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#pounditSaturday, September 24, 2022

Articles tagged: Bill Belichick

Mac Jones shares notable change in Bill Belichick

Bill Belichick with a headset

Dec 29, 2019; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick on the sidelines during the second half of their loss to the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots’ offense is shrouded in uncertainty ahead of the 2022 season. According to Mac Jones, however, Bill Belichick’s fingerprints will be all over it.

Jones said Thursday that Belichick has been more involved in the offense during offseason workouts compared to 2021. Jones, entering his second season with the Patriots, said Belichick was more “hands-on” with his offensive unit, especially compared to the previous year.

This was probably to be expected. In 2021, Josh McDaniels was still New England’s offensive coordinator. He has since become head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, leaving a vacuum to be filled. Some rather unexpected names are involved in doing so thus far, but Belichick taking on a bigger role makes sense.

Belichick is known more as a defensive standout, but he did have a one-year stint as a wide receivers coach for the Detroit Lions in the late 1970s. The guy has been around the game long enough that he’s picked up plenty that he can probably share regardless of his history.

Look: Bill Belichick shows his support for Celtics

Bill Belichick on the sideline

Oct 10, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick reacts during the second quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Bill Belichick has been a big supporter of Boston-area sports teams since he was named head coach of the New England Patriots more than 20 years ago. That theme continued at the start of organized team activities on Thursday.

Belichick showed up to his first press conference of OTAs wearing a Celtics hat.

The Celtics are down 2-1 in their Eastern Conference Finals series against the Miami Heat. Game 4 is at the TD Garden on Monday night, which is likely why Belichick wore the hat.

Belichick is friends with Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens. He spoke to the team prior to a playoff game once when Stevens was the coach, and he has been seen in Stevens’ box at TD Garden during the postseason this year. Patriots owner Robert Kraft, quarterback Mac Jones and other members of the organization have also been spotted at some playoff games.

Cole Strange had hilarious reaction to draft phone call from Patriots

Cole Strange during an interview

Bill Belichick left the NFL world scratching their heads when he selected Cole Strange with the 29th overall pick in the draft last month. If you want to know how unexpected the decision was, just ask the former Chattanooga offensive lineman’s father.

Strange’s father Greg told Chris Mason of MLive.com this week that Cole got a call from an unknown number at around 11 p.m. on the first night of the NFL Draft. He put the phone on speaker. Greg said Cole’s initial instinct was that someone was pranking him.

“(Cole) said, ‘Sir, I don’t mean to be disrespectful at all, but I’ve gotta know because I’ve got some crazy friends. Is this a prank?’” Greg recalled. “The guy said, ‘Hold on just a second.’ And then Bill Belichick got on the phone and of course, unless you’ve been under a rock for the last 20 years, you know Bill Belichick’s voice.”

Greg and Cole both felt much better after hearing from Belichick himself. Greg said Belichick even gave his son some friendly ribbing when things quieted down.

“Belichick is sitting there and when we got through, the first break he had, he said, ‘Hey Cole, you’ve gotta act like you’ve been there, man.’ It was classic to us,” the elder Strange said. “We absolutely loved it.”

Almost everyone outside of the Patriots’ draft room was stunned by the Strange pick. Rams head coach Sean McVay and general manager Les Snead probably had the best reactions.

The 6-foot-5, 307-pound Strange impressed teams in drills at the Scouting Combine earlier this offseason. Belichick told reporters after the first round that Strange “wouldn’t have lasted much longer,” but even the Strange family probably disagrees.

Report: Patriots players have 1 concern about upcoming season

Bill Belichick on the sideline

Oct 10, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick reacts during the second quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

There have been a lot of questions about how the New England Patriots will look on offense next season now that Josh McDaniels is gone, and those are not exclusive to the media. Some players are reportedly a bit concerned, too.

Greg Bedard of BostonSportsJournal.com said this week that there are players on the Patriots’ roster who are “alarmed” about the direction of the team’s offense. More specifically, there are people who were baffled by the comments offensive assistant Joe Judge made earlier this week.

Judge, who was fired as the head coach of the New York Giants after last season, has returned to New England. He served as an assistant on Bill Belichick’s staff for eight years prior to landing the Giants job. He was mostly a special teams coach, but Belichick added wide receivers coach to his title the season before Judge was hired by the Giants.

