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.

Avery Bradley returns to practice, but injury status remains uncertain

Avery Bradley returns to practice, but injury status remains uncertain

Avery Bradley was back on the practice floor after missing the Celtics' past 16 games, but it's unclear if he'll travel to Toronto for Friday night's game.

Boston Celtics, Avery Bradley, Jaylen Brown, Brad Stevens, Toronto Raptors, A. Sherrod Blakely 
WALTHAM, Mass. – Avery Bradley was back on the practice floor briefly at the first gathering of the Celtics since the All-Star break.
Now returning to the floor in an actual game? That remains a bit up in the air.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Bradley practiced in a limited fashion on Thursday, adding that his status for the Friday night game at Toronto remains unclear.
“Avery practiced about a third of the practice today which was about what our medical staff determined was the appropriate progression,” Stevens said. “He [Bradley] told me afterwards he felt really good.”
As far as his availability for Friday, Stevens said he did not have an update and was not told by the medical staff whether Bradley would be traveling with the team to Toronto when they leave later this afternoon.
Bradley is dealing with a right Achilles' injury that has kept him sidelined for the past 16 games and 20 of the past 21.
The news is much better when it comes to the health of Jaylen Brown.
Brown missed the past three games, but said he was feeling better and would be traveling with the team to Toronto.
“I’m looking to play in Toronto,” he said.
The return of Brown can only help a Celtics team that’s looking to pick up where they left off prior to the break.
Boston’s ascension to the No. 2 spot in the East has been fueled by wins in 11 of the past 13 games.
Despite that success, Stevens knows all too well that a roster change of some sort could go down at any minute prior to today’s 3 p.m . trade deadline.
“When you’re in position where you’re playing at a pretty good level, you don’t anticipate much change,” Stevens said. “But certainly there could be small things; there may not be. At the end of the day, my job is to try and focus on the 15 guys that are here.”

Report: 76ers targeting potential trade for Avery Bradley

Report: 76ers targeting potential trade for Avery Bradley

Earlier this week, ESPN's Zach Lowe said he would not be shocked if the Celtics traded Avery Bradley ahead of Thursday's trade deadline. It seems at least one team is targeting the player. 

Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted that the 76ers want "defensive-minded guards to play with Ben Simmons" and named Bradley as a target. Wojnarowski said that a trade between the teams is not imminent. 

Lowe's reasoning for thinking Bradley could be traded was financial-based, as Bradley will be a free agent after the 2017-18 season, which is the same time that Isaiah Thomas will be due for a new contract.