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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Speedy-hit thoughts and notes about the New England Patriots and NFL:

1. Coach Bill Belichick may well have been tight-lipped with reporters at the NFL’s annual owners meetings in Arizona final week, but he was specially vocal behind the scenes on one particular subject he believes would advantage the game. He desires additional time to operate with players in the offseason, which struck a constructive chord amongst his fellow coaches.

“I am in total help of his position,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll told ESPN.com. “There is so substantially down time for these guys. I feel there was a time when older players had been bargaining for these breaks when they believed much less was improved. But these guys [today] enjoy the game and want to be aspect of it. And we enjoy coaching and assisting them.

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“The game would just be better if we were able to do that, and if we were in connection with them more, they would be healthier as well — we could monitor their well-being. You don’t even have to mandate that. Just give them the option.”

When the most recent collective bargaining agreement was struck in 2011, offseason programs were reduced by five weeks.

As for how the topic surfaced at last week’s annual meeting, it was described to me that the context of Belichick’s remarks came as coaches, general managers and others were being briefed on the successes of the league as it enters its 100th season. Belichick then passionately chimed in, and essentially said something along the lines of: While it is nice to hear good things, the focus should be on how it can be even better. One of the ways to do that, he said, was giving coaches more time with players.

“There’s so many positive things that could come out of it, in terms of development of young players, helping to really make sure these guys are learning the game and getting them ready for their opportunity,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera told ESPN.com. “Keeping players in a structured atmosphere, there are so many tools we have in terms of player development, it makes so much sense that the sooner we can get them and work with them, the better it will be.”

Given Belichick’s standing as a six-time Super Bowl-winning coach who enters his 45th NFL season, his advocacy on the issue was well-received.

“It has a tremendous amount of weight,” Rivera said of Belichick leading the discussion on the topic, while also crediting Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid for taking a similar approach on league issues.

“He’s one of the soothsayers. He deserves that and has earned that,” Carroll said of Belichick. “He’s been very active, and we all appreciate it.”

2. Belichick’s leadership among coaches, and his efforts to unify them in different areas (e.g. such as spending extra time to come to a consensus on instant replay), was one of my biggest takeaways from being at the owners meetings. That also might explain why Belichick decided to take part in the annual coaches photo, an “chance” he ordinarily declines. I came away pondering that whilst Belichick frequently scoffs at the way the NFL does small business, and has zero interest in feeding any hype (e.g. he created minimal work to be cordial to reporters at the coaches’ breakfast), his enjoy for football is as robust as ever as he enters his 45th season. “Completely. When Bill grabs the mic, all of us are paying consideration,” Saints coach Sean Payton stated. “You happen to be not only paying consideration to a Hall of Fame coach, but you are paying consideration to history and an individual who is capable to reference some factors we have not gone via.”

three. The NFL’s rule modify to let offensive and defensive pass interference penalties to be reviewed, as effectively as non-calls, could be a step in the proper path to right what occurred to the Saints in the NFC Championship Game. But I left the meetings with additional concern about the possible unintended consequences of the modify just after ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that, beneath the new guidelines, the Patriots would have been penalized for pass interference on Brandin Cooks in Super Bowl LIII, with the ball spotted at the 1-yard line. To me, that is not a clear and clear foul on replay, and it tends to make me wonder if the modify will spark additional troubles than options.

four. With Greg Schiano’s abrupt resignation from a top rated part on the Patriots’ defensive coaching employees, right here is a appear at who’s left/hired on that side of the ball and their projected principal duty primarily based on exactly where they worked most final season:

  • Defensive line: Bret Bielema

  • Safeties: Steve Belichick

  • Coaching assistant/linebackers: DeMarcus Covington

  • Pass-rush specialist: Joe Kim

  • Coaching assistant/linebackers: Jerod Mayo (new employ)

Schiano was anticipated to play a major part, with his knowledge in the secondary potentially pairing nicely with Belichick’s operate with the front seven. That leaves a substantial void.

