Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells isn’t under the impression that the sky is falling in New England.
Sure, Parcells has seen plenty of offseason headlines involving the Patriots — from the previously uncertain playing futures of quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski to reported discord within the franchise.
With that said, the 76-year-old Parcells is dismissing talk that the team is at the beginning of the end of its dynasty as nothing more than just hot air.
“I don’t pay any attention to that,” Parcells told The Athletic. “Nobody knows what’s what exactly. You are just hearing gossip and conjecture and opinion. I don’t put much stock in that.
“Having been in a position myself as a head coach, a lot of things are said about an organization, the coaching staff and the owner. Some of the things are just flat out not true. Yet they get out and they get publicized because they make good headlines. The only thing you got to do is watch the product on the field. When the season starts, all this offseason stuff, it doesn’t mean anything. Nothing.”
Parcells coached the Patriots from 1993-1996 and led them to an appearance in Super Bowl XXXI. He was replaced by Pete Carroll, who coached the team for three seasons before Bill Belichick took over in 2000. The Patriots won their first Super Bowl following the 2001 season, and with continuity between Belichick and Brady, well, the rest is history.
“I wouldn’t underestimate them,” Parcells said. “Their track record is illustrious. You know, all things come to an end. We all know that. New England had quite a few players last year that couldn’t play defensively because of injuries. Some of them are coming back. Defense was one of their Achilles’ heels. If they can improve there, we know they are going to have the firepower.
“They have a prolific passer (Brady). They have (Julian) Edelman coming back, Gronkowski is a target. They have some runners. Their back is a very, very good pass receiver. They got that young back from Georgia (first-rounder Sony Michel), who looks like he can score touchdowns if he gets a step or so. I don’t see anybody right now in their division that I would say has the upper hand on them, that’s for sure. If you can win your division, you are a long way down the road to doing something.”
The Patriots have won the AFC East 15 times in the last 17 years, save for 2002 (New York Jets) and 2008 (Miami Dolphins).