Tom Brady (12) may be in the foreground now, but it's easy to see Jimmy Garoppolo stepping forward in the next two years to replace him.</p>
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File Sep 20, 11 24 44 AM

Bill Belichick will look to continue his success against former assistants on Thursday night. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

While Bill Belichick has had close relationships with many head coaches around the NFL, there’s nothing quite like when he matches on-field wits against one of his former assistants or associates.

This will mark just the fourth time Belichick has squared off against a former assistant since 2010. Belichick lost to Eric Mangini’s Browns, 34-14, in 2010. Later that season, he beat Jim Schwartz and the Lions, 45-24, on Thanksgiving Day. Last year, Belichick’s Patriots had their way with Bill O’Brien’s Texans, 27-6, in Houston.

It all began on Dec. 19, 1993 at old Cleveland Municipal Stadium. Belichick, then coach of the Browns, faced Bill Parcells, coach of the Patriots. The result was a 20-17 Parcells win over Belichick in Cleveland. The next season, Belichick got his revenge twice, beating Parcells’ Patriots in the regular season and in the playoffs. Parcells’ Patriots beat Belichick’s Browns in the 1995 season opener at Foxboro.

The next time the two squared off would be their last. Parcells was in his first year as head coach of the Cowboys in 2003 and Belichick beat Dallas 12-0 at Gillette Stadium, giving Belichick a 3-2 edge over the Big Tuna.

The former assistant Belichick has faced the most is Eric Mangini. The two squared off as opposing head coaches eight times, with Belichick holding a 5-3 advantage (1-0 in the playoffs).

While the Jan. 2007 meeting was in the playoffs, the most epic encounter came the next time the two got together. That was the 2007 opener, won by the Patriots, 38-14, at the Meadowlands. After the game, Mangini called the NFL about what he believed was inappropriate filming of the Jets’ defensive coaching signals. “Spygate” was born.

Al Groh has the best winning percentage, capturing both games in 2000, the only season Groh was head coach of the New York Jets, and also marking Groh’s only season as an NFL head coach.

While this list is primarily aimed at head coaches Belichick worked under or those who worked under Belichick. The most obvious colleague with a long history against Belichick is Tom Coughlin. The two were assistants together under Parcells on the Giants from 1988-90. Coughlin beat Belichick twice in the Super Bowl and twice in Jacksonville’s inaugural season of 1995 when Belichick was coach of the Browns. Overall, Coughlin finished 5-2 against Belichick, with Belichick’s only wins coming in the 2007 season finale that capped the 16-0 season and last year when Stephen Gostkowski booted a last second field goal to lift the Patriots to a 27-26 win at MetLife Stadium.

Excluding Coughlin and Parcells, Belichick has compiled a 10-8 mark in 18 games against past assistants. Belichick’s 37-16 spanking of Mangini in the 2006 playoffs is the only time he and a former assistant have squared off in the playoffs.

The List:

Nick Saban (2005-06 Miami Dolphins): 2-2

Bill O’Brien (2015 Houston Texans):  1-0

Eric Mangini (2006-08 New York Jets, 2010 Cleveland Browns): 5-3 (0-1 vs. Browns, 5-2 vs. Jets)

Romeo Crennel (2006 Cleveland Browns): 1-0

Josh McDaniels (2009 Denver Broncos): 0-1

Al Groh (2000 New York Jets): 0-2

Jim Schwartz (2010 Detroit Lions): 1-0

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Things do not look good for Jimmy Garoppolo playing against the Texans Thursday night.

Jimmy Garoppolo

Jimmy Garoppolo

Things do not look good for Jimmy Garoppolo playing against the Texans Thursday night.

The quarterback was officially listed as doubtful on the team’s injury report released on Wednesday and for the second straight day he was limited in practice. If he is inactive, Julian Edelman would be the backup quarterback.

The Patriots also listed six players as questionable, including Rob Gronkowski and Dont’a Hightower. Gronkowski (hamstring) has missed both games this season, while Hightower (knee) missed last week against the Dolphins.