While the Patriots have not named a new offensive coordinator (at least publicly), Judge told reporters on Tuesday that he will be working closely with Mac Jones. He shared some of his plan to help the second-year quarterback develop.

Judge also babbled at length about how all offensive coaches need to be able to coach all skill position players. Bedard found those remarks to be puzzling.

The phrase “in Belichick we trust” is a popular one in New England. However, the coach is going to face a great deal of criticism if the Patriots struggle on offense this season. Daniel Jones did not make strides under Judge in New York. If Jones hits a wall, Belichick’s decision to bring Judge back will look pretty bad.

Bill Belichick has made notable change to offseason approach

Bill Belichick on the sideline

Oct 10, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick reacts during the second quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Bill Belichick turned 70 on Saturday, which was a sobering reminder that most of the future Hall of Famer’s legendary coaching career is behind him. One might think Belichick would start to slow down given his age, but apparently the opposite has happened this offseason.

Albert Breer of The MMQB was told by someone familiar with Belichick that the New England Patriots coach is working even harder this offseason than he has in the past. Some of that work has been done via Zoom in Jupiter, Fla., and Nantucket, Mass., but Breer notes that it shows “there really isn’t any place (Belichick would) rather be.”

Belichick’s sons, Stephen and Brian, are both on his staff with the Patriots. That has been cited as one of the main reasons Belichick has not lost his passion for coaching. While many coaches retire to spend more time with their families, Belichick is able to do that at work.

Belichick is also chasing an important piece of NFL history. He currently has 321 wins in his career, including the playoffs. That places him third behind Don Shula, who has 347, and George Halas, who has 324. Belichick should surpass Halas this season, and Shula is well within reach.

While he said in the past that he did not want to coach into his 70s, Belichick is already there. He is likely motivated to prove he can win without Tom Brady, and he took a step in the right direction last season when the Patriots reached the playoffs with rookie quarterback Mac Jones.

As of now, there is no reason to think the Patriots will be looking for a new head coach anytime soon. Robert Kraft made that fairly clear with the recent goal he laid out for Belichick’s future.

Malcolm Butler still has not received explanation for Super Bowl benching?

Malcolm Butler warms up before a game

Tennessee Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler (21) warms up before the game against the Buffalo Bills at Nissan Stadium Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn.
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Malcolm Butler recently re-signed with the New England Patriots, which was quite the surprise given how his first tenure with the team ended. Butler was benched in Super Bowl LII before he left the Patriots in free agency, and he still may not know why.

After Butler signed with the Tennessee Titans in 2018, he said he never received an explanation from Belichick for why he played just one special teams snap in the Super Bowl against the Philadelphia Eagles. The veteran cornerback was asked on Monday if him and Belichick discussed that infamous decision when Butler met with the coach this offseason. He claims they did not.

“We just talked about the contract. He asked me was I locked in? Was I all in? Ready to play?” Butler said, via Mark Daniels of the Providence Journal. “I told him, ‘Yeah, I am.’ He said, ‘I know you took a year off and the transition is going to be hard since you took a year off’ He knows I’m up for the challenge. I can take that challenge. I can come in here, work hard and take on any role. No, there wasn’t much to talk about because I’m here to work.”

Is it possible that Butler still has not been given a reason? It seems highly unlikely, but you never know with Belichick.

The Patriots were torched defensively in their Super Bowl loss to the Eagles. They could have used Butler, and some players were openly unhappy about the Butler benching. We may have finally gotten an explanation for the head-scratching decision last year.

Robert Kraft has very ambitious target for Bill Belichick

Bill Belichick with a headset

Dec 29, 2019; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick on the sidelines during the second half of their loss to the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Bill Belichick turns 70 this week, but the New England Patriots coach does not appear to be slowing down anytime soon. Owner Robert Kraft clearly believes that will continue, possibly for quite some time.

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk shared an anecdote from a previous interview with Kraft. At the time, Kraft told Florio that he envisions Belichick coaching well into his 80s.

“Several years ago at the league meetings, Robert Kraft, the owner of the Patriots, told me in an interview that he wants to see Bill Belichick coach into his 80s,” Florio said. “He wants to see him perform at a high level like a Warren Buffet or a Rupert Murdoch well past his 80th birthday. He believes he can.”

