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The anatomy of a perfect game plan from Bill Belichick: How Jacoby Brissett TD run happened 09.23.16 at 12:49 pm ET
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Sep 22, 2016; Foxborough, MA, USA;  New England Patriots quarterback Jacoby Brissett (7) makes an adjustment at the line of scrimmage during the third quarter against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

With great game planning, rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett was in total command Thursday. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Sometimes one play can reveal a lot about a team’s preparation on a short week.

After Thursday’s 27-0 blanking of the Texans, Bill Belichick was effusive in his praise of the coaching staff and players to get ready and execute at a high level. Belichick knows it’s hard enough on a regular week. But when the week is compressed, every detail becomes critical.

No play reflected the Patriots’ preparation better than the 27-yard bootleg run from Jacoby Brissett, a rookie quarterback making his first NFL start.

In order to make Brissett comfortable against a defense led by J.J. Watt, Belichick and his coaching staff of offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia and running backs coach Ivan Fears got their heads together to scheme against former Patriots defensive coordinator and current Texans defensive guru Romeo Crennel.

On the designed bootleg at the end of the first quarter, several factors were involved. Watt lined up over left guard Joe Thuney. Linebacker Benardrick McKinney came down on the line of scrimmage to set the edge on the other side. Watt blew through but there was nothing for Watt to get at. The reason? The play was designed to run on the other side, with right guard Shaq Mason executing the key block on McKinney to spring Brissett.

“I didn’t think J.J. Watt really had anything to do with the play,” Belichick said Friday in his conference call with reporters. “He was on the other side of the line. I don’t think he would’ve had any chance at all. Jacoby just took the ball, kind of took one step back, gave a quick ball fake to LeGarrette [Blount] and just went to the edge and it was timed out well with Shaq, who cut McKinney on the line of scrimmage and got him down, kind of knocked him off balance. By that time, Jacoby is already outside. Once Jacoby got to the corner, it was really a run all the way.”

Brissett made free safety Andre Hal miss at the 5 and used a block from Malcolm Mitchell on Johnathan Joseph to dive into the end zone.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, houston texans, Jacoby Brissett, New England Patriots
Bill Belichick looks to continue his winning ways against former colleagues 09.21.16 at 6:13 pm ET
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Bill Belichick will look to continue his success against former assistants on Thursday night. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

While Bill Belichick has had close relationships with many head coaches around the NFL, there’s nothing quite like when he matches on-field wits against one of his former assistants or associates.

This will mark just the fourth time Belichick has squared off against a former assistant since 2010. Belichick lost to Eric Mangini’s Browns, 34-14, in 2010. Later that season, he beat Jim Schwartz and the Lions, 45-24, on Thanksgiving Day. Last year, Belichick’s Patriots had their way with Bill O’Brien’s Texans, 27-6, in Houston.

It all began on Dec. 19, 1993, at old Cleveland Municipal Stadium. Belichick, then coach of the Browns, faced Bill Parcells, coach of the Patriots. The result was a 20-17 Parcells win over Belichick in Cleveland. The next season, Belichick got his revenge twice, beating Parcells’ Patriots in the regular season and in the playoffs. Parcells’ Patriots beat Belichick’s Browns in the 1995 season opener at Foxboro.

The next time the two squared off would be their last. Parcells was in his first year as head coach of the Cowboys in 2003 and Belichick beat Dallas 12-0 at Gillette Stadium, giving Belichick a 3-2 edge over the Big Tuna.

The former assistant Belichick has faced the most is Eric Mangini. The two squared off as opposing head coaches eight times, with Belichick holding a 5-3 advantage (1-0 in the playoffs).

While the Jan. 2007 meeting was in the playoffs, the most epic encounter came the next time the two got together. That was the 2007 opener, won by the Patriots, 38-14, at the Meadowlands. After the game, Mangini called the NFL about what he believed was inappropriate filming of the Jets’ defensive coaching signals. “Spygate” was born.

Al Groh has the best winning percentage, capturing both games in 2000, the only season Groh was head coach of the New York Jets, and also marking Groh’s only season as an NFL head coach.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Bill O'Brien, Eric Mangini, houston texans
Report: Patriots not giving up hope Jimmy Garoppolo could play Thursday 09.19.16 at 10:07 am ET
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Garoppolo finished 24-for-33 for 264 yards and a TD. (USA Today)

Garoppolo led the Patriots to a 23-21 win in Week 1. (USA Today)

There’s apparently good reason that Josh McDaniels didn’t want to name Jacoby Brissett the starting quarterback for Thursday’s game against Houston.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, citing a team source, there is a “long shot” chance that Jimmy Garoppolo could start Thursday after suffering a right shoulder injury in Sunday’s win over the Dolphins.

