Notes: Belichick on how DBs stick it to wide receivers

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Notes: Belichick on how DBs stick it to wide receivers

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.comFOXBORO -- During Sunday's game against the Jets, a person in the press box well-versed in football statistics but seemingly a little short on football comprehension (and self-awareness) raged every time the Jets threw short of the first-down marker on third down. "They need 6, nice job throwing it 2 yards short of the sticks!" he'd sniff. You may have heard a person like this in your circle of football-watching friends (get rid of him). Or maybe you are that person (shut up, please). The fact is, you can still catch the ball and run for the first down. There's no extra credit for throwing it past the marker. But the problem is, the defense doesn't want you to get to the sticks so they wall up right there. On Monday, Bill Belichick discussed the two plays where New York came up short on third-down completions. Ian Rapoport of the Boston Herald brought up the fact that, on both plays, safety James Ihedigbo camped at the sticks, forcing receivers to make a decision. "That's always a dilemma for the receivers," said Belichick. "You can either tell the receiver to go up and get the first down and run into the defender and get covered and hope that he can find a little space where the quarterback can throw it to him. Or you can tell him to shorten his route and get him the ball and hope that he can break a tackle or spin out of it or catch it and fall forward for the first down. "That's one of those things where, it's tough offensively," Belichick added. "I know I've got to get the first down but if I run right to you, I just get covered. If I stop short, then I'm short of the first down. You see all the time the guy doesn't get the yardage. But if a guy is standing right there, do you want to run right to him and be covered? What good does that do?"
A couple other Beli-nuggets on a Monday where the Patriots' locker room was practically vacant and we were left with the (thankfully) upbeat Belichick to fill our notebooks. On crowd noise"When you're down on the field it's like a constant roar. It goes up and it comes down a little bit but it'sa constant roar. I think when you're in the stands, you hear it a little more and having been in the stands for Bruins games and Celtics games, you hear it come to life. I'm not saying there aren't different levels when you're down on the field, but when you're down on the field, 65,000 people just all talking at the same time, there's a volume of noise there directed at the field." On Albert Haynesworth"Did some good things and some things could have been better. Hadn't played in a couple of weeks so hopefully this week he can get more time on the field and build on this week's performance but I think he did some things to help us."

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.