New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has been around NFL training camps for more than four decades now, but the 2020 offseason is one unlike any other. Even with coronavirus protocols in place, however, Belichick says things do not feel much different with Week 1 rapidly approaching.
Belichick spoke with reporters on Friday about the health and safety protocols that are in place at Gillette Stadium and elsewhere. He joked that the plexiglass bill must be “pretty high” for teams, but he said practices have seemed fairly normal.
“Yesterday was the first day that we had a walk-through with both the offense and defense on the field at the same time, so prior to yesterday we were defense against defense, offense against offense,” Belichick said, per Ryan Hannable of WEEI.com. “Yesterday was our first chance to do that. I would say it looked to me like all the coaches coached and the players played pretty much like we always do other than masks and some other modifications, things like that. No, I didn’t see any substantial difference.”
Belichick has never been one to make excuses, so his comments are hardly a surprise. All teams are dealing with the same unusual circumstances, which is why there is no sense focusing too much energy on them. That said, there have to be many significant differences with this offseason compared to past years.
Expectations are high for Cam Newton as a New England Patriot in 2020, but one person who knows both the quarterback and the organization well wouldn’t be surprised if it all came crashing down.
Defensive tackle Kyle Love played for the Patriots from 2012 through 2012, then was Newton’s teammate with the Carolina Panthers from 2014 to 2019. He doesn’t think Newton will be able to handle coach Bill Belichick’s critical style of coaching.
“This is just my opinion, but I don’t feel like Cam can take the pressure of coaches talking down about his play,” Love told Andrew Callahan of the Boston Herald. “If he had a bad game in Carolina, the coaching staff wouldn’t say much to him because they may have felt he could be a little frail about it or maybe pout. They never really corrected to the point Bill used to correct Tom (Brady).”
Love said he found the environment in Carolina under ex-coach Ron Rivera incredibly laid back, especially compared to the tighter ship Belichick ran in New England. The defensive lineman did admit that he’d heard Belichick had relaxed some since Love departed the team.
Rivera himself doesn’t seem to have any doubts about the move. The question, though, is less about Newton’s fit in the Patriots’ scheme and more about how he operates under Belichick. If Newton buys in and Belichick adapts to what works and doesn’t work for Newton, things should be fine. If they fail to see eye-to-eye, there could be issues.
Bill Belichick surprised some people earlier this month when he was spotted becoming the latest spokesperson for Subway, but the New England Patriots coach had a very good reason for agreeing to the ad spot.
Belichick told reporters on Friday that he shot the Subway commercial to help raise money for his charity, The Bill Belichick Foundation. He said the ad was a good way to raise funds during a time when it has become more difficult, likely referencing the fact that functions and other typical charity gatherings cannot be held at the moment.
Bill Belichick says the Subway ad he shot was to help raise money for his foundation. "Difficult environment to raise funds now…This was an opportunity to spend a day to be able to fund the initiatives we have in the foundation for student athletes." https://t.co/IbbuGk7qr3
Belichick is viewed as a no-nonsense coach who takes part in very few endorsement opportunities, which is we saw so many puzzled reactions when the video of him filming the Subway commercial emerged. It makes more sense that he was doing it to raise money for charity.
According to the New Haven Register, the New England Patriots head coach drew a sizable crowd while filming the commercial, no surprise.
Belichick has the image of a mostly no-nonsense coach, which has helped him win six Super Bowls as a head coach and eight overall. That image has led to some criticism from opponents. That’s why seeing Belichick possibly loosened up in a commercial would truly be something. Maybe without Tom Brady around, he feels like he’s ready to take up the spotlight.
Whether they expected their relationship to end this offseason or not, both Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are almost certainly looking forward to the opportunity to prove that they can win without the other. But can they? That will be one of the best storylines to track throughout the 2020 NFL season.
When Belichick retires, he will go down as arguably the greatest head coach in NFL history. When Brady retires, he will be remembered as arguably the greatest quarterback in NFL history. That will remain true no matter what happens this year and beyond, but one of the two stands more to gain — and perhaps more to lose — by trudging on without the other. That someone is Brady.
Belichick and Brady both have Hall of Fame resumes. What they accomplished together will probably never be topped. Form a legacy standpoint, the big difference between the two is that there was a Belichick before Brady. There was no Brady before Belichick.
