Bill Belichick is unhappy these days.
That is not a news flash. Being grumpy is his normal persona.
And Belichick is used to doing his things his way. Owner Bob Kraft has given him carte blanche to run the New England Patriots the way he wants to. Except Kraft won’t let him cut Tom Brady if he thinks it’s for Brady to move on the way he dumped Cleveland icon Bernie Kosar when he was the Browns’ coach.
There is probably not another coach or executive in the league who has the control over a franchise the way Belichick does.
Still, Belichick has to follow league rules. Sort of. Until he is caught trying to cheat because he doesn’t like those rules.
But even Belichick can’t get around the offseason rules put in place during the 2011 collective bargaining agreement, so he complains about them.
According to ESPN, he “passionately chimed in” when coaches and general managers were given a briefing on the league’s accomplishments at the recent league meetings.
Belichick said something along the lines of, “While it is nice to hear good things, the focus should be on how it can be even better.”
There is no evidence that expanding the offseason program would make things any better, and the shorter offseason may be better for the players to recover after the grind of the season.
In fact, the 1970s is fondly remembered as a golden era dominated by great teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers, Oakland Raiders, Miami Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys. In those days, the offseason program was a weekend minicamp, because some of the young players had to get jobs in the offseason.
As NFL salaries continued to escalate, the offseason programs started taking up much of the offseason. It can be debated whether the expanded programs were good or bad for the players. The advent of free agency, which meant that coaches couldn’t keep teams together the way they did in the 1960s and ’70s, may have changed pro football more than offseason programs.
As player started to complain about the offseason grind, the NFL Players Association decided to try to rein in the coaches.
In the 2011 talks, the owners were more concerned about getting monetary givebacks. They didn’t care as much about the offseason programs and gave workout concessions to the players.
They gave the players more time off, cutting the offseason program by five weeks, eliminating two-a-days during camp and banning the coaches having contact with the players until the offseason program begins in April.
The coaches have been complaining about the shorter offseason ever since, and some other coaches chimed in to agree with Belichick. But some of the things they said bordered on nonsense.
“There’s so much down time for these guys,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “I think there was a time when older players were bargaining for these breaks when they thought less was better. But these guys (today) love the game and want to be part of it.”
Uh, let’s try to find an older player who wants more offseason work.
Carroll even said more offseason work would produce a better product and produce healthier players since teams could monitor their well being. He added the new sessions would be optional.
These comments are ludicrous in so many ways.
To start with, more workouts don’t necessary make them healthier. They can lead to more injuries even in non-contact drills. And the offseason program is voluntary except for a mandatory weekend minicamp, but the coaches treat them as mandatory and gripe when they don’t show up.
And Sean Payton says that when Belichick speaks, “You’re playing attention to a Hall of Fame coach, but you’re (also) paying attention to history and someone who is able to reference some things we haven’t gone through.”
Yes, Belichick knows the history and ignores it. He is well aware that when he was a young coach, the NFL didn’t have an offseason program and did just fine.
And the Patriots have had a lot of short offseasons in recent years because the season for the Super Bowl teams last five weeks longer than the team that didn’t make the playoffs.
Belichick’s complaints and the complaints figure to fall on deaf ears.
The coaches have to adjust to the way things are, not the way they want them to be.