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So you want to be a coach in the NFL? Bill Belichick brings you inside his world on the sidelines

12.22.11 at 12:13 am ET
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FOXBORO — Everyone remembers Bill O’Brien and Tom Brady screaming at each other after Brady’s ill-advised red zone pass intended for Tiquan Underwood that was intercepted in Washington in the fourth quarter.

That got people thinking.

What’s it really like for de facto defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien to be next to Bill Belichick on the sidelines during a game? And what kind of responsibilities does he have during the game, as opposed to running things from the press box like many other teams do over the course of a game?

“I basically talk to those guys at the end of every series,” Belichick said Thursday. “I talk to [special teams coach] Scott [Scott O'€™Brien] in the kicking game, maybe not after every play but you know, after a series of plays or whatever ‘€“ our kickoff coverage or our punt protection or whatever it is. At the end of the series, I usually talk to Billy and Matt or other coaches, it could be Dante [Dante Scarnecchia] or it could be somebody else about the series that happened. We talk about what we need to do or what they’€™re doing and what we can do about that, whatever it happens to be. That’€™s part of the whole.

“We talk about that on the headset too. It’€™s hard on the headset too because if we’€™re on offense, we’€™re calling plays, we’€™re substituting people. That’€™s not really the time to have a philosophical conversation but when you come off the field after we’€™ve scored or we’€™ve punted or whatever the situation is, okay, next time we get out there, do we want to go no-huddle, what do we want to do the next series or what are we going to do the next time they give us a certain look or what are we going to do in the next third and medium, third and long, second and long? If there is a particular situation that we’€™re not doing well in, what are we going to do the next time that comes up? It’€™s the same thing defensively ‘€“ what are we going to do if they put three receivers in the game, what are we going to do if they tighten the formations? Yeah, we talk about that in between series.”

Everyone remembers what happened in Washington when Bill O’Brien and Tom Brady had their little tete-a-tete.

When Belichick comes together with the coordinators and coaches, do he initiate the conversation about what you see or do you ask what they’€™re seeing or is it a case by case basis?

“Yeah, all the above,” Belichick explained Thursday. “I rely a lot on them. We talk, it’€™s not like we’€™ve never talked about this stuff before. We talk about it going into the game. ‘€˜Look, this what they do well, this could be a problem, what are we going to do about this?’€™ Or, ‘€˜We’€™re not expecting much of this but if they do it, what’€™s our answer going to be?’€™ Or, ‘€˜We’€™re concerned about these matchups, how are you going to handle those?’€™ Then you get into the game and you talk about it. You say, ‘€˜Okay, we were concerned about this matchup and it looks like it’€™s still going to be a problem.’€™ Or, ‘€˜I think we kind of got that under control but this might be a bigger issue than we thought it was over here.’€™ Or, ‘€˜We expected this type of a game plan but they’€™re really doing something, they’€™re mixing in some other things with that and not just staying with what we thought they were doing to do.’€™

“Again, that changes during the game too. Where you are in the first quarter, second quarter on that by the third quarter that sometimes they shift away from something. You see, ‘€˜Hey, they’€™re really trying to go to a certain guy.’€™ So you try to decide how you want to handle that. Like in the Philadelphia game, they started going to [Jason] Avant, they were feeding it to him. There was a point where you recognize, ‘€˜Alight, they’€™re obviously looking for this guy now, he’€™s got six, seven catches, we have to start paying more attention to him.’€™ DeSean Jackson went out of the game. I’€™m just saying, things like that happen in the game that you talk about them then. I talk them out with the coaches and they talk them out with me, however you want to call it.

Bill O’Brien and Brady look at pictures as a tool during the course of a game. Does Belichick?

“The pictures are definitely an aid,” Belichick said. “You can sometimes get a lot out of picture. Sometimes you can’€™t really get anything out of it. It depends on what you’€™re looking for and when it was snapped. There’€™s certainly value to those. There’€™s also value to seeing what you see. That’€™s what we all do. Definitely, if I ask Dante about what happened on this blitz or what happened on this blocking scheme, that’€™s what he’€™s looking at. If I ask Chad [O'€™Shea], ‘€˜What happened on this route?’€™ Then, ‘€˜Hey, we got jammed’€™ or, ‘€˜The corner did this and the safety did this and that’€™s why we ran it that way.’€™ I can’€™t see all 22 players at once but I can focus on whatever I’€™m focusing on but that may or may not be an issue on that play. We definitely talk about those things.

“It’€™s a skill but I think it’€™s a realistic expectation too. That’€™s what we do out there in practice every day. We watch the play and then after that you tell a player, right there at that point in time, ‘€˜Look, when that happens to you, then this is what you do. You did this but you really need to keep it tighter. You should have done this or you should have done that.’€™ We do that on a daily basis.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Bill O'Brien, Chad O'Shea, Dante Scarnecchia
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