Print and Go Back ESPN.com: New England Patriots [Print without images]

Monday, November 19, 2012
Belichick: 'Football players play'

By Mike Reiss

For those asking the question why Bill Belichick would leave a top player like Rob Gronkowski in a blowout victory -- which is a hot-button talk-radio topic after Gronkowski broke his forearm while playing the wing on an extra-point attempt that made the score 59-24 Sunday -- Belichick shared his philosophy on the topic.

As part of his regularly scheduled appearance on sports radio WEEI, Belichick was asked by co-host Michael Holley his thinking on when to pull players.

"We've seen those games in the NFL every year, teams that have a lead -- you can go back to the Indianapolis-Tampa game when they scored like 24 points in four minutes, the Buffalo-Houston playoff game where it's 35-0 at halftime and you lose 38-35, whatever it was. It doesn't take much in this league. Teams can score quickly. Turnovers.

"I think you just keep playing. At some point, there is a point [but] then you only have so many players, so somebody has to play. I think you have to be careful when you are trying to run a team to go up to one guy and say, 'Michael, we're going to leave you in the game because we don't really care about you, but Glenn, we're going to take you out because you're really important.' I don't think that's really a good way to approach a team. I've never done that. I don't think that would be a very successful approach to it."

Belichick expounded upon his thoughts on managing those situations, before adding, "Football players play football. You tell me which guys are going to get hurt and I'll get them out of there."

As for the wing position on the field-goal protection unit, Belichick previously mentioned that it's an important job.

"I could just hear it now, if someone else is in at wing that wasn't used to playing there on the field-goal team, and a guy came around the edge and dove in there and the holder or kicker got torn up -- 'Why was he in there? Why wouldn't you go with the same guy that's been doing it all game?' We can play that game all game. As long as you know what the results are, you always have the right argument. Players are prepared to play 60 minutes. The game is 60 minutes long. If you can take a guy out, or you want to take a guy out, you can do that. But a guy's got to play."