For fans in New England, Sunday night was a rare treat as NFL Films allowed an incredible opportunity to get a look behind the curtain at the greatest comeback in Super Bowl History.
The hour-long special, “Do Your Job 2”, which aired nationally on NBC, was even better than expected. It provided plenty of insight into how the team overcame that seemingly-impossible 25-point deficit against Atlanta, showing just how much planning and preparation had gone into the game. When you look at all the situations, all the film breakdown, there were a variety of factors that were all accounted for and many of those ultimately played a critical role in their historic comeback.
What was even more fitting was the fact the entire country was subjected to it. Instead of running on NFL Network, it ran on every local NBC affiliate, hopefully providing some insight to opposing fans of exactly why this team has managed the incredible run they’ve been on.
Considering the season started with Tom Brady sidelined thanks to DeflateGate, how it ended was definitely poetic. And for fans who followed last year’s entire run, it was a terrific look into why they continue to be the bar opposing teams are still trying to reach, and yet another reminder of just how lucky we are to be a part of what will someday likely go down as the greatest era in franchise history.
That being said, here are a few thoughts on the special (spoiler alert – don’t proceed if you haven’t seen it yet).
1) Ernie Adams Remains a Secret Weapon – Sunday night featured a couple of spotlights on Ernie Adams, who remains one of the most important components of Belichick’s coaching staff. The thing that was interesting about Adams is just how involved he is in the game planning and in-game adjustments, as well as his pregame evaluations. One of the moments that stood out included Adams spending some time down at field level watching Atlanta go through warm ups, with Adams noticing some tendencies that the club used during the game. Another included the fact that Adams seems to always be thinking ahead, with most suggestions from Adams up in the booth being accepted without question by Belichick. It’s a big reminder of how important he is and how much trust their are between them, even though you almost never hear his name.
2) Nick Caserio May Be the Most Versatile GM In Football – It’s not very often you see an NFL general manager in the coaching box during a game or taking snaps in practice, but Caserio’s involvement all the way around is certainly a little larger than expected. Belichick talked about how unique Caserio’s role is and the fact he’s such a big part of practice as well as up in the booth on game day is clearly a big reason why he has such an amazing understanding of how the team operates. When you’re that immersed, it certainly makes it easier to understand the personnel needs and that obviously explains why he’s seemed so dialed in given some of the /moves he’s made in recent years.
3) The Foresight of Belichick is Incredible – Everyone obviously knows what a terrific coach Belichick is, but hearing about the foresight he had when it came to preparing additional two-point plays is pretty remarkable. Clearly losing previous postseason games hasn’t sat well with Belichick, with one of the things pointed out in the special being how the veteran coach went into the match-up expecting it to be a high-scoring affair between the two clubs. That being said, another thing he reflected on was how the team had lost the year before on a 2-point play in Denver that cost them the game. As a result, the team had actually prepared two additional two-point plays, which played a key part as the Patriots ended up using three of them, with two of them being used to tie the game, and the final being used on James White’s game-winning touchdown.
4) Hard Work and Conditioning Was the Difference – Most professional athletes aren’t fans of working too hard, which is one of the things that tends to separate out the players who thrive here in New England compared to those who tend to find themselves being released. Seeing the players running hills in December was yet another reminder of the work that goes into each week of practice, with conditioning in the second half being something Belichick talked about when it came to overcoming their deficit to Atlanta in that final quarter. The coaching staff spotted the fact the Falcons were gassed, with the pass rushers wearing down as the Patriots eventually wore them down during their comeback. Some players might feel that it’s an overrated requirement and it might seem cliche, but for the players who have gone through it, it was obviously a key part of New England ultimately completing the comeback.
5) The Amount of Scouting that Goes into a game is Remarkable – Preparation is a word that is preached throughout the year and the coaching staff definitely sets the bar about as high as you can get. Listening to Josh McDaniels discuss all of the things they look at when breaking down film and the tendencies they target was certainly one of the more interesting parts of the special. When you look at the meeting room, one thing that stood out was the fact that NFL Films blurred out all of the writing that covered the walls, which obviously included all of the plays and scouting reports that went into the game plan. When you have coaches who are that thorough, it obviously gives the players plenty of confidence that they’ll be put in the right situations. It also explains why many players who leave don’t go on to the same success because not every NFL staff works this way. What happens in New England is definitely unique, and Sunday night gave some terrific insight into all the hard work that goes into it.
When you mix in hard work and preparation, it’s certainly a solid formula for success. Other fans might believe there’s another reason why this team hasn’t finished with a losing season in nearly 17 years, but Sunday night hopefully helped them understand why this club remains a perennial contender.
And for fans in New England, it was an opportunity to enjoy 60 minutes to relive one of the most remarkable games in the Belichick/Tom Brady era. His assistants joked about the two continuing to dominate for another 20-years. For now, fans can just hope they’ve simply got a few more left in them.
If you did miss it, “Do Your Job Part 2: Bill Belichick and the 2016 Patriots” will be re-airing on NFL Network Wednesday, September 6th at 8pm est.
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