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Bill Belichick talks about Houston’s ability to bring the blitz

Posted By Christopher Price On December 8, 2012 @ 2:38 pm In General | No Comments

Bill Belichick. (AP)

We’ve written about the Patriots blitzing tendencies over the last few weeks [1], but one thing we haven’t mentioned much of this week is the fact that the Texans love to dial up pressure by sending an extra rusher as well. Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Saturday that the Houston defense isn’t afraid to bring five and six rushers at a time.

“They bring five a lot and they bring six some, but they bring five quite a bit,” Belichick said of the Texans, who blitz more than anyone else in the league, according to ESPN Stats & Information. “[J.J.] Watt isn’t always in the same place. He flips sides in their base defense depending on the formation. Then in their sub defense, they usually line him up to the offensive right. They run a lot of games with him so even though he’s lined up in one spot when the ball is snapped, he can be rushing out here or out…it’s not always straight ahead.

“They do a good job of running games with a four-man line. They also mix in games with their fifth rusher so your left guard, your left tackle, your center — really anybody — can end up on anybody because of the multiple games that they run in passing situations. You can say, ‘OK, we’re going to help him here,’ but after the ball is snapped, he might not even be there.”

The multiple looks present a challenge for an offensive line.

“I’d say it’s more visual communication, and you just have to have your rules,” he said of the o-line. “All five guys have to see the same thing. So if one of them sees it differently than the other one, it’s probably going to be a problem. When to pass them, when to bump them, when to stay with them, when to, even though this is the next guy here, sometimes you have to push past that guy to the next guy outside of him but you have to trust that the guy behind you is coming over to get the guy that’s on you.

“But that’s the way your rules tell you to do it. Sometimes you have to pass up a guy to go block another guy, being confident that the guy behind you is going to take that guy that you’re passing up. Things like that. It’s about all of them seeing it the same way. But the communication of, ‘I’ve got this guy, you take that guy,’ is really, I don’t think there’s a lot of that – it just happens too fast.”

Here are more highlights of Belichick’s Saturday Q&A:

It seems like they have guys that are really disruptive on their own but schematically, they also dial up some pressure and play a lot of man coverage in the back. Is that the way you see it?

“Yeah, a lot of man coverage, a lot of pressure; it’s mostly all man coverage, really. In the end, even the zones are matched so, yes, they’re very disruptive up front. A little bit of secondary pressure, but not a lot. It’s more linebacker pressure and man coverage. That’s what they do.”

When Tom Brady is at the line making calls and you have a guy like J.J. Watt, is it common to call for a double team or is that something that’s already set up?

“I think it depends on how you have it set up, how that play is set up or how your game plan is set up. We’ve faced guys before, I’d say guys you have to game plan for – the [Dwight] Freeneys and the Jason Taylors and guys like that – whether they’re inside or outside guys and you just have to decide how you’re going to handle them. First of all, if they blitz then you have to pick up the blitz and the double team really doesn’t exist. But if you have an extra guy, if you can get the extra guy to where that player is or if you can take a guy who would normally be in the pass pattern and let him either bump the guy on the way out or just block him and lose him in the pass pattern, so there are a lot of different ways you can try to get help in the passing game, if they don’t blitz. If they blitz, you need all the guys that you have to pick him. You don’t want to be double teaming one guy and letting somebody else come free. Again, there are a lot of different ways  to do that, but I’d say those are basically what your options are if you want to definitely try to get help, get your line slid that way or keep an extra guy in on that side.”

You haven’t seen him a ton, but Andre Johnson is a guy that still after 10 years in the league, defenses can’t find a way to slow him down it seems.

