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Bill Belichick explains ‘team-building’ going on in Southern California before a big game

12.02.14 at 7:32 pm ET
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Bill Belichick. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Bill Belichick. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

With several players showing up at Monday night’s Clippers game in L.A., we’ve already seen some of the bonding that’s gone on in SoCal since the Patriots arrived there late, late Sunday night/early Monday morning.

And while this is strictly a business trip to San Diego (with some rather large late-season implications at stake), Bill Belichick shed some light Tuesday on what he sees as some added side benefits to a week together in the stretch run of the season.

“I think it is a good opportunity to be together as a team: players, coaches, young players, veteran players, offense, defense, so forth,” Belichick said in a conference call. “I think it’€™s a good environment for us to prepare for the game and a good opportunity to spend a little bit of extra time together, however that exactly works out. Hopefully, it will be all in a positive way for our team and that we have a great week of preparation for the Chargers, which is what we’€™re here for and that’€™s what our focus is. But as a byproduct of that, if it’€™s team-building and opportunities to build relationships within the team, I think that’€™s good, too.”

Of course, this happened to a lesser extent in training camp in Richmond, Va., when the Patriots practiced all week against the Redskins and then had their preseason game at FedEx Field.

The decision to head out to San Diego early was made weeks ago as the Patriots’ coaching staff, led by Belichick, tried to minimize the impact of going cross-country to play the Chargers, a week after playing in Green Bay. It became obvious to the staff that heading out West a week early would accomplish a number of objectives.

“It’€™s kind of a two-combination thing there. One was the travel, going from Green Bay back to Foxboro and then to turn around and come back here probably on Friday [is] just a lot of travel for the team at this time of year,” Belichick said. “We were able to get in here Sunday night and really have kind of a pretty normal day yesterday and a normal Tuesday today without too much ‘€“ any more than normal type of fatigue. And just being acclimated to the conditions that we’€™re going to be playing in, so [we’€™ll] get in the conditions out here and go through it for a few days and play on Sunday as close as we can get.”

A Navy brat, Belichick is more than aware that San Diego is a huge Navy town, with one of the largest installations of its kind located there. Will Belichick take some time to appreciate the Naval history?

“Right now, we’€™re just kind of trying to get going here on the Chargers,” Belichick said. “It is a big Navy town and I’€™m proud of that. So, I don’€™t know, we’€™ll see how it goes. But right now, our focus is just on San Diego, nothing else really but that.”

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Bill Belichick explains why Doc Rivers can pump up the Patriots anytime he wants

12.02.14 at 6:18 pm ET
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Doc Rivers (left) and Bill Belichick chat before a 2012 Patriots game against Houston. (Getty Images)

Doc Rivers (left) and Bill Belichick chat before a 2012 Patriots game against Houston. (Getty Images)

In the Boston coaching fraternity, there were few as close as the bond between Bill Belichick and Doc Rivers. Turns out, that bond is as close as ever.

The two often invited the other to speak to their teams, hang out at games and practice.

Two seasons ago, on a Monday night, Belichick invited Rivers onto the sideline before a game with the Texans.

On Tuesday, during a conference call, Belichick was asked about Rivers’ invitation to several Patriots’ players, including Rob Gronkowski. Gronk hung out with Justin Bieber before the Clippers routed the Minnesota Timberwolves, 127-101, at Staples Center. Before the game, Rivers called the Patriots a “real football team.”

“I love Doc,” Belichick said. “We have a great relationship. I think he’€™s obviously done a tremendous job in Boston and now with the Clippers, so always pulling for Doc personally.”

Belichick acknowledged just how close he considers Rivers to his own football team.

“He talked to our team, has a relationship with players on our team,” Belichick said. ‘€œI have tremendous respect for him. He is so well-respected on this team — the players, the coaches and all of us who have interacted with him and the way he handles himself, his team and his passion for his sport of basketball.

‘€œBut, also his appreciation for our team, professional athletes, football players, what we do through the relationships and the challenges of playing and competing at this level. So, it’€™s all great with Doc.”

Belichick said Rivers still has the cache to speak to the Patriots, like he did in 2012 before the Patriots dispatched the Texans, 42-14, on Monday night football.

“I think all of the times he talked with the team and the messages that he has delivered were outstanding,” Belichick said. “Nobody understands sports — especially someone who is not in football — better than he does. He has a great ability to relate to our athletes our team.

