A day after seeing their season ended outside of the playoffs for the first time since 2008, Bill Belichick and some of his captains met one final time with the media via Webex to put a final bow on what was a challenging season to say the least.
"We put everything that we had into the Jets game," said Belichick. "Today, the players will be in. We have some things logistically to take care of in the next couple days to really bring closure to the 2020 season."
"I think to look at it as a football team, so grateful to get to play this year," said captain David Andrews. "With my personal situation and then there were days in the spring when I didn't know if we would play football this year. And even when it was getting closer and closer, it seemed more and more daunting to get this done. And then just everything else, it was such an emotional year as a team and some of the things we went through. What a wild year."
A pending free agent, Andrews was visibly emotional as he pondered what the future might hold for him and some of his closest teammates like fellow free agent Joe Thuney.
"We've done a lot here," said Andrews. "We've done a lot of special things with some special guys. Just fortunate, just grateful."
Matthew Slater was also grateful for the opportunity to compete for another season in New England. Though under contract for 2021, the veteran said he was in no rush to commit to the future.
"I'm at a point in my career now where I don't know how much football I have left and I think as a young guy I was always thinking about the next season, the career you hope to have," said Slater. "Now, obviously, I'm on the back nine. I think you appreciate it a little more, I know that I do. My emotions when I think back on it are filled with gratitude and I'm just thankful for the opportunity I had to play another year. Thankful for my health and just teammates, experiences, everything, I'm really grateful for them."
Lawrence Guy said that the win was a nice way to cap off the season, but that it was doing it together and for each other, that was the focus.
"It was more important to finish the season together," said Guy. "The win, always one of the high notes, it's amazing but the true thing is finishing together. We play for each other every single down and that's all we could ask for. That's what you saw, a group of men go out there and just play the game of football that they love competitively, all for four quarters."
Once again there are many questions facing the team this offseason and no one is even quite sure how it will even start to come together. What will a second Covid-influenced offseason look like? Will there be another virtual draft? What will the salary cap be?
"There are really a lot of unknowns, a lot of question marks at this time, where normally I would say I've been able to plan out a schedule that's pretty accurate that we can stick to through the course of the spring," said Belichick. "At this point, a lot of those questions have yet to be answered, so we can't definitely provide direction as to what we'll do, how we'll do it or what our opportunities will be. So, we'll take that as it comes and in the meantime, do things that we can do in terms of self-evaluation, self-scouting and things like that."
As the 2020 season wraps up, it was new territory and challenging for everyone. Together, the organization adjusted on the fly, persevered and gave fans a welcome distraction from a difficult year.
"I'd say just a quick reflection from me on the year would be how much I respect and appreciate the team and the staff and the sacrifices that everyone has made so that we could even have a season, so that we could play football and play it competitively," said Belichick. "We worked hard throughout the course of the year to improve, to try to move to a higher level, which we did – again, still fell short of where we wanted to be, I'm not saying that – but I appreciate everybody's effort and we all learned a lot. I certainly learned a lot as a coach."
Caserio has early GM interest
According to reports from Ben Volin and Mike Giardi, both the Texans and Panthers have asked for permission to interview Nick Caserio for their GM openings. Caserio will reportedly be one of five different interviews requested by the Panthers, while the Texans have expressed interest in two other candidates as well.
Caserio has been with the Patriots since 2001 and has been Director of Player Personnel since 2008. He has provided a unique hands-on presence, serving in a wide array of roles. From throwing passes on the practice field to having a direct line to Bill Belichick on game days and scouring colleges and the NFL for the next Patriots, Caserio is involved in just about everything. His status this offseason will be something to monitor.
Time crunch, loss of Edelman hurt offensive development
In his final radio appearance on WEEI, Cam Newton lamented signing so late in the offseason. It limited his time to process the Patriots' complicated scheme, but Newton dismissed any question if he had the supporting cast to get things done.
"There's not enough time in the day," Newton told The Greg Hill Show. "You can only practice a certain amount of time so when you really look at the whole grand scheme of where we were at times, it was, 'We have to figure this out and we have to figure this out fast.' Nobody is necessarily caring who is on the roster, more or less we have to figure it out with this roster. Was it realistic? Yeah, it was. We had enough talent in that locker room to win more games than we won, let's just put it like that. I'll just keep it there."