No Huddle: Belichick on Ravens, linebackers, Ray Horton

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No Huddle: Belichick on Ravens, linebackers, Ray Horton

FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick's Friday Q&A with reporters was his fourth of the week. But there are always new things for the Patriots coach to touch on when Friday rolls around.
Someone had to ask about Ray Horton, after all.
That and more, below....
Jerod Mayo and Brandon Spikes are two linebackers with different football personalities. Is there a value in having different types of personalities on defense?BB: "I really think we have 53 different personalities on the team. Thats probably a good thing; you dont want them all to be the same. They just have to blend in and respect each other. We all have our own personalities and like I said, I think thats great for the team as long as theres mutual respect and its done in a respectful way within the team context. I dont try to shape or judge anybody elses personality they are who they are."Is there more a spot for that on the defense, in terms of the energy?BB: "I dont know. Like I said, I think different people have different styles, playing styles and emotional levels and all that kind of thing. I think somehow its a blend of those personalities into your team. Thats what creates that team. Each team is different, unique. Its made up of different people every year and some personalities are added, some arent there and they mesh slightly or maybe sometimes not so slightly differently and that creates the personality of your entire team.
"I dont think theres any science to it. Thats not anything Ive ever tried to create, Oh, we need this kind of personality on the team or, Oh, we dont want that kind of personality on the team. If they can blend together and be part of the team and do their job and be productive, then that just affects the personality of that group of players. I dont think thats a bad thing."
Is preparing for the Ravens run defense any different compared to other teams in other weeks?BB: "Of course, theyre all different. The Ravens have different players and they have their own unique scheme, like everybody else does. Theyre a very good technique team, they play well with their hands, they recognize blocks well, linebackers are, its hard to fool them, especially Ray Lewis, but all of them are disciplined, they dont give up a lot of easy plays.
"You have to block them, they dont run themselves out of a lot of plays, they make you block them and you have to do a good job. You have to have good pad level, good technique; you have to finish your blocks, theyre a good tackling team. Theyre not easy to run the ball against."What stands out to you in your six meetings with Baltimore in six years?BB: "There have Been a lot of close, hard fought games going back to 07, last possession. Really all those games have come down to the last possession except the playoff game in 2010. All those other games were basically the last play really, not even in the last possession, Id say pretty much the last play; very competitive games. Weve had the last four of them here so we havent been down there in awhile so that will make this a little different from the last few. That all evens out in the long run."Whats your reaction to Ray Horton saying he could see your plays coming offensively last week?BB: "Were on to Baltimore."

Colts LB who helped spark Deflategate suspended for PED use

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Colts LB who helped spark Deflategate suspended for PED use

Deflategate started with an email. An accusation. An assumption. But it couldn't be pushed into Theater of the Absurd territory until the Colts had a Patriots football to play with. 

They got one when linebacker D'Qwell Jackson picked off Tom Brady in the AFC title game in January of 2015. Now, almost two years later, after Brady fought and later accepted a four-game suspension, Jackson has been slapped with a four-game suspension of his own. And this time, one would have to assume, there's evidence.

The NFL announced on Tuesday that Jackson has violated the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs and will be suspended for the remainder of the regular season.

The 33-year-old leads the Colts in tackles and has not missed a start for Indy since joining the team before the start of the 2014 season. He is eligible to return for the playoffs should the Colts get that far. With a record of 6-6, they are in a three-way tie for the AFC South lead.

Jackson has denied that he had anything to do with his team's pursuit of punishing the Patriots, telling the Boston Globe last year, "Twenty years from now I’m sure people will still kind of flirt around with it, so I guess it will be cool [to be connected to Deflategate]. Everything else that came out of that was nothing I had anything to do with. That’s above me. It wasn’t anything I had any part in."

Since we've come this far and you're still reading, here's a reminder of how Jackson factored into this whole thing: After his pick, per the Wells Report, he gave the Patriots football to Colts executive David Thornton. Thornton then handed it to assistant equipment manager Brian Seabrooks, who thought the ball was soft, and asked an equipment intern to check the pressure. The PSI was allegedly 11. Seabrooks then gave the ball to Colts equipment man Sean Sullivan, who alerted general manager Ryan Grigson. That led Grigson to make his way to a press-box suite with vice president of operations Mike Kensil and executive vice president of operations Troy Vincent. "We are playing with a small ball," Grigson supposedly said. 

You're probably familiar with what happened after that.

Belichick explains matching in the secondary

Belichick explains matching in the secondary

FOXBORO – Here’s a leftover from last week I’m dredging up because it’s really instructive in giving insight to something we all flap our arms about: how the Pats decide whether to play zone, man-to-man or match receivers with their secondary.

The jumping off-point was asking about Trumaine Johnson -- a long-tall corner for the Rams. As Belichick about Johnson and the difficulties he poses, at 6-foot-2, it brought to mind the team’s acquisition earlier this season of Eric Rowe. The 6-2 corner they got from the Eagles filled a need in that the Patriots other corners are not very tall, headlined by 5-9 Malcolm Butler.

So I asked Belichick if the team strives to have different sized players in the secondary.

“That’s if you move them around,” he explained, meaning size only matters if you intend to put size-on-size. “If you don’t move them around, if you play a guy at one positon and he plays on the right side or the left side, you cover the guy that’s over there, which I’d say is more the situation than not. There are some teams or some situations where you’ve got him, he’s got the next guy, you’ve got somebody else, but I’d say that’s by far the lower percentage of the plays, by far. Generally, you see a corner play – some games are different. We’ll match to this guy and somebody else matches to that guy. Teams will do that. There’s some of that, but by and large, most teams play at one position and whoever is in that spot, that’s who they cover.”

With matching receivers being the exception rather than the rule, the next logical question is why? Why would you let a little guy cover a big guy if you also have a big guy who could cover?

Because offenses make it complicated, Belichick answered.

“The easiest thing in the world is for one player to match another,” he explained. “‘OK, you go cover this guy.’ Alright, great. But what do the other 10 guys do? That’s the problem. It’s easy to matchup one guy. That’s simple. What do the other 10 guys do? What if he’s here? What if he’s there? What if he goes in motion? What if he’s in the backfield? What if it’s this personnel? What if it’s that personnel in the game? Then how does all the rest of it matchup? That’s where it gets tricky.  You can be spending all day, literally, on that. OK yeah, you take this guy but what are you going to do with the other 10?”

Belichick also delved into other options including a coverage concept the Pats used when Darrelle Revis was here. Giving Revis the opponent’s so-called No. 2 receiver and doubling the No. 1.

“You can matchup and put your best guy on their best guy, or you can matchup and put your best guy on let’s call it their second best guy and put your second best guy on their best guy and double him,” Belichick said. “If you’re going to put your best guy on their best guy and double him anyway then you kind of lessen the matchups down the line. It’s like setting a tennis ladder, or whatever. If you put your bad guy at one and you win two through seven, great. If you put your best guy at one and he gets beat by their one and then your two versus their two, you know. That’s what you’re doing. You have a three to four-man ladder there with the receivers and your DB’s [defensive backs], except we don’t have to match them that way. You can match them however you want.”

It’s a fascinating discussion and it comes into play the next two weeks as the Patriots will see a true test with receivers like the Ravens Steve Smith and Denver with Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas.

The Patriots will have decisions to make. Chances are they’ll use a little bit of everything. But these are some of the the things they weight when doing so.