Bill Belichick has been widely regarded as the best head coach in NFL history. Securing his ninth trip to the Super Bowl only further cemented his legacy. People are quick to forget that at this time last year people were saying the Patriots were ready to fall apart. An article in USA Today from January 5th of last year had the headline, “Report: Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, Robert Kraft drama sparks dysfunction with Patriots”. The article even included a tweet from the Patriots official twitter addressing the reports and saying they were inaccurate. The Patriots season ended last year with them losing the Super Bowl thus sending them into an off-season of turmoil. There were reports that Brady and Gronk both wanted out. They both skipped voluntary workouts and worked out at the TB12 center instead. There were issues surrounding Tom Brady’s trainer Alex Guerrero. Gronk was openly contemplating retirement. There were rumors of Gronk being traded but the trade being called off because of Gronk said he would retire if he was traded. This drama continued into the regular season where the Patriots struggled out of the gate with a 1-2 start.
All of this drama now seems like it was so far in the past as the Patriots head their third straight Super Bowl. This Patriots team has so much love for each other and I think Bill Belichick has a lot to do with that. Bill Belichick is often portrayed as a surly old man because of his perceived disdain of the press. He is usually very quick and just says normal head coaching cliches like, “We have to get better in every area of the game” or “We’re onto (insert city here)”. He has been the same this year but he has been more complimentary of his team in the process. He has made a point to praise his team throughout the year and although it may not seem like much to the average fan it is a lot more than Belichick has done in the past. You can see how the Patriots were celebrating that they have so much love for each other. Both offensive and defensive players were all hugging each other. Gronk was also hugging Belichick (which is what reminded me of all the off-season drama). This is something Tom Brady has spoken about in his press conferences as well. I can’t find the exact quote but he talked about how much love this team has for each other and how close knit they are.
Bill Belichick’s new approach has created a loving atmosphere where the players have bonded and are playing for each other more now than they ever have before. The drama that surrounded last year’s playoff run and followed them to the beginning of this season is now irrelevant. Bill Belichick has molded his approach to reach the younger players as he and Brady prepare to take a new generation of talent into the Super Bowl. I tweeted earlier that James White and Julian Edelman are this generations Kevin Faulk and Troy Brown. It is crazy to think that Belichick and Brady have been on this team the whole time as the entire rest of the roster has turned over. The Patriots find themselves back in a familiar position now, looking to hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy. It makes me wonder when they will change that name to the Bill Belichick Trophy.