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Bill Belichick breaks down one of the great defenses of all time

10.19.12 at 8:11 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Bill Belichick went into his teaching mode Friday and offered a PhD-worthy five-minute breakdown of one of the great defenses in history – the ’46’ Bears defense of Buddy Ryan, who starred as defensive coordinator of the Bears in the mid-80s before moving on to his job as head coach of the Eagles.

What was particularly fascinating was Belichick breaking down when the blitzing scheme worked – and when it didn’t. In short, the defense was designed to stop two-back offenses while one-back sets with two tight ends were very successful.

“A lot of the success that Buddy had with the 46 defense came in the ‘€˜80s when there was a lot of two-back offense,” Belichick began. “It was one of the things that probably drove the two-back offense out. If you remember back in the ‘€˜80s when Buddy was in Philadelphia, he had a lot of trouble with the Redskins and their one-back offense, a lot of trouble. There were a lot of mismatches of Art Monk and Gary Clark on the middle linebacker and stuff like that. I think the 46 was really originally built for two-back offenses, whether it be the red, brown, blue and the flat-back type offenses and eventually even the I-formation. I think it still has a lot of good application; a lot of teams use it in goal-line situations.”

In fact, those Redskins teams of the late-80s and early-90s won a pair of Super Bowls, going through Buddy Ryan’s Eagles in the NFC East on their way to beating the Broncos and Bills, respectively.

Belichick also got an up close and personal look at those Ryan defenses when the Giants had their wars with the Bears and, later, the Eagles in the NFC East.

“They either use a version of it like a 5-3 or cover the guards and the center and however you want to fit the rest of it, but that principle you see a lot in goal-line, short yardage situations,” Belichick said. “You see it and some teams have it as part of their two-back defensive package. As it has gone to one-back and it’€™s gotten more spread out, if you’€™re playing that, it kind of forces you defensively to be in a one-linebacker set. You lose that second linebacker and depending on where the back lines up and what coverage you’€™re playing, then there’€™s some issues with that. If you’€™re in a one linebacker defense and you move the back over and the linebacker moves over then you’€™re kind of out-leveraged to the back side. If you don’€™t move him over, then you’€™re kind of out-leveraged when the back releases and that kind of thing. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Bill Belichick, Buddy Ryan, Chicago Bears, Dan Hampton

Bill Belichick insists: ‘It’s nothing personal… just competition’ with the Jets

10.19.12 at 7:25 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Bill Belichick can get teased and tempted a lot by reporters at his Wednesday and Friday press conferences.

Just over 48 hours from taking on the Jets, Belichick was asked an age-old question by Albert Breer of the NFL Network.

Does he hate the Jets?

Belichick didn’t flinch but he did pause ever so slightly before offering up a calculated response.

“We have a competition each week against whoever the next team on our schedule is,” said the man who left the Jets without a head coach in Jan. 2000. “So whoever that is, that’€™s who we compete against. It’€™s nothing personal; it’€™s just competition.”

Breer persisted. He asked Belichick if he noticed anything different around the building or from the players in a week when you have a familiar opponent with whom you have a lot of history.

“It’€™s a familiar opponent that we have a lot of history with,” Belichick said.

So nothing extra, Breer continued.

“It’€™s a familiar opponent that we have a lot of history with,” Belichick said. “There are other teams you can put in that category. Then there are other teams that wouldn’€™t be in that category, like Seattle.”

This week, Rex Ryan showered Belichick with glowing praise. But the Jets coach also added – with a wink – that he would give Belichick his best shot. What does Belichick think of that flattery from a coaching colleague?

“I have a lot of respect for Rex,” Belichick said. “I think we have a good relationship. I see him from time to time at the owners meetings and Indy combine and stuff like that. But, I know on Sunday he’€™ll be doing the best job he can for his team. I’€™ll be doing the best job I can for my team. We’€™ll see what happens. But, I think there is good mutual respect there. We had his brother on our staff here. I’€™ve known his dad for a long time. It’€™s just competition.”

Read More: Albert Breer, Bill Belichick, New England Patriots, New York Jets

Chandler Jones: Rex Ryan ‘showed a lot of interest’ in me

10.19.12 at 2:10 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Last April, before the Patriots and Bill Belichick selected pass rushing beast Chandler Jones in the first round (21st overall), there was a good chance Rex Ryan was going to take the prospect out of Syracuse.

