Everything Bill Belichick does is scrupulous and planned intricately.
In the fantastic “Bill Belichick: A Football Life” documentary, he said that you could point to just about any day on the calendar two or three years down the road and he could probably tell you what he was doing on that specific day. In other words, the guy knows full well that it’s 2017.
The 2017 NFL season will mark the 10-year anniversary of the most tumultuous season in Patriots history. Set off by the Spygate accusations, the Patriots absolutely shredded the league in the regular season – going an NFL record 16-0. But we all know what happened in the desert on Feb. 3, 2008. It was the most brutal defeat Belichick and the Patriots have ever suffered, because it would be next to impossible to ever be on that stage again. Sure, they could win a Super Bowl or two again, but going undefeated? 19-0? That opportunity would surely never arise again.
But here we are in 2017. Ten years later. And many are expecting that opportunity to arise again.
It’s almost like Belichick had a 10-year plan in place after that loss to the Giants.
In the first few years post-Super Bowl XLII, he would have to radically change his aging defense. The offense would now rely heavily on the tight end. The free agent spending would be held in check. The Patriots would be smart with their money, but would always be in contention. Funny sh** happens in the playoffs. Have teams good enough to be in the mix each and every year. The breaks will go your way some years (the Malcolm Butler play in the Seattle Super Bowl, everything that happened in the second half of the Atlanta game), and other years it will not (the missed PAT by Stephen Gostkowski in last year’s AFC title game, the Mario Manningham catch in the second Giants Super Bowl).
But this upcoming season already feels different.
This is a statement that will make the fan bases of the other 31 teams in the league spew chunks, but it’s like the Patriots are bored by winning Super Bowls at this point.
The only thing really left to accomplish for the Patriots is to grab pro football’s Holy Grail: a perfect 19-0 season.
Belichick has bucked so many of his own trends this offseason, that you’ve got to wonder if this is now the focus.
He had little use for draft picks, little use for young, cheap players a couple weeks back. He acquired that sexy outside receiver that so many had been clamoring for since Randy Moss left, in Brandin Cooks. He made trades for Kony Ealy and Dwayne Allen. He signed a high priced cornerback in Stephon Gilmore. He held on to Malcolm Butler when he could have obtained a high draft pick. He showed Dont’a Hightower the money. And he tendered LeGarrette Blount last week despite the team having about 22 quality running backs already on their roster.
This just feels like it’s part of a well-orchestrated plan, and that the time is right for the Pats to completely eviscerate the league.
Now, one would have thought that Belichick would want to “load up” in 2015 and 2016, while Tom Brady was going through all the Deflategate B.S. in order to raise double middle fingers to the entire NFL. But the Pats were their typical selves when it came to acquiring and dumping players in those years. For Belichick, “loading up” too early would be straying away from his longterm plan.
That longterm plan, a 10-year plan, is expected to culminate this season.
What’s Bill Belichick doing to be doing on the night of Feb. 4, 2018 in Minnesota? He very well could be basking in the glow of the first 19-0 season in NFL history.