Though the Patriots are in first place of the AFC East following the Bills’ loss on Sunday, Bill Belichick was unmoved by his team’s ascendance.
“We’re not really thinking about that,” Belichick said when asked about New England’s position in the standings during his weekly interview on WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show” on Monday morning.
“We’ll just take it one day at a time here and get ready for Tennessee.”
New England defeated the Falcons on Thursday to extend the team’s winning streak to five in a row, and will face the 8-3 Titans on Sunday at Gillette Stadium.
Despite the ongoing winning streak, Belichick also dismissed a question about whether the team — now 7-4 after a 2-4 start — was exceeding his expectations.
“I don’t really do the expectations thing,” he replied. “We just keep trying to get better every day where we’re at and move forward.”
Here are a few other takeaways from the inteview:
Belichick shared his favorite Thanksgiving side dish
Belichick has been asked about Thanksgiving side dishes in the past, generally declaring in 2019 that “there’s not much food that I don’t like.”
Asked about side dishes again on Monday, he had a slightly more specific answer.
“Oh boy. Well it would be hard for me to turn down any type of potatoes,” said Belichick. “Mashed potatoes, scalloped, or baked or however they’re made.”
“Load ‘em up,” Belichick joked. “You bet. Throw some butter on there. Starch me up.”
The contributions of Devin McCourty
Patriots safety Devin McCourty is playing in his 12th NFL season. The 2010 first-round pick has been a durable and versatile leader for New England’s defense through multiple Super Bowl runs, and remains a vital presence (typified by his interception of Matt Ryan in Thursday’s win).
“Devin’s had a great career. He’s an amazing person,” Belichick explained. “He gives us great leadership not just on game-day or at various points during the year. He does it on a daily basis, really helps hold our secondary and our defense together.
“We’re really fortunate to have him,” Belichick added. “He’s played a lot of good football for us through the years. Thirty interceptions, that’s a pretty good career—and counting, hopefully.”
The challenge of coaching against Mike Vrabel
One subplot to Sunday’s matchup against the Titans is that Belichick will face Mike Vrabel, a former Patriots player who’s now a head coach.
The two have gone head-to-head as coaches twice before, with Vrabel winning both games (including the 2020 wild-card clash that proved to be Tom Brady’s final game as a Patriot).
Belichick praised the former New England linebacker.
“Well Mike’s done a great job at Tennessee,” he noted. “Always had a lot of respect for Mike and certainly have a ton of respect for him when he was a position coach and as a head coach, for sure. It’ll be a big challenge. Tennessee’s obviously a good football team, one of the best teams in the league.
“Mike does a great job and other than when we play him, I’m rooting for him, but not this week,” said Belichick.
Belichick was asked about how much longer he wants to coach
While filming “A Football Life” with NFL Films in 2009, Belichick gave a candid quote on how long he thought he might coach for.
“I mean I don’t want to be like Marv Levy and coaching in my 70s,” said Belichick. “So you don’t have to worry about that. But fortunately that’s a few years off.”
Now 69, Belichick was asked if he might be rethinking that statement, given the team’s upward rise led by rookie quarterback Mac Jones.
“Again right now, really just focused on getting ready for Tennessee,” Belichick responded. “I’ll deal with all of that later. I appreciate you asking, thank you.”