Breakfast with Belichick

The Patriots are next up for the 49ers, and coach Bill Belichick this morning held his conference call with Bay Area reporters

The Patriots are next up for the 49ers, and coach Bill Belichick this morning held his conference call with Bay Area reporters. Here are some of the highlights from the call:

–The Patriots are coming off their bye week. During that week, Belichick said he tried to balance working on some things they’ll need for the final 13 regular-season games while also mixing in some 49ers stuff.

–The loss of Tom Brady obviously has an impact, but that does not account for how the defense has played, Belichick said. And, offensively, Matt Cassel as QB is not a huge shock to the system. Cassel played most of the exhibition season and took the lion’s share of the reps in training camp. “Matt has been in there the majority of the time and all the preseason games,” Belichick said.

–The Patriots were gashed by Dolphins RB Ronnie Brown taking direct snaps. Belichick said he figures to see more of that, including this week against the 49ers. He said he noticed Gore has taken a direct snap this season (against the Lions).

–J.T. O’Sullivan was on the Pats’ p-squad for a brief time back in 2006. Belichick said he’s athletic and has a good live arm and can make all the throws. He said his talent was never a question. With the Patriots, it was more a problem with him getting reps and a real opportunity.

–When comparing JTO to other Mike Martz QBs, Belichick said JTO is more mobile than Kurt Warner and Jon Kitna. He said he has plenty of arm to throw the seam routes, deep-ins and deep comebacks.

–He sees the 49ers as primarily a four-man front defense. “With Justin Smith, that’s understandable,” Belichick said. “Mike does a good job. He’s a good defensive coach. They change things up week to week based on strengths and weakness of the (opponent).”

–The Patriots are quite pleased with rookie linebacker Jerod Mayo. Belichick says he and Patrick Willis are similar players. Belichick raved about Willis, saying he looked more like a running back than a linebacker on that interception return against the Seahawks.

–He spoke about Martz’s offenses. They’ll give up the sack from time to time, but Martz’s teams – and this one is no exception – can make the big plays. He said they’ll take a few hits, but they’ll deliver some big his with plays down the field, too.

–Belichick said Vernon Davis is an excellent pass-blocking TE. “”(He is) one of the best in the league, and he’s asked to do it a good percentage of the time,” Belichick said.

–Belichick denied Al Davis’ claim that the Patriots tampered with Randy Moss. Belichick said the first time he ever talked to Moss was the Sunday, the second day of the draft. “There was no workout or other contact with him,” Belichick said.

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QB Matt Cassel also joined us on a conference call. Here’s an article I wrote about Cassel during Super Bowl week: “The man behind The Man.”

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