Steve Belichick on his dad: 'I want to be just like him'

Steve Belichick on his dad: 'I want to be just like him'

FOXBORO -- There were times when Steve Belichick looked and sounded like his father, Bill, when he sat down in front of a crowd of reporters for the first time since being named Patriots safeties coach.  

He wore a Rutgers lacrosse pullover as his dad might. (A former Rutgers lacrosse player himself, he actually borrowed it from Bill for the occasion. "Got a Big 10 lacrosse tournament this weekend," he said. "Rutgers is going to make some noise.") And there were moments when he kept certain things close to the vest, as is family tradition. ("Leave that to us," he said when asked about how he was promoted from coaching assistant this offseason.)

But at the same time, he came off as very much his own person during the back-and-forth with reporters. He was open about his motivations, his experiences, and his influences now as a 29-year-old NFL assistant with a famous last name. He admitted his coaching style had to be unique to him, and he even cracked a few jokes -- all with a dozen or so microphones and cameras pointed in his direction. 

"Anywhere I went, I would have my own style," Belichick explained. "It doesn’t matter where I would go. That’s true for any coach. Every coach has their own style. Whatever team, anything I do, even if I was going to do something I’ve never done before, I would have to have my own style because that’s me. That’s who I am."

Belichick spent four years as a coaching assistant and will continue to work under his father, as well as defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, in his new role. He understands what the Belichick name means in New England, and he knows what his father has accomplished.

The experience of working under his first-ever role model was something he described as invaluable. 

"It’s been cool," he said. "Obviously, I love my dad. He’s my role model. He’s my idol. I want to be just like him. I have since I knew what an idol was. It’s rewarding for me to, I guess, see him more and learn from him more, because I’ve been away from him in high school and college on a day-to-day basis."

Here are a few of the highlights from the media's first chat with Steve Belichick, which took place at Gillette Stadium on Monday . . .

On working with veteran safeties Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung: "Yeah, it’s awesome. I went to school with Devin. They’re two great players that have been in this league for a long time that have obviously been there and have played consecutive seasons. I’m going to learn a lot from them. We’re all in the room together. We’re safeties. We’re a group. We do everything together."

On how he approached his first few years working for the team: "I just had my head down. I was just trying to work and get better. You never know when stuff like this is coming. There’s tons of changes in the NFL, but you just got to be ready for whatever they ask you to do and work your hardest and do the best you can. That’s what I’m trying to do."

On if his father coached him on how to deal with the media: "No. He didn’t. We don’t talk about the media too much."

On his long-term goals, and if he wants to be a head coach: "I just hope to be here at the end of the day."

His thoughts on one of his dad's favorite choices for game-day attire, the hoodie: "If my neck’s cold, I’ll put the hood up and warm my head up. It’s a good piece of clothing. I think everyone should have a hooded sweatshirt in their closet."

Don't pigeonhole me: How will Adrian Clayborn fit into the Patriots defense?

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Don't pigeonhole me: How will Adrian Clayborn fit into the Patriots defense?

Looking for a two-word answer from Bill Belichick during a press conference? Ask him how a new addition to the roster might fit into the Patriots scheme. 

"We'll see," is Belichick's typical reply in those situations. 


We point that out here because it's hard to know exactly what any new player's role will be with the Patriots, particularly for an edge player like Adrian Clayborn. That spot in Belichick's defense can take on a variety of roles, from pass-rusher, to edge-setter, to coverage player. 

But we can take an educated guess as to how Clayborn will fit in the Patriots defense, based on what we know. That's what the Patriots did when they signed him. They saw certain skills. They saw Clayborn perform in certain situations. They made their projection. 

There's always the chance Clayborn asserts himself in a way that wasn't expected. Or maybe the way he fits with his new teammates will open his coaches' eyes in ways they weren't anticipating. But at this point, as is the case with every new addition, they're hypothesizing. So we will too. 

AGAINST THE PASS: Clayborn was, for the vast majority of his snaps, a pass-rusher for the Falcons last year. He played 631 snaps for the Falcons, which was 53.4 of their defensive snaps. Of those 631 plays, Clayborn rushed the quarterback 477 times, per Pro Football Focus (76 percent of his workload). And of those pass-rush snaps, only one came from the left side. (Clayborn was born with Erb's palsy, which means his right arm has some limitations compared to his left, which impacts the side of the field he aligns on. He played 91 percent of his snaps from the right side in 2016.)  Clayborn played over 80 percent of the snaps during each of his first three seasons in the league as a member of the Bucs so he's been a three-down player before. But recent history would suggest the 6-foot-2, 280-pounder is now more of a sub option.

Here's how Clayborn responded during a conference call on Wednesday when asked if he could chip in on first and second down for the Patriots. "I believe that’s what people have pigeon-holed me in as a third-down player, but I know I can play first, second, third down if need be," he said. "That was my role in Atlanta because that’s what they asked me to do, but I mean, I can play all three downs if you ask me."

AGAINST THE RUN: According to Pro Football Focus, Clayborn has been a negatively-graded player against the run during each of his seven seasons in the NFL. Last year he checked in as PFF's 78th-ranked run defender among edge players, which was far below the ranking Trey Flowers received (19th) but ahead of Deatrich Wise (85th) and Eric Lee (96th). During each of his last three seasons with the Falcons, he has seen his snap-counts break down similarly: about 75 percent of his work came against the pass, about 25 percent came against the run. He can defend the run. He's capable of it. He just hasn't been asked to consistently hold up on the edge on a down-in-down-out basis during the most recent phase of his career. 

THE FIT: Based on his history in Atlanta, it would make sense if the Patriots asked Clayborn to come off of the right edge in passing situations in 2018. That's where his recent experience has been. Keeping him away from the left side not only makes the most of where he's strongest, but it also keeps him from finding himself in coverage. As Belichick has explained in the past, the left end spot (Rob Ninkovich's old spot), going against right-handed quarterbacks, is typically asked to do more in coverage. The right edge has been Flowers' area in the recent past -- he played almost 65 percent of his passing-rush snaps last season off the right, per PFF -- but if the Patriots are fully-healthy up front, Flowers could kick inside to do his rushing. An ideal sub package for the Patriots, it could be argued, would have Clayborn on the right edge, Flowers and either Wise or Adam Butler on the interior, and Derek Rivers or Dont'a Hightower on the left edge. Rivers saw some work off the left side before suffering an injury in last year's training camp. Early last season, Hightower saw time on the left edge. 


Clayborn will have an opportunity to show he can do more than rush off the right side. He said on Wednesday that the Patriots have discussed multiple roles for him. (Perhaps he could rush from the interior, though he's not as long as Flowers or Wise, whose arms make them good matchups for stouter guards and tackles.) Wherever those opportunities come, Clayborn knows he'll have to make the most of them if he doesn't want to be pigeonholed. The deal for two years and $10 million he just signed in New England doesn't guarantee him myriad responsibilities.

"Whatever I can prove I can do,” he said. "I know I can rush the passer. I know I can set edge in the run. I mean, there’s a couple of different positions that they believe I can play, so it’s up to me to prove I can play them."


Ex-Patriot Ricky Jean-Francois signing with Lions

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Ex-Patriot Ricky Jean-Francois signing with Lions

Former Patriots defensive tackle Ricky Jean-Francois is signing with the Lions, according to Jordan Schultz of Yahoo Sports.

The 31-year-old had six tackles in six games for the Patriots in 2017. He'll reunite with ex-Patriots defensive coordinator and now Lions head coach Matt Patricia in Detroit.