Appearing on WEEI’s Kirk and Callahan Monday morning, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels would not commit to any particular starter. McDaniels also said the Patriots were not in a position where they had to bring in an experienced backup but it could help.

According to multiple reports, Garoppolo suffered a sprained AC joint in his right shoulder when he was driven to the turf on a tackle by Dolphins linebacker Kiko Alonso with five minutes left in the second quarter.

Garoppolo was red-hot in the first 25 minutes Sunday, completing 18-of-27 passes for 234 yards and three touchdowns, helping the Patriots build a 24-0 lead.

On the drive Garoppolo injured his shoulder, Jacoby Brissett came on in relief, as the Patriots tacked on a field goal.

Brissett finished 6-of-9 for 92 yards.

Read More: houston texans, Jacoby Brissett, Jimmy Garoppolo, New England Patriots
Bill Belichick details why he’s so grateful to have Chris Hogan ‘always ready to go’ 09.16.16 at 10:37 am ET
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The Patriots only have four true wide receivers on their roster. (David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)

The Patriots only have four true wide receivers on their roster. (David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)

FOXBORO — Bill Belichick doesn’t remember scouting Chris Hogan the football player at Monmouth in 2011. Nor does the Patriots coach recall sending a rep to see him at Fordham’s Pro Day that year.

But two of his coaches certainly remember him from playing against Chris Hogan, the All-American lacrosse midfielder at Penn State.

Both safeties coach Steve Belichick and coaching assistant Mike Pellegrino played against Hogan when Hogan was concentrating more on lacrosse.

“I only know that we have two coaches on our team that covered him in lacrosse,” Belichick said Friday morning. “Steve covered him at Rutgers and Mike covered him at Hopkins. I don’t know about working him out but I know we have two guys that played against him on the lacrosse field.”

Hogan made a name for himself at Penn State but transferred to Monmouth to pursue his dream of football. It’s paid off handsomely. The Patriots paid close attention to the undrafted Hogan while he was trying to build his career resume with the Dolphins and Bills. They tendered him a three-year, $12 million offer in March and the Bills decided not to match. Hogan was a special teams star in Buffalo, something Belichick certainly values. But here in New England, he’s blossomed into much more. In just three months, he’s earned so much trust of the coaches that they decided to keep him as one of only four true receivers.

He’s the most experienced vertical receiver they have right now and he showed some of those skills on a 37-yard shake-and-bake for a touchdown last Sunday in Arizona. Hogan finished with three catches on four targets for 60 yards in his Patriots debut.

“Great. Works really hard. Chris is always ready to go. Works hard in every phase game, passing game, his blocking, kicking game. He’s always, always ready to go,” Belichick said. “Something’s come up, and he’s not in there, [we tell him], ‘Hey, Chris jump in there.’ Boom, he’s got his helmet on, his chin-strap fastened. He knows what to do. He’s really been impressive that way. We’ve asked him to do a lot of different things, play multiple receiver spots, outside, inside.”

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Read More: Buffalo Bills, Chris Hogan, Monmouth, New England Patriots
Julian Edelman isn’t talking Jimmy, Garoppolo, Tom Brady or Week 1: ‘We’re onto Miami’ 09.15.16 at 10:26 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Julian Edelman kept his answers short and sweet Thursday as he chatted with reporters in front of his locker before practice at Gillette Stadium.

With Tom Brady granting several national media interview requests while on suspension, Edelman was asked if he’s been in touch with his close friend off the field, something he is allowed to do.

“I’m not here to talk about that,” Edelman said. “I’m here to talk about Miami.”

Might Edelman talk about the kind of confidence he and the offense gained from a Week 1 road win in Arizona?

“Last week is last week and we’re onto Miami, and we’re not going to answer those kind of questions right now,” Edelman said.

Edelman caught seven catches on seven targets for 66 yards from Jimmy Garoppolo.

“Last week was last week so we’re onto Miami,” Edelman interjected.

Edelman did concede that he and the offense are looking for some early season rhythm at home, something they have a chance to start Sunday against the Dolphins.

“It feels good. It’s the home and anytime you get to play around your own fans and feel the excitement for you instead of against you, it’s a fun feeling,” Edelman said. “The travel is less and getting to have your routine when you’re back at home is always nice. So, it’s going to be good.

“You’re always try to keep it going and get it going and as a team, we just try to go out and we try to improve each and every week and each and every day, and take things from practice that you do well, and take things that you don’t do well and try to learn from them. I feel like we try to do that around the year.

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Read More: Julian Edelman, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, nfl
Scene-setting from Arizona: Patriots open 2016 season with Jimmy Garoppolo, without Nate Solder, Rob Gronkowski 09.11.16 at 1:52 pm ET
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IMG_0442

The Patriots visit University of Phoenix Stadium for the first time since winning Super Bowl XLIX. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The time has finally arrived.

