- NFL Network premieres "Do Your Job: Bill Belichick and the 2014 New England Patriots" on September 9 at 8 p.m. ET.*
The philosophy of the most successful NFL franchise of the last 15 years is both straightforward and complex: "Do your job." That message resonates around Foxborough, Massachusetts, and Gillette Stadium. It's the phrase Bill Belichick preaches, and his Patriots players try, to the best of their ability, to accomplish.
"It is pretty much everybody being accountable and preparing in a way where you need to go out and perform at a certain level at your position," said former Patriots linebacker and current NFL Media analyst Willie McGinest.
The New England Patriots have been the most-winning franchise in the league since Belichick's arrival in 2000. Belichick's Patriots have won four Super Bowls and participated in nine AFC Championship Games since he took the helm. The team has compiled a 196-73 record during his tenure. Belichick's 40th season as an NFL coach was capped off by his fourth Super Bowl title, which tied him with Pittsburgh's Chuck Noll for most Super Bowl wins by a head coach. He leads all current coaches with 233 total victories, fourth-most all time, without a clear finish line in sight.
His résumé stacks up with that of just about every coach in NFL history, and the reasoning is simple. He does his job well.
"There are a lot of demands. But we always joke around, because he kind of gives you the answers to the test before you're out there," said former Patriots fullback and current NFL Media analyst Heath Evans. "The people kind of take it for granted, but 90 percent of every game, by the time we got done, I was almost amazed, especially my first couple years there, to think, 'Man, how does he know that?' "
Belichick might come across publicly as a cold individual with no personality, and his monotone news conferences certainly don't help. But most of the players who come through the Patriots' system marvel at and admire his football expertise.
"His knowledge for the game is ridiculous," McGinest recalled of Belichick. "I mean, from every aspect of the game, from the way we prepare, where we're staying, how we're practicing, the tempo we're practicing at, mentally what state of mind guys are in entering the game, preparing and preparation."
"[That] play the Patriots had studied and prepped for and recognized," McGinest said. "You see that on 'Do Your Job.' They went over that play and Malcolm [Butler] got beat on that play in practice, and he got drilled by the coaches. Do you think he was gonna let that come up again in the biggest game of his life and not execute that play? That's not how those players are coached. That's not how we were coached.
"He was already prepared for that moment. That's the difference between winning and losing. It's not the play. It's being prepared for the play before it happens."
The Patriots' success hasn't come easy. The system isn't cut out for all players. Guys are routinely shown the door quickly in New England. Belichick's players often allude to the rigorous demands of being a Patriot.
"You just have to know [the game plan]," Evans explained. "It's stressful in that aspect, but peaceful in the sense that you always know what was asked of you. And there were a lot of teams that I was on where you'd go into a game on Sunday and you weren't really quite sure what [your] head coach wanted you to do, or your position coach or [your] offensive coordinator."
McGinest echoed those sentiments.
Belichick not only wants his players to be smart, but he also expects them to abide by the "Patriot Way." The team is always more important than the individual -- even Tom Brady doesn't come before the team.
"Humble -- and it starts and stops there," Evans said. "Everything that is demanded of you puts you on the back burner."
The former fullback recalled a time in New England when the "Patriot Way" blitzed him.
"In 2007, we got Randy [Moss] and Wes [Welker] and Bill came to me and said 'You had a great year last year blocking. The two-back stuff was some of the best we've ever had, but we're not running any of that this year. I need you to lose eight pounds over the next six weeks when you go home before camp. You're going to be doing all of our short yardage and goal line. I need you on every special teams, and I need you to have an impact on all of those special teams.' "
Evans took his meeting with Belichick in stride and did exactly what he was asked.
"A lot of guys would've been upset," Evans said. "Well, why not? Why this? I knew why. Randy and Wes always needed to be on the field, and we needed to beat people the way that we beat them."
Evans acknowledged that if he didn't comply with his new role in 2007, he would've been shown the door.
Yet, throughout all the requirements and expectations, the players who have achieved success under Belichick recognize that the head coach knows what he's doing, and that he does his job, perhaps, better than any other football coach.
"When it's all said and done, when you look at his record, when you look at his résumé, when you look at how he's won games, being the best at situational football, in-game adjustments, putting players in certain positions or getting rid of high-profile players and still having success, I think, hands down, he's probably the best coach to ever do it. I put him up there with probably Paul Brown," McGinest said.
Belichick's success is undeniable. He might not be liked by everyone, but his coaching résumé stacks up with those of football's greats. New England's head coach does his job well, and he makes sure his players follow that lead.