In January, Bill Belichick becomes a softy - Metro US

In January, Bill Belichick becomes a softy

The rare Bill Belichick smile is most likely to be seen in January.
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Bill Belichick is the type of coach that works his team harder after a win than a loss. There are no “days off” under a Belichick-led team and praise is extremely hard to come by. In fact, most Patriots players can remember the exact moment when Belichick first told them that they did a “good job.”

“Last year against Oakland,” Matthew Slater told the Wall Street Journal earlier this year. “He said, ‘Good job, Slate.’ You’re surprised it, but he’s not going to be drooling over you.”

Rob Ninkovich is another Patriots player who remembers the exact setting when he finally felt the hooded love.

“Jacksonville, 2009,” Ninkovich told WSJ. “I made a play, the next day he said ‘that’s a good job.’ It was a great feeling.”

Daddy Belichick has proven to be a relative softy this time of year. In January, he seems to realize that he’s been giving his players mostly negative feedback for six months and it might be time for some positive reinforcement.

“They’re a physically and mentally tough team that works hard, that trains hard, that prepares hard, and have met every challenge that I’ve put in front of them,” Belichick said during the press conference of his life a year ago – the infamous Mona Lisa Vito speech that came in the most heated time period of the Deflategate scandal. “And I know that because I work them every day. This team was the best team of the AFC during the regular season. We won two games in the playoffs against two good football teams. Best team in the postseason. And that’s what this team is. I know that because I’ve been with them every day and I am proud of this team.”

Belichick’s tone following the win over the Chiefs this past Saturday was nearly as glowing. It truly is a rare occasion when BB goes into proud papa mode.

“Those guys, we demand a lot out of them,” Belichick said. “This is a hard place to play. It’s from the first day of spring OTAs all the way through training camp all the way through meetings. We’re over 100 practices now this year. That doesn’t count the walkthroughs and the meetings and everything else. Those are just the actual practice practices. You know it’s definitely a grind, but they come in here, like this group, and I’ve said this the last couple of years, too, these guys come in here every day, their pencils are sharpened, they’re sitting right there in those seats, they’re ready to go, they’re attentive, they want to learn, they want to know how to get better, they want to compete and they just do that on a daily basis. That’s been week after week and year after year. It’s really a great credit to those guys. We have some great competitors on our team – obviously [Tom] Brady and [Julian] Edelman and [Rob] Gronkowski and [Sebastian] Vollmer and [Patrick] Chung and [Devin] McCourty, [Dont’a] Hightower, [Jamie] Collins, Chandler [Jones], those guys on the other side of the ball, too, Stephen Gostkowski. Those guys, you just can’t say enough about them. [Rob] Ninkovich, I mean you just go right down the line. The credit goes to them. It’s a tough league. It’s tough to go out and play good every week, especially when you’ve got a target. Everybody is trying to knock us off, as they should be, and we’ve just got to stand up and compete every week. The players do a great job here, they really do. I’m really fortunate to have that group. And the assistant coaches, you can’t say enough great things. I thought Josh [McDaniels] and the offensive staff did a tremendous job this week game planning and play calling. Josh was magnificent. I thought he really had everything dialed in. Pretty much everything he called it came out the way we thought it would. As we were breaking the huddle, we could already see we had what we wanted and Tom and the offense executed it perfectly. The staff did a really good job, as they usually do. Look, these guys work hard here. The coaches work hard, the players work hard, and it’s very gratifying to see those kinds of results pay off for all the hard work. It’s what we do, it’s what we’re here for is to win.”

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