Belichick: Not a lot Watt can't do


Belichick: Not a lot Watt can't do

If you look up tackling numbers for Houston defensive end J.J. Watt, you'll see they look similar to those of 2011.

Total in 2011: 48
Total in 2012: 49

Assists in 2011: 8
Assists in 2012: 10

Impressive, especially considering the Texans still have four games left to play, including a Monday night showdown in New England this week.

If you really want your eyebrows to get a workout, look at Watt's sack statistics. In 2011, his rookie season, he had 5.5.

Though 12 games this year: 15.5. He's nearly tripled last season's total.

The number is nearly unbelievable for a 3-4 defensive end. Traditionally, players at that position are two-gappers who work to free up playmaking linebackers.

If that's the mold, Watt has shattered it. Patriots coach Bill Belichick explained how on his Tuesday conference call.

"I think Houston, even though theyre a 3-4 base, theyre really an under team in their regular defense so theyre more of a one-gap team," Belichick said. "You see five technique a lot and then when they go to sub, hes an inside rusher and theyre in sub a lot. Theyre probably in sub more than theyre in base.

"He certainly makes a lot of plays in the 3-4 defense, he has excellent quickness and hes long so he does a good job rushing against everybody the tackles, the guards and hes very effective on games because of his speed and quickness and his length and his instincts."

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and his offensive line best be on guard Monday night.

Watt is not just a menace to the passing game for taking down quarterbacks; the 23-year old is nicknamed "J.J. Swatt" for a very good reason: He has defended 15 passes this year.

Only five players in the league have more. All five are cornerbacks.

"Thats a career number for a lot of defensive linemen 15 in one season is remarkable, really," Belichick said. "Of course hes long and hes athletic but he does have great instincts to get in the passing lane. So, if hes getting to the quarterback and knocking him down thats one thing. If hes not, if hes getting double teamed or the slide comes to him or something like that, hes also been very disruptive in not only knocking down balls but some of those have resulted in interceptions.

"Hes really a complete player, he does everything well. But yeah, that number of batted balls is, Id say, an extremely high number. Hes very disruptive."

It doesn't hurt that the 11-1 Texans are so often ahead in games they force quarterbacks into passing situations. Those situations give Watt and his defensive teammates more opportunities.

The note isn't included to take away from Watt's talent, it's just Houston's reality. That the team has a young defensive end who takes advantage every single chance he gets . . . well, that's where opponents should worry.

Did the Texans see it coming?

They saw enough to scoop Watt up with 2011's 11th overall draft pick. But while the selection is solid, any expectations it held have been exceeded exponentially.

Belichick has his theories on why.

"I dont think he had the opportunity to do some of the things that hes had the opportunity to do in the National Football League. He was a productive player in college but a little raw, a little underdeveloped in terms of his overall football experience. But obviously as hes gained that, hes really grown with it and hes become very adept and proficient at a number of different things and techniques.

"His athletic ability and his ability to be a better technique player, to recognize things, to play instinctively and all that has grown, its grown quickly and its been very impressive. Hes taken all the athletic ability that he has and hes really played with it to a very high level."

Watt will see how his stats stack up against the Patriots in less than one week.

Tom Brady delivers video message at funeral of Navy SEAL

Tom Brady delivers video message at funeral of Navy SEAL

Tom Brady delivered a video message last week at the funeral of Navy SEAL Kyle Milliken, a Maine native and former UConn track athlete killed in Somalia on May 5.

Bill Speros of The Boston Herald, in a column this Memorial Day weekend, wrote about Milliken and Brady's message.   

Milliken ran track at Cheverus High School in Falmouth, Maine, and at UConn, where he graduated in 2001. Milliken lived in Virginia Beach, Va., with his wife, Erin, and two children.  He other Navy SEALs participated in a training exercise at Gillette Stadium in 2011 where he met and posed for pictures with Brady.

Speros wrote that at Milliken’s funeral in Virginia Beach, Va., Brady's video offered condolences and thanked Milliken’s family for its sacrifice and spoke of how Milliken was considered a “glue guy” by UConn track coach Greg Roy.

Milliken had served in Iraq and Afghanistan, earning four Bronze Star Medals and was based in Virginia since 2004.  He was killed in a nighttime firefight with Al-Shabaab militants near Barij, about 40 miles from the Somali capital of Mogadishu. He was 38.

The Pentagon said Milliken was the first American serviceman killed in combat in Somalia since the "Black Hawk Down" battle that killed 18 Americans in 1993. 

In a statement to the Herald, Patriots owner Robert Kraft said: “It was an honor to host Kyle and his team for an exercise at Gillette Stadium in 2011. It gave new meaning to the stadium being known as home of the Patriots. We were deeply saddened to hear of Kyle’s death earlier this month.

“As Memorial Day weekend approaches, we are reminded of the sacrifices made by patriots like Kyle and so many others who have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend and protect our rights as Americans. Our thoughts, prayers and heartfelt appreciation are extended to the Milliken family and the many families who will be remembering lives lost this Memorial Day weekend.”