Brandin Cooks’ Speed Leads Bill Belichick To Bring Up Lawrence Taylor


Aug 14, 2017

FOXBORO, Mass. — Though Brandin Cooks has many impressive attributes, one skill stands out when observing the wide receiver at New England Patriots training camp.

Call it an extra gear, a turbo button, overdrive. Cooks can control his speed and run away from defenders at the most opportune time.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was asked about Cooks’ control of his speed and tweaked the subject to talk about special players who had that extra gear.

“Well, I think all players like that, there’s an element of that to them,” Belichick said. “A guy who plays every play can play hard. But, realistically, there’s another level, there’s another gear at certain times, whether it be critical plays or a particular play. I’d say, in my experience, some of the good or great players have been able to identify and achieve that kind of play.

“Lawrence Taylor was one. He played hard. He was a tough player, one of the most competitive players I’ve ever coached, but every play wasn’t the top play. But, every important play was. If it was the fourth quarter or third-down situation, you were going to get his top effort on that play, which is when you really needed it. Not saying that he didn’t play the other plays hard — he did — but there was another gear based on the situation or the importance of a particular play. And he could recognize that. He could identify, ‘OK, this is it.’ And he had the ability to reach down and get that top effort on that play when you needed it the most. So that’s, I’d say, one thing about the great players like L.T.

“Some guys, you look at those plays and you kind of say, ‘C’mon, this is the biggest play of the game,’ and that’s not his best play. I don’t think I ever said that about Taylor. There may be some other plays along the way that you’re like, ‘Hey, we could do a little more than this here. We could do a little more than that, OK.’ But never in a critical situation, the biggest plays of the game. I think that’s what made him a great player.

“But, you know, I saw that from a lot of guys through the years playing against them and players that I coached, guys like (Randy) Moss or (Tedy) Bruschi, (Willie) McGinest. Some of their biggest plays were at the most critical times, which is what made them great players — Troy Brown. Again, there’s another guy you know is out there on every single play, on every punt return, covering kicks, field goal block — I mean, you know, you name it — guys like that. Troy was out there, took a lot of snaps, played on defense, but in the most critical plays when you needed him most, you were getting his top effort. You were getting his best play on that play.

“You know, I think that’s a special quality that those players have. Not saying Brandin does or doesn’t have it. I don’t think we’ve really been through that enough with him, but I think there’s an element of that.”

Belichick even had some fun with the topic.

“Kind of like you guys,” Belichick said. “You know, you write your best stories on Sunday or whatever. Yeah, have some good ones, but then when you really need that top story, that’s when you really push the pencil a little harder on the paper.”

We’ll find out if Cooks can elevate his game in the most dire situations this season. There undoubtedly will be plenty of them.

Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images

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