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No passing fancy for Bill Belichick: Pats coach wants no talk of Dan Marino or passing records

12.28.11 at 1:24 pm ET
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Dan Marino had his sights set on great passing achievements over his career. (AP)

FOXBORO — Bill Belichick was not in the mood to wax poetic about Dan Marino and the fall of the NFL passing yards mark on Wednesday. But it wasn’t without several attempts on parts of several media members in attendance for his weekly Wednesday look ahead to the coming opponent.

Reminded that not only did Drew Brees pass the mark on Monday night in the win over the Falcons, but his own quarterback Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers of the Packers could all pass the previous mark of 5,084 yards set by Miami’s Marino in 1984.

The exchange began with the following question: With quarterbacks around the league throwing for so many yards this year, what really changed this year as opposed to several years ago?

“Well I think we’ve seen production in the passing game,” Belichick said. “I mean, look at Marino’s, that was 20 years ago, or whatever it was, and we’re talking about that record now standing for quite a while. I think it’s all a function of execution. There have been great passers in this league for a long time, great receivers, great tight ends, great runners, great defenders. So sometimes each year falls a little bit different. I don’t have a great explanation for it.”

Shalise Young of the Boston Globe offered this follow-up: As a defensive coach, though, with all the rules that have been made the last few years, would Marino have thrown for far more yards [under the current rules]? If Marino was playing now, do you think he’d have thrown for 5,500 yards?

“Yeah, I don’t know. If if’s and buts were candy and nuts, everyday would be Christmas,” Belichick said in a wry and droll reference to Dandy Don Meredith. “I don’t know. I have no idea.”

Young: Do those rules help though?

Belichick: Which rules are you talking about?

Young: The rules of not being able to hit quarterbacks, and how receivers you can’t touch them further downfield.

Belichick: Those rules have been in place for 15 years.

Young: But there’s a bigger emphasis on them in recent years.

Belichick: Look, talk to the people who make the rules. They do all those studies. Trust me. They do all those studies. They know how long each game was, in every year it was played, the length of time, the amount of penalties, the amount of yardage, the amount of rushing yardage, the yards-per-carry, the yards-per-completion. All that’s been studied, very thoroughly, by people a lot smarter than I am. So I don’t really know. I’m just trying to get our team ready for Buffalo, a team we didn’t do very well against [earlier this year]. I’m just thinking about Buffalo. I don’t [know about] all the statistics and all the rules, trying to solve all the world’s problems in the passing game. I’m just trying to solve ours against Buffalo.

Young: But it’s just interesting that Marino’s record stood until…

Belichick: Yeah, it’s a great story. And I’m not really…I mean, last time I watched Marino throw, I don’t know when that was. I’m just trying to concentrate on Buffalo.

Reporter: So you don’t think there’s anything to the fact that potentially three guys will break that record this year.

Belichick: Do I think there’s anything to it? What’s that mean?

Then Tom E. Curran of CSNNE.com interjected and appropriately pointed out: “It stood for 30 years. No one’s done that. Four guys are going to break 5,000 yards. The game is totally different, that’s what [Young is] getting at.”

Belichick: If that’s what you want to write, go ahead. I don’t know.

Reporter: But you’re the expert.

Belichick: Look, I’m not an expert. I’m just trying to get ready for Buffalo. I’m not trying to analyze the passing game of the last 20 years. That’s for people a lot smarter than me. Like you guys.

A couple of post-scripts to this bizarre scene: ESPN’s Chris Berman was in the back of the room watching all of this. The press conference began with Belichick doing a bow to the “Swami” – as in we are not worthy. Berman was in town to do his annual sit-down with Tom Brady.

Secondly, Brady was asked the same line of questioning about the passing marks falling and his response: “Coach Belichick could certainly speak to that more than I could.”

Oh, the irony.

Read More: aaron rodgers, Bill Belichick, Chris Berman, Dan Marino
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