BOSTON (CBS) — In terms of his own health, Bill Belichick is feeling good, despite the three positive cases for COVID-19 on his team.
In terms of preparing his football team for a game against the Broncos on Sunday despite not being able to practice yet this week, if the Patriots head coach is feeling uneasy at all, he’s keeping those feelings to himself.
Speaking with New England reporters on Thursday morning, Belichick said he’s feeling “great” in terms of his own personal health. As such, he’s doing all that he can to coaching his team — virtually, of course — to prepare for Sunday.
“For right now we’re closed and we’re going to work virtually to prepare for Denver and just take it day by day,” Belichick said. “That’s really about the best I can give you. That’s really about all there is, to tell you the truth.”
While the mantra in Foxboro has always been “do your job,” Belichick actually said football certainly takes a back seat to health and safety — at all times, but especially this week in these circumstances.
“Well there’s nothing more important than the health of the team. I mean without a healthy team, you don’t have a team,” Belichick said. “So that’s priority number one — and I would say not only for our team but their families and people that our close to them. So that’s always our number one concern and we try to do everything we can to make it the best that we can make it. That’s the way it’s always been and that’s not going to change. So whatever we have to do to do that, then that will be what we do. We’ve always approached it that way. This is different, but it’s really based on the same criteria.”
For the time being, those safety measures included closing the facility on Wednesday and Thursday, thus preventing the Patriots from practicing. Belichick wouldn’t shed any light on what level of disadvantage the lack of practice would be for his team if Sunday’s game is being played, instead stating and reiterating that the Patriots simply have to be flexible and adaptable during this unique time.
“There’s a lot of factors and there are things that are changing very quickly, or could change very quickly. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. I think we knew at the beginning of the season that there were going to be challenges, and there have been. We’re committed to working through them and that’s what we’re doing,” he said.
Belichick said that despite the ever-changing nature of this situation, the team is moving forth as though the game will be played.
“We’re preparing. Yeah we’re preparing today like a normal Thursday,” he said. “We’ll see what the schedule is or isn’t. But at this point we’re preparing for a normal Thursday. I mean, normal in terms of in meetings. Not normal in terms of practice. We can’t do anything from a practice standpoint other than watch film and talk through assignments like we did earlier this year when we were in virtual meetings.”
The 68-year-old head coach spoke in the summer about adapting to virtual coaching during the pandemic, and on Thursday he shared how the team will approach the meetings this week.
“Well we just do the best that we can with the opportunities that we have. So that’s some teaching off diagrams and things like that, looking at our opponents, a simulation if you will of the plays that we run, and assignments and so forth, and doing it in the format that we have available to us,” Belichick said. “Not ideal. I mean, this isn’t what we would normally do. But there is an opportunity to cover things, and get things taught, and explain them and have players ask questions, and have coaches get together and put together game plans using the format that we’re using. Again it’s not what we would choose to do … but this is what we can do, so we’re going to do the best we can with it.”
Ultimately, Belichick’s message for the time being was that he will continue to do his job and will ask his players to do their jobs until or if a decision is made by league and team doctors that changes the status of Sunday’s game.
“There’s obviously a lot of — I’m sure you have a lot of questions. I mean I have a lot of questions. We all have questions,” Belichick said. “This is really more of a medical situation than a football situation. So we’ll work through the decision and input from the people in the medical field.”
Tune in to Patriots-Broncos on WBZ-TV on Sunday! Pregame coverage begins at 11:30 a.m. with Patriots GameDay, kickoff is set for 4:25 p.m., and after the game switch over to TV38 for Patriots 5th Quarter!