Bill Belichick is best known for keeping his conversations with the media brief. When he’s not avoiding discussing player health status and not disclosing game plan info, he may offer a brief, deadpan response, if you’re lucky.
But, on occasion, Belichick lets his guard down, and on his Monday conference call, following a win over the Jets, he let loose with a nearly 800-word manifesto of an answer about the evolution of his team throughout the NFL season.
There’s no audio from the call – and if there was, it may sound like an boring audiobook – but here’s the transcript of Belichick going full consciousness on how he approaches building a team throughout the season. The takeaway is that Belichick thinks it’s impossible to have your team hitting on all cylinders early in the season with limited practices when you’re playing deep into the playoffs every year.
When he gets going it’s like Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind:
— Anthony Gulizia (@AnthonyGulizia) October 16, 2017
Here’s the text in non-Unabomber format:
“Well, I would just say that the, when you start the season and you have let’s call it 20 practices, not including the spring, so let’s call it 20 practices and some preseason games, and during that time you’re trying to evaluate your team, install a lot and work on a lot of fundamental things.
“Basically, you get your team ready to play not only in the opening day but for getting conditioned and build your fundamentals and all of that so you can compete in a 16-game regular season. And in those 20 practices and however many preseason games, certain players play in two, three, four, whatever it is, against other teams that are doing the same thing. So you’re not getting scheme. You’re not getting game plan. You’re not getting some of the more sophisticated in the higher degree of difficulty things in any phase of the game. You’re getting in more evaluation mode and a fundamental mode. That’s where you’re at.”
“When you go from 20 practices to let’s call it 60 practices and over halfway through the season to maybe 80 practices at the end of the season, you’re going to have a lot more in with 80 practices and you can probably triple the number of meetings on that and everything else. … Along the same lines, maybe keep running the same play all year, the same one you put in in training camp and keep running the same plays all year. It’s not that difficult in this league to figure out what those few things are and game plan accordingly.
“So, if you don’t increase the volume of your scheme on offense, defense and special teams, every week your opponent is looking at a handful of things and probably most of them they’ve seen before. So I don’t know how much problem, how much stress you’re really putting on your opponent it that’s the way that you do it. Not saying that’s a bad thing. You can play your basic stuff and if it’s working well, if you’re doing well with it, people can’t handle it, then there’s no reason to change it. But I don’t know how many teams in the league fall into that category. It’s not an exceedingly high number and it never really has been based on my experience in the league. Although, not saying that can’t happen, but I would certainly say it’s not the most common way that teams evolve throughout the course of the year.
“You do (what you try to do) each week to try to win. You put in the plays, make the adjustments. You don’t want to overload things. Nobody’s talking about putting in a new offense every week. That’s not it at all. But are there some modifications you can make? Sure. As you rep those and you use them and those situations come up again, maybe you can fall back to that same type of scheme.”
“It’s incomprehensible to me how anybody could think that a team that’s practiced for six months and played 19 regular season and postseason games and had triple-digit practices and a five-month year, after not playing a game, after having a fraction of that type of experience, could be anywhere close to the level of execution that they were five months before that after all the things that I just listed. I mean, it’s impossible in my view.”