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Bill Belichick Answers a Football Question, Loves Defensive Lines

Whenever the planets align, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick becomes enticed to discuss a topic at length. This year, he decided to open up on defensive line play.

New England Patriots rookie edge defender Trey Flowers left a positive impression in his first game against the Packers, before he ultimately left with an undisclosed injury.

Flowers' injury was a point of interest during Bill Belichick's press conference, but while the head coach didn't disclose anything about Flowers' status (Belichick told ESPN's Mike Reiss "You've got the inside track on that stuff. You probably know more than I do.") Belichick was more than willing to talk about defensive line play.

First, Belichick opened up about Flowers' skill set and how he performed on the field.

"He generally plays with good leverage," Belichick said. "He has longer arms, and he uses his hands well, and he did that on [his sack]; showed some acceleration to the quarterback.

"I think he's an instinctive player. We've asked him to do a lot of things, and he's played a number of different positions. He's played in the kicking game, which wasn't something that he did a lot of at Arkansas, but he's a tough kid, works really hard, and he seems to have a nose and instinct for the ball."

Belichick agreed that Flowers' length- while Flowers is 6'2, his 34.25" arm length is more commonly found in 6'6 players- makes him a unique match-up. Long arms on a shorter frame allows for creative leverage advantages for the player and Flowers is training to align both inside and outside.

Belichick spent plenty of time highlighting the differences of playing inside versus outside.

"You always want to play with good leverage, no matter where you are," Belichick said. "But the players out at the end of the line - the tackles and the defensive ends are generally longer and maybe have a little tendency to play higher...generally speaking, [there's] a little less length inside than outside.

"I think the biggest difference, though, is just how fast everything happens inside and how quickly they have to react, whichever side of the ball they're on. I don't know what the percentage is, but it's got to be pretty high - 85 percent, 90 percent of the time, the offensive tackle blocks the defensive end, in a four-man line anyway. If you did that on every play offensively, you'd probably get most of them right.

"Inside, it's a little bit different. Centers and guards block combinations of linebackers and defensive linemen, depending on how the plays unfold and if there is movement inside, which usually there is a little more movement inside than there is outside. For a defensive tackle, you have the potential down-block, double team blocks from both sides - both the tackle and guard, center and guard, or if you're on the nose, from either guard with the center.

"So, it's a lot of more of a question of where they're coming from, whereas for a defensive end, the number of times he gets down-blocked by a tight end, it happens, but the frequency is a lot lower. How quickly those guys are on you and how they can come from different spots, it's a much higher variety and it happens pretty quickly. I'd say that's the big adjustment in there."

When Flowers, or Chandler Jones or Geneo Grissom, slides inside after playing defensive end, Belichick says they're playing an entirely different game. Players on the edge generally have a one-on-one competition against the offensive tackle, while interior defenders are forced to react to the offense's blocking scheme.

Belichick went on to discuss the difference in conditioning for players based upon their position. Any player who can offer the versatility to both win inside and outside requires both an advanced mental understanding of the game and also incredible athleticism.

"The guys who do a lot of running do a lot of running," Belichick said of the different positional groups. "The guys who do a lot of - like boxers - leaning and pushing other heavy bodies with a lot of force and trying to move heavy people in short distances and move quickly in short spaces. It's a different kind of conditioning. But they're all important.

"Some guys need extra, some guys frankly don't need as much from whatever the norm is, whatever the standard is, so we try to take that on a case-by-case basis. And again, we modify it for some specific positions and specific people, but at the same time try to build team chemistry and the teamwork part of it. At some point everybody has to do everything together. So, there's a balance there."

Let Chip Kelly and the Eagles have their smoothies. Belichick has his individualized training under control.

The Patriots head coach sounded downright giddy after New England selected Geneo Grissom in the third round of the draft, another player who can play inside and outside. Maybe the not-so-secret to getting Belichick to talk is to ask him questions about topics that he's clearly excited to discuss.