The New England Patriots built their dynasty on the shoulders of two men: quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick. With Brady having left the organization after two decades and six Super Bowl wins, however, the pressure is on Belichick to lead his team into what projects to be the Jarrett Stidham era. What to expect is anyone’s guess, as prognosticators and analysts have ranked the Patriots anywhere between being one of the league’s better teams to competing for nothing more than a high draft pick.
It remains to be seen how New England’s 2020 season ultimately unfolds, but with Belichick at the helm the team still appears to be in good hands — something that was recently reiterated by former Patriots depth quarterback J.T. O’Sullivan. In a conversation with Adrian Franke of German-based media platform SPOX, O’Sullivan, among other topics, touched on his time working under Belichick and how he perceives the future Hall of Famer and his abilities to lead an organization.
“Bill Belichick is probably the only head coach, at least among those who I experienced, who could be an elite position coach at every position. Most head coaches either have an offensive, defensive or special teams background. I was under the impression that Bill could coach every position at a very high level,” O’Sullivan said before going into more details on how Belichick conducts day-to-day operations in the Patriots’ building.
“In the NFL, there is a team meeting every morning,” he said. “The head coach says a few words, maybe points out a few key matchups against the upcoming opponent or some logistical details for a road trip. Usually, those meetings are about 10 minutes – with Bill it was about half an hour. And he spoke about offense, defense and special teams, with video examples from practice, the next opponent and our last game. And then he told us what we would have to do to win.
“He did that for every position, and even criticized future Hall of Famers in front of the team. That doesn’t exist elsewhere, and I think that’s why there is such a sense of responsibility within the Patriots,” O’Sullivan continued. “But at the same time that’s probably why you hear about all this friction. The whole system is built around his ability to coach every position, and that was totally different compared to any other team I’ve been with.”
Belichick apparently left a positive impression on O’Sullivan despite him only having spent a month in New England: the Patriots signed him to their practice squad before the 2006 season opener, and released him again following their Week 4 game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Along the way, the former sixth-round draft pick did not appear in a single game. And yet, the lessons he learned from his stint under Belichick still impact the now-40-year-old to this day.
“Personally, I took some things from how Bill and Tom communicate and that they have a deeper understanding of one another than most head coaches and quarterbacks. And I saw how that developed, and how much time they spend together. I try to do the same as a coach,” O’Sullivan said. He himself is currently running The QB School and also working as a high school coach in San Diego — coincidentally coaching a team nicknamed the Patriots.