Willie McGinest Spills the Secret to Why the ‘Patriot Way’ Works Under Bill Belichick: ‘This Is What We Do’

The New England Patriots are easily one of the most accomplished franchises in sports over the last two decades. Bill Belichick has cemented himself as one of the greatest coaches in NFL history. The ‘Patriot Way’ is not for everyone, but it’s worked for Belichick. His former player, Willie McGinest, sheds light on why New England has been so successful.

Willie McGinest reveals the Patriots’ secret to success

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick talks to Willie McGinest after Super Bowl XLIX
Former Patriots linebacker Willie McGinest shakes hands with Bill Belichick after the Super Bowl | Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Willie McGinest spent the first 12 seasons of his NFL career in New England after the Patriots drafted him with the No. 4 overall pick in the 1994 NFL Draft.

The former defensive end and linebacker enjoyed a productive tenure in New England, finishing with 672 tackles, 78 sacks, 16 forced fumbles, and four interceptions in 171 games.

McGinest finished his career as a member of the Cleveland Browns, but he cherished the time he spent playing under Bill Belichick. The 2-time Pro Bowler recently joined The Rich Eisen Show and discussed why the ‘Patriot Way’ has been so successful over the years.

“We’re not trying to be anybody else or do anything else,” said McGinest. “This is what we do. I think that’s why the Patriot Way was created because it’s always been about what this team and organization need to do to win games. And not try to follow what everybody else around the league is doing.”

Me-first guys don’t last long in New England. Belichick preaches players putting the team before themselves. Those willing to buy in have found success.

Willie McGinest bought in and helped contribute to three Super Bowl championships during his time with the Patriots.

Bill Belichick’s game planning is elite

Bill Belichick is easily the greatest NFL coach of the modern era and possibly league history. The ‘Patriot Way’ represents the culture in the building and sets the stage for what the franchise wants to accomplish.

By establishing a culture of teamwork, accountability, and professionalism, Belichick also instilled a winning culture.

The 6-time Super Bowl-winning coach doesn’t just tell players what to do. He puts in the necessary behind-the-scenes work to ensure his team’s preparation every time it steps on the field.

Belichick is known as an elite strategist. He’s a defensive-minded coach who game plans like no other coach in the NFL.

The Patriots’ head man excels at studying film and picking up on the tendencies of his opponents. His goal is to limit the strengths of the opposing offense, and he succeeds more often than not.

Losing is a rarity in New England because of proper preparation. It’s not often that Bill Belichick gets out-coached. He deserves plenty of credit for the Patriots’ turnaround in 2021.

McGinest sees similarities in the 2001 and 2021 Patriots


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The New England Patriots are currently on a seven-game winning streak, heading into a Week 15 tilt against the Indianapolis Colts.

Bill Belichick and company got off to a slow start but have since hit their stride at the perfect time. This team reminds Willie McGinest of the 2001 Patriots team that won the Super Bowl.

“He’s [Belichick] recalling what it took that year,” said McGinest. “You got a young quarterback [Mac Jones] that doesn’t have a lot of experience but has the talent that won’t lose you football games. He plays well within the system, and you can put him in position to play at a high level with the running game.”

The former defensive star thinks Belichick sees a lot of Tom Brady in Mac Jones, which has helped him develop the rookie quarterback.

“All these things you see from Mac Jones, you saw from Tom Brady,” he said. “And there’s a great defense and great special teams that gives this offense multiple opportunities. They turn the ball over and give you great field position.”

As McGinest suggests, it’s an all-around team effort in New England. The Patriots boast the NFL’s No. 1 defense, allowing just 15.3 points and 310 yards per game to opposing offenses.

A dominant defense and strong rushing attack help a young signal-caller like Jones.

“We didn’t need the quarterback to throw for 400 yards a game,” said McGinest. “It’s kind of identical.”

Bill Belichick has the Patriots playing like one of the best teams in the NFL, and the Super Bowl could be a real possibility.

All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference