Junior Seau is just the latest veteran to accept the coach's proposition to play the pivotal inside linebacker in Belichick's selfless 3-4 defensive set.
Think about what Belichick has squeezed out of Bryan Cox, Ted Johnson and Roman Phifer, all in the same spot.
And now the 37-year-old Seau, 17 years in the NFL, racking up tackles (53 in eight games) like his 20-something days in San Diego.
Of course, tackling is Seau's job. Not roaming sideline to sideline with tenacity and abandon, as he did with the Chargers.
Nope. There are at least five, sometimes six or seven, other defenders funneling the ball carriers at Seau and Tedy Bruschi inside. Their job is tackle.
"Get an opportunity to make a play, and you're expected to make it," said outside linebacker Rosevelt Colvin.
Last seen floundering with the Dolphins in Miami, Seau signed here at the insistence of former Chargers mate Rodney Harrison, just two days after "retiring" from the game.
His game, due to injuries somewhat, had fallen off immeasurably, forcing Seau to think about hanging it up.
That's where Harrison came in, citing the likes of Phifer and Cox, who flourished at the spot with their instincts for the game.
Through eight games, seven of which Seau has started inside, the Pats are 6-2 with a defense that's ranked third against the rush, third in points allowed and 12th in yardage overall.
Colvin says that attitude is as important as athleticism on defense here in New England.
How else can you explain Belichick expending three No. 1 draft choices on defensive lineman in five years and asking them to focus on the dirty work.
"Defensively here, you have to be unselfish. It has to rank up at the top for importance," said Colvin. "Year in year out, the team defensively, you have to be unselfish. If you think it's all about you, you need to be the guy in the middle of everything, then you're not really understanding what we're trying to accomplish as a defensive unit.
"The guys here in this locker room have a good understanding of that, of a group that's trying to go out there and win a game, not get a guy 15 sacks or 10 interceptions. We're just trying to win a game."
In a league where linemen's reputation and salaries are often directed by sack totals, New England's front three of four-time Pro-Bowler Richard Seymour, Vince Wilfork and Ty Warren are asked to stay home, dominate the line of scrimmage and control all five offensive linemen.
Seymour is on a career-low pace with 28 tackles. Much of that is because it's nearly impossible to run his way, and teams won't test him.
But this year, Wilfork (50 tackles) and Warren (61) have stepped up to the challenge, just as Belichick expected.
"(The defensive line) is the linebacker's best friend, especially in the 3-4 defense. There are a few that we have up front that really get the job done for us, in (Vince) Wilfork, (Richard) Seymour and (Ty) Warren," said Bruschi. "That's what we try to do. We try to play team defense across the line with the front seven and it starts with the guys up front."
With the linemen chewing up the big offensive blockers, Bruschi and Seau can assault the football. Colvin and Mike Vrabel can put their athleticism to work, without having to worry about a 325-pound monster smacking them in the chest.
Together, in Belichick's 3-4 scheme, it has the Patriots pointed again at a postseason run.
"Guys have bought into the system, and we continue to do well with it," said Colvin. "The championships won have helped that. Players see that's how we've won. And this is the reason why they continue to win.
"We have a lot of guys who could be the man. But being unselfish, taking a step back to help the team, is what makes it work day in and day out. It takes a professional, saying I'm going to make the best out of it. Accept it. It's best for the team."
Hector Longo grades the defense
Record 6-2, 14.3 points allowed per game