Jabaal Sheard is one of players the Patriots signed via free agency recently. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Bill Belichick was in midseason form Tuesday morning speaking for the first time since the Super Bowl, talking for over 40 minutes without saying much at all at the AFC coaches breakfast at the NFL’s owners’ meetings in Arizona.
According to the Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe, Belichick answered “I don’t know” 23 times, and said “We’ll see” another 23 times.
Before getting on the coach for his lack of expansion, he really was just being honest when it comes to the new players the team has signed recently with their roles because with it being late March and the season not starting for another roughly six months, even Belichick doesn’t know how things will shake out for them in the Patriots’ system, especially since he hasn’t coached any of these newcomers before.
For example, Jabaal Sheard. The Patriots signed the former Browns outside linebacker/defensive end as their biggest signing of free agency so far. Sheard recorded 8.5 and seven sacks in the league before a slight dip the past two years. Even with his production in Cleveland, Belichick truly doesn’t know how things will work out once he puts on a Patriots uniform.
“We’ll see how it goes. He’s been a productive player,” Belichick told reporters.
Will he be more of a defensive end or an outside linebacker?
“We’ll see how it goes,” said Belichick.
The same goes for veteran tight end Scott Chandler, who should serve as a nice complement to Rob Gronkowski, but like with Sheard, Belichick didn’t commit to anything.
“He’s been a productive player. We certainly had a lot of trouble with him. We’ll see,” Belichick said.
When it comes to replacing Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner at cornerback, the Patriots have signed two veterans in Bradley Fletcher and Robert McClain. Given it was Belichick’s first time speaking following any of the offseason acquisitions, he was asked about Fletcher and McClain.
With how deep the Patriots are at corner, no job is safe, and Belichick certainly didn’t speak like either were even guaranteed a spot on the team.
“We’ll see how it goes,” said Belichick. “Competition, and see how the competition turns out. I don’t know.”
“There is competition at every position every year. It’s no different than any other year,” he added.
A reporter tried to get more in-depth on how Fletcher, the former Eagles corner, could fit in with the Patriots. Belichick continued to give the same answer, as he doesn’t really know what he is going to get from Fletcher since he hasn’t coached him yet, nor has be been in the Patriots’ system.
“We’ll see. He hasn’t played in our system, so we’ll see how it goes. I don’t know,” said Belichick.
How has he been used before?
“I don’t know,” Belichick said. “We haven’t had him in our system. We’ll see how it goes.”
The Patriots lost running back Shane Vereen to the Giants via free agency. When asked how the team would try and fill his void, Belichick once again stressed competition.
“I don’t know. We’ll see how it goes,” Belichick said. “We have a number of players at that position. We’ll let them compete and see how it turns out.”
While some would like to get more from the coach, he’s never been a guy to fill reporters’ notebooks with loads of information. He only speaks in absolute truths and with it being March 24, nothing is set-and-stone yet, especially when it comes to new players on the roster.
There’s still a ways to go until the season-opener and Belichick has a long time to get to know his new players and find roles for them within the system.
“We added players to our roster last year in the middle of the season,” said Belichick. “I don’t think there are any games scheduled anytime soon.”