informed and make decisions that are best for individuals and for the football team. Whether it be this specific situation or any others that would be similar to it, that's how we've always done it. I can't imagine that would ever change. I feel like we're on top of it and we're in front of it and we'll be compliant with whatever rules or guidelines were given by the league and to some degree, the state, but when those two don't align perfectly, then we're bound by league guidelines.
Q: You referenced joint practices in your previous answer, is there anything set up so far for the summer?
BB: Well, I think that's a possibility. We'll see how it goes.
Q: It looks like you guys have competition across the wide receiver position. How do you feel about your depth at that position and what have you seen from some of the young guys like Tre Nixon and Isaiah Zuber so far this spring?
BB: Again, that answer is really the same for all players and all positions. A lot of teaching, a lot of instruction. We haven't really had competitive practices. That's not what we're doing now. We're working against each other, but those are very much working conditions as opposed to highly competitive situations. So, we'll see how the competition turns out when guys actually have an opportunity to do that. But as far as learning and progressing, and if they're on the team, then they're working to whatever capacity they can. They're hopefully improving and hopefully they're putting themselves in a position to engage in that competition when they get the opportunity. So, we'll see how all that turns out and depth's all relative. Depth in June and depth in November, I mean, that's two different conversations. So, I don't know what depth is or isn't. That changes pretty quickly in this league. We're always trying to have as competitive roster as we can at whatever point we're at. But until we have any regular season competitive games, there's certainly an opportunity for that to change at any or every position. So, we'll see how that goes. I don't know.
Q: The NFLPA has given some guidance to players to stay away from these OTA sessions. There are some teams that have negotiated with the coaching staff to change some of the things that are normally done. Has anything changed for you and your coaches during these OTAs in terms of on-field approach or protocols or the schedule based on conversations you've had with your players who were following NFLPA guidance?
BB: I think we have a good line of communication with our players and the players representatives, whatever that happens to be. So again, we'll continue to do what we feel is best for our team and the players and again, it's all voluntary. So, some players are here, some players aren't and that's the way it's set up. I don't have any problem with that. All the teams are under the same guidelines, so we'll do what we feel is best for our team. I'm sure every other team will do the same thing and really that's about the way it goes.