Bill Belichick surprised many people when he said that New England Patriots fans should be optimistic for the 2023 season because of “the last 25 years” on Monday.
Belichick clarified his statement to The Boston Globe’s Jim McBride on Wednesday, saying that he was speaking from a fan’s perspective, which was the matter that the question was asked.
“We’re not resting on our past laurels; that’s not the message to the team or the fans,” Belichick told McBride at LSU’s Pro Day on Wednesday. “We have never operated that way and aren’t now.”
Belichick’s comment at the NFL’s owners meeting in Phoenix on Monday surprised not just many around the league, but even some former players. Former Patriots linebacker and franchise icon Tedy Bruschi ripped his former coach for the statement he made.
“What would you say to them to give them a reason to be optimistic for what’s ahead?”
“The last 25 years.” – Bill Belichick
(Via/ @Patriots) pic.twitter.com/Wa3thITPQZ
— Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) March 28, 2023
“This is what the good teams do. Players hold coaches accountable also when they get off-message,” Bruschi said on ESPN. “Right now, Coach Belichick is off-message. That is something that his players shouldn’t hear — that he is basing some optimism to fans on ‘what I’ve done the last 25 years.’ I don’t know if I’ve ever heard Bill mention something like that in terms of his whole body of work. It was surprising to me.”
Obviously, Belichick isn’t wrong in saying that the Patriots have gotten it right more often than not during his first 23 seasons with the team. They’ve won six Super Bowls and played in three more since he became the head coach in 2000. They’ve also made the playoffs 18 times, winning the AFC East in all but one of those occasions.
But the last three seasons haven’t brought the same success as the previous 20 years did. Following Tom Brady’s departure in 2020, the Patriots have gone 25-25 in the regular season, making the playoffs once and finishing with a losing record twice.
Belichick recognized that the team has work to do this offseason in order for 2023 to be a good one, but urged fans to be patient.
“Long way to go. It’s March. We play in September. We have a long way to go and a lot of work to do,” Belichick said Monday. “I think we’ve taken steps to improve the team. Again, it’s March.”
Still, Belichick has faith in his process.
“I think we’ve been pretty competitive every year that I’ve been here with the Patriots. That’s our overall plan,” he said in Phoenix. “So, I expect it to continue that way. I think the team has been managed pretty well over the last 20-however-many years. So, I think we’ll continue managing it the way we’ve been competitive every year. I expect we’ll continue to be competitive.”
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