Belichick begins the Patriots' post-mortem

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Belichick begins the Patriots' post-mortem

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com

FOXBORO - You people got your DVRs. Take another look at the fake punt called by Patrick Chung near the end of the first half. You know, the one that turned a manageable four-point deficit into an 11-point halftime deficit? Right, that one.
When you take a look, you'll see that Sammy Morris gets his block at the right end of the line and seals the Jet on the outside. But look further to the right and see that gunner Matt Slater takes an inside release on the punt, bringing theJets' outside man back toward the line of scrimmage. Had Slater released outside, the blocker would have trailed him downfield and Chung would have had some room to roam.But, the way things were unfolding, the blocker would have seen what was developing and made the play.
Long story short? It appears Slater didn't even get the audible, and that mistake would have doomed the play even if Chung hadn't flubbed the snap. "There are a lot of things that can happen on a lot of different plays," coach Bill Belichick said Monday when asked about Chung having the latitude as the personal protector to make that call. "Really, Im not going to get into a detailed analysis of one play. There are a thousand things that could happen."

Asked if he would have signed off on the play given the time and field position, Belichick again demurred. "I mean, we can go through a thousand hypotheticals, so what happens, happens. Ill let you deal with all the ifs, ands and buts." Belichick was in a relatively upbeat mood on this Monday morning. Matter of fact and grudgingly accepting of the fate the Patriots now face. "You always think your seasons going to continue," Belichick said. "We had a lot of confidence going into the game and it didnt work out, so its a disappointing day. We had our chances yesterday, but in the end, we couldnt make as many plays as they did, so thats the result. Thats playoff football. "There were certainly a lot of good things that happened for us this season, but that definitely gets overshadowed by the final results," he continued. "Well have to work hard to get back to this point in the future. Well go forward. There are a lot of things in the future that are questions that we just cant answer and probably wont be able to answer for quite a while a lot of things that are out of our control as an individual football team that are related to a bigger picture. Well deal with those in due course."
Translation: The looming labor battle between players and owners which may result in a work stoppage.
As for the game itself, it was still worth kicking through the glacial pace of the final couple of drives. To that, Belichick said, "There are five minutes to go in the game over five minutes to go in the game we were stopped on the fourth-and-13, but if we score on that drive, its a one-score game with five minutes to go in the game. Its not the position you want to be in, but its not a bad position to be in. Without the score, now youre down by two scores with five minutes to go now thats a problem." And it was. Belichick and his staff will now coach the AFC team in the Pro Bowl in Hawaii. To that, Belichick said, "Its definitely not where you want to be. Well go out there and do it."Heindicated thegame planwould revolve around . . . golf. You could sense Belichick's realization that, if the first two drives the Patriots had ended differently, the day would have ended differently.

"The first two drives, we took the ball right down the field," he said. "It wasnt we had one or two bad plays in there but for the most part, however many plays it was 14, 15 plays were good plays. We moved the ball. We mixed it. They did what they did. We had a lot of success with moving the ball, staying on track and putting ourselves in position, really, to score a lot of points there on those two drives. We ended up with three and thats not what we hoped to end with based on the way those two drives started. We felt like we should have had more points in that, but we didnt."

And as a result, a bitter playoff loss is what the Patriots are focusing on. Proof? Given the chance to take a victory lap about the 14-2 regular season, Belichick offered: "It was good."

Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Flashback: Belichick breaks down lasting impact of Buddy Ryan's '46' defense

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Flashback: Belichick breaks down lasting impact of Buddy Ryan's '46' defense

When news broke on Tuesday of Buddy Ryan's passing, it wasn't very long before the NFL community at large paid tribute to one of the most well-respected defensive minds in the history of the league. 

Ryan, a longtime coordinator and head coach, leaves a legacy that includes two sons -- Rex and Rob -- who have carved out length careers spent on NFL sidelines. His legacy also includes a defensive scheme that confounded offenses, particularly in 1985, when the Bears '46' defense dominated all comers. With eight men in the box and just three defensive backs, Ryan's defense could be as confusing for quarterbacks as it was intimidating.

On the day of Ryan's passing, we can add to the list of Ryan rememberances a long quote from a Bill Belichick press conference back in 2012. The Patriots were getting ready to play Rex Ryan's Jets, but as the topic of conversation shifted away from the game itself and toward football philosophies, Belichick explained how Ryan's '46' defense changed the game, and where it can still be seen today. 

(To see the video of the press conference, you can head here. It's a bit slow for the first six or seven minutes, but when Belichick is asked about the idea behind being a "game-plan offense" and which coaches inspired him to take that mindset into his own career, things start rolling. Belichick rattles off the names of those who influenced him, including Annapolis High coach Al Laramore, Phillips Andover's Steve Sorota, Navy coach Wayne Hardin, Baltimore Colts coach Ted Marchibroda and several others. He calls the list of coaches who educated him -- including his father, of course -- a "menagerie." If you're into those types of Belichick responses about football philosophy and his own personal football upbringing, it's a video that's worth your time.)

Here is Belichick's response to a question from Sports Illustrated's Greg Bedard, then of the Boston Globe, concerning Ryan and his '46' scheme. A tip of the hat to Chris B. Brown of Smart Football for pointing out the quote on Twitter early Tuesday. 

