Patriots

No Huddle: Belichick continues praise of Schiano

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No Huddle: Belichick continues praise of Schiano

Patriots coach Bill Belichick landed in Tampa with his team on Tuesday evening. The next morning he met with reporters before joint practice with the Buccaneers.

Not surprisingly, there was a lot of talk about former Rutgers, current Bucaneers coach Greg Schiano. Belichick gave a positive endorsement of Schiano when the Glazer family was doing its search for a new HC.

Here are a few hits from the press conference.

Can you talk about your recommendation on the Bucs coaching hire?

BB: "All I can do is just be honest. And I do, I think the world of Greg. I think hes a good coach. Hes got a good personality, he treats his players well, hes smart, hes tough. He did a great job with the Rutgers program without some of the opportunities that some other programs that he was going against had. But he competed really well in that conference and against those teams. Ive always been impressed with the way his teams performed. I have no problem saying that at all.

Belichick's son Stephen played one year of Rutgers football under Schiano as a backup long snapper. The relationship between coaches is older than that, however; New England has added more than a few Scarlet Knights to its roster in recent years.

What are some of the challenges moving from coaching in the NCAA to the NFL?

BB: "I dont know. I think Schiano's a very experienced guy. Hes won a lot of games, hes coached a lot of players. Hes coached NFL players, they just were in college, thats all. The Vince Wilforks, the Devin McCourtys, all the guys that hes coached, theyre NFL players, they just werent in the NFL yet. And hes coached in the NFL. So he knows what hes doing. Hell be fine.

Schiano had a 68-67 record in 11 seasons at Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights finished with just one season under .500 since 2005.

Is Tom Brady on, well, let's call it a "pitch count," during the preseason?

BB: "Everybodys got to re-establish himself this year every player, every coach and thats what training camp and the preseason games are for, to work our performance back up as high as we can and build on into the season. Weve all got a long way to go. I dont think anybodys even close to where we need to be, and that includes all of us coaches calling plays; players doing their jobs, working with new teammates, getting new timing; new opponent; different look. We havent even started the season yet. We have a long way to go."

Do you feel players are more stimulated during joint practices?

BB: "When you work against the same guy every day, you know what he can do, you respect it, but you know it. Maybe youre confident in certain things he can and cant do. When you go against a new opponent, you dont know how hard that jab is, how good his hook is, how quick he moves, what its like to go against him. It forces you to play your techniques better, to be as good as you can at your specific individual fundamental techniques. But then from a team standpoint, your recognition, your communication, really making sure that were all on the same page and we know exactly what were doing because were not as sure about what theyre doing as we are working against ourselves where we see it more frequently.

How good is to have Sebastian Vollmer and Daniel Fells back?

BB: Theyve both been making good progress and weve taken another small step. Each day is a small step but in the end all those steps end up covering a lot of ground, and those guys have done that. Taking them off PUP, this is a small step. Working them into practice gradually is a small step, and if they continue to progress then well continue to do more. If we need to back off a little bit, then well back off a little bit until theyre ready to resume that progress."

What do you think of One Bucaneer Place, the new Tampa Bay practice complex? Been here before?

BB: No, I was at the old facility many times. Its the first time Ive been here. It looks great. Im certainly impressed with this room and the podium, the media room. Theyre treating you guys pretty good. Spent a little time in the weight room this morning and the fields look good. Its great. Good operations, good facility theyve got a good program and like I said were excited to be here and working with Tampa. Its a great opportunity for our team and were going to try to make the most of it.

Energized Patriots defense forces 'critical swings' with turnovers

Energized Patriots defense forces 'critical swings' with turnovers

“We’re a blue-collar team…”

Devin McCourty didn’t hesitate when asked about the Patriots’ identity. Moments prior, McCourty and his teammates had just stomped the Oakland Raiders in Mexico City, 33-8, to run their win streak to a half-dozen games. The Pats are tied for the best record in the AFC with the Steelers

“We played at a high level,” said McCourty. “They made some plays, but I thought we executed our game plan and did exactly what we wanted to do today.”

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After surrendering a 100-points per game through the first month (ok, it was only 32), the Pats defense has flexed their muscle during this stretch, allowing 12.5 points per game, which would be the best in the NFL were this a season-long thing. We’re not looking at the same unit even though the personnel is largely the same. If anything, from a talent-level, this defense has less skill than it did when the season started. Their best player, Dont'a Hightower, is out for the year, lost during the first win of this 6-game streak. They’ve also survived three-game absences from $31-million cornerback Stephon Gilmore and their most consistent interior defender, tackle Malcom Brown. Yet the defense keeps showing up, keeps improving and its confidence is growing by leaps and bounds.

“We’re just playing together…we’re kind of figuring that out,” said McCourty. “We’re understanding how we need to prepare, how we need to practice, whether it’s a hard, full-padded practice, whether it’s a walkthrough, we know what we need to do on each of those days and when we do that, we give ourselves a chance. You’re seeing that on Sundays. Everyone running around, everyone knows their job and it’s all about execution.”

“I thought our players gave a great effort tonight,” said Bill Belichick. “We came out and performed well early, throughout the game and played really good situational football.”

The Pats were opportunistic, forcing three turnovers, including one in a huge spot, when Marquis Flowers stripped the ball from wideout Seth Roberts as the Raiders were knocking on the door. It was 14-0 at the time, and Oakland had life. Second-year cornerback Jon Jones battled Roberts, Flowers popped the ball free and safety Pat Chung pounced on it. Instead of milking the clock and heading into halftime up two scores, the Pats turned that fumble into points, driving to midfield before Steven Gostkowski kicked a career-long 62 yarder. That further energized a Pats team that was already surging.

“It’s something we talk about every week,” said McCourty. “We’re playing solid defense, executing the game plan, but changing the game with turnovers - you know, even Duron’s interception was a third down so it was kind of like a punt. The energy that brings - when the offense takes the field after we get a turnover - that’s huge. And then with them driving again in the red area before the half is what we talked about, getting that stop.”

“We had some real critical swings with those turnovers,” admired Tom Brady, a chief beneficiary of those change in possessions.

Earlier this week, I asked McCourty if he got a sense that the team was coming together at the tail end of their stay in Colorado Springs. He smiled and joked initially, but you could sense the veteran safety can see and feel what the rest of the league is now a witness to.

“I hope so. I mean, it’d probably be terrible if I say yeah and then we go on a five-game losing streak. I can see the headline: ‘McCourty was wrong.’ So, no, I think we understand how the season starts to pick up. You know, each game means more. We understand that seven wins (now 8) doesn’t mean anything. We have to continue to get better. So, I think why we end up usually improving is because it’s the understanding of there’s no tomorrow.”

The defense ordered that Code Red after losing to Carolina in Week 4, and since then, they have worked harder, worked longer and cleaned up so many of the issues that ailed them that opening month. It’s a credit to the players, “they won’ the game tonight,” said Belichick, and the coaching staff as well. if you’ve followed this team over the years, you know even now, they’re not satisfied. There are “things to work on” added Belichick and they’ll start that work on the flight home from Mexico City to Foxboro. 

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