Patriots preparing for another Super Bowl
ATLANTA — News flash: Bill Belichick likes this New England Patriots football team.
“It’s a lot of unselfish players,” Belichick said during opening night mayhem. “Guys that do whatever they need to do, whatever their role is. They’re willing to do whatever they need to do for the team. They help each other on the practice field, they help each other do their jobs on the field, whether it’s doing something too that helps you do your job, or something that helps me do my job a little better. They have a good chemistry and feel for each other.”
And he’s seen that the Patriots are a little different than they were say, in mid-December.
“They have a good chemistry and feel for each other. They’re starting to be able to do some little things that they didn’t do a month ago, maybe two months ago. Those little things can make a big difference,” the veteran coach said.
One of the bigger things? All for one, one for all.
“When you’re with a team, you’re playing for each other,” Belichick said. “You’re playing for your teammates, you’re playing for the guy next to you. And when you’re team has that kind of relationship, you have a good team. We certainly have that. … That’s carried us this far. Hopefully, we can do that one more time.”
Patriots rookie running back Sony Michel is basically back home. He played in a national championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium last year, and now he’ll be in a Super Bowl
“I’ve been blessed these past couple of years,” Michel said. “Kind of all the hard work is paying off. I’ve been on some great teams, the Georgia Bulldogs and now with the Patriots. I’m excited.”
Of course, across the field is another Georgia alum, Rams running back Todd Gurley. Gurley was on the Georgia sidelines last year when the Bulldogs lost to Alabama and talked then with Michel.
“Last year, he told us to keep working and play our hearts out,” Michel said. “This year, I’m excited for him. I’m excited to see him go out there and be able to play some ball. He’s been playing his whole life for this opportunity.”
He said he plans on exchanging jerseys with Gurley after the game. Michel said the other night that his offensive line deserves a lot of the credit for what he’s done.
“Most of the credit should go to them, those holes are wide open,” he said. “Anybody could run through them. I’m just the running back, back there. So I give those guys more than I give myself the credit.”
BELICHICK OPENS UP
Belichick answered a question about former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia on Tuesday, one that you likely think he wouldn’t have even addressed in the confines of the Gillette Stadium media room where he holds his press conferences.
But this was different.
“I’m here to talk about the Patriots and the Rams, and that is what our job is this week, is to get ready for the Rams,” he said.
Usually, it stops there. But he followed it.
“I think Matt is a great coach. (I) think he does a great job. He did a great job for me. He is very smart. He understands football. He’s an excellent teacher, but really, I’m here to talk about the Rams,” Belichick said.
A couple interesting tidbits regarding Patriots defensive backs.
First, safety Devin McCourty has wondered aloud whether he’d retire if the team wins on Sunday, saying that winning a Super Bowl title with his brother Jason would be the ultimate achievement.
“I don’t know what else I could do that could top that,”McCourty said. “I’m just trying to make sure I enjoy this season and these last couple of days with these guys.”
Meanwhile, Patrick Chung more or less apologized recently for what he said during the fan rally at Gillette Stadium Sunday, shouting that the Patriots were “going to go down there and kick their (expletive), baby”.
“I guess I apologize, but I am not really apologizing, because we are confident just like they are,” he said late Monday night. “They are a great team, we know that. We are a great team, we know that.”
BY THE NUMBERS
Belichick made it a point the last two days to say exactly what the Rams have done on offense this year.
“They scored 527 points this year,” he said.
If the Patriots win, Belichick will have his sixth Super Bowl title and tie George Halas and Curley Lambeau for the most NFL championships.
After having Tuesday off, the Patriots and Rams hit the practice field Wednesday.
The Rams are working out at the Falcons practice site north of Atlanta at Flowery Branch, Georgia. The Patriots, meanwhile, are practicing at Georgia Tech.
— Tom King is a senior sports writer for The Telegraph in Nashua, NH.