|Bill Belichick on fumbles: ‘We just can’t overcome those, not for very long’||11.26.13 at 11:37 am ET|
Are the Patriots reaching a breaking point with Stevan Ridley and his fumbles?
Bill Belichick wouldn’t mention him by name but the coach continues to send a message with benchings against Carolina (18 snaps) and Denver (final 82 snaps of the game) that he can’t have what Ridley even conceded after Sunday’s game is a “sickening” trend with losing the football.
“Ball security is the paramount issue for your football team every week, our football team every week,” Belichick said.
Another reason Belichick didn’t want to mention Ridley by name was the fact that Ridley wasn’t alone. Yes, his fumble led to the 60-yard TD return by Von Miller. But Tom Brady put the ball on the ground twice and so did Julian Edelman (on one play). In all, the Patriots fumbled six times and were rescued somewhat by the fact Denver fumbled five times.
The Patriots were able to overcome it on Sunday night against a future hall of fame quarterback. But that will surely be the recipe for disaster going forward in the cold weather.
“We fumbled the ball, whatever it was, six times,” Belichick said. “We can’t go on like that. We just can’t. There were multiple situations and multiple things involved and it hurt us the week before in Carolina. We’re just not going to be able to overcome turning the ball over, however you turn it over. Whether it’s fumbles or interceptions or muffed punts or tipped interceptions, whatever it is, fumbled snaps – we just can’t overcome those, not for very long.
You might get it for awhile but in the end, it’s just too big an advantage go give to the other team. We have to take better care of the ball. Obviously they had a hard time taking care of it last night too. There were multiple turnovers throughout the game. Certainly the conditions were part of it but in general we have to do a better job of coaching and playing and securing the ball. That includes everybody, everybody who touches it. It’s not limited to one guy, it’s anybody who touches the ball. That’s the center, the quarterback, the running backs, the receivers, the returners, the holders, the kickers, the snappers – everybody. Everybody that touches the ball, we have to take better care of it.”
|Bill Belichick recalls how Bill Parcells taught him how to manage the winds of change||10.28.13 at 12:11 pm ET|
FOXBORO — As the Patriots were facing a third-and-10 at Miami’s 30 yard line with 18 seconds left in the third quarter Sunday, Bill Belichick recalled the 1986 NFC championship game, and a valuable lesson he learned from Bill Parcells.
“I’d say one of the biggest decisions and most critical decisions that I’ve ever been a part of on that was in the 1986 NFC Championship Game against the Redskins,” Belichick recalled Monday in a conference call. “It was a windy day in Giants Stadium. We’ve had many of those and we won the toss and Coach [Bill] Parcells elected to take the wind which wasn’t very common. It wasn’t a very common decision because, let’s face it, you take it in the first quarter you’re not going to have it in the second quarter.
“That was what he decided to do and we were able to really take advantage of that situation against the Redskins. We got three stops and 17 points and we had a 17-0 lead at the end of the first quarter in part due to the wind, good defense and good offense helped of course. But the field position was huge and that ended up being the final score of the game. That decision, the initial points and the way that the game started really was a huge part of what was reflected in a huge degree to that decision that Bill made. That was a good lesson for me to learn in my career. It was a great decision by Coach Parcells.”
Sunday was another windy day for Belichick, this time with a 20 MPH breeze out of the north and behind the Patriots for 18 more seconds in a tie game. Belichick decided to call the first of his three second half timeouts after second down so he could be assured of holding the wind for the last two plays of the quarter and a potential go-ahead field goal.
Sure enough, third down was an incomplete pass and Stephen Gostkowski was brought on for the 48-yard field goal that would give the Patriots the lead for good. As it turned out, the incompletion probably saved Belichick another timeout. Gostkowski made it easily and Belichick talked about the decision to use the timeout in great detail Monday.
“We were at that point where we were in field goal range but it was a long field goal and it felt like if we changed ends of the field then that field goal range might not be there as evidenced by when we went for it on fourth down in the fourth quarter going into the wind in a similar field position situation,” Belichick said. “When the clock was running there, we wanted to try to give ourselves a chance. Of course in a close game like that, the game was tied at the time, you hate to waste timeouts because they can be valuable at the end, as we’ve seen many times this year, but I felt like it was worth it to be able to have a better opportunity on the kick. Not saying that Steve couldn’t have made it going the other way, I just think it would have been a harder kick based on the conditions that were out there yesterday. Then we threw the incomplete pass and that might have helped us there, because had we completed the pass and not gotten the first down, then that would have been another situation and decision whether to use another timeout to preserve that but fortunately we didn’t have to do that.
