There will be no change with the way the quarterback coaching is handled by the Patriots in 2002.
Head Coach Bill Belichick announced during a conference call Tuesday that he and offensive coordinator Charlie Weis will continue to work directly with the quarterbacks themselves, rather than bringing in somebody new.
Belichick and Weis handled the chores together after Dick Rehbein passed away last August during training camp. In effort to keep as much continuity as possible with the entire team, there will not be a new coach slotted for the quarterbacks.
"When you are the head coach, one thing you want to do is be as much on the same page as your coordinators as you can," Belichick said. "That's a lot easier said than done because there are so many things that go into an offensive and defensive game plan."
After spending the majority of his time with the defense in 2000, Belichick spent much more time on offense last season. That was made possible by the hiring of defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel, and then made necessary by Rehbein's death.
Part of the reason for no new coaches also is a result of the delayed start to the offseason for New England following a Super Bowl run that extended the season into February. Belichick said it wasn't a case of someone not being able to learn the Patriots system, but more that he and Weis wouldn't have enough time to teach someone new what they were looking for.
The decision is also easier to make because the team had so much success with the way things worked.
"We thought that it worked out fairly well," Belichick said. "There were some things we had to logistically work around, but by the end of the year we had gotten comfortable with it. Based on where we are at this year it is hard to make a lot of changes because we are so far down the road in terms of preparing for next year. We felt like it would be best to keep it the way it was."
It had been reported by New England Cable News that Georgia Tech offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien was a candidate for the Patriots quarterbacks coach. O'Brien denied ever meeting with the Patriots and told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution he had no idea where the story came from.
As it stands, 2002 will be the first season the Patriots go into without a so-titled quarterbacks coach since 1995. New England actually did not have a designated quarterbacks coach from 1991 through 1995.
Bledsoe, Johnson and McGinest on backburner
Belichick made it clear that the most pressing issues for the front office are those players not under contract and the scouting combine this weekend. He gave no indications on the team's plans for quarterback Drew Bledsoe, who is expected to be dealt at some point.
"Right now we are really trying to address the things that are most pressing, which is the players who don't have contracts and some of the other free agency issues," Belichick said. "All of the players who are under contract, those things will be taken care of in due course.
"There are no active negotiations, if that's what you are asking. I think what all the players should be doing right now is relaxing. "If the phone rings we'll answer it and see what is on the other line. We're not contemplating taking any specific action."
The situation is similar for linebacker Ted Johnson and defensive end Willie McGinest, both of whom were left exposed in the expansion draft. Both have high cap hits for 2002, but the Patriots already are under the cap and could carry both players at the current numbers if they so choose. That scenario is unlikely though, and some form of negotiation is expected in both instances.
"They are under contract, and those things with players under contract will all be resolved one way or another in due course, whether it is a change or no change," Belichick said. "The more pressing issues are the things that don't fall under that category."
As far as the team's free agents go, Belichick said he would like to see linebacker Roman Phifer return, and that the team is working with others on possible returns. He added that it would be unrealistic to expect all deals to be worked out before the free agent period begins March 1, and that several players wanted to test the market.
Back to the beginning
If Belichick is basking in the glow of his Super Bowl title, he didn't show it. While he obviously took time to soak it in and enjoy what his team accomplished, he is also not expecting anything to come easy next season.
"We're 0-0," Belichick said. "I don't Miami will care about it. I don't think the Jets care about it, and I don't think Buffalo is going to care about it either. When we walk out on the field against those teams in the division, they won't care whether we've won it, lost it or anything else. They are going to be out there trying to get after us, and we better have the same attitude going back."… Offseason programs will begin in mid-March, but players will be brought in in stages, The first full-squad workouts will come after the first week in April… Belichick said nothing has changed on the Terry Glenn front.