Highlights of Bill Belichick’s Q&A with the media Tuesday morning
|03.19.13 at 11:26 pm ET|
Here are some of the highlights of Bill Belichick‘s Q&A with the media at the AFC coaches breakfast at the NFL meetings Tuesday in Arizona:
What you think of the proposal that asks the running back to not use their head?
‘I think the game is pretty hard to officiate as it is. I think this is a real hard rule to officiate. Let’s start with that. I guess we’ll talk more about it in the next couple days.’
How do you feel about the tuck rule possibly going away?
‘Whatever the rules are, they are.’
That rule played a big role in Patriots history.
‘It played a big role in that  season. It cost us the Jets game and it helped us win the snow game.’
Is it going to be odd not seeing Wes Welker in your offense?
‘There are changes every year on every team.’
Was that a tough negotiation?
‘I think Wes was everything we hoped he’d be when we traded for him. He was tough, competitive, and very productive. I think what Robert said yesterday covered it pretty thoroughly. I don’t have anything to add to that.’
On Danny Amendola joining the team.
‘Look forward to working with him. Any new player we get, they come in to our system and [we] try to teach him the things that we do and let him do them and evaluate him, and see how it all comes together.’
What traits does he have that makes him a fit?
‘He’s been very productive as a receiver. He’s productive on the inside, he’s had some production on the outside. Josh [McDaniels] worked with him [in 2011] in St. Louis. Again, we’ll see how it goes.’
When you look at a player like that, who has missed games due to injury, do the kind of injuries matter?
‘There is no [exact] science to it. There are plenty of guys that come out of the draft that have had injuries and played relatively injury-free. There are other guys that have been injury free and have been injury prone at this level. I don’t have a great explanation for that; I don’t think anybody does unless it’s an ongoing situation and a guy has a recurring injury that he’s being treated for, then that is what it is. If it’s anything else, sometimes things happen, sometimes they don’t. When you get a player, you get everything that comes with that player. All the things the person is. It’s like that with every player.’
Is Adrian Wilson is a player you’ve admired for a while? What will he bring to the table?
‘He’s been very productive in the league. Look forward to working with him. We’ll see how it goes.’
Does he fill a role for you, from the back, that you didn’t have just in terms of size?
‘I don’t know.’
Steve Gregory is one size, more slight. Same with Devin.
‘Clearly, he is a different style of player than other players. That’s true of everybody. Each player has their own unique style. What their role ends up being on our team will be determined by how they perform, how other players perform, and how we can get our best football team out there on the field. I don’t know what that’s going to be. He’s been a productive player and I look forward to working with him.’
Mr. Kraft characterized Wes Welker’s departure as a result of being the agent not doing his job very well and Welker taking less money in Denver than he could have got in New England. To what extent do you agree with that?
‘I agree with what Robert said yesterday. I thought he did a good job explaining the situation. I don’t have anything to add to it.’
So he could have stayed in New England for more money?
‘I don’t have anything to add to it. It’s been covered, very thoroughly.’
What do you think would compel a player to make a business decision like that?
‘I think Robert covered our situation very thoroughly. If there is any other information, you ought to talk to the other parties.’
In bringing Aqib Talib back for another season, after working with him for a half-season last year, what did he bring to the team last year on the field, and off the field as well?
‘I thought it was good. Obviously, he’s a talented player, a good teammate. I think he has a lot of things that we wanted to work with as a team. I thought in the opportunities he had last year, he worked hard and gave us his best. Hopefully he’ll be able to build on that year with the offseason program, training camp, and full season. We’ll see how it goes.’
What is your feeling on the crown of the helmet rule (for running backs lowering their head and leading with the crown)?
‘I think it will be a hard rule to officiate. Let’s start with that.’
Do you think you’ll have to re-teach some fundamentals for running backs if that rule passes?
‘Like any other rule, if the rule passes, then we’ll take a look at it and try to convey it to our players and teach it the best way we can, whatever the rules are. It doesn’t make a difference what they are. That will fall into that category if it ends up going that way, I guess.’
What went into the decision not to pick up the option on Brandon Lloyd?
‘We do what we thought was in the best interest of the team.’
Is a contribution question or a value/money type of thing?
‘There are a lot of things that go into every decision. But in the end, it was what we felt was in the best interest of the team.’
When you drafted your tight ends, what was your thinking in emphasizing that position at that point?
‘Well, we felt like at the time we took both players, there was good value with those players at that position in the draft. They were good value players at that point.’