“If we had converted, then obviously we would have then gone into the fourth quarter but it would have been closer to the goal line, at least at the start, if we had picked up the first down and then been able to, even if we got stopped, it would have been a kick that I would have felt better about going that direction. It wasn’t just the direction of the wind, there was also significant crosswind that all the specialists had to deal with. Yeah, of course, back to the first days I remember watching football, playing, watching, being a part of it, the wind conditions are always a factor in the kicking game first and then in the passing game.”
|Quick hits: Mike Petraglia, Chris Price on what Patriots’ win in preseason finale means||08.30.13 at 12:32 am ET|
|Reports: Tom Brady likely to sit out against Giants||08.29.13 at 6:05 pm ET|
FOXBORO — It appears Tom Brady has played his last game of the preseason.
According to the Boston Herald and ESPNBoston.com, Brady will not play against the Giants in Thursday’s preseason finale. Brady would finish the preseason completing 34-of-44 passes for 357 yards, two touchdowns and one interception and a quarterback rating of 106.0 in three games. His next game would be the season opener on Sept. 8 in Buffalo.
An indication that this indeed would be the case was the unusual sight of Brady coming out for early stretch just under two hours before the 7:30 p.m. kickoff. Brady did come out and warm up in full uniform about an hour before the game and threw passes to Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman.
ESPNBoston.com, quoting a league source, reports that many regulars will also dress but not play.
This is hardly uncommon for Brady, who has played only four of 11 preseason finales since becoming the Patriots’ full-time starter in 2001.
With Brady likely out, the focus shifts to Ryan Mallett, expected to get the start. There could be even more spotlight on backup Tim Tebow. Tebow figures to be fighting for the last of 53 spots on the roster come Saturday night at the NFL cut deadline of 6 p.m. ET. Mallett has looked good for the most part in three preseason games, completing 32-of-60 passes for 330 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He has an 80.6 QB rating. Tebow, on the other hand, has not. He is 5-for-19 for 54 yards, one interception and a 17.7 rating.
As for the Giants, head coach Tom Coughlin said earlier this week his starters will play just 12-15 snaps.
FOXBORO — For the ninth straight year, the Patriots and Giants will conclude their respective preseason schedules against one another. This is the 23rd time the two teams are meeting in the preseason.
It will be a damp, cool and occasionally windy night, pleasant and comfortable night with a stiff breeze out of the north at about 10 MPH for the 7:30 p.m. kickoff. Temperatures are expected to hover around 60 degrees with a slight chance of rain early before giving way to mostly clear skies for most of the game.
Their are several areas for Patriots fans to keep a watch out for as Chris Price outlined. How much, if at all, will Tom Brady play? It’s likely that he starts the game if for no other reason than to build up his rhythm with Danny Amendola, who missed the game in Detroit with an unspecified injury.
While there has been much concern over the Patriots passing game coming into preseason, two of the main components have been among the NFL’s best this August.
Brady has a rating of 106.0 and has passed for 357 yards. He started the preseason by completing 18-of-20 passes over the first two games, with two touchdowns and no interceptions. He and his numbers took a hit in Detroit as he was 16-of-24 with no touchdowns and an interception.
Standout rookie Kenbrell Thompkins has been clutch throughout the preseason. Last week, he was second among all NFL receivers in preseason receiving yards with 116 on eight catches. He has caught 13 passes for 142 yards in three preseason games, good for a 10.9 yards per catch average.
For the Giants, David Wilson was fourth among all rushers last week, going for 92 yards on five carries against the Jets in the “Snoopy Bowl” – including an 84-yard gallop to the house.
|Special circumstances of making Patriots roster||08.27.13 at 3:50 pm ET|
FOXBORO — It’s common practice among head coaches and general managers around the NFL to save the last spots on a 53-man roster for those who can do special things on special teams.
It’s here where a player can often make his mark and then move up the food chain of the roster to a positional grouping on offense or defense.
Special teams captain Matthew Slater is just one example. He was a receiver and special teams standout at UCLA with great speed. But what Bill Belichick saw in him was the intelligence as a gunner on special teams to be in the right place at the right time and make tackles. Over the years there have been many. Matt Chatham and Larry Izzo are just two linebackers that come to mind who earned their stripes on special teams. It’s not unusual to see Brandon Spikes or Dont’a Hightower on kick coverages.
With so many teams looking for every and any way to keep players this week, special teams is a landing place for many. Perhaps Leon Washington stays on the team because he is a sure-handed veteran returner and a fifth running back. Maybe linebacker Mike Rivera sticks because he’s a linebacker who can play on special teams. The same could be said of Dane Fletcher and Jeff Tarpinian. And then, of course, there’s Tim Tebow.
If you want to focus on one area Thursday night, try watching special teams very closely. Players who make big plays in coverage carry a lot of weight to Belichick. He explained as much Tuesday.
