The New England Patriots have enjoyed nearly unparalleled success during Bill Belichick’s tenure as head coach — success Belichick’s fellow Boston coaches are striving to emulate.
As part of the 2019 WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon, Belichick, Celtics coach Brad Stevens, Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy and Red Sox manager Alex Cora sat down Wednesday for a wide-ranging joint interview with WEEI’s “Ordway, Merloni & Fauria.”
Among the topics discussed was how Belichick and the Patriots have helped each of the other three head coaches, teaching them lessons they’ve been able to apply to their own respective team.
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens: “I think the thing that stands out when you go over and watch the Patriots do workouts, sit in meetings, sit in film is they are on one page. They are in one direction. And his message — although (there are) thousands of complexities within each scheme defensively and offensively — his message is concise, and it’s ultimately not only well-delivered but well-received.
“And you can tell that thing is a juggernaut. That thing is a train moving in one direction. They know what they need to do to be successful, and I don’t think it’s brain surgery. The way that I’ve seen it, from up close and afar, is they don’t beat themselves. There are a lot of things in a football game that ultimately lead to that, and they’re the best at them.”
Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy: “I agree. He’s got, what, 53 minimum players and then the practice squad? We’re dealing with 12 to 22, so (it’s) a little easier for us probably to work our way around the room, get our message individually one-on-one. I agree with Brad. I think the Patriots have been the best at establishing culture. ‘This is the way we’re doing it. We’re going to get it right. If you’re not on board, that’s fine; we’ll get someone else that is.’ And it’s worked for them very well. Credit to Bill. Credit to ownership. It usually starts at the top, and the players have bought into that direction.
“We have it with (Patrice) Bergeron and (Zdeno) Chara. We’re very lucky. I’m one of the most fortunate guys in the National Hockey League to coach true pros like that. Coming in as I did at a young age, I appreciate that. I’m sure Brad has his guys he leans on, and Alex, the same. Everyone’s sort of blessed or not in establishing that culture and having guys that’ll follow it. (Belichick) has done a great job. Him and Tom (Brady), obviously, the face of the franchise — the two faces. And it’s been terrific.
“I’ll tell you what, I talked to Bill before our playoffs, and he was super. We talked for at least 20 minutes about everything. I can’t say enough good things about him when I had that initial discussion with him, how open he was with what he thought would be good in terms of helping the group in the playoff scenarios. He’s been terrific with me.”
Rex Sox manager Alex Cora: “For me, it’s preparation and the way they go about it on Sundays. It’s just like, ‘We’re going to play this way, and if you beat us, you beat us. We don’t beat ourselves.’ … I’ve been watching this team for five, six years, and it’s like, wow, how precise they are. They’re almost perfect. And when they lose a game, it’s not because they were sloppy or they were undisciplined. It’s just a matter that the other team, that Sunday, was just better than you.”
Belichick, who called into the roundtable via phone from Gillette Stadium, said he’s cherished his relationships with Stevens, Cassidy, Cora and their predecessors. He recalled conferring with the likes of Rick Pitino, Doc Rivers, Terry Francona and Claude Julien earlier in his Patriots tenure.
“Really, everything across the board,” Belichick said. “The sports are different, but sports are sports, and competition’s competition. I think what we all love about the city of Boston is the passion our fans have for pro sports, but there’s some other things that come with that. Certainly, we (as coaches) get a lot of attention, both good and bad, but that’s part of it. We all understand that.
“But all those organizations have been very supportive of us, and we have the same way. They take great care of our players and staff when we come to see them play, and we try to reciprocate on that. The championships they’ve won, we’ve been able to celebrate with them together, and they’ve celebrated with us. It’s really almost like a college relationship where the coaches and the teams at the school are all playing for the same alma mater. It’s similar to that here, I think.”
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images