The five-time Super Bowl-winning coach has a knack for finding diamonds in the rough (Danny Woodhead was a nobody until he came to New England) and knowing when a player's value is about to expire.
On Thursday, Belichick was a guest speaker at Ohio State's annual coaches clinic. During his time at the pulpit, he revealed the three characteristics he looks for in players: that they're "tough, smart, dependable":
That’s where I would start. Tough — mentally and physically. Smart — good decisions, good football understanding, high football IQ. Dependable — [in] critical situations, you can count on those players to perform under pressure. You can count on those players to execute what you want to execute as a team. The tougher the game, the more critical the game, the more important the situation, the more I want the tough, smart, dependable player in the game, in the eye of the storm, making a decision that needs to be made for us to win.
We all want great players; we all want as many as we can get. But in the end, there’s a cap on that — I don’t care where you are or what program you’re in. We all have some good ones, maybe a few more than others here or there. But in the end, that’s the way most teams are comprised. It’s the bulk of the rest of the players that you need to decide based on your scheme, the style of play you want to be.
Everyone wants players that are tough and smart, but Belichick's desire for that third quality, dependability, appears to be what makes him stand out. For the Patriots, there's no room for unreliable personnel, whether it's a 3rd-and-1 situation or being on time for a Tuesday film session.