PHOENIX -- Facing the longest Super Bowl odds of his tenure as New England Patriots head coach, Bill Belichick was asked Monday at the NFL's annual meeting what message of optimism he might share with the team's fans.
He succinctly answered: "The last 25 years."
It was a flex, of sorts, from the soon-to-be-71-year-old Belichick, who is 18 wins away from tying the late Don Shula on the all-time coaching wins list (including playoffs).
Belichick enters his 24th season as Patriots coach and has won six Super Bowls and nine AFC championships over that span, while posting a 292-120 record in the regular season and 30-12 record in the playoffs. Including his tenure as Cleveland Browns coach from 1991-1995, he has totaled 329 career victories, with only Shula (347) ahead of him.
But the Patriots are coming off an 8-9 season and haven't won a playoff game since defeating the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII on Feb. 3, 2019.
Furthermore, it has been three seasons since the free-agent departure of quarterback Tom Brady, and Caesars Sportsbook has the Patriots at 70-1 to win the Super Bowl this season, the team's longest preseason Super Bowl odds under Belichick.
According to SportsOddsHistory.com, it's the franchise's longest preseason Super Bowl odds since 1993, when it was 100-1. The last time the Patriots entered a season at least 50-1 to win the Super Bowl was 2001, when they won their first title with Belichick and Brady - 20-17 over the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI.
Belichick has said in the past that the media is a conduit to fans, and with that context, he was asked what he would say to the team's base about the Patriots' current standing.
"Long way to go. It's March. We play in September. A lot of work to do," he answered.
One of the most significant changes the Patriots made this offseason was hiring Bill O'Brien as offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach, as he replaces Belichick's 2022 set-up that leaned most heavily on Matt Patricia as the play-caller despite his primary background in the NFL coming on defense. The Patriots had plummeted to the bottom of the NFL in several key categories, such as the red zone and third-down efficiency, with quarterback Mac Jones dipping after a promising rookie campaign.
Belichick said he's still working through changes to the team's offensive system with O'Brien, adding: "I have a good relationship with Bill. We go back a ways."
On approaching Shula's all-time wins mark, he said: "I have great respect for the game and all that. I'm not really focused on that right now. The 2023 season is all I'm concerned about."