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Communication issues for Belichick on Vrabel

Posted by Christopher L. Gasper, Globe Staff  September 21, 2009 05:32 PM

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It seemed like Patriots coach Bill Belichick had a slight breakdown in communication with the media when he was asked during his morning press conference about how the defensive communication had been this season with the new faces on defense and without Jerod Mayo.

"I would say it’s probably better than it was last year, that wouldn't take much," said Belichick." Is it as good as it needs to be? No. There’s always room for improvement. But I would say it’s definitely improved over last year, not that that was a real high bar."

Some took that as a shot at departed linebacker Mike Vrabel, who wore the green dot last season, signifying he had the defensive player-to-coach communication system in his helmet.

When reached by the Globe for comment and asked if there were communication issues last year, Vrabel said, "You'll have to ask Bill if he was referring to the helmet communication or the guy with the headset. I don't know."

After a request for clarification from the Globe, Belichick went on WEEI-AM for his weekly chat and detailed his earlier remarks a bit.

"We really had some problems last year," Belichick told WEEI. "Miami, Pittsburgh and San Diego were games where we got fouled up and gave up big plays. I'm not saying it was any one guy, but communication hasn't really been a problem this year."

There were a few games last season were defensive communication issues hurt the Patriots, but those were in the secondary and not related to anything with Vrabel, according to a team source.

Vrabel, who was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs during the offseason, did say that there was sometimes a delay in the play being relayed in from the sidelines that caused problems.

"A lot of times when you're trying to use the system and the defensive coordinator is waiting for the call from the head coach the call tended to get in a little late, you know when you're waiting on Bill to decide whether to blitz or not," said Vrabel. "I don't know if that's what he was referring to or not."

News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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