The Jets eventually selected another pass rusher in Quinton Coples with the 16th overall pick. But Ryan and the Jets were certainly interested, according to Jones, who acknowledged as much on Friday, just 48 hours before his first game against the Jets.

“I haven’t really even seen any of the press conference, to be honest,” Jones said when asked if he saw Ryan’s praise of Belichick this week. “But from what I know, Rex Ryan is a great coach. I sat down and interviewed with him over the draft. He’s a good coach. He’s very up-to-date on things. He’s always asking me about my brother [Jon “Bones” Jones] and the UFC fighting. He’s a good coach. Rex is a great coach.

“He’s a good person.”

So, what was it like to be interviewed by the man who always wears a smile?

“I went up there and he sat me down and we went over a few of schemes, basically what every team does with you, and talked about my brother for a little bit but that’s about it,” Jones said. “They showed a lot of interest, showed a lot of interest.”

As for experiencing the AFC rivalry between the two for the first time, Jones was more low-key – playing it right down the middle.

“We’re 3-3 right now,” Jones said. “That’s not where we want to be. Personally, that’s not where I would want to be. You’ve got to win. You go into every week with the same goal, to win, win the football game. That’s every week. You have that sense of urgency every week, to win the game, and that’s our goal.”

“We just want to win. If you want to call this a big game, personally for me, it’ll be a big game. That’s my mentality every week, so yeah, against the Jets, it’s a big game.”

Read More: chandler jones, Jon Bones Jones, New England Patriots, New York Jets

Devin McCourty defends the secondary, sort of: ‘It’s not like we went out there clueless’

10.19.12 at 1:36 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Devin McCourty has heard all the criticism now for the better part of six weeks.

The secondary is giving up too much ground and allowing way too many big plays of 20 yards or more.

Now, with the “ground and pound” Jets on deck this week, there appears to be a great chance for confidence-building in the defensive backfield, with the Jets ranking 30th in the NFL in pass offense at 184.3 yards a game.

McCourty said Friday he and he secondary mates are not worried about shutting up critics because that’s wasted energy.

“Not too much time saying, ‘we’re better’ because at the end of the day it doesn’t matter,” McCourty said Friday. “It’s all about what you put out there. We definitely went over what we need to do better on the field to get that out of the way and know what we need to take care of. For us, the biggest thing is just going and playing. A lot of the things we know. It’s not like we went out there clueless and not knowing. Now, it’s about getting that taste out of our mouth and go out there and play football again.”

McCourty was asked if there’s a chance he might be seeing more time at safety, a position he played sparingly at the end of last season.

“That’s not my call,” he said. “That’ll be whatever coach [Bill Belichick] decides but we have some young guys who’ve done a great job of picking up the defense since they’ve been here. I think they’ve done a great job just responding, giving them opportunities to show what they know and how they can play.

“On this defense, you’ve got to be ready to go anywhere.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Devin McCourty, New England Patriots, New York Jets, nfl

Video: ‘4th and Goal’ breaks down Patriots-Jets

10.19.12 at 11:16 am ET
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In the latest edition of ‘€œ4th and Goal,’€’€™s Chris Price takes a look at this week’€™s game between the Patriots and the Jets, and some points of emphasis for New England.

Fantasy Football: Week 7 starts, sits

10.19.12 at 10:53 am ET
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Welcome to Rotobahn’€™s Week 7 starts and sits. There are plenty of quality options on a bye this week, so feel free to go to Rotobahn and use our full lineup rankings. They can be helpful if you don’€™t see your key lineup choices highlighted here. As usual, we’€™ve done our best to avoid the obvious choices and to talk about players that are on the fringe of lineups in 12-team leagues. Good luck to all in Week 7!



Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers at Bengals

He’€™s a matchup play for a lot of owners since he was a such a steal in the mid- to late rounds on draft day. This is a week to play him for sure. The Steelers will need to throw it a bunch to make up for their banged-up backfield.