Belichick used to say he did not intend to coach into his 70s, but he is now going to do just that. Him backing off further would not be a shock. With rumors of a potential successor on staff, there does seem to be some planning for the day Belichick does eventually depart. That day doesn’t seem to be close, though.

Patriots executive drops big hint about team’s draft plans?

Bill Belichick on the sideline

Oct 10, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick reacts during the second quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots have notoriously struggled to draft and develop wide receivers, but that does not mean they are going to shy away from the position this year.

Patriots director of player personnel Matt Groh spoke with the media on Thursday about the upcoming NFL Draft. He was asked about the influx of impact wide receivers the NFL has seen in recent years. Groh said it is important to be prepared to aggressively target one of those players rather than hoping they fall to you.

On the flip side, Groh also spoke about how crucial it is to draft and develop defenders who can stop those talented skill players.

Anyone who has followed the Patriots during the Bill Belichick era knows that you can never take a comment about roster construction at face value. It is always wise to expect the unexpected with Belichick, especially in the draft. If Groh is hinting publicly that the Patriots could try to draft a wide receiver early, the might mean they plan to do the total opposite.

The Patriots signed Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne during their free agency spending spree last year. Agholor caught just 37 passes for 473 yards and three touchdowns. Bourne was a bit more productive with 55 catches for 800 yards and five touchdowns. New England then made a big upside move earlier this month when they acquired a receiver from a division rival.

It will be interesting to see if the Patriots’ inability to draft and develop receivers had to do with how demanding their offense was when Tom Brady and Josh McDaniels were in charge. The quarterback and offensive coordinator are both gone now, so perhaps things will be different going forward.

Report explains why Bill Belichick did not pursue Bill O’Brien

Bill Belichick on the sideline

The New England Patriots had a vacancy at offensive coordinator after Josh McDaniels left to take the Las Vegas Raiders head coach job this offseason. Some thought it would make sense for the Pats to try bringing back their former offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien. But that did not materialize.

So, why didn’t Bill Belichick try to re-hire O’Brien? We seem to have our answer.

Greg Bedard of Boston Sports Journal, which is an excellent subscription-based website covering Boston sports teams, wrote about the matter recently.

Bedard said that Belichick did not pursue O’Brien because of the Patriots coach’s relationship with Nick Saban.

O’Brien, 52, coached with the Patriots from 2007-2011. He left to become Penn State’s head coach and then coached the Texans from 2014-2020. After being fired by the Texans, O’Brien caught on as Saban’s offensive coordinator at Alabama.

Bedard says O’Brien made a two-year commitment to Saban. Belichick did not even want to make the call and create any sort of tension between him and Saban over O’Brien. Saban famously worked as Belichick’s defensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns from 1991-1994. That was after Saban’s time as the head coach at Toledo and before Saban went to Michigan State, which was one of his early stops on the way to becoming the best college football coach ever.

Since he doesn’t have O’Brien, Belchick asked some of his former coaches to try out new roles. Matt Patricia and Joe Judge will be working with the Patriots’ offense for the upcoming season.

This will be an experiment for the Patriots, who are trusting Belichick’s new plan will work.

Photo: Oct 10, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick reacts during the second quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Bill Belichick has huge praise for lesser-known Patriots stalwart

Bill Belichick with a headset

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick is an avowed fan of hard work and fundamentals. Perhaps it is no surprise, then, that when comparing one of his current players to Tom Brady, he picked one known for doing the dirty work.

Wide receiver Matthew Slater re-signed with the Patriots on a one-year deal in March. Slater is regarded as one of the best special teams players in the NFL, and Belichick heaped incredibly high praise on him last week.

“[He] will go up there, in the kicking game, with [Tom] Brady on offense and [Lawrence] Taylor on defense,” Belichick said of Slater, via Mike Reiss of ESPN. “So I feel very, very fortunate to have the opportunity to coach all the players, but I’d say those three in particular.”

Brady and Taylor are among the best to ever play. For Belichick to put Slater in the same category says a lot, especially since the Patriots coach can be notoriously slow to praise any of his players that effusively in public. That said, we know how much Belichick values the hardworking unsung players who form the foundation for the rest of the team.

Slater’s excellence has not gone unnoticed by the rest of the NFL, either. His special teams contributions have earned him ten Pro Bowl nods and five first-team All-Pro honors.

Photo: Dec 29, 2019; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick on the sidelines during the second half of their loss to the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports