|Belichick speaks; NFL adopts defensive communication device between coach and player|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 01 April 2008 23:51|
The Patriots coach was, of course, fined $500,000 and New England was nailed for $250,000 and lost a first-round draft pick after the 2007 opener, when a team employee was caught on the sideline taping the New York Jets' defensive signals. Now, there will be fewer reasons to signal in anything to the defense.
One defensive player will wear a helmet similar to what the quarterback is allowed on offense. Should that player leave the game, a teammate can be designated to also have the device. But only one defender with the device can be on the field at a time.
``I've been for that ever since the thing with the quarterbacks came out,'' Belichick said Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings. ``The problem is just how to do it. The concept of it is fine, but the logistics of it are a little bit of a different story. You don't always have a quarterback in the game on defense, like you do on offense. It's a little bit of a different setup.
``There is a substitution issue. Even the way it's proposed now, if you have a middle linebacker like Brian Urlacher or Ray Lewis, or somebody like that who played on every single play on defense as kind of the equivalent of the offensive quarterback, then that's one thing. A lot of teams don't have that, and I'd say we would fall into that category.''
Belichick and Patriots owner Robert Kraft also addressed the owners Tuesday, promising that Spygate was behind them.
While participants didn't discuss the specifics, Indianapolis coach Tony Dungy said: ``I appreciated what he had to say.''
What Belichick had to say at the AFC coaches breakfast was that, indeed, Spygate should be a closed book.
``I've addressed so many questions so many times from so many people I don't know what else the league could ask,'' said Belichick, who added he was interviewed again by the league after the Super Bowl.
``I talked to four or five people,'' Belichick said, although he did not say if it was in person or by telephone.
The whole affair resurfaced at this year's Super Bowl when it was reported that former Patriots employee Matt Walsh had knowledge of tapes other than those the Patriots turned in last September. Belichick said that wasn't a distraction in his team's loss to the Giants after winning their previous 18 games.
And he vehemently denied the Patriots taped a Rams walkthrough before that 2002 Super Bowl, which the two-touchdown underdog Patriots won 20-17.
``I've never seen a tape of another team's practice. Ever!'' he said Tuesday. ``Certainly not that one.''
Walsh, through his lawyer, Michael Levy, has been negotiating with the NFL for legal protection if he comes forward to tell what he knows. Levy and the league reported three weeks ago that they were close to an agreement to do that, but talks have been sporadic since.
Belichick insisted Tuesday that nothing will be disclosed on any new tapes. ``I barely knew Matt Walsh,'' he said. ``He was hired before I became the coach.''
As for the defensive communications device, the vote was 25-7 in favor - 24 yes votes were required - and all seven negatives came from head coaches with offensive backgrounds.
Voting against the measure were Seattle (Mike Holmgren), Tampa Bay (Jon Gruden), Oakland (Lane Kiffin), Philadelphia (Andy Reid), St. Louis (Scott Linehan), Washington (Jim Zorn) and Green Bay (Mike McCarthy).
The owners also tabled discussion of a rule banning a player's hair from flowing over the nameplate and number on the back of the uniform.
Mike Pereira, NFL VP of officiating, said there were 92 reversals on instant replay challenges last year, representing 38 percent of the total coaches' and booth challenges. That was up from 34 percent in 2006 and 31 percent in 2005.
``My concerns are when the number of reversals goes up,'' Pereira admitted. ``We take a look at that, where the number is going up.''
Pereira also wondered if the ``level of respect has gone down'' between players, coaches and game officials. He cited several instances where players either got into shouting matches with officials or, in Baltimore, when Ravens linebacker Bart Scott picked up a penalty flag and tossed it through the end zone after disagreeing with a critical late call in a loss to New England.
``We have to work not to get in those situations,'' Pereira said. ``I agree both sides are at fault.
``We'll spend more time in training camps and before games talking to players, get involved before it gets out of hand.''