Patriots Preparing for Another Super Run

Patriots Preparing for Another Super Run

JIM WORKMAN


New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is known as a master of preparation. While most teams practice under a heavy veil of secrecy, “The Hoody” saw the benefit of taking his squad to the Houston Texans’ training camp facility at The Greenbrier for a couple of days of face-to-face scrimmaging in August.

Hey, who’s going to argue with a man who has five Super Bowl victories on his resume?

It helped that several Texans coaches had once been a huge part of his past successful Patriots teams.

“In the end, you want to work with somebody that you want to work with,” Belichick said during the press conference in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, which he described as “a great facility and a great spot.” 

“I think that’s the most important thing – the relationship with the team, with the organization. We feel like we have a good one with the Texans and with Coach (Bill) O'Brien and his staff, so that’s why we did it.”

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady took a moment to chat during a recent practice session at the Greenbrier. Photo by Jim Workman FireWire

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady took a moment to chat during a recent practice session at the Greenbrier. Photo by Jim Workman FireWire

Belichick said he met with Texans head coach Bill O’Brien the night before the practices at the resort and went over goals they’d each like to achieve. 

O’Brien previously served as an assistant coach under Belichick, as did Texans assistant head coach Romeo Crennel.

The Belichick tree expands even further on the Texans sideline: former Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel serves as the Houston defensive coordinator and former New England wide receiver Wes Welker serves as offensive and special teams assistant coach.

The familiarity and trust Belichick has with his longtime associates led him to seek out the Texans as practice partners, he said.

“Bill (O’Brien) has done a great job,” said Belichick. “He won the division the past two years, had a playoff win last year. The program has gotten stronger every year. I’m sure they’re continuing to head up. We have a lot of respect for Bill and his coaching staff, this football team, the program he runs – a tremendous amount of respect. 

“Bill's a hard-working guy, very detailed, smart, tough – mentally tough,” Belichick continued. “He has great leadership qualities. Bill is a great leader, a great communicator and will just grind it out. He'll outwork anybody.”

Vrabel’s versatility as a Patriots player certainly won Belichick over. Whether he lined up as an outside linebacker or a middle linebacker, Vrabel was once a star of one of the NFL’s best defensive units. He even switched over to the offensive side on occasion, as Vrabel famously caught a TD passes in two Super Bowls.

“Mike was a tremendous player,” Belichick said. “He was a very smart player, astute, played all the positions – special teams, defense, used him on offense. He really works at the game. He’s a grinder, tough, hard-nosed, good football coach, good football player, probably an underrated player, a great player. 

“He loved football, practiced and played hard, was a pleasure to coach, a great football mind,” Belichick added.

Belichick said Welker also fits the mold of a hard nosed-type player, one he expects to do well in the coaching profession.

“They loved the game, were grinders, that had that coaching mentality, which was, be early, stay late, put in a lot of extra time, do your dirty work and they’ve all started at the bottom and worked their way up,” Belichick stated.

The Hoody described Crennel as a “great friend.”

“We go all the way back to about 35 years with Romeo, several different organizations, said Belichick. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for Romeo as a person, a coach, a leader. He's really a great friend, a great coach. He did a lot for my coaching career. I'm glad I had the opportunity to coach with him as much as I did. He helped me a lot."

The joint practice sessions culminated with a preseason game at Houston. Although the Patriots lost to the Texans 27-23, one would have to think that Belichick and company had their eyes focused on Week 3 of the NFL regular season. That’s when the Texans and Patriots meet again for real on Sept 24.

And the mastermind will know his opponent – one of the teams that also is expected to make a run at an AFC championship- just a little bit better.

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