Bill Belichick is getting his team ready to face an 'explosive' 1-2 punch in Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis

Mike Petraglia
September 24, 2014 - 5:07 pm
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[caption id="attachment_81160" align="alignright" width="450"]Jamaal Charles is a question mark heading into Monday's game against the Patriots. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)Jamaal Charles is a question mark heading into Monday's game against the Patriots. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)[/caption] FOXBORO -- The Chiefs were without star running back Jamaal Charles last week and they still managed to throttle the Miami Dolphins, 34-15, in South Florida. Bill Belichick was paying close attention to the back who picked up the slack. With Charles sidelined by a high ankle sprain, Knile Davis ran 32 times for 132 yards and a touchdown. "I think they'€™re different skill sets, but they do the same things with them so the same plays look different depending on who is carrying the ball," Belichick said of Charles and Davis. "Davis is strong -- they'€™re both very fast -- Davis is strong, 230 pounds, whatever he is and he breaks tackles, he'€™s got good lower body strength, hard guy to bring down. You see that on some of his kickoff returns from last year, too, where he just runs through arm tackles and all that. "Charles has good playing strength, too, but he'€™s more elusive, great quickness, acceleration. They'€™re different, but they'€™re both very good. They both can hit the homerun ball. They'€™ve both got great long speed, they have that in common, but their styles are a little bit different but they'€™re both very dangerous -- strong guys, strong runners." If Charles doesn't go, Belichick will also have to be ready for former Jets tailback Joe McKnight, who chipped in with six catches and 64 yards. There's also veteran receiver Dwayne Bowe and explosive tight end Travis Kelce. Kelce has five catches this season over 20 yards, the second-highest total of such plays in the NFL. On the season he has 10 catches for 166 yards. And feeding Kelce the ball is classic West Coast offense quarterback Alex Smith, one of the first players coach Andy Reid brought on board when he took over in 2013. Belichick was reminded Wednesday that Smith, with three TD passes and a 136.0 rating, didn't throw a pass against the Dolphins that traveled over 10 yards. "I think that'€™s part of what Andy does," Belichick said. "Kind of take what the defense gives you and if you want to play back, they'€™ll take the short passes. Those receivers and tight ends and backs are all capable of catch-and-run plays, where they take a four or five-yard pass and turn it into a 25-yard gain. "They'€™ve had a lot of explosive plays this year from backs, receivers and tight ends and the quarterback. I don'€™t think it'€™s how far you throw it; it'€™s how much you gain. They'€™re a good screen team, which that'€™s another element which you'€™re never going to see screens thrown 20 yards downfield. But those are explosive plays for them, too. They do a good job of using everybody and getting the ball around. I'€™m sure if they get the opportunity to get it downfield, we'€™ve seen them do it plenty of times with those receivers and tight ends. I think it would be stupid to challenge them to do that all day." Here are some other takeaways from Belichick on Wednesday: Q: What have you seen from Patrick Chung since he returned this season? BB: Pat'€™s been good. He'€™s contributed for us on all four downs. He'€™s obviously familiar with our system and we'€™re familiar with him. I'€™m glad that we'€™re able to get him back on the team this year. I think he'€™s contributed well on first down, third down, fourth down. I think Pat is pretty much the same player he was when he was here. He'€™s in great condition. He'€™s smart, he'€™s tough, he'€™s a very good tackler and he has versatility '€“ he can play in a lot of different situations. Q: How have you felt about Dont'€™a Hightower'€™s move to an end of the line position? BB: Dont'€™a is a very versatile player. He'€™s played multiple positions for us '€“ that'€™s one of them. He'€™s done that well. He'€™s played off the line, inside on the guard, on the tackle and played on the line on the tight ends, played down. [He] did that in college, did some sub rushing in college, played Sam. Then when [Rolando] McClain left, he moved inside and played Mike. So, he'€™s a pretty versatile player. Q: When you were scouting him initially was that something you saw him eventually stepping into or is that just how it worked out? BB: Well, we saw him as a versatile player and we'€™ve used him that. So, I would say it'€™s not really a big surprise. I think the big thing for a player like Dont'€™a is his ability to play on third down '€“ his ability to cover and rush the passer, which gives your defense a lot of flexibility. He'€™s a guy that you really want on the field on third down for the number of different things he can do. I wouldn'€™t say that'€™s always the case with linebackers