“I am very appreciative of the friendship that I have with him. I have the utmost respect for Doc. Everything that he has done for us, can do and any support he gives us is very appreciated.”

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Patriots have weathered variety of temperatures, conditions in 2014

12.02.14 at 5:10 pm ET
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With the Patriots going from the freezing temperatures of Green Bay to the balmy climes of San Diego this weekend, New England will have run the gamut of conditions over the first 13 weeks of the 2014 regular season. Via official gamebooks, here’s a look at the conditions at kickoff for each game — it’€™s interesting to note that the Patriots are 0-2 when the temperatures have been 80 degrees or more at kickoff. (For what it’s worth, has the forecast for Sunday getting into the high 60s in San Diego.)

Week 1 at Miami (loss): 89 degrees, Humidity: 61 percent, Wind: 15 SE mph
Week 2 at Minnesota (win): 58 degrees, Wind: Southeast
Week 3 vs. Oakland (win): 78 degrees, Humidity: 67 percent, Wind: SSE 11 mph
Week 4 at Kansas City (loss): 82 degrees, Humidity: 42 percent, Wind: Northeast 3 mph
Week 5 vs, Cincinnati (win): 47 degrees. Humidity: 71 percent, Wind: West 2 mph
Week 6 at Buffalo (win): 55 degrees, Humidity: 45 percent, Wind: SE 6 mph
Week 7 vs. New York Jets (win): 64 degrees, Humidity: 93 percent, Wind: South 9 mph
Week 8 vs. Chicago (win): 54 degrees, Humidity: 53 percent, Wind: West 14 with gusts to 25 mph
Week 9 vs. Denver (win): 35 degrees, Humidity: 63 percent, Wind: NW 19 with gusts to 26 mph
Week 10: Bye
Week 11 at Indy (win): Roof closed at Lucas Oil Stadium
Week 12 vs. Detroit (win): 58 degrees, Humidity: 40 percent, Wind: WSW 7 mph
Week 13 at Green Bay (loss): 28 degrees, Humidity: 60 percent, Wind: NW 14 mph

In Focus: Charting offensive opportunities for Patriots skill position players

12.02.14 at 4:44 pm ET
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Every week, we list the Patriots’€™ “€œoffensive touches,”€ a running tally of which one of the offensive skill position players is getting the most looks. Like our weekly look at targets, it can occasionally be an inexact stat, but it remains a good barometer of how confident the coaches (and quarterback) are when it comes to the skill position players at their disposal. Here’€™s a breakdown of the 2014 New England offense after 12 games:

RB Shane Vereen: 125 (81 carries, 44 catches) 3 negative catch, 6 negative runs
RB Stevan Ridley: 98 (94 carries, 4 catches), 8 negative runs
WR Julian Edelman: 85 (8 carries, 77 catches)
RB Jonas Gray: 71 (71 carries)
TE Rob Gronkowski: 65 (65 catches)
WR Brandon LaFell: 53 (53 catches)
TE Tim Wright: 25 (1 carry, 24 catches), 1 negative rush
RB LeGarrette Blount: 22 (22 carries), 1 negative run
QB Tom Brady: 20 (20 carries), 15 sacks, 8 kneeldowns
RB Brandon Bolden: 20 (19 carries, 1 catch), 3 negative runs
RB James White: 12 (9 carries, 3 catches)
WR Danny Amendola: 11 (11 catches)
FB James Develin: 7 (1 carry, 6 catches)
WR Kenbrell Thompkins: 6 (6 catches)
QB Jimmy Garoppolo: 6 (6 carries) 2 sacks, 6 kneeldowns
WR Aaron Dobson: 3 (3 catches)
TE Michael Hoomanawanui: 3 (3 catches)
WR Brian Tyms: 1 (1 catch)

