Patriots

Bean: Texans were worse for wear when they came to Foxboro in letterman jackets

Bean: Texans were worse for wear when they came to Foxboro in letterman jackets

Arian Foster knew when he tried on his letterman jacket days ahead of the Texans’ 2012 Monday Night Football game against the Patriots that something was wrong. 

Here stood one of the best running backs on the planet, playing on a team with an NFL-best 11-1 record, going against a Lombardi Trophy factory and he was dressed like a high-schooler. The problem was obvious. 

The sleeves were too short. 

And so Joe Dotterweich, hired on short notice for his Houston-based Bull Shirts screen-printing and embroidery company to make Texans defensive lineman Shaun Cody’s team-bonding dream a reality, assured the star back that he’d be matching his teammates in no time. 

“All right, I’ll get you another one,” he responded.

The Texans’ letterman jackets live in infamy. They became an immediate punchline for a team that would go on to take a 42-14 drubbing from the Pats, lose three of their last four regular-season games, miss out on a first-round bye and lose to the Patriots again in the divisional round. 

But before the tweets, jokes and everything else bad associated with the jackets, they were meant to be a token of the new kids on the block’s camaraderie. 

“I used to say before the season it feels like we’re on a college team,” then-Texans linebacker Connor Barwin, who helped design the jackets, told the Houston Chronicle at the time. “Everybody gets along, we have so much fun. And this jacket, you feel like you’re on a high school team where it’s all about winning, it’s all about being around a group of guys. This jacket is just another symbol of that. There’s no names on it. You just have your number, your position group and the Texans logo.”

As Dotterweich recalls, Cody’s idea had been kicking around for a bit, but it wasn’t until the days leading up to Houston’s win over Miami the previous week that the decision was made to actually get them made for the Patriots game. So Barwin and then-Texans equipment director Jay Brunetti came up with the design and brought it to Bull Shirts. 

Dotterweich, who had worked with the team before, took on the job knowing it was a biggie: Something like 80 jackets, many in wonky sizes, all custom made with the finest materials. Real leather, no synthetic stuff. Also, because Dotterweich didn’t have an NFL license, he had to get the permission from Texans owner Bob McNair to use the team logo and Pantone Matching System colors. 

Yes, the letterman jacket operation went straight to the top. 

From roster players to practice squad players to coaches and other members of the organization, an estimated 80 jackets were made. A job like that would normally take Bull Shirts about four to six weeks. They did it in 10 days, including a full day of measuring all the players. Everything was made in Texas. 

In a move that makes it either more or less gimmicky depending on how you look at it, the Texans didn’t actually pay for the jackets. The players paid for them, with 100 percent participation. All in all, the order ran somewhere between $16,000 and $20,000. 

"There wasn’t one guy on the team that said, ‘You know what? That’s a stupid idea. I’m not gonna do it. I’ll pass,’ ” Dotterweich recalled. 

When the jackets were delivered to the Texans’ locker room on the Friday before the game, they were a hit. Players loved them and they garnered tons of media attention. Bull Shirts was bombarded with over 2,000 requests for identical jackets by the public, but Dotterweich honored a gentleman’s agreement made with Brunetti in which he promised to not make them for anyone else. 

Then the game happened, and it was never close. The Patriots scored the first 28 points, never looked back and everyone took it out on the jackets.  

If the Texans had won that game, they’d have been studs. Going into Foxboro, beating Tom Brady and doing it in dopeass jackets with all the fixings? That’s as close to cool as anything associated with J.J. Watt gets. 

Instead, it was essentially the moment when Sarah Marshall walks into the resort and Peter’s embarrassment is compounded by the fact that he’s wearing “this [expletive] shirt.” 

Watt deflected questions about the whereabouts of his jacket when asked earlier this season. Dotterweich has one he keeps in his store – an Andre Johnson one that was re-done. 

As for the rest of the team, you’d have to ask those guys one by one. The retired Cody still has his, and he defended the jackets’ honor when the Pats shut out the Texans in Week 3 this season. 

Awesome NFL video highlights all 36 turnovers forced by Patriots defense in 2019

Awesome NFL video highlights all 36 turnovers forced by Patriots defense in 2019

The New England Patriots defense ranked among the NFL's best in 2019, and a huge reason for this unit's success was its ability to force turnovers.

The Patriots forced the second-most turnovers in the league with 36 during the regular season. They also led the league with 25 interceptions and a plus-21 turnover differential. Veteran cornerback Stephon Gilmore tied for the league lead with six interceptions and was named AP Defensive Player of the Year.

It's safe to say the Patriots defense was aggressive and opportunistic throughout 2019, and it certainly helped overcome some of the team's offensive struggles during the second half of the campaign.

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Check out all of the turnovers forced by New England's defense last season in the video below:

The Patriots' Super Bowl title defense ended surprisingly early with an AFC Wild Card loss to the Tennessee Titans at Gillette Stadium. The defense played pretty well, holding the Titans to just 13 offensive points. Tom Brady and his offense couldn't generate much of anything versus the Titans defense, though, and the Patriots lost 20-13.

New England's defense could look much different in 2020. The unit has several key players eligible for unrestricted free agency, including safety Devin McCourty, linebackers Jamie Collins and Kyle Van Noy, and defensive tackle Danny Shelton, among others.

Curran: Where things stand for Brady, Pats a month from free agency

Chris Simms' Tom Brady-Ryan Tannehill take may grind Patriots fans' gears

Chris Simms' Tom Brady-Ryan Tannehill take may grind Patriots fans' gears

We can understand Derrick Henry supporting Ryan Tannehill amid speculation that Tom Brady may consider joining to the Tennessee Titans.

Tannehill is Henry's quarterback, after all. He's not going to throw him under the bus.

But Chris Simms has no stake in the game -- and still believes the Titans would be better off with Tannehill than the six-time Super Bowl champion in 2020.

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Here's Simms on Wednesday's edition of NBC Sports PFT Live with Mike Florio:

 

"Everybody out there: You're crazy!" Simms said. "Tom Brady is not better than Ryan Tannehill right now! I'm just sorry! 

"I know Tom Brady is arguably the greatest quarterback ever, certainly the most accomplished. (He's) the man. But that doesn't mean he's the best in 2020."

Simms didn't stop there, suggesting the Titans may not have defeated the Patriots in the AFC Divisional Round if Brady was under center instead of Tannehill.

"The Titans weren't a team that had weapons galore," Simms said "They didn't have great weapons (either). We didn't really know about A.J. Brown until Ryan Tannehill got in there."

Got all that, Patriots fans?

This kind of take is nothing new from Simms, who ranked Brady as the NFL's ninth-best quarterback last summer and put Matthew Stafford ahead of the 14-time Pro Bowler at the midseason point.

He's also not wrong that Tannehill was excellent last season, leading the NFL in yards per attempt (9.6) and ranking second in touchdown percentage (7.7 percent) while going 7-3 as Tennessee's starter.

But 10 starts do not an elite quarterback make -- especially a QB who had the NFL's 2019 leading rusher (Henry) taking the heat off him.

Were Brady's numbers worse than Tannehill's in 2019? Sure. His 6.6 yards per attempt were the second-lowest of his career, while his 3.9 touchdown percentage represented his lowest rate ever.

As Patriots fans will tell you, though, Brady also helped a team with a revolving door of mediocre offensive weapons score the seventh-most points in the NFL while finishing 12-4.

All debates aside, the money could prove Brady's worth compared to Tannehill: The former may command north of $30 million in free agency, while the latter might be several million below that number.

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