Patriots

Belichick: 2015 Patriots have 'our own story'

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Belichick: 2015 Patriots have 'our own story'

A very smiley, very relaxed Bill Belichick showed his softer side Tuesday night at the Patriots Premier, the organization’s largest fundraiser, in front of a red carpet crowd that had no problem shelling out big dough for auction events that included a film session with the Patriots Head Coach for you and seven of your best friends.

After some kind remarks about the charitable work the Kraft family has done, Belichick focused on the reason why it was probably hardest to get him to spend a couple hours on the Gillette Stadium turf in a suit and tie: his team.

“We’ve got quite a bit going on with formation of the team and preseason game in two nights, then the early start against the Steelers, but it’s a good situation to be in,” he said. “We’re all excited. The players have worked incredibly hard through the offseason, all spring, in training camp; they’ve been pushed hard. It’s been warm, the conditioning levels are good, and I think we’ll be ready to go when the time starts. We’re not there yet, but we’ll work hard to get there.”

It’s a message Belichick has delivered before, but this year is obviously a little different than what’s transpired in recent history. This year, the Pats are the reigning Super Bowl champions. But Belichick doesn’t view it that way, at least not publicly.

“There is never anything to defend,” he said. “What we accomplished last year, that banner will always fly, will always be up there. This team - this 2015 team - will write it’s own book, we’ll have our own chapters, our own story. It’s not about what somebody else, or what some other team did or didn’t do, or whatever did or didn’t happen in the past. It will be about what we accomplish this year collectively. That’s our challenge, our opportunity. That’s what we’re all looking forward to.”

Belichick also acknowledged the NFL Network’s upcoming piece on the team entitled “Do Your Job,” which will air September 9th at 8 p.m. The special airs one night before the Pats open the regular season at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and will feature something rare in these parts, the assistant coaches and support staff actually getting an opportunity to speak.

“A quick shoutout to the coaches,” said Belichick when talking about the program. “It will be a great opportunity for you and the fans to see the job the coaching staff does. Sometimes I get a lot of credit for really not doing all that much. They’re the ones that do a lot of the work. They set the table, working individually with the players. I’m fortunate to have a great staff - assistant coaches, strength coaches, special teams, a couple great coordinators - they just do a tremendous job along with our entire scouting staff, Nick (Caserio) and his group. I think you’ll get to see some of those people and I’m sure that will be interesting for you. I can’t thank them enough for all the support and help that they give me on a daily basis. I certainly couldn’t do it without 'em so thank you.”

QUICK SLANTS PODCAST: Belichick ignoring noise? Or trying to change the narrative?

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QUICK SLANTS PODCAST: Belichick ignoring noise? Or trying to change the narrative?

3:00 Why has Bill Belichick been so surprisingly positive of his team’s performance in tight wins?

6:30 Phil Perry breaks down what grades he gave the Patriots on his report card following the win over the Jets

15:00 Reaction to the Austin-Seferian Jenkins overturned touchdown, and what changes need to be made in the NFL replay system. 

23:00 Why was Patriots offensive line much more effective against Jets?

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

25:00 Patriots-Falcons preview, how did Falcons blow a 17 point lead to the Dolphins?

What's missing from Patriots? A defense that has a clue

What's missing from Patriots? A defense that has a clue

FOXBORO - We’re not quite at the point of fire and brimstone coming down from the skies, or 40 years of darkness, or even dogs and cats living together, but this Patriots season isn’t headed down the right path, despite a 4-2 record and the top spot in the AFC East. 

There are several elements that appear missing at this juncture - chief among them a defense that actually has a clue. Please don’t celebrate holding the Jets to 17 points - I’m looking at you, Dont’a Hightower. Josh McCown threw for just 194 yards against the Cleveland freakin’ Browns for goodness sake, but he got you for 354 and two scores?! Even the 2009 Patriots defense is offended by that.

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We’d be foolish to think the Pats can’t get this leaky unit fixed for reasons so obvious I won’t state them in this space so as not to waste my time or yours. We also know - long before Bill Belichick’s 6 1/2-minute explanation on the Monday conference call - that it's not supposed to be perfect right now. Actually, it’ll never be perfect. That’s not how this game works. 

Yet week after week, we see uncommon breakdowns and one defender looking at the next as if to say, “I thought you had him?” or more to the point, “what the hell were you doing?” It started Sunday at MetLife on the third play of the game. Malcolm Butler, playing 10 yards off Robby Anderson, looking as if he’s never played the position before, inexplicably turning his back on Anderson even though the wide receiver makes no real move to the post. That results in just about the easiest completion of McCown’s life, a 23-yarder on third-and-10. 

On the same series, on another third-and-long, the Pats rushed four and dropped seven into coverage. Defensive end Cassius Marsh continued his season-long trend of rushing so far upfield he ended up in Hoboken. With Deatrich Wise ridden outside on the opposite edge, McCown wisely stepped up and found prime real estate with New York City views. He wanted to throw and could have when the Pats fouled up a crossing route from the backside of the play. But with that much room to roam, McCown took off, scooting for a quick 16 yards and another first down.

Fittingly, that drive ended with a Jets touchdown on yet another dumb play, this one courtesy of Mr. Hit or Miss, Elandon Roberts. Channeling his inner Brandon Spikes, the second-year pro blew off his key and responsibility on third-and-goal from the 1, charging hard to the line. This, despite one of the most feeble play-action fakes you’ll see. In fact, I’m not even sure it was a real play-action fake. Anyway, score it as a touchdown to Austin Seferian-Jenkins and an indictment on David Harris, who apparently can’t vault past the erratic Roberts on the depth chart.

Similar to the week prior in Tampa, the Pats found better footing after that. They forced three straight three-and-outs in the second quarter and then helped turn the game when Butler intercepted an ill-advised throw by McCown just prior to the half. They got another turnover to start the third, with Butler coming off the edge on fourth-and-1 and forcing McCown into panic mode. The veteran QB fired an off-target throw to - get this - a wide open receiver who went uncovered on a drag route and Devin McCourty was gifted an interception.

But this group frowns on prosperity. It took a little-seen rule to prevent a Seferian-Jenkins touchdown in the fourth, and on the game’s final drive, the Pats allowed a 32-yard completion on fourth-and-12. Then, on what turned out to be the Jets final play, the Pats let Tavaris Cadet leak out of the backfield and run unchecked 20 yards down the field. Had McCown not soiled himself again, Gang Green would have had a first down and at least one crack at the end zone. Then, who knows what the heck happens?

It was just a season ago that the Patriots led the entire NFL in scoring defense. If you’ll recall, we spent a better part of the year wondering if that defense was championship quality. Turns out they were. Right now, we’re wondering once again if this defense is of that ilk, but through an entirely different prism. It’s on the players and staff to change the current outlook, or those cats and dogs will have to figure out their shared space.