January 1, 2011


Patriots, Belichick find 'The Way' to success (Howard Ulman, December 31, 2010, AP)

In many ways, the players resemble their coach.

They spend extra time studying film, focus on their next task and speak cautiously with reporters, careful not to reveal information on injuries or game plans.

That's critical to the Patriots Way -- platitudes avoid problems.

Asked if the team has taken on Belichick's personality, running back Danny Woodhead said Friday, "We trust our coach and we're just taking it one day at a time and that's what we've got to do. That's what we've tried to do the whole season and that's what we're going to continue to do."

No bulletin-board material there. Another reason for Belichick to like the 5-foot-8 running back, besides his 528 yards rushing and 34 receptions.

But Woodhead and his teammates can still improve and one bad practice can set them back.

"We got better yesterday. We got better on Wednesday. We're going to have a better team this Sunday," quarterback Tom Brady said Friday. That "really has been a trademark of this team ... to always make improvements over the course of the season. So I don't think we take weeks off. I don't think we take days off. We're always trying to get better."

The Patriots have three Super Bowl titles in the last nine seasons. Harrison believes many people don't like dynasties and want them to fail.

"There are so many people out there that are against you and so many things that can bring distractions to your team," he said, "and (Belichick) just does a wonderful job of saying, 'Fellas, it's us in this locker room against everyone else. Don't worry about it.' "

Using real or imagined enemies for motivation is another part of the Patriots Way.

"Bill invented the Way," said Heath Evans, who spent 3 1/2 seasons as a New England running back before joining New Orleans for the 2009 season. "Whatever the best thing is for the team, that's the Belichick Way and the Patriot Way."

That Way, of course, may not lead to another championship this season. But as long as the players don't stray from it, chances are the Patriots will be contending for many years.

"The beautiful part about this is they're young and they're buying into the system," Harrison said. "So that means they're going to be good for a very long time."

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Posted by Orrin Judd at January 1, 2011 8:30 AM
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