Patriots head coach Bill Belichick spoke to reporters during mandatory minicamp workouts Wednesday and Thursday. He touched on the turnover on the team’s coaching staff, acknowledged long snapper Joe Cardona’s promotion to lieutenant in the U.S. Naval Reserve, and even fielded questions on injured Bruins captain Zdeno Chara.
Here are the transcripts from each press conference:
Wednesday, June 5
BB: Alright, well, still grinding away. It’s another good day out here. We’ve got a long way to go, but it’s good to see us making progress each and every day. Just stay at it here and hopefully we’ll have another good day tomorrow.
Q: What skills did you see in Gunner Olszewski to move him from defensive back to wide receiver?
BB: We saw him a little bit in rookie minicam,p but there’s still a long way to go. We’ll see him. We’ve got a lot of work to do.
Q: Can you talk about Jerod Mayo’s excitement and passion working with the linebackers?
BB: Yeah, I think Jerod’s personality comes out as a coach just like it did as a player. We feel very fortunate to have him. He’s doing a great job for us.
Q: When you’re scouting the punters, what exactly is it you’re looking for?
BB: There’s a lot of different punting situations, so there’s situational punting and just being able to put hang time and distance on the ball to help our field position and change field position. But based on the rush, the expected return, field position and so forth, there’s a lot of different things. It’s a bit like golf – you stand on the driving range, but you’ve got to hit a lot of other shots too. So it’s all part of it.
Q: Is there any type of spin in particular you want to see your punters put on the ball?
BB: Well again, it depends on the type of punt that we’re trying to hit. Yeah, sometimes. Those are punts where you’re probably not looking for maximum distance, maybe you’re looking for something else – placement or hang time or that type of thing.
Q: Have you been able to see much from your new tight end group?
BB: Yeah, there’s a lot of guys out there, Ben [Volin]. I can’t evaluate all of them. Again, this is more of a teaching camp. We’ll do the evaluation in training camp. Everybody’s taking reps, everybody’s getting an opportunity, so we’ll see how it all works out when we get the pads on.
Q: Do you feel that each day the speed is picking up and it’s getting better and better?
BB: Well, we add things every day, so there’s the volume increases. We can’t handle everything, but we can handle more than we can the day before so just keep moving in that direction.
Q: Having Ben Watson back, is he the same player you remember from before?
BB: Yeah, we’ll see. Ben’s a quality guy, a smart guy, certainly got a lot of experience, so we’ll see how it all comes together.
Q: What physical traits drew you to want to work with Matt LaCosse?
BB: He’s a young player that has some talent, he’s played in the league and we feel like he has some upside. We’ll see how it goes in our system.
Q: Does having guys like Deion Branch and Troy Brown come back and work with players serve as more of a touchstone, as opposed to coaches, or are they asked to impart some knowledge?
BB: Yeah, they do a lot of different things. Those guys have been through the whole full experience – beginning, middle, end – for multiple years, multiple seasons. They all have something that they can add. Each of them are different, have a different story and different message but they’re all good.
Q: Ben Watson described how he came back after 10 years, but there’s still that familiarity here. Is it rewarding for you to have alumni that can come back and impart some of the things that happened a long time ago that still have value?
BB: It’s great to see those guys, yeah. I think they add a lot, sure.
Q: What’s the significance of having Jerod Mayo on the staff and what he brings and what he’s been able to do?
BB: Like I said, we’re glad to have Jerod. He’s doing a great job. We’ll see how it all goes. We’re in an early stage of the practice and season. We’ll see how things develop during the year. I don’t know.
Q: Have you had to evolve the way that you coach over the years and different strategies that go into presenting information to younger guys?
BB: Yeah, we try to do as good a job of that as we can. We’re always looking for new teaching techniques or ways to teach more efficiently – change our terminology or possibly the presentation. Yeah, we try to do that. I mean a lot of it’s just re-teaching, but it’s good for all of us to start from scratch again and start all over again each year. There’s a lot to be said for going back to the beginning.
Q: Is there any lasting effect from losing Greg Schiano as defensive coordinator as you go through the off-season and try to figure out roles for everyone?
BB: Yeah, that was a couple of months ago.
Q: So whatever happened then is way in the distance?
BB: Yeah, it’s two months ago so I think everybody’s moved on.
