Though he is scheduled to meet with the full media contingent here in New Orleans tomorrow as part of the coaches' breakfast, Bill Belichick spent several minutes with the Patriots beat reporters who have made the trip south.
Here's the full transcript of our conversation with him:
There's not really a whole lot to update you on, obviously not anything to say on the CBA or anything like that…we're just kind of plugging away on the draft process, you know, still a long way to go on that but we’re making progress and everything else we’ll just take it as it comes. Whatever happens, we’ll just adjust to that as we go along.
How will you vote on kickoff rule change proposal?
Pretty complicated proposal…I don’t like the idea of eliminating the kickoff from the game; I think it’s one of the most exciting plays in football, so it looks like the competition committee is trying to eliminate that play and I don’t know if that’s really good for the game.
Have you talked to Brandon Meriweather?
We’re aware of the situation but I don’t have anything to add on that.
Do you know where players training during the lockout?
We haven’t talked to them. (Is there a lasting message you left with them before the lockout?) Our last meeting was at the end of the season.
You’ve been through NFL labor issues before, how is this one different?
Well I guess they’re all different – I mean the other two were during the season. Maybe this will be too, I don’t know. They’re all different. But right now there’s not…I don’t really have any control over that; we’re just working on what we can work on, which is our draft right now.
Are you amazed that they can’t figure out how to share so much revenue?
I’m just trying to do what I do.
Are you more involved in draft process with no OTAs?
In the past we would have an offseason program going on right about now, whatever this week is we’d either start this week or next week; we’d either be preparing for it or in the beginning stages of it, and we’re not.
How would you characterize this draft?
I’ve got a long way to go on that.
How would you characterize the value of draft picks this year?
They’re an important part of your team-building process but they always are. I don’t think it changes. (Is there an increase in value?) I don’t know.
Are you open to trading 28th pick as a report today indicated?
I don’t know; I mean, we’ve traded them before, we haven’t traded them.
Thoughts on trading up/down in draft
My philosophy is to try to do what’s best for the football team. (Are you reluctant to trade up because of the risk of a player not working out?) We’ve traded up before.
Do you think the kickoff changes are due to risk of head injuries?
I mean, the presentation last night...I don’t think it’s because of head injuries. The ones they showed up there weren’t very many of them. I don’t know, I think you should really talk to the competition committee; they’re the ones really that proposed the rule and talk to Rich McKay and whoever else is on the committee and see what they have to say about it. They’re the ones that proposed it. There’s a lot of components, four different elements to it, it’s kind of a complicated rule.
What do you think is the motivation? for changing the rule?
It’s pretty confusing. We’re moving the kickoff up and the touchbacks out…
Are you ever baffled by the recommendations the competition committee makes?
This one’s…I’m not sure about this one.
Why was now the time to promote Bill O’Brien to offensive coordinator?
Thought it was the right time.
On the Pats' defensive coaching changes
Try to set up things that we feel like are the best way for our staff to operate at this point.
Can you tell us more about Patrick Graham? [promoted to linebackers coach]
Smart guy, Bulldog. Been in a good program, worked at Notre Dame, pretty familiar with our system, has done a great job with us for two years, I think he’s a really good young coach. Glad he’s on our staff and he’s done a terrific job for us. (Did he come with a recommendation from Charlie Weis?) Of course.
On Harold Nash's promotion to head strength and conditioning coach
Harold, same thing, been here six years, done a great job, works hard, think he has the respect of everybody in the organization – coaches, players, he works hard and is good to work with.
Are you confident your players are self-motivated to keep up with workouts?
All 32 teams are in the same boat, so we’ll see them when we get back.
Does it help to have a lot of returning vets/starters during the lockout?
I don’t really know about the other 31 teams, just trying to coach our team, whatever we can do we’ll do the best we can with.
Do teams that aren’t installing new systems have an advantage?
I don’t know.
What has been your favorite part of your offseason?
Uh, so far I’d say the owners’ meetings here in New Orleans. [smiles]