Week 277 (2 – 8 February 2019)
Whilst Super Bowl LIII will probably not live long in the memory of American football romantics, it will be remembered for the genius of one man: New England Patriots boss Bill Belichick. At 66 years of age, Belichick became the oldest coach to ever win the Super Bowl, proving that he is still the best in the business and arguably the greatest tactician and National Football League (NFL) coach of all time.
On Sunday 3 February, the Patriots battled their way to a hard fought 13-3 victory over the Los Angeles Rams, in what was the lowest scoring game in Super Bowl history. It was a primal, almost Mesozoic match in which defences and ugliness ruled. Even the golden boy quarterback, Tom Brady, struggled.
Nonetheless, Belichick will rightly take all the plaudits as he secured his, and the Pats, sixth Super Bowl title: the joint most in history. It was a game that showed more vividly than ever before that he is the one at the heart of the Patriots' dynasty.
His tactics suffocated the Rams, who became only the second team in Super Bowl history to not score a touchdown. This defeat is made even more impressive as the Rams had the most successful attack throughout the season, with an average of 5.4 touchdowns per game.
Even Rams coach Sean McVay admitted Belichick’s superiority:
"I'm pretty numb right now, but definitely, I got outcoached."
However, the Pats were by no means favourites. In fact, never have they been so doubted. “An aging 41-year-old quarterback in Tom Brady.” “A Hall of Fame tight end on his last legs.” “A slow defence.” “Julian Edelman, Tom Brady’s favourite weapon, coming off an ACL injury and a doping suspension.”
The Patriots were completely written off before a ball had been thrown, but Belichick knew that public opinion meant very little. He knew what he had to do to silence the critics.
His one line, post-victory speech said it all:
“We’re still here and we want seven.”
Great coaches and communicators successfully transfer their thoughts and feelings across to others and Belichick was able to do just that. He instilled his reliance, confidence and refusal to be written off within his players to turn them into a machine that refuses to lose.
When (or if) Belichick decides to retire, one of his quotes will live long in the memory:
“There is an old saying about the strength of the wolf is the pack, and I think there is a lot of truth to that. On a football team, it’s not the strength of the individual players, but it is the strength of the unit and how they all function together.”
The Patriots thrive on being the team that the opposition loves to hate. Belichick used this “hatred” to harness the individual talents of his team. He has a hunger for success and never rests on his laurels or past achievements. It would take someone incredibly bold, or stupid, to bet against him patrolling the touchline at Super Bowl LIV.
For displaying his adaptability, his tactical awareness and all-round coaching prowess at Super Bowl LIII and for proving that in sport you are often at your strongest when most doubted, Bill Belichick is JTA Communicator of the Week.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons