Bill Belichick doesn’t say a lot at times, but the New England Patriots head coach often has a coded message behind his comments. The Patriots coach and his team never seems to forget things that other teams say about them, and that was evident on Sunday.
Belichick sneaked in a comment toward Philadelphia Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson after the Patriots 17-10 win over the Eagles. Belichick was nonchalant during his press conference, but he had been holding in the last sentence for 21 months … which is when the Patriots lost to the Eagles in Super Bowl LII.
“It really was a good team victory for us today. I am really proud of the way our guys competed,” Belichick said. “They just went out there and competed for 60 minutes. I know we didn’t get off to a great start, but we just kept battling and made plays in all three phases of the game. We played for 60 minutes and played some good situational football and made plays that we needed to make to win. Big drive offensively coming off of the goal line in the fourth quarter put our defense in a good field position. Defense played really well in the second half. The players covered well, rushed well, and they tackled real well. They just did a good job. It looked like everyone had fun out there today and we played a lot of good energy and it was good to come down here and get a win.”
Notice the traditional Belichick smirk at the end, holding in a laugh he wanted to get out.
The “fun” comments are in reference to Johnson saying no one actually enjoys playing for the Patriots, despite having six Super Bowls and becoming the gold standard in the NFL under Brady and Belichick.
“I just think that The Patriot Way it’s a fear-based organization,” Johnson said in February of 2018 on the Pardon My Take podcast. “Obviously, do they win? Hell yes, they win. They won for a long time. Do I think people enjoy and can say, ‘I had a lot of fun playing there’? No, I don’t. That’s just the God’s honest truth.
“When they go to interviews, they act like f—– robots. Hey, let’s stop being a d—head. We can be cordial for a little bit. You only get to do this job one time, so let’s have fun while we’re doing it. Not to be reckless, but hey, I’d much rather have fun and win a Super Bowl than be miserable and win five Super Bowls (the Patriots had five Super Bowls at the time of the comments). But hey, it is what it is.”
The Patriots were able to get the better of the Eagles in the Super Bowl LII rematch, scoring the final 17 points in a 17-10 victory. Johnson left the game in the second quarter with a head injury as the Eagles’ offensive line struggled in his absence.
New England is 9-1 while the Eagles are 5-5. The Patriots might be having more fun this year, at least through the first 11 weeks of the season (including Sunday).