‘A crazy thing I saw:’ Martellus Bennett recalled Tom Brady responding to a Bill Belichick callout

"From then I was just like, ‘Oh, we’re gonna be great.’"

Tom Brady Martellus Bennett Patriots
Tom Brady congratulates teammate Martellus Bennett after he scored a touchdown for the Patriots in 2016. –Jim Davis/ Globe Staff

One of the pillars of the ‘Patriot Way’ is that no player is above criticism, not even Tom Brady. That longstanding approach caused some consternation in 2018, according to the famous ESPN story about a rift in the relationship between Brady and Bill Belichick, but the “Foxborough High quarterback” barbs have also produced results.

In 2016, those results included a 14-2 regular season record and a stunning comeback victory in the Super Bowl. Martellus Bennett, a tight end on that New England team, shared a story on FS1’s “First Things First” about the quarterback responding to the head coach’s critiques.

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“A crazy thing I saw, one day we were at practice and the defense is crushing us. Like we can’t complete no passes. You know, sometimes they do the install and it’s just the right install,” Bennett said.

“So we come into the meeting and Bill always has the bad plays of the day and he’s just like calling out Tom. You know, like, ‘We have quarterbacks that can’t make throws.’ I’m like, ‘This is Tom Brady. He can make all the throws.’ And I’ve never seen coaches really call out the quarterbacks in group meetings.”

Belichick, of course, has been known to rip into Brady to send a message to the rest of the team.

“I sit right behind Tom because I’m the quarterback whisperer,” Bennett said. “I like to whisper in their ear when I see things. So after that meeting, I go to finish my workout or whatever and Tom is in there doing drop-backs. He’s just throwing drop-backs. He’s pissed off. The next day we go 33-for-33 or something like that at practice and from then I was just like, ‘Oh, we’re gonna be great.’ I’ve never seen anyone that didn’t shut down. He was like, ‘All right, I’m gonna show you tomorrow.’ He just picked them apart.”

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The former tight end offered that Belichick will call out anybody, and Bennett had to stifle his laughter when it happened.

“I try not to laugh sometimes because, like, the way he does it is funny to me,” he said. “I find Bill to be hilarious. But he calls everybody out. That’s the first team I’ve been on where I felt everyone was equal.”

Bennett caught 55 passes from Brady for 701 yards and seven touchdowns in 2016. Although the 32-year-old has no interest in returning to replace Rob Gronkowski, he does not expect Gronkowski’s retirement or Brady’s advanced age to slow the Patriots’ success. He compared New England to the blockbuster hit ‘Avengers: Endgame.’

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“It’s just funny,” Bennett said. “Someone said, ‘A Marvel movie broke the box [office] records.’ Of course it did. It’s supposed to break the record every single time they drop one.”