The NFL’s annual meetings are underway in Arizona this week, and as such, reporters are able to speak to both coaches and owners for what is likely the first time they’ve taken questions since seasons end.
Disguised as an “AFC coaches breakfast”, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was put under the microscope for about a half hour on Monday morning. Here are five takeaways from the press conference:
5. Matt Patricia’s role with the team is 2023 is still up in the air.
While it has been made clear that the Patriots will not use Matt Patricia on offense this season, he may still end up somewhere on the staff.
Not only was Patricia in the building for Devin McCourty’s retirement ceremony last week, but the door still seemed ajar for a return. When asked if he’ll be coaching with the team in 2023, Belichick said he’s “not sure.”
It was reported last week that Joe Judge will fill an assistant head coach/advisor role with personnel elements that parallel what Patricia did in 2021. We’ll see what this means for him heading into 2023.
4. Jonathan Jones will be yet another chess piece in the New England defense.
Defensive back Jonathan Jones re-signed with the Patriots on the first day of the NFL’s legal tampering period on a two-year, $19 million contact.
“That was a big one,” said Bill Belichick when asked about Jones in Arizona. “He’s been a great player for us for a long time in a lot of different roles.”
He also mentioned that his re-signing will help them with the loss of Devin McCourty, likely insinuating that Jones could play some safety, as well as cornerback, in 2023.
3. No job has been earned on the 2023 Patriots. Not even at quarterback.
“Everybody will get the chance to play… We’ll play the best players.”
This was Bill Belichick’s answer when asked if there will be a competition between 2021 first-round pick Mac Jones and 2022 fourth-round pick Bailey Zappe for New England’s starting quarterback job.
Non-commital to Jones? Maybe. But more likely than not this is just yet another one of Belichick’s jabs at the media for trying to make something out of nothing.
He also reiterated that this goes for every position on the Patriots, not just at quarterback.
2. Are we focused on the past, or not?
ESPN’s Mike Reiss asked Bill Belichick if he had a message to Patriots fans heading into 2023:
“Long way to go. It’s March. We play in September. We’ve got a long way to go, a lot of work to do.”
Why should fans be optimistic? “The last 25 years.”
While this answer on looking back to the team’s history under Belichick may be reasonable, it directly contradicts what he said when asked about quarterback Mac Jones season in 2022: “We’re looking ahead to 2023 here. I’m not going to go back and rehash 2022.”
So what shall we do, coach? Look backwards or forwards?
1. Belichick will not discuss players that aren’t on the Patriots.
“I’m not going to talk about players on any other team,” said Belichick when asked if they have considered pursuing Lamar Jackson.
How about Odell Beckham Jr.? “I’m not going to talk about any players that are not on this team. Period.”
Jake Bailey’s back injury? “Jake’s comments are Jake’s comments.”
Long story short, if you’re not expected to wear blue, red, and white on Sundays in 2023, then Bill Belichick doesn’t want to talk about you.
Make sure to follow Mike on Twitter @mikekadlick, and follow @PatriotsCLNS for the latest up-to-date Patriots news!
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