I love playoff football, and was plenty fired up for Sunday’s divisional round game before I read the transcript of Bill Belichick’s press conference in New England today.
His talk of his love of playoff football couldn’t help but add to mine.
“This is what we work all year for,” he told the Patriots press. “We worked all year since the end of last season to get back to this point. This is really what it’s all for. All the team planning, the OTAs, the minicamps, the meetings, the walkthroughs, the preseason games, the practices, the regular season, it’s all for this. [We’ll] put everything we have into this game and try to have the result that we want. I think that’s where our team is. That’s where I am personally. I think that’s where everybody is. That’s where we should be.”
Too often coaches like to talk military and football like it’s the same deal. I was put off by Nick Saban, a Belichick disciple, showing the Crimson Tide “Zero Dark Thirty” before the national championship game. He reportedly talked to the team about the resourcefulness of SEAL Team 6, which killed Osama bin Laden. The unit adjusting its mission when one of their helicopters crashed. Saban told Alabama how it would have to adjust to something unexpected too.
Belichick was far defter at using a military analogy, I thought.
“It’s like when you talk to the Navy SEALs and those guys about when they go on a mission, how they talk about, ‘Alright, so we get there and we practiced going over a six-foot wall and the wall is 30-feet high,’” he said. “Well, that’s the way it is in the NFL. You practice for whatever -- you think you’re going to swim across a 200-yard lake and the lake is 800 yards across. You have to get across it.
“You get in an NFL game and think you’re going to get this and then you get that. Or you think they’re going to play this guy and they play some other guy. You face new challenges. That’s part of gamesmanship and part of the competition. You figure out which team can do it better than the other one. There’s always that unknown in the game, but things happen that you just can’t predict or you can’t prepare for because they’re working on things; we don’t know what they’re doing.
“They’ll come up with something that will cause us to make an adjustment. I’m sure we’ll do the same thing to them somewhere along the line. Everybody has to figure it out and make the best of it. That’s what makes this a great game.”
Belichick and the Patriots are far more familiar with figuring things out under this brand of pressure than Gary Kubiak and the Texans are.
But, annually, the playoffs produce surprises. Maybe they find a way to be a 30-foot wall or a 800-yard lake New England can’t solve.