Bill Belichick Had Simple Two-Word Explanation For Patriots’ Turnaround

The Patriots look like Super Bowl contenders a year after missing the playoffs

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December 6, 2021

How did the New England Patriots go from a mediocre 7-9 team to a Super Bowl contender in the span of one year?

According to Bill Belichick, it isn’t complicated.

The Patriots head coach offered a straightforward explanation when ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” broadcast crew asked about his team’s remarkable turnaround.

“We asked Bill Belichick about the quick change,” play-by-play man Steve Levy said during his intro to New England’s matchup with the Buffalo Bills. “He gave us a two-word answer. He said, ‘Better players.’ “

The Patriots are a far more talented outfit than they were in 2020 — a season Belichick openly treated as a post-Tom Brady reset year for the franchise.

After missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008, New England spent close to $170 million free agency to add key pieces like Matthew Judon, Hunter Henry, Kendrick Bourne, Nelson Agholor, Jalen Mills and Davon Godchaux. It also landed what looks like its best draft class in years, with first-round quarterback Mac Jones headlining a group that also features defensive tackle Christian Barmore and running back Rhamondre Stevenson.

It took several weeks for the new-look Patriots to develop the necessary chemistry, but since starting the season 2-4, they’ve ripped off six straight wins to surge to the top of the AFC playoff standings. The Baltimore Ravens’ loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday made New England the conference’s new No. 1 seed.

First place in the AFC East is on the line Monday night, as the Bills would leapfrog the Patriots with a win at Highmark Stadium.

Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images
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