FOXBOROUGH — Weighing Jimmy Garoppolo’s health, the cost of bringing in a new quarterback, the ability to prepare Jacoby Brissett on short notice, and the best way to field a team capable of beating the Texans Thursday night sounds complicated, but Bill Belichick insisted in a news conference Tuesday morning that it’s actually very simple.
Doesn’t he have to wait for a full report on Garoppolo’s health to make an informed personnel decision? It’s — wait for it — “based on what’s the best interest of the football team,” Belichick said.
“The player’s personal situation, his health, always comes first,” said the Patriots coach. “That’s always first. That’s not a football decision, that’s a medical decision. Football decisions are based on what’s best for the football team.
“That’s what we’ve always done around here, that’s what we’ll always do as long as I’m here.”
After the Tom Brady banner was put up outside Gillette Stadium before Week 1, Belichick affirmed that he does not count handling banners, parking, or concessions among the skills listed on his résumé. Add performing surgery to the list.
“I’m a football coach, I’m not a doctor,” Belichick said. “The medical staff is the medical staff. I coach the team, the medical people handle the injuries. They don’t call plays, I don’t do surgery. We have a great deal there, it works out good.
“Let me put it a different way. I’m the coach, I do what’s best for the football team. I don’t know why you can’t understand that.”
Belichick did say that “everybody’s here,” when asked if Garoppolo, who has a sprained AC joint in his right shoulder, would be at practice Tuesday. He didn’t say whether the practice would decide whether or not Garoppolo could play or be active as a backup Thursday. He did say that it would be possible for a quarterback to be a game-time decision.
“Today’s Tuesday. The game’s Thursday night,” he said.
Belichick also touched on Jacoby Brissett’s preparations; the rookie is in line for his first career start, in just his third NFL game, if Garoppolo can’t go.
“Jacoby’s done a good job for us, he’s improved every day,” said the coach. “He’s a hard-working kid. He’s in here early, stays late, study’s the game well, he’s got good physical talent. He’s improved steadily since he’s been here.”
Asked whether Julian Edelman would be the emergency quarterback if the Patriots begin the game with only Brissett in uniform, Belichick said, “I don’t know. He hasn’t played it in this league. He played it in college.”
Edelman has completed a pass in a Patriots uniform, on a trick play in the 2015 playoffs against the Ravens.
Belichick said that “he’s done more of that in practice” but he didn’t know whether Edelman would work on passing this week.
Whoever is under center for New England will face a Texans defense Belichick had plenty of praise for. Belichick touted second-year linebacker Benardrick McKinney as “one of the better linebackers in the league at a lot of things, the run, the pass, blitzing,” and said the Patriots also have to worry about an improved Jadeveon Clowney, an experienced secondary, and J.J. Watt.
“The biggest challenge is always scoring points, that’s the name of the game,” Belichick said of playing Houston. “They haven’t given up many. I’m sure it won’t be easy to score on them.”