When it comes to football — and anything related to the gridiron — the Patriots’ coach has about as much compassion as a hand grenade.
On Wednesday, Belichick sent four players home for being late to an 8 a.m. team meeting. It wasn’t because they overslept. It wasn’t because they were being insubordinate or disrespectful or disruptive.
Randy Moss, Adalius Thomas, Gary Guyton and Derrick Burgess got stuck in traffic because of some awful weather that made the New England roads treacherous for driving.
A kinder, gentler coach might have accepted this reason as valid.
The sky is dropping slush thicker than a Slurpee? Cars are sliding around the highway like it’s an air hockey table? No problem. Pull up a chair. Let me get you some cocoa and fill you in on what you’ve missed.
This is Bill Belichick we’re talking about. He has spent over 30 years in the NFL fine-tuning his reputation as a no-nonsense hardliner. He learned how to intimidate from one of the best, Bill Parcells. Now Belichick is the NFL master of using fear as a motivator.
Not even a note from the Pope could have saved Moss, Thomas, Guyton and Burgess from the wrath of Belichick. They were late, and the Belichick wanted to send a message to the rest of the team.
It doesn’t matter who you are. Anybody could be on the chopping block.
Moss, Thomas, Guyton and Burgess should have turned on the Weather Channel on Tuesday night.
They should have set their alarms 45 minutes earlier.
They should have expected gridlock.
They should have left the house 30 minutes earlier.
They should have adapted and adjusted to the conditions.
They should have improvised and found a way to get to Foxborough on schedule.
They should have done whatever they had to do to be on time.
After watching the Patriots lose two straight games, Belichick is tired of excuses. He’s tired of seeing his team make mistakes at crucial times. He’s fed up with blown coverages and missed assignments. He’s exasperated with turnovers in the red zone. He’s beyond not happy. He’s furious.
The hallmark of Belichick-coached teams has been discipline, but there has been an uncharacteristic breakdown in that department this season.
Some might think Belichick was insensitive for sending the four players home, but the three-time Super Bowl winner had to do something to get his team’s attention before it’s too late.
With less than a month to play in the regular season, the only thing the Patriots are guaranteed of is a fight to the finish. Every game is a must-win from here on out, and no game on the schedule is a sure thing.
The Patriots missed the playoffs last season. Belichick is still upset about that. Use your imagination for what he’d be if they miss the postseason again.
You don’t want to get on Bill Belichick’s bad side. Ask Eric Mangini about that.