ATLANTA — At his core, Bill Belichick is a teacher. And New England Patriots players aren’t his only students.
During his 19 seasons as Patriots head coach, Belichick has been a valuable source of knowledge and professional growth not only for the 53 men on New England’s roster, but for his assistant coaches, as well.
As the Patriots prepare for Sunday’s matchup with the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII, eight current Pats assistants — two of whom arrived in New England before Belichick did — and director of player personnel Nick Caserio shared with NESN.com what they believe to be the most valuable lesson Belichick has taught them during their respective tenures.
The responses varied by individual, but several themes persisted throughout — ones Belichick frequently harps on when addressing both the team and the media.
Preparation. Mental toughness. Adaptability. Accountability. The pillars of The Patriot Way.
Nick Caserio, director of player personnel: “I mean, I don’t even know where to start. I think one of the best things that he does is he just empowers people to do their job, and he has enough confidence that you’re going to do it the right way. He listens to everything, and he really processes everything, so the most important thing is just to get him the right information so that we can make the best decision for the organization. But I think the way that he empowers people to do their jobs — if you do them well, you’re given responsibility. And he trusts that, so I think there’s a trust factor that builds up over time if you earn it.”
Dante Scarnecchia, offensive line coach: “I think the things that I’ve taken a lot from Bill are the way he does things, the way he runs the team, the way he tries to set the culture up that he wants and that we all want, and dealing with people, dealing with the media and all the rest of that stuff. I think it’s all really good. We’re all grateful for our time with him here in New England. He’s taught us all a lot.”
Brian Flores, linebackers coach/defensive play-caller: “Bill’s been incredible. Obviously, I’ve learned a lot from him for a long, long time — 15 years. I’ve learned about preparation. I’ve learned about leadership. And really, leadership is working hard and putting the team first. If you can do those things, you’re a leader.”
Steve Belichick, safeties coach: “He’s always kind of let me make my own mistakes and then coached me off of that. I guess he’s smart enough to know that my mistakes aren’t going to be too detrimental to everyone, so he just kind of lets me learn in the fire and then kind of talks to me and coaches me after, which I appreciate.”
Josh Boyer, cornerbacks coach: “It would be hard to pinpoint one thing. Obviously, I’ve learned a lot from Bill over the years. I think the greatest thing that I would take away is just his ability, whether things are good or bad, (to) just move on to the next thing and the next task at hand. You don’t spend too much time dwelling on good or bad. You just move on and keep working to try to reach the goal that we work for every year. I would say that’s probably been the biggest thing. You’re almost numb to good or bad situations that come up. Wins, losses — you’re almost kind of numb to them. It’s just a mentality of, ‘How can we improve? What ways are there to work for that?’ That’s kind of the focus: try to be better tomorrow than what we were today. And I think that’s one thing that I’ve definitely carried from him. But (it’s hard) to list just one thing when the list is endless.”
Nick Caley, tight ends coach: “There’s so many lessons you learn every single day. I take copious notes, and every day, there’s an opportunity to learn. I think just overall taking pride in your job and trying to do the best that you can possibly do and the thoroughness and detail that goes with it. Try to continually improve every single day and push yourself to do those things. I think he’s great to work for, and I’ve learned so many lessons along the way, but (the most important is) definitely taking pride in your job and really honing in on trying to be the best that you can possibly be provided whatever your role is.”
Brendan Daly, defensive line coach: “Oh, my gosh. Picking one would be hard, to be honest with you. To isolate one would take a decent amount of thought. Honestly, one of the things that I’ve learned is to be flexible and adapt. I would say that’s one of the things that impresses me about him. For a guy who is as experienced as he is, he’s always looking for new things, new ways to get better, to improve both the overall organization and every aspect of it, whether it’s schematically, whether it’s the strength and conditioning areas, whether it’s nutrition, hydration, sleep, the organizational structure — you name it. There’s a lot of people that have had the success that he’s had (where) their tendency to think would be, ‘This is the way I’ve done it. This is how it’s been successful. This is what I’m going to do moving forward.’ They kind of stick to the comfortable, more familiar routine. I would say he has, at least in my experience with him, absolutely not done that. (He’s) always looking to get better.”
Chad O’Shea, wide receivers coach: “I think that one of his greatest traits is that he is at his very best when things aren’t the best. He’s had the ability to, in tough times, have the mental toughness to stand in front of the team and be a strong leader. I think that our team this year, I believe, is mentally tough, and I believe it’s not by accident. I believe that Coach Belichick has instilled that in this team to be mentally tough, and I think it’s something that takes time. We’ve overcome a lot of adversity this year, and this is a very rewarding experience for us to be in this game, and I think a lot of it is because of our mental toughness. And I think that there’s no one that’s more mentally tough in our organization than Bill Belichick.”
Ivan Fears, running backs coach: “Every day’s different. Every game’s different. You have to attack that game, that day, and preparation, there’s no end to it. There’s no end to it. Until that ball is snapped, you have time to make changes, make corrections, improve, improve, improve, and you’ve got time to do it, so do it. Whatever it takes.”
Thumbnail photo via Brett Davis/USA TODAY Sports Images