Arian Foster

Bean: Texans were worse for wear when they came to Foxboro in letterman jackets

Bean: Texans were worse for wear when they came to Foxboro in letterman jackets

Arian Foster knew when he tried on his letterman jacket days ahead of the Texans’ 2012 Monday Night Football game against the Patriots that something was wrong. 

Here stood one of the best running backs on the planet, playing on a team with an NFL-best 11-1 record, going against a Lombardi Trophy factory and he was dressed like a high-schooler. The problem was obvious. 

The sleeves were too short. 

And so Joe Dotterweich, hired on short notice for his Houston-based Bull Shirts screen-printing and embroidery company to make Texans defensive lineman Shaun Cody’s team-bonding dream a reality, assured the star back that he’d be matching his teammates in no time. 

“All right, I’ll get you another one,” he responded.

The Texans’ letterman jackets live in infamy. They became an immediate punchline for a team that would go on to take a 42-14 drubbing from the Pats, lose three of their last four regular-season games, miss out on a first-round bye and lose to the Patriots again in the divisional round. 

But before the tweets, jokes and everything else bad associated with the jackets, they were meant to be a token of the new kids on the block’s camaraderie. 

“I used to say before the season it feels like we’re on a college team,” then-Texans linebacker Connor Barwin, who helped design the jackets, told the Houston Chronicle at the time. “Everybody gets along, we have so much fun. And this jacket, you feel like you’re on a high school team where it’s all about winning, it’s all about being around a group of guys. This jacket is just another symbol of that. There’s no names on it. You just have your number, your position group and the Texans logo.”

As Dotterweich recalls, Cody’s idea had been kicking around for a bit, but it wasn’t until the days leading up to Houston’s win over Miami the previous week that the decision was made to actually get them made for the Patriots game. So Barwin and then-Texans equipment director Jay Brunetti came up with the design and brought it to Bull Shirts. 

Dotterweich, who had worked with the team before, took on the job knowing it was a biggie: Something like 80 jackets, many in wonky sizes, all custom made with the finest materials. Real leather, no synthetic stuff. Also, because Dotterweich didn’t have an NFL license, he had to get the permission from Texans owner Bob McNair to use the team logo and Pantone Matching System colors. 

Yes, the letterman jacket operation went straight to the top. 

From roster players to practice squad players to coaches and other members of the organization, an estimated 80 jackets were made. A job like that would normally take Bull Shirts about four to six weeks. They did it in 10 days, including a full day of measuring all the players. Everything was made in Texas. 

In a move that makes it either more or less gimmicky depending on how you look at it, the Texans didn’t actually pay for the jackets. The players paid for them, with 100 percent participation. All in all, the order ran somewhere between $16,000 and $20,000. 

"There wasn’t one guy on the team that said, ‘You know what? That’s a stupid idea. I’m not gonna do it. I’ll pass,’ ” Dotterweich recalled. 

When the jackets were delivered to the Texans’ locker room on the Friday before the game, they were a hit. Players loved them and they garnered tons of media attention. Bull Shirts was bombarded with over 2,000 requests for identical jackets by the public, but Dotterweich honored a gentleman’s agreement made with Brunetti in which he promised to not make them for anyone else. 

Then the game happened, and it was never close. The Patriots scored the first 28 points, never looked back and everyone took it out on the jackets.  

If the Texans had won that game, they’d have been studs. Going into Foxboro, beating Tom Brady and doing it in dopeass jackets with all the fixings? That’s as close to cool as anything associated with J.J. Watt gets. 

Instead, it was essentially the moment when Sarah Marshall walks into the resort and Peter’s embarrassment is compounded by the fact that he’s wearing “this [expletive] shirt.” 

Watt deflected questions about the whereabouts of his jacket when asked earlier this season. Dotterweich has one he keeps in his store – an Andre Johnson one that was re-done. 

As for the rest of the team, you’d have to ask those guys one by one. The retired Cody still has his, and he defended the jackets’ honor when the Pats shut out the Texans in Week 3 this season. 

