Why Are the Patriots So Good?

BaseballJones

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Let's recap briefly. In the TB/BB era (2001-present),

- The Pats have gone 220-68 (.764) in the regular season.
- They've won 16 division titles in 18 seasons.
- They've gone 30-10 in the playoffs.
- They've played in 13 AFC Championship games, winning 9.
- They've played in 9 Super Bowls, winning 6.
- They've won 10+ games in 17 of the 18 seasons.
- They've won 12+ games in 12 of the 18 seasons.
- They've not made the playoffs only twice, and in those two seasons they missed out on tiebreakers.

Now, that is, by any measure, unparalleled success in the annals of the NFL. They've done all this in the era of free agency and the salary cap, meaning they couldn't keep their championship teams together (unlike past dynasties). The question is: Why are they so good?

I've watched pundits and media types offer their takes. Some of them are woefully inconsistent - take Rob Parker (thought I'd mention him before his name gets banned). He argued this week that Tom Brady is fortunate to be so lucky, and then when they were asking about what makes the Patriots so good, he dismissed the "Patriot Way" and said it's all simply because of Belichick and Brady. The thing is, he's an Ivy League grad, and though we know he can't stand the Patriots, it's clear that he is simply befuddled at how they can be so good for so long.

Have they had some lucky plays along the way? Absolutely. But you cannot have that level of success because of luck. They've also had - these people conveniently forget - some of the worst luck imaginable. But you can't get this far without SOME good fortune falling your way, though, as I just said, you cannot attribute all this success to luck. Other Patriots ex-coaches have tried to instill the Patriot Way (TM) elsewhere and haven't been as successful.

Is it as simple as Tom Brady? That he's just been so insanely good and has been such a good leader that he has elevated this entire franchise to such heights and such consistency, that it's been unmatched in NFL history? Everything from his on-field ability, to willingness to take less money, to his leadership. to his selflessness, to whatever else he has that he brings to the table.....is THAT the key? I'm not making this about BB vs. TB. I'm wondering what is the secret to their success. What makes the Patriots so insanely good year in and year out, for 18 years now?

For me, I think there's so much that goes into it, but I'd boil it down to the confluence of three factors creating a perfect storm:

- Incredible ownership that handles seemingly everything the right way.
- The greatest football coach in the history of the sport.
- The greatest quarterback (not just on-field, but his contracts have mattered) in the history of the sport.

Put all that together, and keeping them together for this entire time, seems to be something the league has never seen before and likely will never see again. But even then...what about THEM makes THIS so unbelievably great? I'd really love to hear your thoughts on this, SoSH.
 

tims4wins

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Two primary factors IMO:
1) Consistency with offensive system. Brady has had 3 OCs in his 18 years, and it has all been the same system. The scheme has changed, especially based on the personnel, but they never have to start over on offense. And the other part about consistency I'd mention is there are no "big games", and therefore there are no letdowns. They prepare each and every week the same.
2) Game planning. This is tied into #1. But the Pats are a game plan team and have been every week for the last 18 years. It's not that they game plan better than everyone else (although they do for the most part), but more that when other teams have won, it seems more of "here's what we do, we have awesome personnel, try and stop us" whereas the Pats look to take advantages of opponents' weaknesses whether they are the awful Bills or the awesome Colts / Broncos / Steelers / Seahawks / etc.
 

ZMart100

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Personnel management has been really important. They are willing to let a player go a year early rather than too late. They care about the quality of the middle and bottom of the roster more than splurging on a single player (despite the frustration expressed here). It's important in a long season to have capable players when inevitable injuries occur. They know what role they want each player to perform and acquire complementary parts.

It helps that their franchise QB has played on huge discounts of course.
 

bigq

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Personnel management has been really important.
And along those lines the team has drafted pretty well over the course of their reign of dominance despite rarely having high draft picks. They have done pretty well with undrafted free agents as depth pieces as well.
 

pappymojo

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Asset management - I don't think it is a coincidence that Belichick's undergraduate degree was in economics. Early in the dynasty (and even more recently to a lesser degree) there were examples of the team trading back while acquiring future picks. More recently there are examples of structuring the team's contract situation to maximize comp picks for players that sign elsewhere as free agents. Examples of trading a player a year early rather than a year late speaks to maximizing the return on value.

Organizational alignment - you are either on the same page and working toward the same goal as the rest of the team or you are gone. A diva attitude is not tolerated.

Flexibility and organizational depth - things go wrong during a game but they don't panic/don't give up. Players get hurt for all teams but they are built with a solid group of back up players and most of their players have an ability to shift to other positions during a time of need.
 

Devizier

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Has to be 1) Brady and 2) Allocating money to the back half of the roster.

It's like that old SABR maxim; the improvement from bad to average is much more significant/cost-effective than average to all-star.
 

