FOXBORO — New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is on course until 2023.
The morning after New England’s 35-23 loss to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday at Highmark Stadium, the 70-year-old “HC of the NEP” confirmed he plans to coach the Patriots next season and stated that he “every intention” to return for his 24th season at the helm in New England.
“Our record is right at .500, which has been pretty much all year,” Belichick said via video conference Monday morning. “But no one is happy with that. That’s not our goal. We have to improve it. Responsibility everywhere, starting with me, the coaching staff, the players, every unit. All things we will address and that process will likely start later today.”
Belichick’s prowess as an NFL head coach needs no embellishment. Its anchoring in Canton long ago became a mere formality after enduring a two-decade streak of success that may never be seen again. Not only is he the longest-serving coach in the NFL, but he’s also the second longest-serving head coach in the NFL, behind only Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks.
In October, he surpassed former Chicago Bears head coach and Pro Football Hall of Famer George Halas to take the lone second spot among all NFL coaches, matching Don Shula’s record of 347 overall wins. Belichick is also tied [with Shula] first among all-time NFL head coaches after leading the Patriots to 19 playoff appearances.
The harsh reality, however, is that the Patriots are once again outside of the AFC playoff picture. After finishing the season 8-9 and losing three of their last four games for the second straight year, the Pats have struggled through a period of the season where they have been almost unbeatable in previous seasons. Since winning Super Bowl LIII to close out the 2018 season, New England has twice failed to qualify for the playoffs. In the two seasons they made the playoffs, they were quickly edged out in the wild card round.
The Patriots’ postseason evaluation process is now set to begin. Belichick, along with his coaches, players and team owner Robert Kraft, will discuss the team’s current state and develop a strategy for 2023.
While that process is expected to include coaching changes, Belichick would not confirm such plans are currently on his radar. The installation of Matt Patricia and Joe Judge as heads of the offensive coaching staff was largely unsuccessful. In fact, New England’s pathetic offense has often derailed a stellar performance from their defense. The Patriots were also unusually ill-prepared and lax in their special-team executions, leading some to believe that coordinator Cam Achord could be in the hot seat.
Rather than draw attention to each individual, Belichick instead emphasized the need for accountability as a catalyst for improvement. With the end of the season leaving a bitter taste in all residents of the Patriots Nation, the Pats head coach sounds like he won’t waste time getting down to business.
“Like every year, we will evaluate everything and try to make the best decisions to move forward and be more competitive to have a stronger team going forward,” Belichick said. “Robert [Kraft] and that’s what I’m going to talk about, that’s what we’re going to talk about as staff, and certainly one-on-one talks with a lot of players, as we always do. All players, starting today.”
When asked if he felt a greater sense of urgency to make a significant improvement, Belichick appeared to remain confident in his approach, but acknowledged that time is also of the essence.
“I don’t see the process (this year) being any different,” Belichick said. “There are some that are obviously more urgent or timely than others, but it will be a comprehensive course of action, as is always the case…
But we need to get better results and that’s really the bottom line. That’s exactly where we are today.”
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