Belichick on player enjoyment: ‘What we feel is important to us is to win’

Belichick on player enjoyment: ‘What we feel is important to us is to win’

FOXBORO - It's been a pile-on-the-Patriots kind of week. 

First, it was Cassius Marsh, the defensive end who had a cup of coffee with the team last year. Now a member of the 49ers, Marsh made it known (more than once) that he didn't have much fun in his time in New England. 

Then it was Eagles offensive lineman Brandon Brooks, formerly of the Texans, who criticized the Patriots way of doing things as he understood it as a player under former Pats assistant Bill O'Brien in Houston. 

The message from both was, essentially, it's miserable playing in that kind of program.

It's a sentiment that isn't exactly new. About a year ago Dont'a Hightower, a Patriots captain, described playing under Belichick (and, for what it's worth, Nick Saban at Alabama) as ”hell." 

Here's his quote in full.

“I’m very lucky and blessed. It’s worth it, but it’s been hell," he said. "And I’d be lying I said anything different. Nick and Bill were obviously close friends when they coached together in Cleveland. It doesn’t surprise me how much success they have whenever you look at how much they live, breathe and die football. They’re literally the exact same.”

It's worth it because of the winning. But the winning is a product, at least in part, of the "hellish" experience.

Before Thursday's OTA practice at Gillette Stadium, I asked Belichick if it's important to him to find ways for players to feel like they're enjoying themselves as they go through the rigors of the program. 

His reply was predictable.

"What we feel is important to us is to win," he said. "So, that's really what we're trying to do."

Belichick will, however, do some things that players like. They'll see a movie in training camp. They'll give an offensive lineman a chance to catch a punt to get the team out of doing running. They'll have special guests visit the facilities, as they did on Wednesday when Kobe Bryant showed up. 

"I have a ton of respect for Kobe," Belichick said. "Obviously a great, great player. Had a great career. Spent the day with him yesterday. He had a lot of great observations and things we can learn from. He's a tremendous guy."

Sure it's tough. And relative to how other programs are run, Belichick's style may seem brutal. But when the results are good, that's all the enjoyment some players need. 

As Jerod Mayo said on Quick Slants earlier this week: "Winning is fun."


Tom Brady's stay-at-home message contains healthy living tips amid pandemic

Tom Brady's stay-at-home message contains healthy living tips amid pandemic

Tom Brady is the latest athlete to record a stay at home message amid the coronavirus pandemic.

But his is a little different than the other ones you've already seen.

While most have spent time focusing on providing encouraging words to those dealing with the struggles of social distancing, Brady focused more on how to stay healthy amid the pandemic. Here's a look at his full message courtesy of the NFL's Twitter account.

This was a nice idea by Brady to give some tips to help people adjust to these unfamiliar living conditions. It also lines up pretty well with his health and lifestyle brand, TB12, so it's no surprise to see him preach the benefits of staying hydrated, being active, and eating nutrient-rich vegetables.

Of course, Brady did also have some words of encouragement for his audience and signed off by saying "I know we’re going to get through this together." So, that was a great gesture as well.

Brady will surely be focused on following these tips as he prepares for his first season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Brady spent the first 20 seasons of his career with the New England Patriots before signing with the Bucs this offseason.

NFL Odds: Here are the favorites to start at QB in Week 1 for the Patriots

NFL Odds: Here are the favorites to start at QB in Week 1 for the Patriots

The New England Patriots are facing uncertainty at quarterback for the first time in two decades. Tom Brady departed this offseason to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Patriots will need a new starting quarterback as a result.

That said, a favorite appears to be emerging to take over the job.

According to FanDuel Sportsbook, Jarrett Stidham is currently heavily favored to be the Patriots starter at least to kick-off 2020. Here's a look at the odds for each potential candidate at the position courtesy of FanDuel.

This lines up pretty well with what has come out of Patriots camp since Brady's departure. They seem to believe that Stidham is their future at quarterback, so why wouldn't they give him a shot to start? While Brian Hoyer isn't too far behind Stidham (+250), he's likely only that high because he has the most starting experience of the three passers currently on the Patriots depth chart.

The more interesting parts of these odds are the ones relating to veterans and rookies not currently on the team. Cam Newton (+900) leads the pack among the veteran options and is one of two non-Patriot quarterbacks ahead of presumed third-stringer Cody Kessler. The other is Andy Dalton (+1000).

While Newton is available, the Patriots don't have much in the way of cap space. So, it seems unlikely that they would sign him unless they have minimal confidence in the quarterback options on their roster or if one of their options suffers an injury down the road.

As for the rookies, Jacob Eason (+1900) actually leads the pack by a fair bit. He's still a longshot, but his odds are much better than the triage of other rookie passers listed; Justin Herbert, Jake From, and Jordan Love come in at +2600.

Listen and subscribe to Phil Perry's Next Pats Podcast here: 

Is this a sign that the Patriots like Eason? They're notoriously tight-lipped about the draft process, so it's hard to say. But if Eason continues to considerably lead the rookie pack as the draft draws nearer, that should be a good indication that the Pats have their eye on him.

Either way, Stidham is rightfully the favorite at this point and the Patriots seem content to give him a season to prove himself. But once the 2020 NFL Draft comes and goes, the picture at quarterback will be a bit clearer.