Patriots

Watt ineffective against Patriots offense

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Watt ineffective against Patriots offense

FOXBORO -- The Houston Texans weren't used to this.

J.J. Watt showed up to New England as a difference maker. He was the guy that was going to cause problems for Tom Brady and the Patriots' offense on Monday night. He was going to be one of the reasons the Texans would win.

Instead, the defensive end's inability to do the dominant things he usually does, was one of the reasons the Texans left Gillette Stadium with their second loss of the season.

Watt entered the game with the most pass deflections out of any defensive lineman in the NFL, with 16. He also entered with the second-most sacks, with 16.5.

He finished Monday night's 42-14 loss to New England with zero pass deflections, zero sacks, and just two solo tackles.

We played a very good football team and they executed everything very well and had a great game plan," said Watt afterward. "They came in and played a great game and we didnt play a great game and they won."

Watt was one of the first Texans players out of the locker room and onto the team bus, following Monday night's loss, a good 25 minutes before the rest of the team.

Frustration showed when he wouldn't stop and talk to several reporters as Texans coach Gary Kubiak's press conference ended.

"I already talked," said Watt, as he stormed towards the bus.

He didn't have much to say. His performance usually speaks for itself. Just not the way he would have liked, on Monday night.

Watt spent most of the night as the left end, lining up with Patriots right guard Dan Connolly and right tackle Sebastian Vollmer. It seemed when Connolly and Vollmer double-teamed him consistently, Watt would mix it up and switch over to the right side.

In fairness to Watt, he got to Tom Brady and hit him hard on on five different occasions after the ball was thrown. Only one of those hits came as he rushed from the right side. That hit came in the third quarter. On the exact same possession, Watt moved back over to the left side and was flushed outside by Vollmer, giving Brady enough time to step up into the pocket and find Donte' Stallworth for a 63-yard touchdown pass, giving New England a 28-0 lead.

Watt wasn't really heard from until the second quarter, when he rushed in on Brady untouched from the left side, putting a hard hit on the quarterback just after Brady got rid of the football. By that point, the Patriots already had led 21-0, so unless Watt could cause a turnover, that would have been the only way he'd affect the game.

And indeed, that's just what Watt did. Only, it didn't have the result the Texans wanted.

In the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, and the Patriots leading 28-7, Watt chased down running back Danny Woodhead after he caught a short dump-off to the right side. Watt came from behind, at the Texans' 12-yard line, and knocked the ball loose with an uppercut. But the ball bounced all the way into the end zone, where Brandon Lloyd jumped on it for the New England touchdown and a 35-7 Patriots lead.

A play like that is just tough luck," said Watt. "I came from the back side and forced a fumble and they get a touchdown out of it. Just a tough night.

"We had some things we thought we'd be able to do against them, and we didn't do them as well as we wanted to," said Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.

"I don't know that they did a whole lot different," added Phillips. "We had some hits on the quarterback. He gets rid of the football. He's not sacked a whole lot, any time in his career, especially this year. So, they get rid of the football."

And on this night, Brady got rid of the football before Watt could get to him, all night long.

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: 'Incomprehensible' to expect same greatness from Patriots?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: 'Incomprehensible' to expect same greatness from Patriots?

0:43 - Tom Curran, Kayce Smith, and Michael Holley talk about Bill Belichick saying it’s “incomprehensible” that people expect the Patriots to be on the same level as last year at this point in the season.

11:55 - Tom Giles, Kayce Smith, and Michael Holley discuss J.R. Smith’s comments about the Celtics not being a threat to the Cavaliers.

15:38 - Abby Chin, Chris Mannix, and A. Sherrod Blakely join BST from Cleveland to talk about Marcus Smart and the Celtics failing to agree to a contract extension, making him a restricted free agent in July. They also preview Tuesday’s Celtics-Cavaliers season opener.

19:25 - Reports say Alex Cora is the frontrunner for the Red Sox managerial position, but Brad Ausmus interviewed for the position on Monday. Who is the right man for the job? Tom Giles and Michael Holley discuss.

