Bill Belichick is moving full steam ahead as the Patriots coach prepares his team for life after Tom Brady.
Speaking Monday with the media for his annual predraft chat, Belichick said it was “water under the bridge” when asked if there was a desire to bring Brady back for a 21st season. He also said he “meant everything I said about [Brady]” in the statement issued last month when he praised Brady as “a special person and the greatest quarterback of all time.’’
Belichick, who began his call by thanking “all the people whose jobs are to treat people and keep our lives going every day” during the coronavirus crisis, added, “It would be impossible to sum up everything Tom did in 20 years into a comment then or now … I’m sure we’ll be talking about him for years and decades to come.”
Though there will be a change at quarterback, the Patriots won’t change how they prepare their new signal-caller. Belichick said they’ll continue to formulate strategies to take advantage of his new slingers’ strengths.
Belichick said that was the case during the rare occasions when Brady wasn’t able to play, citing the examples of how the team formulated plans for Matt Cassel in 2008, and for Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett in 2016, to get the most out of their skills.
“Just like we always geared everything for doing what was best for Tom and to help our offense there. I don’t really see that changing,’’ the coach said. “Whoever the quarterback is, we’ll try to make things work smoothly and efficiently for that player and take advantage of his strengths and his skills.’’
Now they’ll switch that strategy to whowever wins the competition this summer between Jarrett Stidham, Brian Hoyer, and any player who might be added.
“We’ve spent quite a bit of time with both Brian and Stid. I think we have a pretty good — Josh [McDaniels] and myself — certainly have a pretty good feel for both those players,’’ said Belichick. “The circumstances will be different this year and we’ll see how everything plays out. But again, to start with, I think the main thing is to give everyone a chance to compete, to get people comfortable with the position and the skills that they’re playing, the communication that’s involved.’’
As for this year’s crop of draft hopeful quarterbacks, Belichick called it an “interesting group” but didn’t hint at whether the Patriots will be making the position a priority with the dozen picks they hold.
“I think similar to most years. There’s quite a range of players and some of the systems that they play in in college are different, either than what we run or what traditional NFL systems would look like, and some are more closely schematically to that,’’ said Belichick. “Each guy has his own set of skills; he has his own circumstances. Some players have played well over a sustained period of time; some players have had an exceptional year in the past year or two — maybe 2019, in some cases 2018 — and then for whatever the reasons were, the two years didn’t quite match up. But, that’s I’d say, about the way it always is. There are always a variety of things you have to try to put together and look at, but certainly there’s a lot of interesting players and guys who have really good arms, can really throw the ball, and some very athletic players, some players that have won a lot of games and have shown their competitiveness and instinctiveness. So, interesting group and probably one that has decent depth to it."
Belichick said he’s become more proficient with technology during the crisis as the Patriots, like all NFL teams, have had to make a lot of their draft preparations virtual.
“We certainly have logged a lot of phone time and FaceTime and whatever video conferencing and so forth,’’ he said. “You know, again, I think for the most part, we’ve all adjusted to that and tried to take advantage of the opportunity that we have to do those things.’’
Jim McBride can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globejimmcbride.