Hagios

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Conditioning is also a big factor. You’d think all pro teams would be fit but they aren’t. I suspect part of this that culturally many strength coaches are so obsessed with fast twitch muscle that they’ve ditched running and don’t even like doing high reps (read: more than three) of squats and cleans. My outsiders take is that this changing. See Westside Barbell and their GPP, but for now it helps the Pats.
 

bankshot1

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I would add NFL rule changes that have added safety/protecting the QB and given greater leeway to receivers has had the affect of given Brady more time (in years) to apply his skills and adapt his game to pick apart defenses. He might not have the arm he had 5-10 years ago, but he has the knowledge and still has the knees, that if given 2.7 seconds, he will eventually shred a defense.
 

Ralphwiggum

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BB is the key to everything in my opinion. If the guy running the whole show is never satisfied and always seeking to get better, it sets an organizational tone for everyone who steps through the door. I suspect RKK is similarly wired, I've been around people like this (although I am not one), they obsess over things that need to be improved and spend almost no time dwelling on the things that went right. It also helps that BB is a coaching savant/genius who sees the game in a way that probably nobody else in the history of the game sees it.

The second point about BB is that he's not constrained by traditional football "thought". Defense wins championships, you have to establish the run, blah blah blah. He builds a roster based on flexibility and then adapts based on what his team does well, and more importantly, the other team's weaknesses. During this run the team has been a defense focused, power running team, but he's also had some of the best offenses in NFL history, and he has won both ways. No other coach can say that. Everyone else pretty much has a "system" and runs it. What's BB's system?

Lastly they fell into a massive amount of luck when a particular QB happened to be there at pick #199 who (a) is wired pretty much the same way as BB and RKK, (b) turned into the greatest QB of all time, and (c) has been unbelievably durable over the course of the last 18 years.
 

TheoShmeo

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This is not a "why" post but rather another indication of their greatness.

Tom Brady has never started a game when the Pats were not in contention. He has never started a garbage time game. And it's not as if Belichick held him out in that circumstance.

That fact blows me away. I wonder how many athletes in any sport could say that.
 

wiffleballhero

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In the simulacrum
1. The Giselle contracts help.
2. Brady being maybe uniquely, insanely competitive allows Belichick to maintain ongoing buy-in on a grueling team program (if Brady puts up with this shit to stay competitive, back side of the roster players are less likely to go rogue).
3. Belichick's unique capacity to both respect and identify skills or capacities from players that otherwise would get overlooked next to more conventional skill sets.
4. Attention to detail, and not in some showy, I'm an insane football coach way. But really covering the details.
5. Ernie!
6. Economic acumen and the capacity to translate that into ongoing roster construction.
7. Belichick's general lack of ego and lack of interest in anything that is not genuinely important to football. (It is an old observation, but I love the way every other team has a coaching staff that looks like they are out of central casting for a sports gear ad. Belichick looks like he got his clothes at Goodwill.)
 

loshjott

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Adding to #7 above, Belichick's stamina. Gibbs, Walsh, and Parcells got burned out. BB has figured out how to stay passionate about his job into his mid-60s.
 

Buck Showalter

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BB is the key to everything in my opinion. If the guy running the whole show is never satisfied and always seeking to get better, it sets an organizational tone for everyone who steps through the door. I suspect RKK is similarly wired, I've been around people like this (although I am not one), they obsess over things that need to be improved and spend almost no time dwelling on the things that went right. It also helps that BB is a coaching savant/genius who sees the game in a way that probably nobody else in the history of the game sees it.

The second point about BB is that he's not constrained by traditional football "thought". Defense wins championships, you have to establish the run, blah blah blah. He builds a roster based on flexibility and then adapts based on what his team does well, and more importantly, the other team's weaknesses. During this run the team has been a defense focused, power running team, but he's also had some of the best offenses in NFL history, and he has won both ways. No other coach can say that. Everyone else pretty much has a "system" and runs it. What's BB's system?

Lastly they fell into a massive amount of luck when a particular QB happened to be there at pick #199 who (a) is wired pretty much the same way as BB and RKK, (b) turned into the greatest QB of all time, and (c) has been unbelievably durable over the course of the last 18 years.
This explains it all.....no other post in necessary in my opinion. Well done.

Belichick is a once-in-a-lifetime football coach (perhaps the greatest professional coach in history of American Sports) and Brady remained durable and didn't fall prey to ego and a top-dollar contract that would have decimated the balance of New England's salary cap.
 

tims4wins

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BB is the key to everything in my opinion. If the guy running the whole show is never satisfied and always seeking to get better, it sets an organizational tone for everyone who steps through the door. I suspect RKK is similarly wired, I've been around people like this (although I am not one), they obsess over things that need to be improved and spend almost no time dwelling on the things that went right. It also helps that BB is a coaching savant/genius who sees the game in a way that probably nobody else in the history of the game sees it.

The second point about BB is that he's not constrained by traditional football "thought". Defense wins championships, you have to establish the run, blah blah blah. He builds a roster based on flexibility and then adapts based on what his team does well, and more importantly, the other team's weaknesses. During this run the team has been a defense focused, power running team, but he's also had some of the best offenses in NFL history, and he has won both ways. No other coach can say that. Everyone else pretty much has a "system" and runs it. What's BB's system?

