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The ‘well-coordinated’ details that make Ryan Allen and Patriots special teams so important to Bill Belichick

09.24.16 at 9:31 am ET
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Sep 22, 2016; Foxborough, MA, USA;  New England Patriots punter Ryan Allen (6) holds the ball for kicker Stephen Gostkowski (3) for a field goal attempt during the third quarter against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Allen holds for Stephen Gostkowski on a field goal attempt during the third quarter against the Texans Thursday. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Bill Belichick has always been a huge proponent of emphasizing the significance of special teams.

On Thursday, that attention to detail paid off in huge dividends as Ryan Allen pinned the Texans inside their 15 six times with punts and the kickoff coverage team forced two turnovers that led to two of New England’s three touchdowns on the night.

“Tremendous, tremendous. Field position was phenomenal,” Belichick said immediately after the game. “It seemed like they had to go 90 yards every time they had the ball. Our kickoff team, once again, came up big with field position; two turnovers. That’s a very aggressive unit. I think Joe [Judge] and Bubba [Ray Ventrone] have done a great job.

“They have a lot of leadership on that unit, a lot of pride. We punted well, we covered well, we covered our kicks well, we had a couple of chances in the return game, we converted our scoring opportunities. The entire special teams unit, the coaching staff, they did a tremendous job tonight. We obviously needed that tonight and they really delivered it.”

Allen knew coming in that with rookie Jacoby Brissett starting, one way to take some pressure off would be flipping the field and making the Texans go a long ways while keeping the field shorter for the Patriots. It worked. Houston’s average starting field position was its own 16. New England’s was its own 40. Playground slides aren’t tilted that much.

“Really at the end of the day there has been times where I, I think I’ve learned that. Steve and I have talked a little bit about that,” Allen said. “You never really know how games are going to go. There’s sometimes at the beginning of the game we’ll make a comment or two about how we feel, where we’re at as a team right before we play and we’re totally wrong most of the time. So you just really like assume you never really that’ll get you anywhere and you have to just be prepared and when you’re called go out there and do the best you can. So I think it was a good collective effort tonight.”

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Read More: Bill Belichick, houston texans, New England Patriots, Ryan Allen

Bill Belichick extremely proud of Patriots following 27-0 win: ‘That’s everything we wanted to do’

09.23.16 at 7:13 pm ET
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Bill Belichick was very proud of his team Thursday night. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Bill Belichick was very proud of his team Thursday night. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — It was an exciting Patriots locker room following their 27-0 win over the Texans on Thursday night with rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett leading the way.

Here’s the video from inside the Patriots locker room courtesy of

Owner Robert Kraft was one of the first to congratulate Brissett.

“That was awesome,” Kraft said. “That was great. Very proud. You stayed cool.”

With the short week, Bill Belichick was proud of his team and the mental toughness they showed.

“Congrats men. I’ll tell you what, that’s everything we wanted to do, you did it — 60 minutes,” Belichick said. “Showed a lot of mental toughness. A lot of discipline just keep doing it over and over again. We talked about that running game breaking open in the fourth quarter — that was a hell of a run LG [LeGarrette Blount]. Great job. Defense, you can’t do any better than that. No points. Big plays in the kicking game.

“We got another one. Where is [Jacoby Brissett]?”

Belichick then handed the game ball to the rookie quarterback and then asked for assistant quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski, who has worked extensively with Brissett since training camp.

“Where’s Jerry? Great job,” Belichick said.

Lastly, before the team broke down its huddle, captain Matthew Slater said, “How do we feel about being 3-0 when they said we couldn’t go 3-0?”

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Malcolm Butler, Patriots defense used Week 2 against Miami as motivation vs. Texans

09.23.16 at 4:57 pm ET
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Malcolm Butler and the Patriots defense performed much better Thursday night against Houston. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Malcolm Butler and the Patriots defense performed much better Thursday night against Houston. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — The first two weeks of the season didn’t go well for the Patriots defense, particularly in the secondary.

The Patriots entered Week 3 24th in the league in terms of total defense and 27th in terms of passing defense, but they responded in a big way by shutting out the Texans, 27-0 Thursday night at Gillette Stadium.

Cornerback Malcolm Butler acknowledged the secondary used the previous week as motivation against Houston.

“Most definitely. Finish the game,” Butler said.

“Finish the game” was referring to the second half against Miami when they allowed 21 points (24 unanswered going back to the end of the first half), 310 total yards, 16 first downs and allowed Ryan Tannehill to go 22-for-27 with 273 yards and two touchdowns.

