Key questions facing Bill Belichick at Patriots’ OTAs


Bill Belichick will make his 2023 debut in front of the gathered media at Gillette Stadium Wednesday morning as the Patriots return to the OTA practice fields for their first workout of the spring under the watchful eye of reporters.

The first OTA session open to the media – and Belichick’s first in-person press conference since last season – was delayed due to New England losing a pair of workouts resulting from a violation asking players to spend more than the maximum time allowed at previous voluntary offseason program sessions.

Certainly there will be plenty to focus on during the media viewing window of OTA action – a first look at Bill O’Brien’s offense, a first-look at New England newcomers and a first look at returning veterans like Mac Jones looking to rebound from a disappointing 2022 – but there will also be plenty of questions for Belichick to answer about himself and his new-look team heading into yet another new season.

That in mind, here are a handful of the questions facing Belichick as the Patriots ramp up OTAs heading toward minicamp, training camp and, eventually, regular season action with plenty to prove in 2023 for all involved.

What the heck happened to cost the Patriots critical OTA practices?: The Patriots reportedly asked players to spend an extra 20 minutes in special teams meetings this spring, beyond the four-hour limit allowed by the CBA. It was reportedly an infraction with Joe Judge in the middle of the costly mess. How can a team that’s supposedly so well-run, so detail oriented be so sloppy or careless that it so blatantly and obviously stepped over the line in what is a critical offseason of rebuilding faith in its leadership? It’s going to be interesting to see if Belichick has an explanation, or whether he just does his best impression of Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla doing an impression of Bill Belichick and says little to nothing at all.

How and where will Belichick’s time on the field be spent?: The Patriots restructured coaching staff – Bill O’Brien as offensive coordinator, Adrian Klemm as offensive line coach, Judge in a new role likely to focus on his actual area of expertise on special teams and Jerod Mayo with an increased overall cache – should allow Belichick to pick his spots as to where he wants to impart his wisdom and experience. Will Belichick spend more time with the offense or the defense? Will he take more of a back seat and observational role on the practice field? Might he leave the structure to his assistants and focus on individual player coaching? It’s going to be worth watching where the 71-year-old coach focuses his energy.

What’s Belichick’s interaction with Mac Jones?: There has been plenty of speculation that Belichick’s relationship with is third-year quarterback may be somewhat strained after all that went on in what owner Robert Kraft called a coaching “experiment” gone wrong with the Patriots offense last year. NBC Sports Boston even went so far as to say that Jones “made an enemy” of the head coach. Every moment between Belichick and Jones will be analyze and overanalyzed. What’s their body language with each other? How much time do they spend interacting?

What’s Belichick’s impact on the offense, in particular?: O’Brien was brought in to bring competency to what was an incompetent offensive unit led by Matt Patricia and Judge last fall. O’Brien obviously had a lot of success in his first tour through New England as a play-caller and coordinator.
Now he brings even more experience and knowledge to the job that no longer involves working with Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski. Will he have full control of the offense? What will it look like? How much does Belichick intercede to impart his ideas and philosophies? After all, Belichick was a key part of the horrific experiment to “streamline” the offense in 2022. Is he really capable of being fully hands-off and allowing O’Brien to do his thing?

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