Stevens knows hanging banners is ‘what it’s all about’ in Boston

Stevens knows hanging banners is ‘what it’s all about’ in Boston

BOSTON – When Brad Stevens took the Boston Celtics job in 2013, he knew what he was getting into.
 
Yes, the Celtics at that time were rebuilding which usually means years and years of slow but steady progress – if you’re lucky.
 
And then after maybe a few years of struggling to win games, a breakout season occurs and just like that – you’re back in the playoffs.

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 But here’s the thing with the Celtics.
 
While most rebuilding teams spend years working their way towards being competitive, Stevens hit the ground running and in just four years, he led the Celtics from being a 25-win team to one that was just three wins away from getting to the NBA Finals.
 
He has the kind of basketball resume that’s impressive on many levels.
 
But Stevens knows good isn’t good enough in this town.
 
“We’re here in Boston,” he said. “Winning is good, but hanging one of those (banners) up is what it’s all about. That’s what makes this such a special franchise.”
 
And for Stevens, a franchise where the expectations for success under his watch have never been greater than they are now.
 
Boston only returns one starter (Al Horford) from last year’s squad which advanced to the Eastern Conference finals after having won an East-best 53 games.
 
However, they added a pair of All-Stars in Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving to join Horford. In addition, they drafted Jayson Tatum with the third overall pick in last June’s NBA draft.
 
Boston also has a slimmed-down Marcus Smart (he lost 20 pounds from a year ago) as well Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier who will both benefit from having another NBA season under their belts.
 
And while it’s a small sample size and consists of just two teams (Philadelphia and Charlotte), the Celtics breezed their way through the preseason with a flawless 4-0 record which included at least one game in which they did not play their usual starters which shows how impactful their depth may be this season.
 
That success can only help, especially with a challenging schedule that includes seven of their first 11 games being on the road. 
 
Still, the potential of this Celtics team has never been greater than it is right now since Stevens took over in 2013.
 
And just like the increased expectations of the team, the same can be said for Stevens who is considered one of the better coaches in the NBA.
 
Marcus Morris will begin his first season with the Celtics, but had a lot of respect for Stevens well before he was traded to Boston from Detroit this summer.
 
“You hear a lot of good things about him from other players,” Morris told NBC Sports Boston. “And once you get in here and start working with him and seeing what he does every day, you see what they’re talking about. He’s a good coach, man.”
 
This team’s success will hinge on how the players perform, but there’s an added element of pressure on Stevens to find the right combinations that will position the Celtics for success.
 
“We have a lot more guys who can do a lot more things on the court, so it will be a little more challenging for us to figure out how to best play with each other, and for Brad to figure out which combinations are the best ones,” Boston’s Al Horford told NBC Sports Boston. “But we’ll figure it out. Brad’s a really good coach, a really smart coach. And on our team, we have a lot of players who are smart, high basketball I.Q. guys. We’ll be OK.”
 
Basketball smarts aside, the Celtics’ success will hinge heavily on how quickly they can bring a roster with 10 new players up to speed quickly.
 
It’s still early, but players like what they’ve seen from the collective body in terms of team chemistry.
 
“I think that’s the beauty of a lot of guys on the team,” said Gordon Hayward. “It’ll be different each night with some of the different roles we play.”
 
Which is why the Celtics, while lacking experience as a team because of so many new faces, are still seen as capable of winning because they have a number of players who can impact the game in many ways.
 
But as good as they are, it still comes back to Stevens doing a good job of putting them in the best positions to find success individually as well as for the Celtics team.
 
When you look at how time with Stevens jumpstarted Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder’s careers, or how it helped revitalize the career of Evan Turner, it’s obvious that he has the Midas touch when it comes to getting the most out of players.
 
For Boston to have the kind of success they believe they are due for, it’s going to take the contributions of many.
 
And even that might not be enough.
 
But having the path being bumpier than expected is something Stevens embraces.
 
“Here in this league,” he said. “You have to love challenges.”

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