New England saw a 31-3 lead get all the way to 31-24, before a last second Duron Harmon interception in the end zone saved the game.

“That’s just the theme here. You always have to finish,” Butler said. “You don’t want to end the game like that. You don’t want to blow a big lead like that. We carried that motivated to this week and it turned out alright.”

Personally, Butler had one of his worst games as a professional as Jarvis Landry had 10 catches for 135 yards in Week 2. The third-year cornerback responded by having his best game of the year limiting rookie Will Fuller to just three catches for 31 yards.

“The standards are high around here,” he said. “It’s most definitely high for myself. That’s how I look forward to play. Long season. Anything can change in a matter of seconds. Just got to keep working, enjoy the win and keep moving.”

Butler and the Patriots will get a few extra days rest before hosting the Bills on October 2 at Gillette Stadium.

“It feels good to get a little rest,” Butler said. “Going to need it. You have to come back in here next week and be ready to go. We have a division game next week.”

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Source: Jacoby Brissett has torn ligament in right thumb, surgery likely needed

09.23.16 at 3:16 pm ET
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Jacoby Brissett

Jacoby Brissett

FOXBORO — Jacoby Brissett is the latest Patriots quarterback dealing with an injury.

A source tells that the Patriots quarterback suffered a torn ligament in his throwing thumb in Thursday’s win over the Texans. The need for surgery at this point is uncertain, though likely to completely stabilize the thumb.

It’s not clear exactly when the injury occurred, but he was having his thumb examined on the sideline in the third quarter, with a broken nail clearly visible.

Brissett was tackled from behind by Vince Wilfork on the opening drive of the second half. On the play, Brissett scrambled off left guard for four yards into open space but didn’t slide. As he fell, Wilfork landed on him at the Texans’ 38.

That drive ended when Edelman dropped a Brissett pass in the back of the end zone. The Patriots settled for a 25-yard field goal, while trainers looked at Brissett’s right thumb on the sideline.

Brissett finished 11-of-19 for 103 yards while gaining 48 yards on eight carries, including his 27-yard touchdown in the first quarter.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the Patriots are hopeful that Jimmy Garoppolo (with his injured AC joint from Week 2) can be ready for the Bills game on Oct. 2. But it’s too early to tell.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweeted that the Patriots do not consider Brissett’s injury to be serious but are monitoring their options and are expected to add a quarterback.

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The anatomy of a perfect game plan from Bill Belichick: How Jacoby Brissett TD run happened

09.23.16 at 12:49 pm ET
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Sep 22, 2016; Foxborough, MA, USA;  New England Patriots quarterback Jacoby Brissett (7) makes an adjustment at the line of scrimmage during the third quarter against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

With great game planning, rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett was in total command Thursday. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Sometimes one play can reveal a lot about a team’s preparation on a short week.

After Thursday’s 27-0 blanking of the Texans, Bill Belichick was effusive in his praise of the coaching staff and players to get ready and execute at a high level. Belichick knows it’s hard enough on a regular week. But when the week is compressed, every detail becomes critical.

No play reflected the Patriots’ preparation better than the 27-yard bootleg run from Jacoby Brissett, a rookie quarterback making his first NFL start.

In order to make Brissett comfortable against a defense led by J.J. Watt, Belichick and his coaching staff of offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia and running backs coach Ivan Fears got their heads together to scheme against former Patriots defensive coordinator and current Texans defensive guru Romeo Crennel.

On the designed bootleg at the end of the first quarter, several factors were involved. Watt lined up over left guard Joe Thuney. Linebacker Benardrick McKinney came down on the line of scrimmage to set the edge on the other side. Watt blew through but there was nothing for Watt to get at. The reason? The play was designed to run on the other side, with right guard Shaq Mason executing the key block on McKinney to spring Brissett.

“I didn’t think J.J. Watt really had anything to do with the play,” Belichick said Friday in his conference call with reporters. “He was on the other side of the line. I don’t think he would’ve had any chance at all. Jacoby just took the ball, kind of took one step back, gave a quick ball fake to LeGarrette [Blount] and just went to the edge and it was timed out well with Shaq, who cut McKinney on the line of scrimmage and got him down, kind of knocked him off balance. By that time, Jacoby is already outside. Once Jacoby got to the corner, it was really a run all the way.”

