The Patriots’ defense had just been scorched by Chad Henne and Davone Bess. The players were exhausted on the bench, and the fans watching from home were anxious that another divisional loss could be on the horizon.
But there was Bill Belichick, squatting near the bench, telling each player the same thing he tells every player: Do your job.
If it sounds simple, that’s because it is — but such a simple command can only be uttered if a coach has thoroughly prepared his team for its opponent. As it turned out, Belichick had done just that, as his defensive unit stepped up in a big way with three interceptions, and the Patriots went on to win 41-14.
The win was influenced by the special teams play as much as anything else, and while Patrick Chung‘s individual efforts on his blocked punt and blocked field goal were outstanding, the second-year safety was quick to give credit to his coaches.
“It opened up just like coach drew it up on the board, so you execute and things like that happen,” he told reporters after the game. “You just gotta take advantage of the opportunity.”
When pressed to brag about how well he had performed, Chung again deflected credit.
“That’s something coach saw. We just practiced everything that happened in that game,” he siad. “All those blocks, and people doing their job. I give it to them. If they’re not doing their job, nothing happens. So we executed. Coach drew it up and it happened just like he did it.”
The quotes hearken back to the days of Patriots yore, when Belichick was roundly praised as the best coach in the league — and perhaps of all time. That reputation has, at least to some extent, faded a bit for various reasons. The Patriots’ playoff record since that Super Bowl win over the Eagles is less than excellent, they didn’t make the playoffs in ’08 without Tom Brady and, to those who will always harp on it, there was Spygate.
But then there are wins like Monday’s. The Patriots’ game plan comes to life, and every player from Tom Brady to Rob Ninkovich to Danny Woodhead to Jarrad Page to Unknown Player X comes through and contributes.
It goes far beyond the X’s and O’s, too, as the team quite clearly responded to Belichick’s motivational tactics. The coach went to the disrespect well, pointing out the experts who were picking against the Pats in droves. The players responded, and the coach had succeeded in lighting a spark underneath his players.
While one win can’t erase any of Belichick’s coaching moves that proved to not be “genius,” it does remind you what he is capable of.
Bill Belichick is obviously a very good coach, but is he the best in the NFL? Share your thoughts below.