Patriots

Bill Belichick admits this part of Lamar Jackson's skill set is 'a big problem' for defenses

Bill Belichick admits this part of Lamar Jackson's skill set is 'a big problem' for defenses

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is one of the toughest players for opposing coaches to prepare for because he has a special ability to make big plays throwing the football and by running with it.

Jackson is completing 63.3 percent of his passes for 1,650 yards with 11 touchdowns and five interceptions through five games. His real impact, however, has come on the ground. The second-year QB ranks 10th in the league (among all players, not just quarterbacks) with 576 rushing yards. He's also tallied three rushing touchdowns, while averaging an impressive 6.9 yards per carry.

The New England Patriots will try to slow down Jackson in Week 9 when they go on the road for a Sunday night matchup with the Ravens.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, speaking on a media conference call Monday, talked about how Jackson's speed is a huge problem for defenses.

"Yeah, he's very fast and he's definitely a hard guy to handle," Belichick said. "That's definitely a problem. He's fast and that's really a big problem. A lot of times he just outruns people. I mean, he's got good moves, too. I'm not saying that, but a lot of times he just outruns people with his speed.

"Catching him is an issue, especially when he keeps the ball. A lot of times he's running against a defensive end, and the ends just aren't fast enough. They have him but they don't have him. He's a problem. He's definitely a problem. He leads the team in rushing, or he did. Maybe he doesn't anymore, but he and (Mark) Ingram are right kind of there together, so it's definitely a challenge."

Jackson and the Ravens had a Week 8 bye, and their previous two games painted a great picture of his awesome rushing abilities.

The 22-year-old quarterback consistently tormented a good Seattle Seahawks defense in Week 7 with 116 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries. He also picked up 152 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries versus the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 6. Jackson had at least one run of 30-plus yards in each of these games, and the Ravens won both of them to secure a firm grip on first place in the AFC North division.

The Patriots' run defense has been just OK this season, giving 4.6 yards per carry, which ranks 21st in the league. New England will have its hands full with Jackson on Sunday because he's unlike any offensive player this Patriots defense has played all year.

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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.

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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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