Belichick has his fax straight

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Belichick has his fax straight

There were a few interesting developments from the last day of Patriots mini-camp, which didn't take place yesterday at Gillette. I say didn't take place, because it didn't take place. Instead, Bill Belichick canceled everything at the last second, fueling speculation that the coach isn't as committed as he's been in the past.

I don't know about you guys, but I'm starting to worry. Anyone have Rod Rust's number?

In Rust We Trust!

Anyway, how do you think Belichick spent his afternoon off: Maybe he and Linda made an early escape to Nantucket? Maybe "VI Rings" was calling his name from the Sound?

Or maybe it was all a trick, and Belichick had the locker room bugged with cameras so that he could study the way each player reacted to the cancellation. Maybe he wanted to see which guys were a little too happy about having the day off, while hoping to see at least a few disappointed faces.

Personally, I want to believe that Belichick spent the afternoon hanging at Chili's with Tom Thibodeau and Tony LaRussa; sitting around a high top, getting awkwardly drunk like the dudes in Hall Pass.

Yeah, let's go with that one. And let's take one more second to marvel at the fact that Belichick actually gave his entire team a Hall Pass. You're a good man, Bill.

Other than that, there was one other highlight from the Pats' non-practice: Apparently, despite all the drama surrounding BountyGate and the return of Drew Brees' mole, the Patriots are in communication with the Saints about teaming up for a few joint practices during Training Camp. Or I guess "communication" is one way to describe it.

Here's what Saints interim head coach Joe Vitt had to say about practicing with the Pats: "I got a fax from Bill Belichick this morning and we're taking a look at that."

Now that's funny. Belichick's working the fax! Why do I get the feeling that at this point every team in the league has one dusty fax machine (labeled: PATRIOTS) left in the corner of their office?

On one hand, I guess it's good that the fax machine is still in heavy rotation at Patriots HQ, because it will make the transition a lot easier for Rust Regime: Phase 2. On the other hand, I know it's a a good thing that Belichick didn't fax over the cancellation of yesterday's practice, because the players would still be out there waiting.

As Belichick watched through his binoculars, ready to cut the first one who walked off the field.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Belichick on Long's sack: One of the best defensive plays of the year

Belichick on Long's sack: One of the best defensive plays of the year

It came against a rookie quarterback. It came against an offense that averages a league-worst 15.0 points per game. It came against an offense that has fewer yards than any other. 

Still there are signs that Bill Belichick is pretty pleased with where his defense is after beating the Rams 26-10 on Sunday. One came on Wednesday when Patriots.com published its "Belichick Breakdown" for a closer look at a handful of plays from the team's most recent win.

Belichick called his team's third-and-eight stop with about 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter "probably one of the best good, team defensive plays we've had all year."

The Patriots show a five-man front, but linebacker Kyle Van Noy feigns a rush only to drop into coverage.

"Van Noy in here does a good job on the rush," Belichick said, "and also on the coverage on the back. Just good team defense. Good pass coverage down the field. The quarterback really doesn't end up having a lot of time, but there's no one to throw it to right away."

Belichick noted that all four rushers -- Chris Long, Trey Flowers, Dont'a Hightower and Rob Ninkovich -- all are able to pressure Jared Goff on the play. Combined with strong coverage in the secondary, the Rams nver really had a chance.

Belichick said it looked like a "tidal wave" of defenders bearing down on the quarterback.

"Long wins here . . . on the inside spin," Belichick said, "and Trey Flowers and Hightower both win on the little twist game inside. Then that's Rob with good speed-to-power on [Rams tackle Rob] Havenstein on the outside. Four good rushers. Plus a fifth guy...Van Noy getting that two-for-one on the guard and the back.

"Good team defense. That's great to see. A lot of hard work an execution on the practice field to make that happen."

Harbaugh on Belichick: 'I feel like we have a good relationship'

Harbaugh on Belichick: 'I feel like we have a good relationship'

FOXBORO -- They sounded like a couple of old pals. 

First it was Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who spoke of Ravens coach John Harbaugh during a conference call like one of his favorite fellow lacrosse dads.

"John and I saw a game a couple of years ago, a [Johns] Hopkins vs. Maryland game," Belichick said, adding that Harbaugh's love for the sport is just starting to blossom. "Yeah, I think John is seeing the light."

Belichick added that the two might be closer if they weren't competing so often, both in-season on the field and for free agents in the offseason. 

"As you know, we get into a situation like we’re in now where they have a good team, we have a good team, we’re playing a big game on Monday night," Belichick said. "Both teams are going to do everything they can to compete as hard as they can on Monday night. That’s what it is and that’s what we all signed up for. We all know that’s a part of it.

"When we’re not going head-to-head, which isn’t very often because we compete against each other in the offseason, we compete against each other to build our team and so forth, it just puts things in a little bit of a different situation."

During his press conference with reporters on Wednesday, Harbaugh echoed Belichick's sentiments. Belichick was famously one of Harbaugh's biggest supporters earlier in his career, calling the Ravens on Harbaugh's behalf when the franchise was looking for a new head coach. And if only they weren't so frequently competing against each other, they might be even closer, Harbaugh indicated. 

"I feel like we have a good relationship," Harbaugh said. "Like you said, we're probably not socializing that much, but I don't know how many coaches really do. We're all so busy. I'll see him or any coach at the Combine or at the owner's meetings, and we have a chance to talk. It's always good. I have a ton of respect for him. I really like him as a person. I think he's a great coach -- greatest coach of this generation. He's earned that title.

"And I study him. I've always studied him. I've always studied coach Belichick from when I first met him when I was an assistant at the University of Cincinnati, and he came in and just was great to be around.  [We have a] similar background with the special teams and that sort of thing. All of that kind of goes out the window when you compete against one another. It's like anything else, you want to win. I'm sure he feels the same way."

The recent history between their respective franchises is rife with emotion: There was Baltimore's irate reaction to Belichick's unusual formations in the AFC Divisional Round two seasons ago; there was the Ravens' supposed involvement in sparking Deflategate; and there was Harbaugh's subsequent denial. But Belichick and Harbaugh made it sound on Wednesday as if all's good between them.