QUOTE: “Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.” — Anonymous
“We’ve got to start listening to coach (Bill) Belichick.We’ve got young kids who are good players. We’ve got the best football coach of all time. He’s got the answers. We as a team have to take the coaching we’re being given.’’ — Tom Brady
Tom Brady spoke yesterday to Peter King of SI.com, offering a unique perspective on what’s going on inside the Patriots locker room. Brady believes the problem with the team lies not in its talent base but in its ability to handle coaching. This is not an unusual problem — especially with young teams. Most often, young players take coaching as criticism, so they listen but don’t hear the words of wisdom. Some players will just listen, but they fail to implement the details in the words. Watching some of the younger players on tape, it’s clear they make mistakes that would not normally be made had they heard the words. Belichick is the master at making sure players understand his message, but as is often the case, each team is unique in terms of its willingness to take to coaching. The mistakes made by the Patriots last season, especially at critical times in the game, cost them wins. But last year was last year, and I have a feeling those mistakes will not be repeated.
Because the Patriots have been in constant change in recent years, there has been a perception that they traded or released the right leadership from their locker room. However, with Brady as the main man there, you would think he could control how the young players process coaching. But these recent comments suggest that Brady has lost some of his swagger in the room, which is normal for a player who has missed one whole year and is trying to get his own career back on track. Typically, real leadership comes from making things happen on the field.
Teams can go away to camp to bond, but the real bonding occurs when a team comes from behind to win a game on the final drive. Yet last year, Brady was not Brady-like in his come-from-behind ability. Remember the second half of the first Jets game? Or the Broncos game? Or the second Miami game? In each of these games, Brady had a chance to make a play to lead his team back, but there was a breakdown in some area that prevented him from being the Brady of old. Also, coming back from a knee injury, the first year is always a year of trepidation in terms of playing the game with confidence. So Brady, in dealing with football-related issues, was unable to control the locker room.
Brady doesn’t talk to just talk, so he made these comments before coming came back to Boston to set the tone for the offseason. He wants to start the season off on the right foot, and he can remind the players of his comments when they start to stray from the coaching. Brady is smart and tactical, and he knows much is expected from him this year. He will need to show everyone that his decision to spend more time in California will not hurt his preparation for the season.
Much is at stake for Brady and the Patriots this year. They need to get back to their dominance of the AFC (winning a home playoff game might be a start), and Brady is due a new contract. He’ll need to prove he’s the Brady of old, and the Patriots need to know the rules of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement before making a long-term deal. From my viewpoint, much can be gained by waiting until the end of the season before negotiating a new contract with Brady; patience is a virtue, especially in unsettling times. Brady understands the expectations of the fans for him and the team, so if he can get the team to understand that its best chance to win is to listen and hear the words of the coach, it will benefit everyone going forward.
Brady knows that winning takes care of everything in the NFL (including new contracts). Getting the team to listen and hear will be the best course toward winning.
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