Film on Belichick gives fans a look under the hood


Film on Belichick gives fans a look under the hood

By Jimmy Toscano

Summer vacations in Nantucket.

Kicking it with Jon Bon Jovi.

Trash-talking with the opposition -- and winning.

Golfing with sneakers and jeans.

It really is Bill Belichick's world, and we're all just trying to get a glimpse inside of it.

On Thursday night, we got that opportunity in the first of two parts of NFL Films' look at the on and off-field life of coach Belichick titled "A Football Life".

For a man who has kept his life and personality so secret from not only the media but most of general public, this was just the type of look-in everybody was hoping for -- starting with a laid-back Belichick kicking his bare feet up on his boat, appropriately named "V Rings", in Nantucket.

"Perfect, huh?" he said.

Um, yeah, pretty much.

And that was just the beginning.

Whether it was challenging offensive lineman Sebastian Vollmer, "Sea bass", to catch a punt that would get the entire team out of meetings and curfews, or playing a little catch with his son, Brian, the personality of Belichick shined throughout the episode -- as opposed to the robot-like one that we're normally forced to endure.

But it wasn't all fun and games.

One thing that wasn't much of a surprise was seeing the competitiveness and drive that Belichick has to win games throughout the season. What was one of the ways he made sure the Patriots looked intimidating? By preaching to them that celebrating is OK, and actually encouraged.

"There's nothing wrong -- in fact you should be excited when you make a play," Belichick said in a team meeting prior to their Week 1 win against the Buffalo Bills. "Hell, look at all the work you put into it all the time you spent in practice . . . you should be excited about it, and your teammates should be excited, too."

Cue the footage of them not being excited.

"Nice play, Ty Warren," Belichick said while watching the footage of a play in a one-sided loss to San Diego in the previous season. "Can't even see one guy saying good hit. Walk back to the huddle and it looks like, 'God, we don't even care.'

"We aren't good enough to play that way, I don't know that anybody is," he continued to say as the footage rolled, this time with a nice hit by linebacker Gary Guyton that, again, drew no congratulations from teammates.

"Gary, you know it's a good play, doesn't really register with anybody else."

Then, a shot of the team celebrating after a TD during a drubbing of the Denver Broncos on an Oct. 20, 2008 Monday Night Football game in Denver.

"Do you think we were ready to play against Denver last year, Monday night?" he said of the game, which the Patriots won, 41-7. "It's so obvious, it's so visible."

As a downtrodden Broncos player was shown on the screen, Belichick said, "It's going to be a long night for Denver."

We also got a look at an emotional Belichick returning to Giants Stadium one last time when the Patriots faced the Jets in Week 2. Cameras followed him around as he reminisced about the times spent with the Giants as an assistant coach -- early Saturday mornings, racquetball games against Bill Parcells (he won more than Parcells did - obviously), Lawrence Taylor's locker and how Romeo Crennel's daughter found 75,000 in uncashed checks while cleaning it out.

Belichick won two Super Bowl rings with the Giants, and to this day has much respect for the organization.

"It's hard not to get choked up about it," said Belichick with tears in his eyes. "I loved it here."

But his last visit didn't end on a sweet note. In the week leading up to the game, Belichick nailed four key points for the Pats in their Week 2 match against the Jets -- all four of which were not executed, and ultimately cost the Pats a win.

Team meetings eventually turn into one-on-one game footage breakdown with Tom Brady. In their conversation: How to deal with Ravens free safety Ed Reed, a player Belichick calls "the best free safety that I've ever seen play this game". Belichick tells that to Reed in a friendly, animated pregame conversation on the field.

That was also the game in which Baltimore wide receiver Derrick Mason taunted Belichick after catching a pass, and Belichick responded with profane insults.

It was also interesting to watch Belichick call out each and every one of his assistant coaches, and himself, for the Pats' lack of preparation in a loss to the Josh McDaniels-led Broncos.

It was an hour that captured the many aspects of Belichick, and when it ended, it undoubtedly had fans wanting more.

Luckily, they'll get it. Part 2 of "A Football Life" airs next Thursday at 10 p.m., and if it's anything like Part 1, it's worth watching.

If you missed Part 1, NFL Network is replaying it on Friday from 4 p.m.-7 p.m. on Saturday at 9 p.m., and on Sunday at 1 a.m..

Follow Jimmy Toscano on Twitter at @Jimmy_Toscano.

Both Garoppolo and Brissett will speak from locker on Wednesday


Both Garoppolo and Brissett will speak from locker on Wednesday

FOXBORO -- The Patriots have an odd situation at quarterback this week. They have two quarterbacks on the roster, but it's unclear which of them will start.

Jimmy Garoppolo is dealing with a shoulder injury, and Jacoby Brissett has a thumb issue that required a tape job for Tuesday's practice. Usually on Wednesdays, the Patriots starting quarterback steps to the podium at Gillette Stadium for a question-and-answer session with reporters, but neither quarterback is scheduled to speak today, however both will speak in front of their lockers.

Indications are that tight end Rob Gronkowski will be the player to speak to reporters instead of one of the two injured signal-callers.

The Patriots will release their first practice report of the week on Wednesday afternoon. The team has not added a third quarterback to its roster so it's expected that at least one of, if not both, Garoppolo or Brissett will be good to go against the Bills on Sunday. 

Patriots punter Ryan Allen named AFC special teams player of the week


Patriots punter Ryan Allen named AFC special teams player of the week

FOXBORO -- Ryan Allen was the definition of an x-factor on Thursday night against the Texans. 

He punted seven times for an average of 47.6 yards per boot, and none of them were returned. A career-high six of his seven landed inside the 20-yard line, and the one that did not was marked right at the 20. He dropped his other punts at the 11, 10, 10, 14, 5 and 4-yard lines, helping to limit Houston's average starting field position to the 15-yard line. 

Allen has won the award now twice in his career. He also took it home in 2014 following a Week 14 win over the Chargers.

It is the second AFC Player of the Week honor for a Patriots special teamer this year. Kicker Stephen Gostkowski picked it up after kicking the game-winning field goal against the Cardinals back in Week 1.