If Bill Belichick's comments on Monday were seen as a flex or, more importantly, reason for a lack of optimism for what lies ahead for the New England Patriots, he has offered up some clarification.
Two days after saying "the last 25 years" were reason for Patriots fans to be optimistic in 2023, the six-time Super Bowl-winner explained he's not content with past glory and is surely intent on future prosperity.
"We're not resting on our past laurels; that's not the message to the team or the fans," Belichick said Wednesday, via the Boston Globe's Jim McBride. "We have never operated that way and aren't now."
Those aforementioned last 25 years have been more fruitful for the Patriots than any other NFL franchise's entire existence.
Belichick has shepherded his squads to six Super Bowl titles in nine berths to go along with 17 AFC East titles since taking on the New England head coaching gig in 2000. However, the Patriots' run of unprecedented success seems to have departed along with Tom Brady, as New England is coming off an 8-9 season -- its second losing campaign in three years in the AT (after Tom) era.
Thus, uncertainty abounds in New England. There are questions about the coaching staff, which saw Matt Patricia and Joe Judge emerge as de facto offensive coordinators in 2022, leading to a stagnant offense and the regression of quarterback Mac Jones. Jones' future as the franchise QB and competition from Bailey Zappe is now a hot topic. There is now an official offensive coordinator and it's Bill O'Brien. But there were certainly concerns with talent throughout the offense, and the additions of running back James Robinson, tight end Mike Gesicki and wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster haven't done all that much on paper to alleviate questions about a dearth of options at wideout or issues on the offensive line.
In short, despite the overwhelming overall success of those last (roughly) 25 years, the past three loom large right now.
Belichick took the time Wednesday, while attending LSU's pro day, to clear some things up: regardless of past success, he's still focused on future conquest.
Should future glory come, it's likely that individual accolades will follow for Belichick, too. He heads into the '23 season with 329 career wins (including playoffs), which is 18 behind the legendary Don Shula. Belichick will no doubt join Shula in Canton, Ohio, someday, but will he surpass him on the all-time win list?
Well, the focus -- again -- is on 2023.
"I have a great respect for the game and all that, [but] I'm not really focused on that right now," Belichick said. "The 2023 season is all I'm concerned about."
So, to clarify, it's all about '23, not "the last 25."