Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick Transcript


August 16, 2022


BB: Morning. Got a full house here today. Looking forward to working with Coach Rhule and the Panthers today. I’ve had great communication with them. I think practices are set up to hopefully go efficiently. We just want to get the most out of them that we possibly can, as I said, on all levels: individually, schematically, coaching. Seeing a different team, not knowing what they’re going to do, how they’re going to make adjustments, things like that are great training for me and all the rest of our coaches as well. I look forward to a good day today.


Q: Do you feel like Jalen Mills is on track to be your top cornerback this year?

BB: I think everybody out there is competing to be the best that they can be. Whatever that turns out to be, I don’t know. We’ll see.


Q: Where do you think he’s at with you all?

BB: He’s been good. Jalen’s a very hard working kid. Smart. Has a lot of position flexibility. We’ve used him primarily outside, but he’s played inside, he’s played safety. Could probably play any of those positions pretty well, but our depth at safety right now looks okay, so he’s primarily outside. He can play inside, and we’ve done that by matchup, too, that type of thing. If the guy he’s on goes in the slot, he’d go inside, things like that. We’ll see how it all plays out. But right now it’s an opportunity for everybody to work on their fundamental skills. Especially a day like today when we’re working against players that we’re not familiar with, that we haven’t covered, that have different skillsets, and are very good. Great chance for all of us.


Q: What are you hoping to accomplish in the next few days?

BB: Improve our team. That’s what we’re out here for.


Q: Is every individual session scripted in terms of what you and Coach Rhule want to do?

BB: Let’s see. How do I answer that? Well, all of it’s organized so that we can both get the most out of it. Most of it is not pre-called, so, we don’t know who they’re going to have on the field or what they’re going to do, what formation we’re going to be in. They don’t know the same from us, or what defense we’re going to be in. So, it’s organized to the point where we can operate efficiently. It’s not a big mystery as to what’s going on. But what either team decides to do in that situation is up to that team. We’ve ruled out a few things that we just don’t want to deal with: certain personnel groups or certain situations that would just become more trouble, probably, than it’s worth at this point in time. So, we’ve ruled out a few things that just aren’t going to come up. Like goal line’s not going to come up. Ball’s not going to be on the one-yard line. It’ll be somewhere else. So that would be an example of something we’ve eliminated because of the amount of time it would take to prepare for that for what we’d get out of it, we don’t think would be worth is. So, those are mutual decisions. As far as what play’s going to be run, what’s going to happen, what personnel group and so forth, and the down and distances – somebody knows what they are so we can be organized, but everybody doesn’t know what they are, so there’s an element of recognizing what they are.


Q: What challenges does Baker Mayfield bring to your defense?

BB: Right now, we’re really just focused on the development of our team. We’re not evaluating everybody else. There will be a time for that, but right now our focus is on how to make our team better: how to coach better, how to play better, how to get our units to communicate better and operate more efficiently. Carolina’s got a lot of good players. They have a lot of guys with different good skillsets. We’ll see how we matchup against them and we’ll learn about them as we go. But right now, we’re much more focused on what we’re doing than what they’re doing. Although, we have to be aware of what they’re doing in order to execute, but it’s less of an individual matchup. I’m sure they’ll have a lot of different players out there at different positions. As will we.


Q: Do you get just as much out of joint practices as you would out of preseason games?

BB: In some respects, you get a lot more out of it. They’re both good.


Q: In what areas do you get more out of practice?

BB: Well, we can set up a lot more situations that will come up that aren’t going to come up in preseason games with the players who are most likely going to be playing them. That would be a good place to start. Certainly, in a preseason game you don’t get individual one-on-ones or two-on-twos or those kind of individual matchups that show up in a practice session. There’s a lot of difference between practice and games, I mean, we’d be here all day talking about that.


Q: Do you expect Isaiah Wynn to be able to participate these next two days? And what have you seen from Yodny Cajuste?

BB: Yodny’s doing well. Isaiah’s day-to-day, so, I don’t think he will participate today. We’ll just take it day-to-day.


Q: Is the report about Joejuan William’s shoulder injury and him being out for the season accurate?

BB: We’ll see how that’s going. I know he’s being evaluated. I’m not sure exactly what the results of that evaluation are.


Q: Do you feel like you need a number one cornerback?

BB: I don’t know. I mean, defensively you have who you have, and you play with who you play with. Number them however you want, doesn’t make a difference to me. You have to put 11 guys out there and they have to play well together, whoever those 11 guys are. I don’t know, number one, number two, number one tackle, number two corner, I’m not sure. I’m confused about that.


Q: When it comes to analyzing your roster and what your strengths are, how helpful are joint practices?

