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Beating the Odds

What Exactly Do the Patriots Do?

In the days leading up to today’s game in London, Tampa Bay Coach Raheem Morris paid tribute to the New England Patriots, calling them a “model” team.

Morris cited “their head coach, their quarterback, their receiving corps, their defense. Everything about the New England Patriots is a great model to follow.”

All that is fine, but what exactly does that mean for any club — like Morris’ winless Buccaneers — that wants to copy the New England model?

First there is the issue of copying anything. Olympic gymnastics guru Bela Karolyi says the best way to finish second is to imitate.

Karolyi’s statement gains power if you add “to imitate without understanding.”

In other words, what do the Patriots do that can be measured in any way? What specific ideas do they use in drafting, player development, practice planning, etc.?

It doesn’t take a genius to look at Patriots’ Coach Bill Belichick and know that he is at the top of his field. He is the only NFL coach to win three Super Bowls in a four-year span. But it may take a genius to look carefully at what Belichick does, and put it into some format that others could copy.

For an interesting book, try “The First Season,” the story of how Vince Lombardi took the Green Bay Packers — then the worst team in the National Football League — and began turning them into winners.

Many coaches have tried — most of them without success — to be the next Lombardi.

Maybe there is no such thing as the next Lombardi. But winners can follow his advice, namely, that football is basically blocking and tackling. No matter what your sport, if you work on the essentials, you are using at least part of the formula.


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