FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- About 10 minutes into his news conference Friday morning, after New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick had been asked to evaluate the performance of multiple players from the first day of training camp, Belichick redirected the discussion with a blitz of sarcasm.
“You know, you guys are asking a lot of questions about, ‘What have we seen from this guy, what have we seen from that guy?’ We’ve yet to put on pads. All right?" Belichick said. "So I understand this is a pretty talented group of evaluators in this room, but in all honesty, our evaluations come more in training camp when we actually practice and can fully execute the techniques and the plays that we’re trying to do.
“So the main thing we try to get done in the spring, and the main thing we’re trying to get done in these [first two] days, is to teach the players what to do, to give them the most fundamental instruction we can given the restraints we have based on practice. And then when padded practices, and I would say ‘real training camp,’ starts tomorrow and will continue for quite a while after that -- including preseason games -- is when the real evaluations start.
“So I know everybody is all excited when a guy catches a pass. But when the defense doesn’t jam him, or they’re not allowed to really -- because we don’t want heavy contact out there -- aren’t competing for the contact at the end of the play, then it’s not quite the same when all of that is going on.
“I’m not taking anything away from the receivers. I’m not taking anything away from anybody. I’m just saying, ‘It is what it is.’ The competitive level out there is not what it’s going to be starting tomorrow. So to evaluate players competitively when they are not on a competitive level, I have a hard time with.
“But I know a lot of people are real good at that. They can make a lot more out of it than I can. I respect that. But due to my personal limitations and my personal inability to make those evaluations, I don’t make them.
“So you can keep asking about how everybody does on this and how everybody does on that. The main thing for me is to see if they’re doing the right thing, doing it properly, how we can correct that, and then there will be a point in time when everybody will be able to go out and do it to the best of their ability against very competitive players on the other side of the ball and we’ll see what happens.
“That’s when the evaluations really start. Other than if a person can’t take the instruction and do what you’re asking them to do, or can’t do it properly, you can evaluate that. But in some cases it’s hard to evaluate how they’re doing competitively against somebody else when it’s really not a competitive situation.”