New England Patriots

ORCHARD PARK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 29: Brandon Copeland #51 of the New York Jets looks up after warming up before an NFL game against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field on December 29, 2019 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images)

By Alex Barth,

It shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody that Bill Belichick and the Patriots do some things differently in the NFL. The real secret, is what and how they are different. Thursday morning, linebacker Brandon Copeland pulled back that curtain a bit.

Copeland is a seven-year NFL vet who has spent time with the Ravens, Titans, Lions, and most recently the Jets before signing with the Patriots back in March. He has played for six head coaches before Belichick. Even with all of that experience, the Patriots approach to defense is something Copeland has never seen before.

Having spent the last two years with the Jets in the AFC East, playing the Patriots twice a year, Copeland had a chance to view the operation from the outside looking in.

He described his previous view of the Patriots as “a very detail oriented, very focused on everyone doing their job and doing their job at the highest level possible.” Now walking through the door himself, he has a much clearer picture of exactly how detail oriented they are.

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Speaking with reporters Thursday, Copeland told reporters his understanding of his role revolves around the idea that the Patriots defense is ‘flexible.’

What does having a ‘flexible’ defense mean? According to Copeland, “Being any player on this defense, you know what everyone else is doing around you. And I can honestly say that that doesn’t happen in every defense that I’ve been in for the past seven years in my career. So, when I talk about flexibility, I just talk about just an understanding, right?”

“It’s not typical that your nose guard knows what your safety is doing on a play,” Copeland continued. “And that’s a beautiful thing.”

Copeland said this one-mindedness allows the Patriots defense “to play much faster on defense because you just know where everyone is around you, you know where to push the ball to, all of that type of stuff.”

Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at