Devin McCourty, fresh off signing a new deal to return to the Patriots, spoke with reporters via conference call on Wednesday, touching on what the post-Brady Patriots will look like and how he'll help lead the team into the coming season.
"I'm excited, I think we have a great group of guys in the locker room," said McCourty, who was unfazed by the veteran departures that have hit the team in recent weeks. "I know everyone's like 'what's going to happen, everything is brand new,' but I don't really see it like that. I just see a continuance of what we've been doing and guys assuming the same leadership roles. We just have to continue to do what we've been doing."
Rejoining his brother Jason, whose option was picked up earlier this offseason, was a big part of McCourty's motivation to return to New England, but he was also excited to continue his leadership role within the organization. While many might be writing off the Patriots and have diminished expectations, McCourty's focus remains the same.
"My goal's always win as many games as possible," said the 10-year vet. "I don't think we ever come into a season and talk 'Super Bowl, Super Bowl, Super Bowl.' It's about improvement and winning games along the way. That will stay the same.
"It's our job as players to go out there and compete. I just think for us as a team, my 10 years here, that's always going to be the thing. I'm passionate about that. I don't think that's going to change, I think that's how we're going to be. I expect that's how we'll lead the team, get new guys, young guys to follow the same way."
McCourty has been around long enough to have seem similar kinds of changes during an offseason. Those are experiences he'll be able to draw from and a big reason why his return to the team is so important.
"What happens on teams naturally is guys step up and become new leaders," said McCourty. "I think about the team when Vince [Wilfork] left, then [Jerod] Mayo left, Logan Mankins left. I remember being one of those guys looking around saying 'that's a lot of our leadership gone' and next thing you know I'm one of the leaders on the team."
"Obviously experienced guys," observed McCourty after checking out some of their film. "Adrian Phillips, when the Chargers made that run in the playoffs having all those defensive backs on the field, and being able to look like they play linebacker, play safety, play a bunch of different roles.
"Overall, that's us in a nutshell, that's our defense, that's our team. Having guys who are team-first guys who can play multiple roles, who can help the team in a bunch of different ways. I think ultimately all of us being able to help on special teams and have a role there really defines our team."
Despite the departures, not much has changed in McCourty's approach.
"As a defense, your goal always has to be the same when you take the field - it's to get turnovers, dominate and get the offense back on the field. I think for us as a defense, that's what we need to do."