As the old saying goes, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has likely forgotten more football than most will learn in their lifetime. The HC of the NEP is genuinely considered to possess one of the most complete football minds in the game today.
However, for as much knowledge as he has amassed in his 40-plus years in coaching, Belichick remains a student of the game. Whether it be alternative strategies, new techniques or innovative methods, he is always looking for ways to improve his craft. In fact, there are even times when he is still able to learn from his players.
When speaking with reporters on Friday, the 69-year-old Belichick admitted that he has acquired notable insight on special teams from Patriots kicker Nick Folk.
“He’s helpful, and very, very knowledgeable. I’ve learned a lot from Nick Folk. I’ll say that. I’ve learned a lot,” Belichick said. “He’s really taught me a lot of little things that, honestly, I hadn’t really thought that much about, and once he pointed them out, I was kind of disappointed in myself that I didn’t put a little more importance on it earlier. Yeah. He’s really good.”
Renowned for his strict attention to detail, Belichick having learned new pieces of information from Folk is truly the ultimate compliment. After all, it is not every day that a pupil is sufficiently apt to impart wisdom upon his teacher. However, in Folk’s two-plus seasons in New England, he and Belichick have developed quite the relationship. On Friday, the 37-year-old explained (during his own media meet) that the duo discuss various topics, with each learning a great deal from the other.
“I’ve learned a lot since I’ve been here — personally, football-wise — and I think (Belichick) is just like a big sponge,” Folk said. “He likes to learn everything and learn different players and how they think and how they operate. So we’ve talked about field conditions, wind conditions, weather, everything. All kinds of stuff. It’s kind of fun to bounce ideas off of another set of eyes, and Bill has been doing it for such a long time. He’s seen plenty of great kickers come through here and throughout his entire career. Any time you can kind of garner a little bit of knowledge on that side is always a good thing. Those are good conversations when we get to have them. I cherish those because you never know when those will stop. It’s been a lot of fun to learn from one of the best in the business.”
Folk is currently enjoying one of the most productive seasons of his 14-year career. He was named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week by the NFL for his performance in the Patriots 25-22 win over the Houston Texans in Week Five. He enters this week first in the NFL having connected on 26 field goals. Though Folk has never led the NFL in field goals, he is on pace to eclipse his single season career-high of 33; set in 2013 while with the New York Jets. In addition, Folk has a chance to etch his name into the Patriots record books, as well. Since 1970, the Pats have had a player finish first in the NFL in field goals five times – Tony Franklin in 1986, Adam Vinatieri in 2004 and Stephen Gostkowski in 2008, 2013 and 2014.
Folk has also demonstrated his ability to kick for distance in 2021 connecting on four 50-yard field goals. He needs to connect on one more 50-yard field goal in 2021 to match the team’s single-season record of five 50-yard field goals by Stephen Gostkowski in 2013.
Despite some impressive accolades, Folk’s most impressive flex of the season may be earning the bragging rights of teaching a thing or two about football to Bill Belichick.