Lastly they fell into a massive amount of luck when a particular QB happened to be there at pick #199 who (a) is wired pretty much the same way as BB and RKK, (b) turned into the greatest QB of all time, and (c) has been unbelievably durable over the course of the last 18 years.
But BB is arrogant and that’s why they only have six rings.
 

jablo1312

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Sep 20, 2005
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Everyone's hit on most things I'd say, one thing I'd add is that outside of the Garropollo thing ownership has never attempted to insert themselves into personnel or coaching decisions, which is 1. good, because they're not football people and 2. rarer then a lot of people think (some owners legit try to be GM's/help make free agent decisions, and i imagine a lot of others put pressure on their front offices to make certain moves). Less cooks in the kitchen + BB being the leader on the field and in the FO = the whole org. being on the same page across all phases of team building.

Other than that agreed on the focus on roster/financial/gameplanning flexibility is the backbone of the teams success, which to some degree is influenced by management/coaching working with an enormous degree of job security. Too many org.'s make short-sighted decisions b/c leadership is under pressure to produce immediate results.
 

tims4wins

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What evidence do you have that the ownership inserted itself into the Garropolo decision? That was media driven BS.
 

jablo1312

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What evidence do you have that the ownership inserted itself into the Garropolo decision? That was media driven BS.
Outside of the reporting on it, none I suppose. Idk that part of the reporting seemed somewhat reasonable to me, given how much R. Kraft loves Brady. If none of it was true then the point about ownership staying out of things is even stronger!
 

BigSoxFan

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They don't beat themselves. Here is where the team ranks in giveaways (where 1st indicates least amount of giveaways):

2003: 6th
2004: 9th
2005: 11th
2006: 15th
2007: 1st
2008: 7th (with Cassel at QB!)
2009: 10th
2010: 1st
2011: 4th
2012: 6th
2013: 1st
2014: 1st
2015: 1st
2016: 3rd
2017: 2nd
2018: 8th

We've seen time and time again of talented teams shooting themselves in the foot. The Patriots very rarely do this.
 

Jimbodandy

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Asset management - I don't think it is a coincidence that Belichick's undergraduate degree was in economics. Early in the dynasty (and even more recently to a lesser degree) there were examples of the team trading back while acquiring future picks. More recently there are examples of structuring the team's contract situation to maximize comp picks for players that sign elsewhere as free agents. Examples of trading a player a year early rather than a year late speaks to maximizing the return on value.

Organizational alignment - you are either on the same page and working toward the same goal as the rest of the team or you are gone. A diva attitude is not tolerated.

Flexibility and organizational depth - things go wrong during a game but they don't panic/don't give up. Players get hurt for all teams but they are built with a solid group of back up players and most of their players have an ability to shift to other positions during a time of need.
This stuff here is the biggest factor by far.

Consistent, smart, aligned organizational approach.

Another factor is a maniacal focus. What's next on the agenda? Do well on that. Next game, next play... forget five minutes ago, get ready for the next play.

Finally, it's preparation. There is no stone unturned. Conditioning, weather, your tendencies, their tendencies, ref tendencies. If the normal groundskeeper in Soldier's Field ever took leave to take care of his mom at her Alpaca farm the week before we visited the Bears, Bill had a scouting report on the backup guy's typical grass thickness so our guys would pack the exactly right cleats. This shit permeates everything they do.
 

Ale Xander

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80% BB and 20% Gisele's wealth (allowing TB12 to be underpaid compared to other QB's)
 

Dehere

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BB is the key to everything in my opinion. If the guy running the whole show is never satisfied and always seeking to get better, it sets an organizational tone for everyone who steps through the door. I suspect RKK is similarly wired, I've been around people like this (although I am not one), they obsess over things that need to be improved and spend almost no time dwelling on the things that went right. It also helps that BB is a coaching savant/genius who sees the game in a way that probably nobody else in the history of the game sees it.

The second point about BB is that he's not constrained by traditional football "thought". Defense wins championships, you have to establish the run, blah blah blah. He builds a roster based on flexibility and then adapts based on what his team does well, and more importantly, the other team's weaknesses. During this run the team has been a defense focused, power running team, but he's also had some of the best offenses in NFL history, and he has won both ways. No other coach can say that. Everyone else pretty much has a "system" and runs it. What's BB's system?

Lastly they fell into a massive amount of luck when a particular QB happened to be there at pick #199 who (a) is wired pretty much the same way as BB and RKK, (b) turned into the greatest QB of all time, and (c) has been unbelievably durable over the course of the last 18 years.
This is such a great post. If I can add a little bit to it I’d say BB is incredible at identifying players who are coachable and willing to work hard even if their skill set doesn’t light up the combine or spark another team’s interest.