“It’s different. You just can’t practice special teams at the same speed that it happens in the game,” he said. “No matter how hard you try to practice it that way, it’s just not the same: the live tackling, the whole space situation that’s created in the kicking game. You practice it, you certainly evaluate it in practice but it doesn’t always quite show up that way in the game due to game speed and the athleticism that’s required of the players in space to block, tackle, avoid getting in the lanes, make those judgments, all those kinds of things in the coverage and the return game.
“Preseason production in the kicking game is certainly a factor. Practice is a factor but assuming that guys have their assignments right, then it comes down to performance and production and that’s not easy to gauge in practice. You can attempt to do it based on what you see but it’s not the same as what you see in a game.”
Is it safe to say that individual performance in special teams carries a bit more than offense or defense?
“Possibly, I think so,” Belichick said. “Again, I think you have to evaluate the plays and specifically what happened. But still, yeah, it’s hard to see it in practice. There were some good examples in the Philadelphia and Tampa practices where it was good, competitive situations of punt and punt return, guys trying to get off the line, guys trying to hold them up, that type of thing; the gunners against the vices outside. But it’s still not totally game conditions whereas things like a defensive back covering a receiver can be pretty close to a game situation. Maybe not the tackling or the actual finish part of it, but the actual coverage. You can do one-on-one pass rush, one-on-one pass protection pretty close to what it is in a game.
“It’s a lot harder to get that same situation in the kicking game where you run 40 yards, avoid a guy, tackle him, block him, with a returner involved, with the amount of space that’s involved. It’s just hard to create that. The contact and all that is much more in the games than it is in practice.”
|Bill Belichick on his Patriots: ‘We have a lot of things going on’||08.26.13 at 4:36 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Will Tim Tebow play a lot on Thursday night in the preseason finale? How much will the starters play, if at all. How much planning is going on for the first two games of the season? How much review still needs to be done on players to get down to 53 by Saturday’s 6 p.m. deadline?
All of these questions and much more is on the plate of Bill Belichick and his staff as they plan for the preseason finale against the Giants while also keeping an eye on the Bills and Jets, the two teams they’ll play in the first five days of the regular season.
Adding to the intrigue was the news Monday that undrafted free agent Jeff Tuel could get the starting nod at quarterback for the Bills in the preseason because of a concussion to Kevin Kolb (possibly career-ending) and a knee injury to EJ Manuel.
However, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported Sunday that Manuel is progressing very well from his scope of last week and might be on track to start against the Patriots on Sept. 8.
If he isn’t ready to go, then it’s Tuel time for the Bills against the Pats. What does that mean to Belichick?
“The analysis and all that is not really there yet,” Belichick said of the Washington State product. “It’s more just a few first look and just trying to get to know the teams.”
The season opener will also be the first real NFL game experience for new Bills head coach Doug Marrone. So, tendencies will be at a minimum.
“Opening day is always a hard game to prepare for, no matter who it is because you either don’t have any history or you have a lot of history, more than you need,” Belichick said. “You have to try to figure out what that balance is. I think that most teams that go to training camp and spend the weeks in training camp, the weeks in the preseason games, you’re certainly going to see some of that on opening day. A team isn’t going to come in there and not do anything they worked on all year on opening day and have a whole new scheme. But I’m sure everybody has some wrinkles, has some things that they’re holding back, has some changes that they haven’t shown that you have to be ready for and that’s part of opening day.
“We’ll have them, I’m sure Buffalo will have them and we’ll see how it all turns out and then things will start to settle in a little after that but that’s part of opening day. Yeah, you can look back at all the stuff he’s ever done at New Orleans, the Jets, Syracuse, this year. Yeah, you can put an encyclopedia together but there’s still only one game. There are only so many plays you can run in that game. I’m sure they can do the same thing: they can go back and watch all our games from the last decade and find some relevance. But you have to put your chips on some number and go with your preparation there and if it changes, deal with it during the game.”
In general, with the flurry of activity around the league combined with his own in-house roster decisions, including what to do with Rob Gronkowski (PUP), DL Armond Armstead and WR Mark Harrison (NFI), this is arguably the busiest week of the season for Belichick and his staff.
“This is a big week for us,” Belichick said Monday. “We have a lot of things going on obviously. We have a roster reduction that has to be done tomorrow; we made a few moves today. As our coaching staff, trying to get things ready for the Giants obviously, evaluate our team, start to get ready for Buffalo and then we have a Thursday night game right behind that that we can start to do some preparation for before we get fully into the Bills – a lot of moving parts. As always there are some conversations with other teams in the league at this time of year relative to roster movement and things like that. We’ll just try to take it one day at a time here and just chip away at all the different things that are happening.
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