Chicago Bears set up nicely as Bill Belichick’s next road kill

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FOXBORO — Forget all the lavish, over-the-top praise Bill Belichick heaped on the Chicago Bears on Wednesday.

When it comes to being the Hoodie’s next victim, the Bears couldn’t fit the profile any better.

They have a young, inexperienced quarterback under center in Justin Fields. They also have a first-time head coach calling the shots in Matt Eberflus.

It’s the perfect setup for the Patriots, whether Mac Jones, who seems likely to start given how good he looked during Thursday’s practice, or Bailey Zappe lines up under center Monday night.

Belichick versus the Fields/Eberflus combo looks to be the usual mismatch in the Patriots’ favor. That’s because Belichick typically feasts on the newbies, even without Tom Brady to help him get the upper hand.

Last year alone, the Patriots were 5-0 against first-year head coaches. Belichick also has a pretty good track record with first or second-year quarterbacks.

Case in point: the Patriots registered two wins over first-year Jets head coach Robert Salah, and his rookie quarterback Zach Wilson last season. They beat the Texans with rookie head coach David Culley and rookie Davis Mills.

They slaughtered the Jaguars with rookie Trevor Lawrence, and interim head coach Darrell Bevell late in the season.

They also got the better of Chargers rookie Justin Herbert and then-first year head coach Brandon Staley in 2020, and again in 2021.

Then, for good measure, Belichick once again had Sam Darnold’s number, two years after making him see “ghosts” in New York. Ditto Detroit’s Jared Goff, who is reduced to a puddle every time Belichick is on the opposing sideline.

“They did a bunch of stuff that made it hard,” Goff said after going scoreless and making two costly turnovers during the Lions’ Week 5 loss to the Patriots this season. “They have a really good idea of how you’re trying to attack them offensively. And their players are really smart. And they’re good players, too.

“In order to beat teams like that, defenses like that, you can’t make dumb mistakes like I did.”

Miami’s Mike McDaniel was one of the few exceptions to the first-time head coach rule, with the Dolphins beating the Pats Week 1 this season. But for the most part, Belichick prevails against many of the less-than-seasoned head coaches and quarterbacks.

The Bears are up next.

They not only have a first-year head coach, but are also one of the youngest teams in the NFL as the Patriots head coach pointed out Wednesday. So it’s pretty much a slam-dunk. Count on Belichick exploiting their youth.

“One thing helps us more than anything, when you talk about coaching, is Bill is one of the best coaches of all time,” defensive captain Devin McCourty said Wednesday,  “so I think that has a huge impact. If you have a coach coming in for his first year, and we’re coming in with a coach that’s been in the NFL 47 years, there’s an advantage there just game-plan wise.”

And that experience is just one of the reasons Belichick is tied with George Halas with 324 career wins, second-most as a head coach in NFL history.

He’s been there, done that so many times against the old and new. He’s defended every style of quarterback, outwitted some of the best coaches, and yet, there he was Wednesday morning, dressing up one of the worst teams in the league. One of Belichick’s strategies is to kill the worst teams with kindness prior to the game.

So he did it with the media, laying it on real thick in a seven-minute opening sermon, and he also provided the same lengthy dialogue pumping up the Bears to the players.

“Yeah, we got that whole (speech),” McCourty told the Herald. “You can be like, ‘This is B.S.,’ then you’ll go look at some of the stats and things he talks about, and you’ll be like, ‘OK, I kind of see what coach is saying.’ ”

Belichick’s team is on a bit of a roll having won two straight in convincing fashion. Part of his rationale to make the Bears sound like world-beaters is so the Patriots won’t get complacent, or take anyone too lightly.

Even if he rules over this type of competition.

While Fields might be 4-12 in his career with a 73.1 passer rating, Belichick made sure his team knew all of the places where the Bears quarterback could hurt them.

“You see Fields, and this guy is really athletic. And you think, ‘Damn, what are we going to do to stop that?’ ’’ said McCourty. “Then Bill steps up there, he’s played against Michael Vick, he’s coached against probably 40 guys that are similar in some way. So there’s that calming sense as a defense when you take the field.”

Of course, with the Bears having played on the previous Thursday night, Eberflus will have a little extra time to prep for the Patriots.

In that regard, Belichick also talked about preparing for perhaps “something we haven’t seen from them.”

But in the end, the Patriots will be prepared. Belichick always has something up his sleeve. It’s not often his team succumbs to an inferior opponent with a first-year head coach, and an inexperienced quarterback.

Said safety Adrian Phillips: “I’d say we feel good against anybody we play because of the way we prepare … we don’t really worry about whether someone’s a first-time head coach. We might understand some things better because of experience.

“Bill’s been coaching for like 40 years, but we don’t really get into the hype of that because anybody can be good. We just go out there and make sure we’re prepared and dominate.”



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