Teams all seem to be trying to get that type of addition. Is that a credit to the athleticism of defensive players, where you see the chance for a tight end to provide matchup problems?
‘Sure. I think the tight end position is a tough position to defend defensively. They’re not really many players on defense that you have that have the same physical criteria of a tight end ‘ 240-260 pounds that run whatever they run and depending on the player, have that type of athletic ability and receiving skills. It’s a tough position to match up on.’
You also re-signed Kyle Arrington? He arrived as a practice squad player’¦
‘Yeah, Kyle has had a great development in our system. He’s been a good player for us on defense and in the kicking game. He’s had versatility, playing outside and inside on defense. He’s been very durable, tough, good teammate, works hard. Nobody works harder than Kyle. Glad to have him back.’
Do you anticipate that he’ll play more inside this season?
‘We’ll see how it goes. The players will go out there and compete on the field and the players that play the best will play more, and the players that don’t play as well, won’t play as much. That competition will all be decided on the field.’
On Rob Gronkowski being ready for training camp:
‘Well, that’s a long way away. A lot of players have a lot of things to do between now and then. Coaches, for that matter, in terms of just getting ready for the season. I’m sure, hopefully, everyone will be working hard at it. we’ll see how it comes out.’
Are you happy with his rehab?
‘With his rehab? I mean, again, every player has a process they go through to get ready for the offseason program and training camp. Every player, or most every player, has to deal with some aspect of it, including the normal things like conditioning, overall training relative to their physical abilities at their position. The program hasn’t started yet. When the program starts on April 15, we’ll have a lot better evaluation of where everyone is. There’s some limited information now, but I wouldn’t put too much on that at this point. I’d say in most cases, it’s pretty incomplete.’
On Adrian Wilson:
‘He’s been a very productive player in the league. I look forward to working with him.’
On Wilson’s role:
‘Whatever role he creates for himself with his performance and his production. Same as everybody else on the team.’
On a comparison between Wilson and Rodney Harrison:
‘I understand the question. I mean, Rodney Harrison’s one of the greatest players ever to play for the New England Patriots, one of the greatest players, I think, to play his position in the National Football League. Pretty high comparison. I’m not saying [Wilson] isn’t, but you’re talking about a great player [in Harrison].’
Can you play safety like Rodney did nowadays, given the rule changes?
‘It’s a great question ‘¦ it’s a great question. Yeah, time will tell. It’s a great question. I don’t think you can take it out of the game, but it may not be able to be what it was.’
On read-option offenses:
‘When we get later on in the spring, we’ll look at all of our opponents. Current ones, the ones we’re familiar with, and the new opponents, like the NFC South and teams like that. Try to prepare for the season. If there are elements of things they do that we feel like we need to get a jump on, then we will, and there are always things that fall into that category. Teams that use different offenses, defenses, personnel groupings, whatever it happens to be. At some point, we’ll get to that. When we have our schedule, we’ll see how early or late we play those teams, what kind of preparation we need for them. Try to adjust to that accordingly. I can’t answer all those questions now.’
On the acquisition of Donald Jones:
‘We felt like he would be able to be competitive on our football team at his position. He’s played in the kicking game, he’s had production on both the inside and the outside as a receiver. He’s young, tough kid. I feel like he has the opportunity to continue to improve.’
On Jake Ballard’s rehab:
‘It’s the same thing [as Gronk]. We’ll know a lot more about our players come April 15 and the succeeding weeks as we start to do the things that we do to prepare for the season. What a player’s doing in February or March, it could be the right thing and what he should be doing, but it’s a lot different than what a player’s doing in the offseason program as he’s heading for training camp. We’ll see how it goes.’
Any reason why wide receivers are missed on?
‘I think you can pretty much go to every position and find hits or misses. Find guys later in the draft that should have been drafted earlier. And guys drafted earlier, that should have been drafted later. You can find that at every position.’
As Tom has aged, what differences do you see in him?
‘Well, he’s a lot more experienced. He continues to gain experience every week of the season and every year. He’s a smart player that handles a lot of things. He still works very hard physically on his conditioning and his techniques.’
On Sebastian Vollmer. Hold out hope of him being with team?
‘Well, there are a number of players out there both on our team and other teams that are unsigned. We’re in conversations with some of them. And there are other guys we’ll be in conversations with that we aren’t now. So we’ll see how the whole process works itself out. We’ll take it day by day.’
On differences Talib made in secondary?
