Belichick considers Kaepernick's impact

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Belichick considers Kaepernick's impact

FOXBORO - For four-plus games, Colin Kaepernick has been the 49ers starter.

San Francisco won three, lost one and tied the one game in which Kaepernick relieved an injured Alex Smith.

Good start. But listening to Bill Belichick on Wednesday, it seemed as if the Patriots head coach wasn't comfortable sending too much adulation to Kaepernick just yet. Not enough evidence submitted.

For instance, asked if Kaepernick is "reading the field well," which is something Niners coach Jim Harbaugh credited Kaepernick with, Belichick said, "Hes had limited opportunities. I think you certainly see it at times. Im sure if Coach Harbaugh said it, Im sure its right. Hes with him every day. Hes really started the last what, four games? Weve seen him have opportunities to do it but not as many as theyve seen. I think hes done it to a degree. Hes a young, improving quarterback. It looks like he gets better each week and probably plays with more confidence and does things a little bit better each week. But, I wouldnt disagree with (Coach Harbaugh)."
There's no doubt Kaepernick brings a dynamic to the Niners that Smith didn't. Kaepernick is an electric athlete (with a bold, classical music soundtrack). He's able to test a defense both with his arm and his legs and he's a hard player to tackle. Smith, a former No. 1 overall pick, has mobility, but not to the same degree Kaepernick does.

Above all that, though, Kaepernick has shown two of the qualities Belichick stresses.

Kaepernick is accurate (completing 67 percent of his passes) and has made good decisions routinely (three touchdowns, one interception).

"I could probably go out there and read the field decently but I dont think youd want me playing quarterback," said Belichick. "There are other guys that can thread a needle but maybe not see as well. I think the combination of seeing the field, making good decisions and accuracy is really what it comes down to more than some other qualities. Not that those arent important, but I would put those at the top of the list."

With Kaepernick, the Niners are running with a full-house backfield, pressuring defenses to defend multiple potential ballcarriers in addition to receivers.

"They attack you everywhere; everybody has to do a good job (defensively)," said Belichick. "They can run inside, they can run outside, they can keep it, they play-action off it. Really, everybody has to be at the point of attack. No one player can stop it, no one guy can. Eleven guys have to play good team defense. Im sure thats why theyre doing it is to try to put stress on every player on the defense and they do." Belichick was asked if Kaepernick was unique in that he not only runs fast, but also runs with strength.

"I think we saw that with Tim Tebow last year. He was a guy that broke a lot of tackles, ran the ball inside, he was more like a running back," Belichick countered. "I think each player has their own individual style. Guys do some things, other guys there are a lot of different ways to be effective. But it looks like he can certainly out-run the defense. He has good speed, he has some quickness, he has some running skill. Its not just speed."

Belichick didn't opine on whether he believed the move from Smith to Kaepernick was the right one. No surprise there. But he did reveal his bottom-line philosophy when he was asked what a coach takes into consideration when making a quarterback switch.

"To win. There are no other considerations. ... Thats the only thing were really here for is to win. What else is there? I dont know. What else is there to talk about?"

Tom Brady on Donald Trump: 'I certainly disagree with what he said'

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Tom Brady on Donald Trump: 'I certainly disagree with what he said'

After beating the Texans on Sunday, 36-33, Tom Brady didn't want to delve too deeply into what went into his locking arms with teammates during the national anthem. 

"I just think," Brady said, "there's just a great love for my teammates."

He didn't want to get into Donald Trump's comments about players kneeling for the anthem, but he was willing to go there during Monday's Kirk and Callahan Show on WEEI.

"Yeah, I certainly disagree with what he said," Brady explained. "I thought it was just divisive. Like I said, I just want to support my teammates. I am never one to say, ‘Oh, that is wrong. That is right.’ I do believe in what I believe in. I believe in bringing people together and respect and love and trust. Those are the values that my parents instilled in me. That is how I try and live every day.

"I have been blessed to be in locker rooms with guys all over the United States over the course of my career. Some of my great friends are from Florida, Virginia, New York, Montana, Colorado, Texas. The one thing about football is it brings so many guys together -- guys you would never have the opportunity to be around. Whether it was in college, and all the way into the pros. We’re all different, we’re all unique. That is what makes us all special."

