Last year around this time, the New England Patriots were returning to the Super Bowl, trying to claim that Lombardi Trophy once again. They got down in a 28-3 hole to the Atlanta Falcons before pulling off an incredible comeback, wining the Super Bowl in overtime 34-28 in front of a huge crowd in Houston. Almost immediately after the win, Bill Belichick probably started getting ready for next season and in doing so, there were probably many that started looking at their team’s chances to win the Super Bowl next year. The minute those teams that thought they had hope saw the odds and saw the Patriots mentioned again, some of that hope disappeared.
With the Patriots, it’s almost like Groundhog Day, seeing themselves in the running for the Lombardi Trophy year after year. The combination of Belichick and Tom Brady have been giving the NFL nightmares and frustrations because they keep winning at such a high rate. While people are frustrated watching them win, the Patriots are used to being at the top and having that bullseye on their backs. The pressure to make it to the top hits them each and every year and each time they continue coming out on top.
This year, the Patriots had an interesting start but began to pick up steam. That momentum has them right on the doorstep of fulfilling expectations once again. With this big moment again within reach, the Patriots have a lot of pressure on their shoulders. Of course there are the usual characters like the aforementioned Brady and Belichick. Couple that with the fact that they could lose their defensive and offensive coordinators and the pressure is on to get this done and get this done right now. The main thing that Belichick has been so good about during their run is keeping the pulse of his team. Sure, he does have a pretty bland approach when speaking to media, but it has been said that he can show some emotion when it comes to his team. That pulse of his team allows Belichick to give the team what they need at the right moment and time.
Along with that pulse, there is also the adjustments. Teams eventually figure out what the Patriots are doing and in some aspects, the Patriots get punished. The Patriots may get taken advantage of for a little while but they always make those adjustments, whether it be changing a player or a technique, or just the overall look of something that was giving them an issue. Belichick’s unwavering ability to recognize issues and correct them makes things even easier for the Patriots to be the team they are, consistently at the top of the AFC and a favorite to get to the Super Bowl. For them to win another one, there surely will be some adjustments made. And just like past times, the Patriots can make those adjustments happen and happen fast. This ability has helped them meet expectations and could also help them meet them again in Minneapolis.
Belichick is a football savant and a football lifer. He has probably forgotten more football than many have ever known. The expectations that have been out there are something that probably weighs on his mind, but instead of giving us the emotion of the moment we want to see, he is the picture of calmness and his team responds accordingly. Belichick is the key to the calm and the changes that keep them reaching expectations and if he is able to do so again, then they will have done what everyone expected them to do. People can hate it or love it when it comes to the Patriots, but what they have done over the years is be the standard bearer and the most consistent team at the top of the AFC and Belichick is the architect of it all.
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