When Bill Belichick says he has faith in Stephen Gostkowski to “work through
” his struggles, the Patriots coach is going to offer more than just moral support.
Belichick was asked about his kicker again on Monday in a conference call with reporters. Belichick was asked how much special teams coaching support there is with the Patriots. Starting with special teams coordinator Joe Judge, Belichick made it clear that Gostkowski is not in the battle alone.
“I can’t speak for other teams. I think Joe’s very knowledgable about the techniques of kicking,” Belichick said. “I know when I became a special teams coach and coached special teams for many years as an assistant coach, and I continue to be involve with it as a head coach, that’s one of the things I had to learn. I had to learn how to coach those individual specialists, the snappers, the kickers, the punters, the returners. I don’t think it’s any different than coaching any other position. Things you don’t know, you need to learn. The things you do know, you need to be able to teach to the players, however you acquire that information.”
Belichick then recalled how he’s had the chance to learn how to coach different positions from some of the greatest to play.
“Some of that certainly comes from the players, especially when you coach good players at the position that you’re coaching, you can learn a lot from them, just like I learned a lot from many of the players that I coached. Going back to people like Dave Jennings as a punts or Carl Banks or Lawrence Taylor or Pepper [Johnson], guys like that, as linebackers with the Giants. However you acquire that information, you acquire it and you have to be able to convey it and teach it to the players and recognize technique or judgment.
“There’s a whole host of things that go into performance but all the things that are related to those, [you need to] be able to figure out which ones are the most important and which ones need to be corrected and so forth. I think Joe’s very knowledgeable on that, as was Scott O’Brien. I have a lot of experience with that myself. That’s what coaching is. You don’t know, then you’ve got to find out. Nobody knows everything. No coach knows everything about every position. Maybe a guy’s played it for a decade, he might be well-versed in that position. But I’d say for the most of the rest of us that haven’t done that, things you don’t know, you’ve got to learn, you’ve got to find out, you’ve got to figure them out.”
Gostkowski has missed extra points in back-to-back games after not missing in a regular season game since 2006. He’s 9-for-12 in field goals. In Week 1, Gostkowski was named AFC special teams player of the week, not just for his three field goals but his precision with kickoffs that pinned the Cardinals deep in their territory. With the amount of emphasis on different types of kickoffs, Belichick was asked if that could be affecting Gostkowski’s motion when striking the ball on field goals and extra points.
“I think they’re definitely different. I don’t think there’s any question about that,” Belichick conceded. “It’d be like a golfer, you’ve got to be able to hit a sand wedge, you’ve got to be able to hit a 5-iron, you’ve got to be able to drive, you’ve got to be able to putt. That’s what kickers and punters do. There’s plus-50 punts, there’s field goals, there’s kickoffs, there’s back-up punts, there’s punts against a heavy rush, there’s punts against a six-man box where the gunners are getting double-teamed. And just like golf, there’s wind conditions and not wind conditions and so forth.
“It’s not like you’re standing out there on the driving range and banging the ball away every time, especially on place kicks. You’re dealing with a center and a holder and timing on the play so it’s not like you’re just placing the ball down there on the tee and kicking it like you are a golf ball or a kickoff. Yeah, they’re definitely different. Whether it’s a punter or kicker you’re talking about, they have to master different skills, different kicks, different types of kicks, different things that are specific to their position.
“Just like every other player and every other athlete, for the most part, has to do. Basketball players can’t [just] shoot free throws. You have to make some other shots, too. That’s part of the position, being able to do the things that are required at that position and, yeah, they’re not all the same. But I don’t think they’re all the same for anybody.”