Also, there is the query of which coach will lead the defensive area, which was some thing Tedy Bruschi noted as important since of the connection that has to be created with players. It could now generate a situation exactly where Belichick requires on these responsibilities as effectively.

Since Rob Gronkowski had not announced his choice to retire when absolutely free agency began, the Patriots may well have missed an chance to fortify their tight finish position. Maddie Meyer/Getty Photos

five. Belichick was in a difficult spot with Rob Gronkowski, as he was respecting his space and providing him the time he required/earned to come to a choice on his future. At the identical time, Gronkowski’s uncertainty had a trickle-down impact on Belichick’s capacity to construct the group, which Belichick seemed to comprehend just after unsuccessfully attempting to woo absolutely free-agent tight finish Jared Cook. So it tends to make sense that Belichick reached out to agent Drew Rosenhaus just after meeting with Cook, asking yourself exactly where factors stood with Gronkowski. As Peter King 1st reported, that led Rosenhaus to let Gronkowski know he ought to inform the group as quickly as probable. 3 days later, Gronkowski known as owner Robert Kraft to relay his retirement, and then seemed to surprise the group by breaking the news to absolutely everyone a couple of hours later on Instagram.

six. Some thing to file away on Gronkowski potentially returning at some point in 2019: If he is not moved off the reserve/retired list by Week 13, he can not return at all. That rule is in location, in aspect, to remove the possibility that a player could sit out all season and then return just for the playoffs.

7. A single can not aid but really feel sadness for former Patriots receiver Malcolm Mitchell, who lastly created the choice to retire at age 26 just after 10 knee surgeries. Our Thursday interview was raw and emotional, as it really is clear he is nevertheless coming to grips with possessing some thing taken away from him that has been such a large aspect of his life. The 1st factor Mitchell stated was how appreciative he was that there was nevertheless interest in him and his advocacy operate, even although he is no longer playing. Since of the high quality of particular person involved, there was in no way any query about that.

eight. Even though former Patriots character coach/group improvement Jack Easterby has been contemplating an chance with Carolina, I think the possibility of joining the Texans is also some thing on the radar. In assisting generate a constructive locker-area culture amongst players, Easterby’s strategy supplied a good complement and balance to Belichick’s challenging-driving, demanding demeanor. I could see his presence benefiting Bill O’Brien’s Texans in a comparable way if that is the way it eventually unfolds.

9a. The Patriots targeted beneath-the-radar absolutely free-agent security Terrence Brooks early in absolutely free agency, inking him to a two-year, $four million deal, and here’s some thing I discovered at the owners meetings: Belichick became specifically impressed with Brooks just after one particular Patriots-Jets game, and in no way forgot about him just after that. I would not be shocked if it was a challenging-fought 24-17 Patriots road win in 2017, when Brooks registered a quarterback hit on Tom Brady in a niche defensive part. In all, Brooks played 84 specific-teams snaps against the Patriots more than the previous two seasons, and that projects as his principal part. But Belichick may well also see possible to include things like him in some defensive packages.

9b. Devin McCourty on Brooks: “Possessing a new security in the area, I am certain will be terrific. We have a lot of older guys, and even having Obi [Melifonwu] final year, some of the quirkiness and factors he brought I believed was incredibly refreshing. So I am excited about that as effectively.”

10. With the calendar set to turn to April, retain this on the radar: The NFL preseason schedule should not be also far away from getting announced (it was revealed on April 11 final year). A Patriots-Giants finale has been a lock every single of the previous 14 years, so why not make it 15? And possibly additional importantly to Belichick and the Patriots, it would normally be a constructive if there was an chance for joint practices with yet another club. Teams make requests to the NFL, hoping to pair up with specific coaches/applications with which they have an established partnership, and now it really is just a matter of waiting to see if the requests are granted.



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