Buck Reising, host of Technically Foul and The Final Drive shares news and notes from the pre-game conference call between New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick and the Nashville media.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Titans escaped Wild Card Weekend with a 22-21 victory in Kansas City against the Chiefs. It was the franchise’s first postseason appearance since 2008 and the first playoff win since 2004.
Their reward? A trip to Foxboro to take on the top-seeded New England Patriots in the divisional round.
Pats coach Bill Belichick took some time out of his preparation to discuss the game with the Nashville media on a conference call this week. Here is what he had to say:
THE LEGEND OF LeBEAU
- Tennessee defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau’s tenure in the NFL has been well-documented over the course of his distinguished career. This is his 59th consecutive NFL season, between playing and coaching; he celebrated his 80th birthday the night before the Titans season opener at home against the Oakland Raiders to kick off the 2017-2018 campaign. Asked about the octogenarian whose defense quarterback Tom Brady will face Sunday, Belichick was quick to say it’s not a match-up he nor his team look forward to.
- “I wouldn’t use that word, no,” responded Belichick when asked if he enjoys playing against LeBeau defenses. “It’s very challenging. Coach LeBeau is a great coach, he does a tremendous job, (he) has for his entire illustrious career as a player and as a coach. Really revolutionized the game and his system has certainly withstood the test of time. Had another productive year this year, they led the league in run defense basically the last two years. Fewest big plays given up and a number of different areas they stand out in. He’s a great coach, they have a great scheme with good players. They’ll be a big challenge for our offense. I have great respect for Coach LeBeau. He’s a great person, consider him a good friend. I had an opportunity to spend some time with him and he’s such a great person, very humble guy that accomplished so much but he’s very modest about it. I learn an awful lot from watching him, watching his defenses and watching the way that he does things. Techniques and adjustments and schematics and so forth. He’s one of the great coaches to ever walk the sidelines in this league. He does a tremendous job.”
Despite the obvious reverence Belichick has for LeBeau, the innovative coordinator has had few answers for Belichick and Brady. As WEEI’s John Tomase points out, Brady and New England are 6-2 against LeBeau, including the playoffs. Against LeBeau-coached defenses, Brady has thrown for 2,496 yards, 19 touchdowns vs. only three interceptions, a completion percentage of 68 and has a quarterback rating of 110.9. LeBeau has been with Tennessee since 2015.
WHY CAN’T WE BE FRIENDS?
- Titans general manager Jon Robinson was a member of the Patriots organization for 12 years prior to coming to Tennessee in 2016. In his last five years in New England, Robinson served as the director of college scouting and earned the respect of Belichick during his time there.
- “Jon (Robinson) does a good job, he did a great job for me,” said Belichick of Robinson. “(He) had a big impact in helping us build our program. I like Jon, I think he does a great job. I hope he doesn’t do well this week, but I’m always pulling for Jon otherwise.”
- Robinson joined the Patriots as an area scout in 2002. He then spent two years as a regional scout, before being promoted to assistant director of college scouting in 2008 then director in 2009. Robinson was a member of the Patriots organization when the franchise won 10 division titles, four conference titles and two Super Bowls (2003, 2004). Robinson also contributed heavily to the scouting of players who would win the 2015 Super Bowl, but he had moved on to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before that campaign came to fruition.
MARIOTA & CO.
- Tennessee set a franchise single-game postseason record with it’s 202 rushing yards Saturday in Kansas City. Running back Derrick Henry hard a career day as well, using his 23 carries to accumulate 156 of those yards on the ground but many of the crucial plays in the contest were made by quarterback Marcus Mariota who contributed an additional 46 yards on his eight carries.
- “They have a lot weapons,” Belichick said when asked about the threat of Mariota running the ball. “You can’t play the Titans and just say, ‘We’re going to do one thing.’ They have too many – quarterback, running backs, tight ends, receivers, offensive line. They just have too many good areas, too many good players, too many things they do well and they’re well-coached. You have to do a good job in team defense, everybody has got to do a good job. You can’t stop one thing. That won’t be enough.”
- Mariota’s running abilities were not his only skills showcased in last week’s win. The Oregon product completed 19-of-31 passes for 205 yards, two touchdowns and an interception against the Chiefs. He caught a batted pass to himself for six yards that he took to the end zone for the first Titans touchdown of the game. In NFL history, including both regular season and the playoffs , it marked only the second time a quarterback had thrown a touchdown pass to himself (Brad Johnson, 1997).