“He’s really a special player; does a lot of things well. [He] hits a lot of deep balls, big target, obviously, double moves, go-routes, back shoulder-type throws. He’s a tough matchup for anybody one-on-one. It’s like throwing to a tight end; there’s always a place to get the ball to him. But he’s also very good on underneath routes, the under routes, the tear screens, even plays like hitches and slants, they hit them and he breaks tackles, like he did in the Jacksonville game. He does it every week really. He can take a short pass, a two, three-yard pass and turn it into a long run or he can run by the defense like he did against Denver on the post pattern. Go-route, double moves, stop-and-gos, all those things; he’s got a good route tree, he has a variety of routes. Sometimes they put him in the slot, usually he’s outside but they do move him around so you have to find him. He’s good on the catch-and-run plays, he’s good on the vertical routes, he’s good in the red area, he can go up and get the ball, he blocks well. He’s a great player. He’s done it for a long time. He puts up big numbers every year and people are keying on him, they’re looking for him and he keeps producing. He’s a hard guy to cover.”

He’s a talented guy and can find ways to get himself open, but it seems like they also schematically draw it up so all the sudden, he’s unaccounted for.

“Right, absolutely, they do. Gary [Kubiak] does a good job scheme-wise of balancing everything out – the running game, the passing game, play-actions, dropbacks, complementary routes, complementary runs – everything kind of ties together. If you’re stopping one thing, then you’re probably light on something else and it won’t take them too long to find that and exploit it. He’s definitely open on a few plays where it wouldn’t matter who the receiver is, the guy is wide open and is going to make a big play. But there are also a lot of plays that he makes on his own: he goes up and takes the ball away from a defender or he takes a two-yard pass and turns it into a 40-yard run and plays like that. You’re right, it’s both. It’s scheme and it’s the individual player.”

Do you remember scouting that Miami team?

“Yeah, he was down there. He came out, I want to say the same year as [Willis] McGahee. Charlie [Weis] and I were down there. McGahee, of course, was coming off the knee injury. It seemed like we were at Miami every year and they had 10 guys. Then it seemed like we were at Florida every year and they had 10 guys. There was a bit of shift there where Miami, they still had them, but they didn’t have as many of them, where you felt like you’re working out the whole team. You go down there on Pro Day and work out and you can’t see them all. They have a receiver over here, a tight end over here, a running back over  here, a couple defensive linemen over here, corners are working out over there, they have some linebacker…I mean wherever you look, you’re looking at just too many guys to watch. Those are the kind of workouts that it’s worth it because you’re seeing eight, nine, 10 guys that are going to get drafted, they’re going to play in the league. Whether you have them or somebody else gets them, at least you know them a little bit better.”

Was there a feeling around the league that that was a special team?

“Yeah, like I said, they were loaded every year. Look at the backs that were down there, they went from [Clinton] Portis to [Frank] Gore to [Willis] McGahee. I’m sure I’m leaving a couple of them out, but it’s just one guy after another. It’s ridiculous. And receivers too: [Reggie] Wayne and [Andre] Johnson. Like I said, it was like two or three guys at every position every year. Pro Day down there was 10 draft choices.”

How has the birth of his daughter affected Tom Brady’s mood and preparation?

“He was like an hour late coming in the day after but otherwise good. We met yesterday. I think he’s right on top of everything like he usually is. As far as his preparation, we met and went over their scheme and their players and the adjustments and things we expected the Texans to do and so forth and he seemed right on top of it to me, like he usually does.”

We’re about 45 minutes away from the kickoff of the Army-Navy game. What are your thoughts on the game?

“It’s always a special day. That’s one that seems like everybody in the country has a rooting interest on, one way or the other. They have some kind of family connection with one service academy or one service or the other. It’s a great game for college football; it’s a great game for our country. It brings out the patriotism in all of us. Yeah, it’s a special game. There’s really nothing else like it. There are rivalries, but that’s such a national rivalry. It’s not a bunch of guys who are going on to play pro football. They’re going to go on to fight and some of them die for our country. It really is, on a competitive level, it’s about as high as it gets. Yeah, it’s great; a great event. Thanks for asking.”


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