HOUSTON — Hours after the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history, Bill Belichick and the Patriots found themselves trailing again.
This time they don’t mind as much.
“As of today, as great as today feels and as great as today is, in all honesty, we’re five weeks behind in the 2017 season to most teams in the league,” Belichick said Monday after earning his fifth Lombardi Trophy with a 34-28 overtime win over the Falcons. “In a couple of weeks, we’re going to be looking at the Combine. Obviously the draft. All-Star games have already occurred. And in a month, we’re into free agency, not to mention all of the internal Patriots players whose contracts are up that we’re going to have to work with in some form or fashion like every team in the league does.”
Belichick said he’ll take his usual time away from football in late June and early July, between OTAs and the start of training camp. He promised to spend some time on his boat, which is being renamed “Seven Rings.”
Until then, it’s back to work. “If you don’t do a good job with your football team in February, March and April, you’re probably going to see that in November, December and January,” he said.
If any team is used to the condensed schedule, it’s the Patriots. And there certainly are folks inside the organization who already have spent time looking ahead while Belichick put a bow on the 2016 campaign.
“Right now it’s tough because we go from this right into draft, free agency and before you know it, we’ll be in the offseason program in April,” he said. “I know it seems like a long way off, but when you’re as far behind as Atlanta and New England are right now relative to the ’17 season, we have some catching up to do.”
It’s the curse of the champion.
“But that’s where we want to be,” he said. “So no complaints.”