Belichick gives game ball back to Brissett after rookie beats up on Texans

Belichick gives game ball back to Brissett after rookie beats up on Texans

FOXBORO -- Jacoby Brissett was given a job to do, and being the eager-to-please rookie that he is, he was going to do it even when there was a stoppage in play. 

After bouncing off two Texans defenders and diving across the goal line for a 27-yard touchdown run in the first quarter of the Patriots 27-0 win over Houston on Thursday night, Brissett carried the football with him back to the sidelines and handed it to head coach Bill Belichick. 

"Make sure they don't get it," was Brissett's explanation for giving away the momento -- "they" being the Texans.

Brissett executed that coaching point by not turning over the football in his first professional start, completing 11-of-19 passes for 103 yards and rushing six times for 50 yards as a substitute for injured starter Jimmy Garoppolo. 

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Asked what happened to his first touchdown ball, Brissett pointed behind him, to a shelf in his locker stall. Belichick had given it back in front of the team to celebrate the NC State product's big night.

"I think he handled himself great last week, this week, all week, every day," Belichick said. "He's done nothing but come in here and work as hard as he possibly can -- when we had three quarterbacks -- to take his opportunities and learn from the other two guys, when it was him and Jimmy, and then this week it was pretty much all him. 

"He's just a hard-working kid that is really dedicated to doing what's right for the team and trying to improve on anything that you tell him. He just wants to do what the coach tells him to do. I'm glad we have him."

Belichick explained that his team installed new plays offensively in the days leading up to Thursday night's prime-time contest, but they weren't able to truly practice them at full speed since they were limited to only a few walkthroughs during the short week. Among the new-look plays the Patriots ran were a counter option from a pistol formation with receiver Julian Edelman in the backfield, and a designed run for Brissett off of a misdirection play-action fake that led to his score.

"We gave them a lot of new things," Belichick said. "We ran some plays that we haven't run all year. We put them in and walked through them. We never got a chance to really run them, and a couple of those hit big."

When asked if Brissett was told to keep himself safe since he was the only full-time quarterback on the game-day roster, Belichick scoffed.

"Like on the touchdown run," he asked?

Nine of Brissett's attempts, and six of his completions, were thrown within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage, but by taking care of the football, and by taking advantage of good field position provided to him by the Patriots defense and special teams, his dialed-down passing attack was more than enough to win. 

It was a unique plan, but it was one in which Brissett's teammates believed. Their faith in what was laid out for them was due in part to the fact that they saw their third-round quarterback handle it with confidence. 

Tight end Martellus Bennett had a laugh describing what he saw as Brissett trying his best to look like a starting quarterback as the team prepared for the game in a Thursday meeting. 

"I saw him today, he was in a meeting today, and all of a sudden he's the starting quarterback and he sits with his legs crossed," Bennett said. "I'm like, 'All right, bro. It's one week and now you're crossing your leg in meetings, and sitting like a veteran quarterback.' I was like, 'Who are you?'

"I called him out on it. He's like, 'I always sit like this.' I was like, 'No you don't, bro. Drinking coffee and sitting with your legs crossed. That's what starting quarterbacks do.' It's more mature all of a sudden. It's like, c'mon. [But] it worked." 

Other teammates noticed Brissett seamlessly step into the starter's role as well. 

Running back James White said Brissett was "poised" and that he was "fluid" running the huddle. "He went out there and tried not to do anything amazing," White said. "Just did what he had to do and moved the chains for the offense."

"I'm so proud, so proud of him," guard Shaq Mason said. "That's big. Coming in, getting his first start on a big stage. That's pretty big. He definitely deserves it . . . He was well-prepared. He was very prepared for the night. He came in, took control of the huddle, and we followed him. He was very confident. He handled the whole situation like a true pro."

And at the end of the night, after handing off 31 times in his first pro start, Brissett took a handoff from Belichick in the Patriots locker room. 

"I was just holding the ball for him," Belichick said. "That's his ball."

Patriots' Stephon Gilmore disagrees with Rex Ryan's critique of Amari Cooper

Patriots' Stephon Gilmore disagrees with Rex Ryan's critique of Amari Cooper

Former New York Jets and Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan made waves Friday for his harsh critique of Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper.

On ESPN's Get Up, Ryan blasted the Cowboys for signing Cooper to a five-year, $100 million contract this offseason. It's one thing to be critical, but Ryan even went as far as to call Cooper a "turd," which probably isn't the most politically-correct way to evaluate a player.

“I wouldn’t have paid this guy. To me, this is the biggest disappearing act in the National Football League,” Ryan said. “He doesn’t show up on the road. He doesn’t show up against — when the competition’s good, when he’s against the top corners, that guy disappears.

“This is who he is. Doesn’t love football. Hell with it, he stops his routes, he does all this. I wouldn’t have paid this turd. No way in hell. No way in hell would I have paid this guy.”

So yeah, pretty harsh.

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New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who played for Ryan on the Bills from 2015-16, caught wind of his former coach's comments and made it clear he disagrees.

That's some high praise from the two-time first-team All-Pro. Especially after Gilmore locked Cooper down back in November by holding him without a catch.

Both Ryan and Gilmore are entitled to their opinions, but calling Cooper a "turd" was a bit over the line. After all, Cooper is coming off a 2019 season in which he tallied 79 receptions while setting career-highs in both receiving yards (1,189) and touchdowns (eight). Not exactly turd-like.

Anyway, Gilmore definitely has Ryan putting his foot in his mouth after those controversial remarks.

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NFL Rumors: Number of teams interested in Brady 'bigger than people realize'

NFL Rumors: Number of teams interested in Brady 'bigger than people realize'

On the surface, it didn't seem like Tom Brady had a lot of free-agent suitors. After announcing that he wouldn't be returning to the New England Patriots, the two teams he was connected to were the Los Angeles Chargers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

But evidently, there were more than just a few teams that showed interest in Brady this offseason.

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In a recent appearance on WEEI's OMF show, ESPN's NFL insider Adam Schefter confirmed that many teams had conversations about Brady this offseason.

"There were a lot of teams that went through the conversation of if and when Tom Brady does hit the market, do we make a move," Schefter said. "There were teams out there that had that conversation that you’d be surprised to hear. It wasn’t just a few teams."

But just how many teams were interested in Brady? Schefter couldn't quite say, but he did say "the number was bigger than people realize."

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Throughout the lead-up to free agency, Brady was connected to a number of other teams in rumors, including the Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans, Las Vegas Raiders, and even the San Francisco 49ers. So, it stands to reason that some of those teams, and potentially others, at least discussed the possibility of bringing in Brady.

Of course, all of these teams chose different paths at quarterback. The Colts elected to go with Philip Rivers on a one-year deal for a very specific reason. The Titans handed Ryan Tannehill a four-year extension. The Raiders elected to stick with Derek Carr but added Marcus Mariota to compete with him. And the 49ers, fresh off a Super Bowl appearance, are continuing to trust Brady's former backup, Jimmy Garoppolo, as their starting QB.

Ultimately, the number of teams interested in Brady never mattered much. There only needed to be one to get him to leave New England. That's exactly what happened and now, Brady will be suiting up for the Bucs.

Meanwhile, the Patriots will begin the post-Brady era in 2020. Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer are the only two QBs on the roster, and Stidham is favored to be the starter at the moment.