Bill Belichick met with the media for the final time ahead of Sunday’s AFC Championship Game between the Patriots and Jacksonville Jaguars, and the status of Tom Brady’s injured right hand was the No. 1 topic of the morning.
But not surprisingly, Belichick wasn’t interested in providing much more information on what has become a huge factor in Sunday’s game.
“We gave out the injury report yesterday and we'll update it today,” he said when asked if there was any update on the situation.
Asked for his level of concern about Brady being able to perform against the Jags, Belichick wasn’t any more forthcoming. “I don’t know. We’ll see,” the coach concluded.
Could Brady be a game-time decision? “Today is Friday.”
Belichick also didn’t offer anything when asked how Brady’s lost practice time has affected preparations, but did offer support for backup Brian Hoyer.
“Brian does a great job for us,” Belichick said. “Works hard. Practices hard.”
So, not much to add on Brady’s situation, but many reports have indicated the quarterback intends to play. How well he is able to perform remains to be seen.
Belichick touched on a number of non-Brady elements during his press conference, some of which included Patrick Chung’s versatility, the Jags talented defensive front and Jacksonville’s strong special teams.
*Interchangeable Pat – *The Patriots placed corner Jonathan Jones on IR earlier in the week, likely meaning that Johnson Bademosi will be active against the Jags after serving as a healthy scratch in the divisional round win over the Titans. Bademosi has some corner experience and Belichick chose not to add another corner to the roster.
With regard to that decision, Belichick was asked if Chung’s versatility played a role.
“I’ve talked about Chung a lot,” Belichick said. “The guy is a really good football player. He’s one of the best players in the league, one of the best players on our team. He does a lot of things very well and has done them that way for a long time. We’re lucky we have him. He’s an outstanding player in all the things that he does. We put a lot on him, and he always comes through.”
Campbell in the mix – It’s no secret that the Jags defensive line is outstanding and Calais Campbell has been a huge part of that. Belichick took some time to talk about Campbell, as well as Jacksonville’s approach up front.
“[Campbell] has 14.5 sacks. Let’s start with that,” the coach began. “Yeah, he’s good at everything. He’s long, he’s strong, he’s powerful, he’s quick, he’s very instinctive, he’s a smart player, uses his hands well, and he’s one of the best defensive linemen in the league.
“Their base defense is an over-under defense. So, if they’re over, then they’re over the tight end. If you put the tight end on the right, then they’re over to the right. If you put the tight end to the left, then they’re over to the left. If they play an under defense, then if you put the tight end to the right, then they’re under to the left. If you put the tight end to the left, they’re under to the right.
“Third down is a little bit different. They have some third-down variations. Campbell is more of an inside rusher on third down when [Dante] Fowler comes in the game, so that is what it is. But, on their base defense, they’re an over-under defense that flips sides based on your tight end location and their call.”
Special attention – *Finally, Belichick was asked about special teams coach *Joe DeCamillis and what stands out about his approach to the kicking game. He took it as an opportunity to continue his praise of the Jaguars in general.
“Good at everything. Good return game. [Jaydon] Mickens, [Corey] Grant – really explosive players,” he said. “Good coverage team. They do a lot of directional kicking, put a lot of pressure on the ball handling, good rush team – field goal and punt rushes. Good situational football team – like the onside kick they had against San Francisco, plays like that – well-executed, end of the game plays.
“Well-coached, got a lot of good players. They’re big – big on special teams. They have a lot of big, physical type players. A few speed guys, but they have some size, more than most teams do, I’d say, in the kicking game. They’re well-coached and they have a lot of explosive players. They’ve had a lot of production. They’re aggressive – fake punts, onside kicks, plays like that. Yeah, got to be alert.”