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#pounditWednesday, October 5, 2022

Articles tagged: Bill Belichick

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

Report: Tom Brady wanted specific coach to succeed Bill Belichick

Tom Brady nods to the crowd

Tom Brady seemingly grew tired of playing for Bill Belichick, and that is undoubtedly one of the reasons he left the New England Patriots two years ago. While Brady probably never expected Belichick to step down, the star quarterback apparently had a preferred successor in mind.

Albert Breer of The MMQB shared an interesting piece of information this week while discussing the rumors of tension between Brady and Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians. Breer, who was appearing on NBC Sports Boston, said Brady would probably want Bill O’Brien to take over in Tampa if Arians were out. The NFL insider believes that because O’Brien supposedly would have been Brady’s choice to replace Belichick.

“I think if it were up to him at this point, among the guys available (it would be) Bill O’Brien,” Breer said. “That’s who Tom Brady helped line up as the head coach if he had won the power struggle with Bill Belichick in 2017. If Belichick was out after everything that happened in 2017, I’m telling you Bill O’Brien would be the head coach.”

Brady and Belichick worked out their issues in 2017 — at least temporarily. They went on to win another Super Bowl together before Brady ultimately departed in free agency.

O’Brien, who is currently the offensive coordinator at Alabama, was an assistant on Belichick’s staff from 2007-2011. He and Brady once had a heated argument on the sideline, but Brady downplayed it and took the blame. Brady also publicly defended O’Brien after O’Brien was fired as the head coach of the Houston Texans.

Brady also had a seemingly close relationship with former Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. Some will be surprised to hear that McDaniels wouldn’t have been his top choice to replace Belichick in New England.

Of course, Belichick was never going anywhere. There have been rumblings through the years about him retiring, but none of them have seemed realistic.

A recent report claimed Brady was frustrated with Arians last season. One Bucs reporter emphatically shot that down, and Brady’s decision to return to Tampa is further evidence that the relationship is fine.

Photo: Aug 28, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) jogs off the field after a game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Bill Belichick could take on unexpected role with Patriots

Bill Belichick with a headset

The New England Patriots have a major void to fill on their coaching staff after Josh McDaniels was hired as the head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. Bill Belichick needs to find a new playcaller, and he may have a surprising choice for the job — himself.

There has been talk in recent weeks about Belichick taking on more responsibility with the offense next season. The longtime coach has not announced an official replacement for McDaniels, and ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler and Dan Graziano reported on Sunday that it could stay that way.

“The intrigue deepens on the New England Patriots’ approach to offense without a true play-caller,” Graziano and Fowler wrote. “There’s sort of an open belief leaguewide that coach Bill Belichick could call the plays or, at the very least, have more involvement in the offense. He’s involved in everything, to be sure, but he could really dig in here.”

The Patriots have to replace several offensive assistants. McDaniels took receivers coach Mick Lombardi, offensive assistant Bo Hardegree and offensive line coach Carmen Bricillo with him to Las Vegas.

Belichick is known as one of the greatest defensive minds of all time. We wouldn’t doubt that he can handle a bigger role with the offense, but that doesn’t seem ideal for the Patriots. They will likely be at their best anytime Belichick can devote most of his time to the defense.

H/T Boston.com
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

Could Bill Belichick be in store for surprising role with Patriots?

Bill Belichick looks on from the sideline

The New England Patriots recently lost offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who left to become the head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. McDaniels also took three Patriots offensive coaches to join him in Las Vegas.

The Patriots now have several vacancies to fill, but it’s late in the offseason to be hiring for such spots. New England’s options to hire someone from the outside may be limited, which could lead them to look internally.

Doug Kyed, a longtime Patriots reporter for NESN who is now with Pro Football Focus, shared on Twitter Thursday a few theories on what he has heard the Pats could do to help fill their offensive staff. Some have theorized that Bill Belichick or Matt Patricia could have more involvement with the team’s offense, leaving more defensive responsibilities for Jerod Mayo and Steve Belichick.

In addition to McDaniels, the Raiders hired former receivers coach Mick Lombardi, offensive assistant Bo Hardegree and offensive line coach Carmen Bricillo away from New England. That is a lot of coaches to lose, and something Belichick does not enjoy.

Belichick has always been recognized as a defensive-minded head coach who is known for his defensive prowess. Would he give up some of those responsibilities to help out more on offense? Maybe the team needs it for the 2022 season.

This is all speculation so far. Until the Patriots make hires and replace the coaches they lost, there will be speculation about what they do to cover the offensive workload.

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

Zac Taylor still haunted by Bill Belichick, Tom Brady reactions

Zac Taylor wearing a headset

Zac Taylor has been part of a Super Bowl before, and it did not go well for the Cincinnati Bengals head coach. The memories he brings with him into Sunday are still on his mind three years later.

Taylor was the quarterbacks coach for the 2018 Los Angeles Rams team that faced off against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII. The Patriots won that game 13-3, shutting down a powerful Rams offense in what was considered a Bill Belichick coaching masterclass.

Taylor wound up becoming the Bengals’ head coach immediately after that game, which he admitted ruined any effort to process that loss. On Thursday, he admitted to carrying one enduring memory from that game: the sight of Belichick and Tom Brady in the hallway afterward.

The good news for Taylor is he will not have to contend with either Belichick or Brady on Sunday. He will have to deal with his former boss Sean McVay and a number of players he will know well.

McVay probably has similar memories. Based on what he said after that Super Bowl, if anything, his might be even more visceral. One of these two coaches will start to vanquish those memories on Sunday, while the other will have to live with being on the wrong side of two Super Bowls in four years.

Photo: Jan 2, 2022; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor paces the sideline in the first quarter during a Week 17 NFL game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022, at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati. Mandatory Credit: Kareem Elgazzar-USA TODAY Sports

Bill Belichick bringing back key member of his coaching staff

Bill Belichick looks on from the sideline

Bill Belichick lost a longtime member of his coaching staff when Josh McDaniels left to become the head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, but it appears he is bringing at least one of his former assistants back.

The New England Patriots are working on a deal to make Joe Judge an offensive assistant, Albert Breer of The MMQB reports.

Judge was recently fired after two seasons as head coach of the New York Giants. He was with the Patriots as a special teams coach for eight seasons before he took the Giants job.

Many have anticipated that Belichick will bring back another one of his former assistants as offensive coordinator, so we could see a full blown reunion in New England.

McDaniels had two separate stints as the OC with the Patriots. The most recent spanned from 2012-2021. Replacing him will be no easy task, and Belichick clearly wants to do so with people who are familiar with the inner workings of the organization.

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