BLOOMINGTON, Minnesota -- Bill Belichick has spent his entire adult life around professional football, but he pointed to a handful of years spent in Cleveland as having a significant impact on his team-building philosophy.
While Belichick has the opportunity to join George Halas and Curly Lambeau as the only two coaches to win six championships, his job description involves more than coaching the Patriots. Since his arrival in 2000, he's also been the final decision-maker on personnel moves. His time with the Browns, from 1991-1995, he says, allowed him to develop the system that's now served him well in New England.
"I'd say a lot of that was really developed in Cleveland with Mike Lombardi," Belichick said Thursday. "We put the scouting department together there when Ernie [Adams] left, [along with] Dom Anile, who was our director of college scouting.
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"But Mike and I, with the help of a great scouting staff like Jim Schwartz, were there and coaches like coach [Nick] Saban, coach [Scott] O'Brien because our coaches had a lot of influence in the scouting system. We put that together over the course of that time in Cleveland.
"Not speaking for Nick, but I know in talking to Nick, I know that a lot of the principles that we developed there he's used and certainly modified, and we've done that as well. Scouting systems, scouting grades, grading players and certain characteristics and how to put those characteristics . . . how to grade, how to note them, how to put some kind of a value on them and organize it, that was developed, all of it was developed for me in Cleveland, Mike and the people on his staff.
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"With the Giants, we had a system that was set up that there was some relevance to, but what we did in Cleveland was different than that. Certainly what we do now is a lot different from what the Giants . . . I learned a lot from being with the Giants for 12 years and the way they approached evaluation of players, but in Cleveland we kind of took things from a lot of different angles.
"Mike's personnel angle. Nick had a lot of input defensively. I had a lot of input in the whole process. Scott on special teams, Ernie on offense. Ernie was pretty involved with the draft when he was with the Patriots [from 1975-1978]. So we took a lot of those grading principles and put them all together and rewrote the scouting book the grading book in Cleveland, and then we did it again when we came to New England."
Here are some other tidbits from Patriots media availability on Thursday . . .
Belichick on his scouting report of Bill Belichick the Wesleyan University football player: "Got a long way to go, buddy. Maybe you outta try coaching. Quite a few people told me that, actually. That's probably good advice. I got that from a couple of coaches. Football and lacrosse. 'Got a better career in coaching than you'll have in playing.' "
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Devin McCourty on cracking the code to get Belichick to sing your praises: "The key is to make sure you don't get fired each day you come to work. I think that mentality has served me well. Just trying to do my job, and help the younger guys as I've grown older on the team."
Tom Brady on encouraging his teammates on the sidelines, particularly when they're behind: "Lotta times I try to tell our team, 'Whatever it takes. Whatever it takes. Don't ever let up. Don't ever let your mind drift to a place where you lose a certain level of belief.' I believe, until the clock runs out, it's never over. I've been in a lot of those situations in my career, and anything can happen. We've been down 11 with two minutes left. We've been down obviously last year in this game by a big margin. You don't want to be in those positions, but if you are, you play until the end."