New England also seems to always be elite in areas that I think correlate most strongly with winning: limiting penalties/giveaways, 3rd down success, two-minute/end-of-game scenarios. These seem like such obvious things and yet BB *always* has his team better prepared in these areas. In the rare cases like this year’s PIT game where NE commits a lot more penalties, it’s shocking.

To me BB is the most fascinating figure in sports in my lifetime. Attempts to take lessons from sports and apply them to other businesses are often ham-handed, but I would devour a book in which Belichick goes in depth on how to manage people, identify priorities, anticipate scenarios, establish a culture. All of it. He’s a genius. As important as Brady and Kraft are, I believe NE will someday be pretty good without Brady and could absolutely be good without Kraft, but someday BB will be gone and they’ll just be another team.
 

BaseballJones

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This is such a great post. If I can add a little bit to it I’d say BB is incredible at identifying players who are coachable and willing to work hard even if their skill set doesn’t light up the combine or spark another team’s interest.

New England also seems to always be elite in areas that I think correlate most strongly with winning: limiting penalties/giveaways, 3rd down success, two-minute/end-of-game scenarios. These seem like such obvious things and yet BB *always* has his team better prepared in these areas. In the rare cases like this year’s PIT game where NE commits a lot more penalties, it’s shocking.

To me BB is the most fascinating figure in sports in my lifetime. Attempts to take lessons from sports and apply them to other businesses are often ham-handed, but I would devour a book in which Belichick goes in depth on how to manage people, identify priorities, anticipate scenarios, establish a culture. All of it. He’s a genius. As important as Brady and Kraft are, I believe NE will someday be pretty good without Brady and could absolutely be good without Kraft, but someday BB will be gone and they’ll just be another team.
I have really one thing at this point that I'm ever going to ask of Belichick: to write THE BOOK. The book where he shares his philosophy, tells unbelievable stories that none of us have ever heard, and gives us his thoughts on spy gate, deflate gate, Jimmy G (and all the other moves like trading Seymour and Collins, etc.), and of course, Malcolm Butler. I want THAT book. If it was 5,000 pages long, I'd devour every single page of it.
 

BigJimEd

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80% BB and 20% Gisele's wealth (allowing TB12 to be underpaid compared to other QB's)
I think this is generally overstated. A factor for sure but he wasn't breaking barriers even before Gisele.
For most guys at that level, it's not about the exact dollar amount but more about being paid more than everyone else or close to it.


I think most everything has been covered. Belichick and Brady. Belichick's unique approach to team building putting as much emphasis on depth as star players. And his unique approach to game planning.
Also his ability to keep that long term focus. Many GMs and coaches are too focused on keeping their jobs for the next couple years they over emphasize short term.

Brady's longevity and competitiveness. He's still so focused on winning and putting in the effort to get there. Most people cannot keep that passion and work ethic up for so long especially after so much success. But he still sets the tone.
 

Ralphwiggum

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To me BB is the most fascinating figure in sports in my lifetime. Attempts to take lessons from sports and apply them to other businesses are often ham-handed, but I would devour a book in which Belichick goes in depth on how to manage people, identify priorities, anticipate scenarios, establish a culture. All of it. He’s a genius. As important as Brady and Kraft are, I believe NE will someday be pretty good without Brady and could absolutely be good without Kraft, but someday BB will be gone and they’ll just be another team.
Totally agree. I sort of doubt that BB is going to write a book and it would be almost criminal if he doesn't. Really I want two books, one more of a memoir and then one like you note that goes in depth on how to run a complex organization like a football team. And how he kept things humming at the highest levels for almost two decades with almost no organizational strife.

I have a buddy from college who will most likely be the CEO of a major public company in the next few years, right now he manages their entire international business, a team of thousands of people. He's not a Pats fan but is totally obsessed with Belichick's management philosophy. He's totally of the mindset that, love the guy or hate the guy if you aren't taking an opportunity to learn from him you are an idiot.
 

TheoShmeo

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I don't buy that Brady takes less because of his wife's money. Undoubtedly, that she's super rich makes it easier. But (a) even without her money, he's made more than he ever dreamed of making, I would guess, and that's a boatload and (b) more importantly, he is so competitive and so focused on winning that I can see it being not a hard sell to leave money aside for making the roster, and thereby his chance of winning, better. I think a lot of guys would measure their football dicks based on how they are paid on a scale relative to other players and QBs, and that they're otherwise rich would not change that. Tom just isn't one of them.
 

BigSoxFan

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I don't buy that Brady takes less because of his wife's money. Undoubtedly, that she's super rich makes it easier. But (a) even without her money, he's made more than he ever dreamed of making, I would guess, and that's a boatload and (b) more importantly, he is so competitive and so focused on winning that I can see it being not a hard sell to leave money aside for making the roster, and thereby his chance of winning, better. I think a lot of guys would measure their football dicks based on how they are paid on a scale relative to other players and QBs, and that they're otherwise rich would not change that. Tom just isn't one of them.
Agreed. The guy wants to win as much as any athlete in history and he identified early on that sacrificing some salary would help that cause. He's not sitting here with 6 rings (well, 5 with 1 in transit) if he went the Peyton Manning route. If maximizing his financial gain was the most important thing to him, he wouldn't have been as selective as he was with endorsements. God knows how much money he's left on the table by refusing to maximize his salary and endorsement opportunities. Has to be in the tens of millions.
 

