EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 8, 2012

Another first round KO for Belichick

On Pro Football Hector Longo
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — FOXBORO — Two of the dumbest, diverging statements about Bill Belichick flickered through the radio waves this week.

First, there was the assertion from the Sporting News and its poll of current NFL players that Belichick was the No. 2 “most overrated” coach in the NFL.

Then, there was the typical Boston sports reaction, noting that he is the best coach in the game.

I find both statements ridiculous. It might be physically impossible to actually overrate Belichick and what he’s accomplished here.

But, the best in the game right now? Not when Tom Coughlin is still working the sidelines down at MetLife Stadium.

Why is coaching such an issue right now?

The Patriots, at 5-3, enter Sunday’s tilt coming off the bye week.

Belichick vs. Buffalo’s Chan Gailey on any week remains a slam dunk. With the Pats coming off the bye? You’re talking a carving worth tuning into Sunday here at Gillette Stadium.

Gailey, per usual, sounds like his usual lamb self, being led to another Belichick slaughter.

“The majority of this team has been here for less than three years so they do not know (the history),” said Gailey, who has to know that with the Pats Belichick has gone 22-3 vs. the Bills and their fearless leaders like Gailey, Dick Jauron, Wade Phillips and Mike Mularkey. “They just know that they have a big job in front of them as far as going in there and winning a tough game on the road. We have been able to win on the road a couple of times this year, so that is not something that is new to us—being able to go and try to win on the road. We played pretty good for the first quarter last year, so if you can turn that into three quarters you give yourself a chance.”

Clearly, on paper, like the Jets, I’d be willing to trade the talent on the rosters straight up.

Look at this offense with two premier backs in C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson, a marquee receiver in Stevie Johnson and a capable — well-paid — QB in Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Defensively, do the Pats have a playmaker like Mario Williams? They certainly don’t have defensive backs in the same stratosphere as Aaron Williams or Jairus Byrd.

The huge separator is again the coach.

Five things to watch out of the bye

1. New England’s second half is pretty cut-and-dry. Put the Bills, at 3-5, out of their misery today with essentially a four-game lead over Gailey’s gang (3 plus the tie-breaker head to head).

After that, you see the suddenly dangerous Colts, then opportunities to close down on the division by December 2 with trips to the Jets and Miami.

With the division locked up, it’s two tests, San Francisco and Houston, and two probably inconsequential weeks with Miami and Jacksonville to close it.

2. I’m watching the Aaron Hernandez ankle situation closely. He should be, with the three weeks off, near 100 percent. This offense needs him badly.

3. Defensively, it’s time for Dont’a Hightower to step it up. The “other” first-round pick has grown quiet since a leg injury slowed him earlier. This defense needs a lift. He can provide it.

4. All eyes will be on Gisele Bundchen’s belly and when she gives birth to her and Tom Brady’s second child. Discussion about Brady missing the game for the birth has surfaced. If the medical world has any say, that child won’t come into this world between noon and 5 on Sunday.

5. One more week until help arrives in the secondary in the form of suspended Aqib Talib.