Colts Special Teams Guided By Ex-Patriot Has Bill Belichick On Alert

'This is probably one of the best special teams units we'll see'


Nov 2, 2022

FOXBORO, Mass. — It’s not very often an opposing special teams unit gets the best of a Bill Belichick-coached team.

The Indianapolis Colts can certainly lay claim to that, though, after their stellar performance in a 27-17 win over the New England Patriots in a late-season matchup last year.

The Colts’ special teams put their stamp on the win by blocking a Jake Bailey punt at the end of the first quarter with E.J. Speed recovering the football in the end zone. New England’s special teams haven’t been as tidy in recent seasons as they were in the past — Bailey has had issues again this season, as well — and with the Colts possessing a strong unit, it seems to have Belichick on high alert.

“The kicking game, a really strong group,” Belichick said prior to Wednesday’s practice. “This is probably one of the best special teams units we’ll see all year. Very physical, fast. They got some fast guys: (Tony) Brown, (Dallis) Flowers.”

Belichick is familiar with the Colts coach pulling the strings on special teams. The Patriots signed Bubba Ventrone as an undrafted rookie in 2005, and he went on to play in 17 games for them as a special teams specialist over the next four seasons.

After spending time playing for the Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers, Ventrone jumped into the coaching ranks in 2015 and landed back in New England as an assistant special teams coach. Ventrone stayed in that role for three seasons, assisting one of the best coverage units in the NFL before joining the Colts as special teams coordinator in 2018.

And Belichick clearly sees the imprint Ventrone has made on the Colts’ special teams.

“I think they reflect a lot on him,” Belichick said. “It’s basically like a mirror image of him: Tough, hard-nosed, highly competitive kid. Played as hard as anybody all the time. Every play. Fearless. He has a lot of players like that playing for him. … He spent a lot of time with Coach (Brad) Seely. And obviously came back and was here, as well.

“He’s been influenced by a number of different coaches I would say. His playing experience … in various organizations, he’s got a lot of experience. He’s seen a lot. He’s done a good job. Like I said, this is one of the best units we’ll see. Very aggressive, very tough. They have a good mixture of size and speed and physicality.”

The Patriots and Colts kick off their Week 9 matchup on Sunday at Gillette Stadium at 1 p.m. ET.

Thumbnail photo via Max Gersh/IndyStar via USA TODAY Sports Images
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