BOSTON (CBS) — Bill Belichick is arguably the greatest head coach in football history. But he doesn’t do it alone.

The 64-year-old Belichick has always allowed his coaching staff to provide input throughout the week, and he’s obviously given Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia the freedom to call plays every Sunday as the offensive and defensive coordinators, respectively.

But when asked about the value of safety Devin McCourty in a conference call on Monday, Belichick explained how a bright player like McCourty can often play the role of a player/coach with the way he can not only make plays but read the opposing offense like a book and relay that information to the coaching staff. Duron Harmon received some praise, too.

Here’s the full text of what Belichick said about McCourty and Harmon:

“I’ve been very fortunate through my coaching career to coach some very, very good free safeties, be around a lot of real good safeties and free safeties. When you play that position, you know, a good player back there can really see all 22 guys. He sees the players in front of him. He can predict the players on the outside – the receivers, the corners – and really get a good feel for the game. It’s a picture that you don’t see from the sideline or from the press box. And so throughout the course of my career, those players a lot of times can give great information and great perspective on how they see the game from back there, where they see the quarterback looking, where they see things from receivers or route combinations or formations and so forth.

“With Duron and Devin back there, those are two very smart players. They’re experienced players. They know what they’re looking for. They know the passing game very well from just an overall schematic standpoint, but then specifically with each team that we play and the quarterback, and again, the route combinations and situational tendencies that our opponents have or have shown. So it’s not unusual during the course of the game to ask them or for them to comment on something that’s happening or isn’t happening and how the quarterback is reading a certain coverage or a certain look or where receivers are located and so forth. As I said, it’s something where I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of guys throughout my career who have really done a good job with that and Devin and Duron I would say are two very good ones.

“Devin, again, as he normally does in the course of that type of a game, some of the comments and observations that he made affected some of the things we were thinking about doing. I think as usual he was right on the money with his observations, especially when you go back and take a look at the film a little more closely today. You see what he saw. Then a couple of the things we tried to do after that, he was very helpful in kind of recognizing that and helping us steer some of those things in the right direction.”

McCourty finished Sunday’s win over the Bengals with seven tackles — six solo — but Belichick made clear that the 29-year-old six-time defensive captain contributed with much more than his stat line suggests.


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