It may be March — as Bill Belichick noted Tuesday. But the Patriots coach is already in midseason form.
During the AFC coaches breakfast at the annual NFL meetings in Phoenix this week, Belichick spoke to reporters for nearly 45 minutes. According to a count by The Athletic’s Jeff Howe, he took a total 116 questions.
However, substantive answers were few and far between.
“We’ll see,” Belichick said — a total of 21 times, according to Howe.
However, the 45-minute session — which can be viewed in its entirety below — was perhaps one of the more quintessential Belichickian performances in recent memory.
For those who do not want to watch the often-uncomfortable session, here are some of the highlights from the Patriots’ infamously laconic head coach.
How has it been so far at the meetings?
“Good. Yeah, good.”
How has his time been since the Super Bowl?
Did he get any indication going into the offseason that Rob Gronkowski was going to retire?
“Yeah, offseason’s offseason, so…”
Does Gronkowski’s recent retirement affect his ability to build the team this offseason?
“That element occurs every offseason.”
What are the team’s next steps going ahead toward the NFL draft?
“Yeah, I don’t know. Just take it day-by-day.”
What about the proposed fourth-and-15 alternative to the onside kick? Would it be good for the game?
“Yeah, we’ll talk about all the rules and proposals here this morning. See what everyone has to say.”
Are onside kicks harder due to the new rules?
“The rules are what the rules are.”
What about the newly acquired Patriots defensive end Michael Bennett?
“I think he’ll help our team.”
“Well, we’ll see. Get out there in practice and put everyone out there and see how it goes.”
Back to onside kicks: Have they become a non-competitive play, similar to how Belichick once described extra points?
“They’re two totally different plays.”
Yes [the reporter clarified that he understood the plays were different], but have they become similar in terms of their one-sided outcomes? Are there ways to make them more competitive?
“We’ll listen and hear what everybody has to say.”
Why did the team sign tight end Matt LaCosse in free agency?
“We wanted to have him on our team. We’ll see how it goes.”
Are the Patriots hoping to bring back free agent kicker Stephen Gostkowski?
“He’s not under contract right now”
Does Belichick want him back?
“He’s not until the person’s under contract, so we’ll see what happens.”
Would it be difficult for the team if Gostkowski didn’t come back?
“It’s a hypothetical question, so I don’t know the answer to any of those.”
Is Gostkowski’s departure something for which the Patriot have to prepare?
“It’s March. We’ll see how it goes.”
How do the defenses in which Michael Bennett has previously played compare to how he could be used in the Patriots defense?
“There’s some differences, and there’s some similarities. We’ll see what happens when we get on the field and start practicing.”
Was departing “character coach” Jack Easterby’s role with the team unique?
“There’s some unique aspects to it.”
Had Belichick yet tried any of the coaches breakfast’s coffee?
“I’m good on the coffee.”
After 45 years in the league, what is his offseason process in terms of thinking about returning for the next season?
“The 2019 season’s begun.”
Does he have another 45 in him?
“Probably not.” (smirk)
Could Gronkowski return from retirement next season, as his agent has suggested?
“I’m not dealing with hypothetical questions.”
Are there challenge for players that try to come back halfway through the season?
“Think we covered all that. Next.”
Did he like Andy Reid’s Hawaiian shirt in the NFL coaches group photo?
“He’s always got one.” (smirk again)
Anything you want to get off you’re chest?