Boston coaches explain what makes Bill Belichick, Patriots successful

Boston coaches explain what makes Bill Belichick, Patriots successful

Bill Belichick has enjoyed unprecedented success as head coach of the New England Patriots for the last two decades, leading his team to six Super Bowl titles in nine appearances over that span.

It's the kind of success Belichick's fellow Boston coaches can only dream of accomplishing. Red Sox manager Alex Cora, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens, and Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy can't help but marvel at the 67-year-old's ability to get his teams to buy in each and every season.

The trio appeared on "Dale & Keefe" as part of the WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon on Wednesday to discuss what makes Belichick and the Patriots so great.

Stevens led off by talking about Belichick's squad seemingly always being on the same page.

“The thing that stands out when you go over and watch the Patriots do workouts and sit in meetings and sit in film is they are on one page. They are in one direction. His message, although has thousands of complexities within each scheme defensively and offensively, his message is concise. It’s ultimately not only well delivered, but well received. You can tell that thing is a juggernaut. That is a train moving in one direction. They know what they need to do to be successful. I don’t think it’s brain surgery the way that I have seen it from up and close and afar is they don’t beat themselves. There are a lot of things in a football game that ultimately lead to that and they are the best at them.”

Cassidy noted the culture that has been established in Foxboro since the day Belichick took over as Patriots head coach.

“He has a 53 minimum players and then the practice squad and we’re dealing with 12-22, so a little bit easier for us to probably work our way around the room and get our message individually 1-on-1. The Patriots have been the best at establishing culture — this is the way we’re doing it. We’re going to get it right and if you’re not on board that is fine, we’ll get someone else. It’s worked for them very well.

"Credit to Bill and credit to ownership. It starts at the top and the players have bought into that direction. We have it with (Patrice) Bergeron and (Zdeno) Chara. We’re very lucky. I am one of the most fortunate guys in the National Hockey League to coach true pros like that. Coming in at a young age I appreciate that. I am sure Brad has his guys that he leans on and Alex the same. Everyone is blessed or not of establishing that culture and have guys that will follow it. He’s done a great job — him and Tom (Brady) obviously, the two faces of the franchise. It has been terrific."

Cora raved about the Patriots' discipline and noted that on the rare occasion they do lose, it usually isn't due to silly mistakes.

“For me it is the preparation and the way they go about it on Sundays. It’s just like, ‘We’re going to play this way and if you beat us, you beat us. We didn’t beat ourselves.’ You can go back to yesterday -- man on second no outs and we had a mistake running the bases. That’s on us. We were undisciplined on that play and probably cost us the game. With them, I have been watching this team for 5-6 years, it’s like, 'Wow' at how precise they are. It’s almost perfect. When they lose a game it’s not because they were sloppy or undisciplined, it’s just the other team that Sunday was just better than (them).”

Cora, Stevens, and Cassidy have done a fine job with their respective teams, but there's no doubt Belichick has set the standard high for them and everyone else who coaches one of Boston's storied franchises.

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Blakely: Smart should be captain of the Celtics

Blakely: Smart should be captain of the Celtics

BOSTON -- It’s not that hard to find a player or two on the Celtics’ roster that’s universally viewed as being better than Marcus Smart. 

But when it comes to leadership, it's not even close. 

Smart is indeed the smart choice when it comes to looking for leadership on this Celtics team. 

And that leadership needs to be more than just talked about and embraced by his teammates. 

It needs to become official; and by official, I mean Smart being named a team captain. 

Arguably the most storied franchise in NBA history, the Celtics have not had a team captain since Rajon Rondo in 2014 - the longest stretch without a captain in franchise history.  

Only 18 players in franchise history have been bestowed with the title.

There are few if any greater individual honors around these parts than to be named a team captain of the Celtics.

And the irony of that is the reason Smart deserves such an amazing individual honor is because of what he means to the team. 

Coach Brad Stevens has opted to go with a captain-less team, rationalizing it as wanting all the players to feel as though they have a voice in the direction of the team. 

While the premise is a good one and does make sense, naming a captain seems a logical next step for a franchise coming off a season when among the most talked-about issues was the team’s lack of leadership. 

And now it’s a lot easier to go with Smart as the captain with both Al Horford and Kyrie Irving off to Philly and Brooklyn.

