By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — This was always going to a wildly fascinating and intriguing summer in Foxboro, as the Patriots entered their first season without Tom Brady on the roster since the 1990s. It was going to be a summer of great interest long before the pandemic made things even more complicated, and long before the Patriots had signed Cam Newton.
But now that all of those factors are combined for this condensed training camp with no preseason? The madness has multiplied ten times over.
And for the first time since Newton became a Patriot, head coach Bill Belichick took questions from the media. Though this session took place over video conference instead of in person, Belichick was very much the question-deflecting, non-answer giving superhuman press conference deliverer that he always is while at the podium.
“I think that spot’s the same as all the other spots on the team. We’ve got a long way to go and we’ll see how things turn out,” Belichick said when asked about the rare situation of the Patriots not necessarily knowing who will be their starting quarterback at the start of training camp. “I can’t control how players perform; that’s up to them. We’ll give everybody an opportunity and we’ll see what happens. So … I don’t know.”
Later in the conference, Belichick was asked about utilizing different plays to highlight different strengths of different quarterbacks during practice. Belichick didn’t flinch.
“I think that’s … rather than answer a specific question about a specific position, it’s really the same for all positions. You set up a general structure that you implement, everybody needs to learn fundamentals, certain things. And every player, no matter how long he’s played — whether he’s played two years or 20 years — there’s still a basic progression to training camp at that player’s position. So that’s really what we’re gonna do, that’s where we’re gonna start. And that’s what in my opinion needs to be done, regardless of who the player is, what position he is, whether he’s been here for 10 years or whether this is his first year. There’s still a certain process that we have to go through and there are certain fundamentals and basics in our offensive, defensive and special teams systems that need to be taught. And it would be very hard for any player to function well without doing those.”
Belichick added: “In order to be a good football team, you need to be good fundamentally, you need to be sound, everybody needs to be able to execute basic assignments, techniques and make basic adjustments, and those transcend to everybody in every unit. I don’t think there’s any way around that. So that’s what we’ve always done, that’s what we continue to do. I think that’s the way to do it. We’ve had a decent amount of success doing it that way and I just don’t see it happening any differently.”
Belichick was asked specifically about the missed reps for Stidham that he would have gotten through the spring and summer under normal circumstances. Belichick once again likened the quarterback situation to that of any position on the team.
“Yeah well everybody missed those. So that’s what it is. Same for everybody, and that’s the way it went this year,” Belichick answered. “That’s the way it went in 2011 [with the lockout]. Some years are different from other years, and there’s nothing we can do about that. We can’t change it, so we’ll just try to make the most out of every opportunity that we can get going forward. That’s all we can do.”
As for the signing of Newton, Belichick said a lot of work went into it — on both sides.
“Things worked out. We spent quite a bit of time with Cam and he spent quite a bit of time with us,” Belichick said. “I think there was some mutual interest. We went and spoke to quite a bit of number of different people and a number of different conversations I think just trying to see how the fit would be. It was very positive on our end and I’m glad it worked out.”