Bill Belichick’s prowess as an NFL head coach requires no embellishment. His enshrinement in Canton became a mere formality long ago. However, the sustained success with which he has guided the Patriots over the past two-plus decades remains his greatest mystique. Whether he is praised as a ‘defensive genius’ or playfully mocked as a ‘diabolical manipulator,’ Belichick has reached the top of the coaching plateau for one, simple reason. He has never ceased to be a student of the game.
Though he will turn 70 in April, Belichick appears ready to continue to be a student of the game by returning to the New England Patriots sidelines.
Just a few hours removed from the Pats’ season-ending 47-17 loss to the Buffalo Bills in the opening round of the 2021 playoffs, New England’s ‘man-in-charge’ indicated would continue to be the ‘man in charge’ for, at least, a little while longer.
While meeting with reporters for his end-of-season press conference, Belichick confirmed he would be back with the organization for 2022.
“I’d say that would be accurate,” Belichick said when asked about whether he plans to resume his current role in the upcoming season.
Despite once expressing a lack of envisioning himself coaching into his seventies (which he revealed during his 2009 NFL Films A Football Life documentary) the Pats head coach already has a sharp eye on the future.
Even with Belichick at the helm, the Patriots face several questions heading into the 2022 season. New England has several key players heading for free agency, as well as numerous positions of need. On the field, New England looked to be a step too slow on defense, a bit too careless on special teams and not-quite-ready for prime time on offense during the most crucial time of the season.
Amidst the uncertainty, as well as their growing list of needs, Belichick and the Patriots will do what they feel to be in the best interest of the team. In true ‘Belichickian’ fashion, they will do so, taking one moment at a time.
“We all need to step back and catch our breath, take a longer view of things and at some point, we’ll talk about certain situations,” Belichick said. “Players that aren’t under contract, players who whatever their future is or isn’t with the team or whatever their individual situations are, those will all be dealt with at a later point in time. Certainly not today or tomorrow or the next day. ...
“Players will be in tomorrow and wrap things up there and then as a coaching staff, we’ve got things over the next couple months, the normal things that will come up, the draft and pre-free agency and evaluating the season and so forth. We’ll start working on those over a longer period of time. We’ll take that when we get the opportunity to do that here.”
It may have happened a bit earlier than fans had hoped. However, the offseason is here…and Bill Belichick isn’t just feeling ‘22, he’s on to 2022.