‘I don’t know. If you’re looking for a percentage I have no idea.’
Do you feel he was an impact player?
‘Yeah, I think he definitely helped us. No question. I can’t put a percentage on it, or a rating, or whatever you’re looking for.’
His ability to play man help you do other things?
‘I think Aqib’s a good football player. I think he can do a number of things at that position that an NFL corner needs to do. I wouldn’t characterize him as having only one skill, put it that way.’
On Jeff Demps wanting to run track and field — how will that affect standing with you?
‘Well, we’ll deal with each player individually with their specific situations and circumstances, whatever they happen to be. Alfonzo has some circumstances. Demps may have some circumstances. Players with injuries have different circumstances. We’ll deal with them all individually. In the end, we try to do the best we can, what’s best for the team. Same as we always do.’
How about the two Canadian Football league player you signed? Coincidence?
‘We monitor all the players, all the leagues in our focus. People do a good job of the that. Guys in the league, the Steve Neal’s of the world who never played football, that come from different backgrounds. Vega’s a local kid. We had some background on him. He came out of Northeastern. Armstead is no secret. He was on everybody’s draft board one way or another. Obviously, he wasn’t drafted because of his medical condition. We feel comfortable about his situation. Comfortable enough to sign him. It’s not because he was in Canada, or not in Canada. We try to evaluate players as individuals, what he brings individually to the table. Whether we can fit him onto the team in a role or in a competitive situation we think will be good for him.’
The loss of Wes Welker, how characterize affect on offense?
‘Well, we’re starting all over as a football team like we do every year in March. We have a number of months before we play a game. We’ll address the offseason and our team development like we always do on offense, defense, special teams.’
What do you like about Amendola?
‘He’s been a productive player. One of our coaches worked with him in St. Louis. We’ll put him out there like everyone else and see how it goes.’
Is it hard to replace all the things a guy like Danny Woodhead brought to your team?
‘Look, every team has players come onto the team and go off the team so…each team chemistry and each group of players every year is different. We’ll see how it all comes together. Danny did a good job for us, he was productive, played for us offensively in a number of areas — running game, passing game, some touches in the kicking game. But’¦there are changes on every team every year, so no need to act like this is the first time a free agent signed with another team.’
On the addition of Leon Washington:
‘Well, Leon’s been a productive player in the league, he’s had a lot of production in the kicking game the last three years, he had more offensive production with the Jets than he had in Seattle, but we’ll see how it goes. Put him out there, let him play, we’ll see how it goes.’
On Brady’s extension — how important is that to have him in place long-term?
‘Well, Tom’s been an important part of this team for over a decade and now we know definitively what his situation is in the coming years, so that certainly helps the planning process, but each year is it’s own year with every player, so we’ll see how it goes.’
Did you catch Gronk’s wrestling moves?
‘Let’s stick to football questions.’
On Ryan Mallett ‘ would you trade him or keep him as backup?
‘I think Ryan improved a lot last year, I think he really had a good season, I think he was obviously, like every player that came out in the ‘11 draft was slowed by the lack of preparation heading into the season, but last year I thought he really performed well.’
On Marcus Cannon’s progression
‘Again, huge gains last year. Obviously he dealt with his physical situation in 2011 [he underwent treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma], wasn’t really able to start participating until whenever it was, October, whenever the PUP thing was, this year was a totally different situation ‘ he got a lot of reps in training camp, given our offensive line, specifically tackle situation [Sebastian Vollmer missed part of camp rehabbing back], and he’s improved tremendously as a player. The opportunities he had to play early in the year, and even later in the year, he showed that improvement on the field in games as well as the practice field.’
Can he be a starter this year?
‘That’s up to him.’
On Ryan Wendell:
‘Well, that’s ‘ the story we’ve written before, Dan Connolly or Tom Ashworths and the Brandon Gorins and all those guys, Steve Neals, we’ve seen that before. But Ryan, nobody’s worked harder than Ryan and like you said, he worked his way up from not being on the practice squad his first year in the league to finally getting on the practice squad at the end of the year, and then being on the practice squad, then being on the roster and being a backup player, eventually getting a job last year in training camp. So everything he’s gotten he’s earned; he’s worked hard, and hopefully he’ll continue to work hard and develop as a player.’
Was part of signing Danny Amendola was Josh McDaniels’ comfort with him?
‘I can’t put a percentage on it; obviously it was part of the equation, getting information about the players from our staff members, which is important, but I can’t put a percentage on it.’