Report details how hard Patriots staffers are coaching at Shrine Bowl

Report details Patriots coaches' intense schedule at Shrine Bowl originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

When Bill Belichick says "no days off," he means it.

The New England Patriots' offseason began weeks ago after the team missed the 2022 postseason. But the coaching staff has been busy this past week in Las Vegas at practices for the 2023 East-West Shrine Bowl, where the Patriots were assigned to coach the West squad.

According to reporters on the scene, Belichick and his assistant coaches were very hands-on during practices, with one UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson noting that Patriots assistants were "super intense, but super helpful."

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Among those "intense" assistants was new Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien, who caught Illinois quarterback Tommy DeVito by surprise when he yelled at DeVito during a drill.

"He had a hat on, big jacket. I couldn’t really see his face, and this dude is just screaming," DeVito told The Athletic's Chad Graff. "At first, I was like, ‘Who is this guy?’ Then he got up close and I was like, ‘Oh, that’s Bill O’Brien,’ and it kind of made sense. They are very intense, aggressive coaches."

The Shrine Bowl, which is set for Thursday night at 8:30 p.m. ET, features several of the top college prospects in college football but is generally viewed as second fiddle to the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. Still, it sounds like Belichick is taking the event very seriously.

According to Graff, Belichick had his Patriots assistants "grinding over film from (Shrine Bowl) practice all day," then would leave them the nighttime to handle their "normal offseason preparations" for New England, such as studying NFL free agents and preparing for the draft. The assistants had "next to no free time during this trip," per Graff.

Belichick's approach stood in stark contrast to that of Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith, whose staff is coaching the East squad.

"(Smith) encouraged his coaches to enjoy the experience together," Graff wrote. "Falcons assistants went to dinner together and hung out in what they hoped was a bonding experience. Smith even went to see a show with his wife."

The Patriots' grueling, head-down approach shouldn't surprise anyone who's followed Belichick over the years. In the past, all of that hard work was rewarded with Super Bowl titles, but that's no longer the case, as New England has appeared in just one playoff game since Tom Brady's departure in 2020.

Belichick and the Patriots will look to change that in 2023, but if the team continues to struggle, the appeal of being a coach in Foxboro may continue to diminish.