Bill Belichick has won three Super Bowls in his 11 years as coach of the Patriots, but entering this season pundits proclaimed this incarnation of the Patriots his least talented yet. It was supposed to be a rebuilding year.Eighteen weeks later, the Patriots sit at 14-2 and are the odds-on Super Bowl favourites. Again.
So how does the coach so consistently find success? The Wall Street Journal asked a mix of first-year and longtime Patriots to get the answer. Here’s what they found:
- While the spotlight is often placed squarely on him, Belichick insists games are about the players on the field.
- Many play up the importance of emotion in football, but he does the opposite. He takes an understated approach to football. “Playing well is playing well,” he says.
- But playing well requires intense preparation. By Monday he quizzes players on the gameplan for next Sunday, and incorrect answers get “a little ripping.” As the week goes on the “ripping” progresses into strict discipline.
- Many of his young players come from college coaches that are known for their discipline, so Belichick knows he can coach them.
- Through all the discipline Belichick manages to appeal to his players. They respect him, and know that if they work hard they’ll earn his respect in return.
- He’s sparse with his praise, but that makes players appreciate it even more. They’re compelled to work hard to earn his approval.
The Kansas City Star once ran a great story that speaks to that last point. Coaching the 2007 Pro Bowl, typically a game that players take about as seriously as an off-season fishing trip, Belichick insisted his players practice hard.
Longtime Pro Bowler Tony Gonzalez was assigned-punt blocking duties, which during the season is a task for the fringe roster players, and failed to block a teammate in practice. Belichick cursed and screamed at Gonzalez like he “was a piece of dirt.”
Gonzales was enraged. He’s the best tight end in football and missed a block in a practice for a meaningless game. He couldn’t believe Belichick was taking things so seriously. Gonzalez fumed. So the next time they practiced that play, Gonzalez sought out a teammate and flattened him.
Gonzalez made sure to walk by Belichick, and he heard the coach whisper “nice block.” Suddenly, Gonzalez felt gratified.
That ability to motivate any player, from a future hall-of-famer to a seventh-round rookie, is what truly makes Belchick the best coach in football.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.