Lions' special teams coach has a request for Bill Belichick: Let's go fishing




The Detroit Lions' current special teams coach has great affinity for one of his predecessors at the position.

Lions special teams coordinator Dave Fipp turned a question about special teams ace Chris Board into a soliloquy on New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick at the start of his weekly media session Thursday.

Belichick, an assistant special teams coach with the Lions in 1976 (as well as a lacrosse coach at Birmingham Detroit Country Day), is regarded as one of the most special teams-friendly head coaches in the NFL, and Fipp spent nearly three minutes Thursday singing the praises of him and the Patriots' special teams.

Detroit Lions special team coordinator Dave Fipp, center, talks to players during the first half against Los Angeles Rams at the SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif.
Detroit Lions special team coordinator Dave Fipp, center, talks to players during the first half against Los Angeles Rams at the SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif.  

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"It's like one of my favorite things to do is play against them because it's always a challenge," Fipp said. "And I think, as a professional, your goal is to earn the respect of other people, and I would say he would be up there at the top of my list in trying to earn his respect. I'm hoping one day he'll take me fishing on his boat. We can talk special teams in the offseason. But that's really - I say that, like half-joking, but I'm actually like 99% serious about that. So, anyway, we've got our hands full this week. I know our guys are excited."

The Lions and Patriots currently rank 14th and 15th, respectively, in Football Outsiders' defense-adjusted value over average special teams rankings, and both are considered to have strong kicking games.

Fipp touted the Patriots' special teams personnel - both punter Jake Bailey and kicker Nick Folk have been to Pro Bowls - and said Belichick always gives him something unique to prepare for as coordinator.

"In my time against them, they've hit a drop kick against us, they've run a reverse against us, they've brought the corner blitz off the edge in the Super Bowl against us," Fipp said. "So you really have to be prepared when you go into the game with these guys."

Along with Bailey and Folk, Fipp singled out three coverage specialists as standouts in New England's kicking game: Matthew Slater, Cody Davis and Brenden Schooler.

Fipp said he holds Slater, a 10-time Pro Bowler, in such high regard that as assistant special teams coach with the Miami Dolphins in 2011-12 he once wrote Slater a letter commending his play.

"We just always knew we had our hands full going against him," Fipp said. "So it was fun competing against the guy. I respected his story. I love the way he worked and competed on gameday. And I was happy for him that he had made it to the Pro Bowl, and now here we are, whatever, a lot of years later, and he's still going, which is incredible. But he's a great player. He's seen every block. He's gotten blocked every which way you can. He's defeated all of them. He still runs great on the outside. He's super crafty, savvy, knows how to hold a guy up, block him at the last second, block him early, block him late. Like just a great player. Fun to watch."

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Detroit Lions defensive end Aidan Hutchinson pressures Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith during the second half at Ford Field, Oct.
Detroit Lions defensive end Aidan Hutchinson pressures Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith during the second half at Ford Field, Oct.  

Rooting interest

Aidan Hutchinson said last winter during his Heisman Trophy runner-up season at Michigan that he grew up rooting for the Patriots because of Tom Brady's Michigan ties.

On Thursday, Hutchinson insisted that wasn't really the case.

"I just liked Tom Brady," he said. "Every kid loves Tom Brady, so hopefully one of these days I'll get a chance to hit Tom. But we'll see. We'll see. I would say that Patriots fandom that you referenced is no good."

Hutchinson, who leads the all NFL rookies with three sacks through four games, will not get a chance to hit Brady this year unless the Lions and Tampa Bay Buccaneers meet in the playoffs. The Patriots could be on their fourth starting quarterback since Brady left New England after the 2019 season.

Cam Newton started 15 games in 2020, with former Michigan State QB Brian Hoyer making one start in reserve. Mac Jones played every game as as a rookie last year. And rookie Bailey Zappe could be up this week with Jones dealing with an ankle injury and Hoyer, who started last week, in concussion protocol.

Hoyer did not practice Thursday for the second straight day while Jones was listed as limited.

"It's going to be great, it's going to be fun, man," Hutchinson said. "Growing up, seeing Tom play there in those cold-ass games, so hopefully it gets a little cold."

Briefly

Charles Harris was a new addition to the Lions' practice report Thursday with a groin injury. Harris was a limited participant in practice. Matt Nelson also did not practice after he was limited Wednesday by a calf injury.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Lions' Dave Fipp wants to fish, talk special teams with Bill Belichick

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