The New England Patriots have an interesting week coming up. They are set to host the Tennessee Titans -- New England is a 14-point favorite off the bat -- but no one cares about the Divisional Round matchup, because everyone's too locked into asking about the reported "tensions" surrounding the Patriots reported on by ESPN last week. 

Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and Robert Kraft responded to the rumors with a joint statement immediately after the report emerged on Friday, but Monday offered an opportunity to ask Belichick in person about the rumors.

And reporters did ask. Belichick -- and this might surprise you -- was less than forthcoming about his thoughts on the issue. 

Right off the bat on his Monday press conference, Belichick was asked about the report that he was told by Kraft to trade backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. His response was typically Belichickian. 

The Pats coach said he hasn't "read the article" and he's done commenting on what was reported.

"I haven't read the article. I've already commented at length about that situation," Belichick said. "Nothing has happened since then, so I don't have anything to add to it."

Pressed by Mike Reiss of ESPN about the report, Belichick (ahem) expanded. Reiss asked Belichick if he was "furious and demoralized," which was part of Seth Wickersham's report. Belichick didn't sound thrilled.

"Well, first of all, I don't really know what you're talking about. I haven't read the article, so I don't know what that refers to," Belichick said. "Look, Mike [Reiss], we've been through this before and I know you want to report on things that are inaccurate and unattributable and I'm not really interested in responding to all of those random and, I would say in a lot of cases, baseless comments."

Someone followed up by asking about his interest in the Giants' coaching job after some reports linked him to New York.

"Right now my interest is trying to do the best I can for our football team to get ready for Saturday night against Tennessee," Belichick said. "That's where my total focus is."

And is he expecting that he'll be coaching the Patriots in 2018?


Whew. That was a close one.

Maybe Belichick doesn't end up coaching the Patriots in 2018. There's a chance that something weird can happen. He once did write a resignation letter on a napkin saying he would not be "HC of NYJ" after being hired by the Jets to be their head coach. Belichick has been banged by the NFL for illegally videotaping other teams' practices, and he once had to stand up in front of the media and talk about PSI ratings while quoting Mona Lisa Vito from "My Cousin Vinny." In that respect, anything is possible. 

Belichick also loves the New York Giants organization. There's an NFL Films "A Football Life" about Belichick where, before playing the Jets in what would ultimately end up being one of the last games at the Meadowlands, Belichick gets extremely emotional talking about the Giants franchise and his memories there.

"This is a great organization," Belichick says. "It's hard not to get choked up about it."


As the defensive coordinator under Bill Parcells, Belichick won a pair of Super Bowl titles and helped to orchestrate a terrifying defense led by Lawrence Taylor. He worked there for 11 years. That's a long time. 

There is probably some part of Belichick's brain and even -- dare I say -- heart that pulls at him to go back and coach the Giants. But the most important thing to Bill Belichick is his football legacy. Do you know what creates a great legacy? Winning Super Bowls. Do you know where the best place to win Super Bowls is? New England.

Belichick isn't uprooting nearly two decades worth of infrastructure out of Foxborough and sauntering over to the Giants organization to work with a guy in Dave Gettleman who, while a Giants lifer and a football junkie like Belichick, isn't going to hand over full control of the roster.

Despite whatever you might hear about Kraft "mandating" a Garoppolo trade, rest assured Belichick has full control over the roster in New England. It's his to craft, his to build and his to maximize in the pursuit of another Lombardi Trophy. 

Tedy Bruschi, a former Patriots standout linebacker, was asked about Belichick and Brady's relationship on ESPN recently and, to paraphrase, he basically said the two aren't spending a ton of time grabbing beers and hanging out away from work. They have an employee-employer relationship that is fantastic. It's a working relationship. That's how this works in the NFL. Brady just happens to be an MVP-level quarterback playing well while he's 40, and a guy who does not appear as if he is suddenly going to drop off the face of the planet.

Coaches are creatures of habit and adamant about controlling their environment. Belichick -- who will turn 66 in April -- doesn't want to uproot to a different city, work in a different complex, establish working relationships with an entirely new front office and coaching staff and figure out how to craft an entirely different roster.

New England's biggest problem is they've won too much and now maybe, as the dynasty winds down not because of talent or skill but simply because of time, which we are all short on, there is a debate about who should get all the credit for all the winning. At the end of the day, Belichick is a 65-year-old coach still operating at the top of his game, with a roster that recently secured the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

The Patriots have been squatting on an 18-year window of great football and have somewhere in the range of two-to-four years left with Brady under center. They lost out on Garoppolo and it stings, because he could have been the bridge to the future. But just because Bill Belichick had to trade a player he believed could be great does not mean he is going to blow it all up and start over somewhere else.