Ralphwiggum

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Brady has endorsement deals for, what, Uggs and Under Armour? Maybe a watch company? The dude could be in a trillion commercials both in the local market, nationally and internationally and has been very, very selective with what he has been willing to do. That goes back to way before Gisele. He's wealthy beyond what I am sure he ever dreamed of, but even from the start he's never been totally motivated by maximizing his earnings. I don't think Gisele plays into it.
 

RedOctober3829

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Brady has endorsement deals for, what, Uggs and Under Armour? Maybe a watch company? The dude could be in a trillion commercials both in the local market, nationally and internationally and has been very, very selective with what he has been willing to do. That goes back to way before Gisele. He's wealthy beyond what I am sure he ever dreamed of, but even from the start he's never been totally motivated by maximizing his earnings. I don't think Gisele plays into it.
He also has an endorsement deal with Aston Martin.
 

RGREELEY33

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BB is the key to everything in my opinion. If the guy running the whole show is never satisfied and always seeking to get better, it sets an organizational tone for everyone who steps through the door. I suspect RKK is similarly wired, I've been around people like this (although I am not one), they obsess over things that need to be improved and spend almost no time dwelling on the things that went right. It also helps that BB is a coaching savant/genius who sees the game in a way that probably nobody else in the history of the game sees it.

The second point about BB is that he's not constrained by traditional football "thought". Defense wins championships, you have to establish the run, blah blah blah. He builds a roster based on flexibility and then adapts based on what his team does well, and more importantly, the other team's weaknesses. During this run the team has been a defense focused, power running team, but he's also had some of the best offenses in NFL history, and he has won both ways. No other coach can say that. Everyone else pretty much has a "system" and runs it. What's BB's system?

Lastly they fell into a massive amount of luck when a particular QB happened to be there at pick #199 who (a) is wired pretty much the same way as BB and RKK, (b) turned into the greatest QB of all time, and (c) has been unbelievably durable over the course of the last 18 years.
As others have stated, great post.

I think BB's open-mindedness and flexibility at a macro level really are the keys. It can be applied throughout the organization on so many levels, and really is the main driver with regards to what has differentiated the Patriots versus the rest of the league -- and has allowed them to take advantage of inefficiencies in a lot of ways. For example:

- Trading back of draft picks to accumulate more picks
- Game planning different week-to-week
- Pass heavy to run heavy to pass heavy etc.
- Drafting players who are football players, worrying about where to play them later
- Looking at qualitative characteristics in players/coaches -- captains, football coach Dads, military/police backgrounds, etc.
- Director of Player Personnel (Caserio) who plays on the Scout Team and participates in practices
- Being willing to move on from players at or near peaks -- doing contrarian things in general

There are probably dozens of other examples -- and the consistency of TB12 has played a large role in all of it -- but his overall ability to think differently, be open-minded, have that macro-economic perspective on things -- it emanates everywhere in the organization and has created so many of the competitive advantages they have had in my opinion.
 

dcdrew10

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Like most, I think it's a combo of things, including, luck, preparation, consistency, etc. I think one of the most underrated things is the experience that Kraft and Belichick gained in previous situations.

Belichick grew after Cleveland (think of the transition from Kosar to Testeverde vs the transition from Bledsoe to Brady, after Drew recovered from his injury), he toned it down a bit with the media, learned to hire on offensive coordinator (he actually called offensive plays and didn't hire an OC in Cleveland). He also found coaches that could work under him and players who could play for him. Failure can be a great learning experience. BB learned what did not work in when he was in Cleveland.

Everyone remembers the Kraft/Parcels divorce and the Carroll/Grier led rapid decline. Kraft learned to back off, be less intrusive on football decisions and instead focus on marketing, the media, and league ownership matters, ie play the politics game Belichick refuses to play. Yeah the "Mr. Kraft" and "We are all Patriots" shit gives a peak at his ego, but for the most part he keeps it in check. Who doesn't love drunk Bob Kraft trophy ceremonies?

If either had not had those experiences with failure before I don't think Belichick gets hired and I don't think the Patsies become the Patriots. And getting Tom Brady helps. It's hard to put a value on Brady's combo of smarts, desire, and ability. Put Brady with another coach he probably doesn't develop quite the same, but he had that fire and Belichick was more than happy to keep adding wood to it.
 

j44thor

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All of the above and playing in the AFC East certainly doesn't hurt.
Has any AFC East QB besides Mark Sanchez and Chad Pennington won a playoff game since 2001?
 

drleather2001

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Asset management - I don't think it is a coincidence that Belichick's undergraduate degree was in economics. Early in the dynasty (and even more recently to a lesser degree) there were examples of the team trading back while acquiring future picks. More recently there are examples of structuring the team's contract situation to maximize comp picks for players that sign elsewhere as free agents. Examples of trading a player a year early rather than a year late speaks to maximizing the return on value.

