Belichick: Indianapolis makes you beat them

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Belichick: Indianapolis makes you beat them

By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com

The Patriots had better hope their Week 10 showing was no fluke. Bill Belichick said on Tuesday that his team will have zero margin for error against the Colts this weekend.

"They don't beat themselves,'' he said. "They force you to play a good football game against them. They're sound, they're tough. They have their own style of play and it's very effective. And we'll have to make adjustments to get in the mode and be able to handle that."

As for what that style is, Belichick credits the Colts' penchant for no-huddle offense, and their fleet-footed defense, as major strengths.

"They do a good job of checking and making changes," he said. "And defensively they're as fast as any team in the league, faster than most. They have a good mix of man and zone coverage with a real good pass rush. You've got to block speed and quickness compared to what we have to do a lot of other weeks."

New England ball carriers did just fine last Sunday. In Pittsburgh, the Patriots ran 24 times for over 100 yards against the Steeler's stifling rush 'D.' Indianapolis defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Jerry Hughes aren't putting up the kinds of numbers that some of the Steelers were. But Belichick is unnerved by the Colts in an interesting way.

"All their defensive lineman are pretty disruptive.'' the coach said. "It's kind of scary when you're watching film; their jerseys are on real tight, sometimes you can't get a good look at the numbers, and when you're my age your eyesight isn't so good. It's kind of scary when they're all that good and they all look the same.''

It wasn't a joke. Belichick knows exactly what he sees from the Colts and his Patriots have their work cut out for them.

"It's a real fast, athletic group. You certainly have to be aware of those guys. They can strip-sack you and ruin the game on one play if you aren't careful."

BenJarvus Green-Ellis, please step forward.

The Pats running back is far and away Tom Brady's go-to guy on the rush: 6 touchdowns and 112 carries for 472 yards. That's 64 more opportunities and almost twice the total gain as the next guy on the chart. But he's going to have a tough time racking up mileage against Indy.

BenJarvus should feel encouraged that he has his coach's confidence.

"He's been, three years, really consistent for us,'' Belichick said. "He's tough, makes positive running yards. I don't think it's been any one big thing or one day where the light came on, he's just been a consistent player who works really hard for us. He's got a great attitude and a great work ethic."

Too bad Peyton Manning's a pretty hard worker, too. There was no chance that Belichick could escape a conference call about the Colts without lauding the Super Bowl, Pro-Bowl, and MVP winning quarterback.

"It all starts with a great quarterback and Manning does an excellent job of getting them into good plays and keeping them out of bad plays. He doesn't turn the ball over,'' Belichick said.

He didn't care about Peyton's subpar performance (185-yards, 0 TD) on Sunday. Belichick's respect for the Colts QB couldn't even be swayed by stats. When asked about the fact that Manning has been sacked more times this year through Week 10 than the entire 2009 regular season, Belichick stood pat. You could imagine the coach shaking his head on his end of the phone call.

"Defenses don't get to him very often. sometimes plays happen where somebody comes free . . . but for the most part, when he has the chance, he doesn't take many bad plays," Belichick said. "I don't know about all those numbers but he's got to be one of those hardest quarterbacks to sack in football. Somebody might miss an assignment or something happens but I'm telling you, not very often.''

And look out if Peyton does get a pass off. Reggie Wayne, just one of Manning's targets, was tagged by Belichick as "one of the best wide receivers in football." The list didn't stop there.

"Tight end Jacob Tamme stepped in and has done a good job and they've gotten production from other receivers,'' Belichick continued. "Wideout Blair White has done a good job for them. They're definitely able to use their other tight ends. They're able to still continue to make the defense defend everything.''

It wasn't hard to figure out what's on Belichick's mind this week. It all came back to the phrase he kept repeating over and over: "They make you beat them."

Despite that big win over the Steelers on Sunday, practice might not be fun this week. There are dropped balls, missed coverage, and unnecessary penalties to go over. The Patriots won't be able to take their foot off the gas for a minute as they did in Pittsburgh.

"They don't make many mistakes,'' Belichick reiterated. "It doesn't take much of a slip up before they'll make you pay for it."

