This week’s interview with Bill Belichick by Glenn Ordway, Lou Merloni and Christian Fauria was the best one yet.
Some failed humor regarding nicknames made for some outstanding awkward silence, but Bill also had some interesting stuff to say regarding Sunday’s 36-20 win over the Las Vegas Raiders.
This week the running game will be absolutely critical if the Patriots have any shot to hang with the high powered Chiefs offense. So, the 250 yards on the ground against the Raiders from Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead, JJ Taylor and Cam Newton was a good sign heading into this coming weekend. Ordway opened the show asking Bill about the running game.
“We had pretty good blocking and a lot of outstanding running,” Belichick said. “Our backs made a lot of yards with the ball in their hands breaking tackles and we had some extra blocks downfield from our receivers. Great team effort and a great game plan designed by Josh and well executed by Cam and the offensive line and the backs did an excellent job running with the ball.”
Fauria pointed out an important blitz pick up from Sony Michel that probably went unnoticed by many fans, and Bill elaborated on how valuable pass protection is for all the backs on top of their running duties, especially in this offense.
“As you know Christian – that’s emphasized a lot here,” said Belichick. “Ivan (Fiers) and Troy (Brown) really work hard on the blitz pickup. It’s not just knowing who to block it’s blocking them and we’ve seen hat here for the past couple of weeks now between (Jamal) Adams last week and (Johnathan) Abram blitzed a lot this week and they mixed (Erik) Harris in a little bit, so, it’s definitely a big part of the job.”
Ordway brought up how the Raiders racked up 103 yards of offense in the first quarter but only had a three point lead. The Pats found ways to put the Raiders in third-and-long in the second quarter and the New England started to get their collective feet under them and it turned the game. Belichick talked at length about how important defense on first down is.
“We talked a lot about this going into the game, that first down was going to have a lot to do with third down,” he said. “When we were able to have success defensively on first down, then second down to even get them to third down, then we hd success. The Raiders did a good job on early down and picked up some first downs on first and second down.
“We’ve just got to continue to work in that situation, again, that’s the best down for the offense because they can really do anything they’ve got two more downs so they can run, pass gadget plays, they can do whatever they want. It’s a hard down to defend defensively, but whoever gains the advantage on first down has the edge on second and third down.”
The yikes moments in the interview followed as Christian tried to go the ripped hoodie question route and then Lou followed with a nickname question after Cam had said earlier in the morning on The Greg Hill Show that his nickname for coach was “Dollar, Dollar, Bill ya’ll.” Belichick was having none of it though, and once things returned to football the awkwardness wasn’t done.
Belichick said he had to do a better job of coaching and when Ordway pushed him on what exactly he meant by it, Bill seemed annoyed.
“We had to use our timeouts when there were problems, so, I’ve got to do a better job and we’ve got to be able to play without using our timeouts,” he muttered.
The awkwardness finally faded as Fauria brought up the shuffling offensive line and how effective they were, in particular Michael Onwenu. Belichick was quite complimentary of all the rotating pieces.
“I thought the whole line played very competitively,” he said. “Hopefully we can continue to build on that. Joe (Thuney) did a great job stepping in for David (Andrews) at center and gave us a lot of leadership there on the interior line that we lost with Andrews out. That’s what we need to do.”
Merloni followed with a great question about some of the younger guys stepping into leadership roles after so many opt-outs before the season began, asking Bill how much he’s enjoyed watching guys take over the roles naturally.
“That’s the way it is every year,” he said. “Each team has its own personality and different set of players. Players change teams every yer, new guys come on and other players go off for one reason or another, so, sometimes, there’s more of that than others, but, each year is. Chemistry is different, communication is different, the makeup is different and that’s part of being a team.
“You start somewhere early in the season or in training camp , OTA’s whatever it happens to be and then a certain communication line is developed and hopefully you build on it as the season goes along. That’s what we did last season, it’s what we’ve done in the past and I’m sure it’s what we’ll do every year.”
OMF and coach Belichick talked briefly about Cam’s play and a couple other things before wrapping up with the Mercedes Benz Question of the week. Fauria had a good one that got Bill engaged, which isn’t always easy. The question was about who some of the biggest personalities he coached were. Lawrence Taylor was the obvious one.
“Did you exclude yourself from this Christian?” Bill said slyly. “I’d put Vrabel and Light up there, I’d put those three guys up there.”