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From the Hart: Bill Belichick clearly back to Patriots business

Saying little to the media, Bill Belichick may have been saying a lot to his Patriots team.

The media-manipulating man, myth and maven that is Bill Belichick was on full display Tuesday morning at the annual AFC coaches' breakfast with the assembled media at the spring NFL Meetings in Phoenix.

Sipping his cup of OJ occasionally, Belichick never really said enough for his pipes to get parched or need moistening. Make no mistake the greatest coach of his generation stuck to his script and clearly controlled the conversation for more than a half hour.

And that was much to the chagrin of the media that was inhumanely forced to fly three quarters of a country away to the sunny, warm weather of the desert for the second time in less than two months.

Want a funny quote or philosophical football breakdown? Probably should belly up to a breakfast table next to Rex Ryan or Chip Kelly, because the man those guys can only dream of surpassing in the coaching ranks at this point has work to do.

As Belichick replied to various questions with simple, "That's NFL free agency" or "I don't know" answers, reporters soon realized they were fighting a losing inquisitive battle.

One New England insider even took to Twitter to say that Belichick brought "next-level prickliness" to the casual morning breakfast.

Appropriately, Belichick's prickliness likely had a point.

As much as some may not believe it, Belichick just doesn't stonewall the media for giggles. He also doesn't do anything NFL related just for laughs. There is always a method to his sometimes maddening madness.

A man who openly and worthily celebrated the euphoric highs in the days and weeks following his team's triumph in Super Bowl XLIX has clearly moved, as his own 2014 slogan might say, On to 2015.

Media hungry to fill out stories about Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, Vince Wilfork and Shane Vereen moving on in free agency swung and missed because none of those players will have an impact on the 2015 Patriots.

Those looking to set expectations on free agent additions like Scott Chandler and Jabaal Sheard found out only that those guys have been "productive" players but that Belichick can't possibly know what they'll be in the New England system because he hasn't worked with them yet.

The past is over. The football future is a long ways off. And the present is all about work.

You'll tiptoe on the line between helping your players forget that they're the champions and helping them remember why they're the champions.

That's the message Belichick gave the media, one that he clearly wants passed along to his team, his players, those who will actually have an impact on what happens six months from now and beyond.

The time for back-patting is over. The Super Bowl banquet circuit and hometown celebratory parade routes have, or should have, run their course.

Belichick once wrote an Op-Ed piece in the *New York Times* detailing how difficult it is to defend the Super Bowl title in the NFL. He knows as well as any -- his Patriots team was the last to accomplish that feat more than a decade ago.He penned the piece after his 2002 team failed to defend its 2001 title.

 "You'll tiptoe on the line between helping your players forget that they're the champions and helping them remember why they're the champions," Belichick wrote.

That process starts now. The offseason program is right around the corner (April 20). The 2015 NFL Draft follows shortly thereafter (April 30). And then, as Belichick put it, the treadmill will continue to pick up speed through the offseason toward September.

So, the fun is over for the media and players alike. Belichick made that quite clear on Tuesday in midseason form in his meeting with the media.

It may have rubbed some reporters and fans the wrong way. Belichick definitely isn't concerned about that. He has a job to do and had a message to send.

It's back to business in New England. For Belichick, business means saying little and doing a lot.

And that little the coach does say is directed at his team, at his players and at controlling the story around his organization.

No one does a better job of that. Belichick proved that again this week.

So much for an offseason spent basking in the Super Bowl-winning glow of Phoenix for Belichick, his players and the media. Probably gonna need to write those stories about the difficulties of defending the title without flowery quotes from Belichick. It's time to get back to work. That's what Belichick said in his own uniquely consistent, unflappable way Tuesday morning.

And in all likelihood the media and his players alike got the message.

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