New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick compares gunner Matthew Slater to some of the all-time greats, according to ESPN reporter Mike Reiss. While Belichick has a past of being disgruntled and short with media, when asked the right questions, he blossoms and opens up in depth.
Belichick rarely opens up with the media, however, the question tends to be regarding the game of football or opponents he respects when he does. Due to the rarity of Belichick overflowing information, it’s normally noteworthy when it does occur. As of recent, he offered up praise relating to Slater, Future Hall of Famer Tom Brady, and current Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor.
“Matthew Slater is to special teams what Tom Brady is to offense and Lawrence Taylor is to defense in his view,” Belichick said during an NFL coaches breakfast. “He speaks of how fortunate he has felt to coach the three.”
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Slater Continues to Earn Belichick’s Respect
Slater will be joining Belichick for his 15th season. Within those 15 seasons, Slater has been rewarded 10 Pro Bowls and two first-team All-Pro honors during his tenure with the Patriots, according to Pro Football Reference.
There’s no secret, he’s one of the few special teamers throughout the league to truly become a household name. Slater becoming a Future Hall of Famer with only one catch reception throughout the entirety of his career, which one may consider remarkable. Not to mention, Slater is a three-time Super Bowl Champion.
Belichick comparing Slater to the all-time greats is an honor not many get the privilege of hearing or seeing. Belichick comparing him to Brady and Taylor speaks volumes. Brady is considered the G.O.A.T (greatest of all time) for the game of football, let alone, the best quarterback.
While Taylor is revered as the greatest football player ever, he’s recognized as one of the most dominating forces in NFL history. He’s widely considered the greatest defensive player of all time. However, Slater’s resume and praise from one of the most respected coaches in all of the sports may help his case to sneak into the Hall of Fame.
“Certainly Matt Slater will go up there, in the kicking game, with (Tom) Brady on offense and (Lawrence) Taylor on defense,” Belichick mentions in the press conference. “So I feel very, very fortunate to have the opportunity to coach all the players, but I’d say those three in particular.”
What Is Slater’s Role in 2022?
In 2021, the Patriots’ special teams ranked 16th overall, according to Statmuse.com. Although the Patriots’ special teams were not as effective as they usually are they still have their longtime captain, Slater, to lead them to the right path.
Last season, the Pats allowed an uncharacteristic league-high four blocked kicks. For the 11th straight year, Slater has been voted captain, yet, he’s also played more downs than anyone on the roster. Slater ended the season with the second-highest special team tackles (13) only trailing Cody Davis (15).
Slater has been an anchor in the return game for the Patriots. The Pats gained an average of 11.3 and 21.8 yards in the punt and kick return game, however, opposing teams yielded only 8.6 and 21.2 yards. His offensive role is very minimal it seems the Patriots use him often as the deep man on game-ending kneel-downs. However, he still earned a Pro Bowl nomination last year.
Slater’s power and role on the team come from his leadership and respect for teammates. He’s a leading voice on the team especially moving towards the Brady era into the rookie Mac Jones era. Nobody could have predicted the ending to last season, however, the impact of Slater’s voice can alter the direction of this young team.