The Patriots are headed back to the Super Bowl. Again. For the seventh time in 16 seasons, the combination of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are going to be playing in the final game of the NFL season for the right to be the best QB-Coach tandem in history.
It got me to thinking about the teams I root for as a fan and how unlike they are. I’ve often wondered about the Patriots dynasty and I came up with a few key areas that the Patriots excel in that other teams may not pay much attention to and I figured I may as well post this in hopes that someday an executive of one of the teams i root for will accidentally end up on this site and read this and listen. And if you did end up here, don’t mind how snotty that last sentence sounded.
- The Patriots treat EVERY player the same– I read a piece by MMQB’s Jenny Vrentas that details why the Patriots are who they are. Its one story after the other from people who have been in the Patriots organization who have seen and witnessed Bill Belichick riding Tom Brady in practice, in the film room and everywhere else. The moral of the story: if Tom Brady can be yelled at, you can too. This is a great way to show the rest of the room that nobody is saved embarrassment. If you missed a play, a tackle, a receiver, you’re going to hear about it and he doesn’t care what supermodel you date!
- Everyone is expendable if you don’t fit the plan– Jamie Collins was being hailed as one of the most athletic LB’s in the game a week before the Patriots decided to shock the football world and trade him. But its just another example of the Patriots constantly evaluating themselves. In the middle of a 14-2 campaign, its practically unheard of to ship out a starting linebacker for a draft pick but that’s exactly what Belichick did. Why? He was freestyling in coverage too much and not following the game plan. Ask Lawyer Milloy who was cut one week before the season. Milloy had started 106 games since his rookie year in 1996 and led the team in tackles the year they won the franchise’s first Super Bowl in 2001 but coming off a down year statistically, the Patriots tried to restructure his contract. When he refused, the Patriots released him sending a message to the team and the league that the Patriots would not be held hostage by a player because of salary reasons. How about trading Richard Seymour in the middle of his prime to the Raiders? Or trading Mike Vrabel, a team leader because his best years were behind him but still getting value in return. How about letting the most clutch postseason kicker of all time go because he wanted more money and the Patriots didn’t feel the kicker deserved more money? Safe to say if Belichick doesn’t value you anymore he won’t hesitate to move you for future considerations.
- The Patriots believe the culture they preach- It starts with the owner and continues with the coach and the QB. The three most important heads of the Patriot institution believe in the absoluteness of the Patriot way and it has paid off. Nevermind the years Brady was left without quality receivers because the Pats refused to pay top dollar for any free agent or the fact that he refused to pay his own free agents if he thought the price was too exorbitant. Tom Brady has been underpaid his entire career and that’s not for any other reason than that’s what he’s asked to do and sacrifice for the sake of the team. If you aren’t willing to sacrifice for the team, forget about being on it.
- The organization has a plan and finds players to fit that plan, even if it means reinventing itself- The Patriots have found themselves on the cutting edge of defense and offense. They went after athletic tight ends in the 2010 draft, when they picked Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez and employed them in various ways in order to gain a physical advantage. When injuries befell the secondary, Belichick had Troy Brown play corner during the season. Belichick knows how to game plan but is a terrific evaluator of talent. For years he’s played 3-4 and 4-3. He’s had run first offenses and now pass first offenses. He’s done everything to stay ahead of the competition even if they weren’t fair. But he does it because he wants to win and has an insatiable competitive drive.
- The Patriots have seen it all before- No team seems ready for the final minutes of games than the Patriots because they pay attention to every tiny detail. Preparation is the key to success- an old proverb that only the wise pay attention to. The Pats execution in the waning minutes of halves and games are a testament to how they are coached up to respond in these situations. You can tell the teams that are prepared for the two minute drills and those who aren’t. The Patriots seemingly always get them right even if the results aren’t there. Why? Because Belichick has been preparing for every single scenario since he began coaching and he teaches his team to do so as well. Whatever the drill, the Patriots are ready.
These may seem like very simple things but its very difficult for other organizations to mirror them because they aren’t built with firm beliefs and ideas as the Patriots are. They believe in something and go about operating under that truth-whether you agree with them or not. These 5 examples aren’t meant to encompass every reason why the Patriots are successful, but it is meant to be a starting point, a manual to teams who are trying to get better. Who better to follow than the team going to yet another super bowl after making yet another conference championship game and after winning yet another division. It all seems easy, but that’s because the Patriots way makes it look easy.