In an interview at LSU’s Pro Day Wednesday, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick clarified a response he game earlier this week about his past success as a coach. Belichick originally answered “the last 25 years” in response to a question about why fans should be optimistic about the upcoming season. Some interpreted this as a brag or sign of complacency.

“We’re not resting on our past laurels; that’s not the message to the team or the fans,” Belichick said. “We have never operated that way and aren’t now.”

In its original context, Belichick was attempting to alleviate doubts in fans’ minds after the team missed the playoffs last season. The eight-time Super Bowl winner’s attempt to establish trust between the organization and fanbase surprised some, however.

“I think we’ve been pretty competitive every year that I’ve been here with the Patriots. That’s our overall plan,” Belichick said at an annual coaches’ breakfast in Phoenix, Arizona. “So, I expect it to continue that way. I think the team has been managed pretty well over the last 20-however-many years. So, I think we’ll continue managing it the way we’ve been competitive every year. I expect we’ll continue to be competitive.”

For a coach typically focused on the next game, Belichick’s focus on past accomplishments after a poor season led some to believe that he was doubtful of his team’s current standing. New England went 8-9 last season, largely due to struggles at quarterback involving Mac Jones.

“Maybe he needs to refocus just a little bit, because that is an answer that I have never heard come out of his mouth,” former Patriots player Tedy Bruschi told ESPN. “And for him to say that, I am shocked that that would be his answer.”

Though the Patriots have been rumored to be in the discussion for Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, the team remains committed to Jones for the time being despite his struggles in 2022. Belichick has worked in the NFL since 1975 and has served as the Patriots coach since 2000. He holds the record for most Super Bowl wins and appearances as head coach, most playoff wins and most division titles.

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