Brady was one of several players locking arms on the Patriots sideline for the anthem. More than a dozen others, including Devin McCourty, took a knee. Just before and immediately after the anthem, fans booed the demonstration.

"I think everyone has the right to do whatever they want to do," Brady said of the response. "If you don’t agree, that is fine. You can voice your disagreement, I think that is great. It’s part of our democracy. As long as it is done in a peaceful, respectful way, that is what our country has been all about."

Curran: In the end, everyone stood because of the game

Curran: In the end, everyone stood because of the game

FOXBORO – The boos and demands to “Stand up!” rained down just as the Star Spangled Banner began. The players on the Patriots sideline who knelt – the ones boos and invective was directed at – stayed down. Others stood, locking arms with teammates while others stood with their hands over their hearts.

By game’s end, everyone was on their feet. Players. Coaches. Fans. Together.

Unless they left early because of traffic and a late Patriots deficit. Or because they couldn’t bear the thought of watching an NFL game on a beautiful September Sunday because the entertainers didn’t do what they wanted them to do before the performance began.

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The whole thing’s complicated. I understand why people take offense at those who don’t stand for the anthem.

I understand why others want to deliver a symbolic message about their American experience.

I completely understand why, two days after President Trump thought it appropriate to use the phrase “son of a bitch” to refer to someone making a silent, reflective statement, many NFL players felt challenged, backed into a corner and somewhat dehumanized. The message delivered was, in essence, “Shut up and dance.”

Personally, I prefer to stick to sports. I don’t think I’m equipped to talk politics because I don’t know policy, legislation, constituencies and special interests – all the things that I define as politics – well enough to drone on at anybody.

As for sociology – which is what this is about rather than politics – I have my experiences and others have theirs. I’m trying to mow my own lawn over here. You do you. I’ll do me. As long as you don’t encroach on me doing me while you do you, I’m fine. When I’m not completely self-absorbed, a respectful exchange of ideas can make me see things in a different light.

It didn’t surprise me some people at Gillette Stadium had a visceral and vocal reaction to players kneeling. The pot was brought to a boil all weekend, the lid was just lifted and it bubbled over.

But the irony of how the afternoon played out – that Brandin Cooks, a player booing fans were screaming at to stand three hours earlier brought them to their feet with his toe-tapping last-minute touchdown – was perfectly symbolic.

Ultimately, everyone was there for the football – the players, coaches, media and fans – and in the end it was the football that brought the unified response that stood in contrast to the divided reactions in the stands and on the field before the game.

“That’s what sports is,” said Patriots safety Devin McCourty. “That’s what sports does. That’s what makes them great. They bring out what we have in common.

“I don’t think people look at us as human,” McCourty said. “I don’t think they ever have. We’re just the entertainment. They don’t understand that there’s a human behind it. People want to shake your hand or have their picture taken with you but they don’t want to know you. That’s reality.”

Maybe. Or maybe people feel their voices aren’t heard. They don’t have a column they can write or a TV or radio show to spout off on. They don’t have the chance to demonstrate their individual feelings at their cubicle before the workday starts.

All they know is they spent $500 or more to get to and into with a belly full of steak tips and beer and they don’t need to feel like being reminded about somebody else’s societal oppression on their day off, thank you very much.

It’s not so much about who does what during the Star Spangled Banner as much as it is that a lot of people don’t appreciate the intrusion. That, and they’re tired of hearing how bad everyone else has it when it’s really no damn picnic for most people these days.

Believe me, there’s not unanimity of opinion in the Patriots locker room any more than there is in your office, home, dorm or neighborhood. Players of different races, backgrounds, economic circumstances and ways of expressing themselves are thrown in a pot together and told to work for a common goal and rely on each other.

The mish-mash of ways in which players responded during the anthem on the Patriots sideline, the reticence of some players to dip a toe in the conversation, McCourty’s opening statement at the podium and then his declining to take questions and Bill Belichick’s comment that he would “deal with that later” all seemed to indicate that the team itself is still working through how it expresses itself as a whole.

It’s complicated for them too.

But in the end, it was the football that bound them together. It was the game that left them jumping on each other and the fans standing and screaming and nobody thinking at all about who did what when the song played before the game.

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