Devin McCourty Admits the Patriots’ Biggest Motivation Comes From a Rare Feeling: ‘We Don’t Want to Be Living This Way Again’

Legendary head coach Bill Belichick has set a high standard for any player that walks into the New England Patriots locker room. The ‘Patriot Way’ is real, and those who’ve been successful under Belichick have lived into that mantra. Defensive captain Devin McCourty is one of those players.

The 3-time Super Bowl champion revealed why a rare losing season fueled New England’s turnaround in 2021.

The 2020 season was a letdown for the Patriots

The 2020 NFL season was one of change. Tom Brady spent the first 20 years of his Hall of Fame career as a member of the New England Patriots. He opted for warmer weather and joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The first-year post-Brady didn’t go smoothly for Bill Belichick’s squad.

New England replaced TB12 with Cam Newton, who brought a much different set of skills to the table than his predecessor. The offense also lacked enough playmakers to compete with the best the league had to offer.

Devin McCourty and company still had a solid defense. However, offensive woes created too much pressure for the unit to overcome.

After an up and down season, the Patriots finished with a below-average 7-9 record.

The 2020 campaign marked the first time New England didn’t win the AFC East since 2008 and the first losing season since 2000.

Brady led the Bucs to a Super Bowl victory, leaving Patriots fans with a sour taste in their mouths.

Devin McCourty says New England used down year as motivation

Patriots safety Devin McCourty talks before game against the Jets
Devin McCourty of the New England Patriots gives teammates a pep talk before playing the New York Jets | Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Losing seasons have been a rare occurrence for the New England Patriots since Bill Belichick took over the reins. Coming into the 2021 season, the team wanted to leave no doubt that it was still a force to be reckoned with in the AFC.

Devin McCourty was a guest on The Rich Eisen Show recently. The 2-time Pro Bowl safety discussed how the rare losing season motivated the team to bounce back in 2021.

“Last year left a bad taste in everybody’s mouth,” said McCourty. “It wasn’t what we wanted, wasn’t the expectation. It wasn’t the standard. I think all of us walked out of here last year after the last game, happy that we won the game. But also that feeling of well, we don’t want to be living this way again.”

McCourty noted that Belichick adopted the same mentality heading into the 2021 season.

“No one wants to be on a losing team,” said the veteran defensive back. “It’s my 12th year here, and I’ve never had to experience that. For him, he’s been here 20-something years, and they’ve done a lot of winning. I don’t think anybody enjoyed last year. It was definitely a sense of urgency and a focus on making this year different.”

After a slow start, the Patriots are now 8-4, sitting atop the AFC East once again.

Bill Belichick deserves credit for the 2021 turnaround

It was unclear what to expect from the New England Patriots in 2021. Bill Belichick made another quarterback change, releasing Cam Newton before the regular season. That opened the door for rookie Mac Jones to secure the starting gig from Day 1.

New England was pretty slow out of the gates, losing three of its first four games. In just a matter of weeks, the light switch flipped for Belichick’s crew.

After a narrow overtime loss to the Dallas Cowboys, the Patriots have rattled off six straight victories. While they didn’t play any elite teams during that stretch, they’ve notched wins over multiple teams in the playoff hunt, including the Los Angeles Chargers, Cleveland Browns, and Tennessee Titans.

Coach Belichick deserves a great deal of credit for this team’s quick turnaround. Mac Jones has made significant strides since the season began. He endured some early struggles, like many other rookies. However, he’s licked his wounds and matured in the process.

The Patriots boast the No. 2 defense in the NFL, but they’ve been playing like the best as of late. Belichick had Matt Patricia rejoin his staff, and his return has made a tangible difference. Devin McCourty, Matthew Judon, and J.C. Jackson have spearheaded this opportunistic unit.

This version of New England is like night and day compared to the 2020 team. Bill Belichick deserves much of the credit. The defense’s success is a testament to his elite game planning. There’s not an overload of talent on the offensive side, but great coaching has overcome any deficiencies.

This is the way the Patriots want to live.

All statistics courtesy of Pro Football Reference.

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