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Wednesday, January 15, 2014
What we learned from coaches' calls

By Mike Reiss

Some leftovers from Tuesday's weekly conference calls with head coach Bill Belichick, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia:

1. Manning's cadence and neutral zone infractions: The Chargers had five neutral zone zone infractions in their divisional round loss to the Broncos, in part because of Peyton Manning's hard cadence. The Patriots were penalized twice during the regular season for neutral zone infrctions and when the topic was brought up to Patricia, he liked it. "It’s an excellent point," he said to Patriots radio play-by-play man Bob Socci. "I think that is certainly a hidden stat in the game. That is certainly a big deal to us. He was obviously able to get some line of scrimmage penalties, which we always talk about. We never want to give up free yardage. Certainly with a guy like Peyton Manning who has such a variation of cadences that he uses,  and obviously at home where he can use all of them because of the crowd noise situation, you have to be very aware on top of that. Obviously the key for us is always going to be the ball. That triggers all of the play, offense and defense. That is the key point. It is extremely difficult in a game where you are ready to go, you are trying to be aggressive, you are trying to attack the man in front of you and that hard count comes through or that exaggerated cadence comes through and he gets them. He is obviously one of the best quarterbacks that’s played the game and certainly that is a part of his repertoire, being able to change up his voice inflection and the cadence and use a multitude of different ways to trigger the play to start. With that is also trying to draw the defense offside. We will absolutely have to make sure that he doesn’t get us on that."

2. McDaniels says he'll be back in 2014: After taking his name out of the mix for the Cleveland Browns' head coaching vacancy, McDaniels was asked if that means he'll definitely be back in 2014. "I’ll definitely be here," he said. "I think all it means is that, you know, I made the decision that this is the right time for me to be here. I’m really happy here; I’ve said that numerous times. There’s not really much else to it. You know it’s a process you go through sometimes and you ultimately have to make choices based on what’s best for you and your family. That’s what I try to do."

3. Why Talib's word on Blount carried meaning to Belichick: Asked about what type of evaluation the team had of running back LeGarrette Blount coming out of college,  Belichick went into detail about how it's much easier to evaluate a player like Blount based on his NFL body of work than what he did in college. Then he explained why cornerback Aqib Talib's thoughts on Blount had such an impact. "One of the things that was very influential to me was Aqib’s evaluation of LeGarrette as a person, as a teammate, as a competitive football player and his skill set," he relayed. "When you have a guy who is with another player day after day, year after year, competing against him on the field and he gives you an honest evaluation and you trust that player and his evaluation, who knows better than him? Even what you see on film it’s nice and it’s what you have to work with and it’s valuable but it’s not nearly as valuable as somebody who is in the day to day competitive situation with another person. I think that was something that I didn’t really have a lot of, didn’t really have a good way to measure or find out but Aqib cleared that up for me in a very positive way."

4. Memories of Brady as the scout-team QB: Belichick was asked about players on the back end of the roster and he mentioned that they have to maximize every repetition they get in practice, whether it's running the team's plays or as part of the scout team. "A good player that works hard with those opportunities and we’ve seen many of them along the way, going all the way back to [Tom] Brady," Belichick said. "I’d put him number one on that when he was the scout team quarterback didn’t play in 2000 and all that, that’s how you become a better football player. You take advantage of those opportunities and then you take advantage of the opportunities that you get when we run our plays and then you take advantage of those opportunities in game situations and that’s how you can start to develop a niche and a role."