Trip down memory lane: Belichick compares Amendola return to Brown's in 2001


Trip down memory lane: Belichick compares Amendola return to Brown's in 2001

We're less than halfway into the 2017 season, but Bill Belichick has already put together two of the more entertaining "Belichick Breakdowns" in recent memory on He's having some fun with these, it seems. 

Following his team's last-minute win over the Texans in Week 3, he highlighted an in-game adjustment made by offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels that took advantage of a brief conversation had by a pair of Houston defensive backs. After beating the Bucs last week, one of his favorite plays from the game prompted him to take a quick trip down memory lane

Belichick first broke down a second-quarter punt return by Danny Amendola that went for 40 yards, explaining that "it always starts with getting the gunners and handling the ball." One Tampa Bay gunner was flagged for an unsportsmanlike penalty as he ran out of bounds down the field in pursuit of Amendola, adding onto what was already a good gain helped by blocks from Jonathan Jones, Johnson Bademosi, Patrick Chung, Jordan Richards. 

"There's actually some organization," Belichick said, "to the chaos that's going on."

It reminded Belichick of the punt return that Troy Brown took back for a touchdown in Pittsburgh during the 2001 AFC Championship Game.

On the snap prior to Brown's touchdown, the opposition had a player run out of bounds on a punt without being touched -- much like in Tampa -- which backed the Steelers up five yards and forced them to re-kick. On the subsequent punt, the Patriots dominated their blocking assignments. 

Larry Izzo and Patrick Pass sealed off their would-be tacklers, Ty Law pancaked the long-snapper, Matt Chatham never let his man get off the line of scrimmage, and Terrell Buckley and Antwan Harris smothered their gunner on a double-team.

By the end of the play, mauled by Harris and Buckley, the Steelers gunner was on his hands and knees in his own end zone after starting the play at the eight-yard line. 

"That's about as good as a gunner can be blocked right there," Belichick said. "These guys should be on the porch on the Hall of Fame just for that block alone."

During the segment with host Scott Zolak, Belichick also explained what went on during Dion Lewis' 31-yard run -- the team's first explosive run of the season, Belichick pointed out -- as well as a Devin McCourty tackle-for-loss and an Elandon Roberts third-down stop.

You can watch the entire video here.

Brady at bottom of ESPN's 'Dominant 20' list

Brady at bottom of ESPN's 'Dominant 20' list

Yet another ESPN list is out and Tom Brady - despite his five Super Bowl titles and his place as arguably the greatest player in America's most popular sport - again can't seem to break into the upper echelon.

Brady, who was deemed the 21st most popular athlete by the network last year in the "Fame 100", comes in at the bottom of its "Dominant 20, a list of the most dominant athletes of the past 20 years put together to celebrate the 20th anniversary of ESPN The Magazine.

So, Brady checks in at the final spot, with a "Dominance Ranking" of 6.3, just behind boxer Manny Pacquiao (6.5). 

Here's part of their mathematical formula for the rankings, which must've hurt their heads to come up with as much as it will hurt yours to read.

"...Then we rated those sports' athletes in each of the past 20 regular seasons by the best single performance metric available, adjusted these ratings to normalize athletes' scores in each sport across time, narrowed our focus to the top four athletes each year in every sport, then adjusted the data again to put these players, across sports, on a common baseline..."

Oh, and Peyton Manning is No. 3 (Dominance Ranking of 12.7) on the list.

Here's the full 20:
1. Tiger Woods, golf (17.0)
2. LeBron James, NBA (15.6)
3. Peyton Manning, NFL (12.7)
4. Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR (12.0)
5. Roger Federer, tennis (10.6)
6. Annika Sorenstam, golf (10.3)
7. Michael Schumacher, Formula 1 (10.2)
8. Floyd Mayweather, boxing (10.1)
9. Marta, soccer (9.8)
10. Usain Bolt, track (9.5)
11. Lionel Messi, soccer (8.9)
12. Serena Williams, tennis (8.9)
13. Lauren Jackson, WNBA (8.3)
14. Cristiano Rinaldo, soccer (8.2)
15. Novak Djokovic, tennis (8.0)
16. Alyson Felix, track (7.3)
17. Barry Bonds, MLB (7.1)
18. Mike Trout, MLB (7.1)
19. Manny Pacquiao, boxing (6.5)
20. Tom Brady, NFL (6.3)

ESPN also ranked the most dominant teams of the past 20 years, based on their single-season dominance figured into another mind-numbing formula. Last season's Golden State Warriors take the title, just ahead of the legendary 2003-02 Australian men's national cricket team (really) and the 1998 New York Yankees.   

First from New England on the list are UConn's undefeated 2014 women's basketball national champs at No. 6. Geno Auriemma's 2000 champs, who went 36-1, are 20th. Brady's 2004 Pats, who beat the Eagles in Super Bowl 39, take the 15th spot, just ahead of the 2007 Red Sox, who swept the Colorado Rockies for their second World Series title of that decade. 


Curran: Ranking the Patriots imports so far

Curran: Ranking the Patriots imports so far

Did you know today (Tuesday) is the International Day of Happiness?

