Belichick takes reporters to school

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Belichick takes reporters to school

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
FOXBORO - Buried in the avalanche of words, grunts and shrugs emanating from Bill Belichickpress conferencesare gems. He's been an NFL coach since 1975. He's coached in seven Super Bowls. He knows how the 53-man sausage that is an NFL team gets made. And while Belichick readily admits his is not the only way of doing things that may work, from the outside looking in, it's apparent his way works pretty well. So it was interesting to hear him explain earlier this week how a play gets installed. It's the essence of teaching, the essence of coaching. How do you get your students to "get it.""Anytime we install a play, put in a kickoff return, running play, blitz or something, we usually show examples of that so that the new players sort of understand how that works and that they have the general concept of the play," Belichick began.
"I think the best way to learn is to understand what all 11 people are doing. If you just try to memorize your assignment on every play then ultimately - if you dont know whats going on around you - you end up making decisions that impact the players around you, and if you really had an understanding of what the whole concept was, its probably less likely that that would happen." That's why you don't see a lot of freelancing in a Bill Belichick defense or on a running play. The great idea one linebacker has when he wants to play "free and instinctive" may leave the linebacker next to him with two guys to cover in a 35-yard area. This seemed to be the problem the team had last year with Brandon Meriweather. The safety eventually got yanked from the starting lineup for a spell because, as he explained, he was doing his own thing on plays. Belichick continued, "We try to teach the concept of the play. We show the play usually in multiple examples because of different things that can happen on the play, and it refreshes the veteran players who have done the play or maybe were even in the play when it was run before.
"But it also serves as a visual illustration to new players as opposed to X's and O's in a diagram Heres actually the play against whatever its being shown against, and this is how it works or this is one of the problems well have to adjust to with it and this is how we will handle it or whatever. " This, Belichick said, is the video portion of the teaching. The videos are called training tapes. "Thats part of the teaching tools," he explained. "You show it on paper, you show examples of it on film, you go out on the field and spatially walk through the plays in the relationships and so forth. You go out there and practice it in individual drills: 1-on-1, 7-on-7,9-on-9 whatever the drills are, and then ultimately you bring it together in a team drill, and thats kind of the teaching progression."As we look at the 2011 season and the reduced amount of prep time each team has thanks to the lockout, it becomes easy to see the strain teams are under with new players. A coach in his first year with a team -- and there are eight of those -- has to go through the install process with 90 players. A team like the Patriots only has to do it with the new guys and each veteran is an extension of the coaching staff, able to explain the nuances of certain plays. Certainly, Belichick doesn't hold the one perfect approach to teaching. Other guys at other levels have great ideas too, that's why Belichick's door and ears are always open to guys in the non-NFL coaching fraternity. But his detail on how these things get taught is a glimpse at how one very successful professional coach does it.

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

Collins' new contract may influence Patriots' negotiations with Hightower

Collins' new contract may influence Patriots' negotiations with Hightower

FOXBORO -- Jamie Collins and the Cleveland Browns are reportedly closing in on a contract that will turn the ex-Pat's place of exile into his long-term place of work. 

That's interesting in itself. The Browns must have made it clear to Collins he was getting franchised, otherwise you'd think Collins would want to get out there and test the market for at least a couple of days when free agency rolled around. 

It will also be interesting for Collins' former teammate in New England, Dont'a Hightower. While the Patriots aren't going to let the Browns dictate their market and offers when it comes to negotiating with Hightower, Collins' contract will be a useful comp for Hightower. 

Whatever Collins gets, Hightower can make the case for a fair amount more. Hightower is the centerpiece of the Patriots defense, a run-stopper, blitzer, leader and tone-setter. From the jersey number (Tedy Bruschi's old number 54) they encouraged him to wear, to selecting him captain, the team and Hightower's teammates have stated how important he is to the club. 

Hightower on the open market would be in line for a contract in the $10 million-per-year range, with a total value of around $50 million (using Luke Kuechly, Navarro Bowman, Bobby Wagner and Lawrence Timmons as comparable players). The Patriots can franchise Hightower just as easily as the Browns could have franchised Collins. The sticking point for the player is that he doesn't realize the windfall of guaranteed money that comes with a long-term deal. The injury Sword of Damocles dangles every day. 

In other words, Collins' influence on the Patriots isn't done yet. 

Report: Chip Kelly was scheduled to meet with Bill Belichick recently

Report: Chip Kelly was scheduled to meet with Bill Belichick recently

FOXBORO -- Might Chip Kelly be working for the Patriots at some point in the near future? One report calls New England a "logical" landing spot for the former Eagles and 49ers head coach. 

According to ESPN's Chris Mortensen, Kelly "was headed to New England to meet with [Bill] Belichick" once he found out that he was no longer in the running for the offensive coordinator job in Jacksonville. 

Kelly was fired by the 49ers after one season as head coach and has been interested in continuing his career as an NFL coach, per Mortensen. Kelly coached the Eagles for three seasons, going 26-21.

Belichick openly threw his support behind Kelly after he was let go by Philadelphia on New Year's Eve in 2015.

"I would say it's actually disappointing," Belichick said at the time. "Chip Kelly to me is a really good football coach. He does a great job. I think he's done a good job with that team. It's disappointing to see . . . Pretty much everybody's on a one-year contract in this league. I don't know how you build a program in one year. 

"Chip's a great coach. He'll end up somehwere and he'll do a great job there. I'd say a lot of the players that were on the Eagles that are no longer on the Eagles aren't really doing too much for anybody else, either."

Mortensen opines that the Belichick-Kelly connection would make sense because of their tight bond. 

"The friendship between Kelly and [Belichick] is no secret," Mortensen wrote. "They have exchanged football concepts since Kelly's fast-tempo offense became the rage at Oregon."

Per Mortensen, Kelly was considered an asset by executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin, and he was in the running for a job there, yet new coach Doug Marrone saw Kelly as a bad "philosophical fit." 

Apparently that led to Kelly's planned visit here. 

There is history of the Patriots hiring friendly faces during the postseason. In 2012, Belichick re-hired Josh McDaniels to work with then offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien, who was set to take over Penn State's program after the season. McDaniels -- who had been the offensive coordinator for the Rams earlier that year -- re-claimed his role as offensive coordinator in New England the following season and has been in-house ever since. 

Kelly has no experience as one of Belichick's employees -- McDaniels, of course, rose through the coaching ranks in New England before being hired as head coach in Denver in 2009 -- but perhaps he is a candidate to fulfill a role similar to the one McDaniels was given before Super Bowl XLVI.