Patriots

Why Patriots have 'all' of Bengals' special teams calls, and vice versa

Why Patriots have 'all' of Bengals' special teams calls, and vice versa

FOXBORO -- The Cincinnati Bengals won't need to do much advance scouting to prepare for the New England Patriots' special teams units Sunday.

That's because the Bengals' special teams coordinator is Darrin Simmons, who spent a total of five seasons as a special teams assistant to Scott O'Brien on the Baltimore Ravens (1998) and Carolina Panthers (1999-2002).

O'Brien later spent six seasons as Bill Belichick's special teams coach in New England from 2009 to 2014, winning a Super Bowl with the Patriots in his final year.

That's a lot of dot-connecting, though: The Bengals having a former assistant of a former Patriots assistant on staff won't impact Sunday's special teams play that much ... right?

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick thinks otherwise.

"It's like an intrasquad scrimmage," Belichick said Friday at his press conference. "They have all our calls, we have all their calls."

Belichick admitting the Patriots will have "all their calls" will draw the inevitable "Spygate 2.0" jokes in light of the NFL investigating New England for filming Cincinnati's sideline last weekend.

The roots of special teams coaching trees run deep, though. Belichick noted Simmons runs Cincinnati's special teams in a very similar manner to New England, where Joe Judge has been special teams coordinator since O'Brien retired following the 2014 season.

"The way they handle situations is fundamentally the way we would handle them," Belichick added. 

"Not that we would always do it the same way. You might have two or three options, but you would see similar strategic positioning or strategy that either we would use or have used."

"Sometimes it feels like you're looking at yourself on film," Patriots special teamer and co-captain Matthew Slater said Friday. "... It's not Scotty to a tee, but there are some similarities."

O'Brien apparently taught Simmons well: Despite their 1-12 record, the Bengals boast the No. 1 special teams unit in the NFL based on Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA), per FootballOutsiders.com.

The Patriots, who have gone through four different kickers in 2019, are distant 19th in special teams DVOA.

As strange as it sounds, 10-3 New England might be satisfied to battle the Bengals' special teams unit to a stalemate Sunday in Cincinnati.

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Darrelle Revis rips Richard Sherman on Twitter, prompting this response from 49ers CB

Darrelle Revis rips Richard Sherman on Twitter, prompting this response from 49ers CB

Former New England Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis didn't hold back on Twitter during Sunday's NFC Championship Game between the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers.

Revis ripped Richard Sherman in a tweet that, among other things, criticized the 49ers cornerback for staying on one side of the field and hiding in zone coverage.

Sherman got the last laugh, however. He kept Packers wide receiver Davante Adams out of the end zone and intercepted Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers late in the fourth quarter. The turnover created a celebratory scene at Levi's Stadium as the 49ers sealed a 37-20 victory to advance to Super Bowl LIV.

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Sherman isn't afraid to speak his mind on Twitter, so it wasn't surprising that he responded to Revis' criticism. 

Revis wasn't done tweeting, though. He clarified his original comments, and also responded to Sherman's claim that Revis' ninth year "looked a lot different."

Revis is right about the upcoming Super Bowl matchup. The Kansas City Chiefs have a talented group of pass-catchers headlined by speedy wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman, and tight end Travis Kelce. These guys all are difficult to cover, particularly Hill, who probably is the fastest player in the league. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes presents a myriad of problems for opposing defenses on his own, too.

Sherman took one more shot at Revis before tweeting about other things after San Francisco's win.

What do the stats say?

Well, Revis has three interceptions in 10 playoff games, while Sherman has four in 14 career postseason games. Each of these defensive backs has one Super Bowl ring, and Revis' came against Sherman when the Patriots beat the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX. Maybe that game is where some of the tension between these future Hall of Famers stems from.

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Tom Brady: 'Whatever the future may bring, I will embrace it with open arms'

Tom Brady: 'Whatever the future may bring, I will embrace it with open arms'

The New England Patriots are facing a lot of uncertainty this offseason as Tom Brady will be an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career.

At this point in time, it's unclear what he will be doing. And Brady isn't giving any hints ahead of his mid-March decision.

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Brady recently addressed his future in an interview on Westwood One radio and said that he will embrace the future "with open arms."

"I am open-minded about the process and at the same time I love playing football and want to continue to play and do a great job," Brady said. "I am looking to what is ahead. Whatever the future may bring, I will embrace it with open arms."

Patriots fans won't be encouraged by this seemingly non-committal answer, as it seems that there is a legitimate chance Brady will leave. This is especially true considering the rumors that Brady is planning on hearing pitches from opposing teams this offseason.

Still, there's a chance that Brady returns to Foxboro. But as long as he keeps his preferences close to the vest, there will be uncertainty surrounding the Patriots starting quarterback position.