Bill Belichick begins his 42nd season in the NFL this month. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Bill Belichick begins his 42nd season in the NFL this month. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — To give you some perspective as to just how long Bill Belichick has been in the NFL, when the Patriots meet the Dolphins this year, Belichick will square off against a head coach in 38-year-old Adam Gase who wasn’t even born when Belichick took his first job as an assistant in the league.

This week marks the start of Belichick’s 42nd consecutive year in the National Football League, the last 17 of which have come as head coach of the Patriots. The longest-tenured head coach in the league with his current team (the closest is Cincy’s Marvin Lewis, who took over the Bengals in 2003), it’s a remarkable run for any coach in the NFL.

When it comes to stacking his resume against some of the greats of the game, entering the 2016 season, he’s at 223 career wins as a head coach, tops among all active coaches and fourth on the all-time list. This season, he’ll move past Curly Lambeau (at 226, fourth) on the all-time wins list, and will almost certainly pass Tom Landry (third with 250 career victories) before he’s done. While you never say never, it would probably take at least another decade for him to come anywhere near the likes of Don Shula (first, 328 career wins) or George Halas (second with 318 wins).

The 64-year-old Belichick, who first went to training camp as an special assistant with the Baltimore Colts in 1975 at the age of 23, has been working in the league ever since. He said that when it comes to coaching, there’s some carryover in preparation and approach. But in his experience, his approach over the previous 41 seasons has been to take each one as its own animal.

“Fundamentally I think a lot of things are the same; things you have to do in camp in order to prepare for a season,” he said on Wednesday at the dawn of a new season. “But each year is different. Players are different, teams we play are different, things change in the league, there are some rule modifications, or whatever. Things like that. So, every year is different and the chemistry – each team is different. Even with some of the same players there’s still always a little bit of a different mix.”

According to one of his most senior assistants, Belichick’s consistent approach and a willingness to adapt have been key in getting him to this point.

“He’s the same as when we worked together under (Bill) Parcells,” said offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, who worked with Belichick as an assistant in the 1990s, as well as the 14 years as the offensive line coach on his staff. “He’s the same guy. Every day is the same. That’s what you have to appreciate about him. You really do.”

That belief stretches to many of his longtime players, including special teams captain Matthew Slater.

“I think the thing that’s remarkable about Bill is his approach. He hasn’t changed at all, and that consistency in his attitude and preparation, the things that he values and the things he tries to stress to his team. It’s really remarkable,” said Slater, who is entering his ninth season under Belichick. “I think it would be easy for him to become complacent. It’s human nature, once you have success you kind of exhale and think you have it figured out. And if anyone has it figured out its Bill Belichick.

“But you wouldn’t know it by the way he prepares, by the urgency with which he coaches us, the hours he puts in. That’s really been impressive to me in my time here. Whether we go out and win a Super Bowl or don’t make the playoffs, he’s always been consistent in that regard.”

Running backs coach Ivan Fears has been a part of Belichick’s coaching staff since 2000. While he also lauded Belichick’s consistency as a coach, he said that Belichick is one of the more “progressive” old-school coaches he’s ever come across.

“I tell you what Bill does best, better than anybody I’ve ever been around; he grows with time,” said Fears. “He is as old-school as anybody there is. But I guarantee you that he is as up-to-date on every new thing out there. Technology, when it comes to the sport. Techniques. Anything that’s going on, he does a great job of keeping up with it.

“For a guy who is as hard-nosed and as old-school of a coach as he is, you’ll find he’s also very progressive in the things he does and the knowledge of the game. Things he wants to implement. How he keeps up with the young guys. I think that’s what makes him elite.”

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

Bill Belichick is focused on the 2016 season, nothing else.</p>
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MIKE PETRAGLIA

BIO | ARCHIVE


Devin McCourty isn't about to tease Tom Brady about Deflategate. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Devin McCourty isn’t about to tease Tom Brady about Deflategate. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — There are things veteran players can do to other veteran players, especially at the beginning of training camp, to keep things loose and break up the monotony of training camp.

Busting Tom Brady about Deflategate is not on the list for Devin McCourty.

The Patriots seven-year veteran safety, sporting a Captain America “Trust Me” t-shirt at the podium, was asked Wednesday, the day before the first practice, if he might joke around with No. 12 about him having to sit out the first four games.

“No, the first day, I don’t think we talk about anything to do with football,” McCourty said. “I think it’s just guys catching up, seeing how families are doing and everything like that. But I doubt there would be much joking about that.”

Indeed, the Patriots were all business on Wednesday, as coaches held positional meetings with players on the eve of the first practice of camp.

The business of getting along without Tom Brady for the first four games was front and center, with players like McCourty and Matthew Slater the first to speak since Brady lost his appeal and decided to not pursue any further litigation.

“I think it’s [an] adjustment. Obviously, you can’t take the field without a guy like that and think you’re just going to go out there and pick up where you left off last year and fall right into stride, but I think we have a lot of good players,” McCourty said. “We have two other quarterbacks that have been very competitive. Jimmy [Garoppolo] has been here a couple of years now, so I think as a team we’ll just come together, go out there and figure out a way to win. That’s what it comes down to; we can’t stick on that subject, just prepare and get ready to play.”

Slater repeated the “adjustment” theme.

