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Burke: Patriots still the champs of drama

With New England still reeling from a playoff loss, the Patriots future is very much up in the air.
Rob Gronkowski and Bill Belichick's future with the Patriots were called into question immediately after Super Bowl LII. (Photo: Getty Images)

The Patriots are no longer kings of the NFL on the playing field, but in terms of sheer day-to-day drama, no one can beat them.

Monday's fallout from their Super Bowl LII loss to the Eagles was nearly as intriguing as the ultra-exciting game itself, and the early-morning hours had people questioning whether or not both Bill Belichick and Rob Gronkowski would actually retire. There was also buzz that offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was getting ready to renege on becoming head coach of the Indianapolis Colts and that he was ready to ascend to HC of the NEP.

And, of course, there is the bizarre Malcolm Butler benching, which everyone is still trying to sort out.

Now, regarding Belichick's future — I've long held the belief that Belichick will announce his retirement abruptly and totally out of the blue. The day after a Super Bowl loss would be too obvious. If Belichick really is going to hang 'em up, expect it to come on a random Saturday in March at like, 4:37 in the afternoon. Expect him to disappear into thin air, with the only reports of Belichick Loch Ness monster-style sightings coming from time-to-time from people riding on the Nantucket Ferry.

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Despite the rumors, though, all signs point to Belichick coming back next season. He's stated before that he doesn't want to coach into his seventies, but he is "only" 65 right now. The end to his coaching career is in sight, most definitely, but we're not quite there yet. He remains a football junkie and is smart enough to know he would have regrets if he retired early.

Belichick also said in an odd, delayed conference call with the media Monday that he had "already answered that question," in regard to whether or not he would be back next season. For those that missed it, Belichick told WEEI last month that he "absolutely" plans on coaching the Pats in the 2018 season.

Plus, one of the other rumors that surfaced Monday was that the Pats were set on bringing former Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach and current Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano on as their new DC. There was even a report that said Schiano could be the successor to Belichick in Foxboro in a few years and that would be part of the deal.

Schiano was embroiled in controversy late last year when he accepted the position to become head coach of the University of Tennessee. Protests at the school regarding Schiano potentially having had knowledge that Gerry Sandusky was abusing young boys during his days at Penn State, however, led to Tennessee having cold feet when it came to hiring Schiano. The school wound up hiring Alabama assistant Jeremy Pruitt instead.

Schiano has maintained time and time again that he "never saw any abuse, nor had reason to suspect any abuse, during [his] time at Penn State."

Schiano will likely face some backlash here in New England if he is, indeed, hired by the Pats.

As for the open offensive coordinator position if McDaniels does leave, don't expect Belichick to fill it. After McDaniels left the first time, the Patriots did not have an official "offensive coordinator." Bill O'Brien was the "quarterbacks coach" but only held the title of OC for a year.

Expect Belichick to promote several of his current offensive assistants and to basically become the offensive coordinator himself.

And as far as Gronk goes, who knows? No player in the NFL has had a rougher go of it with injuries over the years, yes, but he is still just 28 years old. As we saw in the Super Bowl, he is still the most dangerous offensive non-QB in the sport. It would truly be a shame for someone that talented to have to bow out early.

 
 
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