Patriots say Belichick can get excited too


Patriots say Belichick can get excited too

FOXBORO -- One wears a hooded sweatshirt and speaks to the media flatly. The other likes to surf and is enthusiasm personified.

Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll probably could not be more different in terms of their public personas. Carroll, as New England fans may remember from his three seasons here as head coach in the late 1990s, is perhaps the most excitable coach in the NFL. Belichick is not.

Though one might be hard-pressed to find any Belichick quote that includes the words "pumped" or "jacked," he does get excited from time to time. Seriously. He just does it in his own way, according to Vince Wilfork.

"Bill is old fashioned," Wilfork said Thursday. "Bill is laid back. Everybody have their own way of showing emotion or how they coach or how they play. It's just different. I try not to try to compare guys. It's different, but it's very exciting to see when you do something well that your teammates and your coaches get excited. Bill done that before. He done that before."

Belichick's baseline for emotional expression may be set a tad lower than Carroll's, but Wilfork said that when the Patriots coach is excited, it can give the team a boost.

"He might not show a lot on TV, but he'll come to the bench, high five us, tell us a good job, stuff like that," Wilfork said. "It's always exciting to have a coach who'll give you recognition on a play or certain thing that you do that you practice so much for and you finally get it right . . . We do that around here."

Whalen, part of Colts' infamous fake punt play, settles in with Patriots

Whalen, part of Colts' infamous fake punt play, settles in with Patriots

FOXBORO – Griff Whalen was at the epicenter of one of the stupidest, funniest, most “did that just happen?!” plays in NFL history.

So indescribable it never even really earned a name, it was the fourth-down gadget play the Colts tried to run against the Patriots on Sunday Night Football in the first meeting between the teams after Indy ran to the principal’s office to start Deflategate. 

Whalen was the center on that play (I tried to call it “Fourth-and-Wrong” but it didn’t take) and the millisecond between him snapping the ball and the three players processing that the ball had indeed been snapped is perhaps my favorite moment of the past several seasons. 

Whalen is a Patriot now, brought in this week in the wake of Danny Amendola’s knee injury presumably to fill Amendola’s role as a punt returner and wideout. The Colts released him last January, the Dolphins picked him up and cut him at the end of training camp and the Chargers had him on their roster from mid-September until releasing him last month after eight games, two catches and 22 yards. He returned kickoffs for San Diego but no punts since 2015.

The primary area of need for the Patriots is on punt returns. Rookie Cyrus Jones’ transition to appearing comfortable remains glacially slow. It was Jones’ muff last week that brought on Amendola in relief. When Amendola hurt his ankle on a late-game return, the Patriots were forced to decide between Jones, wideout Julian Edelman (who doesn’t need extra work) and making a move.

Whalen is a move they made.

The slight and baby-faced Whalen indicated he had fielded some punts in practice, saying it went, “Fine.” Punt returns are something he’s done “since I was a kid.”

His first impression of the team was, "A lot of what I expected to see. A lot of detail. A lot of effort in practice. Good coaching all-around. I am excited to be here. I was excited to come into a good team that I’d gone against a few times. Hopefully come in and help out the team with whatever I can.”

I asked Whalen if he saw much of the commentary or creativity last year’s failed play spawned.

“I wasn’t paying too much attention,” he said. “When it’s during the season guys are pretty locked in on what they’re doing inside the building. But I heard more about it later on afterwards.”

Asked if he’d heard anything about the play since being here, Whalen replied, “I haven’t. Kinda was [expecting it].”

The Patriots will be hoping Whalen remains as productive for them on fourth down this year as he was in 2015.


PFT: Belichick can still diagram his dad’s Navy plays from 1959

PFT: Belichick can still diagram his dad’s Navy plays from 1959

CBS interviewed Patriots coach Bill Belichick and 1960 Heisman winner Joe Bellino from Navy as part of its Army-Navy Game coverage Saturday.

Belichick's father, Steve, was an assistant coach at Navy when Bellino played there, and little Bill, then 7, took it all in. So much so, that 57 years later, Belichick can still diagram the 27 F Trap play that his dad used to drew up in the 1959 season for Bellino.

More from NBC Sports' Pro Football Talk here.