Bill Belichick Loves Antonio Brown; He’s Basically Said As Much For Years


Sep 9, 2019

Bill Belichick is a liar.

The New England Patriots head coach in a conference call with reporters Monday predictably was asked about Antonio Brown, the all-everything receiver the Patriots reportedly are signing.

“We have no official transaction so I wouldn’t comment on any player that’s not on our team,” Belichick said, his nose presumably extending by the word.

Belichick’s response, predictable as it may have been, also was a fib.

We get it. Belichick will never comment on a personnel move until it’s official, and even once that happens, he’ll typically speak in generality and redirect all questions about specific players into comments about the team.

All that makes sense. It’s part of the Belichick playbook. But the part about him not commenting on “any player that’s not (on the Patriots)?” That’s not exactly true.

In fact, we already know all we need to know about how Belichick feels about Brown — he’s told us and shown us throughout Brown’s career.

Belichick already gave the full Brown scouting report back in 2015 after the wideout went off for 133 yards on nine catches and a touchdown in the Steelers’ 28-21 opening-night loss to the Patriots.

“It won’t get much tougher than that,” Belichick conceded. “Antonio is really a good player that’s good in the deep part of the field, he’s good on catch and run plays – the screens they try to throw to him and the under routes and stuff like that and the intermediate routes. He ran a real good route on a double move. I think it was a good battle.”

Brown’s greatness has forced Belichick to get creative over the years. The coaching mastermind consistently changes his looks in attempts to slow Brown, throwing double-coverage at the four-time All-Pro or using his own All-Pros (Stephon Gilmore) in one-on-one coverage.

“(He’s) very difficult,” Belichick said at a midweek press conference in 2016. “He’s got a tremendous skill set, very quick. He almost always can create separation in his route. He’s a very good technique route-runner so he does a great job of setting up routes. He does a really good job of getting on top of the (defensive backs) almost stepping on the toes before he goes into his route so they can’t get any kind of — they can’t really anticipate it. He does a great job of stacking the defenders where he gets a step on the defender then he kind of cuts him off so that the defenders like a full man behind him so he can use his body to protect the ball on the deep balls. He’s hard to jam on the line because of his great quickness and then as I said, when he gets that half a step on the defender, not that he necessarily outruns everybody on the field, but once he moves in front of them and stacks them then he is on top of them.”

There’s more — a lot more.

“The skills with the ball in his hand as a runner are exceptional,” Belichick continued. “You see that on the punt returns. You see it on a lot of those under routes, catch-and-run plays, so you don’t want to back off of him and let him catch it and break a tackle or if you get up on him he runs behind you. That’s a problem and he’s a good intermediate route runner, too; in-cuts, comebacks, curls, things like that. He has great quickness coming out of cuts so he’s very, very hard to cover. And he’s seen a lot of double-coverage, too. I don’t think that really bothers him either. He knows how to beat that. When you double him I mean at some point he attacks one guy so it really becomes single coverage. He takes the other guy out of it and then he beats that guy. So he’s tough. He’s really tough.”

Man, tell us how you really feel.

Belichick was far more succinct a year later when asked about what makes Brown so “special.”

“Everything. Just make a list. He’s on all of it,” Belichick quipped.

In the lead-up to the 2018 Patriots-Steelers showdown in Pittsburgh, Belichick spoke glowingly of Brown and former running buddy JuJu Smith-Schuster, not doubling, but tripling down on their collective talent.

“They’ve got a lot of other guys, too, but I mean, these two receivers are elite — elite, elite.”

Three elites. Three!

Belichick also went on and on when talking with Scott Zolak about what makes the duo so special.

(Starting at the 2:00 mark.)

Of course, it’s not just the flowery plaudits that express Belichick’s love for Brown. If money talks, and expressions speak louder than words, Belichick and the Patriots spoke their loudest this weekend by reportedly giving Brown $15 million — $9 million of which is guaranteed despite the fact he just looney-d himself out of Oakland.

But don’t be surprised if Belichick keeps quiet on Brown moving forward, even after the deal is official. He’s said and done all he could say already anyway.

New England Patriots wide receiver Antonio Brown
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