Belichick: Couldn't be prouder of the football team
This morning Dan Shaughnessy wrote in the Boston Globe that this season has been Bill Belichick's 'finest coaching job' since joining the Patriots. More impressive than any of the Super Bowl championship years, the undefeated regular season and even the 11-5 regular season without Tom Brady. Though Belichick would never look at any season in comparison to another, he did acknowledge that he is proud of the way this season's team has responded to the amount of adversity/distractions that they have faced:
"I couldn't be prouder of the football team," said Bill Belichick, who won his 11th AFC East title since 2001. "These guys, they earned it today."
The Patriots have dealt with injuries to arguably their three best players besides Tom Brady: Rob Gronkowski, Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo. Their leading receiver is aquarterback who was drafted in the 7th round in Julian Edelman and the defense is filled with plenty of backups. Tom Brady has not put up the ridiculous stats that we have become accustomed to, but he has come through when the team needed him. Shane Vereen and LeGarrette Blount have picked up a majority of the haul when it comes to rushing the ball as Stevan Ridley has struggled. Devin McCourty looks to be asserting himself as one of the premier safeties in the league after a difficult transition from cornerback.
Bill Belichick's motto when it comes to injuries, poor play and playter transactions has always been of the 'next-man-up' nature, but nobody could have foreseen these players (who many people may have never heard of) to step in and play so well. Then there are guys like Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich who have simply been on another level. It seems like all the players are stepping up even when facing the most difficult situations and I haven't even acknowledged the amount of comeback victories that the Pats have had. Belichick is known for preaching 'do your job' and so far, no matter who is playing whatever position, they have. There is plenty to be proud of with this team.