|Bill Belichick: ‘Logan Mankins is everything we would ever want in a football player’||08.26.14 at 3:56 pm ET|
“Logan Mankins is everything we would ever want in a football player. It is hard to imagine a better player at his position, a tougher competitor or a person to represent our program. He is one of the all-time great Patriots and the best guard I ever coached. Logan brought a quiet but unmistakable presence and leadership that will be impossible to duplicate. Unfortunately, this is the time of year when difficult decisions have to be made — and this is one of the most difficult we will ever make — but like every other decision it was made for what we feel is in the best interests of the team.”
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|Bill Belichick on D&H: Jimmy Garoppolo starting Thursday to get ‘experience that he needs’||08.25.14 at 4:45 pm ET|
Patriots coach Bill Belichick joined the Dale & Holley show on Monday with Steve DeOssie filling in for Michael Holley for his weekly interview touching on a number of subjects, including the quarterback situation in Thursday’s final preseason game, the releasing of a few veteran players on Monday and some of the league’s rule changes put in place during the preseason.
To hear the full interview, go to the Dale & Holley Audio on Demand page.
Belichick confirmed rookie quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will start in Thursday’s preseason finale against the Giants and play a fair chunk of the game. He’s played in all three preseason games thus far, but will get his first extended work.
“I think in this case it is just an experience that he needs to go through to feel like he is going to start the game – he is going to be in the game for every situation — second down, third down, goal line, red area, two-minute, whatever it is, he needs to be prepared for everything and handle whatever comes up,” Belichick said. “This is also a week that he will have to deal with the media, deal with the production meeting before the game — I’m sure the fans will have a lot of insults for him when he walks on the field, it’s an away game — it’s all the things that a quarterback eventually will do as a starting quarterback.
“Whenever that happens, I have no idea, but whenever it does at least he will have done it once before. I think there is something to be learned here. Ryan [Mallett] has been here 3 ½ years and Tom [Brady] has done it a couple hundred times, so this is an opportunity for Jimmy to get that experience and I am sure he will learn from it.”
The Patriots released veteran defensive linemen Will Smith and Tommy Kelly, linebacker James Anderson along with rookie tight end Justin Jones on Monday. Releasing players ahead of Tuesday’s deadline to get the roster down to 75 players could give them a better chance of hitching on with another team in the league.
“I think that does help them a little bit from that standpoint,” said Belichick. “I think some of those players probably wouldn’t have had a big role in this week’s game anyway. We wanted to make sure we got a good look at some of the younger players that we do want to see that maybe have played a little bit less. In any case, we did what we felt like we needed to do and what is best for the team. The guys that are here will get their opportunity and some of them didn’t play much last week and they will play more this week. We’ll see how it goes.”
Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.
|Chandler Jones on MFB: ‘I take every game seriously’||at 1:03 pm ET|
Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones and wide receiver Julian Edelman stopped by the WEEI studio at Gillette Stadium on Monday for a visit with Middays with MFB’s Christian Fauria and guest host Danny Picard. To hear the interviews, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
The Patriots are coming off a strong effort in their third preseason game, a rout of the Panthers. But Bill Belichick is known for not allowing the team to accentuate the positives very long.
“Coach is very consistent with his coaching. He’s going to coach you the same way if we win or if we lose. And that’s what makes him such a great coach,” Jones said. “He’s going to pick out the things we did wrong, and he’s going to tell you about the things you did right. A lot of that is being a professional athlete — you know when you did good or you did bad. You’ve been playing the sport for this long, you know.”
Many people look at the third preseason game as the most important, but Jones insists that he doesn’t value one more than another.
“See, I don’t look at it that way,” he said. “A lot of different people look at it differently. I take every game seriously, like it will be the last game of the season. I know some people say, ‘It’s just preseason,’ but this is an opportunity for our team to go out there and get better week in and week out. I’m excited. I’m excited for this team to go forth into Week 1.
“As far as the preseason games, some people call it the dress rehearsal, but I take every game seriously.”
Neither play knew what to expect in terms of participation in the final preseason game against the Giants.
“Around here they keep you on your toes with everything,” Edelman said. “They don’t tell you how long you’re going to play, this, that. It’s like everything’s a test. Every week you don’t know how much you’re going to be playing, this, that, and you kind of have to just prepare every day, every week, even in the preseason you’re going to be playing a lot. Because they might say you’re not playing one week or something, and they throw you in there at the last minute, probably just to try to get a test of your mental toughness or something like that. That’s huge over here with the situational and the mental aspect of the game.”
Edelman, coming off a 105-catch season last year, acknowledged he’s reached a new comfort level with Tom Brady, but he’s wary of what can happen once the real games begin.