Belichick film breakdown: Tackling will be key vs. Miami's Foster, Landry

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Belichick film breakdown: Tackling will be key vs. Miami's Foster, Landry

The Patriots have some hitters in the secondary. Bill Belichick has praised safeties Patrick Chung and Devin McCourty as two of the best tacklers he's ever coached. Corner Malcolm Butler isn't afraid to seek out contact, and Logan Ryan was one of the team's top tacklers last season. 

It's a group that will need to be willing to put its physicality on display when the Dolphins get to town for Sunday's Week 2 matchup. According to what Bill Belichick said during his Belistrator segment on Patriots.com with host Scott Zolak, Miami's two top offensive weapons also happen to be among its most difficult to get to the turf.

Belichick praised 30-year-old running back Arian Foster earlier this week for his balance, but he reiterated those points when breaking down some film of Foster's day against Seattle last week.

"Foster, we know about his running style, and his production from carying the ball," Belichick said. "He's also a very good receiver . . . He's very dangerous with the ball in his hands, however he gets it -- running, receiving -- hard guy to tackle."

That also happens to be an apt description for Dolphins slot receiver Jarvis Landry. Miami coach Adam Gase will scheme up ways to get Landry the football, even if it's at or behind the line of scrimmage, thanks in part to Landry's effectiveness after the catch. 

"Another dynamic player," Belichick said. "Toughness, run-after-catch ability. He does a good job of finding open spots. Of course [quarterback Ryan] Tannehill looks to him as a very dependable guy."

Belichick pinpointed one 28-yard catch-and-run from Landry against the Seahawks that he found particularly impressive.

"Here he gets the ball, takes another five or six-yard play and takes it for a 30-yard run with his run-after-catch ability and his running strength. Tackling's going to be a very big thing for us in this game."

In his look at the Dolphins, Belichick also analyzes the skill sets of defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh, safety Rashad Jones and rookie return man Jakeem Grant, among others. You can watch the entire video here

Belichick: Foster still a back who refuses to be tackled

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Belichick: Foster still a back who refuses to be tackled

FOXBORO -- Arian Foster waited until just before the start of training camp to sign with the Dolphins. Coming off of a serious Achilles injury that ended his 2015 campaign, questions lingered as to whether or not he would be able to approach the level of play he reached as a four-time Pro Bowler with the Texans. 

He answered those questions resoundingly with 100 total yards from scrimmage in a Week 1 loss to the Seahawks. In the process, he reminded the Patriots that at 6-feet and 232 pounds he's a load to get on the ground. 

"I’d just say I think there are a lot of plays where at the end of the play he’s not on the ground," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. Asked if he was indicating Foster often found ways to get out of bounds, Belichick said that's not always the case, though he's good at that too.

Foster, at 30 years old, still just refuses to go down.

"He gets pushed out of bounds or two or three guys tackle him, but he’s still standing there and they blow the whistle and the plays over, but I mean he’s not like on the ground, and there are a lot of plays like that. There are a lot of plays where he’s on the sideline. I wouldn’t say he runs out of bounds. He gets hit, he’s up, the defender's up, he ends up going out of bounds. I’m not saying he’s like running to the sideline. 

"But, you know, honestly, that’s the way [John] Riggins used to run. Riggins would carry the ball 25 times a game but he’d only get tackled 15. There’d be another 10 plays where at the end of the play he’s still on his feet one way or another. I’d say that’s the thing that’s kind of -- when you start looking at Foster and watching him get tackled -- there are a lot of plays where he just doesn’t get tackled."

Foster rushed for just 38 yards on 13 attempts against the Seattle defense, but 26 of those yards came after contact, and 18 of them came on runs around the ends. Belichick has likely been emphasizing to his defense -- particularly the ends -- that the play isn't over until Foster is on the ground or out of bounds. 

Veteran edge defender Chris Long, who recorded his first sack as a member of the Patriots last week, echoed his coaches sentiments in the locker room on Friday. 

"He looks great. Arian looks like he's healthy," Long said. "He's the same powerful runner who's also elusive at the same time. Plays really hard behind his pads, and it's going to be a big challenge. You gotta swarm to the football with a guy like that . . . He's probably my size, so imagine that. And he's got moves like he's a little guy. That's difficult for any defense to stop."