If the New England Patriots’ locker room scene after last week’s win over the Tennessee Titans was any indication, Bill Belichick seems to thoroughly enjoy coaching his current team.
And why wouldn’t he? After a rocky start, the Patriots are 8-4, sitting atop the AFC East and just a half-game back of first place in the AFC. They’ve won six straight, and the majority of their big offseason additions — from Mac Jones to Matthew Judon, Kendrick Bourne to Kyle Van Noy, Christian Barmore to Hunter Henry — have been big hits.
Veteran safety Devin McCourty, though, isn’t seeing a different Belichick this season. In his view, Belichick always has loved coaching the Patriots — and he’s always loved playing for the legendary head coach.
McCourty, who’s spent his entire 12-year NFL career in New England, spoke at length Wednesday about Belichick, saying he’s “enjoyed every minute” he’s played for him.
“Maybe you guys notice him smiling more. I don’t know,” he said. “But (in) my 12 years here, that’s one thing to me that has always stood out: how much he enjoys coaching the team. Even last year, worst year of my career, I’ve always felt like he doesn’t take for granted what guys come in and do.
“Whether it’s guys playing through injuries, guys being in here early, being in here late, guys like Myles (Bryant) who start on the practice squad and just work their butts off continuously and just being ready to go when they get called. Or when we went down to Houston this year with Big Mike (Onwenu) and Isaiah (Wynn) on the COVID list, Trent (Brown) out, and you look up, and we’ve got four guys that didn’t start the season playing on the offensive line, and they go out and probably as a group play better than any other group we had out there that week.
“I think (Belichick) enjoys that. I think he enjoys what each individual puts into this for this to collectively be a team, so I don’t think this year is any different than the other years. I think he’s always enjoyed it. You guys probably have to ask him directly, but I would say, for all the stuff that gets talked about playing here, for me as a player in my 12th year, I’ve enjoyed every minute of playing for him.
“And the opportunities that you get because of his dedication and the staff’s dedication to give you a chance on Sunday or Monday night to go play your best because of the work they put in to prepare you, I’ve appreciated that a lot. I obviously haven’t been anywhere else, but I don’t think there’s a coaching staff that works harder than our staff out there. And I think that shows for us. Us going out there, playing fast — that directly correlates to what they do during the week as a staff.”
The Patriots are set to visit the 7-4 Buffalo Bills on Monday in a battle of AFC East front-runners.