Belichick, Pats prepare for Tebow


Belichick, Pats prepare for Tebow

Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow possesses a unique set of skills, and the Patriots know they'll have to prepare accordingly.

Bill Belichick said on Tuesday that the Patriots will consider using a scout team quarterback in practice this week who can simulate Tebow's style.

"That's something we definitely have to talk about," Belichick said. "The most important thing for our defense is to get a good look at as close to what the actual plays are going to look like as we can replicate them. However we do that, whichever players we use to try to get that look -- we'll definitely talk about that and try to do it in the way that gives the defense the best look at it."

Belichick did not say who will be playing Tebow in practice, but there will be no perfect match. Tebow is the rare quarterback who runs with power. At times, he'll initiate contact and fight for yards while other signal-callers may slide before they can be touched. And he's just one part of Denver's league-leading rushing attack. Willis McGahee, a nine-year NFL vet, has 920 yards rushing. Tebow has amassed 517 yards on the ground in 94 attempts -- good enough for a 5.5 yards per carry average.

The Patriots know they'll have to focus on stopping Denver's ground game, no matter who carries the ball.

"They have a lot of confidence in it," Belichick said. "They call them, they don't get discouraged with it, they hang with it. They try to get it worked out if a play is not going well. They hit you on a lot of different points of attack, different scheme runs. Of course the quarterback has put up quite a few yards himself. Also their option plays, the option, dive option program, that type of thing. There's a lot of different ways they get that rushing yardage in bursts. They really test your defense all the way across the board from the pass rush contain the quarterback standpoint, to playing the normal run-block type of plays to their kind of specialty plays, element of Wildcat, quarterback scrambling, things like that. They get you on a lot of different levels."

If Tebow's running, it adds a whole new element to Denver's offense. Belichick put the Tebow advantage in plain terms: When Tebow runs the ball, the Broncos essentially gain a player on offense.

"Offensively it gives you an extra blocker somewhere or it takes a defender out depending on what formation you use," Belichick said. "It really puts everybody in play, whereas on a normal running play, the quarterback hands the ball off to somebody else and acts out of the play at the point he hands it off. The quarterback, in an offense that runs the ball, he has the whole other 10 people to block for him or to force the defense to catch or cover him in some way which drags a defender out of it. It's like gaining an extra player schematically."

Before the 2010 NFL Draft, it appeared as though the Patriots might be interested in selecting Tebow. Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio said the Patriots always thought of the former Florida Gator as a quarterback, not a running back, full back or tight end. Tebow was viewed as a project coming out of Florida, but the Patriots were particularly struck by Tebow's intelligence and work ethic.

"I think any meeting you have with a draft prospect, you're just trying to get as much information as you possibly you can," Caserio said. "You look at the body of the work on the field, you look at their production, then spend some time with them off the field, just go through and talk through some different things, football related. Smart guy, works hard, was a productive player in Florida. I'd say it was a lot like most of the meetings that we have with a lot of the players when they come out."

Belichick was equally impressed by Tebow in the Pats' day-long meeting with him at Foxborough.

"He's an impressive young man," Belichick said. "He had great success in college. I think all his attributes are pretty well documented. He's a strong guy, smart, works hard, a great leader, great football character."

Geno Smith has torn ACL; Ryan Fitzpatrick to start for Jets


Geno Smith has torn ACL; Ryan Fitzpatrick to start for Jets

The Jets’ quarterback situation took a comically typical turn Monday, as Ryan Fitzpatrick will be under center after an MRI revealed that Geno Smith has a torn ACL. 

After starting New York’s first six games of the season, Fitzpatrick was demoted to backup for Sunday’s game against the Ravens. Smith was injured on a sack by Baltimore’s Matt Judon, forcing Fitzpatrick back into action. 

After leading the Jets to a 24-16 win, Fitzpatrick made his dissatisfaction with being benched known. 

