Bill Belichick preached patience Monday during his first news conference of the NFL offseason.
Asked what his message to New England Patriots fans would be, Belichick noted the 2023 season still is more than five months away.
“Long way to go,” the head coach told reporters at the NFL annual meeting in Phoenix. “It’s March. We play in September. There’s a long way to go, a lot of work to do.”
Belichick then was asked why Patriots fans, who have not seen their team win a playoff game since Super Bowl LIII in February 2019, should be optimistic.
“The last 25 years,” he replied.
Of course, the Patriots have enjoyed unparalleled success since Belichick arrived in 2000, winning six Super Bowls and playing in three others. But they’ve found little since Tom Brady’s departure. In the three seasons since their superstar quarterback left for Tampa Bay, New England posted a record of 25-25 and missed the playoffs twice.
During Belichick’s 24-year tenure as head coach, the Patriots have finished below .500 just three times. The first came in Belichick’s debut season. The other two both came within the last three years.
Belichick said the Patriots have “taken steps to improve the team” following their 8-9 finish last season. The most notable of those was shaking up their ineffective offensive coaching staff by hiring experienced coordinator Bill O’Brien to replace play-caller Matt Patricia and QBs coach Joe Judge. Judge will remain with the team in a new, special teams-focused role; Patricia’s future remains unclear.
New England also signed a handful of free agents at positions of need, including wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, tight end Mike Gesicki and offensive tackles Riley Reiff and Calvin Anderson. Additional moves could be forthcoming, as Belichick said he “wouldn’t rule out” any path toward improving the roster.
“We’ll see how it goes,” Belichick said.
The additions they’ve made thus far should make the Patriots a more competitive club in 2023. But Belichick wasn’t about to make any predictions.
“Again, it’s March,” he said. “We haven’t snapped the ball. It’s March.”