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Belichick Talks Newton, Jones, Vaccinations and More

The Patriots head coach offers his thoughts on the aftermath of roster cut-downs and the major decision at quarterback.

Tuesday was certainly an eventful day in Foxboro, Massachusetts. 

With the New England Patriots having crafted their initial roster for the upcoming season, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addressed the media on Wednesday morning. The Pats head coach said that it is always hard having discussions with players that have worked hard, for weeks, months, even years about roster reduction. However, the team is moving forward with what they believe to be best for the football team.

Here are some additional highlights from Belichick’s Wednesday morning media meet:

On moving forward to prepare for the 2021 season:

“Building our roster is far from a complete process. We will continue the process of building a practice squad today, and there are things that are still in process that I cannot speak to just yet. That’s where we are, but also starting to get ready for Miami...but three is a lot there that is still unfinished too. But really, our task at hand is putting together the best roster we can.”

On whether the team considered keeping Cam Newton as a backup quarterback:

“I won't go through any of those things regarding an individual player, so I’ll leave it at that.”

On whether releasing Newton was a difficult decision:

“I mean, yeah. I don't rank them, but these are hard decisions and we make decisions that we believe are best [for the team.]”

On whether Newton missing time last week led to Mac Jones winning the starting job:

"Yeah, I don't know."

On whether Newton’s vaccination status was a factor in his release:

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Belichick followed-up:

“You keep talking about that….and you can look these up [stats on vaccination] The number of players/coaches that are vaccinated that have contracted COVID in camp is a pretty high number. I wouldn’t lose sight of that.”

On whether the chances of Newton missing further time [due to his vaccination status] caused the team concern:

“No. We have other players on the team who aren't vaccinated, as I would say, probably does every other team in the league. We've had minimal throughout the league. There've been a number of, quite a high number I would say, of players who have had the virus who have been vaccinated, so your implication that vaccination solves every problem, I would say that has not been substantiated based on what's happened in training camp [throughout the NFL] this year. That's all.”

On how many Patriots players are unvaccinated:

“Again, I'm not going to get into that. Those are all personal decisions, and it's not my place to talk about another person's decision or medical condition.”

On why releasing Newton was in the best interest of the team:

‘That’s our decision. We have had weeks of meetings at all positions. I don’t want to rehash all of those meetings, but that was the decision we made.”

On rookies/younger players making mistakes:

“There's a lot of mistakes made in this league by everybody. Head coaches. Veteran head coaches. Veteran players. Rookie players. You name it. Everybody in this league makes a lot of mistakes. It's very competitive, and there's a very fine line and a thin line and margin for error. I probably make more [mistakes] than anybody. In the end, we all try to do our job the best we can. Try to do what's best for the team, and that's what everybody's goal is no matter how many years they have or haven't played or coached or anything else. That's really the goal of everyone. I don't think it's something that really gets broken down by years or number of games or anything like that. I think we've all seen very experienced players and coaches make rookie mistakes. If you want to call them that, so that doesn't exclude or include anybody or anything. We're all responsible for our performance every time we go out there. It doesn't matter what you have or haven't done in the past. The outcome of the game and that judgment will be based on that current competition.”

On Mac Jones winning the starting job:

“Again, I’m not going to go through the individual decisions…it was a competitive situation, each player took a good number of reps. We just made the best decision we could. He's [Jones] had a high level of production. I feel like he's been able to show an ability to do things we want to be done the way we want them done at a productive level. He's come in and performed at a level that supports that."