Brissett made free safety Andre Hal miss at the 5 and used a block from Malcolm Mitchell on Johnathan Joseph to dive into the end zone.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, houston texans, Jacoby Brissett, New England Patriots

Fantasy Football: Week 3 starts, sits

09.23.16 at 11:47 am ET
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rotobahn-logoGood morning, Patriots fans. Feeling good? Thought so. It’s Friday, so it’s time for some starts and sits as you enjoy the afterglow of a big win. As usual, I have done my best to try to find some worthwhile recommendations. And if you need some advice on players not listed in this space, check out my full lineup rankings at Rotobahn. It’s also a good idea to cross-reference these recommendations against my full lineup rankings that are up at Rotobahn and will be fully updated by Saturday evening.

Don’t forget to tune in to the Fantasy Football Hour this Sunday at 8 a.m. when Jim Hackett and I will discuss trending Week 3 topics and crucial game day information.



Matt Ryan, Falcons at Saints, $7,400

I will gladly pay that price to get him in my DraftKings lineup, but I need to know that Julio Jones is playing. Ryan, armed with a healthy Jones, is a great play against a weak Saints defense. It’s also a plus that the Saints probably will score a lot of points. Vegas has this game scoring more points (53.5 over/under) than any other Week 3 tilt.

Derek Carr, Raiders at Titans, $6,900

Carr has looked even better than he did in 2015. He’s cool in the pocket and can extend plays with his feet when necessary. This is good because he’s got quality receivers who work the various levels of the field well. He’s got Michael Crabtree working the intermediate routes, but he’s also got Amari Cooper, who can stretch the field and cause havoc for defenses. He’s also got a good young tight end and a deep backfield. Carr should give you solid numbers this weekend at the Titans. He’s startable in all leagues and very playable in tournaments on DraftKings. I’m looking to stack him with Cooper.

Blake Bortles, Jaguars vs. Ravens, $6,500

He’s struggled so far, but only in real football terms. The fantasy digits have been there because Bortles is surrounded by high-end playmakers. Garbage time is almost always productive for the Jaguars and it allows Bortles to backfill his game stats for his fantasy owners. He should end up with respectable to strong numbers this week as the Ravens are not that good on the back end. I’d be stacking Bortles with either Allen Robinson or Julius Thomas on DraftKings — depending on what my budget looks like.

Carson Wentz, Eagles vs. Steelers, $5,500

The price is nice. Wentz has not played like a rookie so far, and you throw to beat the Steelers. Pittsburgh plays the run well and has a leaky secondary. Meanwhile, Wentz has underrated playmakers and he can augment his passing numbers with his feet a la Jacoby Brissett. He’s a compelling play at such a low price. I’d stack him with Jordan Matthews in tournaments, but he is too risky for cash games at this point.

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Read More: Blake Bortles, Carson Wentz, Derek Carr, Fantasy Football

Bill Belichick rags on color-rush uniforms: ‘Can’t even tell you how I excited I was’

09.23.16 at 11:40 am ET
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Sep 22, 2016; Foxborough, MA, USA;  New England Patriots guard Joe Thuney (62) lifts quarterback Jacoby Brissett (7) into the air after a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium.  The New England Patriots won 27-0.  Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Bill Belichick wasn’t going nuts Friday over the all-blue uniforms. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Bill Belichick won’t be rushing to the Patriots Pro Shop to get his color rush uniform from Thursday night.

The Patriots coach, in a classic sarcastic response to being questioned about the all-blue “Captain America” look Thursday night, said he’s not really into different uniforms and how sweet they may look on the field.

“Yeah, I wish that was all there was to it. Just put on a new pair of socks and change uniforms or something like that. There’s a lot more to it than that,” Belichick said in his best deadpan. “I can’t even tell you how excited I was about the uniforms last night. It was really incredible.”

The NFL and Nike came up with the marketing idea to make Thursday night football games stick out – and of course, sell more jerseys, something Patriots team president Jonathan Kraft acknowledged before Thursday’s game.

Kraft said the team ordered a huge shipment of what they thought would be a season’s worth of uniforms for the Pro Shop. Kraft said they’re two-thirds through it.

While the Patriots easily beat the Texans, 27-0, in the unis Thursday, Belichick recalled a not-so pleasant experience in 2002, when Lawyer Milloy went into Belichick’s office asking that the team wear blue-on-blue.

The Patriots wore blue-on-blue against the Packers on Oct. 13 and lost 28-10. After a bye, they came out and lost, 24-16, to the Broncos on Oct. 27. The two games, both at Gillette, were part of a four-game skid that would factor heavily in the Patriots missing the playoffs at 9-7, the last time a Belichick team didn’t win double figures in a season.

“Yeah,” Belichick said. “That was brutal.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Captain America, color rush, Lawyer Milloy
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