No Huddle: Belichick on Hernandez, Winslow, Ravens 'D'

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No Huddle: Belichick on Hernandez, Winslow, Ravens 'D'

Bill Belichick spent the majority of his Tuesday conference call talking about game prep for the Ravens, but also hit on some Patriots or football-related topics.

Here are some leftovers from his Q&A with reporters:

Are the defensive wrinkles you see from coordinator Dean Pees based on stuff he did when coaching in New Englandbetween 2004-2009?

BB: "I dont think were seeing anything revolutionary; things that are a little different from some of the things they did last year or things theyre doing more of this year wrinkles in their dime package and things like that. Its not anything that weve never seen before, like I said, some of the percentages of it or the emphasis on it, those things change from year to year. Even if the coordinator didnt change, some of those things would change anyway."

What have you seen from the guys who have been tabbed to fill injured linebacker Terrell Suggs role?

BB: "They all are a little bit different. Albert McClellan is in there too. Theyre all a little bit different but theyre talented players and theyre still very good defensively. They play well as a unit and the players that have stepped in for him, which is a combination of all those guys, they all do a good job."

It sounds like you guys are going to be adding Kellen Winslow. What does he add to the mix?

BB: "Im not going to talk about any players that arent on the current active roster."

How have expectations, whether its from you or the coaching fraternity, changed with regard to kickers when it comes to making field goals through the years? It seems like the improvement level has gone up drastically since youve entered the game. How does that play into your expectation as a coach?

BB: "I think, just fundamentally, anytime you send your field goal unit out onto the field, theres only one reason why youre sending them out there. As a coach, if youre not confident in that unit then you shouldnt be putting them out there on the field. The only reason they go out there is to score points. Why else would they be out there?"

When you were coaching in the '70s and early 80's, was it 'OK, were sending them out there but our fingers are crossed?'

BB: "No, I can honestly say I never felt like that, no. I coached special teams for a number of years early in my career and Ive been a head coach for quite a few years and I can honestly say . . . I think one time when I was with the Giants, we tried a 73-yard field goal with one second left at the end of the half or something like that. Other than that kick, I cant think of a time that Ive ever sent that unit out onto the field that I wasnt confident that we would score."

Any update on Aaron Hernandez, who suffered a low-ankle sprain in last Sunday's game against the Cardinals?

BB: "We will have one Wednesday, tomorrow after practice."

Tomlin calls Patriots 'a--holes' in speech Antonio Brown posts on Facebook

Tomlin calls Patriots 'a--holes' in speech Antonio Brown posts on Facebook

Showing a knee-buckling lack of self-awareness, Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown put up 13:35 of footage on Facebook Live after his team’s 18-16 win over Kansas City on Sunday night.

It was a weird betrayal of the team’s privacy by one of its star players. Brown, allowed viewers to see live (and on tape until it’s inevitably taken down) that, while head coach Mike Tomlin was around a bank of lockers addressing what Tomlin presumed was his entire team, Brown was mugging in front of his phone for a growing online audience.

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The video starts with Brown and teammates having fun in front of their lockers. As the team is called together for a postgame prayer, Brown keeps the camera rolling. After the prayer, Tomlin made a statement.

“When you get to this point in the journey, not a lot needs to be said,” said Tomlin. “Let’s say very little moving forward. Let’s start our preparations. We spotted those a******* a day and a half. They played yesterday. Our game got moved to tonight. We gonna touch down at 4 o’clock in the f****** morning. So be it. We’ll be ready for that ass. But you ain’t gotta tell them we coming. Because some of us might not like the damn (woofkisses?) The chest pounding.  Keep a low profile.”

While Tomlin was issuing that low-profile request, Brown rolled on. Another Steeler then spoke up saying, “Keep cool on social media, this is about us, nobody else.”

Finally, what sounded like quarterback Ben Roethlisberger addressed the team saying of Foxboro, “That’s a lion’s den we’re going into this week. It’s a lion’s den. I’ve been there, a lot of us have been there. Keep your mouth shut.”

While people might fan themselves over Tomlin calling the Patriots a*******, that’s benign and likely will be matched in private by Patriots coaches this week.

