Is Belichick’s voice too absolute?


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When Bill Belichick arrived in Foxborough in 2000 to rebuild a dysfunctional Patriots team, one of the things people fretted over was whether he had the cachet and charisma — given some of the things that had happened in Cleveland — to bring together an organization and lead.

He quickly answered those questions, winning the Super Bowl in his second year.

Ten years later, could the reverse effect happen now? Could Belichick’s legend have grown to the point where his assistants won’t properly challenge him? It’s worth asking about, and this guy did with a small group of us remaining at the end of his press conference.

Think about it. When Belichick drove stakes into the ground in Foxborough, he came with peers and people who knew him last as the Jets defensive coordinator. Coaches who have arrived more recently don’t know him like that, not most of them anyway. Only Dante Scarnecchia, Ivan Fears and Pepper Johnson were here prior to the Patriots last championship season, in 2004, meaning Belichick had at least two rings when every other coach on the staff arrived.

“I’ve talked to other coaches about that, coaches that are pretty well established,” Belichick said. “And I get the nature of your question. Romeo [Crennel] or Charlie [Weis] or some of those guys, they wouldn’t be afraid to, at times, say, ‘What are you doing? Are you serious? Are you really seriously considering that?’ And then there’s certainly another level of coach, at that time or at this time, they just wouldn’t say that to me, and I understand that.

“And I was like that. There was a point in time where I was like that, where I would never say, whether it’s coach [Ted] Marchibroda or Red Miller. Then, there was a point in time where I would, whether it was Bill [Parcells], mostly Bill. There’s a point in time where you reach a point, or you have a relationship, where you feel comfortable saying things that you just wouldn’t have said, even with that guy, a few years earlier.


“I understand that. We try to have an open communication, an open forum
on some things. Some things aren’t open, some things are ‘this is the
way it’s gonna be.’ I understand what you’re getting at. It’s something
that as a head coach, you have to be conscious of, and I am. I’m not
saying I do a great job of it, I don’t know whether I do or not, but
I’m definitely conscious of it.”

So does that mean there’ll be changes across the board?

No, it doesn’t. Listening to Belichick, it seems like it’ll be a tweaking and not total upheaval.

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“There’s transition every year, I don’t think there’s been any year when there hasn’t been transition,” he said. “Transition in the coaching staff, transition on the player end, transition in the scouting department, Tom Dimitroff, Scott [Pioli]. Maybe it’s not like that for every team, but we’ve had a lot of that, and I think we just accept there’s going to be change.

“I mean, every team’s going to have change. Maybe there will be one or two coaching staffs in the NFL that stay the same, but there won’t be many. And, there’s no rosters that stay the same. But teams make changes in their scouting department and all that too. That’s just the way it is. I don’t think that’s necessarily bad, I don’t think it’s necessarily good, you do the best you can with it.”