New England head coach Bill Belichick spoke with the Tampa Bay, New England and national media from One Buccaneer Place on Wednesday in advance of the first Bucs-Patriots practice.
Belichick's opening statement:
“Great to be here in Tampa and work with Coach Greg Schiano and the Bucs. I think this will be a real productive couple days for us. We are going to improve our football team and work on some things against a different opponent. A good competition. It is a quick turn around [from Monday night's game against Philadelphia], but I know our guys are excited to be down here. I think we are going to get a lot out of this. Looking forward to it and have a good relationship with this organization. I think it will be mutually beneficial.”
How did this joint practice come about?
“[It was] mutual."
Can you talk about your relationship with Coach Greg Schiano?
“I have known Coach for a long time. [I] have gotten to know him better since he was at Rutgers. Of course we would go down and scout their players and work them out – that type of thing. We both have a defensive background. So I think we have a lot in common there. He has coached some of our players going back to Vince [Wilfork] at Miami, so we have a long relationship. My son went to Rutgers. I spent more time there watching him play lacrosse, but also being around Coach. He has come up to our practices and spoke to our team and observed us on the field and vice versa. It has been — we have had a good relationship. I have a lot of respect for him. I think this is a great opportunity for him. I am sure he will do well.”
What are mutual benefits to having a controlled situation like this where you can stop something and run it again as opposed to say a preseason game?
"I don’t think there is a whole lot of stopping it and running again. I think it is just ... you run plays against your own team and that’s great, but at the same time, we are going to see different looks besides the ones that we have. In all honesty, there are certain plays that we can recognize. Our offense can recognize certain blitzes that we run. Our defense can recognize certain formations and motions. You start to anticipate and play the plays and things like that. We kind of know who our go-to guys are. You play against a different team and you don’t recognize those things as quickly and you have to learn who the go-to players are on the other team – that type of thing. So it changes the whole dynamic of the game, really. The match-ups and the recognition, the anticipation – the communication. Just puts more stress on those areas and that ways [of] game condition. This is really good for us because we just played Monday night. We went through the film yesterday on our game with Philadelphia. So we don’t really have much of a scouting report [on Tampa Bay]. We haven’t watched any film on Tampa. We just know some of the basics and we are going to have to figure it out as we go, but that’s good. That’s a realistic situation in games [of] how they are using a particular player and what adjustments we have to make. What looks they gave us, how we would identify and handle those different looks the next time we go back out there. This will be a real good learning experience for us on the field in practice – just like it is in the game. We will do some other stuff tomorrow. Other situations, but all those things are game experiences without all the game contact and all that. So mentally, technique-wise, communication, coaches having to coach – again something that we haven’t had a lot of time to prepare for – that’s good for us, too. It sharpens our skills.”
What’s the most important thing for a coach like Greg Schiano as he tries to change the direction of a team?
“It is a big process. I don’t think there is any one thing. There is no magic wand. That’s pretty much everything. When I came into New England and Cleveland for that matter, scouting department, the players, the personnel, the coaching staff, the support people, video, trainers, medical people, operations, to travel – it’s all interconnected. There is a program the way you want to do things. Everybody has their own style and personal preferences, but it is all connected. I think that it definitely takes a while to change that. If you are basically keeping it the same as what it was then that’s that – but still there are always changes and it all works together. Everybody needs to be able to do their job as it relates and coordinates with the entire team operation. That’s a lot of work. There is no one thing of, "We've just got to do this." There is a lot more to it than that. Certainly along the way I made my share of mistakes and you try to learn from them and try not to repeat those. That’s part of the process when you bring a lot of new people together and you changes things in an organization. Inevitably, you are going to have to to – some people you bring in are going to work out. Some people you bring in are not going to work out. Some people are going to be better than what you had, but maybe not ultimately where you want that position to be personnel-wise. You upgrade it as you can. It’s a process. It’s hard. There is no one thing. I wish it were that easy.”
You recommended Greg Schiano to the Bucs. What characteristic are you looking for to give a recommendation?
“All I can do is be honest. That’s all I can do. What somebody else is looking for is [what] they have to decode what is right for them. When I am hiring somebody I take a look at our situation. I have a job description. I look at the needs for that position that we are hiring. I try to find somebody that fits what I am looking for. Sometimes you interview a couple people. Sometimes you interview a dozen – whatever it is. But you try to find the person that fits what you need. That doesn’t mean that the other people aren’t qualified. That doesn’t mean that they won’t do a good job. It just means that the person we hire is the person we think is best for us and what we need at that point. If you ask me about somebody then I will tell you about that person. If that’s what you are looking for then maybe that’s the person you will hire. If you are looking for something else, that doesn’t mean that person isn’t good. It just might mean it’s not the right fit. That’s your call as the employer not mine. All I can do is just be honest. I do. I think the world of Greg. I think he is a good coach. He has got a good personality. He treats his players well. He is smart. He is tough. He did a great job with the Rutgers program without some of the opportunities that he was going against had. I thought he competed very well and had confidence against those teams. I have always been impressed in the way his teams performed. I don’t have any problem saying that at all.”
What do you think is the biggest challenge is for Greg Schiano coming into this league as college coach having been at Rutgers for 11 years?
“I don’t know. I think he is a very experienced guy. He has won a lot of games. He has coached a lot of players. He has coached NFL players, they were just in college – that’s all. The Vince Wilforks, Devin McCourtys – all the guys that he has coached. They are NFL players. They just weren’t in the NFL yet and he has coached in the NFL. He knows what he is doing. He will be fine.”
Did you make any recommendations to Schiano about any coaches that may be on his staff?
“You know any conversations that I have with any players or coaches or anything, they are conversations between myself and that person. I would respect the privacy of those personal conversations.”
What are your impressions of this Bucs facility and have you been here before?
“No, I was at the old facility many times. First time I have been here. It looks great. Certainly impressed with this room media room [and] the podium – media room. They treat you guys pretty good. Spent a little time in the weight room this morning, but the fields look good. It looks great. They are a good operation. Good facility. They've got a good program. Like I said, we are excited to be here and working with Tampa. It’s a great opportunity for our team and we are going to try to make the most of it.”
– Scott Reynolds contributed to this report