It’s not too often that you hear Bill Belichick open up his heart and publicly give one of his players glory, but he did so with Julian Edelman this week.
Edelman on Monday announced his retirement from the NFL. He did so with an emotional video message (you can watch it here).
Belichick, who coached the Patriots throughout Edelman’s entire career, complimented the former receiver with some very nice words.
“By any measure of what constitutes an elite NFL career – wins, championships, production – Julian has it all,” Belichick said in his statement. “Few players can match Julian’s achievements, period, but considering his professional trajectory and longevity, the group is even more select. It is historic. This is a tribute to his legendary competitiveness, mental and physical toughness and will to excel. Day in and day out, Julian was always the same: all out. Then, in the biggest games and moments, with championships at stake, he reached even greater heights and delivered some of his best, most thrilling performances. For all Julian did for our team, what I may appreciate the most is he was the quintessential throwback player. He could, and did, do everything – catch, run, throw, block, return, cover and tackle – all with an edge and attitude that would not allow him to fail under any circumstance. Julian Edelman is the ultimate competitor and it was a privilege to coach him.”
Edelman won three Super Bowls with the Patriots and was named MVP of Super Bowl LIII.
Here is the statement team owner Robert Kraft issued about Edelman:
“Julian Edelman is one of the great success stories in our franchise’s history. There aren’t many players who earn an NFL roster spot at a position they have never played before. Julian not only did that as a seventh-round draft selection, but he is retiring with the second-most career receptions in franchise history and as a three-time Super Bowl Champion, including his last as Super Bowl MVP. No one was more committed to his craft and honing his skills than Jules. His explosiveness off the line, quickness in his cuts and elusiveness after the catch made him one of the hardest players to defend throughout his career. His clutch catches in our biggest games and overall toughness made him a fan favorite. Over the past 12 years, I have enjoyed watching him grow as a player, as a person and as a father. In 2019, I had the privilege of traveling to Israel with Julian, which might be the only place where he is more popular than here in New England.”
Edelman is second in Patriots history with 620 receptions and second in NFL history with 118 postseason receptions. He departs the Patriots a year after Tom Brady left. Edelman’s retirement decision is not too surprising given what we knew about his knee injury.
A former Pro Bowl player offered some ridiculous analysis recently.
LaVar Arrington was a guest on “First Things First” on FS1 and talked about the New England Patriots. He said that coming off the season the Pats had, Bill Belichick has something to prove this season.
Arrington acknowledged that his comments might sound “crazy” to some, but he said things are getting “warm” for Belichick.
“Having the type of season that they had last year can make you rethink a whole lot of things that you did in the past. That seat is warm for Bill Belichick,” Arrington said, via NESN. “And that might sound crazy for some people, but Bill Belichick has to have a good season this year. And you know why? Because there are whispers — ‘It was Tom. It was always Tom. It couldn’t have been anything else but Tom.’ And Bill Belichick has to show before he gets too far away from Tom Brady leaving that it was not Tom Brady; that it was, in fact and indeed, the system of what Bill Belichick built in New England.”
What Arrington says isn’t crazy, it’s just that his terminology was wrong.
It’s incorrect to say that Belichick’s seat is warm. That would imply that he could be fired if the Patriots don’t perform well next season. That is not happening. Belichick has won six Super Bowls and can remain in New England probably as long as he wants. However, Arrington is correct in saying that there is pressure for Belichick to win next season. Nobody in New England enjoyed going 7-9 last season. The uncharacteristic offseason they had seemed to be proof of this. Belichick might want to adjust his draft strategy this season too.
Many have asked over the years what makes the New England Patriots different from other NFL teams in terms of their long-lasting success. Lane Kiffin is giving one hint as to why that may be.
Kiffin revealed in an interview with “The Pat McAfee Show” on Wednesday that few NFL coaches actually reach out to their college counterparts for inside information on players they’re scouting. The exception is Belichick, who the Ole Miss coach said calls about prospects who aren’t even expected to go in the first round.
“I know there’s guys like Belichick that have personally — I remember a guy in like the third round the night before the draft, him calling me to ask my opinion on him. Not even a first-round pick,” Kiffin said, via Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk. “So some people do it and I think a lot of people don’t.
“The really good ones like him, he’s so smart. I remember it was a tight end — he was like, ‘OK, I remember you had Zach Miller 10 years ago with the Raiders or whatever it was. How do you compare him to him?’ That’s how smart he is, to be able to remember who you had and players you were around and compare them to. That’s why he’s so great at that.”
