BOSTON (CBS) – When it comes to talking to the media, the New England Patriots are – to put it bluntly – boring.
But hey, it is what it is. And it may be snooze-inducing to the media, but it’s worked on the field.
Bill Belichick has his team trained not to delve any information to the press, say anything that can get them in trouble, or provide the opposition with any material that could end up on their bulletin board as added motivation.
Instead, every opponent is a world-beater, fantastic in all three phases of the game, and the Patriots will have to put forth a full 60-minute effort in order to come out with what is most important – a victory.
The week leading up to Sunday’s divisional playoff game with the Houston Texans has been no different. The only fodder for the Texans has come from Dan Shaughnessy’s home computer, not the Patriots’ locker room in Foxboro.
So without further ado, here is one hefty collection of football clichés from the last week — all courtesy of the New England Patriots.
It’s The Playoffs!
Win or go home, right?
“It’s a one-game season. You have to win to move on, and if you lose you’re done,” said tight end Rob Gronkowski, whose answers are usually as simple as they come. “You have to leave it all out on the line for the game. You have to prepare to your max abilities, you have to be ready, you have to practice hard, you have to study hard, and when it comes to game time you have to be ready to fly out there.”
“I mean, you lose and you go home, plain and simple,” said Vince Wilfork, whose soft-spoken demeanor is a complete 180 from the his tenacity on the field. “There’s no more next week or next time that we face them. You’re talking about next season. So we all have to be at our best. I have to be at my best, my teammates have to be at their best and the coaches have to be at their best.”
Linebacker Brandon Spikes did change around the terminology a bit, but the message is still the same.
“Postseason, this is what it’s all about. Go hard or go home, it’s that simple,” said the usually unfiltered (at least on Twitter) Spikes.
But, believe it or not, Belichick was the one to break the mold — at least just a little bit. He delivered one of the best analogies of the season while explaining it’s a one-game season, a go-to in the New England playbook of clichés.
“You don’t win a war by digging a foxhole and sitting in it. You have to go out there and attack,” Belichick said. “You have to go out there and make the plays you need to make to win.”
Wait for it…
“It’s a one-game season,” Bill finished the sound-bite off.
So while, for the most part, it was the same old chatter, there was at least a new wrinkle to the normally snooze-inducing press conferences from 1 Patriots Place.
But there was plenty of more for those who like that kind of stuff…
The Texans Are Great
Forget the fact the Texans lost three of their last four games in the regular season, and had a tough time with the Bengals in the wild card round. The Patriots will be getting the Texans’ “best effort” on Sunday – and that’s all that matters.
That is likely true about a Texans defense that ranked near the top in the NFL, so Tom Brady would know best. But don’t expect anything but the normal dialogue from the quarterback. With 13 seasons under Belichick, he has become a Baby Bill when it comes to saying so much — yet saying so little.
But it just sounds so good coming from a guy like Brady, we eat it up. And there is nothing wrong with that.
“They’re going to give us [their] best game and we’re going to try to give them our best game,” said Brady.
“Excellent game for them last week against Cincinnati. I thought they really played well in all three phases of the game,” said Belichick, in what was just the wind-up for the most cliche-filled answer you can get. “We know it’s going to be a big challenge for us on Sunday. I think the Texans just do pretty much everything well: they run the ball, they can stop the run, they can throw it, they can play pass defense, rush the passer, good in the kicking game, well coached, sound, lot of good football players, very talented team. We’re going to need to play our best game and hopefully that’s where we’ll be able to be by Sunday.”
Brady went on to echo what his coach said in a conference call with the Texans media.
“They’re very good in all phases, a very good situational football team,” he said. “They have some great players in the secondary, a very experienced group of linebackers and a great defensive line, and one of the best defensive players in all football in J.J. Watt. We have our hands full. It’s going to be a very tough game.”
While the Patriots had their way five Mondays ago, of course Sunday afternoon will be a different story.
“You’re going to see a different Texans team. That we all know, I promise you that,” pledged Deion Branch, who wasn’t even on the field for that game; watching it the comfort of his basement prior to being re-signed by the Pats. “They’re a great team. They’ve been a great team all season long. Unfortunately they ran into a couple stumbles but that’s football. Trust me, it won’t be the same team that we played five weeks ago.”
Over on the defense, the Patriots secondary was singing the praise of Houston quarterback Matt Schaub, who made his playoff debut last week against Cincinnati. While the Patriots defense held him to 232 yards and without a touchdown in Week 14, and Houston even employed the services of T.J. Yates late in the game, there was plenty of love aimed in Schaub’s direction this past week.
“I see a guy who’s throwing the ball well,” linebacker Jerod Mayo said of the Texans’ QB. “The play-action is great. He can throw the ball deep. He has a lot of weapons on the outside and also on the inside. He’s throwing the ball well, making all the checks at the line of scrimmage, great with recognizing what the defense is doing. He’s playing well for them.”
But no matter what the Texans do, we all know for the Patriots win, each and every one of them has to do their job – as we’ve been told hundreds of thousands of times the last decade.
Do Your Job
As Gronkowski alluded to earlier, for the Patriots playing their best will be a matter of executing on the field. But again, that is stating the obvious, right?
“It’s going to come down to execution – that’s what it’s going to boil down to,” said Wilfork. “A bunch of guys making plays – who can make the most plays and who can execute well. That’s what this game is going to boil down to.”
“I think it just comes down to doing our job,” said playoff newcomer Brandon Lloyd, who fits right in with the occasional one-word answers. “We all have a responsibility and we’re all doing our best on any given play.”
“You have to give it all you have,” added Gronk, whose short answers are often riddled with football one-liners. “Put some extra time in, be ready and be flying; have a motor out there.”
Motors and flying aren’t usually part of the cliché repertoire, but a welcome addition from the tight end.
But wait, that wasn’t all the job-doing talk.
“You have to do your job,” repeated Rob Ninkovich, whose delivers his answers in the locker room softly — a big contrast to the hits he’s been putting on opposing quarterbacks this season. “You have to come out and play tough football. Every phase of the game, you have to do your job.”
But as obvious as it is, everyone doing their job is a key part to why the Patriots have had their success over the last decade-plus. It was that mentality that won them their first Super Bowl in 2001, and straying away from it in 2009 caused them to go on a playoff-skid for a few years. That mentality has since returned, and it’s no coincidence the Patriots are primed to head back to the Super Bowl for the second straight year.
It might be boring to hear them talking about doing their job over and over again, week after week, season after season, it – plain and simple – gets the job done.
And the players, all 52 of them, repeating it? That’s part of their job too.
So while the chatter coming out of Gillette this week was nothing more than the Patriots Way of talk, aside from the great foxhole comment from Billy B, it’s just how they do it. They let their actions on the field do the talking rather than words in the locker room. Games are won between the numbers, not by chatting with the media. It’s one game at a time, one play at a time, and it’s all day-by-day. The Patriots will leave it all out on the field come Sunday, and should they win, the focus will shift to talking about how great their next opponent is.
It is what it is, and it’s what we’re all used to. It’s the Patriots Way, and one like no other.
Hear even more cliches from the Patriots following Sunday’s playoff game against the Houston Texans. Tune in to Patriots 5th Quarter on myTV38, and three hours of post game coverage on 98.5 The Sports Hub!