By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — When Colts special teams linebacker Matt Adams burst through the line and blocked the Patriots’ punt last weekend in Indianapolis, certainly nobody watching at home — and nobody on the Patriots’ punt team — saw it coming.READ MORE: Man In 'Grave Condition' After South Shore Plaza Shooting In Braintree; No Arrests Made Yet
Someone who did foresee that one was a coach who has a lot of experience playing for and working under Bill Belichick.
That coach is Ray “Bubba” Ventrone, who is the special teams coordinator for the Colts. Though he’s not remembered in New England as much as his brother, Ross — who got released and re-signed something like 15 million times in a two-year span — Bubba spent time with the Patriots as a player from 2005-08. Once his career ended, he was an assistant special teams coach under Joe Judge in New England for three seasons from 2015-17.
That institutional knowledge of the Patriots organization has obviously served Ventrone well, and he was able to utilize some of that knowledge to help the Colts make the enormous blocked kick that was recovered for a touchdown on Saturday night.
In the most recent episode of “Hard Knocks,” a clip from the Colts’ special teams meeting on Thursday showed that Ventrone identified a vulnerability in the Patriots’ punt team, and the Colts’ “Money” call seemed ripe to exploit the weakness.
“Look, on that ‘Money’ now, we’re gonna have a shot on money,” Ventrone said. “And Matt Adams, you may end up coming, leaking through that B gap on the money, too. This is going to be extremely good for us, OK? That’s gonna be great.”
Ventrone, of course, ended up looking prophetic.
COLTS BLOCK THE PUNT FOR A TOUCHDOWN ‼️
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 19, 2021
Earlier in the episode, he said he owed a lot of his knowledge and coaching ability to Belichick.
“So I coached there for three years under Bill Belichick,” Ventrone said. “Ultimately, he prepared me for the job that I’m doing right now.”
Ventrone — who went absolutely nuts on the sideline in celebration after the play — said he had 475 text messages on his phone after the game.
Some other Patriots-centric nuggets from the episode:
–The Colts made it a point to pressure Mac Jones and force him to make mistakes.READ MORE: Driver Killed By Commuter Rail Train In Wilmington Identified; MBTA Says 'Human Error' Focus Of Investigation
Head coach Frank Reich gathered his team after a practice and delivered that message loudly and clearly.
“I’m just telling you, I know this is true: For us to go where we want to go, let’s make this rookie QB feel something that he hasn’t felt from a defense before. Let’s get after this rookie quarterback,” Reich said. “I’m telling ya — get after this guy. Compete against this guy. Figure out how to beat this guy. Right? Figure out how to beat this guy together. It’s 11-on-1 every play. Let’s figure that out. This means a lot. Let’s get after him.”
Linebackers coach Dave Borgonzi showed his players a clip of Jones throwing an incompletion against the Titans while making that point as well.
“This quarterback … he’s a good player. Like, he’s accurate and everything. But he’ll make some — you know, he’s a rookie, so he’ll do some things like this. Just like that,” Borgonzi said while rolling the tape. “That’s what I mean, guys. Like man, this guy, you stop the run, make this guy play quarterback. You guys good on that?”
Defensive line coach Brian Baker stressed that Jones gets rid of the ball quickly when facing pressure, so that pressure needed to be applied heavily.
“We really want this guy to be anxious about people in his face. It’s to pressure him. It’s to make him hurry up everything,” Baker said. “He’s gotta feel this anxiety the entire game, guys. This is the key to eliminating their passing game, OK?”
The plan was successful, as Jones had his first multi-interception game since Week 3.
–The fight between Kyle Dugger and Kyle Pittman led to both players being ejected. It also led to a funny line from DeForest Buckner, who yelled this at the Patriots from the sideline: “Bill about to make y’all run after the game, I swear!”
–Darius Leonard, who had an interception against Jones, didn’t like that Patriots staffers stood on the 50-yard line facing the Colts during pregame warmups. Leonard said it felt like an intimidation tactic, but that he couldn’t be intimidated.
Leonard made it a point to say hello to them at one point:
Ya'll like what you just saw?
— NFL Films (@NFLFilms) December 23, 2021
–Ventrone wasn’t the only prophetic Colts coach. Running backs coach Scottie Montgomery was reviewing film of a drill from practice, stressing the importance of making quick cuts and keeping pad levels low. Montgomery also stressed the importance of the running backs sticking with their principles all game long.
“That’s what it takes. We’re playing against a great football team. And they’re coached by, you know, the best. So it’s one of those situations where you know they’re gonna be disciplined, so at the end of the day, the team that makes the fewest mistakes will win. Period,” Montgomery said. “And you’ll see throughout the game, it’s gonna be the guy who has the power of will, right? Who has willpower to keep doing those small details over and over again? Not gonna overrun the play, but if you notice New England, they are so frickin’ disciplined, right? It’s gonna be the matchup this week: their discipline vs. our discipline.”
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Jonathan Taylor is putting in work to be the best. 💯
— NFL (@NFL) December 22, 2021
The Patriots ended up committing eight penalties for 50 yards, while the Colts committed jut two for 13 yards. The persistence paid off for the running game, too, with MVP candidate Jonathan Taylor breaking free for a 67-yard touchdown run that all but sealed the win for Indy late in the fourth quarter.