There is talk that sometimes Belichick’s approach can definitely backfire on him. Obviously, college coaches want to see their players do well and get drafted high, so their opinions have to be weighed alongside everything else. Still, Belichick’s approach probably pays dividends sometimes, and the knowledge he can acquire from it might give them the inside track on some players that others might not have.
Jordan Spieth is coming off a win at the Valero Texas Open heading into the Masters, but there will still be plenty of talk this week about his infamous 2016 collapse at Augusta. In order to avoid much of that, Spieth is going to try to channel his inner Bill Belichick.
Spieth told reporters this week that he learned a valuable lesson from Belichick while visiting Gillette Stadium prior to the Ryder Cup in 2016.
“I think Bill Belichick, it’s one of his very key things — eliminate the noise, and I remember seeing that at Gillette Stadium before I think The Ryder Cup in 2016, and it’s always stuck with me,” Spieth said, via WEEI’s Ryan Hannable.
Spieth’s visit to Foxboro, Mass., would have been not long after he blew his five-shot lead on the back nine at the Masters. He did manage to win the Open Championship in 2017, but his game has largely been in shambles since the Masters meltdown. Spieth has said that tournament “haunted” him and that he hated playing golf for a while after it happened.
A big part of the “Patriot Way” is blocking out noise from outside the team, and Spieth has apparently applied that to his own life. He made it clear how much winning at the Valero Texas Open meant to him with what he told reporters on Sunday, but that won’t stop people from bringing up what happened in 2016.
Between Belichick’s principles and the guidance he has gotten from this PGA legend, Spieth should be in a solid place mentally heading into the Masters this week.
The New England Patriots have not performed all that well in the draft in recent years, which is one of the main reasons they had to spend so much money in free agency this offseason. One position Bill Belichick never seems to hit on is wide receiver, and that may be a result of his reluctance to listen to the team’s scouting department.
In his latest Monday Morning Quarterback column, Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer said Belichick is taking a different approach with the draft this year. Breer said Belichick has previously left team personnel “feeling like they were actively cut out where other teams’ people weren’t.” One example of that came in 2019, when the Patriots used the 32nd overall pick on wide receiver N’Keal Harry.
According to Breer, some Patriots scouts felt Deebo Samuel and A.J. Brown — both of whom were taken in the second round — were better prospects than Harry. Some of Belichick’s personnel people believed there were red flags with Harry, but Harry was impressive in his visit to New England and Belichick is friends with his Arizona State coach, Todd Graham.
In two seasons with the Patriots, Harry has 45 catches for 414 yards and just four touchdowns. He has missed a total of 11 games. Samuel has also battled injuries, but he’s been much more involved with the San Francisco 49ers than Harry has with New England. A.J. Brown is a star for the Tennessee Titans and one of the best receivers in football.
Perhaps that mistake and others have humbled Belichick a bit. Breer says Belichick is treating the 2021 draft as a “more collaborative effort” than years past. Patriots owner Robert Kraft recently described the team’s free agent spending spree as a “team effort on the part of our personnel department.” That may not have been a coincidence.
We all know the Patriots have their eye on one veteran quarterback, but it will be interesting to see if they are aggressive in addressing the position in the draft. If they are, that may be a sign that Belichick is giving his personnel department a stronger voice.
Mac Jones drew mixed reviews at Alabama’s Pro Day on Tuesday, as the star quarterback missed a few throws that NFL coaches and scouts would have liked to see him complete. But the big question from the workout is this: Was Bill Belichick disappointed with what he saw?
Jones overthrew a few receivers on deep passes. After one of the errant throws, cameras immediately cut to Bill Belichick. The New England Patriots coach was seen shaking his head.
Of course, Belichick’s head shaking may have had absolutely nothing to do with Jones’ throw. The coach was talking with his offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels, at the time. There’s no way of knowing what the two were discussing, so the timing may have been a total coincidence.
In any event, Jones didn’t appear to bring his A game. That wasn’t his only overthrow of the day, and he had several passes that were off-target. No one was expecting him to compete with the insane throw Zach Wilson made at his Pro Day (video here), but there was definitely some disappointment with Jones.
The Patriots are one of several teams that have been linked to Jones, although a new report claims a team in the top five is eyeing the star quarterback.
The New England Patriots have shown a lot of players how highly they think of them with their free agent spending spree this offseason, but Jalen Mills is not letting his new contract go to his head. The veteran defensive back seems to be in disbelief that he now gets to play for arguably the greatest coach of all time.
Mills, who signed a four-year, $24 million deal with the Patriots, told reporters recently about the first interaction he had with Bill Belichick. He said he was totally starstruck when he walked out of the cafeteria at Gillette Stadium and Belichick greeted him.