Organizational alignment - you are either on the same page and working toward the same goal as the rest of the team or you are gone. A diva attitude is not tolerated.

Flexibility and organizational depth - things go wrong during a game but they don't panic/don't give up. Players get hurt for all teams but they are built with a solid group of back up players and most of their players have an ability to shift to other positions during a time of need.
My pet opinion is that the Patriots are the true example of "Moneyball theory" being put into practice. People talk about the As, of course, and the Red Sox, but without a salary cap and huge discrepancies in markets, baseball is an uncontrolled environment. The Patriots are the best team in football (in sports) at recognizing market inefficiencies and capitalizing on them. They do this by looking at league-wide strategy trends and finding economical ways to exploit them. By staying one step ahead on the field, they are also one step ahead in terms of paying players.
 

TheoShmeo

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All of the above and playing in the AFC East certainly doesn't hurt.
Has any AFC East QB besides Mark Sanchez and Chad Pennington won a playoff game since 2001?
Except that the Pats’ winning percentage outside the division is not much worse than it is inside the division.
And by all rights, it should be much worse outside because they play an unbalanced schedule and have to face first place teams every year.

Also, the Pats division title has not been a huge benefit to them in most years once the playoffs have started because they have had the bye.
 

Smiling Joe Hesketh

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Conditioning is also a big factor. You’d think all pro teams would be fit but they aren’t. I suspect part of this that culturally many strength coaches are so obsessed with fast twitch muscle that they’ve ditched running and don’t even like doing high reps (read: more than three) of squats and cleans. My outsiders take is that this changing. See Westside Barbell and their GPP, but for now it helps the Pats.
What stood out to me when Patricia went to the Lions was the almost immediate griping from the veterans on that team when he started working them harder in mini-camp and making them do runs and sprints. I'm sure Patricia brought over his ideas from BB and the Pats; for the Lions players to have such a reaction to it shows that such an approach to conditioning isn't very common throughout the league.
 

Preacher

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I think so much has to do with BB, the manager/coach/GM. All the hats he wears. He is totally committed to exploiting every advantage based on all available sources of knowledge. There’s clearly something to be learned from him as a business manager (hence his interview with CNBC a few years ago). I don’t think this style is new since he’s been at NE. I think he was this way in Cleveland but he did not have the full reign and time to execute his vision.

Just read this yesterday and you can see his current tendencies were either in place or at least developing in Cleveland: https://apple.news/AB4u_gg7RR6CM8l2t_98kWQ
 

j44thor

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Except that the Pats’ winning percentage outside the division is not much worse than it is inside the division.
And by all rights, it should be much worse outside because they play an unbalanced schedule and have to face first place teams every year.

Also, the Pats division title has not been a huge benefit to them in most years once the playoffs have started because they have had the bye.
Is there a quick way to determine what the AFC East record excluding NE is outside the division?
 

pappymojo

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Total Number of draft picks by team since 2001 (with the average number of picks in parenthesis).

Note 1: I did this by hand and may have fudged a number or two.
Note 2: *the Texans did not have draft picks until 2002.

New Orleans Saints 117 (6.5)
New York Jets 124 (6.89)
New York Giants 127 (7.06)
Chargers 129 (7.17)
Arizona Cardinals 130 (7.22)
Chicago Bears 132 (7.33)
Washington Racists 133 (7.39)
Carolina Panthers 134 (7.44)
Atlanta Falcons 136 (7.56)
Houston Texans 138 (8.12)*
Miami Dolphins 139 (7.72)
Jacksonville Jaguars 140 (7.78)
Detroit Lions 140 (7.78)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 141 (7.83)
Kansas City Chiefs 141 (7.83)
Pittsburgh Steelers 143 (7.94)
Denver Broncos 143 (7.94)
Buffalo Bills 145 (8.06)
Minnesota Vikings 145 (8.06)
Indianapolis Colts 145 (8.06)
Dallas Cowboys 147 (8.17)
Oakland Raiders 148 (8.22)
Cleveland Browns 150 (8.33)
Philadelphia Eagles 150 (8.33)
Baltimore Ravens 156 (8.67)
Tennessee Titans 156 (8.67)
New England Patriots 158 (8.78)
Green Bay Packers 159 (8.83)
Cincinnati Bengals 160 (8.89)
Seattle Seahawks 161 (8.94)
Rams 162 (9)
San Francisco 49ers 165 (9.17)


If you add the lost picks from Spygate and Deflategate we would be tied with Seattle with the third most picks over that span at 161.

