NASHVILLE, Tenn. — There will not be one other sport this 12 months with as a lot teaching knowledge and firepower on reverse sidelines as when New England Patriots head coach Invoice Belichick squares off towards Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau on Saturday.
“Effectively, we’re each skilled coaches. Let’s put it that means,” LeBeau chuckled, whereas avoiding the plain age reference. “As soon as we stroll on that discipline Saturday, we cannot know who the hell is on the opposite aspect of the sphere.”
“Skilled” does appear extra applicable for coaches who’ve as a lot success as Belichick, 65, and LeBeau, 80. Every showered the opposite in reward, but it surely was notably noticeable what the usually reserved Belichick needed to say.
“I’ve nice respect for Coach LeBeau. He’s a fantastic individual, contemplate him an excellent good friend,” Belichick stated. “I had a chance to spend a while with him and he’s such a fantastic individual, very humble man that achieved a lot however he’s very modest about it.”
Their Steelers-Patriots battles might have been contentious, however their relationship with each other is not.
“I discovered an terrible lot from watching him, watching his defenses and watching the way in which that he does issues. Strategies and changes and schematics and so forth,” Belichick stated. “He’s one of many nice coaches to ever stroll the sidelines on this league. He does an amazing job.”
LeBeau responded: “[I’m] humbled as a result of there’s not very many coaches which have the report that Coach Belichick’s received. In reality, he is in all probability closing in on the perfect ever.”
“[He] actually revolutionized the sport and his system has actually withstood the take a look at of time,” Belichick countered.
These classes have turned out to be notably efficient, given Belichick’s 6-Three report towards LeBeau since 2004 (a type of losses got here with Matt Cassel beginning in 2008 for New England).
That is noteworthy, however it could be extra fascinating if the Patriots coach did not have lopsided data towards practically each NFL coach he is confronted over time.
The data will not imply a lot Saturday if LeBeau can cook dinner up a scheme to beat the Patriots. Titans linebacker Derrick Morgan, who has to reveal his matchup benefit over Patriots proper sort out Cameron Fleming, anticipates a “chess match” between LeBeau and Belichick.
“He has all of the expertise on the earth. He has in all probability been in 50 playoff video games, give or take, however we now have a whole lot of confidence in him that he’s going to place us in the suitable place,” Morgan stated. “I like our possibilities with Dick. I like our guys.”
The important thing for the Titans’ protection Saturday might be making Tom Brady and the Patriots’ offense uncomfortable. The highway map, if there even is a real path, to beat the Patriots depends upon pressuring Brady, notably up the center (hey, Jurrell Casey), and enjoying stout man-to-man protection on the skin.
Brady seemed abnormal, by his requirements, in December, finishing 61 % of his passes for a median of 240 passing yards a sport. He had six touchdowns to 5 interceptions in December. Brady’s latest droop was possible impacted by his Achilles damage, which may very well be aggravated by the climate Saturday.
However the Titans should not rely on that. They need to anticipate No. 12 to be the nice QB he is proven himself to be over time.
LeBeau’s system developed from zone to extra man as he gained belief in cornerbacks Logan Ryan, Adoree’ Jackson and Tye Smith to play much more man protection through the second half of the season. They will all want one in every of their greatest performances of the 12 months towards Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan and Danny Amendola as a result of the Titans will possible deploy double protection all sport towards tight finish Rob Gronkowski.
Jackson, who’s having a robust rookie season, loves that LeBeau trusts him to play and he is targeted on taking away the massive play from Cooks.
A mix of the protection linebacker (Jayon Brown or Avery Williamson) and the close to security (usually Johnathan Cyprien) might be tasked with limiting Gronkowski.
LeBeau’s protection has struggled towards receiving backs this season (hey, Dion Lewis) and elite tight ends like Kansas Metropolis’s Travis Kelce final week. However the Titans acknowledge that and can possible do extra to fight these weaknesses.
“It’s going to be a battle of two of the neatest coaches within the NFL. I am excited,” linebacker Wesley Woodyard stated. “I am glad we received Coach LeBeau on our aspect.”