Cheese, willow trees, pool basketball in the pool, a newly-mowed-lawn and briefly turning off my headlights while driving down a dark, narrow street to scare my passengers. Those are things that make me happy.

It’s good timing.

The first few days of NFL free agency (and the legalized flirting that preceded it) created a level of unhappiness in New England because of all the exports.

All made stupid money that the Patriots really couldn’t ante up, but the contributions of Nate Solder, Dion Lewis, Danny Amendola and Malcolm Butler were such that a shrug and “What are ya gonna do...?” would have been an insufficient response.

So there was flipping out.

But in honor of IDOH, let’s look at imports and rank them in order of projected usefulness. It’s a happy exercise because there’s upside to each of the six signings.


A league source told me this is a Patriots 1.0 type of signing – one of those high-character players who has a well-defined strength as an edge-setter/pass-rusher. When the Patriots brought in James Harrison at the end of the 2017 season, that was their acknowledgment they didn’t have a complementary edge player opposite Trey Flowers. Clayborn’s a decade younger than Harrison, has been durable and – at 6-3, 280 – has plenty of size to bow up when attacked on the ground. The team never sufficiently replaced Rob Ninkovich and Chris Long last year (their planned move of Dont'a Hightower to the edge went kaput when he had to move back to linebacker and then got hurt). Clayborn should help do that.


McCourty was having one of the best seasons of a good career in Cleveland before an ankle injury in practice knocked him out of action last October. So, it stands to reason that there’s plenty left in the tank for Devin McCourty’s twin brother as he joins the Patriots on a very manageable deal ($3 million). He’s a free agent at the end of the year. The Super Bowl was an embarrassment for the Patriots defense. For reasons still unexplained, the team couldn’t risk putting a former Pro Bowl corner who’d played 98 percent of his team’s snaps all year on the field. And the resulting Malcolm Butler Shuffle which put Patrick Chung out of position and Jordan Richards and Jonathan Bademosi on the field cost the team a title. It boils down to Bill Belichick not believing he could count on Butler. Whatever. Jason McCourty’s an Eagle Scout, he’s never played in a playoff game and he’s happy to be in New England. He could be equal to or better than Eric Rowe and his presence – along with Jonathan Jones and Cyrus Jones – gives the team nice corner depth.  


This is like the McCourty deal in a way. Just as the Patriots' patience ran out with Butler, so too did it run out with Alan Branch. And vice versa, it seemed to me. The offbeat Branch was an incredibly impactful and valuable defensive tackle for the Patriots. Belichick gushed about how Branch was far-and-away their most impactful defensive lineman in 2016. And by 2017 he was a healthy scratch several times and was in street clothes for the Super Bowl while LeGarrette Blount and Jay Ajayi ran wild. Shelton is a decade younger and while he’s smaller than the 6-6, 350-pound Branch (Shelton’s “just” 6-2, 335), he also isn’t world/NFL-weary in the same way Branch seemed to be. As the 12th overall pick in 2015, Shelton didn’t make the impact expected there. We’ve heard scheme and the Browns’ general suckitude as being the reason, but some of it has to come back to Shelton too who – Cleveland writers told me – has a tendency to lose technique in games and wear down. Huge upside potential at a position of need.


Kick returners have diminishing importance in the NFL thanks to the rule changes of the past few years but they aren’t extinct yet. And Patterson is among the most explosive in the league. Dion Lewis had a 103-yard kickoff return last year. He averaged 21.1 on his other 22 returns. Patterson averaged 26.3. He can also cover punts which the Patriots will need if they intend to let Matt Slater go. His presence on offense will command attention as a gadget guy (jet sweeps, jailbreak screens) and downfield decoy. He also has had some ballhandling issues so that’s worth watching as well. Here's Phil Perry on what the Patriots are getting in Patterson. 


Tobin was a walk-on at the University of Iowa. He was an undrafted free agent that made the Eagles in 2013. I mention this as proof the guy – who has now spent five seasons in the NFL – has a penchant for doing more than anticipated. The 6-foot-6 Tobin isn’t going to replace Nate Solder. I don’t think the Patriots are pretending that he can. But with Solder gone and Cam Fleming/La’Adrian Waddle both still free agents, the Patriots need reinforcements not just at starter but as depth. Tobin will serve as that. Greg Bedard at the Boston Sports Journal (subscription required) went deep on Tobin. In short, Matt Tobin draws a shrug from me.


Poor Jeremy Hill. The fumble Pittsburgh’s Ryan Shazier forced Hill to commit in the 2016 AFC Divisional Playoffs led to impossibly anguished wailing from Hill and a satisfyingly painful loss for Hill’s detestable Bengals. It also allowed the Patriots to defeat the just-as-loathsome Steelers in the AFC Championship a week later. None of that has anything to do with what Hill may bring to the Patriots. But the fumble perhaps led to the drafting of Joe Mixon last April which led to Hill realizing his Cincy days were numbered and may have led to his deciding to have ankle surgery which Marvin Lewis strongly disagreed with Hill having. Hill, 25, comes to the Patriots as a goal-line, short-yardage threat who scored 29 touchdowns in 46 games for Cincy before last year’s abbreviated, low-impact season. He’ll either be better than Mike Gillislee or worse and the guy who loses that showdown probably gets released.