Here is the complete injury report:

DOUBTFUL

QB Jimmy Garoppolo (right shoulder, limited)

QUESTIONABLE

LB Dont’a Hightower (knee, limited)
TE Rob Gronkowski (hamstring, limited)
CB Eric Rowe (ankle, limited)
OL Jonathan Cooper (foot, limited)
LB Jonathan Freeny (shoulder, limited)
DE Trey Flowers (shoulder, limited)

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable
Julian Edelman

Julian Edelman

If Jimmy Garoppolo is unable to go and Jacoby Brissett gets injured or is removed from the game, Texans head coach Bill O’Brien will be ready for Julian Edelman.

There’s been plenty of speculation in the last 24 hours about the possibility of the former Kent State quarterback taking snaps for the Patriots in a pinch.

O’Brien was the quarterbacks coach in 2009 when Edelman was a seventh-round pick of the Patriots. Edelman took his time learning the offense and O’Brien was paying close attention. Ironically, 2009 was the last time a former Belichick assistant beat him, when Josh McDaniels’ Broncos edged the Patriots, 20-17, in OT.

With Edelman sounding more and more like the emergency quarterback, how does O’Brien, someone with an intimate knowledge of Bill Belichick’s offensive philosophy, prepare for him on a short week?

“I think we have to be ready for their roster, you know what I mean? We have to understand the skillsets of the players on their roster,” O’Brien said. “Obviously with Julian, I was there when they drafted him. He was a shotgun, wildcat quarterback at Kent State and really good at it. I can remember doing some of things with him over the couple years that I was with him in practice there. I know that he can do that. It’s that and other guys. There’s other guys. (Danny) Amendola can throw the ball. We’re trying to do the best we can to be prepared for their roster.”

Of course, the most famous (and only) pass of Edelman’s career came in the 2014 AFC divisional round against the Ravens, when he found Danny Amendola for 51 yards and a touchdown that tied the game, 28-28, after being down 14 points twice.

As a guru of quarterbacks, O’Brien has kept a reasonably close eye on Garoppolo and Brissett also. He knows he needs to be ready for any combination of quarterbacks on the field Thursday night.

With Garoppolo, O’Brien says he saw some differences compared to Tom Brady, notably that he will take off and run more. Ironically, it was on a rollout, scramble to his right on Sunday that Garoppolo was injured by Kiko Alonso.

“There was a lot of similarity, but I know that they did some things to take advantage of Jimmy’s skillset,” O’Brien said. “Jimmy is an excellent runner with the ball. There were some things in there that maybe they weren’t doing as much of previously with Tom (Brady). But what they’re doing with Jimmy because of his skillset, they do a little bit more. But overall, I would say that it was very similar, which is a credit to Jimmy because I know that – just knowing Josh (McDaniels) the way I know Josh, it’s a very demanding offense. Josh is an excellent football coach and really demands a lot of that position. Jimmy was obviously very prepared in both games.”

As for Brissett?

“When he went in there, I thought he played well,” O’Brien said. “He got them into the right play. In the passing game, he took care of the ball pretty well. They ran the ball very well. I think that’s a big key. People have asked me over the last couple of days about the quarterback position, but I think that one of the keys is how they’ve been able to run the football. Very physical upfront. They’ve got a good offensive line and really good running backs and good tight ends. I think one of the keys was their ability to run the ball also. I thought Jacoby handled that situation very well.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

1. He was a wildcat-type of quarterback before it was cool. This video of him working out of all situations while serving as the signal-caller at Kent State should give you some sort of idea what the Patriots might be working with if he does get the call for whatever reason — injury, personnel shift, whatever — Thursday night against the Texans.

2. When he did have to throw in college, he wasn’t all that accurate. One of the most important aspects that the Patriots look for in their quarterbacks is accuracy, with 60 percent being the industry standard when it comes to completion rate. In his three seasons at Kent State, he had completion percentages of 55, 52 and 56 percent, and more interceptions (31) than touchdown passes (30). There’s no denying his toughness and his ability to get yards on the ground. It’s just to suggest that even if he does get into the game on Thursday, don’t look for the Patriots to open up the passing game.

