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Belichick's 'absolutely' pledge cheered by Patriots players

By JEFF HOWE
Boston Herald

January 08. 2018 10:17PM
New England head coach Bill Belichick talks with umpire Butch Hannah during the second quarter of a Dec. 30 game at Gillette Stadium. (Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)



FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Though it never seemed to be in doubt, Bill Belichick fired up his locker room on Monday with an affirmation that he’ll continue to be the Patriots’ head coach next season.

“I’m juiced,” safety Patrick Chung said. “He’s coming back, man. When he’s done, I’ll be done, too.”

Belichick said he “absolutely” plans to return for a 19th season and also dismissed a report from the New York Daily News that insinuated he was interested in the Giants’ vacancy.

That wasn’t the only controversial report Belichick assaulted on Monday. He also addressed questions about an ESPN story that portrayed a broken relationship among Belichick, quarterback Tom Brady and owner Robert Kraft. The trio released a joint statement Friday to dispute that report, and Belichick continued that march on Monday.

“We’ve been through this before, and I know you want to report on things that are inaccurate and unattributable,” Belichick said. “And I’m not really interested in responding to all of those random and, I would say in a lot of cases, baseless comments.”

Belichick added more context Monday afternoon during his weekly interview with WEEI, noting his relationship with Brady and Kraft has “been great.” He also went out of his way to include Brady’s trainer, Alex Guerrero, in his answer.

“I appreciate everything that Robert has done for me, the opportunities he’s given me and the support,” Belichick told WEEI. “I’ve been pretty lucky to have Tom as the quarterback for those 18 years, playing for 17. He’s a great player to coach, and he’s done a lot for this team. He’s been a huge help for me personally.

“I have a great relationship with both Robert and Tom. And I would throw in there, since it was part of the article, I feel like I have a good relationship with Alex, too.”

Belichick has scaled back Guerrero’s access to the team this season. Guerrero, who works with a number of Patriots, hasn’t been on the sideline during games or on team flights for road trips.

The Herald has reported Brady and Belichick didn’t exactly see eye to eye over that matter, but the issue has been done and over with. The ESPN report insinuated the Guerrero episode drove a wedge between Brady and Belichick, and Belichick essentially shot down that notion.

“I think we’re talking about a lot of inaccuracies here,” Belichick told WEEI. “I respect Alex and I think I have a good professional relationship with him. I can’t speak for him, but I think he would say the same thing.”

Due to Deflategate, the Patriots are used to handling outside noise this time of year, so they’re well-equipped to prepare for their playoff opener Saturday night against the Titans despite a host of questions that aren’t related to that game.

“We just don’t pay attention to it,” Chung said of potential distractions. “It’s hard sometimes. People are just talking. When it comes down to it, it’s keeping your head down. Keep pushing and not worrying about people that aren’t in our locker room, going through things that we’re going through and keeping it real tight.”

Of course, there’s no reason to believe Brady can’t do the same thing.

“Tom always prepares well,” Belichick said. “He’s one of the hardest working players on the team. He’s had a long history of that. He’s very diligent in his preparation.”

Brady was at Gillette Stadium on Monday for a full day of work, including a late-afternoon film session.

“He knows exactly how to handle outside noise,” offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said. “His job as the quarterback is always difficult in terms of the preparation for the opponent, and he knows how much time and effort that takes to be ready to play against a really good team. I have no doubt that his focus will be on what it needs to be on this week, like it always is, and he’ll have a great week of preparation and practice and be ready to go on Saturday night.”


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