This coming year we have 12 picks.
 

bankshot1

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My pet opinion is that the Patriots are the true example of "Moneyball theory" being put into practice. People talk about the As, of course, and the Red Sox, but without a salary cap and huge discrepancies in markets, baseball is an uncontrolled environment. The Patriots are the best team in football (in sports) at recognizing market inefficiencies and capitalizing on them. They do this by looking at league-wide strategy trends and finding economical ways to exploit them. By staying one step ahead on the field, they are also one step ahead in terms of paying players.
I've often compared BB to Buffet. Both use a value/contrarian approach to achieve alpha.
 

ShaneTrot

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I have a few other Pats maxims that contribute to their success.
Dante Scarnecchia is a legend. The Pats invest in their o-line but he always seems to develop an undrafted free agent into a starter, a huge cost savings. Plus he makes guys better, Shaq Mason was considered a great run blocker in Georgia Tech's scheme but Dante coached him into being a great pass blocker as well.

They accept sunk costs. They will cut a guy long before another team would. I am thinking of guys like Easely, and Ras-I-Dowling. Most GMs hold onto guys like this for ego reasons.

They highly value special teams. They pay a good kicker because he can win you games. They have core special teamers that are excellent. Where would MN be if they had a kicker like Ghost?
 

JimBoSox9

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Before you can win football games, you have to avoid doing the things that make you lose football games. Everyone says it to some extent, but only one team lives it in everything they do. Its the focus on what matters (and their understanding of that) and the blocking out of everything else, that sets this organization apart.
This stuff here is the biggest factor by far.

Consistent, smart, aligned organizational approach.

Another factor is a maniacal focus. What's next on the agenda? Do well on that. Next game, next play... forget five minutes ago, get ready for the next play.

Finally, it's preparation. There is no stone unturned. Conditioning, weather, your tendencies, their tendencies, ref tendencies. If the normal groundskeeper in Soldier's Field ever took leave to take care of his mom at her Alpaca farm the week before we visited the Bears, Bill had a scouting report on the backup guy's typical grass thickness so our guys would pack the exactly right cleats. This shit permeates everything they do.
Totally agree. Before you can win football games, you have to avoid doing the things that make you lose football games. Everyone says it to some extent, but only one team lives it in everything they do. Its the focus on what matters (and their understanding of that) and the zealous blocking out of everything else, that sets this organization apart.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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A few more thoughts about Belichick. They aren't all that different from what's been said but maybe just a bit of a different emphasis.

1. On to Cincinnati. Belichick does not waiver from his situational forward-looking approach. Ok, X happened. Now what? Repeat. He does not dwell. He learns, but he never dwells. Occasionally -- and really very occasionally -- he gives himself a minute to look backwards. It usually involves bad calls if he feels as though the ref did not do his or her job. He has a little tantrum, and then he moves on. He's certainly not immune to trying to work the refs. But his entire outlook on football is forward looking.

I thought of this while watching the NFCCG this year. Payton just could not let it go. And it clearly filtered down to the team. They won the toss in overtime. It was time to move on. This is not to say that the call wasn't egregious. I expect the Patriots would have been livid in the same circumstance. And maybe that was the kind of call that no team can get past, but I know for sure that the Patriots are more equipped to deal with those situations than any other team in the league and that is all on Belichick.

You can't do anything about it, other than teach later. In the moment, the only thing you can do is accept and move forward based on whatever the new situation is. If Belichick has dogma, that's part of it. In fact, I think he relishes the ability to be confronted with the difficult situations. Bad call. Bad play. Bad luck. Until they make a time machine there is just nothing you can do, except move forward. Stephon Gilmore was brutal in his first couple of games with the Patriots. Missing assignments that led to 80 yard plays, whatever. Now he's the best CB in the league. Belichick doesn't keep bad players, but his emphasis is on what happens next. The players know this. Ok, that happened. What do we do now? Kickers miss field goals. Running backs fumble. Defenders miss tackles. Refs miss calls. Malcolm Butler getting beaten by Kearse and bad luck and then making the biggest play in NFL history is what happens in this kind of environment. I'm not saying it can't happen in others, but the conditions are better suited for it to happen in New England than anywhere else.

2. The buck stops with Belichick. There is no more clearly identified role in professional sports than Belichick's. He is the captain of the ship. He will never throw you under the bus. He will never shirk from responsibility. But he also never will explain himself to anyone. And he never has to, because when he says that every single decision he makes is in the best interest of the football team, it is true. Nobody doubts it for a second. He is going to be wrong sometimes. He may pick a gameplan that fails. He may go for it on fourth down. But he does not give a fuck what you think about it, and he creates an environment where there is zero gray. It is binary. If you don't like the way he does things, fire him, or get the fuck out of his way.

3. Repetitions. He outworks you. And he out experiences you. He has so many more repetitions both with respect to planning, coaching and judgment, that you cannot keep up. He is ideally situated to be one point better in a league of parity. If there were no parity rules, he wouldn't be as good. You could create a dominant team that could beat him. But on an even playing field, he just has seen more. He's made more decisions. He has thought more. And he knows more. Both because he's been doing it for so long and because in an average day, he works more than you do. And he's more efficient. He has the reps.
 

tims4wins

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Speaking of reps - don't the Pats have some crazy number more total practices than any other franchise over the last 18 years, due to the extended playoff runs? It has to be like 100 more practices than anyone else, or more.
 

