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Bill Belichick and I Strengthened Our Friendship Today

Do I have to go to Patriots press conferences all the time? No. Do I feel it’s necessary once in a while? Absolutely. One, because the team has granted me a press pass. And with great access comes great responsibility or something. But second, and more importantly, because one man needs me to.

Bill Belichick.

It’s not easy for him, clearly. You can see it in his soulful eyes that he struggles at times to tolerate the lesser beings that waste his time with inane questions. The league and state law say he can’t choke them all with the Dark Side of the Force, even though that would solve quite a few problems. So instead he disarms them with audible eyerolls, monosyllabic answers and death stares.

But the man needs a challenge. An equal. Someone who can bring him questions of such intelligence, value and thought-provoking depth that he’s better for it. Steel sharpening steel, if you will. Only in our case it’s Valyrian Steel sharpening a Hatori Hanzo blade. I was curious about a subtle nuance of his gameplans that beat the Chargers and Chiefs and extrapolated it to the Super Bowl ahead:

Me: In the playoffs, your pass protection has been effective against two pair of elite edge
rushers in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram and then Dee Ford and Justin Houston. What
adjustments did you make for them and how do you adjust to this Rams team where so
much of their pressure comes from up the middle?

Belichick: Right. Well, again, every game’s different. Every rusher is different so the matchups are all different.
We’ll see how it goes this week. But certainly the Rams have a very talented group. I would say so did
the other teams. Not just those two guys, but they’ve had other guys as well, and you’re also challenged
at times by the scheme with the games they run or the blitzes and the matchups they create and so
forth. Again, it’s not always cookie cutter, just five on four and you know where everybody is. There’s
some of that but then there’s a lot of other variations that come in that you have to be ready to deal with
schematically. Coach [Dante] Scarnecchia and certainly Coach [Josh] McDaniels do a great job of
preparing our players for the situations that we’ll face and sometimes we get new things in the game that
we have to adjust to. We have a pretty experienced group there. Those guys have played a lot of football
together. A lot of times they see things and anticipate things based on their experience and that’s
certainly helpful.

Whoa. Settle down, Chatty Cathy. I wanted an answer, not to have him tape his hour-long Netflix special. But even though he’s a little bit clingy, I can forgive the filibuster because that’s our relationship. Two guys who understand each other. The way only the greatest mind in the history of his profession understands a writer of football blogs who used to be a defensive assistant on a JV team of 12 year olds.

And my takeaway? He’s got a plan in place for Aaron Donald and Ndomukong Suh. He, Scarnecchia and McDaniels have already strategized about 15 different schemes to completely neutralize the Rams interior rush and make Brady so comfortable he probably won’t need a shower after the game. And it’s only Thursday. For that reason alone, I’m glad I made the trip. Belichick and I both deserved this today.