Transcript: Bill Belichick Press Conference 12/7

Q: In the return game, does Jakeem Grant remind you of anyone you guys have seen in recent years?

BB: Yeah, he’s really good. I mean, I’m glad we don’t have to deal with him. Yeah, explosive, fast. He’s having a great year and made a bunch of plays for them on offense, too.

Q: How do they use him offensively?

BB: Well, they use him as kind of a situational player, spot him in there. Play him in the slot a little bit, reverses, stuff like that.

Q: At the bye week, we talked about examining your tendencies and figuring out what you needed to change and keep the same. Do you feel like you guys have done a good job of breaking some tendencies to make yourselves less predictable?

BB: I mean we look at that every week, so it’s an ongoing thing. Like what it was a few weeks ago and what it is now is not the same. So, we try to stay up on it every week. We obviously try to do the best we can every week. We’ll see. 

Q: Adam Gase said that Danny Amendola hasn’t been very compliant in practice. Did you experience that during his time here, too, with him fighting to play through injuries?

BB: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Danny’s a hard worker and he’s a tough competitor. No issues with Danny. I mean, he always wanted to be there. I can totally understand what Adam’s saying there, yeah. You like those guys on your team.

Q: Given your history, will you find time at all for Army-Navy tomorrow?

BB: You know, I’m not sure how much we’ll get to see of it – we’ll be on the road – but, yeah, definitely. 

Q: Is it something you’ll check in on, though?

BB: Absolutely, yeah. Joe [Cardona] and I talk about it every day.

Q: Is that game something that makes you nostalgic?

BB: Yeah, no question. Yeah, when your dad coaches at Navy, that’s a huge part of your life. That game is a huge part of everybody’s life at those two academies, and it extends well beyond that. But, yeah, you know in May how many days are left until you play Army.

Q: When you look back, are there any particular games that stand out to you? 

BB: Yeah, pretty much all of them, especially all the ones that Navy won. You know, the ‘62 game with [Roger] Staubach’s sophomore year, when it was skull and crossbones on the helmet. President Kennedy was at that game, so he sat kind of right in front of us. Actually, when he was walking across the field, the guy ran through the thing and almost tackled him. I mean, it was crazy. The next year was of course the game was postponed a week after President [John F.] Kennedy was assassinated, and that was the game where Navy stopped Army on the 4-yard line, went to the Cotton Bowl. So, those are pretty memorable games. The ‘67 game – [John] Cartwright. Yeah, I remember a lot of them. Joe Bellino’s three-touchdown game in ’59 – that’s really the first game I remember. The first game I ever remember watching was the ‘59 Army-Navy game.

Q: Of any football game?

BB: Any football game. And then it was the Colts and the Giants. But yeah, in ‘59 that was Bellino’s three touchdown, 43-12 game. That was Coach [Wayne] Hardin’s first year as the head coach.

Q: Where were you watching from?

BB: I was at home. Then I started going to the games after that. But, that one, I was with the babysitter watching at home. Yeah, so those are great memories. It’s a tremendous week there with just the spirit of the week and the pep rally Thursday night and the sendoff for the team on Friday, and then coming back and the victory bell on Sunday after they won. And, honestly, that kind of set the tone for the whole rest of the year. So, when you live in that world, that’s the world you’re living in. I don’t want to say it’s a one-game season, but in some respects, it really is.

Q: Yesterday, Devin McCourty was named as the representative from this organization for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. What has he meant, not only for what he’s done on the field, but also what he’s done off the field and his presence in the locker room?

BB: Yeah, I mean, he’s so deserving of that recognition from our team. You know, Devin’s just a tremendous person, team captain pretty much ever since he got here – second year – has been a great player for us, great leader for us, very unselfish with his time, great example for younger players, just does everything right. [He] trains well, studies, special teams, defense, play deep, play up on the line – whatever you need him to do – play corner, play safety, return kickoffs, cover kickoffs. It’s whatever you need him to do. He’s been a great, great player to have on this team. He’s been a great addition to our team from really the day he got here.

Q: When he was named a captain in his second year, did he have a sense of maturity that you don’t often see with younger guys?

BB: Yeah, absolutely, and I think that’s why the team recognized it. [Jerod] Mayo was in that category. I think Logan, it might have been his third year. But it’s pretty special to come on to – which those were veteran teams, too, at that time. It wasn’t like a startup operation. To be recognized by the team that quickly of their presence, leadership and team commitment I would say – unselfishness and team commitment – it probably takes at least a year to do that, in some cases a lot longer. Those guys did it. Devin did it in a year and rightfully so. I’m sure the coaches would have all voted for him, too. We all saw it and the team recognized it. Certainly, [Matthew] Slater, it took a little bit longer, but same type of thing. I mean, look, you’re lucky to have one guy like that, and we’ve had a lot of them around here. But, it’s a great recognition for him.

Q: It seems like Devin has done a good job of keeping things light in the locker room. Is that an important quality to have in a captain as kind of a tone-setter on the team?

BB: Yeah, I think that’s part of leadership, part of that job. Yeah, absolutely, whether it’s in the locker room, in the weight room. You know, there’s moments to be light, and there’s moments not to be light, and those guys always seem to do a good job of picking the right ones and timing and their relationship with all the players, not just the guys in their group, but the other guys on their side of the ball, the other guys on the other side of the ball – not just, I’d say, the players in their age group, but also younger players or call it players more in the middle of their career. They’ve lived through those different times and can relate to those guys and do a good job of it. Look, a lot of those conversations take place in the training room, they take place on the team plane, they take place in the weight room, might take place on the practice field in between periods or something like that. There’s no real formula or price tag you can put on those, but cumulatively, they all add up and they all count and they all mean a lot. That’s how teams are built. But, certainly players like that, like Devin, are important to either hold things together or bring things together, however you want to look at it.

Q: What is it about J.C. Jackson’s skillset that makes him so good in covering the deep ball? How have you seen him progress?

BB: Yeah, J.C.’s really improved a lot over the course of the year and he’s gotten a lot better. He takes coaching well, he understands what maybe he needs to see or the technique he needs to use or how he can improve what he’s doing, and then he works on it and he gets better at it. He’s done that all year and he continues to do it. He’s got good ball skills, he can catch the ball and he has good hand-eye coordination to get his hands on the ball to break up plays. I’d just say he just continues to improve in our system, in his individual techniques, in his communication with his teammates, understanding situational football and the teams that we play against and how different each team is, how different each receiver is and each quarterback and each offensive coordinator and how it really can change from week-to-week and how you have to move to the current team, the current opponent and play them probably differently than the way you’ve played other teams. That’s part of the learning process that I think all young players, coaches for that matter, we all go through.

Q: Devin told us yesterday that he thinks you’re doing more schematically than you’ve ever done since he arrived. Is that something you’d agree with?

BB: Yeah, I don’t know. I mean, each week, we try to do what we think is best to help us prepare and compete against our opponent. So, whatever that is, but we try to do that every week – not more, not less – just the best we can do, whatever that happens to be.

Q: Your son, Steve Belichick, said the first time he realized he wanted to be a coach was watching you in the Super Bowl against the Packers. Did you have a similar moment when you decided you wanted to be a coach?

BB: Yeah, I’m probably like a lot of kids. I followed my dad around, went to practice and I was an only child, so did it at a young age and always sort of looked up to the coaches and players at the Naval Academy, and certainly there was a lot to look up to there. There was a lot of great, great people that wore those uniforms, both on the coaching staff and players that have gone on to serve our country and dedicate their lives to our freedom and have the great leadership that we need in this country. And many great coaches have sat in those seats, too, from head coaches to assistant coaches – guys like Lee Corso and Coach Rozano, Coach Hardin, Ernie Jorge, Dick Duden, Jack Cloud. I mean, it’s a long list of people that have really had a big impression and impact on me. So, yeah, they didn’t know they were teaching it to me, but I was somehow learning it, I guess. 

Q: Did the idea of you coach develop over time, or was there a moment that you realized that?

BB: Yeah, I don’t know. When I was in college, I was going to go with Coach [Lou] Holtz to North Carolina State to be a graduate assistant down there, and they hired me, then he fired me and I ended up at Baltimore with Coach [Ted] Marchibroda. So, things worked out, but I guess that was kind of the point, in college where I saw that as furthering my – you know, didn’t really have the money to go to graduate school, but the combination of the graduate assistantship and all that looked like a good route to take. And so that’s kind of the track I was on and then ended up at Baltimore, for no money but for a great experience, which was worth way more than whatever they could have been paying me – which I wasn’t worth anything, so I wasn’t making anything. So, yeah, sometimes it’s just the ball bounces your way, I guess. 

Q: You’ve been able to work with Ufomba Kamalu for about a month now. He’s kind of a unique size of being 6-6 and 300 pounds. Where does he fit as far as your scheme? I know he was kind of an outside linebacker-edge guy in Houston. Is he that or a defensive tackle?

BB: I think we’re trying to figure it out, but yeah, he’s an interesting player to work with and a good player to work with. [He] works hard, smart, as you said, plays outside linebacker to defensive end to defensive tackle. You know, he hasn’t really done a lot in our defense, more it’s been scout team and so forth and drills, but he works hard, he’s smart, he picks things up, he has done and is able to do different things for us. So, we’ll see how it goes, but yeah, he’s an interesting guy. We don’t really have anybody like him from a skillset standpoint. So, I’d say we’re kind of trying to figure it out a little bit. But, he gets better every day. So, we’ll keep working with him, see how it goes.

Q: Josh Gordon has caught all eight of his targets in the past two games. Have you seen him come a long way in terms of his precision and timing with Tom Brady?

BB: I think it’s gotten better each week, going all the way back to the first week. Was it the Detroit week he came here? Didn’t play, so Miami – whatever it was. So, you know, each week, a little bit more. Each team is different. They play their coverages or technique or our game plan varies a little bit from week-to-week, so there are always new things to work on, new things to develop. But, yeah, he’s done a good job of all that and the things that have been somewhat repetitive and come back over time, he’s obviously with multiple reps and the timing on those, of course has gotten better, from both him and Tom and the rest of the offense. But, there’s new stuff every week. Certainly, Miami’s a lot different than Minnesota or the Jets or Tennessee. I mean, it’s just each week it’s a new challenge.