By Alex Barth, 985TheSportsHub.com
Speaking for the first time since the team began full-squad workouts at Gillette Stadium, Bill Belichick was asked a number of questions about how he and his team are adapting to the new world. Despite having 45 training camps worth of routines under his belt, the Patriots head coach doesn’t seem too fazed by the changes. In classic Belichick fashion, he appears to be powering right through.
Here are the highlights of what he had to say on Friday:
Patriots getting in their ‘Me Time’
Even though the Patriots have been together at Gillette Stadium for about a week, it doesn’t mean there’s been a ton of team activity. Belichick told reporters the team is still in “Stage One” of their offseason program, consisting mostly of strength and conditioning, to go along with installing the playbook.
Belichick described it as “me time” for the players, as they transition back into football from an extended offseason.
Belichick hasn’t been on the field with Cam Newton yet
Don’t get too alarmed by this one. As mentioned above, most of what the players are working on when they’re on the field right now is strength and conditioning. Because of this, and COVID restrictions, Belichick told us he nor any of the ‘football’ coaches have been present for these parts of practice. It’s just been the strength coaches so far.
“The walkthroughs are the walkthroughs. They’re walkthroughs,” Belichick added.
Did he consider opting out?
Asked directly if he himself ever considered opting out of the NFL season, Belichick replied “I feel very good about the environment that we’re in. I feel fine.” Not a direct answer, so we’re left wondering if there was a chance the 2020 Patriots would have had to go on without their long-time coach.
It is a valid question though. Belichick is 68-years-old (the second-oldest coach currently in the NFL behind Pete Carroll), making him higher-risk when it comes to COVID-19. He has also stressed a ‘family first’ approach to his team in the past.
In answering a follow-up question, Belichick confirmed no members of the Patriots coaching staff have opted out either.
Managing conference call fatigue
Belichick told reporters that early on in the offseason process, the coaches realized one of the biggest challenges of their new reality would be keeping players involved and alert through numerous conference call meetings.
According to Belichick, he hand his staff spent “a decent amount of time” planning ways to “heighten the engagement” of the meetings, which included “setting up come competitive things.”
As much as these sessions were supposed to be the coaches teaching the players, Belichick says there were instances it was the other way around. “They certainly gave us a lot of good feedback,” Belichick told reporters. “A lot of those guys are a lot more tech-savvy and had some good ideas way ahead of some people on the coaching staff, particularly myself. I’d probably be at the bottom of that tech list.”
Out with the buffet, in with the plexiglass
Belichick’s first answer when asked what the biggest change he’s noticed around the facility? “There’s no more buffet lines for food.”
“I think everybody’s just a little more conscious,” Belichick added, mentioning hand-washing and mask wearing. Before closing though, he did mention one aesthetic change he’s noticed.
“More plexiglass for sure. I’m not sure what the plexiglass bill is around here, but it’s got to be pretty high.”