“Yeah, it’s probably the most confident I’ve ever been. With that said, it’s a lot different circumstances from the years in the past with how things are going and how things are now,” he said. “We’ve had some good plays and we’ve had some bad plays. There’s a lot of things that we have to work on that will get exposed in the regular season. We still have a week, two weeks, to try to get that done.
“When we go out there — we’ve got the Giants this week, we play Miami, a divisional game, first game of the year. Things always on opening day, as Christian can second, it doesn’t always go the same way, everyone’s kind of new, there’s always a crazy play here or something’s going on, it’s the start of the season. So you’ve really got to get ready for those situations and being able to adjust like that.”
|5 thoughts on Patriots’ decision to cut Will Smith, Tommy Kelly, James Anderson||08.24.14 at 9:31 pm ET|
1. Kelly was a bit of a surprise — he’s a terrific locker room guy, and the team had plenty invested in him, as he went on season-ending injured reserve early in 2013, but still managed to rehab diligently and return for camp this summer. In addition, he re-worked his deal in the offseason with an eye toward staying in Foxboro. One thing certainly worth considering is the fact that he will remain on Bill Belichick‘s speed-dial — if the Patriots feel like Jerel Worthy or any of the younger defensive linemen struggle, Kelly could be recalled at a moment’s notice, provided he doesn’t find a home anywhere else around the league. (One template for Kelly could be the overall career arc of Gerard Warren — while the cases aren’t exactly similar, Warren was released by the Patriots on Sept. 7, 2011, but re-signed by New England three weeks later and ended up playing 12 games for the Patriots that season.)
2. It’s easy to take this as a referendum on the younger players along New England’s defensive line. While it appears to be a sign that the Patriots have a strong belief in their younger linemen like Worthy and Joe Vellano (as well as Chris Jones and Sealver Siliga, both of whom are currently working on rehab following injury), there should be a small level of caution, in particular as it relates to Dominique Easley. From this viewpoint, it would be dangerous to look at the moves on Sunday — particularly the release of Kelly — as a sign that Easley is ready to play significant snaps on a regular basis. The first-round pick out of Florida flashed some impressive moves in the first week in pads, but hasn’t seen any game action to this point in the summer. At this stage of his development it would be a mistake to throw him into the deep end of the pool in Week 1 against the Dolphins and have him swim.
3. Smith was occasionally underwhelming in his relatively brief tenure with the Patriots. There were times where he showed the sort of impressive pass rush moves that allowed him to come away with 67.5 sacks over the course of his 10-year career. But at the same time, Smith (as well as the rest of New England’s backup defensive ends) failed to get a consistent push on the quarterback when they saw game action over the course of the preseason. The 33-year-old, who is trying to come back from spending all of 2013 on the shelf because of a torn ACL, is a well-respected player around the league who should get another shot if he desires. Going forward, this will likely create more opportunities for young defensive ends like Zach Moore, Jake Bequette and Michael Buchanan.
4. The release of Anderson was a bit of a surprise — on Sunday’s scale, it ranked below Kelly but ahead of Smith. The veteran, who was acquired as a free agent over the course of the spring as the Patriots tried to bolster their depth at linebacker, did well in coverage in his relatively brief time in New England. One thing that could have factored into the decision to part ways with Anderson was a desire to go with a younger linebacker who had more special teams value. That could likely open the door for someone like Darius Fleming, Steve Beauharnais (who had a nice pick in Friday’s win over the Panthers), James Morris or Ja’Gared Davis to land a spot on the final 53, as they have shown the occasional ability to do both. For what it’s worth, I’d be shocked if Anderson doesn’t find a job somewhere — he’s a great locker-room presence, considered something of a mentor, and is still able to work in coverage. (He led the Bears in tackles last season.)
5. Ultimately, the fact that the three veterans were released this early in the process means a few things, but one of the takeaways is the fact that all three now have a better chance to land somewhere else now than if they were released closer to the final cuts. The Patriots now have nine more cuts to make between now and the Tuesday deadline (4 p.m.) to get down to 75 players. Following that, the finals cuts — to 53 — must take place before Saturday afternoon.
Following the Patriots’ impressive, 30-7 win over the Panthers in last Friday’s third preseason game, the team has put that behind them and turned its focus to the Giants and Thursday’s final preseason game.
“[Sunday] is our day to go through the film with the players and look at the corrections and all the things that happened in the Carolina game and quickly turn the page here and get on to some of the things we need to cover at the end of training camp before we get into the start of the regular season and also get going on the Giants,” Bill Belichick said on Sunday’s conference call. “This is a short week, quick turnaround, and really a lot of things we have to tie up here in the next few days and then hopefully we’ll be ready to turn out attention next week to the start of the regular season.”
