FOXBORO -- When looking for intangible advantages the Patriots may have over the Atlanta Falcons, experience in getting ready for the game has to be way up there.
At his lone press conference before the team departs for Houston, Bill Belichick made it apparent that -- as expected -- he’s got a handle on things.
Asked how much of the team’s game plan for Super Bowl 51 will be ready to go, Belichick said, “It’s somewhere between 50 and 100 [percent]. We’ll certainly be more than halfway there but there will be some things that will be -- particularly some situations -- that we’ll be covering in Houston. How exactly that will break up, we’ll see how that goes.”
Belichick’s father was a coach, his mother a Spanish and French teacher. Their son understands the whole class better have the material down before you move on to the next topic.
“I don’t think we need to go to something until we have what we’re doing right, just to be moving,” said Belichick. “We’ll just see how these days go, to see how far we get, but we won’t get all the way. Hopefully, we’ll have a good chunk of it in and feel confident in what we’re doing. We can keep that part of it tuned up and then go into some new areas down there.
“Whatever point you get to, you get to,” he added later. “Where you never want to be in game-planning is you work on something but you don’t really have it. You worked on it, you covered it but you don’t really have it. Might as well start all over again and go back to square one. The best thing to do is wherever we are, we’re actually there, legitimately, on preparation. Legitimately. Not like we just checked off a box. It will be important for us this week to get the things done we’re trying to get done. If we don’t get all the way through what we thought we might get through, that’s not nearly as big a problem as what we do cover we actually get right.”
How has Belichick’s preparation plan evolved over time? It’s team-specific, he said.
“We’ve done it a couple different ways,” Belichick explained. “We’ve traveled on different days. Now it’s a little different schedule than what it was. We’ve had one-week Super Bowls. I think each week’s a little bit different and each team’s a little bit different. What’s right for this team may or may not have been right for some other team. It’s not like a set grid that we just match up to. We try to do what’s best for the team we’re playing, what areas we need to emphasize in this game more than another game like this.”
The Falcons will be trying to fit it all together with a hope and assumption that they’ve got it down. Dan Quinn, who coached in back-to-back Super Bowls as the Seahawks defensive coordinator in 2013 and 2014, will be in his first foray as head coach. As organized and unflappable as he is, even Atlanta knows that the checkmark goes to the Patriots in terms of being prepared to prepare.