Bill Belichick won’t tolerate tardiness. Not even in a blizzard.
Patriots players know the snow expected from Winter Storm Grayson this week is no excuse to be late for meetings and practice.
“You certainly better leave yourself enough time to get here on time,” Patriots special teams captain Matthew Slater told reporters on Wednesday. “We all know there’s weather. Coach has mentioned that several times to the team. I wouldn’t want to be the guy who’s late (Thursday). But look, I don’t think we’re going to have an issue. Guys understand we need to be here. The expectation is what it is. We live in New England. There’s going to be weather. Give yourself some extra time; as simple as that.”
Winter Storm Grayson, which has already wreaked havoc in Florida with unexpected snow, is expected to dump up to 18 inches of snow in Massachusetts on Thursday. Belichick famously sent four players home in 2009 because they were late to the first meeting of the day following an overnight snowfall.
Devin McCourty was a 2010 draft pick of the Patriots, but remembered those 2009 reports and realized Belichick will never give someone a pass for being late.
“I knew not to come late,” McCourty said Wednesday. “I found a couple nice places that are about 15 or 20 minutes away my rookie year and I was like ‘Nah, I’ll do the three minutes away.’ I think guys know that. You see it. You see that around the league when you’re in college. Your season is usually over by now except for a couple teams so you’re following that. Everyone follows the NFL when you play in college so guys know. You know here is the one place where no matter what time of the year it is, if it’s not going well you’ll get fired. Like I always say, the goal every day is not to get fired. So guys know that.
“This day in age, the social media world and the different things [we] have, I think everyone has probably seen it. He’s mentioned it that he doesn’t care,” McCourty added. “Don’t call and say your car got stuck. I think everyone knows there’s two hotels up here at Patriot Place so stay there for the night. Find a way. But I tell guys, like wake up earlier, especially if you don’t have a garage or something. Wake up. Go clean your car out. I think guys know. We’re in the NFL playoffs. I think everyone kind of — if you’ve been here for a week or two weeks you kind of get that this guy Bill that talks every day in the morning meeting, he doesn’t play. So not much needs to be said about being here on time and being ready to work.”
McCourty said Belichick’s hard line results in his players holding each other accountable.
“You talk about winning games and being in tough situations and a lot of that comes down to you trusting your teammate that he’s going to do what he’s supposed to do and that comes from practice repetition, from being with these guys in the locker room,” the two-time Pro Bowler said. “That comes from when it’s a hard day for any of us to get here, guys find a way to get here. We’ve got guys that go through family issues and personal issues and they might have to take a day or two.
“In a reality they should really be away for a month but because of their love for their teammates and being accountable to the team they come back and they work. I think you’ve got to think about that stuff when it’s a day where you’ve got to drive — I’m not telling you to drive like crazy and crash to get here, but wake up a little earlier and make it a priority for yourself.”
The Patriots (13-3) have homefield advantage throughout the AFC playoffs and earned a first-round bye. That doesn’t mean the Patriots were taking it easy as they wait to find out whether they’ll play host to the Bills, Titans or Chiefs.
“This week’s a little bit more about us, about doing the things that we can do better, about each individual player and coach trying to look for areas of improvement for himself or his group or what he does,” Belichick said. “Hopefully, be able to apply that in some way to whoever our next opponent is. There are a lot of things that if we do better it doesn’t really matter who the opponent is. There are just things that we need to understand better, or execute better, or just practice and get a better timing and maybe relationship, or things like that on those plays that would help us no matter who we play. I think those are some of the things that we’ll spend a little more time on this week.”