like him '€“ inside linebackers. But that'€™s what makes him a really good player. He'€™s good on all downs, but he gives you a lot of versatility and can also play on fourth down for us as well. We haven'€™t used him as much in that role because of his expanded role defensively but he was a good fourth down player for us his first year and even last year at time [on] punt team. Q: The noise at Arrowhead could be a factor. How, if at all, does that affect what Tom Brady can do at the line in terms of making checks? Does it reduce the number that he can make and only make certain checks? BB: I think you have to be careful. I'€™d say in every away game there are going to be times, certain situations that it would be really hard to do that. Other times, I'€™m not saying it'€™s easy, but it'€™s doable. But there are plenty of times when it would be really hard, when the crowd really gets going or you'€™re backed up on your own one or you'€™re going in for a touchdown and in the red area and it'€™s just '€“ so, I think you have to be aware of those situations, be aware of game situations. Josh [McDaniels] is a very experienced play caller and coordinator. He can hear it, he can feel it and I don'€™t think it'€™s the type of call [where] we could run one of two or three plays depending on the look and the crowd is in that kind of frenzy, I don'€™t think that'€™s really when you want to make that call. Obviously, third down is a challenging down in Kansas City with their defense and the multiple looks they give you on the front and pressure. So, to identify those, that'€™s '€“ but third down is challenging on the road everywhere. It might be a little louder there, probably is, but it'€™s all, I don'€™t want to say the same, but pretty much you'€™re dealing with the same thing in every away game in that situation. Q: When you'€™re struggling to protect Tom Brady, does that reduce the offensive game plan? Do you have to throw some plays out because you have to get it out quicker? BB: It'€™s the same thing we'€™ve talked about after the game. We need to do everything better offensively. It'€™s not any one problem. It'€™s a number of lack of consistency issues, lack of execution. So, we have to do a better job on everything. Q: What'€™s the biggest challenge that their defensive front presents to you this week and how much more important is it for Tom Brady to get the ball out quick? BB: The challenge is for our offense. We have 11 guys playing out there so it will be a challenge at every positon. They have a good front. They'€™re big inside; they'€™re fast on the edge. They'€™ve got good depth. We'€™re going to have to block all of them. It will be a challenge for every guy. It will be a challenge for our receivers to get open, for our running backs to find holes and space in the running game. We'€™re going to have to do a good job with 11 guys. Coaching staff, we'€™re all going to have to do a good job. It'€™s a good defense. They have a lot of good players. Q: What are the advantages and disadvantages of mixing personnel groups on offense? BB: Well, it involves all your players. It creates potentially different matchups with the defense depending on how they want to do it. I'€™d say there'€™s an element of keeping the defense off balance. If you have the depth of your players to be able to stay out there and play every down, then there'€™s an advantage to doing that in terms of consistency, but sometimes that'€™s not really an option. Sometimes, for whatever reason, your players just aren'€™t able to play every single snap in every situation. Situationally, there are some advantages to getting people in the game to do the things that you think they do well in those situations and vice versa. Q: How has Shane Vereen progressed over the years? What have you seen in his game as far as progression? BB: One of the big things with Shane has just been his ability to get on the field. When he'€™s been on the field, he'€™s been productive for us. Even going back to the Kansas City game his rookie year, which was a real good game for him, but one of the few games that he was healthy for that year. I don'€™t think really there'€™s ever been a question about his skill set or his ability to be productive and make plays. But, unfortunately, there'€™s been times when he just hasn'€™t been able to be out there for other reasons, not performance, but just other things he was dealing with. Like every young player, the progression through the passing game is the hardest thing, no matter what the position is. Btu he'€™s done that. He did that well at Cal. I don'€™t think that was a big curve for him, but it'€™s certainly a curve for every player. But he'€™s a smart, dependable guy that'€™s been a productive player for us when he'€™s been on the field. I think that'€™s the key, is the consistency and him keeping out there. He trains hard, he works hard. I think he'€™s done everything he can to ensure that. I think that'€™s shown up as well the last couple years. He'€™s had good production and he'€™s been more consistent and been able to be on the field more.