New England Patriots: "In Bill We Trust" Not Just a Slogan
The enigma we know as Bill Belichick understands football in the same way Albert Einstein understood E=mc2.
What many people do not understand is that he also has a really firm grasp of some other fine points that he just doesn't choose to talk about.
For that matter, he rarely speaks publicly about anything unless he absolutely has to do so. Not that I blame him; no matter what the man says or does, somebody is going to find fault with it.
Like most really smart people, he would rather be criticized for what he doesn't say than for what he does say. He doesn't often have to worry about prying his foot out of his mouth.
And despite all the cute little nicknames coined for him and his team by rival fans over the past two years, one fact is indisputable: The man knows how to win football games.
Yes, his methods sometimes have been called into question, and he has paid the price for the mistakes he might have made along the way.
He continues to pay a price, or he would be if he paid attention to anything besides winning games.
The cute little nicknames do not go away. And then there is all that nonsense about asterisks, as if Illegally-Placed-Camera-Gate (IPCG) was such a damnably egregious offense.
Here in New England, we knew that we and our team were hated before IPCG happened; that overblown pile of Mangini-generated revenge-dung, completely mishandled by Roger Goodell, just gave Those Who Hate an excuse to go on a rampage. Their irrational (read: jealous) diatribes suddenly had meaning, at least in their minds.
They write articles and post profane comments all over the Web, and speak to us as if they expect us to jump ship just because our coach is under perpetual fire.
There's no winning with Those Who Hate.
When we stick by our team, we are arrogant scum. If we don't stand by our team, we become the fair weather fans the haters always expected us to be.
But enough about Those Who Hate.
Through it all, Bill Belichick remains the best coach in the NFL for reasons that go far beyond X's and O's.
Psychology: the study of human thought processes as they relate to and influence behavior.
Bill Belichick understands psychology as well as he understands X's and O's. This is perhaps his greatest strength.
Different coaches have different ways of getting the most out of their teams. Some want to be buddies with their players. It worked for Raymond Berry, up to a point.
Others get results by terrorizing their players. I'm not naming names.
Of course, some coaches get no results at all because they are entirely clueless. We have seen our share of those in New England.
But Bill Belichick is a breed apart, an intelligent man and diligent student of the game who has an uncanny insight into the mind of the player.
He understands that different players become motivated by different means.
He gets that he's not working in a one-size-fits-all kind of profession. The method that gets optimal results from one player will be absolutely ineffective with another.
As such, he does some things that don't make sense at first glance.
Here in Patriot Nation, when we don't understand what, in the name of all that is holy, Bill Belichick is doing, we say simply: IN BILL WE TRUST.
We say it because it's true.
And yes, we do have our own Nation.
How many times have we dropped our jaws after The Hooded One did something that defied all logic, only to give the man a standing ovation when his choice proved to be BBrilliant?
In retrospect, some of the answers are easy.
For example, who among us thought Corey Dillon was somebody we needed in New England? An unhappy running back in what looked like the downside of his career, a two-time Pro Bowler playing for a losing team and getting fewer and fewer carries every season? A guy with a massive chip on his shoulder, a rap sheet and a reputation as a head case?
What was Bill thinking?
Maybe he was thinking about winning another Super Bowl with a rejuvenated player who only needed to be given the ball and respected as a man in order to return to Pro Bowl form.
That's exactly what he got: A workhorse of a running back who benefited tremendously from playing for a great team, returned to the Pro Bowl, and won himself a ring before retiring.
And then there is the case of one Deion Branch, MVP of Super Bowl XXXIX, who decided to hold out in the final year of his rookie contract because he wanted the same kind of money Reggie Wayne was getting in Indianapolis.
Many of us shouted, "Show him the money!"
And what has Mr. Branch done in Seattle besides collect paychecks?
On to Moss. He was another head case, another player who thought only of himself, wouldn't practice hard, wouldn't even play hard.
What was Bill thinking?
Maybe he was thinking of an extraordinarily talented player who needed little more than a clean slate and no rush to judgment. A player who was capable of establishing instant chemistry with the best quarterback in the game, breaking records, winning games, becoming the team player no one thought he could be.
That's what he got. That's what we got.
A few months ago, Belichick had to make a difficult decision about his quarterbacks.
Is Tom Brady going to recover sufficiently from his devastating injury? Should the team hold on to Matt Cassel following his heroic efforts in relief last season?
Belichick couldn't afford to keep them both, so he had to roll the dice and do what he felt was for the good of the team.
Trading Cassel was no mystery move, but the Patriots threw in linebacker Mike Vrabel, a valuable team leader and fan favorite. It's a crap shoot, no doubt, and we won't see the outcome of it immediately. One thing is certain: Matt Cassel at 100 percent will never be Tom Brady.
Tom Brady may or may not be the man we have seen in the past, but this is the chance Belichick had to take.
And what about Vrabel? Is he irreplaceable? Time will tell, but I doubt it.
Now Belichick is at it again. Last week he picked up two players from New England's newest farm club, the Oakland Raiders, and his judgment is again being called into question.
Quarterback Andrew Walter's stats in Oakland have not exactly been the stuff of legend. The fact is that he probably qualifies for a diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder because of the nonsensical way he was used there.
But he's a big guy with a good arm, and he's smart. Besides, Moss practiced with him in Oakland, and he likes him.
Works for me.
Derrick Burgess has the stat sheet of a defensive player in a downward spiral of injuries and underachievement. Why bring him on board?
Maybe for the hard work and good attitude he has already shown in camp.
Ask yourself: When is the last time either one of these guys played in a winning program?
They are both perfect Bill Belichick projects. This is what he does best. He understands the inside of a player's head and knows how to work with it in order to get the results he wants, the player wants, we as fans want.
He takes players who have been labelled as losers and turns them into winners.
He uses their years of experience to help him bring along young players, and winds up with one of the most balanced teams in the NFL.
Thursday night, the Patriots will begin their preseason against the Philadelphia Eagles, and Belichick will start to see the results of some of his decisions.
And soon he will be making more decisions, and some of them are going to leave people scratching their heads.
I don't ask questions anymore. I just say: IN BILL WE TRUST.
This article and others by TR also can be seen at: Boston Sports Then and Now.
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