FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Bill Belichick, who is the NFL’s longest-tenured coach and turns 71 in April, said Monday that he plans to return for his 24th season as New England Patriots coach in 2023.
The Patriots had their season end Sunday in a 35-23 loss to the Buffalo Bills.
After declaring that he intends to return, Belichick said of the Patriots’ 8-9 season: “Nobody’s satisfied with that. That’s not our goal. We need to improve on that. So that’s all of us — accountability everywhere, starting with me, the coaching staff, players, each unit. They are all things that we will address and that process will start probably later today.”
Belichick said that will include a standard-operating-procedure meeting with owner Robert Kraft, who in March had said he wasn’t happy that the franchise hadn’t won a playoff game since Super Bowl LIII over the Los Angeles Rams on Feb. 3, 2019.
Belichick has 329 career victories as a head coach (including playoffs), which is second in NFL history behind Don Shula (347).
Belichick fielded a series of questions in a Monday morning video conference, many of them specific to the team’s offense, which had a staggering regression in 2022.
Asked if he envisions Mac Jones as the team’s starting quarterback in 2023, or if he needs to re-evaluate the position in the offseason, Belichick said: “I think Mac has the ability to play quarterback in this league. We have to all work together to try to find the best way — as a football team, which obviously quarterback is an important position — to be more productive than we were this year.”
Jones was 288-of-442 for 2,997 yards (65.2%) this season, with 14 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He was sacked 34 times for 231 yards.
As a rookie in 2021, when he was selected as a Pro Bowl alternate, Jones was 352-of-521 for 3,801 yards (67.6%), with 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He had been sacked 28 times for 241 yards.
Jones’ dip was reflective of how the Patriots cratered in every offensive statistical category that Belichick has long said are most important to him — specifically the red zone (dropping from 11th to 32nd), third down (10th to 27th) and touchdowns scored (48 last season to 31 this season).
Because of that, Belichick was asked repeatedly Monday morning about his decision-making regarding offensive coaches; after longtime coordinator Josh McDaniels departed to become Las Vegas Raiders head coach following last season, Belichick turned to veteran coaches Matt Patricia and Joe Judge to lead the offensive staff despite their primary coaching backgrounds having come on defense and special teams, respectively.
Belichick defended his decisions — he previously shared his belief that a good coach can succeed in any role — but also left open the possibility that there could be change in 2023.
“Every decision that we’ve made has always been with the intent to do the best thing for the football team. That’s the way it’s always been and that’s what it will be going forward,” he said. “At different decision points, you have different opportunities. As those go along, or come along, we’ll continue to evaluate them.”