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Patriots notebook

Weis not in the plans for now

Belichick focus is on Dolphins

There wasn’t a lot for Patriots coach Bill Belichick to like Monday night vs. the Saints. There wasn’t a lot for Patriots coach Bill Belichick to like Monday night vs. the Saints. (Jim Davis/Globe Staff)
By Michael Vega
Globe Staff / December 2, 2009

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Bill Belichick expressed dismay yesterday over the news that Notre Dame had fired Charlie Weis, who toiled as the Patriots’ offensive coordinator from 2000-04. Belichick, however, did not express any interest in bringing Weis back for a third tour of duty in Foxborough, where Weis first coached tight ends (1993-94), running backs (1995), and then wide receivers (1996) under Bill Parcells.

“It’s not anything that is on the front burner at all,’’ said Belichick.

Notre Dame dismissed Weis, who had six years and a reported $10 million left on his contract, after a 6-6 season ended Saturday with a 45-38 loss at Stanford. That left Weis with a 35-27 record in five seasons in South Bend; in the last three, the Irish went 16-21, with no victories against ranked opponents.

“I’m disappointed for Charlie, and his family, and all the people they took out there with them,’’ Belichick said. “Of course, I go back a long way with Charlie and we have a good friendship. I talk to him on a pretty regular basis, so I’m disappointed for him on that level.

“But right now my focus is on the Miami Dolphins, and getting ready to go down there and play a tough division game on the road. That’s where I’m at right now.’’

Given the sobering 38-17 setback the Patriots suffered at the hands of the Saints Monday night, Belichick knows his focus must be on getting his team ready for the Dolphins. But during his news conference Monday to announce the firing of Weis, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick indicated that Weis might be headed back to the NFL as an offensive coordinator.

“I saw a report today that a lot of people have expressed interest in him doing that,’’ said Swarbrick. “He’s superbly talented at it. He brought great offensive ingenuity and success to our program, so I’d be surprised if that wasn’t what he was doing next year.’’

In Weis’s first season at Notre Dame in 2005, with Brady Quinn at quarterback, the Irish established school records for total yards (5,728), points (440), and passing yards per game (330.2). In 2006, Quinn became the school’s career passing leader and set a school record for touchdown passes (37).

While Weis might seem like a perfect fit in Foxborough, where he would be reunited with Tom Brady, Belichick wasn’t ready to confirm that.

“There are going to be situations like that - there have been every year - where things happen on other teams and on other coaching staffs or player rumors and so forth,’’ he said. “Anything along that nature is something that would be addressed at a later point in time.’’

Blown away
Now it can be told: It was a blown call. That was the explanation defensive coordinator Dean Pees gave for the 75-yard touchdown the Patriots gave up to Devery Henderson. Henderson took advantage of busted coverage when he went by safety Brandon Meriweather, who was supposed to cover for the blitzing Jonathan Wilhite. Henderson ran up the seam uncovered, hauled in a toss from quarterback Drew Brees, and raced untouched for the score.

“It was disappointing because it wasn’t exactly a call that was a new call,’’ Pees said. “It’s something that we have done numerous, numerous times and we just had a player just . . . the communication was even there. We even actually had the communication and, for whatever reason, he froze and it happened.

“So it is rare and we’ve been doing a pretty good job in the past of not allowing big plays. And the biggest problem in this game was, I mean, that’s all we gave up.’’

Big play after big play after big play.

“We knew this was a team that thrived on that, and you couldn’t allow that,’’ Pees said. “I mean, they live for big plays. That’s how they beat people, and it was very disappointing. In eight plays, we gave up over 300 yards of offense. You can’t do that against anybody, but especially against a team like the Saints.’’

Carryover effect
Belichick did not disagree with Vince Wilfork’s postgame assertion that the numerous big plays left the defense with a lingering frustration. “I think I would agree with Vince’s comment on that that we probably didn’t do a good enough job of moving on to the next play,’’ Belichick said. “We might’ve let a previous play or two - you’ve got to learn from those plays, certainly plays that happen early in the game. They are significant because the team could come back and do it again. But at the same time you’ve got to be able to learn from them, put them behind you and move on - good or bad. I would say I probably would agree that we didn’t do a great job of that, that there might have been a residual effect on some of the plays that happened earlier in the game affecting, more than they probably should have, how we played later in the game.’’

Michael Vega can be reached at vega@globe.com.

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