Why Patriots have 'all' of Bengals' special teams calls, and vice versa

Darren Hartwell

FOXBORO -- The Cincinnati Bengals won't need to do much advance scouting to prepare for the New England Patriots' special teams units Sunday.

That's because the Bengals' special teams coordinator is Darrin Simmons, who spent a total of five seasons as a special teams assistant to Scott O'Brien on the Baltimore Ravens (1998) and Carolina Panthers (1999-2002).

O'Brien later spent six seasons as Bill Belichick's special teams coach in New England from 2009 to 2014, winning a Super Bowl with the Patriots in his final year.

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That's a lot of dot-connecting, though: The Bengals having a former assistant of a former Patriots assistant on staff won't impact Sunday's special teams play that much ... right?

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick thinks otherwise.

"It's like an intrasquad scrimmage," Belichick said Friday at his press conference. "They have all our calls, we have all their calls."

Belichick admitting the Patriots will have "all their calls" will draw the inevitable "Spygate 2.0" jokes in light of the NFL investigating New England for filming Cincinnati's sideline last weekend.

The roots of special teams coaching trees run deep, though. Belichick noted Simmons runs Cincinnati's special teams in a very similar manner to New England, where Joe Judge has been special teams coordinator since O'Brien retired following the 2014 season.

"The way they handle situations is fundamentally the way we would handle them," Belichick added. 

"Not that we would always do it the same way. You might have two or three options, but you would see similar strategic positioning or strategy that either we would use or have used."

"Sometimes it feels like you're looking at yourself on film," Patriots special teamer and co-captain Matthew Slater said Friday. "... It's not Scotty to a tee, but there are some similarities."

O'Brien apparently taught Simmons well: Despite their 1-12 record, the Bengals boast the No. 1 special teams unit in the NFL based on Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA), per FootballOutsiders.com.

The Patriots, who have gone through four different kickers in 2019, are distant 19th in special teams DVOA.

As strange as it sounds, 10-3 New England might be satisfied to battle the Bengals' special teams unit to a stalemate Sunday in Cincinnati.

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Why Patriots have 'all' of Bengals' special teams calls, and vice versa originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

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