FOXBORO - It was interesting to hear Bill Belichick discuss on Tuesday the in-game alterations teams make defensively to the Patriots offense. Interesting because, in some ways, the Patriots have seemed reactionary during their early-game struggles over the course of the season. Speaking specifically about teams defending Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, Belichick said, "Weve seen a lot of different (schemes designed to stop the pair), no question about that. I think that started last year. Prior to last year, we hadnt had a lot of production out of the tight-end position . . . in the passing game; some, but not to the degree that its come in the last two years. Weve seen things head in that direction moreso than in some other years, given the production at that position. But yeah, they started to see that last year and we still see it."Continuing, Belichick said, "Tom Brady's seen a lot of things. He does a good job identifying what the defense is trying to do and trying to do the best thing for us offensively as a team to attack it. They only have 11 guys, so they can push the problem, but you can strengthen one area and that leads to other weaknesses. Hopefully we can find those and attack them."There is a probing that Brady seems to do on the first few drives of a game, a feeling-out process. Could his investigative work and analyzing as opposed to simply attack be part of the reason for the team's slow starts?"I think really its we just need to do a better job of coaching, we need to do a better job of executing what we do," corrected Belichick."When we do that we have more success. If we dont block, we dont catch the ball, if we dont have plays that give our offense options so we can handle different things . . . the chance of it working is not as high."That last part about having play-calls without checkdown or alternate reads is interesting. Especially since offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien has done such an outstanding job in so many areas with this offense while the early-game outputs, when the team is just getting into his offensive script, is so meager. Explaining the morphing of a game plan, Belichick said, "You go in with a game plan and you see how it unfolds against whatever your opponent is trying to do and then you modify it if you need to and if they adjust to what youre doing, then you have to readjust. Its a constant back and forth. It just doesnt go one way and then, okay, it stays that way for the rest of the game. A lot of times it changes from series to series or after a couple series after something has happened that has gone good, you might continue to see more of what theyre doing. If youre hurting them with it, then they do something to do adjust to you then you have to find something to counter that."As for O'Brien, who's drawn interest from the Jaguars and Rams so far, Belichick said, "Hes done a great job for us since hes come here. I really cant speak to him in any other position. Right now, really our focus is just on getting our team prepared for the bye week here and trying to improve the most that we can and trying to get ready for next weeks opponent, whoever that is thats our focus, not anything else."
Instead of starting the season with eight relievers, the Red Sox may opt to have knuckleballer Steven Wright take Joe Kelly's place in the rotation if Kelly starts the year on the DL.