Bill Belichick Denies Comparing Rhamondre Stevenson To Tom Brady

But he did liken the running back to another Patriots legend

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November 27, 2022

FOXBORO, Mass. — NBC commentator Jason Garrett dropped a juicy nugget of news during Thursday’s Patriots-Vikings telecast, relaying that Bill Belichick had compared Rhamondre Stevenson’s rapid rise to both Tom Brady’s and Lawrence Taylor’s during his pregame production meeting.

Belichick has not hidden his adoration for Stevenson this season, leaping at any chance to praise New England’s impressive second-year running back. But he disputed Garrett’s account of their conversation when speaking with reporters Sunday.

Q: Jason Garrett mentioned on the NBC broadcast in your production meeting you compared, in his words, Rhamondre’s growth and development in such a short span to Tom Brady’s and Lawrence Taylor’s. If that’s true, can you expand upon that?

Belichick: “I’m not sure. You’d have to talk to Jason about that.” 

Q: Well, that was his claim that what you said.

Belichick: “Yeah, I don’t really remember it quite that way.”

Q: Was that inaccurate?

Belichick: “Yeah, I don’t — I mean, not the way you phrased that. I don’t remember it quite that way. No.”

Q: How do you remember it?

Belichick: “I mean you’re talking about players who play completely different positions.”

Here was Garrett’s exact quote:

“It was incredible. He went on and on and on. And Coach doesn’t speak a lot in those production meetings, but he probably talked about Rhamondre for 15 minutes, and he compared his growth and his development in a short period of time to both Tom Brady and to Lawrence Taylor.”

Garrett, a former NFL head coach who’s in his first season as a broadcaster, may have exaggerated Belichick’s praise for Stevenson. That, or Belichick did make the Brady/LT comparison but did not expect Garrett to share that information on air.

Belichick still found a way to pump Stevenson’s tires on Sunday, however. Asked about the running back’s remarkable improvement in the passing game, the Patriots coach noted that Stevenson made several blocks in New England’s 33-26 loss in Minnesota that reminded him of Patriots great James White.

“He’s done a good job, continues to do a good job,” Belichick said. “Pass protection, he’s had a couple of really good plays in pass protection — James White-level plays. Seeing things, making adjustments, that kind of thing. He’s been a big help for us in that area of the game, whether it’s been blitz pickup, flare control, catching the ball, all of the above.”

Belichick isn’t the first to compare Stevenson to White. Wide receiver Kendrick Bourne also did so earlier this season, illustrating his development into a rare three-down weapon out of the Patriots’ backfield.

Stevenson caught a team-high nine passes for 76 yards in the loss, upping his reception total to 50 on the season. That’s already the eighth-most of any Patriots running back during the Belichick era, and there still are six games remaining. He’s on pace for 77 catches, which would be the second-highest mark behind White’s 87 in 2018. And he already has 100-plus more rushing yards (670 through 11 games) than any player above him on that list recorded in those seven seasons.

Stevenson, whose 33 receptions since Week 7 led all NFL running backs entering Sunday, could be asked to carry the Patriots’ ground game solo in the coming weeks. Running mate Damien Harris left last week’s game with a thigh injury and did not participate in the team’s first practice of Week 13.

The Patriots are preparing to host the AFC East rival Buffalo Bills this Thursday night at Gillette Stadium.

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