Bill Belichick is embarrassing the rest of the NFL.
It's not enough that he is going to a record-breaking (his own) seventh Super Bowl as a head coach, with a chance to win a record-setting fifth Super Bowl on Sunday. That kind of dominance, in and of itself, would be enough to effectively and collectively humble the rest of the professional football world.
What makes this season, and this team, even more impressive is Belichick's usage of castoffs from other franchises all over his roster. It's nothing short of remarkable.
Let's start on defense where the Patriots' best run defender, defensive tackle Alan Branch, is on his fourth team after New England signed him as a street free agent in the middle of the 2014 season. Like a lot of guys, he's gotten better each year during his time in Foxboro.
The Patriots also get solid contributions up front along the defensive line from Rams cap casualty Chris Long and Jabaal Sheard, a player the Browns allowed to walk after the 2014 season.
This doesn't even count defensive end Rob Ninkovich, who was cut numerous times by both the Saints and Dolphins before finding a permanent home in New England. That's old news at this point.
The linebacker level is more of the same where the Pats are getting productive play from former Bears first-round pick Shea McClellin and Lions second-round pick Kyle Van Noy. Neither the Bears nor the Lions could get anything out of either player, yet Belichick found ways to allow them to flourish. Van Noy, for example, has a very specific niche as a match-up guy in coverage against tight ends and running backs and is brought in when that need arises.
That is probably the best example of the difference between Belichick and most of the other teams around the NFL. While they primarily focus on what guys can't do, Belichick just figures out what they can do well and only asks them to do that. Seems easy enough, but a lot of times in life, the genius is in the simplicity.
The defensive backfield is more of the same where the Patriots have gotten great play out of a couple of former Philadelphia Eagles. When Philly cut safety Patrick Chung after failing to get much out of him as a free agent in 2013, the Pats happily scooped back up their former Draft pick and used him in a role that has allowed him to be one of their leading tacklers this season.
Cornerback Eric Rowe somehow wasn't good enough to be one of the top five cover guys in arguably the worst cornerback group in the league in Philadelphia, yet there he is in the playoffs making plays for the Patriots by matching up against bigger wide receivers, which is exactly what he does well.
The list goes on and on and gets even more amazing on offense every time you look at it.
Multiple teams gave up on running back LeGarrette Blount and tight end Martellus Bennett for various reasons, yet they've had no trouble fitting in and winning in New England.
Perhaps even better examples exist in wide receiver Chris Hogan and running back Dion Lewis.
Hogan played in the same division as the Patriots as a member of the Buffalo Bills over the past three seasons, yet the Bills thought so little of him that they gave him the lowest restricted free agent tender during the 2016 offseason. Then they compounded the mistake by not matching the Patriots modest three-year, $12 million offer sheet that Hogan received. So, after Tyrod Taylor ran for his life during the regular season trying to find open receivers with Sammy Watkins sidelined, Hogan ended up breaking the Patriots franchise record for receiving yards in a postseason contest in the AFC Championship Game against the Steelers. Unbelievable.
As for Lewis, he was waived a couple of times in part because of an inability to stay healthy. But the bottom line is the Patriots gave him the chance to work through those injuries and flourish after teams like the Browns and Colts gave up on him.
There's a reason why some teams are good while others are not and it isn't a coincidence. The famed "Patriot Way" has always been about everyone doing their job, and this year is pretty much the same.
Except most of the guys doing their jobs so well for the Patriots this year are players a lot of other teams around the NFL didn't think were worthy of even having jobs in the first place.