Belichick: We have a lot of respect for Henne


Belichick: We have a lot of respect for Henne

FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick gave current Jaguars, former Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne a heaping plate of respect Wednesday morning.  "Henne does a good job of reading coverages and getting the ball to the weak point of the coverage," Belichick said. "He uses Jordan Shipley and Marcedes Lewis in the inside part of the field. He uses his backs and check downs well. He certainly can get the ball to the perimeter with Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon. He does a good job of spreading the ball around or taking where the defense is light, he does a good job of attacking there. 
"Hes also a pretty decent athlete. He can move around back there. There have been times where hes under pressure, hes able to escape and run or use his quickness in the pocket to then set up and throw the ball downfield and make a completion or make a good play."
Here's the thing: Belichick has to say these things. But Henne wasn't even Jacksonville's first choice. 
On November 21, Jaguars starter Blaine Gabbert was placed on season-ending injured reserve with a forearm injury. The second-year quarterback had struggled as a rookie with 12 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. This season he was barely better, bringing his completion percentage up from last year's 50.8 to 58.3 after 10 games. 
Still, teams don't usually give up first-round picks after less than two seasons. When Henne got the job it was because the Jaguars had no one else to give it to.  
Here's what the statistics say in the days before the Patriots travel to Jacksonville. 
Henne ranks dead last among the NFL's 35 quarterbacks in completion percentage (51.9). His touchdown-to-interception ratio is 85. The Jaguars rank 31st in first downs (226) and third down conversion percentage (28.6). New England has more than double the points scored this season than Jacksonville (506 to 219).  
"I dont think he gets locked in on one thing. With Henne, you really have to defend everything," Belichick continued. "You have to defend all the receivers, you have to defend the short balls, you have to defend the play-action, the deep balls, a little bit of scrambling. I think he does a pretty good job at everything. Thats really the hardest thing for a defense, when you have to defend everything as opposed to just nailing it down to, This is what he likes to do and its this small thing that theyre pretty good at, but its just that one thing." 
"Hes certainly done it well against us. Hes had some of his best games against us, so we have a lot of respect for Henne."
The Henne-led Dolphins were 1-4 against the Patriots. Of his career numbers, the quarterback has thrown for the most yardage against New England with 1,346. He also has the most touchdowns against Belichick's defenses with six, but has six interceptions to match. 
Who says Belichick isn't a nice guy?

Sixers' success against C's defense shows Boston still has room to grow


Sixers' success against C's defense shows Boston still has room to grow

Avery Bradley was a member of the NBA’s All-Defensive first team a year ago. And Al Horford has been among the league’s best interior defenders for a number of years.

But as talented defensively as they may be, the Celtics are still learning how to play with each other as well as off of one another.

Injuries have slowed down the chemistry developing as quickly as some might expect. Horford missed nine games due to a concussion, and another game due to wife giving birth to their second child, Alia Horford.

And in Boston’s 107-106 win over Philadelphia on Saturday night, defensive chemistry -- not only among Horford and Bradley, but with all of the players -- remains a work in progress for sure.

Boston had a number of defensive issues in the first half which factored in the Sixer shooting 46.1 percent from the field while shooting 9-for-18 from 3-point range.

But the second half was an entirely different story as Boston’s defense picked up his intensity and focus level which would prove to be just enough to beat a scrappy Sixers team.

The Celtics (12-8) are four games over .500 for the first time this season currently have the third-best record in the Eastern Conference behind Cleveland (13-5) and Toronto (14-6). 

And while the players point to a handful of games that they felt they gave away, Avery Bradley reminds all that the success of this team this season has for the most part come with key players out of the mix or limited in some capacity.

“We haven’t played that many games with the full roster,” Bradley told reporters after the win. “We’re still learning how to play with each other.”

Bradley pointed out a moment in Saturday’s victory where a miscommunication between him and Horford led to a defensive miscue.

Boston has had similar mistakes made on offense this season, too.

“We haven’t really been in pick-and-roll that much,” Bradley said. “Every single game we need to improve.”

And that improvement has to continue evolving on the defensive side of things for this team to achieve its goals this season which include being among the last teams standing in the East.

Doing that will likely mean Boston re-establishing itself as a defensive force, something that should come with time and experience playing with each other.

Horford, who signed a four-year, $113 million deal with Boston in the offseason, says it’s an ongoing process for all involved.

“I have to learn to play with our concepts, the guys have to learn to play with me,” Horford told reporters after Saturday’s win. “We just have to make sure we keep playing the right way, be more consistent with that. I feel like we’re getting better but there’s still some work that we need to do.”

Stars, studs and duds: Thomas churns out another strong fourth quarter performance


Stars, studs and duds: Thomas churns out another strong fourth quarter performance

The pressure that comes with a tight game in the fourth quarter can be a weighty proposition for some NBA players.

Then there’s Boston’s Isaiah Thomas who continues to save his best work for the fourth quarter.

Saturday’s 107-106 win at Philadelphia had yet another Thomas-like finish for the Celtics as the 5-foot-9 guard was at his most dominant state in the game’s final minutes.

Thomas finished with a season high-tying 37 points which included a stretch in the fourth in which he scored 12 straight.

“I just love the fourth quarter,” Thomas told reporters following the win. “I just want to win. Whether it’s making plays for myself or making plays for my teammates, it’s about making the right play. I get ultra- aggressive in that fourth quarter. That’s what I’ve always done.”

And his teammates appreciate how Thomas elevates his play in the game’s most pivotal moments.

“A lot of the credit is to Isaiah, how he was able to finish the game tonight,” said Avery Bradley. “He was able to make shots when we needed him to.”

And while Thomas knows his shots won’t fall all the time down the stretch, his fourth quarter mentality does provide him with a level of confidence that no matter what the defense does to him or what the score may be, he can swing the game’s momentum in his team’s favor.

“Some guys get a little tight, they get a little timid (in the fourth quarter),” Thomas said. “I embrace it. I want to be great. I want to be somebody my teammates can call on when the game is close.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Saturday night’s game.


Isaiah Thomas: There was no more dominant player on Saturday night than Thomas. He finished with a game-high 37 points along with seven assists.

Dario Saric: It was a breakout game for the 22-year-old rookie who led the Sixers with 21 points as well as 12 rebounds for his third double-double this season. Both his points and rebound totals tied his career highs in those categories.


Avery Bradley: Boston’s surge towards victory did not kick in until the third quarter which is when Bradley elevated his play offensively. In the third he scored 10 of his 20 points on the night, to go along with a team-high nine rebounds.

Ersan Illyasova: He finished with 18 points which included a pair of three-pointers in the closing seconds of the game. He also grabbed six rebounds and two assists.


Celtics first half defense: There wasn’t much to like about Boston defensively in the first half. The Celtics struggled to take away or limit Philadelphia’s only strength Saturday night which was three-point shooting. The Sixers nailed nine of their 18 three-point attempts in the first half in addition to hurting the Celtics’ transition defense which gave up seven fast-break points to Philly compared to Boston scoring just one point in transition.