|Bill Belichick returns the love from Gregg Popovich: ‘I love to watch that team’||12.19.14 at 10:17 am ET|
FOXBORO — On a day when Boston, New England and the basketball world is talking about Rajon Rondo heading to Dallas, Bill Belichick heaped a huge amount of praise upon Rondo’s new rival in the Western Conference.
On Friday, Belichick accepted the praise and returned the favor.
“It’s flattering he would say that,” Belichick said of the five-time champion Spurs coach. “It means a lot coming from his stature and given the amount of respect I have for him and our organization has for that organization because I think it extends well beyond me. That’s a very flattering comment.
“Tremendous respect for Gregg. I think the consistency they’ve had there, the level that they’ve played at. I love the way he coaches that team. I love to watch that team. He’s really good, really good. It’s not like I watch a hundred basketball games a year or anything like that but I think he handles himself and his team, I admire it. I really do.”
Belichick has often interacted with other coaches in Boston, like former Red Sox manager Terry Francona, ex-Celtics coach Doc Rivers, Bruins coach Claude Julien and Boston College hockey coach Jerry York. In some cases, he’s even invited them into Gillette to speak to his team.
It’s not quite at that level with Popovich, at least not yet.
“We’ve had a lot of indirect conversation. Put it that way,” Belichick said.
Reminded that Popovich’s job just got a lot tougher with Dallas acquiring Rondo in a trade with the Celtics Thursday night, Belichick showed that single-minded focus he shares with Popovich.
“Right now, I’m really worried about the Jets. I can’t worry about everybody else’s team and what their challenges are and all that,” Belichick said. “I’m sure every team has a lot of challenges. We have a big one and that’s really my job to deal with that one.”
|Bill Belichick says Rex Ryan is ‘buttering’ him up by calling him a first ballot Hall of Famer||12.17.14 at 2:25 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Earlier in the week, Rex Ryan said Bill Belichick was a first ballot Hall of Famer. On Wednesday, Belichick was appreciative of the comment, but even with all the possible outside distractions Sunday’s game possesses, he’s focused on the game and nothing else.
“It’s a very flattering comment, but it sounds like Rex is just buttering me up,” Belichick said on a conference call with the New York media Wednesday. “I know they’re working hard, like they always do, play us very competitively. We’ve really had a hard time with them, including the last time we played them. We’re going to have to do a good job getting ready to go here stopping a team that runs the ball well, that stops the run well, that’s got a lot of explosive guys in the kicking game, that’s well coached, that’s tough, that beat us down there last year. We have our work cut out for us.”
Asked if he has any memories of games between the two over the years, Belichick wouldn’t get into them as he is focused on getting his team to 12-3 and a step closer to the overall No. 1 seed in the AFC.
With the Jets entering the game with a record of 3-11, it seems likely Ryan will be fired at the end of the season, as the Jets will miss the playoffs for a fourth straight season.
“Well of course, they’re one of our AFC East rivals,” said Belichick. “This is really about this game, not about some other game. We’ve played a lot of games against a lot of teams in the past. Right now the only one that matters is this one on Sunday. That’s really where all my focus is. [I’m] trying to do the best I can to help our team prepare for Sunday’s game.”
|Bill Belichick isn’t taking the 3-11 Jets lightly: ‘They’re a very competitive football team’||at 11:05 am ET|
FOXBORO — Even though the Jets are 3-11, and losers of three of their last four games with their coach likely to be fired, don’t tell that to Bill Belichick, as he notes they have been in a number of close games and playing competitively.
“It seems like quite a while since we played the Jets,” said Belichick. “The Jets are playing well. They’re a very competitive football team. They’re in every game. They’ve been in a lot of tight games, it seems like every game comes down to the last possession, kind of like it did with us, like a lot of our games with them have in the last, four of the last five times we’ve played them.”
Three of the last four games the Jets have played have been decided by seven points or less, and when it comes to games against the Patriots, the last three games have been decided by three points or less, including Oct. 16’s game in New England where the Patriots snuck past the Jets, 27-25 on Thursday night football.
Even further, four of the last five Patriots-Jets games have been decided by three points or less, with two of those games going to overtime.
With the last meeting between the two teams occurring almost two months ago, Belichick notes a lot has changed between the two teams. It’s worth noting the game was on a Thursday night and the Patriots were coming off losing running back Stevan Ridley and linebacker Jerod Mayo for the season just three days prior against the Bills.
|Bill Belichick isn’t giving Brandon Browner (or his team) an excuse for all the penalties||12.16.14 at 5:57 pm ET|
When the new emphasis on defensive holding and hands to the face was announced at the start of training camp, there was the understanding that certain players would struggle more than others adjusting.
It appears no one on the Patriots has had a harder time than Brandon Browner. As Chris Price points out, Browner has been flagged for 13 penalties (4 defensive holding, illegal contact, encroachment, 4 defensive pass interference, illegal use of hands, facemask, unnecessary roughness) 118 yards. Those 13 penalties are six more than the next closest perpetrator (Brandon LaFell, Logan Ryan six apiece).
On Tuesday, Patriots coach Bill Belichick was asked if he cuts Browner some slack for his team lead in the dubious category because of the physical style he brings to the secondary.