BB: I think, as we’ve talked about, the joint practices have value like a preseason game would. So, these two practices, plus a preseason game, it’s three evaluations instead of one. That helps us learn more about our players and different matchups.


Q: What do you expect from James White’s retirement ceremony later today?

BB: Well, I’ve talked to James a number of times through the last couple of years. Last year, prior to the season, and then during the season, after the injury and the rehab and so forth. So, I think this will be more about him and his words and his thoughts and his family, than it will be about us. I’ve spoken many, many times about James and all the positive qualities and attributes he’s brought to our team that I personally have benefitted from and enjoyed from him. As a player, as a person, as a captain, as an important part of our organization, not just a player, nothing’s changed there. If anything, it just keeps getting stronger and stronger. He continues to always do the right thing and impress everybody that he interacts with. He has great leadership and is a great example for all of us. I think this is really more about him and his thoughts and his comments. I think I’m on the record on most of the rest of it.


Q: Did you have any relationship with Matt Rhule when he was coaching college?


BB: Yeah, sure. When Matt was at Temple – I have some connections to Temple – and of course Baylor, they have players. And then when he came into the National Football League – Carolina – we talked then. We actually have tried to work this joint practice session out before, it just didn’t work out. It did this year, which is great. We’ve talked multiple times through the years. I have a ton of respect for Coach Rhule. His consistency of producing outstanding teams in multiple organizations: Temple, Baylor, we’ll see where they’re going in Carolina – it’s a team that certainly is more than very competitive. We definitely had our hands full with them down there last year. But you can see the moves that they’ve made to strengthen their team. They’re going to be very good and they’re going to challenge in a lot of ways. Defensively, they’re as good as anybody we see. Offensively they’re very explosive. They changed coordinators in the kicking game, but the acquisition of [Johnny] Hekker and [Andre] Roberts, I’m sure will impact those units dramatically. So, this is a great opportunity for us to work against a good quality football team – has a lot of good players, it’s well-coached. They’ve established a lot of strong things on the field, and I think, again, you can see where they’ve tried to address some things, and I’m sure those will be better too.


Q: What’s your impression of Ty Montgomery?

BB: He’s been great to work with. Ty’s been a wonderful kid to have around. He’s a very smart, multi-skilled, multi-talented player. Offensively and in the kicking game, I think he’s shown the ability to be competitive in a lot of different areas. We’ll see how it all plays out, but I’m glad we have him. Great to work with him, and I look forward to working with him throughout the course of the year on the team in multiple roles. I think there’s a lot of different things he can do. We’ll have to figure out how that’s going to play out, and how to combine him with other players on the field, who else that is and so forth. But it’s nice to be able to work with him.


Q: How is Mac Jones progressing?

BB: He’s doing fine. Talked about it all year. Second year. He’s way ahead of where he was last year.


Q: What have you seen from Rhamondre Stevenson in terms of his development route-running and pass-catching?

BB: Good. Mondre’s done a really good job improving his pass game skills, starting with blitz pickup and protection. Route running – he’s got good hands, catching the ball’s never really been an issue. It’s setting up defenders, recognizing coverages, when to sit down, when to break, depending on what the rest of the pattern is, how to maximize the distribution on the pattern. The back’s always kind of the last person in the pattern for flare control. So, whatever the rest of the players are running, the back is generally responsible for filling in – being in the right spot so the quarterback has an outlet. Or, if he’s a primary receiver – which, that will happen on a few plays – then, obviously the skill of the back to execute the route, get open, be one of the primary receivers on the pattern, is critical. But most of the back’s routes come off protection, so there’s a protection element, there’s blocking the guy, recognition of it, and being in the general, or specific spot that he needs to be in to complement the rest of the pattern. That comes a lot with experience. There’s so many different variables there. Each play’s a little bit different. A lot of times the backs, even their release through or around the line of scrimmage – depending on what’s going on with the rush – can be quite different from play to play. Even on the same basic route that they’re supposed to be running. So, it’s much different than the receivers and the tight ends. But he’s done a good job of, again, gaining experience and all that. He’s way better than he was last year and he understands that’s an important part of his game. It’s not just carrying the ball, it’s all things that go with the passing game. So, he’s done a great job.


Q: How is Hunter Henry’s progress?

BB: Good. Hunter has been good. He’s was a little limited at the beginning of the spring, but he’s doing very well. He’s, I think, more comfortable in the overall offensive system in his second year, like most players would be in that situation. And obviously familiarity with Mac, there’s chemistry that those guys have from last year that we’ve built on for this year and I think that’s going to continue to grow. Hunter’s a great teammate, he works hard and tries to help his teammates. He certainly is a big lift for us in the passing game, he can do a lot of different things. We have a lot of confidence in him as a coaching staff, and the quarterbacks do, too.


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