Given that Bill Belichick smiles about as often as Tony Romo wins playoff games, we need to ask the question: Is it ever fun to be around Belichick, or is he just all business, all the time?
“No, we have a good amount of fun,” Patriots defensive back Devin McCourty said on The Morning Show. “Out on the practice field during training camp, it’s not a lot of fun. But at different times, especially like right now when there’s some downtime in the locker room, guys are always doing silly stuff to try to have a little fun. But training camp’s always tough to try to find that time to have fun. There’s a lot of work being done right now.”
Tiki Barber knows all about it. If you’re having a good time at training camp, he said, you’re probably not working hard enough.
No one, however, can question the work ethic of the Patriots, who enter 2014 as the favorite to once again win the AFC East – something they’ve done in 11 of the last 13 years, including 10 of the last 11. How has New England managed to stay so consistent for so long?
“I just think the front office does a good job of trying to stay ahead of (the curve),” McCourty said. “Here, change doesn’t really surprise anyone. This is my fifth year here, and I feel like every year it’s been something dramatic that’s happened – whether it be a signing or someone leaving. It’s no big deal to us. All right, new year, new people: Let’s go out there and win football games. I think that mentality helps us each year to start new, start fresh and go out there and compete and try to win.”
The Patriots entered last season having to replace seemingly every pass-catcher on the roster. They also suffered a series of injuries, including ones to defensive stalwarts Vince Wilford and Jerod Mayo. Nevertheless, the Patriots came within one game of the Super Bowl.
Is it safe to say they overachieved last year?
“I think it’s tougher to look at it like that when you’re actually involved in it,” McCourty said. “We just (thought), ‘Just keep playing football.’ Some of the guys that stepped in, we had a lot of faith in. I remember last year when Dane Fletcher had to start playing. He had been here for four years. There was no pause by anybody when he stepped into the game.”
“So I think from the outside looking in, you probably (do think we over-achieved), but when you’re involved, for us, it felt like a disappointment losing in the AFC Championship Game last year – because you only think about winning. You only think about winning every time you touch the field.”
Adding shutdown corner Darrelle Revis will only help in that regard.
“It’s been great,” McCourty said. “You get a high-profile guy like that, I think a lot of times you don’t know what to expect. The media is all over it covering it. But he’s come in and he’s just been a hard worker, steady at it, learning the playbook. And I think for myself it’s been a joy to watch, just how much of a technician he is. He puts a lot of work into his game. You can see it when he’s out there on the field. He’s just fluid out there. He really understands technique and route recognition and all that. It’s been a joy to have him.”