In case you haven’t noticed yet, Bill Belichick is not your regular 70-year-old. Whereas other members of his age group are off to retirement and beginning to decelerate a bit, the New England Patriots’ head coach is still not showing any signs of slowing down.
It appears that quite the opposite is the case. According to a recent report by Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, Belichick is not just working as hard as ever, he is actually “working more than he has in the recent past.”
Belichick still loves doing it. That much is obvious. I had someone there tell me that this offseason he’s actually working more than he has in the recent past, which only speaks to the fact that, to borrow paraphrase an old Levy-ism, there really isn’t any place he’d rather be.
Belichick, who celebrated his 70th birthday on Saturday, has never made a secret out of the fun he is still having. While he questioned his ability to keep coaching into his 70s during the 2009 NFL Films documentary A Football Life, he has since reversed course and has apparently taken his own “one day at a time” mantra to heart.
“I enjoy doing it,” Belichick said during the NFL spring meeting earlier this offseason. “It’s a comprehensive job. It’s a lot. But it’s fun. It beats working.”
The motivations behind Belichick’s drive are anyone’s guess, but there are a few goals he still might want to accomplish before hanging up his hoodie.
The first is adding to his own legacy. Belichick already is the most successful NFL coach in terms of championships — he won two as an assistant with the New York Giants and six more as head coach with the Patriots — but he is still 26 wins behind all-time leader Don Shula. With the NFL shifting to a 17-game schedule, there is a realistic chance he passes Shula before turning 75.
That process also includes winning a title without Tom Brady at quarterback, Breer believes:
I’ve heard for more than a decade that those around him believe he wants to show he can win with the Patriots without Brady. He got the franchise Mac Jones and a playoff berth last year. The next step is showing that legit championship contention is on the horizon.
Whether or not there really is a desire to do that is hard to tell, but Belichick is trying to win at all times no matter the players he has available. Now, the main man in his circus is Mac Jones and it seems the Patriots are well-positioned for the future with him under center.
Finally, there might be a desire to leave the organization he turned into a dynasty in some able hands. His sons, current defensive assistant coaches Stephen and Brian, appear to be candidates even though it is far too early to tell what the eventual succession plan is — if there even is one in place already.
As for the 2022 offseason, meanwhile, Belichick working more than in years past should not come as too big a surprise. After all, the team has lost some key pieces both in the front office (director of player personnel Dave Ziegler) and the coaching staff (offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels); Belichick is taking a proactive approach to help replace those departures and keep the operation going as smoothly as possible.