While he’s often terse, there are times when Patriots coach Bill Belichick will open up to reporters, and pull the curtain back on their process.
Friday was one of those days, as he spoke for more than 25 minutes, including a long discussion of how many mistakes he can tolerate.
In the context of the fumbling of running back Stevan Ridley, he talked about the “below-the-line level” at which things cost teams games.
“When it’s below the line, we can’t live with it. It hurts the team,” Belichick said, via Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com. “ Now we’re all going to make mistakes, and nobody makes more of them than I do. I understand that mistakes are part of the game. I’ve been in it long enough to know there’s no perfect player, no perfect game or practice. If you go out there and compete against high-level competition, they’re going to make some plays, too.
“But there’s a below-the-line [level] and we just can’t live with that and expect to win. That’s the bottom line. Things are going to happen that are below the line that we have to correct, but we have to stay above the line. It’s as simple as that. That line is drawn at every position with various criteria. It’s not scientific, there’s no textbook on it, how to handle each situation. . . .That’s a critical part of coaching in any sport. Particularly football, but any sport.
“The things that cause you to lose, you have to eliminate. Before you can win, you can’t lose. When you do things as a coach or as a player that cause you to lose, then you won’t be in this job long.”
He went on to talk about how Hall of Fame tight end Ozzie Newsome corrected himself as a player.
“When he was rookie, he fumbled, lost the ball, team lost the game, [then] never fumbled again the rest of his career,” Belichick said of the Ravens General Manager. “Why is Ozzie Newsome in the Hall of Fame? That’s why. That kind of commitment, that kind of performance. It was important enough to him. Fumbled once, didn’t fumble again the rest of his entire [13-year] career. Now think about that. Want to know how a guy gets in the Hall of Fame? That’s one reason.”
While Ridley’s not likely to join Newsome in Canton, Belichick’s thoughts do indicate he’s willing to let a guy out of the doghouse — provided he proves that he’s trying to work his way out.