3. He’s played a lot of quarterback in practice for the Patriots since he first showed up in 2009. As Bill O’Brien alluded join his conference call on Tuesday, there have been plenty of occasions in the past when New England has utilized him at quarterback in training camp, as well as when they were prepping for a team with a mobile quarterback. That doesn’t mean that he’d be game-ready if he were tossed into the contest on Thursday. It’s only to suggest he wouldn’t be starting from square one if he did have to cram a bit this week.

4. Remember that pass to Danny Amendola? That was awesome, wasn’t it? It was just one pass, but man, that throw he delivered to Danny Amendola in the 2014 AFC divisional playoff game against the Ravens was still the nuttiest moment of that postseason, not counting Malcolm Butler’s interception at the end of Super Bowl XLIX. The fact that he delivered a dime in a clutch situation has to be part of this conversation.

5. Taking him from the wide receiver position creates a domino effect the Patriots might not be completely prepared to deal with. Even if you’re OK with the idea of moving him from wide receiver to quarterback — at least for the short term — the fact that you are taking your most reliable pass catcher and sticking him somewhere else on the field will be impactful. As this Tweeter noted, Tom Brady without Edelman is a dicey proposition. You take Edelman the receiver away from Edelman the quarterback, and that will present a new challenge for the passing game. That would necessitate the rest of the offensive skill position players stepping forward and taking up some of the slack. If you’re confident they can, then it might work. But if there’s a question as to who might fill that target void, well, that’s a whole different discussion.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

The Patriots defense needs to be better than it's been so far this year.</p>
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Remember the Texans’ letterman jackets they wore to Foxboro for a 2012 game against the Patriots?

Houston came into the game riding high with an 11-1 record, the best record in the AFC. But the letterman jackets backfired, as New England crushed the upstart Texans by a 42-14 count. After the game, several Patriots’ snickered at the stunt.

Asked on Tuesday if he remembered where his jacket was, J.J. Watt shrugged.

“I’ve got no idea,” he said. “Those were some bad memories.”

Watt doesn’t even think he still has the jacket.

“I don’t think so,” said Watt, who had four tackles and no sacks in the blowout. “I hope not. I don’t want to bring that back up at all. Those were some bad days.”

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

Will Jimmy Garoppolo play on Thursday night?

Jimmy Garoppolo's status remains up in the air for Thursday night. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Jimmy Garoppolo’s status remains up in the air for Thursday night. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Will Jimmy Garoppolo play on Thursday night?

That is the question on everyone’s minds this week following Sunday’s game when he suffered a right shoulder injury in the second quarter.

Here is what we know as of Wednesday morning:

— Garoppolo didn’t participate according the team’s hypothetical practice report on Monday and wasn’t at practice for the media portion (stretching) on Tuesday, but was listed as being limited on the practice report released later in the afternoon. All he needed to do to be listed as limited is just take one rep in the session, so he could have went out and thrown a few passes later in the session.

— The team reportedly brought in quarterbacks T.J. Yates and Sean Renfree for workouts on Tuesday, but both left without signing contracts.

— A source told WEEI.com Garoppolo was still “pretty sore” as of Tuesday night and CSNNE’s Mike Giardi reported the quarterback was still having a hard time raising his right arm over his head as of Tuesday.

NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport reports the team has done “extensive preparation” to get Julian Edelman ready as the team’s backup this week.

— Finally, the Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe reports the Patriots are “putting pressure” on Garoppolo to get ready for Thursday night. He added the Patriots are “even reminding him Tom Brady played through a similar injury on multiple occasions throughout his career.”

So, what does all this mean?

It would appear Jacoby Brissett will start the game at quarterback with Garoppolo and Edelman as the team’s backup options. While Garoppolo is far from 100 percent, his injury is much less severe than first thought after the game on Sunday. The team likely didn’t want to waste a roster spot on a backup quarterback for one or two weeks, and if they were to bring in an outside quarterback, he likely would not be able to get up to speed with the offense in time for the game. A 50 percent Garoppolo and Edelman likely proved better options than an outsider.

With the game still just under 36 hours away, it’s a fluid situation and things can still change between now and gametime.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable