I think we can all agree that the Patriots have a stacked roster, one that had us opining about the potential for a perfect season. But as training camp has shuffled along, this deep roster has shown it’s not laden with all-world pieces at every spot. Thus, we have questions about defensive end, linebacker and who is that third tackle. Not exactly Jacksonville Jaguars problems, but certainly something for us to chew on, and, to a degree, Bill Belichick as well.
Appearing on Dale, Holley and Keefe on WEEI Monday afternoon, Belichick said it will be awhile before he really knows what kind of team he has, especially when you factor in injuries, growth of players and, in some cases, decline.
“Midseason to me is always about the time where I think you kind of know what you have," Belichick said. "September, I think we’re all trying to figure out a little bit. You go into the season thinking one thing and then after you play three or four games, a lot of time you’re not as good at some things as you thought you were or maybe you’re better at some other things than you might have thought you were. Maybe some guys are performing higher, some guys lower, whatever. It takes a little while to find that equilibrium."
Belichick has a deep reservoir of knowledge acquired over some 43 years of coaching. It’s clear, that even after all these years, his passion for the game is as strong as ever. You can see it in the way he interacts with just about everyone on the roster, from Tom Brady to Danny Amendola to some of the undrafted players who don’t have a snowball’s chance of making this - or any other - roster in the NFL. Which may be why Belichick explained in great detail why everyone, including Brady, need to start over every year.
“As it relates to training camp, look I have been coaching for 43 years, but at the start of training camp as a coach I have to refine my on-field coaching skills," Belichick said. "I have to refine my in-game coaching skills. It is something I haven’t done for six months and it’s with a different team. It’s with different players, different options than a year ago or two years ago. There is a whole preparing process involved there that I don’t care how long you played, each year is different because you have to start all over again. You have a new team and you’re doing something you haven’t done in six months. If you stopped doing something for six months and tried to pick it up later - it might be related, scouting players or going through draft process, things like that, but it’s not the same - it’s on-field coaching decisions, that didn’t start until two weeks ago.
“Then as it relates to players in general, experienced players know a lot about the game, but again there are new players. Every team you play is different. Each opponent is different. They have different players, different strengths and weaknesses and they have made changes to their system just like we made them to ours. So, I think that is important to tell any player. I don’t care how long he’s played in the league. If he’s been in the league 17 years it doesn’t mean he knows the team we’re playing because whatever changes they made from last year to this year, or maybe we’re not familiar with that team, then it is your job as a coach to try and get him prepared for that team. There’s a lot of things as a coach you try and do for every player, not just the rookies.”
So whereas Brady may think he has all the answers to the test, Belichick will be there to keep hitting him with pop quizzes - just like he will with the rest of the roster - to make sure they’re at the level he wants them to be, when he wants them to be there.