After a summer of trying to get Jimmy Garoppolo ready to fill the shoes of Tom Brady for the first month of the season, the first test is upon the Patriots as they play the Cardinals in the Valley of the Sun.

The weather outside University of Phoenix is a big reason the Cardinals built a retractable roof in the middle of the desert. It will be sunny and 100 degrees outside. The roof figures to be closed, creating a comfortable 72-degree environment inside the building where the Patriots won Super Bowl XLIX the last time they played there.

The building figures to be much more hostile this time as expectations are high for the Cardinals, who reached the NFC championship before getting blown out by the Carolina Panthers.

The Patriots enter the game as nine-point underdogs (per Bovada), the biggest margin for Patriots since they were 14-point underdogs against the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI.

The reason for the big spread is who the Patriots are missing. Tom Brady and Rob Ninkovich start 2016 serving four-game suspensions. Star tight end Rob Gronkowski and starting left tackle Nate Solder are out with hamstring injuries.

Jonathan Cooper did not make the trip with plantar fascia in his foot.

How will the Patriots cope? There is the thought that McDaniels will use a combination of power running and no-huddle to keep Arizona’s pass rush (featuring newly-acquired Chandler Jones) at bay. Chris Price has the scouting report.

Ryan Hannable has 10 fun facts to consider heading into the game.

The Patriots reportedly made a couple of big transactions before the game, extending the contract of Ninkovich and restructuring the deal of safety Devin McCourty that shifts just over $3 million to guaranteed money next season, saving approximately $2.8 million in cap space this season.

The Patriots have won 11 of their last 12 season openers, including last year’s 28-21 decision over the Steelers at Gillette Stadium. Bill Belichick is 12-4 in season openers with the Patriots and 14-7 overall as a head coach.

Read More: Arizona Cardinals, Gronk, Jimmy Garoppolo, Mike Petraglia
Eric Rowe can’t wait to get on the field and help the ‘dynasty’ Patriots 09.09.16 at 9:22 am ET
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Screen Shot 2016-09-09 at 9.19.48 AMFOXBORO — Bill Belichick loves talented cornerbacks who can help keep his secondary young. And if that player also appreciates where he’s getting a chance to play, all the better.

In 23-year-old Eric Rowe, the Patriots are getting both.

Rowe is in his second NFL season after being drafted by Philadelphia in the second round (47th overall) of the 2015 NFL Draft out of Utah, one spot ahead of Jordan Richards. The 6-foot-1, 205-pounder, played in 16 games with five starts as a rookie and finished with 25 total tackles, one interception and five passes defensed.

“I’m excited just to get the opportunity, really to play for a dynasty team,” Rowe said Thursday after just his second practice with the Patriots. “I’m just excited for the opportunity to come to play, help make the team better. I’m kind of excited that Coach Belichick obviously sees something in me. He’s a hall of fame coach. That really motivates me.”

There’s been plenty of speculation ever since his trade with the Eagles (that initially involved Josh Kline and then didn’t) that he is the heir apparent to Logan Ryan and possibly Duron Harmon in the Patriots secondary. Both Ryan and Harmon are unrestricted free agents after this season.

But first things first, Rowe has to prove he can pick up the Patriots system and then succeed in it. Belichick is fully aware that expecting Rowe to come in and handle a big work load, in the slot corner spot for instance, would be a bit much to expect.

“We’ll try to get him ready for, obviously, a smaller role this week,” Belichick said. “I don’t think we can get him ready to do everything, get him ready for a smaller role. But between practice, for the show-team practice for the offense we do a lot of working guys into different spots; tackle to end, corner to safety, vice versa, inside to outside linebacker, guard to tackle on the offensive line, things like that. So, that gives us an opportunity to look at players at more than one spot when you include the practice plays.

“We’ve brought in guys on shorter notice than this but obviously we’ll just have to see how it goes. We spent a lot of time meeting with him as the game plan goes through the week, early downs, third down, red area, special teams, just kind of where we feel like the right spot is, the sweet spot for this game, and then reevaluate next week, next week. I’m sure the game plan will be different and he’ll have more under his belt and so forth. He’s working hard to get everything and even some things that he won’t be doing, he’s working hard to learn those. It’s the same process we went through with [Barkevious] Mingo last week, so we’ve been down this road quite a few times. It all depends on the player. It all depends on what the game plan is and what his role – just how it evolves. There’s no really straight-line formula on this.”

Rowe is just trying to play catch-up right now to give himself a chance to even be on the field Sunday.

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Read More: Arizona Cardinals, Eric Rowe, New England Patriots, nfl
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