|Bill Belichick: When it came to assembling 2014 roster, things just worked out||02.02.15 at 12:34 pm ET|
PHOENIX — When it comes to team-building, sometimes, the best moves are the ones you end up not making.
When the story of the 2014 Patriots is written, it will likely begin with the offseason pursuit of veteran Aqib Talib. When Talib ended up going to the Broncos, Bill Belichick and the franchise had to adjust their game plan. That set the stage for the Patriots pursuit of Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, two veterans who played a colossal role in the success of the 2014 team.
“Sometimes things just work out. It’s not always a great plan. Sometimes, it’s just the way things fall,” Belichick acknowledged Monday morning, roughly 12 hours after the Patriots captured their fourth Lombardi Trophy.
“We tried to sign Aqib (Talib) and we got in a negotiation with him and his representatives. He is a great football player who ended up signing with Denver,” Belichick said. “Revis was available because Tampa released him. We were able to get involved in that one. We talked to Brandon, and in the end, we were able to work it out with both players.
“Sometimes, those things just work out.”
In fact, the Patriots were able to hit on several personnel moves in the offseason, which included the return of receiver Julian Edelman, as well as the pickup of free agent Brandon LaFell.
“We talked to Julian, and unlike Aqib, that one we were able to work out,” recalled Belichick. “In the process of doing that, we had conversations with LaFell and other receivers. That worked out as well.
“Sometimes, you just don’t know how those things will go until you get into them,” he added. “You talk to the players, you talk to the representatives, you try to figure out where you are as a team and you try to do what is best. In that case, both players, all three players really, Revis, Browner and LaFell, are three guys that came in that weren’t on our team and made a real big impact on our team.”
In addition, Belichick made a point of referencing the four players the Patriots acquired over the course of the regular season — defensive lineman Alan Branch, linebacker Jonathan Casillas, running back LeGarrette Blount and pass rusher Akeem Ayers — all of whom played a sizable role in the success of the Patriots.
“Guys that weren’t with our team in the beginning of the year that came in later on and had a significant impact,” he said. “Those signings were, I’d say, as much as part of the players wanting to play here as much as it was us wanting the players on our team. It worked out.”
|Aqib Talib ‘frustrated’ following blowout loss in return to Gillette Stadium||11.02.14 at 10:18 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Aqib Talib‘s return to Foxboro did not go the way he had hoped.
“It’s bad, man,” Talib said, who was clearly frustrated following the loss, speaking for less than a minute. “We don’t like the performance. We have to watch the tape and get better.”
The Patriots cornerback for a year plus didn’t have much to say at all when asked what it was like coming back to Gillette Stadium and playing against his former team.
“It was a football game,” he said.
Talib was matched up against a variety of Patriots receivers, not sticking to any one player throughout the game. Denver is now 6-2 following the loss, but the Patriots would hold the tiebreaker if the two teams were to finish with identical records.
The Broncos were never really in the game as after they grabbed a 7-3 lead with 3:54 left in the opening quarter, the Patriots went on to score the next 24 points to take a 27-7 halftime lead and never looked back.
“It’s frustrating, man,” Talib said. “That’s why everyone here is mad and quiet in here. We lost. Anytime you lose it’s frustrating. We just have to watch the tape and get better.”
What are the Broncos going to do now, following a 22-point loss to one of their league rivals? Talib put it pretty simply.
“From here we are going to get on the bus, then get on the plane and we’re going to watch the tape and get better,” said Talib.
|Bill Belichick is ‘way past’ Wes Welker’s hit on Aqib Talib||10.29.14 at 2:12 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Much was made of it at the time when Bill Belichick called it, “one of the worst plays [he’s] seen” when Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker hit then-Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib on an apparent pick play across the middle of the field in last year’s AFC Championship game — knocking Talib out of the game with a hip injury and the Patriots lost the game 26-16, ending their season.
But, Wednesday in advance of the Broncos-Patriots matchup this Sunday, Belichick said he’s put that in the past and actually has “a lot of respect” for Welker.
“[I am] way past that,” Belichick said on a conference call with the Denver media. “I have a lot of respect for Wes and what he did for us and what he’s done for the Broncos and what he’s done throughout his career.”
Welker was a member of the Patriots from 2007-12 before the Broncos signed him prior to the 2013 season as a free agent when Welker and New England couldn’t agree on a contract.
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|A trip down memory lane with Aqib Talib||10.27.14 at 6:16 pm ET|
In his year-plus with the Patriots, cornerback Aqib Talib gained a reputation in the locker room with reporters as a terrific quote. In the wake of his discussion about the Patriots on Monday, in no particular order, here are our four favorite exchanges Talib had with the media over the course of the 2013 season:
1) “My bad, man. I had to say hi to Gisele.” — Apologizing to WEEI’s Mut & Merloni on Aug. 14 for being late to an on-air appearance
2) “It’s fun. It’s the NFL. You watch Tom Brady throw bombs, [and I think,] ‘He’s on my team. Hey man, that’s fun!'” — Speaking with reporters Aug. 7
3) “I don’t watch NFL Network or read the newspaper during the season. I’m a basketball fan. My TV pretty much stays on NBA TV. I don’t really read what nobody says.” — Responding to Stevie Johnson’s claim the Patriots didn’t have anybody who could stop him, on Sept. 5
4) “It’s never personal man. It’s never personal. I’m sure, if I see Steve, it’ll be, ‘Hey, what’s up? How you doing?’ It’s never personal. Him and the other guy from St. Louis? That was personal. I mean, he didn’t say he was going to punch me in my face after the game. He just told me to go get in the tub. Kind of thoughtful.” — On his confrontation with Steve Smith during the loss to Carolina on Nov. 20
Aqib Talib is returning to Foxboro.