Andy Dalton, Bengals vs. Steelers

The Steelers are still banged up on defense and we expect the Bengals to throw it early and often. Stud receiver A.J. Green is in the zone right now, so starting his QB is pretty good business. Dalton is a solid play in any format.

Joe Flacco, Ravens at Texans

He’€™s struggled a bit lately but we like him here. With so many injuries on defense, the offense will be asked to do more. We expect more no-huddle and more shots downfield. The Texans are not as tough on defense as they were a few weeks ago with the loss of Brian Cushing and some struggles in the secondary.


John Skelton, Cardinals at Vikings

He’€™s the guy and he may be playable at some point, but we’€™d avoid him here. Minnesota is playing pretty well defensively and Skelton may lack mobility due to a recent ankle injury. You should be able to land a better option on a typical waiver wire.

Mark Sanchez, Jets at Patriots

Sanchez has had his moments, but we don’€™t expect to see many this week. In fact, it would not shock us if we saw more Tim Tebow than we have seen so far. Even if he is your backup, check our rankings for other alternatives.  For example, Matt Hasselbeck is a stronger play and is largely available. There are a lot of really good plays at QB in Week 7.  Just avoid the really bad ones like Sanchez and Skelton.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Andy Dalton, Ben Roethlisberger, Fantasy Football, Jermaine Gresham

Mike Lombardi on D&C: Patriots DBs ‘have to get better’

10.19.12 at 10:35 am ET
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NFL Network analyst Mike Lombardi joined Dennis & Callahan on Friday morning to review the Patriots’ loss to the Seahawks, preview Sunday’s Pats-Jets game, and discuss news from around the league. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

The finger has been pointed at the Patriots secondary as the key reason for the team’s struggles. Lombardi discussed how it can be improved.

‘€œIt’€™s certainly a concern and obviously it has to rely on some of the players. I think what you saw, let’€™s be real honest here, Patrick Chung‘€™s ball skills down the field have got to get better,’€ Lombardi said. ‘€œI don’€™t know how you make them better, how you make his instincts better on the ball down the field. I think not having Steve Gregory back there is certainly a concern. ‘€¦ They have to get better at making plays down the field. [Devin] McCourty, everyone. And I think ultimately its something that will be worked on. It’€™s a skill. ‘€¦ Instincts for DBs are something we don’€™t talk enough about, we always talk about size and speed. But I think instincts really play an important part, and ultimately, that’€™s a hard thing to coach.’€

Following the matchup with the Seahawks, Lombardi considered what teams should do against the Patriots in coming weeks.

‘€œYou should throw it up five times a quarter. Let’€™s be real honest, you’€™ve got to throw it up,’€ Lombardi said. ‘€œPeople are going to throw it to McCourty and see if he can make a play. He hasn’€™t been able to make a play with the ball in the air down the field all season. So I think that’€™s where teams see it on tape, and why not take a shot?’€

Lombardi identified a weak pass rush as a contributing factor to the struggles vs. Seattle.

‘€œMore importantly than the lack of play in the secondary, I thought their pass rush last week in terms of controlling [Russell] Wilson in the pocket and, typically, that’€™s what the Bill Belichick defense usually does, is control him in the pocket with their pass rush,’€ Lombardi said. ‘€œWhen you have Russell Wilson, you have to rush him like he’€™s actually attempting a field goal. You have to force him to stay in front of you. You got to force him to see over the big guys. You got to force him to have to stand behind the center and throw the ball. And then there’€™s no chance he’€™s going to beat you doing that.’€

Looking at the Patriots’ fourth-quarter struggles, Lombardi was asked whether the drive this team has showed in past years still exists.

‘€œNo, it doesn’€™t. There’€™s that fine line about where do we go, do we be aggressive offensively or do we play it and try to just let the clock run out,’€ Lombardi said. ‘€œI think they’€™ve lost a little bit of that edge, the confidence within the edge. They’€™ve got to find it and they’€™ve got to get that back. They have to make the throws they have to make. ‘€¦ Going 1-for-6 in the red zone is not going to win many games. ‘€¦ Mistakes that the Patriots typically don’€™t make and they’€™re making them and they’€™ve made them all season long and I think that’€™s where they have to eliminate that.’€

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Bill Belichick, Mark Sanchez, Mike Lombardi, Patrick Chung
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