“I literally turned my back to him and I screamed out loud, like, ‘This is coach Belichick.’ Excuse my language, but like, ‘This is f—ing Coach Belichick.’ Like, I screamed it loud,” Mills recalled, via Justi Leger of NBC Sports Boston. “And then I turned back around and he was still just like monotone, like regular, just still having a casual conversation with me, when I’m freaking out, and I was like, ‘My fault, Coach. One more thing, I gotta cut you off. I don’t want to disrespect you, but Coach, you’re a legend to me. I’m happy to be here.’ He was like, ‘Same, man. Happy for you to be here. Can’t wait to get going and coach you up.’”
Mills is 26, which means he was around 7 years old when Belichick won his first Super Bowl with the Patriots. Mills also alluded to that.
“This is a guy who I’ve been watching since before I even started taking football serious,” Mills said.
A lot of players have been in the same position when they get to New England and meet Belichick and, previously, Tom Brady. The Patriots were dominant for so long that many of their current players grew up watching their dynasty as young children. Mills’ reaction to meeting Belichick was a great reminder of that.
While Mills may be in awe of Belichick’s accomplishments, he’ll quickly learn what an underrated sense of humor the legendary coach has.
Bill Belichick undoubtedly played a role in helping Joe Judge land the New York Giants’ head coaching job last year, but now we have an even better idea of just how strongly the New England Patriots coach endorsed his former assistant.
Judge worked as an assistant under Belichick for eight years before the Giants hired him. In a wide-ranging interview with Ian O’Connor of the New York Post, Giants co-owner John Mara said some of the characteristics he sees in Judge are the same ones displayed by Belichick and Tom Brady when they were dominating the NFL together.
“You always know where Joe is on the practice field, just like you did with Bill and Tom,” Mara said. “His attention to detail is very impressive to me, and those are characteristics Tom and Bill had as well.”
According to O’Connor, Belichick delivered a very straightforward message to Mara last year when the Giants owner asked for the scouting report on Judge. A source told O’Connor that Belichick told Mara, “He’s better than the last two guys you hired.”
Mara would neither confirm nor deny that Belichick said that, which probably tells you something.
The two coaches Belichick would have been referring to were Pat Shurmur and Ben McAdoo. Shurmur went 9-23 in two seasons with New York. McAdoo went 13-15 over two years. Those results shouldn’t be difficult to top, and Judge already has a 6-10 season under his belt.
We already heard last year about one big way Belichick may have helped Judge land a head coaching job. It sounds like the future Hall of Famer is extremely confident in Judge, which was clearly a factor in the 39-year-old getting the job.
Rob Gronkowski and Bill Belichick have a history of winning together in New England. And apparently they had a good relationship too.
Gronk appeared on “10 Questions with Kyle Brandt” and was asked the last time he spoke with Belichick. Gronk revealed that they last talked when Belichick generously showed up to the tight end’s Super Bowl event last year.
“It was at the Gronk Beach party,” Gronkowski said of his last conversation with Belichick. “That was super cool of him, when Coach (Belichick) came to the Gronk Beach party. All my friends, they were flipping out that he was there. That’s what was really cool, that my friends were flipping out. They were like, ‘Yo Rob, you got Coach Belichick here!’ They were like ‘Let’s take a picture with him.’ They were all going up to him to take a selfie and you could tell [he was like], ‘Why the heck did I come here?'”
That’s awesome, and it’s nice of Belichick for being a good sport.
That party was in February 2020. Gronk was retired at the time, and the Patriots had gone 12-4 and lost to the Titans in the playoffs.
Who would have figured that a year later, Gronk would be celebrating a Super Bowl win with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, while the Patriots would miss the playoffs?
Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski have done it! Treat yourself or a friend with this great Tampa Fiesta shirt. You can buy it here.
H/T CBS Sports
The New England Patriots have been the talk of free agency since the legal tampering period began on Monday, and even LeBron James is shocked by the moves Bill Belichick has made.
After the Patriots added Hunter Henry to their star-studded free agent class on Tuesday, LeBron tweeted a funny reaction. The Los Angeles Lakers star said he’s bugging out over the spending spree just like everyone else.
LeBron is a big NFL fan, but he mostly supports the Dallas Cowboys and Cleveland Browns. Though, he did once run into Bill Belichick (literally) during a game. You can see that video here.
The Patriots have signed Henry and Jonnu Smith to give themselves two legitimate pass-catching tight ends. They also added star pass-rusher Matt Judon, defensive back Jalen Mills and nose tackle Davon Godchaux.
If you want to know just how aggressive Belichick has been this offseason compared to years past, this wild stat should give you an idea. It makes sense that LeBron is just as surprised as the rest of us.