Having sandwiched some time as a Patriot in 2005 and 2006 with stints on other teams both before and after, I've seen firsthand why New England is so successful.
Nobody likes the team that wins all the time and perhaps that leads to the healthy antagonism a lot of players have for New England. But deep down, guys who who haven't played there wonder what makes that organization so special.
Where do they get that unfailing confidence and belief that they are going to win every game? Why does it always seem like they know what to do in order to beat opponents, and also precisely what other teams are going to try to do to beat them?
There are many reasons why the Patriots have won three Super Bowls this decade and had the first 16-0 season in NFL history. From top to bottom, they seem to do everything better. Here are the five biggest elements of success I've observed in my time with and against New England.
Every coach talks about the keys to victory but they tend to do so in broad terms, like "run successfully," "stop the run," and "take care of the football."
He states the keys on Monday and reinforces them every day of the week to the point where all 53 players on the roster have it ingrained in their consciousness by game day. Players realize that if they take care of these things, they win.
New England may do something like go no-huddle against Buffalo in 2003 to tire out mammoth defensive tackles
Most coaches pay lip service to taking away opponents' strengths, but Belichick practices what he preaches. If he identifies Pittsburgh LB
I got released by the Bills at the end of training camp in 2005. I had a plethora of workouts that fall for teams that had injuries to offensive linemen.
I worked out for the Patriots later in the year. Personnel man
The most critical ingredient in the Patriots' success is the people they select to be on their roster. They put more research into a player's character, work ethic, and most importantly, love of the game of football than they do in his 40-time or vertical jump.
The more guys you have in the locker room who truly love football, the better chance you have to be successful.
It would be foolish to talk about the Patriots' success without singling out
Just as important is Brady's unique combination of magnetism and confidence that single him out as the team leader. Every player in that huddle believes they are going to win because of Brady's presence.
During my time in New England I worked as a backup lineman and often had to snap to Brady while playing center. In spite of all of the other chaos that he had to sort through, he always found the time to look me squarely in the eye and say, "C'mon Ross, me and you, let's get a great snap first."
I never wanted to snap a ball so well in my life.
I was a veteran in my fifth and sixth years in the league while in New England and I had started over 20 games, but Brady's ability to single me out and make me feel important for the success of the play was unlike anything I had experienced.
Imagine 52 other guys feeling that way every Sunday and you will begin to truly understand why Brady and the Patriots are redefining perfection.