Apparently, if you’re willing to come into his office at 10:00pm on Wednesday night, you’ll find Bill Belichick in a pretty talkative mood.
Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports was willing to do this, and the result is a very insightful one-on-one interview with the Patriots head coach. Cole, a veteran NFL writer who had covered the Miami Dolphins for 15 years at The Miami Herald and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel asked the right questions of Belichick, and got some very interesting answers.
Those in the media who complain about Belichick “hating” the media (Yeah, you, Joe Pos – halfway down the page) and the outside world in general, apparently just aren’t coming at the right times, or asking the right questions.
A few examples:
Asked about the trade of Richard Seymour, and whether everyone on the Patriots roster is available for the right price -
Each guy’s price is different. If a team asks, you see what the price is. Now, is Jerod Mayo available? No, not really. But there are certain players who are young that have a certain number of years left on their contract that you want on your team, so you’re really not going to trade them. Those guys are realistically not available, no. But is everybody else available for a certain price on every team? I would say, for the most part, they probably are. Who’s willing to give that? What you want and what someone else is willing to give, that’s usually very different. In this case (the Seymour trade – in return, the Patriots get Oakland’s first-round pick in the 2011 draft), it worked.
Asked about when things started to turn around for Matt Cassel last season –
It changed when he took all the walkthroughs. He was the guy in the meetings, he took all the reps in practice, he was the guy with the game plan, he was the guy saying, “Hey, I don’t like this route, I like this.” He had the input and it was catered to him, just like how Brady says, “I don’t like that play.” OK, we’ve got plenty of other plays. But that might be a play that Cassel likes running, but he doesn’t say anything because he’s not the quarterback at the time. When he became the quarterback, he started talking about it and saying what he liked. I think all quarterbacks go through that. So where they are now and where they are going to be, as they grow into it and the coaches figure out who they are, sometimes the only way you find out is to actually let them do it.
Asked about winning in the NFL -
Jimmy probably said the same thing to you that he once said to me: “You’re really only competing with about 10 teams a year. If you just say out of the way, the other 20 teams will screw it up themselves. Whether it’s ownership or personnel or coaching or some combination of factors.” Ego, internal struggle, something will happen to two-thirds of the teams, that was Jimmy’s theory. That leaves you with about 10 teams that you’re going to have to really battle with. Those teams have it together. They’re going to make good decisions and if you play bad football, they’re going to take advantage of it. They’re going to find some undrafted guy or some middle-round pick or some veteran free agent who is going to spark their team. Pittsburgh is always going to be there. Indianapolis is always going to be there. They may not win it, but they’ll be there. You’re going to have to beat them. Philadelphia is going to be there. Yeah, [quarterback Donovan] McNabb might get hurt one year and they might go 7-9, but they’re going to be there. You’re still battling them on every front.
There’s quite a bit more in the article as well. It’s so rare to see columns like these, that I feel compelled to point them out, and keep them for posterity.