Q: Zdeno Chara took a puck to the face last game and they’re not sure if he’s going to play again this season. When a significant player like that goes down, how do you deal with that and move forward?
BB: Well, look, they have a great team and they have a great organization. He’s a great player, I’m sure that Coach [Bruce] Cassidy and their coaching staff and their players will handle it as well as they possibly can. What exactly that is, I don’t know. I just don’t know that kind of situation.
Q: When you’re in that situation, how do you deal with it?
BB: Every situation’s different, so it would just depend on the individual circumstances. There’s no solid answer I could give you on that.
Q: Always a good day to double your Ferentz’s on the field with having James as a player and his dad Kirk here as a guest?
BB: Yeah, it’s always good to have Kirk here and his staff. They’ve been very helpful to us and it’s great to have them here.
Q: Did the competition committee changing some rules about what you can do in practice change anything that you’ve done?
BB: We’ll see exactly what all that is. Right now, I don’t think that affects us, but going forward, whatever it is, we’ll comply with and figure out how to best prepare our team. I’m not sure that all those have been totally defined. Maybe a little more tweaking to do, I’m not sure. So we’ll see how it goes.
Q: There’s one rule they’re discussing when if there’s a Hail Mary at the end of the game, it would be effectively a different rule than it is during the rest of the game. How does that sit with you as a coach?
BB: I think they’re trying to solve problems that are difficult problems. If there was an easy solution, it’d be a five minute meeting. But there’s not, so the competition committee and the people in the league and the officials and so forth are trying to figure out the best way to do it. We’ll see what they come up with. I think it’s a tough problem.
Q: What do you feel Kirk Ferentz has contributed to the game of football over the years?
BB: He’s the winningest coach in the history of Iowa football. He’s the longest-tenured FBS coach at one school in football. He’s coached at every level very successfully, so I think his resume speaks for itself. He’s a tremendous person, I learned a lot from him in the three years that he coached for me at the Browns and I’m grateful for our friendship and relationship and the family members that he’s sent us.
Thursday, June 6
BB: Okay, well it’s a good week to wrap it up here. I feel like we got a lot done out on the field which is good. We’ve just got to keep grinding away here one day at a time. Congratulations to Lieutenant Joe Cardona on his promotion. Obviously a day to remember our World War II veterans here on D-Day. It’s the 75th anniversary, that’s kind of a big one for us. I want to recognize all the things that they did. And I obviously wish the Bruins well tonight in Game 5.
Q: Are you happy Tom Brady is taking a little bit of the heat off you today with the media?
BB: Yeah, I’m good. Whatever you guys want.
Q: As you transition from this minicamp as a teaching camp, to training camp as an evaluation period, is it kind of tough to get the younger players to make that transition?
BB: Yeah, young guys have to transition to everything, so they learn as they go. They’ve been at it now for three weeks so we’ll just keep working through. It’s part of a long process.
Q: You mentioned D-Day. This is probably the last major milestone that members of that generation will be alive for. How important is it for us to remember that aspect and appreciate that part of it?
BB: Yeah, I think it’s huge and I think a lot of organizations, World War II foundations, others, have done a great job trying to recognize it here over the last several weeks and certainly today, this weekend. It’s a day that changed history, it’s a big day for all of us, important day for all of us. As I said, happy to recognize Joe [Cardona] on this day, it just helps make it a special day for all of us.
Q: Excited about the ring ceremony tonight?
BB: Yeah, of course. Yeah.
Q: What’s that ceremony like?
BB: Yeah, I’m sure Mr. Kraft will have a great venue and a great set-up for us so we look forward to that, look forward to seeing the rings and reuniting with everybody from the championship team last year. So look forward to it.
Q: What do you think about Zdeno Chara potentially playing tonight through a broken jaw?
BB: I have no idea.
Q: Shows some of the toughness of hockey players?
BB: It’s the Stanley Cup so – just trying to see if we can get a couple of first downs out here.
Q: What have you seen out of Obi Melifonwu?
BB: Yeah, all those guys, guys like him that came in the middle of the year, rookies from last year, they’re way ahead starting from the beginning this year. He’s gotten a lot of reps here in camp with Patrick [Chung] not practicing, so he’s been able to take advantage of them. He and [Terrence] Brooks have both gotten a lot of snaps.
Mandatory minicamp ends Thursday. The Patriots will next hold offseason workouts on June 10 and June 11.