January 14, 2015


Bill Belichick: The NFL's Scary Alex Trebek (KEVIN CLARK and  DANIEL BARBARISI, Jan. 14, 2015, WSJ)

Quick, Bill Belichick has a few questions for you: Describe the third player from the left on the Indianapolis Colts' kickoff coverage team. Is he fast? Is he strong enough to run you over? Where did he play in college?

Whoops, you took too long to answer. Belichick is now angry at you.

This is daily life for any member of the New England Patriots, who are heavy favorites to beat the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship game on Sunday. The Patriots are widely considered the most prepared and well-coached players in the NFL, but that level of preparation comes at a cost. They must be ready, at any moment, for the NFL's version of Alex Trebek: The quiz master Belichick.

"I would hate to walk by him in a hallway on a Thursday if I was unprepared," said Heath Evans, a former Patriots fullback who is now an analyst for the NFL Network. "He's stopping and asking me about a player on special teams. 'Can he wiggle? Who did he match up against last week on kickoffs and how did he win that matchup?' There's no limit to the knowledge Bill expects you to have on an opponent and the craziest part is he has the answers to all of it."

Team meetings in the NFL are always deep dives into the schemes and personnel of the upcoming opponent. Coaches study game film and detail formations or tendencies they expect to see that Sunday. But according to current and former Patriot players, no one commands a depth of knowledge quite like Belichick, who has a habit of blurting out obscure yet crucial questions. These typically come in midweek meetings, but they can happen anywhere in the team facility on any day. [...]

While a wrong answer can lead to laughter in a meeting room, make no mistake, players say: It's a miserable experience for the player who was incorrect.

"It's a chill silence for a few seconds. Bone chilling, at that," Arrington said. "If he doesn't move on from there, and he's just looking at you, oh yeah, it's pretty awkward."

Posted by at January 14, 2015 1:51 PM

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