Belichick: Indianapolis makes you beat them


Belichick: Indianapolis makes you beat them

By Mary Paoletti

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 Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Titans roll to 36-22 victory over Jaguars


THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Titans roll to 36-22 victory over Jaguars

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - There's nothing like a visit from the Jacksonville Jaguars to make the Tennessee Titans remember how to protect their home field.

Marcus Mariota threw for 270 yards and two touchdowns to end his home struggles and the Titans had their highest point total of the season in a 36-22 victory over the Jaguars on Thursday night.

Click here for the complete story

Develin stays on top of tight end techniques in case he's next man up


Develin stays on top of tight end techniques in case he's next man up

FOXBORO -- Once the Patriots traded AJ Derby to the Broncos for a fifth-round pick earlier this week, they were left with just two tight ends on their roster. While those two tight ends -- Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett -- have played as two of the best tight ends in football this season, it's a position group that has been considerably thinned. 

Until coach Bill Belichick adds another player at that spot, James Develin would be the logical "next man up." A position group unto himself as the team's lone active fullback -- the other fullback in the locker room is practice-squad player Glenn Gronkowski -- Develin meets with Patriots tight ends and coach Brian Daboll on a daily basis because the fullback and tight-end responsibilities in the Patriots offense are similar, particularly in the run game.

As much time as he spends with that group, Develin tries to absorb what he can when it comes to the nuances of the position. 

"I always kind of try to prepare, obviously, for my fullback role, but then in any other role that I might be called upon for," Develin said on Thursday. "A couple years ago, we had a bunch of injuries during the offseason program, during OTAs, and I filled in a little bit at tight end. I try to keep myself familiar with all those techniques and that tight end role so if the day were to come where I needed to go out there and do it, I'd be able to go out there and do it."

When the Patriots began the season relying more on the run, Develin was called upon to play a relatively significant role in the offense. He averaged 21.3 snaps per game through the first three games of the season, but that number has fallen to 13.6 since Tom Brady's return from a four-game suspension. Still, his role can be a critical one. 

The Patriots' running game faltered last season after both Blount and Dion Lewis went down with season-ending injuries. Having Develin in the mix as an extra blocker would not have guaranteed a more efficient attack, but it may have helped the team's running-game woes late in the year. 

Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels now has the luxury of bringing Develin onto the field when he wants some added muscle for his blocking schemes, and should the Patriots need a tight end in a pinch, Develin could do that too.

"A lot of times, especially in the blocking game, really the only difference [between fullback and tight end] is that I'm five yards off the ball in the backfield and they're up on the line," Develin said. "The angles are a little bit different. But a lot of times the assignment is typcially the same thing. It's just the technique of getting there and the angles that you take.

"Then in the passing game, as a tight end, there's just a lot more routes and stuff like that. I try to work on that to help me as a fullback to be a little bit better in space . . . It's a sybiotic relationship." 

As it is, Develin will line up occasionally outside. Though not a threat as a receiver in that spot in the same way that Gronkowski or Bennett would be, he understands some of the different looks tight ends have to be comfortable with.

If an emergency arose and he was asked to fill that role, he wouldn't hesitate.

"There's a little bit of carry-over depending on what we're doing or whatever play we have called where I'll line up on the line," he said. "But that's kind of what a fullback has to do. You kind of have to be able to be thrown into whatever position on the field that you gotta do and you gotta just do your job."