Notes: The Patriots had two negative plays from scrimmage on Sunday against the Packers –€” one negative run from Bolden and a sack of Brady. It tied for the second-fewest total on the season. (New England had zero negative plays from scrimmage in last month’€™s win over the Colts). … On the season, New England has run 812 plays from scrimmage, and 40 of them have gone for negative yardage (5 percent), not including kneeldowns. … Against the Packers, the Patriots ran 54 plays, with 30 of them coming in shotgun (56 percent). In addition, the game-book lists them as having run zero no-huddle plays. (That ties a season-low — the last time it happened was the November win over the Colts in Indy.) … On the season, the Patriots have run 67 of their 812 plays out of no-huddle (8 percent) and 286 snaps in shotgun (35 percent). … By way of comparison, over the course of the 2013 regular season, the Patriots were in shotgun for 42 percent of their offensive snaps and they ran no-huddle on 11 percent of their snaps. … It’€™s also worth mentioning that Vereen has crossed the 40-catch/40-carry barrier for the second straight season. It marks the first time a New England running back has put together back-to-back seasons of at least 40 catches and 40 carries since Kevin Faulk did it in 2007 and 2008. Vereen is one of six running backs with at least 80 carries and 40 catches this season, a group that includes DeMarco Murray (Dallas), Le’€™Veon Bell (Pittsburgh), Andre Ellington (Arizona), Matt Forte (Chicago) and Fred Jackson (Buffalo).

Following the flags: Tracking Patriots penalties for 2014 season

12.02.14 at 4:01 pm ET
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Through 12 games, the Patriots have been flagged for 99 penalties (fourth-most in the league) for a total of 861 yards (most in the NFL). To this point in the season, here’€™s a breakdown of the calls that have gone against the Patriots, not including penalties that were declined or offset:

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Josh McDaniels doesn’t ‘have any idea’ about University of Florida coaching rumor

12.02.14 at 3:54 pm ET
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Earlier this week, it was reported Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was a “viable candidate” for the University of Florida head coaching job and the school was “vetting” him. McDaniels was asked of the rumor on Wednesday’s conference call.

The offensive coordinator didn’t have much to add to the report, saying his focus is on the Chargers.

“I really honestly don’t have any idea about that rumor,” said McDaniels. “I mean I heard it, but I have nothing to add to it. My focus is solely on the Chargers and getting our team ready to go this week on offense and trying to do the best thing I can. It’s a time of year that this happens quite a bit and I’ve been through it before. Keep your focus where it belongs, which is on your next opponent. We have plenty to work on and get prepared for because this is a really good defense we’re facing.”

Last January prior to the postseason, McDaniels was a candidate for the Cleveland Browns job, but he eventually withdrew his name from consideration. His only other college coaching experience was a graduate assistant at Michigan State from 1999-2000.

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Rodney Harrison on MFB: Patriots can ‘play with any team’ in the NFL

12.02.14 at 12:57 pm ET
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NBC Sports NFL analyst Rodney Harrison made his weekly appearance on Middays with MFB on Tuesday to discuss the Patriots-Packers game and look ahead to this Sunday’s game against the Chargers. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

Even though the Patriots had their seven-game winning streak snapped Sunday against the Packers in a 26-21 defeat, Harrison says he would not be worried if he was a Patriots fan, as he feels the Patriots and Packers are the two best teams in the NFL.

“It’s one of those things where you have to just shake the other guys hand and say you guys beat us today. You were the better team today,” Harrison said. “But, I know [Bill] Belichick talked about the team playing hard and hanging in there and when you’re on the road in tough conditions you’re going to have to face adversity. They just made more plays than the Patriots, but if I am the Patriots I am not discouraged at all. I can learn from this definitely, and this team can play with any team in the National Football League. I still think the two best teams are the Packers and the Patriots, with Seattle being a close third.”

A major key in the game was the Packers picking on Patriots third cornerback Logan Ryan, as Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner were focused on stopping Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. Davante Adams led the Packers with 121 receiving yards on six catches, mostly coming against Ryan and Kyle Arrington. He also had a tie for a team-high 11 targets.

“I just finished watching the game, and that is exactly what I said,” Harrison said. “[Darrelle] Revis did a good job, he moved from the slot, he went outside, played a great game. Gave up that one play to Jordy Nelson — that has to be expected. The third cornerback Logan Ryan — I mean, they went after him. That was an excellent game plan by coach [Mike] McCarthy, Aaron Rodgers, they went after the third cornerback. Logan [Ryan] can be a good cornerback. I think at times, his technique just as well as [Kyle] Arrington, his technique breaks down. He puts himself in bad positions. When he got beat on the deep ball, he looked in the backfield, by Davante Adams. He looked, I mean, it was like third-and-2 and he looked in the back field. As soon as you look in the backfield you create a little separation and you lose sight of the receiver. It’s basic fundamental things that can be taught.”

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