On the latest edition of “The Green Light” podcast with Chris Long, Patriots outside linebackers coach Steve Belichick talks about the worst playoff loss the team endured the last few years, the ups and downs of Super Bowls, and the fact that Ernie Adams still handles some “projects” for the team, despite the fact that he retired a few years back.
“We have a saying around here: ‘Once you get to the playoffs, only one plane lands. And everybody else crashes and burns in the ocean,’ " Belichick said. “Only one team’s plane is going to land and everybody else is going to crash and burn.”
Long asked him what “plane crash” was the worst.
“You guys beating us in the Philly Super Bowl in 2017,” Belichick said of the 41-33 loss to Philadelphia. “That sucked.”
Long, who joined the Eagles that season after a year with New England, had his own take on that Super Bowl.
“We expected to win that game,” he said. “But I’m not going to lie, dude. I was walking around the whole week asking guys, ‘How much do you think we can score?’ because, like, Tom [Brady] in the second half and [Rob Gronkowski] and those guys just started figuring us out. It just became like, ‘[Expletive], who can get a stop?’
“The thing I remember about that game, and I don’t know if you remember this too, was that everybody was sick because it was so damn cold up there in Minneapolis and we were staying in the Mall of America. And you all were on one side and we were on the other side and it was like just germs traveling back and forth. Nobody went outside.”
It wasn’t all bad New England memories. Long, who was part of the team that won Super Bowl LI the year before, said he remembered very little about the halftime speech that preceded the legendary comeback to beat the Falcons. Belichick helped him fill in some of the blanks.
“A couple of things I remember,” Belichick said. “Julian [Edelman] sitting on the bike in the middle of the locker room, [saying] like, ‘It’s a 60-minute game.’ You know Jules; always [expletive] around. ‘We’ve got them right where we want them.’ Which we didn’t.
“Jules was, you know, kind of keeping it light. That’s the great thing about sports. And we went out there and just kind of kept battling and not ended up bouncing our way.”
Long, who bonded with Rob Ninkovich that season, said he had a heart-to-heart with his teammate.
“We were sitting there … I’ll never forget the conversation,” said Long. “[Ninkovich] was like, ‘Dude, this is going to be awesome. But I’m just going to tell you, if you lose a Super Bowl, you’re going to wish you went 0-16 and never sniffed it.’ He’s like, ‘It is the worst feeling on Planet Earth.’ "
Belichick also lauded the work of Ernie Adams, and added that despite the fact that Adams retired a few years ago, he still has a hand in some “projects” that only the head coach trusts him to execute.
“I used to have some great conversations with him … any position on the field, he was well-schooled in,” Belichick said. “He used to talk to me about quarterbacks, talk to me about specialists, talk to me about any position on the field. He was so smart but he broke it down very, very simply for me. I love Ernie — I love it when he comes back around here. He’s brilliant.
“He comes around every once and awhile. My Dad still has him doing some projects that … no one else he would trust to do. He comes in here, watches some of the draft picks before the draft. He’s good with all that stuff.”
Long chided Belichick for his father’s longstanding fondness for Rutgers players, saying the Patriots’ head coach has a “Rutgers fetish.” Long also asked Belichick about his infamous tongue-wagging appearance from last season, one that was eventually turned into a GIF.
“I was just thinking a lot,” he said. “I’ll never forget after the game, my wife and Pat Chung, they were sitting together, and they just kind of put their arm around me and said, ‘It’s going to be OK.’ ‘What the [expletive] are you talking about?’ They were like ‘Just battle through it. You’ve been through worse. Battle through it.’
“I was just in it. All my friends loved it.”
Long wrapped up with a series of rapid-fire questions, including who Belichick believes is the most underrated Patriot.
“I think Chung is underrated,” he said. “Guys like [Kyle] Van Noy. Guys like [Kyle] Dugger and Adrian Phillips last year. A critical piece of [our] secondary was Jason McCourty and his flexibility in the secondary and kind of being that next corner.
“Jon Jones is one of my favorite players,” Belichick added. “Undrafted kid, earned it all. Losing him in the Dallas game last year was a huge blow for us. I love Jon Jones. I’ll go with Jon Jones. He’s all business. He does the right thing all the time. Tough as nails. I love Jon Jones.”