Q: You mentioned Buddy Ryan earlier. How come we don’t see more 46 defense? I’m not talking about for a full season – not everybody is the ’85 Bears, but in a one-game situation. Is it because of the quarterbacks and the shotgun?

BB: "A lot of the success that Buddy had with the 46 defense came in the ‘80s when there was a lot of two-back offense. It was one of the things that probably drove the two-back offense out. If you remember back in the ‘80s when Buddy was in Philadelphia, he had a lot of trouble with the Redskins and their one-back offense, a lot of trouble. There were a lot of mismatches of Art Monk and Gary Clark on the middle linebacker and stuff like that.

"I think the 46 was really originally built for two-back offenses, whether it be the red, brown, blue and the flat-back type offenses and eventually even the I-formation. I think it still has a lot of good application; a lot of teams use it in goal-line situations. They either use a version of it like a 5-3 or cover the guards and the center and however you want to quite fit the rest of it, but that principle you see a lot in goal-line, short yardage situations. You see it and some teams have it as part of their two-back defensive package.

"As it has gone to one-back and it’s gotten more spread out, if you’re playing that, it kind of forces you defensively to be in a one-linebacker set. You lose that second linebacker and depending on where the back lines up and what coverage you’re playing, then there’s some issues with that. If you’re in a one linebacker defense and you move the back over and the linebacker moves over then you’re kind of out-leveraged to the back side. If you don’t move him over, then you’re kind of out-leveraged when the back releases and that kind of thing.

"There are some issues there that, I’m not saying you can’t do it, but you have to work them out. In a two-back set, I’d say it was probably a lot cleaner and it always gave you an extra blitzer that was hard for the offense. Even if they seven-man protected on play-action, there was always an eighth guy there somewhere. You didn’t have to bring all eight; if you just brought the right one and they didn’t have him or somebody would have to have two guys and that creates some problems.

"I think that’s what Buddy, really, where the genius of that was. He had by formation a different combination and group of blitzes so depending on what formation you were in, then he ran a blitz that would attack that formation and then when you changed formations, then he would change blitzes. Now, plus the fact [he] had Dan Hampton, Richard Dent, Mike Singletary, [Otis] Wilson, [Wilbur] Marshall, that was a pretty good group there. You could have probably played a lot of things and that defense would have looked pretty good, especially when they put Hampton on the nose. That was pretty unblockable."

Amendola forced Brady to break a ping pong paddle in first week with Patriots

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Amendola forced Brady to break a ping pong paddle in first week with Patriots

Tom Brady has never been one to hide his emotions when he's on the field, and it sounds like he's not much different at the ping pong table.

When asked about Brady during an interview on ESPN's NFL Insiders show, Patriots receiver Danny Amendola recalled one story from his first few days at Gillette Stadium back in 2013.

"He's the best teammate," Amendola said. "He's so competitive . . . I remember one story, it was my first week in the building and he wanted to play some ping pong. I didn't know how to go about it. I knew I was better than him, [but] I didn't want to beat him too bad because I wanted him to throw me the ball.

"I knew I was better. Needless to say, his competitive nature unleashed a broken paddle by the end of it. It's the reason we love him, and the reason why he's the best quarterback."

That first encounter at the ping pong table didn't seem to hinder Amendola's relationship with Brady in the least. In their first game together, Amendola fought a groin injury and still ended up with 10 catches for 104 yards in a win over the Bills. Since then, when healthy -- and particularly since New England's most recent run to a Super Bowl title -- Amendola has established himself as one of Brady's most trusted targets.

Amendola and the rest of the Patriots are facing a start to the regular season without their No. 1 quarterback as Brady awaits a decision from the Second Circuit on whether or not it will rehear his case against the NFL. Should backup Jimmy Garoppolo take the reins in Brady's place, however, Amendola said he'll be confident. 

"He's a great player," Amendola explained. "He's been in the system a couple of years now and he's learned a lot. He's picked up everything that Tom has taught him and then also what coach [Bill] Belichick has to offer him. So we're all excited to see where he goes and see what the future holds for him."

Amendola says he feels 'really good' following offseason surgeries

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Amendola says he feels 'really good' following offseason surgeries

Danny Amendola did not participate in OTA or minicamp practices that were open to reporters, but that doesn't mean he's ailing. 

"I feel really good," Amendola said while paying ESPN's NFL Insiders show a visit. "I had a couple minor procedures done after the season. Everybody knows how long the season can be. I wanted to go into next season feeling as fresh and ready as I can."

Amendola joined a relatively long list of Patriots regulars -- including LeGarrette Blount, Julian Edelman, Nate Solder, Sebastian Vollmer, Logan Ryan and Duron Harmon -- who were not spotted during spring workouts. There exists, however, some optimism that he'll be ready to participate in training camp.

Though Amendola has battled nagging injuries in three seasons with the Patriots, he's often played through them rather than miss time. The 30-year-old wideout has played in all but six regular-season games since 2013.

Amendola is coming off of his best year in a Patriots uniform, finishing 2015 with 65 catches for 648 yards and three scores. He now helps make up a receiving corps that will include Edelman, newly-acquired wideouts Chris Hogan and Nate Washington, Aaron Dobson, DeAndre Carter, Chris Harper and rookies Malcolm Mitchell and Devin Lucien.