Throw in the fact that the Smart, 25, is the longest-tenured Celtic and will be going into the second year of the four-year, $52 million deal, and all signs point towards Smart being named a captain sooner rather than later. 

Captain or not, Smart will find a way to put his imprint on games defensively while also making timely shots and setting up teammates with a much-improved game as a playmaker. 

But what will set Smart apart from his teammates this season is what happens inside the locker room or off the floor when the lights, cameras and action of the NBA are nowhere to be found. 

Smart will be the first to tell you he is a flawed player and will make mistakes at both ends of the floor this season. 

Still, what often separates Smart from others, are the lessons learned from those miscues and how he uses them to make himself and those around him, better players. 

That’s leadership, the kind that you expect from your captain, which is a title Marcus Smart deserves to call his own this season. 

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Brad Stevens: Celtics will alter frontcourt approach after Al Horford's departure

Brad Stevens: Celtics will alter frontcourt approach after Al Horford's departure

LAS VEGAS — Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens said he’s intrigued by the unique skill sets each of the big men on this year's roster brings, but admitted the departure of Al Horford will force the Celtics to alter their typical approach this season.

In the aftermath of Horford’s departure to Philadelphia, the Celtics signed Enes Kanter, re-signed Daniel Theis, and imported French big man Daniel Poirier. Boston also drafted Grant Williams and is hoping that second-year big man Robert Williams is ready for an increased role. Summer league standout Tacko Fall desires to muscle his 7-foot-7 frame into the Celtics’ final available roster spot at camp.

“That center position for us is going to be — each of those guys brings a unique versatility to us. And we’re going to lean on all of them,” Stevens told NBC Sports Boston at Team USA training camp this week. Listen to the full interview on this week’s Celtics Talk Podcast.

"So that will be a fun group because it’s not like maybe we’ve had in the past where you have a guy like Horford, who you play through at the 3-point line so much. And you’ve got to play through other guys in different ways.”

Kanter can be an offensive force with a focus on cleaning up the glass, but has to show he can be a consistent defensive presence. Theis is a floor-stretching big but has to get more stout when tasked with jousting with behemoths like Joel Embiid. Robert Williams is a rim runner with freakish athletic talents but he can’t just lean on his shot-blocking abilities on the defensive end. Grant Williams is undersized, but has a high basketball IQ and could give you a bit of what you lost in Horford’s departure, at least in terms of a facilitator in the high post.

Then there’s 7-foot Poirier. He’s an international man of mystery at this point but Stevens offered a hands-on scouting report.

"I worked out Vincent a few times when he was here in his travels, just upon signing the contract and, as we were recruiting him to come, spent some time with him,” said Stevens. "Good athlete, plays way above the rim on his rolls.”

A couple other highlights from Stevens’ chat:

* Where art thou Romeo?: Stevens offered an update on rookie Romeo Langford, Boston’s top pick in June’s draft who sat out summer league while rehabbing from thumb surgery. "He’s doing great. I don’t know if he’s 110 percent cleared to play. Obviously they’re just doing individuals and small groups, that’s all we’re allowed to do at this time of the year. As far as being cleared to play 5-on-5, I have no idea if he’s there yet or not. But he looks like he’s close if he’s not.”

* Chemistry lesson?: Much of the hype with four Celtics at Team USA at training camp has centered on Boston’s ability to generate a bit of chemistry before they even huddle for training camp. "I think there is a little bit of that. But we have 11 other guys on our team,” said Stevens. "We’ll see how that all shakes itself out once our team comes together but more so just for these guys to be playing. This is — all over the world, people are preparing for next year’s NBA season and I can’t imagine a better environment than having to compete and play with these guys here.”

* Catching his breath: Stevens sounds energized about the upcoming season but is relishing the quieter months. "I’ve been back in Boston, right after the summer league, came right back and I had a blast. The guys that are there, it’s not like the season where you’re working seven days a week and 80 hours a week. Now, you get a chance to take a deep breath, kinda get your vision for next year. This is fun. This is a fun way to kick off August. And [the Stevens family will] get away for a week but every day’s a vacation for our guys. And there’s nothing better for [Stevens’ son, Brady] than coming to these [Team USA practices].”

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