Patriots

Belichick not at all thrilled with pick-route defense against Saints

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Belichick not at all thrilled with pick-route defense against Saints

There were plenty of moments in Sunday's game against the Saints where the Patriots will look back at the film and be proud of their work. How they handled pick-routes defensively isn't going to fall under that category.

Drew Brees hit Brandon Coleman for a five-yard touchdown when Malcolm Butler got picked by Saints tight end Josh Hill. The play could have been flagged as it appeared Hill was more than a yard removed from the line of scrimmage when the contact was made, but there was no call, and the Saints cut the score to 20-10 in the second quarter. 

Could the communication have been better between Butler and Patrick Chung, who was in coverage on Hill? Was the technique botched? Bill Belichick was asked about the difficulty of defending those types of rub routes, especially down by the goal line, during a conference call on Monday.

He wasn't thrilled about how his team handled them. 

"Well there are certain fundamental things that you have to do," Belichick explained. "You have to adjust collectively as a team. You have to work togerther because there's more than one person involved on . . . defending those plays. If you don't execute them well, if you don't play the technique properly, then you get beat.

"We gotta do a better job of coaching that. We have to play it better. Souldn't be nearly as much of a problem as it was. We obviously aren't coaching it or playing it very well."

The touchdown to Coleman wasn't the lone play during which the Saints successfully picked the Patriots. On the drive following that score, Brees found Coleman again on a rub route. Stephon Gilmore was wiped out, and Coleman was freed up to make a 42-yard catch down the right sideline. 

Expect the Patriots, who use plenty of man-to-man defense, to focus on how they play those man-coverage beaters this week before taking on the Texans.

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Rob Gronkowski: I met with Bill Belichick to tell him I'm in for 2018

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Rob Gronkowski: I met with Bill Belichick to tell him I'm in for 2018

Rob Gronkowski is just days removed from one of the strangest press conferences in the history of Gillette Stadium. First he said he wasn't sure if he was playing for the Patriots in 2018, then he said he wasn't sure when he would decide, then he said he'd be a "freek-a-leek" when he comes back . . .

On Tuesday he washed away any uncertainty about his future with one Instagram post. 

"I met with coach today," he wrote, "and informed him I will be back for the 2018 season with the Pats. I have been working out, staying in shape and feel great. Looking forward to another championship run."

Staying consistent with his social-media posts from this offseason, Gronkowski finished off the caption with "#bandsamakeherdance."

During Gronkowski's Monster Energy appearance on Saturday, he said he did not plan to attend optional Patriots workouts. It remains to be seen as to whether or not Bill Belichick, during their meeting, encouraged him to be present for those moving forward this offseason. 

Even if Gronkowski doesn't work out at Gillette with his teammates before mandatory minicamp, it seems as though if there was any friction between the tight end and the coach, that has been smoothed over to the point that Gronkowski is comortable announcing publicly that he'll be in New England for next season. 

More to come . . .