Bill Belichick, a man who eschews sideline tablets for pen and paper and flat-out refuses to call social media platforms by their proper names, has been forced to get with the times this offseason.
The NFL’s closure of team facilities, cancelation of most pro days and moratorium on visits and workouts amid the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the pre-draft process online, with all communication between teams and prospects now taking place over the phone or in video calls.
The 2020 NFL Draft itself also will be held virtually, with coaches, general managers, personnel folks and even commissioner Roger Goodell working out of their own homes.
“I?d say master is probably not the right word, but I?m certainly better at it than I was four weeks ago,” the 67-year-old New England Patriots coach said Monday during his pre-draft conference call. “I mean, I didn?t know what half of this was. But at least now I can do more than I did, let?s put it that way.
“I get a little better every day — learn a new button or learn a new thing to click on and see what trick that does. So, yeah, it?s been very, very educational as (someone who was on the) first floor, maybe even the basement — I?ve lived below the first floor. Yeah, it?s been interesting to get educated on different technologies.”
Belichick saluted Patriots IT specialist Dan Famosi for helping New England’s coaching staff, scouting department and players stay connected during this unprecedented offseason. Famosi has been with the team since 2000, coming aboard the same year as Belichick.
“Dan Famosi has done a tremendous job for us because he?s had to navigate a lot of this,” Belichick said. “I mean, there?s the coaching side of it, there?s the scouting, there?s the playbook and preparing for the offseason program side of it, meetings and so forth. Just to be able to deal with so many people that are — some are very proficient at some of the things we?re doing, and others, like myself, are remedial.
“And so putting things together on a lot of different levels for multiple groups and interactions that cross over different connections and needs and ‘can we do this with this type of meeting and this kind of conversation and can we do something else?’ You know, some (meetings) are 1-on-1s, some it?s five people, 10 people, 20 people, and we?re preparing for larger groups than that. So there really are a lot of moving parts, and Dan?s done a tremendous job for us and tried to pull a lot of things together and remotely help out people like me that need a lot of help.”
Despite these necessary alterations, Belichick said the Patriots have spoken with “as many, if not more” draft prospects and have “probably seen a little more” player film than they typically would during the lead-up to the draft.
“I think, for the most part, we?ve all adjusted to that and tried to take advantage of the opportunity that we have to do those things,” he said.