One day after a crushing defeat in the AFC Championship Game, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was asked - after 37 years of NFL coaching experience – if he is energized to coach another season.
“Yeah, I’ll be here,” Belichick said. “You’ll have to deal with me again next year. I know that’s disappointing for a lot of you. Until I’m told otherwise, I plan on being here.”
Belichick’s confirmation in Monday’s end-of-season press conference at Gillette Stadium validates comments made by Patriots team president Jonathan Kraft last month on 98.5 The Sports Hub. Evening show host Adam Jones asked Kraft about the future of Bill Belichick amid speculation that offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels could be in line to replace the Patriots head coach sooner rather than later.
“We don’t talk about Bill’s contract,” Kraft told Jones. “That’s the way we like it. It’s the way Bill likes it. … I think it is safe to say our family and Bill and this franchise have had a relationship now for 13 years and hopefully … not hopefully … definitively it will be one to continue for many more.”
As for the speculation surrounding McDaniels, Kraft said there has been no indication that Belichick is reaching the end of his coaching tenure in New England.
“You don’t really talk about succession planning at that level of specifics until you know somebody has a plan to leave and everything I’ve heard from Bill and everything I know is that Bill plans on being the coach of the New England Patriots for a number of years to come and from our family’s perspective we’re excited about that and I think that’s the way we view everything going forward,” Kraft told Jones on 98.5.
A reflective Belichick told media Monday that despite the disappointment from Sunday’s loss there were plenty of positives to take from the 2012-13 season.
“Certainly there were a lot of positives from this football team,” Belichick said. “It’s a team that I enjoyed coaching. I thought that the players worked hard behind the scenes; everybody doesn’t see that, but on a day-to-day basis they worked hard, they competed well, they didn’t make excuses. They got better over the course of the season, both individually and collectively.
“We wouldn’t have gotten to where we were without a lot of good, consistent performances from a lot of people in a number of games and countless practices and meetings and all the things that lead up to that. That part of it, I thought there were, again, a lot of positives that we accomplished. Certainly, the outcome yesterday is not where we wanted to end up. I give these guys a lot of credit for what they did do and the number of times they did it and the number of times they did it in tough situations. Hopefully we can continue to build on that.”
Asked to identify specific positives, Belichick pointed to the team winning 13 games this season and playing in their second straight AFC Championship Game.
"There aren’t a whole lot of teams that are saying that [they won 13 games and played in the AFC Championship]," Belichick said. "Our performance, our production [were also positives."
Belichick said the team will spend the next few months evaluating players and staff and organizing a plan to fill the roster for next year.
“We’ll start the offseason process of evaluating the team, our schemes, and start putting a team together for next year when those opportunities come,” Belichick said. “A lot of preparation in the next couple months relative to free agency and draft and so forth, so a lot of that is really preparation work as well as some decisions we have to make on players that were on the team this year that are not currently under contract for next year.”
More immediately, Belichick said the team will spend the next few days readying its plan for the offseason.
“Really planning for the offseason,” Belichick said. “Looking at what our staff is going to be doing, how we’re going to manage our time and our priorities relative to evaluating our players, evaluating our scheme, evaluating how we did things this year from a logistical standpoint – practice, meetings, all those kinds of things – and then moving forward into draft preparations, free agency preparations. Again, all of that is kind of in a planning state; not that we haven’t done it before, but specifically laying it out so everybody knows what they’re doing and when they’re doing it and how we can manage our time most effectively to get all those things done.”
The Patriots suffered their first AFC Championship Game defeat at home Sunday in a 28-13 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Baltimore advances to Super Bowl XLVII to face the San Francisco 49ers on Feb. 3.
“Give the Ravens credit; they did a great job, they deserved to win, [and] they were the better team,” Belichick said. “We had opportunities that we didn’t capitalize on and they obviously hurt us. The Ravens had opportunities that they did capitalize on and that’s why they’re still playing. They did a better job of playing and coaching than we did last night. They deserved to win the game and they did. Take nothing away from them. We missed our opportunities.”
It was the Patriots ninth AFC Championship Game appearance in franchise history.