Mary Paoletti can be reached at mpaoletti@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

Belichick on Long's sack: One of the best defensive plays of the year

Belichick on Long's sack: One of the best defensive plays of the year

It came against a rookie quarterback. It came against an offense that averages a league-worst 15.0 points per game. It came against an offense that has fewer yards than any other. 

Still there are signs that Bill Belichick is pretty pleased with where his defense is after beating the Rams 26-10 on Sunday. One came on Wednesday when Patriots.com published its "Belichick Breakdown" for a closer look at a handful of plays from the team's most recent win.

Belichick called his team's third-and-eight stop with about 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter "probably one of the best good, team defensive plays we've had all year."

The Patriots show a five-man front, but linebacker Kyle Van Noy feigns a rush only to drop into coverage.

"Van Noy in here does a good job on the rush," Belichick said, "and also on the coverage on the back. Just good team defense. Good pass coverage down the field. The quarterback really doesn't end up having a lot of time, but there's no one to throw it to right away."

Belichick noted that all four rushers -- Chris Long, Trey Flowers, Dont'a Hightower and Rob Ninkovich -- all are able to pressure Jared Goff on the play. Combined with strong coverage in the secondary, the Rams nver really had a chance.

Belichick said it looked like a "tidal wave" of defenders bearing down on the quarterback.

"Long wins here . . . on the inside spin," Belichick said, "and Trey Flowers and Hightower both win on the little twist game inside. Then that's Rob with good speed-to-power on [Rams tackle Rob] Havenstein on the outside. Four good rushers. Plus a fifth guy...Van Noy getting that two-for-one on the guard and the back.

"Good team defense. That's great to see. A lot of hard work an execution on the practice field to make that happen."

Harbaugh on Belichick: 'I feel like we have a good relationship'

Harbaugh on Belichick: 'I feel like we have a good relationship'

FOXBORO -- They sounded like a couple of old pals. 

First it was Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who spoke of Ravens coach John Harbaugh during a conference call like one of his favorite fellow lacrosse dads.

"John and I saw a game a couple of years ago, a [Johns] Hopkins vs. Maryland game," Belichick said, adding that Harbaugh's love for the sport is just starting to blossom. "Yeah, I think John is seeing the light."

Belichick added that the two might be closer if they weren't competing so often, both in-season on the field and for free agents in the offseason. 

"As you know, we get into a situation like we’re in now where they have a good team, we have a good team, we’re playing a big game on Monday night," Belichick said. "Both teams are going to do everything they can to compete as hard as they can on Monday night. That’s what it is and that’s what we all signed up for. We all know that’s a part of it.

"When we’re not going head-to-head, which isn’t very often because we compete against each other in the offseason, we compete against each other to build our team and so forth, it just puts things in a little bit of a different situation."

During his press conference with reporters on Wednesday, Harbaugh echoed Belichick's sentiments. Belichick was famously one of Harbaugh's biggest supporters earlier in his career, calling the Ravens on Harbaugh's behalf when the franchise was looking for a new head coach. And if only they weren't so frequently competing against each other, they might be even closer, Harbaugh indicated. 

"I feel like we have a good relationship," Harbaugh said. "Like you said, we're probably not socializing that much, but I don't know how many coaches really do. We're all so busy. I'll see him or any coach at the Combine or at the owner's meetings, and we have a chance to talk. It's always good. I have a ton of respect for him. I really like him as a person. I think he's a great coach -- greatest coach of this generation. He's earned that title.

"And I study him. I've always studied him. I've always studied coach Belichick from when I first met him when I was an assistant at the University of Cincinnati, and he came in and just was great to be around.  [We have a] similar background with the special teams and that sort of thing. All of that kind of goes out the window when you compete against one another. It's like anything else, you want to win. I'm sure he feels the same way."

The recent history between their respective franchises is rife with emotion: There was Baltimore's irate reaction to Belichick's unusual formations in the AFC Divisional Round two seasons ago; there was the Ravens' supposed involvement in sparking Deflategate; and there was Harbaugh's subsequent denial. But Belichick and Harbaugh made it sound on Wednesday as if all's good between them.