What’s staggering is that a player of Brown’s ability and seeming intelligence would be so self-absorbed as to be agog at putting on a video show for Facebook followers at the expense of his coaches, teammates and franchise.  

Curran: Steelers' ongoing red-zone issues evident in win over Chiefs

Curran: Steelers' ongoing red-zone issues evident in win over Chiefs

For the third time in the Belichick-Brady Era, the Patriots will be trying to step over the Steelers to get to a Super Bowl.

Pittsburgh went into Kansas City on Sunday night and outlasted a breathtakingly sluggish Chiefs team, 18-16.

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If you spent the day stewing about the Patriots adequate-against-Osweiler-but-probably-nobody-else offensive performance Saturday night, maybe Sunday night calmed your nerves.

Despite having a more than 2-to-1 edge in total yards entering the fourth, Pittsburgh had managed just six field goals from kicker Chris Boswell. Their best chance at getting six on the board was squelched when Ben Roethlisberger got picked at the goal line in the first half.

That Kansas City was even in the game with a chance to tie it in the final three minutes has to be humbling for the Steelers. They dominated every statistical category of consequence while the Chiefs played aimlessly behind Alex Smith, who may be a cut above Brock Osweiler but is definitely a cut below every other quarterback in the Divisional Playoff round.  

On this night, Ben Roethlisberger wasn’t much better.

Still, Pittsburgh’s got the best 1-2 punch in the NFL at running back and receiver – LeVeon Bell and Antonio Brown were both at 101 yards after halftime – and New England’s entire defensive game plan will revolve around corralling those two and getting them horizontal.

The Patriots beat a Roethlisberger-less team in October, 27-16. Landry Jones was at quarterback that day.

The Steelers were in the Patriots’ red zone four times. They came away with 10 points. They were inside the Patriots’ 40 six times and finished with 16.

“In an offense like that with a bunch of very explosive players, one slant can turn into a touchdown so you have to be really careful in your coverages,” defensive end Rob Ninkovich told me after that game. "There’s not just one go-to guy. They got a running back that can catch it out of the backfield and make plays (Le’Veon Bell). [Antonio Brown] can catch it anywhere on the field and make plays. You just have to make sure with a guy like [Landry Jones] to have him make the throws. It’s hard in this league to be perfect. So to have him sit back there and try to make all the throws was what we chose and the secondary did a great job.”

Bell and Brown combined for 268 yards from scrimmage against the Patriots.

The Steelers scored one touchdown.

The ever-dawdling Bell, who practically walks to the line of scrimmage then skips around like a little kid with a full bladder before finding a crease to exploit, is where it will start for the Patriots.

If the Patriots are going to go to their seventh Super Bowl since Belichick’s hire, Alan Branch, Malcom Brown, Donta Hightower and Elandon Roberts – their two best interior linemen and their two inside linebackers – will be the ones who start the bus. The overwhelming majority of Bell’s runs are between the guards so building a wall and out-patienting him as he probes for a crease is Job One.

The Chiefs weren’t stout enough at the line of scrimmage and Bell brutalized them. It will, of course, fall to more than just those four. Trey Flowers, Rob Ninkovich, Chris Long, Vincent Valentine and Shea McLellin will also be in focus. Run-support from safeties Patrick Chung and Devin McCourty will be a part of it as well, but that’s where the Steelers become tough to deal with.

Once Bell’s established himself, the Steelers can start to work play-action and get Brown into space. Creep too far and the numbers on the back end could wind up being insufficient to deal with one of the NFL’s fastest players.

That’s why you can expect the Patriots to not overexert themselves with pressures and blitzes against Ben Roethlisberger. They’ll want as many back in coverage as possible to deal with Brown and some of the other Steelers speed merchants.

The Patriots have dealt with Pittsburgh’s defense enough to know where to attack. LeGarrette Blount ran for 127 yards on 24 carries in the first meeting and

Tom Brady went 19 for 26 for 222 with two touchdowns.

The Patriots had Gronk that day and the Steelers didn’t have Roethlisberger. That tips the scales some when measuring the differences. But after watching Pittsburgh kick six field goals and keep afloat an underperforming Chiefs team, the issue that dogged them in October – red zone offense – looks like its still around.

And they are going to visit a team that does that led the NFL in preventing points.