The Big Nickel: Patriots turning the page and Bill Belichick talks up Jim Schwartz
|11.22.10 at 9:26 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The five most important things you need to know about the Patriots on Monday:
1. It’s all about turning the page quickly. On Monday, Bill Belichick and the Patriots all sounded the same theme — it would be nice to spend another 24 hours reliving a memorable win over the Colts, but time waits for no man, especially when you’re facing a short week of preparation for your next game.
“It would be nice to put the feet up and enjoy last night’s game and what we did, but we’re on to Detroit,” Belichick said. “It’s a short week here — there’s a lot to do. We have to cram six days into three. I think the players came in with a good attitude [Monday] and really tried to get a lot done. Obviously we have a lot to do and we’ll try to keep grinding it out here the next couple of days. It was a big start for us today.”
“We just have to kind of turn the corner real fast and turn our preparation to the Detroit Lions and get ready for them,” said running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis. “Just go home and accelerate everything, more than a regular week. Get on the film and everything a little bit tonight.”
The short week means there’s a real premium on practice time. While the usual practice preparation runs from Wednesday to Friday most weeks, the primary workday will be Tuesday before flying out on Wednesday and playing on Thursday. That means the Patriots need to be on-point when you hit the practice field.
“I just think being mentally into every practice and being able to dial it up,” said Matt Light when it comes to the challenges of playing on a short week. “Physically it is what it is, and yeah, you’re going to be a little sore, and by the time the game starts, all that stuff kind of dissipates and you’re out there doing what you do. But I think mentally, during the week, you really have to focus in on the little things.”
2. Jim Schwartz. There’s an extensive professional relationship between Belichick and Detroit coach Jim Schwartz, who was originally hired by Belichick as a researcher and scout in the early 1990s when Belichick was the head coach in Cleveland. Schwartz stuck with the Browns for three seasons under Belichick … despite the fact that Schwartz once inadvertently stole his turkey sandwich.
The story goes that the young Schwartz believed he was going to get fired one spring in Cleveland, and went into the meal room to see what was in the refrigerator. He saw a turkey sandwich, and ate it. Later on, Belichick came in, looking for his sandwich and wasn’t happy when he found out who ate it.
“He’s really special — I’ve had a lot of people work for me and he’s right up there at the top of the list in terms of things that he can do and what a positive impression he made at a relatively young age or young point in his career,” Beichick said of Schwartz, an economics grad from Georgetown. “Jim’s one of the smartest guys I’ve ever worked with. He’s a guy who, to say multitask, wouldn’t even be fair. He’s the kind of person who if you gave him 20 things to do, he would be on top of all 20 of them and know exactly where he was on all of them.”
In fact, Belichick was such a believer in Schwartz, he tried to hire him as the Patriots linebackers’ coach in 2000, but Titans coach Jeff Fisher blocked the move because he considered Schwartz his future defensive coordinator. Schwartz would indeed go on to serve as Fisher’s defensive coordinator in Tennessee from 2001 until 2008 when he left to become head coach in Detroit.
3. Darius Butler. One guy who saw a dramatic upturn in playing time Sunday against the Colts was cornerback Darius Butler. The second-year defensive back out of UConn, who opened the season as a starting corner before he was benched after a Week 2 loss to the Jets and was a healthy scratch against the Steelers, was inserted into the lineup midway through the game for Kyle Arrington. He appeared to hold his own against Indy wide receiver Reggie Wayne, and finished with a pair of tackles.
Butler was one of a few players who were still in the locker room, but didn’t focus too much on the Colts, preferring instead to look ahead to the Lions.
“I haven’t done too much studying last night,” he said. “I started this morning — I was up here pretty early. I’ll keep studying tonight. It will be a quick turnaround.”
4. Belichick in Detroit. The Patriots coach spent two seasons as an assistant special teams coach with the Lions (1976 and 1977), and remembered the local hype that accompanied the annual Thanksgiving Day game in Detroit.
“It’s a game you knew every year was your game. You knew you were going to be playing at home and you knew going to be playing at noon,” Belichick said of his time in Detroit. “And whatever the weekly routine is — Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday — getting ready for it, it was the same thing you did last year and you were comfortable with and you looked forward to. You didn’t have to travel. All those sorts of things.
“I think it’s a great game for Detroit, the Lions, the city and for football. It’s a traditional game. I think it adds a lot to the holiday. From a preparation standpoint, it’s the same amount of time and all that, but it’s something you’re used to doing. And the players are used to it. It’s a big day there for them.”
5. In the hours after the win over the Colts, Belichick was down on the field at Gillette Stadium playing lacrosse with someone later revealed to be Paul Rabil. On Monday, Belichick — who remains one of the biggest lacrosse fans in the area — explained why he was down on the field with someone he called “the best lacrosse player in the world” hours after he and the Patriots polished off Indianapolis.
“I’ve really gotten to know Paul since his playing days at [Johns] Hopkins, and, of course, up here with the [Boston] Cannons. So he came over here to the game yesterday, so I had to go out there and toss it around a little bit. But, he’s the best lacrosse player in the world.
“His senior year, the game against Syracuse, is probably as good of an individual performance as I’ve ever seen in any sport, in a losing effort. It was a tremendous performance. I think Paul’s done a lot for the game and he’s been a great guy to watch. I really appreciate everything that he does as an athlete and as a lacrosse player: his competitiveness, and his toughness, and his skills. His work ethic is pretty impressive. I thought about making him a strong safety, but it’s hard to take the best lacrosse player in the world out of that sport.”
Rabil posted a picture of his post-game hangout with Belichick on his Twitter page, with the caption, “Coach B throwing a bounce pass my way. The man’s got flavor with his yellow stick.”
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