The former Patriots corner, who signed with the Broncos as a free agent in the offseason, will be making his first trip back to New England since joining the Broncos. The eminently quotable Talib was at his best when he met the Denver media on Monday to discuss his return.
Talib, who played a year-plus with the Patriots — he was acquired from Tampa Bay in a trade deadline deal in 2012 — isn’t sure of the sort of reception he’ll get when he takes the field, but he’s pretty sure he’ll be amped come Sunday afternoon.
“I don’t know. We’ve got to put an amp meter on me or something,” he told reporters Monday. “I don’t really judge my ‘ampness’ for the game.
“But yeah, I get pretty excited for every game, though. So if I’m a little more juiced for this game, I guess you all will be the judge of that.”
Talib said Monday he enjoyed his time in New England, which included two trips to the AFC title game.
“Just the repetitions — the experiences,” he said when asked what made him a better player and better person in New England. “[When you] get older, you grow. I had a great coach, Bill Belichick — great coach. Playing against [QB] Tom [Brady], you learn stuff. Just getting older.
“It’s a real good atmosphere,” he added when asked about playing in Foxboro. “They play real well at home. It’s definitely hard to play there. They’ve got a great crowd. They’re going to be loud. They know when to be loud; they know when to get quiet. So it’s going to be a great atmosphere. It’s going to be a challenge.”
The NFL trade deadline is set for Tuesday at 4 p.m., and there’s already been some speculation about the Patriots pulling off at least one move beforehand. New England has never been shy about making trade deadline moves, including a last-minute pickup of cornerback Aqib Talib in 2012.
But according to Bill Belichick, when it comes to making deals, there’s usually a greater chance of something happening over the summer than right at the deadline.
“I think this is a lot different than at the end of preseason when you’re coming into the 53-man cut time,” Belichick said on a conference call with the media Monday morning. “You’re focused on your opening game, but you’re also focused on your roster, and [so] is every other team. There’s a lot of player movement at that time, as there is, I’d say through the first few weeks of the season on every team.
“If something comes along and it’s something that we think would be worth considering, then we’d talk about it,” he added. “But I wouldn’t say that there’s real heavy back and forth communication throughout the league on big trades. I’d be surprised if that took place on any team. It’s just not that common this time of year. Could it happen? Yeah, there could be a couple trades. But it’s a lot different than what it is at the end of training camp.”
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|Julian Edelman on MFB: ‘We’re building up for the backstretch’ by getting more players involved||at 12:04 pm ET|
While Edelman was the standout through the first few weeks — without much support from the rest of receiving corps — Tom Brady has been spreading out the passes the last couple of weeks. Rob Gronkowski and Brandon LaFell combined to make 20 catches for 173 yards and four touchdowns Sunday.
“You’re getting production out of a lot of guys,” Edelman said. “[Jonas Gray] came up again and had a big game. Timmy [Wright] comes in and has his touchdown. Gronk, Shane [Vereen] having some big plays. The more you have a lot more guys doing things, we’re building up for the backstretch.”
Added Edelman: “[LaFell is] playing lights out. He’s making plays and scoring touchdowns. It’s great for the offense.”
Meanwhile, Edelman’s production has declined. He had just one reception Sunday. He said it isn’t a matter of defenses adjusting to him.
“I think it’s more just: One week it’s this guy, the next week it’s that guy,” he said. “Hopefully it comes back.”
Added Edelman: “The offense has been doing well. You don’t want to do anything differently to disrupt that. I’m sure I’ll be getting targets my way or something like that. It’s the flows of the game. You’re going to be hot sometimes, and sometimes you’re going to be playing a different role. As long as the team’s winning, that’s all it’s about.”
Next up for the Patriots is a game against the AFC-leading Broncos.
“I’ve played in a few of these now, so you’re kind of used to it,” Edelman said, adding: “It’s a conference game. There’s some meaning behind this game, because the winner can put themselves a foot forward in the standings. Its Denver, they’re a good team. They’ve obviously been on TV a bunch. You’ve got Peyton Manning. But I don’t necessarily play against Peyton Manning. I play against the defense.”
“It’s going to be fun, because I loved Talib when he was here,” Edelman said. “We got along real well. I thought he was a great teammate and I enjoyed playing with him. So it’s going to be fun. I also know T.J. Ward a little bit. We train in the offseason together. It will be fun to go out there and play against premier competition.”
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