Matt Cassel: How Bill Belichick motivates Patriots without fiery speeches


There's not a ton of trying to motivate with Bill Belichick.

He doesn't come in every week and say, “Guys, this is the game that defines us,” and things like that.

I’ve been around coaches like that. Rex Ryan gave unbelievable pregame speeches when I was with the Buffalo Bills about hitting people in the mouth, being more physical. "Don’t let people bully you. We want to be the big guys on the block." Those kinds of messages.

Bill’s main focus speaking to the team was the reality we needed to accomplish in the game. Offensively, defensively, special teams: He’d go through every unit and specifically point out this week's keys, whether it was taking care of the rush ends, establishing the run game or limiting big plays on defense. 

He would always lay out very concisely and clearly what the focal point should be and how we should try to attack this particular opponent.

After a win, he obviously congratulated us and kept it positive. But at the same time, he told us, "Look, enjoy tonight, enjoy what you guys have accomplished, and then we’ve got another great opponent and it’s right back to work."

When we came in Tuesday to review the film, no matter if we won by 58 points or 10 points, there were always corrections to be made about how we can get better. There were always things he found within the game, and things we had to focus on so it wouldn't hurt us down the road.

The bottom line: Bill has the pulse of the team. He doesn't have to go in there and motivate these guys. It's not a lot of "rah rah" or false hope, but he tells you how it is. 

That was the main difference between Bill and other coaches: Everybody is detail-oriented, but when you win in other organizations, it’s sometimes less detailed. They let little things slide by, simply based on the fact that everybody’s feeling good about a win.

When we lost, it was a different tone. I remember after we played the Miami Dolphins -- it was the infamous Wildcat game in 2008, when Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams came to Foxboro and rushed for like 250 yards (Editor's note: 211 yards) -- and we got absolutely stomped. 

But that following Tuesday, he didn't come in and rip us. 

Instead, we literally went out to the practice field, dug a hole, and buried the game film.

Seriously: It might still be there. Somebody might have to take a metal detector and go find that thing.

But I'm glad it got buried, because it sent a message to the team: "Look, you guys can sit here and dwell on this bad loss and beat yourself up over it, but after this moment right now, we’re burying it and we’re moving on. It’s in the past."

The bottom line: Bill has the pulse of the team. He doesn't have to go in there and motivate these guys. It's not a lot of "rah rah" or false hope, but he tells you how it is. 

He’s very candid, he’s very honest, and he’s very open about what we need to do to get better. And that's what everybody appreciates.

Editor's note: Matt Cassel had a 14-year NFL career that included four seasons with the New England Patriots (2005-2008). He's joining the NBC Sports Boston team for this season. You can find him on game days as part of our Pregame Live and Postgame Live coverage, as well as every week on Tom E. Curran’s Patriots Talk podcast and

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