“Penalties have been an issue for us all year as a team,” Belichick said. “We’ve had a lot of penalties, more than we want, way more than we want. We’re trying to decrease that number and the frequency. [We’re] certainly not there yet, but we continue to make it a priority and address it and work to reduce them. I think there’s definitely been some progress, but we’re not there yet. That goes for everybody.”
By not singling out Browner publicly, Belichick made it clear that he’s expecting cleaner play across the board.
“It’s everybody’s responsibility to play penalty free in their area, whether it’s the coaches on play-calling and substitution and things like that, or whether it’s the individual players based on their techniques and whatever the situation is that they’re in: offense, defense, special teams. Whatever it happens to be, it’s to play penalty free,” Belichick said. “That always has been an emphasis point for us, and it will continue to be one for everybody.”
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With a 3-11 record, gone is the cockiness but the desire to find different ways to run the ball is still priority No. 1 with Ryan’s Jets. Whether it’s Chris Ivory, Chris Johnson, Jeremy Kerley or even the newly acquired Percy Harvin, the Jets are trying to compensate for the lack of a passing attack from Geno Smith. But Smith, along with Ivory, Johnson, Kerley and Harvin, is a definite threat to run.
“Well they use a lot of guys. They have a lot of good runners: Ivory probably runs as hard as any player we’ve played against recently. Johnson has a lot of skill; Smith hurt us running in the first game. He’s a good runner, he’s a very athletic guy, can scramble in the passing game,” Belichick said. “They ran a bunch of reverses, Kerley, obviously Harvin. They use a lot of people in their running game to make you defend from sideline to sideline, as well as the inside power-type games and some read-option plays.”
Harvin has 31 carries for 201 yards (6.5 yards/attempt) and a touchdown this season, 21 of those coming with the Jets after he was acquired from Seattle. Ivory leads the Jets with 739 yards and six touchdowns, averaging 4.2 yards per carry. Johnson has 613 yards and a 4.5 yards/carry average with a touchdown. If there’s a way the Patriots could be in trouble Sunday at MetLife, it starts with the Jets getting their running game up to speed.
“They have a very extensive and diverse running game,” Belichick said. “This will probably be the most volume of running game schemes and run game issues that they create that we’ve had in quite a while, certainly all year.
With Smith struggling as a passer, the Jets have turned back to their “Wildcat” to try and take some pressure off the signal caller, sometimes taking Smith off the field altogether.
“I think the Wildcat is, like a lot of things, defensively you just have to be ready for it every week. Wildcat, unbalanced line, empty formation, all those different type of things, if a team has shown them, they’ve shown them,” Belichick said. “But if they haven’t shown them, there’s always a possibility that they could put something like that together as a game plan thing. We always have to be ready for those type of things.
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Ryan said Monday that he has tremendous respect for Belichick and the Patriots. And while on Tuesday, Belichick said he has respect for the Jets, he wasn’t interested in throwing a bouquet of flowers at Rex on what could be his penultimate game on the Jets’ sidelines.
“We have a lot of respect for the Jets,” Belichick said on a conference call of the 3-11 Jets. “They’re a good football team. We had a real competitive game with them earlier in the year.”
That 27-25 escape job thanks to the left paw of Chris Jones serves as a reminder that this isn’t so much about recalling past battles as it is focusing on a team that will be hellbent on spoiling New England’s bid for the No. 1 seed in the AFC.
“I’m not really that concerned about what happened five, 10, 15 years ago. [I’m] more concerned about this matchup this week. They played another tight, tough game last week and beat the Titans at the end. They’ve been in a lot of close games — won some, lost some. We were in one with them and expect a tough, 60-minute battle.”
That didn’t keep the questions coming about Rex’s Jets against Belichick’s Patriots. Ryan won the only postseason match up Jan. 2011 but overall, Belichick holds an 8-4 advantage since Ryan came to New York proclaiming he wasn’t about to kiss “Belichick’s rings.”
Belichick was asked Tuesday if he’s enjoyed competing against Ryan, his teams and his scheme since 2009.
“I mean, every week we have challenges,” Belichick said. “Every team has good players, good coaches and tough matchups. This is the Jets.”
|Rex Ryan praises Bill Belichick, but says ‘he’s going to get my very best … I’m looking forward to this one’||at 8:15 am ET|
The Jets are 3-11 and will miss the playoffs for the fourth straight season, likely leading to Ryan being fired following the season. Sunday is the last home game of the season for the Jets, and likely the last home game in the Ryan era. After sometimes taking shots at Belichick leading up to games in the past, Ryan had nothing but praise for Belichick on Monday.
“You’re talking about a guy that will be a first-ballot Hall of Fame coach when he goes in there,” Ryan told reporters. “There are very few like that, if any — maybe Tom Coughlin — that’s out there today. That’s the biggest guy, and you like to go up against the very best. And that’s who he is. … I like that, and I like getting that opportunity.”
New York played the Patriots tough in the first meeting of the season in Week 7 on a Thursday night in New England. The Jets fell 27-25, with the 25 points being the most points they’ve scored in a game this season. Ryan and the Jets hope to build on that Sunday, but he does know the Patriots will surely be prepared with Belichick leading the way. Ryan says he’s up for the challenge.
“That’s what great teams do, they find ways to win, and he’s done that,” Ryan said of Belichick. “He prepares his team as well as anybody in the league, if not better than any coach in the league. I do like competing against him, there’s no question about it. And he knows one thing: He’s going to get my very best, that’s for sure. I’m looking forward to this one.”
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