Bill Belichick opened up on several occasions this past week. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)
1. Maybe Bill Belichick is opening up as he gets older. This week, the soon-to-be 65-year-old gave a very insightful interview to CNBC contributor Suzy Welch, the wife of good friend Jack Welch, and also shared some interesting information while being the keynote speaker at Ohio State’s coaching clinic. One of the bigger takeaways from his CNBC interview was when he played a word-association game and the word football was brought up. “More sport than business. But it is a business. That I respect the game for the game and the sport,” he said. It’s become more and more clear over the years Belichick isn’t too fond of the business side of the sport, and the less emphasis put on the actual game (color rush games, extra media appearances, rule changes, etc.). Ultimately, getting so fed up with this could be what forces him into retirement, not age. Speaking to Urban Meyer before the Ohio State clinic, Belichick said at this stage of his career, he wants to coach only players he wants to coach. Perhaps this was a driving force for trading Jamie Collins and Chandler Jones and keeping Dont’a Hightower, as Hightower has a higher “Football IQ” than those other players and doesn’t come with any extra baggage. For Belichick, it seems he would rather have a less talented/athletic player if he knows he can take coaching and knows how to play the game the right way. This could be something to monitor both this year and beyond as it seems with his age he wants to eliminate any BS with his teams and have things solely be about football.
2. Also at Ohio State, Belichick said he considers each coach on his staff like a head coach. “The way I see a football staff being put together is that it’s a group of head coaches,” he said, via Cleveland.com. “The head coach is the head coach, and he has certain restrictions in the program that he’s running — whether it’s academic, salary cap, players in that district, budget constraints, whatever they happen to be. The coaches below that, coordinators, are really head coaches of their respective side of the ball: offense, defense, special teams. Position coaches are really head coaches of the positions they coach, that group of players.” This is consistent with what his coordinators have said over the years, where he gives them the freedom to do what they want, and the narrative that Belichick runs the entire team simply isn’t true. Sure, the coaches need to check in with Belichick each week to go over things, and ultimately Belichick has the final say, but the assistant coaches and coordinators can be themselves and do things their way.
3. It appears the 2017 NFL schedule will be released on Thursday, as Lions president Rod Wood mistakingly revealed last week at a press conference. Obviously from a Patriots viewpoint the game that will stand out most is who they will host on Thursday, Sept. 7 in the Kickoff Game. It’s been reported it won’t be the Falcons after the Panthers, the Super Bowl loser last year, didn’t like facing the Broncos in a rematch to open the 2016 season with everything that came with the game (Super Bowl banner ceremony, etc.). Also, Atlanta is opening its new stadium so it’s likely the NFL would want that in a primetime game. There really are not many good options for the game, so if we had to guess now, it would seem the Chiefs will be coming to Gillette to open the 2017 season.
4. The Patriots are clearly in on adding another running back. The team has brought in three running backs — Adrian Peterson, Mike Gillislee and Damien Williams — for visits and still remain interested in bringing back LeGarrette Blount. The only player that really fits what they really need — a true power back — is Blount. This feels like the Patriots trying to put some sort of pressure on Blount to sign whatever deal he’s been offered, as the team would like to have some clarity on the position before the draft. If not, these visits certainly give them info on potential fallback options if Blount doesn’t work out and then no back is selected in the draft.
5. The Browns reportedly are still undecided on what to do with their No. 1 overall pick — Myles Garrett or Mitchell Trubisky. To us, Garrett is a no-brainer to select at No. 1, but then they would need a quarterback and this is where Jimmy Garoppolo comes in. Why wouldn’t the Browns then go all-in for Garoppolo? He’s miles better than any quarterback in the draft, and with all the draft picks they have over the next several years it isn’t like they would be sacrificing their future drafts for one player. Why not throw the No. 12 overall pick, a second-round pick this year and two second-rounders at the Patriots and see what they say? It’s been a bit of a surprise to not hear much about the Browns going after Garoppolo.
6. Many Patriots fans were all over the league when it was reported last week that Eli Manning was reportedly involved in a fake game-worn memorabilia scheme. Sorry, Ted Wells and Co. do not need to get involved and there will be no suspensions and lost draft picks. While yes, if what is being reported is true it’s not a good look for Manning, but it is completely different than Deflategate. What Manning did had no impact on the results on the field or the “integrity of the game.” It is easy to attack the league, but what could they really do to Manning and the Giants if what they did had nothing to do with the actual game?
7. Former Falcons receiver Roddy White officially retired from the NFL late last week. White, 35, didn’t play for any team last year, but he revealed to ESPN’s Vaughn McClure that wasn’t his first choice — he wanted to play for the Patriots. “I wanted to go down there and play for Coach [Bill] Belichick,” White told ESPN.com’s Vaughn McClure. “I think it was 2012, we practiced against them for like a whole a week. I learned a lot just practicing against those guys — how they conducted their business every day and how they just got ready for practice. Just evaluating their coaching staff and how they handled plays and how Tom Brady went out there and went through things … you wanted to be a part of that and just be in the building. So many people want to get there with New England. Not just me, but people around the league because they’ve got something special going on there.” The Patriots really didn’t have room for him last year, especially at the beginning of the year and once they had injuries late in the year, White was probably out of football shape and thus not an option.