PHOENIX (CBS) — It is a saying that has become as synonymous with the Patriot as “Foxboro” and “Kraft,” and it is one that was born on the sidelines. The brilliant coach — the master of football, the one who understands the game on a level few others ever have — down on one knee, imploring his defense to focus on one thing and one thing only.
Do. Your. Job.
Simple enough, right? After all, Bill Belichick has always uttered these words to his players after things have gone haywire, when players get caught trying to do too much and end up getting overwhelmed by the moment. Belichick gathers them on the sideline and calmly — or sometimes, not so calmly — reminds them, simply, to do their job.
For a cornerback, that might mean zeroing in on one-on-one coverage. For a nose tackle, it may mean occupying two blockers and refusing to budge from a spot. For a linebacker, it could be keying in on the running back, or waiting just long enough before blitzing through a gap.
Rather than worry about what the other 10 players on the field are doing, Belichick regularly reminds his players that they need only worry about themselves.
Do. Your. Job.
It’s been stated innumerable times on the Patriots’ sideline, and the world knew of it from mic’d up NFL Films segments over the years. But this year, as the Patriots prepare for their sixth Super Bowl in 15 seasons under Belichick, it’s taken on a newfound prominence. Players adorned themselves in custom-made “Do Your Job” winter hats when the weather turned cold in Foxboro this fall, and safety Devin McCourty even wore one out here in the desert.
The upfront presentation of the saying has, obviously drawn interest from the outside in what it is that players take from the message. Their answers varied more than you might imagine.
“To me, personally, ‘Do Your Job’ is everybody has a role on this team, no matter what it is,” said receiver and kick returner Danny Amendola. “I like to think of it like our team is kind of like a car. Some guys might be the motor. Some guys might be the windshield wipers, the lights, steering wheel. Other guys might be like the lug nuts or something, but the car’s not going to run if you don’t have the lug nuts on. No matter what it is, you’ve got to do your job.”
“Doing your job means, just like someone who’s working in a coal mine or on a construction site. You bring your hard hat and your lunch to work and just shut up and do your job,” said Julian Edelman, whose jobs included leading the team in receptions and punt returns while also rushing the ball 10 times and throwing a touchdown pass in the divisional round. “You go in there, you go in the meetings and take in the coaching. You execute the walkthrough. You take the walkthrough to practice and the drills and you execute that. In practice, execution becomes game reality, so that’s what do your job — I feel — means.”
“It’s kind of self-explanatory — you do your job,” said linebacker Dont’a Hightower, whose job duties expanded this year to play-calling after Jerod Mayo suffered a season-ending injury. “Everybody holding each other to accountability, and I feel like everybody’s kind of done that thus far. I feel like that’s a big reason why we’ve had success, is just everybody just kind of buying in to what we’re trying to do. I feel like that’s one of the bigger reasons why we’ve had so much success.”
“I think when we put that slogan out there, I think that comes along with eliminating any distractions, eliminating any noise that is being talked about. And our job is to eliminate that,” said Vince Wilfork, who’s been doing his job for Belichick since 2004 and is one of just two players on the roster to have won a Super Bowl with the Patriots. “So I think when we do that and we say that, I think everybody kind of looks at it together as, ‘We’re here for our job, we’re here to do our job, and the only way to do our job is we have to be focused in at the task in hand, and that’s to prepare for the Seahawks.’ So I think it’s more important for us now to just fall back on our words and do your job. And if we do our job, we’ll be in a good spot.”
It is, truly, fascinating to see the depths that the simple phrase has taken on in the minds of the players. After all, this was something Belichick said to his players when he needed them to perform better; it was not intended to become a catchphrase. Yet even Belichick, when asked what “Do Your Job” really means, admitted there’s more to it than initially meets the eye.
“I think in terms of our players and our team, each of us has a job to do, and the only thing that we can do is do the best that we can,” Belichick said. “That’s improve on a daily basis, work hard, pay attention to the little details and put the team first. So whether it’s myself, a player or an assistant coach, it doesn’t really matter who it is, we all can only do what we can do. And we try to do that in team context, and try to work as hard at it as we can and improve on a daily basis.
“We all make mistakes, we all have weaknesses, but I think we can try to address those and improve on them or possibly make them strengths. And so that’s kind of, I’d say, the backbone of our program. Each one of us does that on a regular basis. Cumulatively, we can improve as a football team and as an organization. That’s what it’s really about.”
Clearly, that message gets interpreted and broken down dozens of different ways from the 53 players on the roster. But on Sunday night in Glendale, with 100 million people watching on TV, in the most pressure-packed game of their lives, if any players begin to veer off the plotted course, the reminder from Belichick will be effective and succinct.
Do. Your. Job.