FOXBORO -- Julian Edelman has played for Bill Belichick for 10 seasons now. He's halfway through his 11th with the future Hall of Fame head coach. He's the fourth longest-tenured player on the Patriots roster. Yet even he's not sure what makes Belichick tick.
After Belichick recorded win No. 300 of his career — 263 of those for the Patriots, and 114 with Edelman — one of the most productive receivers in team history was stumped when he was asked what keeps the boss going.
"I don't know what keeps him motivated," Edelman said. "That's one of the things that's the most extraordinary thing about him. He doesn't ever let complacency kick in. It doesn't matter what time of the year it is. That's something that I really look up to him [for], and I try to pull from him. My one word is 'machine.' Machine. Because he's a machine. He just does all the work all the time. He never lets up. He never cuts a corner. That's why he's him."
Belichick came full circle with his latest landmark victory. His first came as head coach of the Browns against the Patriots, in Foxboro. His tenure there ended with the team moving to Baltimore and him losing his post. After a few years as an assistant (including one year with the Patriots in 1996) and an extraordinarily brief tenure as HC of the NYJ, Belichick made it back to the Patriots and slowly built up his reputation as one of the greatest minds to ever walk an NFL sideline.
🏈 PATRIOTS 27, BROWNS 13
- Belichick becomes third coach to 300 career wins
- Best and Worst: Defense dominates early to spark Pats
Perhaps that experience in Cleveland built in him an unwavering drive. Perhaps that was established much earlier in his life, as he saw coaches come and go and he worked his way up the career ladder. Or even much earlier than that, as he grew up around a disciplined and hard-driving Navy program as a kid in Annapolis.
Whatever it is, it's rubbed off on his players — many of whom share the same chip-on-their-shoulder mentality, like Edelman or Tom Brady.
When Edelman was told that Belichick recently praised his veteran receiver's work ethic, and that he respected Edelman's drive to the point that it pushes him to continue to work, Edelman sounded like he couldn't believe it.
"That makes me wanna go work even harder now," Edelman said with a smile. "I can't let up or he'll be eating his words. He's a very motivating guy.
"I joke around with all the little stories here and there about him and how he is. But he's got a special way of making guys want to go out and work to their fullest for him. He's got that mindset. I don't know what it is. He could he only talk to you once, twice a week and those one or two times — it makes your day. I don't know if it's strategic. But I explain to everyone: Football coaches are usually ex-football players. He's like a general, or someone that should be a governor, or leading some sort of military operation that's a football coach. It's literally, that's how I feel. That's how I explain it to people."
Belichick's reaction to his 300th victory won't do anything to take away from those comparisons. He hardly let it impact his postgame routine. He hugged his son and assistant Steve Belichick after the clock hit zeros. He hugged assistant Jerod Mayo. He found Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens and shook his hand. He found Tom Brady for an attaboy. Then he headed into the locker room.
🏈 PATRIOTS 27, BROWNS 13
- White's long scamper sparks Pats offense to life
- Kraft hands game ball to Belichick, trolls Jets
- Why Freddie Kitchens made his strange 4th down decision
Later at the podium, Belichick said, "It's a great privilege to coach this team and to coach the guys that I've coached throughout my career. Fortunately, I didn't play in any of those games. That's a good thing for us, but I've had a lot of good players, a lot of great players and they're the ones that win the games. I've had a lot of great assistant coaches on my staff through the wins at Cleveland and certainly here. I was a part of those but, honestly, players win games in this league and I've been fortunate that I've coached a lot of great ones."
He'll be right back on those players soon. They allowed over seven yards per carry to the Browns on Sunday. They went 2-for-6 in the red zone and 7-for-18 on third and fourth down. They're 8-0 and winning easily on an almost weekly basis.
But that won't stop Belichick from doing what he does. His players know that. And the ones who've been around long enough, like Edelman, appreciate that approach.
"It's not easy winning games in this league -- 8-0, that's a huge feat," Edelman said. "But when you're constantly trying to improve your unit, your team, your play . . . and you know you're not where you want to be or where you think you could be, your mind gets tricked. You constantly want to keep chasing that standard, that goal that you have of clicking on all cylinders.
"That's what were going to try to continue do in practice. It's going to start this week against Baltimore, a very tough team, and we're going to have a great week of practice."
Spoke like the coach from whom he's taken his cues for the last decade.
Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.