“The biggest thing in this game in order to last, is to have belief in yourself,” Fitzpatrick said in his postgame press conference. “Because when the owner stops believing in you and the GM stops believing in you and the coaches stop believing in you, sometimes all you have is yourself. That’s something that I’ve had to deal with before. That’s something I’m dealing with now.”

On the season, Fitzpatrick has completed 136 of 237 passes for 1,561 yards with six touchdowns and a league-leading 11 interceptions. 

Belichick: Kickers are like golfers; have to hit driver, sand wedge, 5-iron


Belichick: Kickers are like golfers; have to hit driver, sand wedge, 5-iron

In searching for answers on what might be going on with Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski, coach Bill Belichick was asked on Monday if there was any chance that Gostkowski's mechanics on kickoffs may be affecting his field goals. With the new touchback rule encouraging the Patriots to use more "pop-up" kicks to the goal line this season, might Gostkowski's swing have been altered?

Belichick said that the two plays are separate and that the Patriots expect Gostkowski to be able to execute a whole series of different types of kicks as part of his job.

"Well, I think they’re definitely different," Belichick said on a conference call. "I don’t think there’s any question about that. I mean, it would be like a golfer. You’ve got to be able to hit a sand wedge. You’ve got to be able to hit a five-iron. You’ve got to be able to drive. You’ve got to be able to putt.

"That’s what kickers and punters do. There’s plus-50 punts, there’s field goals, there’s kickoffs, there’s backed-up punts, there’s punts against a heavy rush, there’s punts against a six-man box where the gunners both are getting double-teamed. And just like golf, there’s wind conditions and not wind conditions and so forth. So it’s not like like you’re standing out there in a driving range and just banging the ball away every time. Especially on place kicks, you’re dealing with a center and a holder and timing on the play. It’s not like you’re just placing the ball down there on a tee and kicking it like you are a golf ball or a kickoff.

"Yeah, they’re definitely different, and whether it’s a punter or a kicker you’re talking about, they have to master different skills, different kicks, different types of kicks, different things that are specific to their position, just like every other player and every other athlete, for the most part, has to do. If you’re a basketball player, you just can’t shoot free throws. You’ve got to be able to make some other shots, too. That’s part of the position, being able to do the things that are required of that position, and they’re not all the same. I don’t think they’re all the same for anybody."

Belichick was also asked about how Gostkowski is coached. There are position-specific coaches with every NFL franchise, but when it comes to special teams, there is typically a special-teams coordinator and little else. There is no kicking coach, generally, nor a position coach dedicated to punting or snapping. 

Belichick said that he feels the team has enough support in place, starting with special teams coach Joe Judge, in order to help Gostkowski through his difficult stretch.

"I think Joe’s very knowledgable about the techniques of kicking," Belichick said. "I know when I became a special teams coach and coached special teams for many years as an assistant coach, and I continue to be involved with it as a head coach, that’s one of the things I had to learn. I had to learn how to coach those individual specialists, the snappers, the kickers, the punters, the returners. I don’t think it’s any different than coaching any other position. Things you don’t know, you need to learn. The things you do know, you need to be able to teach to the players, however you acquire that information.

"Some of that certainly comes from the players, especially when you coach good players at the position that you’re coaching, you can learn a lot from them, just like I learned a lot from many of the players that I coached. Going back to people like Dave Jennings as a punts or Carl Banks or Lawrence Taylor or Pepper [Johnson], guys like that, as linebackers with the Giants. However you acquire that information, you acquire it and you have to be able to convey it and teach it to the players and recognize technique or judgment.

"There’s a whole host of things that go into performance, but all the things that are related to those; be able to figure out which ones are the most important and which ones need to be corrected and so forth. I think Joe’s very knowledgeable on that, as was Scott O’Brien. I have a lot of experience with that myself. That’s what coaching is. You don’t know, then you’ve got to find out. Nobody knows everything. No coach knows everything about every position. Maybe a guy’s played it for a decade, he might be well-versed in that position. But I’d say for the most of the rest of us that haven’t done that, things you don’t know, you’ve got to learn, you’ve got to find out, you’ve got to figure them out."