Though they seem to have died down a bit of late, rumblings of unrest inside the New England Patriots organization have dominated headlines this offseason.
Many of those have centered around Patriots head coach Bill Belichick’s relationship with his team’s two biggest stars, quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski, both of whom have yet to attend voluntary offseason workouts.
Former Patriots coach Bill Parcells, who has known Belichick since they worked together with the New York Giants in the 1980s, has watched this drama unfold from afar. It all sounds like a lot of hot air to him.
“I don’t pay any attention to that,” Parcells told reporter Gary Myers in a Q&A that was published Monday on The Athletic. “Nobody knows what’s what exactly. You are just hearing gossip and conjecture and opinion. I don’t put much stock in that. Having been in a position myself as a head coach, a lot of things are said about an organization, the coaching staff and the owner. Some of the things are just flat-out not true. Yet they get out and they get publicized because they make good headlines. The only thing you’ve got to do is watch the product on the field. When the season starts, all this offseason stuff, it doesn’t mean anything. Nothing.”
The Patriots have been the NFL’s most consistently dominant franchise since they won their first Super Bowl following the 2001 season, thanks in large part to their continuity at coach and quarterback. Eventually, this run of unparalleled success will end, and with Brady set to turn 41 in August, he’s in the twilight of his NFL career.
Brady also is coming off an MVP season, however, and New England came within a few plays of winning its sixth Super Bowl title despite missing wide receiver Julian Edelman, linebacker Dont’a Hightower and several other important contributors for most or all of the season. Parcells’ gut says they’ll be just fine in 2018.
“I wouldn’t underestimate them,” he told Myers. “Their track record is illustrious. You know, all things come to an end. We all know that. New England had quite a few players last year that couldn’t play defensively because of injuries. Some of them are coming back. Defense was one of their Achilles’ heels. If they can improve there, we know they are going to have the firepower.
“They have a prolific passer. They have Edelman coming back, Gronkowski is a target. They have some runners. Their back (James White) is a very, very good pass receiver. They got that young back from Georgia (first-round draft pick Sony Michel), who looks like he can score touchdowns if he gets a step or so. I don’t see anybody right now in their division that I would say has the upper hand on them, that’s for sure. If you can win your division, you are a long way down the road to doing something.”
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