Rozner: Super coaching just part of Pats' greatness

  • New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick celebrates after the NFL Super Bowl 51 football game against the Atlanta Falcons Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017, in Houston. The New England Patriots won 34-28.

    New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick celebrates after the NFL Super Bowl 51 football game against the Atlanta Falcons Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017, in Houston. The New England Patriots won 34-28.

Posted2/7/2017 1:00 AM

It's the same story every time.

With every new Chicago Bears head coach, the McCaskeys tell us they've hired one of the elite talents in the NFL.


John Fox, Marc Trestman, Lovie Smith, Dick Jauron and on and on.


Real coaching is what you witnessed Sunday night.

Under the worst of circumstances and on the biggest stage, you saw real coaches doing their jobs.

Without fear, without panic and without hesitation, the New England coaches began changing everything about their game plan by the middle of the first quarter.

Not season to season. Not month to month. Not game to game. Not half to half.

Adjusting from minute to minute, coordinators Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia were altering much of what they thought they could do against the Falcons, including the decision to keep a tight end in to block and attacking the weakside zone and finding space for James White.

"That's football," said Bill Belichick, making it sound as complicated as tying his shoes. "Sometimes it goes like you thought it would. Sometimes it doesn't. You have to adjust."

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This is when you think of John Fox unable to manage the final two minutes of a half in a meaningless game in November.

And shake your head.

Belichick, on the other hand, was working with his signal callers and coordinators before, during and after each series, constantly searching for something, even while getting their brains beat in during the Super Bowl on Sunday night with absolutely everything at stake.

"We were just trying to get it to a one-score game to give us a chance," Belichick said. "We knew if we could do that, anything could happen. But it wasn't easy to get it to one score. We tried everything."

Yeah, they tried everything.

See, there's the difference. We've grown accustomed to seeing Bears head coaches staring up at the sky as if football intervention would come from above.

Fox actually said after a game that it's not easy to change everything in the middle of a game.

Well, no kidding. That's why you get paid $5 million a year, to think on your feet. No one's asking you to man a mission to Mars or produce the technology necessary to sustain life on a desolate planet.


Is an adjustment out of the question?

Belichick stayed with it and kept on coaching, even when the Patriots appeared to have no chance to come back against the Falcons in Super Bowl LI.

Before Sunday night, teams in NFL playoff history down 19 entering the fourth quarter were 0-93.

Not fancy odds when almost nothing had gone right for three quarters.

They couldn't even kick an extra point, at which time Belichick was seen muttering, "You gotta be (bleeping) kidding me."

But quickly back to the task, Belichick kept looking at the clock and computing the time versus the possessions needed.

This might be the best part of his football genius, the ability to make the clock work. He baited and fooled Pete Carroll in the final minute of the Malcolm Butler Super Bowl victory two years ago, but Sunday night in the fourth quarter he couldn't make the math work.

Not until Dont'a Hightower's strip-sack when Matt Ryan was taking a deep drop on a third-and-1, one of a few inexplicable Atlanta coaching decisions.

"That was probably the biggest play of the game," Belichick said. "We needed the football."

That's when the math started to work in Belichick's mind, though the Pats still needed the Falcons to work themselves out of field-goal range with a few minutes remaining when 3 more points would have ended the Super Bowl.

Of course, it helps to have the greatest quarterback in history, someone who never believes the game is over, even behind by 25 in the third quarter.

"Total team effort," Brady said in typical Brady fashion. "We have players that don't quit, guys whose effort is the same because they believe in what we're doing and don't want to give up.

"We have coaches who keep coaching hard and know that things will turn around and look for ways to make it work. Our coaches are incredible. They are the very best at what they do."

Great coaches make a difference, and you know it when you see greatness.

You also know it when you don't.

• Hear Barry Rozner on WSCR 670-AM and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.

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