Bill Belichick offered an explanation for the New England Patriots‘ struggles. The facts he presented were called excuses, and he fired back at critics on Monday.
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Belichick: “It’s Not an Excuse. It’s a Fact.”
Former offensive coordinator and now Sirius XM personality Charlie Weis asked Belichick about playing more young players this year than in the past. Belichick opened up more than expected on his answer, and it led to a more detailed answer than people are accustomed to receiving from the future Hall-of-Famer.
We’re playing more young players than we’ve played in the past [for a] combination of reasons. We were pretty heavily invested in our team in the past few years. From a salary-cap standpoint, we didn’t have much flexibility at all. I think that was obvious on the Cam Newton contract [one year, $1.05 million base salary]. Then we had some opt-outs, so we lost some players there that would normally have been giving us a significant amount of playing time. And then like every year, a couple of guys are banged up and we’ve missed some guys here and there in certain games. I think when you combine it all together, there is an opportunity there; some of that opportunity has gone to younger players. This is kind of the year that we’ve taken to, I would say, adjust our cap from the spending that we’ve had in accumulation of prior years. We just haven’t been able to have the kind of depth on our roster that we’ve had in some other years. That’s provided more opportunity for younger players. So it’s a combination of all the reasons.
Perhaps Belichick might have been safer if he’d stuck to the script and maintained his habit of giving short and vague answers. Several members of the media accused Belichick of making excuses and refusing to take accountability for poor drafting over the years.
The answers were brought up again on Monday, and Belichick came back with more candid responses, and this time there was a little more feeling in his tone.
Dissecting Belichick’s Comments
Belichick was honest in his response, and he does have several points. It’s impossible not to see the impact COVID-19 has had on his team. A league-high eight opt-outs and losing his starting quarterback for a game, and his rhythm for at least two more contests shouldn’t be understated.
Belichick says the team sold out for championship glory, which is partially true, but so much of that money was tied into Tom Brady and not distributed throughout the roster where the Patriots have been reluctant to pay guys in other positions.
We can debate the difference between an excuse and a fact all night, but people usually only begin to remind you of their accomplishments and hardships when they feel threatened. It’s clear, it’s been a long time since Belichick was in either of those spaces as it pertains to running the Patriots.
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