“It’s obviously going to be an adjustment,” Slater said. “We’re definitely thankful that he’s around now, and I think he brings so much to the table. There’s so much that we can learn from having him around, and obviously we all want to have a good training camp, it’s the foundation upon which the season is built, so I think he would definitely include himself in that group. Needless to say, there will definitely be an adjustment period for us in dealing with that, but we’re just going to take it one day at a time.”

Is the defense feeling more pressure to start strong, knowing the team will begin the season without Tom Brady leading the offense?

“I think from the outside, everyone will say that, but for us as a defense, even when you play with the greatest quarterback, we don’t go out there saying, ‘We only have to play OK because Tom [Brady] is here.’ We always want to play good football, go out there and really find out who we’ll be as a defense,” McCourty said. “It starts [Thursday] at practice with attitude, toughness, running to the ball, condition. I think for us as a defense, we want to be a dominating defense no matter what the situation is and no matter who is out there on offense. We always kind of take the mentality and attitude that we have to go out there and play defense no matter if the offense is scoring touchdowns, if they’re not scoring touchdowns. I think if we can develop as individual units, that’s what makes us better as a whole.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price discuss how head coach Bill Belichick, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and the Patriots are getting ready for the opening of training camp with Tom Brady suspended for the first four games of the NFL season. Belichick says getting Jimmy Garoppolo ready for the season is the priority.

Blog Author: 
WEEI
Ivan Fears

Ivan Fears

FOXBORO — On Wednesday, Patriots running backs coach Ivan Fears responded to an ESPN story that singled out New England as having the least diverse coaching staff in the NFL, saying that in his experience, coach Bill Belichick “has been very good” when it comes to seeing past race.

Fears listed several minority assistant coaches he’s worked with in New England over the last dozen-plus years as examples, including Patrick Graham, Pepper Johnson and Romeo Crennel.

“I don’t think Bill really cares about color,” said Fears, who has worked with Belichick since 2000. “I know how he treats me. I know how he treats the guys on the staff. I think in his mind, really, (if) you do the job, you’re here. You work. That’s what he is. He’s as ‘tunnel vision’ as a guy can be as far as, ‘It’s football.’ He’s not walking around saying, ‘You’re a black guy. I have to have you. You’re a white guy, I have to have you.’

“I don’t care where we are on that list. Guys who left, left on their own. And I think that’s important.”

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

FOXBORO — Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said Wednesday that both Tom Brady and  Jimmy Garoppolo will “get plenty of reps” throughout training camp.

Josh McDaniels

Josh McDaniels

FOXBORO — Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said Wednesday that both Tom Brady and  Jimmy Garoppolo will “get plenty of reps” throughout training camp.

McDaniels said that even with Brady facing a four-game ban, when it comes to all three quarterbacks on the roster — including rookie Jacoby Brissett — each one of them will get a lot of opportunities this summer.

“We usually split them up pretty evenly. We don’t put anybody in first or second groups of third groups or anything like that at this point,” McDaniels said of the way reps are distributed at this time on the calendar. “What we really try to focus on is getting everybody opportunities to work on their fundamentals and techniques, to work with the different players that are on our team, because we don’t know right now who is going to be doing what necessarily, six or seven weeks from now.

“They’re both going to get plenty of reps. So will Jacoby. We’re going to do what we’ve normally done in the past. All those guys have things we can get better at, and we’re excited to coach them all and work with every one of them.”

McDaniels was asked if the sense of clarity around the quarterback position — as opposed to the same time last year — makes it easier to prepare for the season.

“It’s always good to know what you’re dealing with, so in that regard, we have an opportunity to focus on the things that, as we go through camp, maybe we need to do more of or less of,” McDaniels said. “But that really happens at all positions. Not just the quarterback position. As an offense and as a coordinator, you have to continue to focus on what your group needs through camp anyway. It’s always good to have an idea of what you may be dealing with, but as we all know in our game, it’s one play here, one play there, an injury here, an injury there, and then things change dramatically from week to week and day to day.”

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

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FOXBORO — Patriots coach Bill Belichick acknowledged on Wednesday the situation facing the team with Tom Brady set to sit for the first four games of the season, and said the immediate “priority” is to get Jimmy Garoppolo ready for the 2016 campaign.

Jimmy Garoppolo

Jimmy Garoppolo

FOXBORO — Patriots coach Bill Belichick acknowledged on Wednesday the situation facing the team with Tom Brady set to sit for the first four games of the season, and said the immediate “priority” is to get Jimmy Garoppolo ready for the 2016 campaign.

“We have finally some definition with Tom’s situation, so our priority now then is to get Jimmy ready for the start of the season, for the Arizona game,” Belichick said in a Wednesday afternoon press conference. “So that will obviously be a comprehensive process.

“Tom will return as the starting quarterback when he comes back. But in the meantime, we have to prioritize the first part of our schedule, and that will be get Jimmy ready to go.”

Pressed for specifics, Belichick reiterated his main point.

“We’re going to get (Garoppolo) ready the best we can. I don’t know how else I can put it,” Belichick added. “We have some clarity with Tom’s situation, (and) he’ll be our starter when he returns.”

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

FOXBORO — The Patriots have added tight end Bear Pascoe and offensive lineman Jon Halapio.