Mooch

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As an addendum to the Belichick roster building discussion, there's certainly an element of "Moneyball" at play in what he does. When you're building a team under the salary cap, you need to maximize production of the entire roster under those constraints. Time and again, Belichick constructs his team with players/positions that the rest of the league undervalues. This most recent Super Bowl offense had two players/positions that are undervalued (Develin, a traditional I-formation fullback, UFA), Allen, (a one-dimensional blocking tight end, traded for dropping 63 spots mid-draft) where Belichick fashioned an offensive identity based on what they do well - Namely, road grade in the running game. Those two guys were critical parts of the 2018 Champs over the past two months. Without them, that TD drive in the Super Bowl might not happen based on the formation that they allowed McD to call.

Take a guy like Kyle Van Noy, who explained it far better than I ever could:

“I feel like in other systems they try to conform you into what they wanted and I think here they let me play to my strengths and love what I do.”

When Van Noy was in Detroit, he was completely miscast in that 4-3 defense. The Lions kept trying to force that square peg into the round hole. The Pats took note that the league thought he was a complete bust and knew they could get him on the cheap (24 slots in the 2017 draft between the late 6th and late 7th round).

Time and again, Bill takes players that are either deemed as disappointments or not fitting with current NFL trends and turns them into keystones of Championship teams.

:
 

SumnerH

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Brady has endorsement deals for, what, Uggs and Under Armour? Maybe a watch company? The dude could be in a trillion commercials both in the local market, nationally and internationally and has been very, very selective with what he has been willing to do. That goes back to way before Gisele. He's wealthy beyond what I am sure he ever dreamed of, but even from the start he's never been totally motivated by maximizing his earnings. I don't think Gisele plays into it.
He's hustling as much as any NFL player. Uggs, Under Armor, Aston-Martin, Tag Heuer, Molecule at least are still active, and I think Glaceau Smartwater is as well (he got an equity stake from Molecule to switch from Simmons to them).

Forbes has him at the highest-earning endorser in the NFL in 2018 ($15 million), which is where he's mostly been since Peyton retired. In the past he's done Dodge, Cadillac, Movado, Simmons Beautyrest, Foot Locker, Dunkin' Donuts, The Gap, Hershey's, Wheaties, Sirius satellite, Stetson cologne, Visa, Nike, EA, Got Milk?, etc
 

pappymojo

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I find it hard to determine whether or not Brady has been underpaid for his contract. (1) As a sixth round draft pick, he started out working on an underpaid contract. (2) The NFL contracts are hard to dis-assemble based on bonuses, guaranteed money, extensions, etc. My sense is that he accepted lower overall money for in exchange for higher guaranteed money, but I have no idea if that is true.

Edit: I should say that I find it hard to determine if Brady was underpaid for the team's benefit. Of course he is underpaid. He's the best player I've ever seen play the game. But is he underpaid because he was able to take less money because his wife is rich and he did the team a favor so that they could spend the money elsewhere and surround him with talent? Or is he underpaid because he made a business decision to maximize his guaranteed money?
 
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Ralphwiggum

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He's hustling as much as any NFL player. Uggs, Under Armor, Aston-Martin, Tag Heuer, Molecule at least are still active, and I think Glaceau Smartwater is as well (he got an equity stake from Molecule to switch from Simmons to them).

Forbes has him at the highest-earning endorser in the NFL in 2018 ($15 million), which is where he's mostly been since Peyton retired. In the past he's done Dodge, Cadillac, Movado, Simmons Beautyrest, Foot Locker, Dunkin' Donuts, The Gap, Hershey's, Wheaties, Sirius satellite, Stetson cologne, Visa, Nike, EA, Got Milk?, etc
Hmm. I stand corrected, I guess.
 

Ed Hillel

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Is there a quick way to determine what the AFC East record excluding NE is outside the division?
If you remove the winner of every division since 2001, and look at the records of only teams 2-4 against teams outside their division, the AFC East has the best record since 2001. In other words, teams 2-4 in the AFC East perform better against non-division opponents than the 2-4 teams in any other division. The AFC East is full of mediocre teams that would be 9-11 win teams in other divisions if they weren’t losing to the Patriots. It rarely has bum teams, like the Browns, Raiders, Jaguars were for so long.

So, no, “AFC East” is not a valid answer to this question. They’ve handled the Colts, Steelers, Chargers, Texans, and Ravens well since 2001, so I just laugh when people say “AFC East.” Which division would have been worse for them? At Denver is tough, but they lose in Miami every year anyway, so.

 

tims4wins

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Yeah if AFC East is an argument, explain their .750+ winning percentage in the playoffs, against, y'know, good teams.

Shit, as I pointed out elsewhere, they are 4-2 on the road in the playoffs against 1 seeds.