Print and Go Back ESPN.com: New England Patriots [Print without images]

Monday, November 23, 2009
Belichick goes the long route

By Mike Reiss

One day after receiver Wes Welker set new career highs in receptions (15) and yards (192), Patriots coach Bill Belichick might have set his own career best in a different category – press conference length.

Belichick answered questions for about 28 minutes Monday, the discussion going long when he just kept talking. The topic that sparked his lengthy Q&A session was how the depth/health at specific positions factors in to how much that position is part of the game-plan.

His answer extended for nearly five minutes. A follow-up question produced four more minutes on the topic, as it seemed to strike a chord with Belichick because it highlighted one of the challenging aspects of being a coach: Assessing the health and make-up of the roster and deciding what areas should be a primary focus that week.

“That’s one of the toughest questions we face as a coaching staff every week,” he answered. “It’s not only the depth at that position for the game, but the depth at that position for practice … There are decisions that assistant coaches have to make every single day in practice. That’s where those guys make a lot of their money right there – those decisions. There is no way to minimize that, or for me to give it due credit.”

Belichick said those decisions during the week, which are made after going through numerous meetings, can produce "hidden opportunities."

ANALYSIS: When I listened to Belichick talk about this, the thing that stood out was how he was so passionate about the teamwork of the coaching staff itself. It is a topic that is not often discussed. This was his chance to delve into some of the intricacies of what goes on in those daily coaching meetings and also praise some of his assistant coaches who fly under the radar. A lot goes in to managing a team with 53 players on the roster and eight players on the practice squad, and this seemed to be Belichick stepping back and enjoying the opportunity to highlight the challenge of doing so.