By Tom E. Curran
NEW ORLEANS - Bill Belichick embraces the annual NFL Owners Meetings like a shirtless man hugs a cactus. Being told where to be, when, and for how long just doesn't float with him at this point. Nor does some of the back-slapping artifice you can routinely see at this event. (I, on the other hand, love it.) But Belichick did his duty and came to New Orleans. We caught up with him in a hallway at the Roosevelt. Belichick said at the start he wasn't delving into the CBA and, when asked about Brandon Meriweather, signaled he wasn't going there either. ("We're aware of it. We've got nothing to add.")Belichick was tight-lipped when asked about his players, likely not wanting to even give appearance that he may be keeping abreast of their progress during this lockout. "Our last meeting with them was at the end of the season, he said.Other than ripping into the proposed changes to kickoffs, Belichick provided mostly verbal shrugs to the questions posed. Asked about this work stoppage compared to others he's seen since 1975, Belichick said, I guess theyre all different. The other two were during the season. Maybe this will be too, I dont know. Theyre all different, but right now I dont have any control over that. Were just working on what we can work on, which is our draft preparation. He wouldn't weigh in on this year's draft class, or which teams may be better prepared personnel-wise to handle a lockout. Asked about trading picks, elevating Bill O'Brien to offensive coordinator and moving Matt Patricia to safeties coach, Belichick's answer can be distilled to, "Just doing what's good for the football team."
In short, he was short. And you knew he was kidding when asked finally what his favorite part of the offseason has been, "So far, Id say the owners meetings here in New Orleans.
Tom E. Curran can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran
When will Bill Belichick retire? The Patriots coach is 64 years old, and he's been on record saying that he won't be coaching into his 70s like former Bills head coach Marv Levy. But it sure seems like Belichick has plenty of energy to stay at the job for some time, and the results, you may have noticed, have been pretty good.
MORE FROM McDANIELS: 'Don't know' who'll play quarterback Sunday
Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels joined WEEI's Kirk and Callahan Show on Monday morning, and he was asked about how much longer his boss might work. Would McDaniels be surprised if Belichick coached into his 70s despite what he said on NFL Network's A Football Life documentary back in 2009?
"It wouldn't surprise me," McDaniels said. "I know Bill loves football. His drive and his passion for the game and to try to do everything we can to prepare our team to win each week, I haven't seen one change in it. It's a great privilege to coach for him. He certainly kind of sets the tone for us. I don't see any difference in that since when I first started here. I look forward to coaching for him for as long as he'll let me."
Some have speculated that McDaniels could be the next head coach of the Patriots whenever Belichick decides to hang up his whistle. The 40-year-old has been up for head coaching positions since he's returned for his second stint in New England, but he's still with the organization that gave him his first NFL job in 2001.
McDaniels, who left to be the head coach of the Broncos in 2009 and 2010, was asked if he values the offensive coordinator job with the Patriots more than a head coaching opportunity that might not be the perfect fit.
"I love where I'm at," McDaniels said. "I've said before I think we all have aspirations to grow and get better and improve and potentially move up and what have you. Who knows? Maybe that day happens, maybe it doesn't. But I know this: I'm really thankful to have the opprtunity that I have to coach the players we have here and to work underneath Bill and Robert [Kraft] and the Kraft family. It's a privilege here. I feel like I have one of the best jobs in the world. Just thankful that I have an opportunity to come here and do it each week."
The two quarterbacks on the Patriots roster are both dealing with injuries at the moment, and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels says he's not sure which will be starting against the Bills on Sunday.
"I don't know that," he told WEEI's Kirk and Callahan Show on Monday morning. "I haven't seen them in a few days. Hopefully all those guys are continuing to get better. We'll see them tomorrow. Hopefully they're all ready to go. That would be the goal. That would be the hope . . . But as of right now I don't know that."
Garoppolo's shoulder injury, suffered against the Dolphins in Week 2, was significant enough to keep him out of Thursday night's win over the Texans. In his place, rookie third-rounder Jacoby Brissett got the start, but he injured his thumb during the game. He played through the injury, which Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran has reported is "minor."
Asked if receiver Julian Edelman would be the next in line if both of those players were unavailable, McDaniels explained that the Patriots may have used a variety of looks had they been in that kind of emergency situation.
"We have to have somebody ready to go," McDaniels said. "Julian's certainly been in that position before. There's always a couple other things you can do. There's a lot of schemes that are available to people if that situation were to ever come up , , , It might not have been one thing. It might've been multiple different things that we try at that point. We had more than one guy that was ready to go if that situation came up."
Bills coach Rex Ryan said on Sunday that he didn't care who was playing behind center for the Patriots, even if it was coach Bill Belichick. The Bills would be coming after him.
"I have a lot of respect for Rex," McDaniels said. "What he says is usually the truth. They'll blitz. They'll bring a lot of packages each week to try to disrupt the quarterback, whichever team he's playing . . . He always keeps you on your toes, makes it difficult."