You can say he got lucky, but Belichick made the decision to draft Brady with the 199th of the 2000 NFL Draft. Everything Brady accomplished — six Super Bowl titles, four Super Bowl MVPs, three NFL MVPs, 14 Pro Bowl selections, an NFL record 30 playoff wins and so much more — came with Belichick as his coach. While Belichick’s most noteworthy accomplishments have come while Brady was under center with the New England Patriots, the 68-year-old coach had success in the NFL before he and Brady won their first Super Bowl together in 2002.
Before the Patriots hired him to be their head coach in 2000, Belichick won two Super Bowls as the defensive coordinator of the New York Giants under Bill Parcells. He went to another Super Bowl as an assistant under Parcells with the Patriots in 1996, and he helped lead the New York Jets to the AFC championship in the same role in 1998. You can credit a lot of that success to Parcells, but Belichick was considered a defensive mastermind before Robert Kraft offered him a head coaching job.
There was also 2008, when Brady tore his ACL in the first game of the season. Belichick still led the Patriots to an 11-5 record with Matt Cassel as the team’s quarterback. That record wasn’t good enough to make the postseason that year, but it is often pointed to as proof that Belichick can win without Brady.
Of course, there was also Belichick’s stint with the Browns. He went just 36-44 as the head coach of the team from 1991-1995. His best year in Cleveland was in 1994, when the team went 11-5 and won a playoff game.
The bottom line is — no matter how you want to spin it — Belichick has been a key part of championship teams at the NFL level without Brady. Even if the Patriots become a 6-10 team without Brady, the argument can always be made that Belichick went 11-5 one season in New England without No. 12 and helped a team win two Super Bowls as a defensive coordinator.
Brady has done nothing without Belichick. That isn’t a knock on TB12, as he has never had the opportunity. He’ll have that chance with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but what if the team misses the playoffs? What if Brady and Bruce Arians simply aren’t a fit, and the Bucs turn out to be a major disappointment? It will certainly be reasonable to point to Brady’s age, but, should that happen, it still won’t change the fact that Brady never accomplished anything at the NFL level without Belichick as his head coach. For that simple fact, Brady has more to gain — and lose — by beginning a chapter of his legendary career without one of the greatest head coaches in NFL history.
Part of Peyton Manning’s strategy heading into “The Match” was to talk as much trash about Tom Brady as possible, and the two-time Super Bowl champion remained committed to that approach as the players were warming up on Sunday.
During a brief interview with Amanda Balionis of CBS Sports, Manning joked that he should have asked Bill Belichick to caddie for him during the match to get inside Brady’s head.
Peyton Manning talking about who he'd have as his caddie: "Do you bring Eli? You could do that. Do you bring Nick Foles? Maybe."
— Lifelong TOMpa Bay Buccaneers fan (@FTBeard1) May 24, 2020
Manning also joked that he could have brought former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, and Brady snapped his head around and said that was a “cheap shot” from Peyton. Foles, of course, was the Eagles’ quarterback when Philly defeated the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. Manning mentioned Rob Gronkowski, too
As expected, Brady didn’t just sit there and take it. He fired back by saying he was impressed with the way Manning looked in the rain considering he was a “dome quarterback” during his NFL career.
Bill Belichick sought advice from another prominent football coach before moving on his team’s third-round selection in this year’s draft.
Jeff Howe of The Athletic reported this week that the New England Patriots coach called UCLA head coach Chip Kelly, his trusted friend, before trading up to draft Bruins tight end Devin Asiasi at No. 91 overall. Howe adds that Kelly provided Belichick with a “last-minute assurance” about Asiasi.
“His athletic ability for his size, someone that big shouldn’t be that smooth an athlete,” Kelly was quoted as saying about Asiasi. “His versatility is what a lot of teams in the NFL coveted, and obviously Bill saw that himself. The one thing I knew in coaching that league is there aren’t a lot of guys out there, no matter what year it is, who are as big and athletic. The combination of Devin’s size and athletic ability, I knew it was going to make him unique, not just in this class but any class.”
Asiasi, listed at 6-foot-3 and 260 pounds, played two seasons for Kelly at UCLA after transferring from Michigan. 2019 was his breakout year, as Asiasi logged 641 receiving yards and four touchdowns (both second on the team).
As for Belichick and Kelly, they are known to be close, so close in fact that Kelly almost ended up in New England after he was fired by San Francisco.