Also coming this week are roster cuts, as rosters have to be cut down to 75 players by Tuesday and the final 53-man roster by next Saturday.
“Obviously roster moves will be coming. That will be part of the whole process too,” Belichick said of the upcoming week. “There could be some before, but I’m sure there will be some on Tuesday as well.”
The Patriots will practice Monday, Tuesday and hold a walkthrough on Wednesday before departing for New York/New Jersey for Thursday’s preseason finale.
For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.
|Bill Belichick: With cuts looming, players have to ‘take advantage of opportunity’||08.23.14 at 7:17 pm ET|
With the first round of cuts looming — the Patriots have to go from 87 to 75 players by Tuesday afternoon — Bill Belichick knows that the time is getting short for players who need to carve out a niche for themselves if they want to survive Tuesday’s cuts, much less the second wave of cuts that gets the team to 53 at the end of the month.
“Every player’s situation is different,” Belichick said on a conference call with reporters on Saturday afternoon. “Guys that want to play football that have an opportunity, I think they want to take advantage of that opportunity and make the most of for themselves on it or whatever it is. That’s really all they can control. Whatever else happens is beyond their control. They can just do the best they can with the opportunities they get. Make the most of the ones they get and that will lead to more.
“I think, honestly, everybody pretty much understands that. We all knew at the start of the season that rosters were at 90 and they were going to be cut to 75 and the 53 and so forth. Everybody knows it’s a competitive situation. Just try to go out there and try to do the best you can to make the most out of it.”
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com.patriots.
|Bill Belichick wants to see if this Patriots team (like several others) can show ‘mental toughness’||08.19.14 at 10:12 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Bill Belichick hasn’t seen much losing in his career as a head coach, especially in New England.
The only sub-.500 season Belichick has endured with the Patriots was his first, when the 2000 team went 5-11. The next season, his team started 0-2 but ended up as Super Bowl champions. He’s been a record-setting winner ever since.
In Cleveland, of course, it was different. He had losing seasons in four of his five seasons by Lake Erie and endured the most arduous end to a season imaginable. So, Belichick does remember what losing was like. And he remembers something else, a bad feeling in training camp and preseason usually is never followed by a successful regular season.
On Tuesday, he explained why.
“I think it’s probably just an overall feeling,” Belichick said. “Just the way that the team works, the way they respond to the things they’re asked to do in camp and how they handle some of the tests that they’re put through. It’s a grind. It’s tough. It’s a very competitive situation. It’s a challenge for the team ‘ not just the players – but the entire organization to handle all the things you have to handle in training camp, without something kind of internally being a problem and being ready to go.”
There was no bigger potential distraction than what the 2013 Patriots had to deal with heading into camp, when star tight end Aaron Hernandez was released after being charged with the June 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd. But that was dealt with on the first day. There was the forearm injury of Rob Gronkowski and whether he would be ready to start the season. That actually became a bigger soap opera but eventually he returned and the team rolled to a second straight 12-4 season and a third straight trip to the AFC championship.
In 2011, owner Robert Kraft lost his wife Myra over the summer after helping negotiate the end of the labor impasse. That year, inspired from the start, the Patriots overcame the Ravens in the AFC championship and nearly overcame Rob Gronkowski‘s bum ankle in a heart-breaking Super Bowl loss to the Giants. The seed of toughness of the 2011 and 2013 teams were sowed in the summer.
“You have to be able to show some mental toughness, some ability to block out distractions and focus on your job and improving individually and as a team and all those things,” Belichick reminded everyone Tuesday. “If you can do those over a training camp period of, call it six weeks, then it’s probably a pretty good indication that you have a chance to do it during the year. If you don’t, then it’s probably an indication that when the pressure really comes on during the season, which the pressure is going to mount for the team as the season goes, I’d say the likelihood of it all just magically coming together without a legitimate foundation, I haven’t had a lot of great experience with that.”
In 2001, the Patriots started 0-2, lost their starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe to a life-threatening injury and had an offensive lineman in Joe Andruzzi, whose brother helped save lives at Ground Zero on 9/11. The Patriots somehow managed to overcome the distractions and play with the right kind of emotion, finishing 11-5 en route to a stunning Super Bowl win that started a dynasty.
Of course, Belichick has seen the flip side when his 1995 Browns were submarined by owner Art Modell‘s mid-season announcement he was moving to Baltimore in 1996. The City of Cleveland was devastated and that Browns team could never recover, finishing 5-11.
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