Ever unwavering, Belichick has stayed on course this week. The storylines are everywhere, from Tebowmania to the franchise's three-game postseason losing streak, and the playoff hype has been unavoidable with a much larger media contingent at Gillette Stadium.
Yet, Belichick has stuck to his routine, keeping his players' focus bound between the painted lines on the field.
"His ability to stay focused to the nth degree and do that repetitively, week in and week out, it's not an easy thing, obviously," said left tackle Matt Light, who has been in New England for 11 of Belichick's 12 seasons. "But you know what? I think that coming in and setting that example with our entire coaching staff and how he approaches everything, it makes it easy for all of us to fall in line."
Belichick doesn't ever veer too far — if any distance at all — off course, whether he's getting his team prepared for a highly anticipated game against the Jets or a winless team like the Colts. Last week, he orchestrated two very intense practices even though the Patriots were primarily focused on self-evaluation.
Then, he told them Friday to rest up over the weekend and return Tuesday ready to work. That's been the case, as the Patriots have had two more productive days at the stadium.
With the Pats' postseason opener approaching, it can be easy to get too fired up too early, but Belichick won't let that happen. It's been ever apparent to the rookies who are going through this type of week for the first time.
"It's just another game, right, because you know coach Bill, he puts so much emphasis into each week," running back Stevan Ridley said. "You know we don't look ahead or behind. We're looking on that upcoming game, so it's another game to us. That's how we're treating it. It's going to be a playoff atmosphere. It's going to be a big-time game, and we're going to go out there and just play football, and stay calm, and go out there and try to play a sound game."
Since players rely so much upon their coaching staff, they can be thrown off when the guy in charge rides an emotional rollercoaster. If the head coach is unpredictable or makes too much of a certain week, the players will follow his lead and start to press. That's when the team as a whole can lose sight of the details.
Belichick's ability to stay consistent is a major reason why the Patriots have been 27-3 against teams with losing records in December and January since 2001. They stay in the present rather than eyeing the bigger goals down the road.
And since the Patriots have gotten off to a good start, both in their bye week and this week, it's obvious Belichick's message has filtered down through the locker room.
"The attention to detail is always there," captain Matthew Slater said. "It doesn't matter if it's a bye week or if it's a divisional playoff round. He's committed to winning, and that commitment never falters, no matter what the circumstance, no matter how much success we've had or how many games we may have lost in a row. That commitment to winning is always there."
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