FOXBORO, Mass. — It didn’t take long for Bill Belichick to get annoyed.
Belichick held a news conference Friday morning before the New England Patriots took the field for their second training camp practice of the summer. Several questions centered on what Belichick saw from various players on Day 1, and those inquiries didn’t exactly sit well with the Patriots coach, who responded with a sarcastic rant about the media making evaluations early in camp.
“You know, you guys are asking a lot of questions about what have we seen from ‘this’ guy, what are we seeing from ‘that’ guy. We’ve yet to put on pads, all right?” Belichick fired back. “I understand that this is a pretty talented group of evaluators in this room, but in all honesty, our evaluations come more in training camp when we actually practice and we can fully execute the techniques and the plays that we’re trying to do.”
The Patriots haven’t yet practiced in full pads, as players donned shells and shorts for the first two sessions of camp. That changes Saturday when the Pats will practice in pads for the first time, but until then, don’t expect any in-depth analysis from Belichick. The team still is getting its feet wet.
“The main thing we try to get done in the spring and the main thing we’re trying to get done in these two days is to teach the players what to do and to give them the most fundamental instruction that we can, given the restraints that we have on practice,” Belichick said. “Then when padded practices and, I would say real training camp starts (Saturday), we’ll continue for quite a while after that, including the preseason games, is when the real evaluations start.”
A few players stood out Thursday, including wide receiver Austin Carr, who made a nice catch in the corner of the end zone. Clearly, Belichick isn’t going to put too much stock into individual plays and highlights through two practices, though. The Pats haven’t been practicing at the same level they will be in the coming weeks, hence his rant regarding questions about Day 1 performances.
“I know everybody’s all excited when a guy catches a pass, but when the defense doesn’t jam him or they’re not allowed to really, because we don’t want heavy contact out there, aren’t competing for contact at the end of the play, then it’s not quite the same as when all of that’s going on,” Belichick said. “I’m not taking anything away from the receivers. I’m not taking anything away from anybody. I’m just saying it is what it is. The competitive level out there is not what it’s going to be starting (Saturday), so to evaluate players competitively when they’re not on a competitive level, I have a hard time with.
“But I know a lot of the people are real good at that and they can make a lot more out of it than I can, but due to my personal limitations and my personal inability to make those evaluations, I don’t make them,” he sarcastically continued. “We can keep asking about how everybody does on ‘this’ and how everybody does on ‘that.’ The main thing for me is to see if they’re doing the right thing, doing it properly, how we can correct that, and then there will be a point in time where everybody will be able to go out and do it to the best of their ability against very competitive players on the other side of the ball and we’ll see what happens.
“That’s when the evaluations really start, other than if a person can’t take the instruction and do what you’re asking them to do or can’t do it properly, you can evaluate that. But in some cases, it’s hard to evaluate how they’re doing competitively against somebody else when it’s really not a competitive situation.”
Between Friday’s rant and his “InstantFace” reference Thursday, Belichick already is in midseason form.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images