Bill Belichick non-committal on Antonio Brown playing Sunday in Miami

Andy Hart
September 13, 2019 - 4:59 pm
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Antonio Brown has officially been a Patriot since Monday.

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He’s been on the practice field since Wednesday, meaning he has three days of work in New England with his new teammates, most notably quarterback Tom Brady.

And Friday afternoon it was reported by multiple sources that the NFL will not place Brown on the Commissioner’s exempt list in the wake of the civil lawsuit filed on Tuesday in Florida alleging that the receiver sexually assaulted and raped a former trainer.

Brown’s playing status, for now, is up to the Patriots.

So, will he play Sunday afternoon in Miami against the Dolphins?

“We'll do what's best for the team,” Bill Belichick said during his Friday morning press conference at Gillette Stadium pulling out his classic catch-all catchphrase.

A smart follow-up wondered if it would be best for the team for Brown to play in Miami.

“Well, we're determining that. I'm not going to hand out a copy of the game plan here,” Belichick said. “We'll do what we think is best for the team.”

Belichick then explained what he’s seen from Brown this week and the process the receiver is undergoing trying to learn the Patriots offense on the fly.

“Long way to go. Obviously, he's not familiar with our offense,” Belichick said. “The systems that he's been in have been quite different. Jon [Gruden] does the West Coast offense, which there's very little carryover from their system to our system. Not bad or good – just we've had players before. It's just not all going to carry over, and a similar thing in Pittsburgh. You know, he's working hard to pick it up, and we're working hard to get it to him. Same thing with [Marshall] Newhouse, other guys that have come in new to the team. We've had several new offensive linemen here over the last couple weeks, so that's just part of the process. We try to get him caught up to speed as quickly as you can. It's too much ground to make up in a few days, but we do the best we can and we'll see how it goes.”

Belichick went on to detail that the differences Brown is dealing with are both in terms of offensive concepts and terminology.

“Everywhere. I mean, the systems aren't built from the same tree that branches,” Belichick said. “I mean, there’s just formations, play calling, protections, routes. So, it's associating one word with a word that you know, and now a new word and trying to associate those two. But, they might be the same, they might not quite be the same. There could be subtle differences based on different coverages or leverage that the defender plays, how we would run those routes. So, I mean, there's a lot of variation there.

“It is what it is. It's not good or bad, it's just you take each player, you take each situation, and you learn as much as you can about what that player knows, what he's familiar with, what you do and try to merge the two together. It's called teaching.”

In the end if Belichick and his staff, including offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, have to decide if Brown can offer up enough positives after just a few days in the system to at least get on the field in certain personnel packages or for certain plays. Because with a talent like Brown, even a limited number of snaps could have a pretty big impact. The Patriots don’t want to disrupt the offense for Brown, but also want to utilize his skills if possible.

“That's the question. That's the question we're asking ourselves, too,” Belichick admitted. “So, you go through the week like we've done. We've done different things. Now as we get to Friday, Saturday, we'll decide what things we feel comfortable with. We may eliminate some of the things that we've done and concentrate on a certain group. Whether that's five plays, 20 plays, I don't know. We'll have to decide that. But, yeah, certainly you don't want any new player, whether it be a tackle, a receiver, whatever the guy is, making a mistake, missing a block, making a route adjustment that's not the right one and then turning the ball over or having a big play against you.

“So, you have to try and balance what you ask a player to do with what you think is going to happen. Sometimes that works out, but you know, over the course of time, week after week after week, it'll build. It'll get better. We'll have better execution, better confidence, and that goes for any new player. We had that last year; we’ll have it this year. I can see we're already going to have it at multiple positions, but which plays, how many, that's a good question. That's a good question.”

A question that will be answered for Brown and the Patriots Sunday afternoon in Miami.

Related: Josh Gordon talks up ‘the great Antonio Brown’