|Patriots leaning on plenty of coaching, both official and unofficial, through spring sessions||06.05.13 at 12:25 pm ET|
While the Patriots are rightly acknowledged as annually having one of the smallest coaching staffs in the league, they also continue to take on more unofficial advisers and assistants than many other teams.
Over the course of OTAs this spring, several coaches and former players (guys who played for Bill Belichick at multiple spots) were on the field working with players. Former Belichick players have always been welcome on the fields of Foxboro, regardless of whether or not they wore a Patriots uniform. Last summer, former Giants linebacker Carl Banks was spotted on the field during training camp in Patriots gear, working with former Giants teammate Pepper Johnson. The color commentator for the Giants radio team drew the ire of some New York fans for the decision.
On Tuesday, that group includes former offensive lineman Joe Andruzzi (who has worked in an advisory role in the past with the offensive linemen) and defensive lineman Anthony Pleasant, who played for Belichick in Cleveland and New England. They joined a group on the field that included longtime Belichick consigliere Ernie Adams, player personnel chief Nick Caserio (both of whom are a fairly constant presence on the field over the last few years) and Brian Daboll, who is listed on the masthead merely as an “offensive assistant” in his first full year back with the Patriots.
Daboll is an intriguing figure — a former wide receivers coach in New England from 2002-06, he left to serve as an assistant with the Jets, Browns, Dolphins and Chiefs. No one outside the organization is quite sure what his role will be — Belichick said on draft weekend that “we didn’t bring him in here to tape ankles” — but during the most recent round of OTAs, it appeared he was working with the offensive line on a fairly consistent basis.
Longtime offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia welcomes the chance to work with Daboll on a regular basis again.
“I’ve known Brian a long time — 12 years,” Scarnecchia said Tuesday. “He’s a really good football coach and he’s helping wherever he can. I really enjoy our time together.”
That sentiment was echoed by running backs coach Ivan Fears, who — like Scarnecchia — got a chance to know Daboll in his first tour with the Patriots.
“We always could use another good football coach,” Fears said of the 38-year-old Daboll. “The guy has got the experience that he’s got — been a coordinator in the league, seeing the things he’s seen, attack the defenses that he’s attacked. It’s always nice to have a guy like that around. It really is. So I’m excited to have a guy like that around. Especially he was here a long time ago with me, so we’re pretty close. I’m always happy to see Brian around.”
Despite the fact that the Patriots coaching staff underwent minimal turnover this offseason, the chance for someone to bring a fresh perspective to a scenario — at least, a perspective that’s been out of the building for a few years — can be helpful.
“Brian brings a great, fresh mindset into our meetings,” said offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. “He can add to every group in our room. I pick his brain daily. He’s a really good resource to have here. What an addition for us to get him back and have him help us get better every day.”
|Eight things we’re going to be looking for at Patriots OTAs||05.20.13 at 3:18 pm ET|
The Patriots opened organized team activities Monday — NFL-speak for full-squad, low-intensity get-togethers that will give us an opportunity to see the rookies and (many of the) veterans on the field together for the first time. (The media will have access to Tuesday’s workout.)
With the understanding that it will be impossible to make any wide, sweeping judgments of substance on any player because of the slow-speed nature of things (and with the knowledge that, at least according to reports, linebacker Brandon Spikes isn’t there), here are eight things we’re going to be keeping an eye on when we hit Foxboro Tuesday morning.
Tom Brady: The whole thing begins and ends with the quarterback, and while we don’t expect to necessarily be surprised by anything he might be doing, it’s always interesting to see where he is, both physically and mentally. One thing to watch will be how he does when it comes to working with the new faces, particularly at wide receiver. Another will be to keep an eye on his mechanics and any sport of tinkering he’s done with his delivery, something he discussed at great length with Peter King.
The rookies, specifically, Jamie Collins and Josh Boyce: We want to get a look at both of these guys because they’re both such athletic freaks, but Collins intrigues because he may end up playing more of a role in coverage, at least right out of the gate. As for Boyce, he missed rookie minicamp because of a foot issue, and as a result, this should mark his first time on the field with the rest of his teammates in an organized setting.
The tight ends, specifically, Jake Ballard: With Rob Gronkowski expected to be on the shelf at least through the spring, Ballard should certainly get plenty of reps at Gronkowski’s spot in the next month as he works his way back from spending the 2012 season on the sidelines because of a knee issue. It’s important to have a set of realistic expectations for Ballard — he not only spent the entire year on the shelf because of a knee injury he sustained in Super Bowl XLVI, he’s also joining a new system. Regardless, he’ll be interesting to watch. (In that same vein, we’ll also be watching linebacker Dane Fletcher and cornerback Ras-I Dowling, two other players who ended their season on injured reserve.)
|Patriots bringing Brian Daboll back to coaching staff||01.14.13 at 12:00 pm ET|
FOXBORO — In a move similar to bringing back Josh McDaniels during last year’s playoff run as an offensive coaching assistant, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick announced Monday that Brian Daboll is in the process of rejoining the coaching staff. Belichick said Daboll’s role hasn’t been specified yet.
“[It's] similar to what Josh did last year but without any specific responsibility at this time,” Belichick said in announcing the move during Monday’s conference call with reporters. “As soon as we get that worked out, he’ll be part of our coaching staff going forward.”
Daboll was first with the Patriots in the early 2000s, serving as a defensive coaching assistant in 2000. He then worked with McDaniels and coached the wide receivers from 2002-06.
“It’s great to have Brian back,” McDaniels said. “He’s a very good football coach, very knowledgeable and can help us a will certainly help us in a lot of different ways. Certainly having another set of eyes with experience and has a lot of understanding of our system and how we go about doing things, I think, is only a positive for us and can help our football team going forward. I look forward to doing that with Brian.
“Last year when I came back, really anything they asked me to do, I was excited to do. You know, anything you can do to help at this time of year is useful, whether that’s drawing practice cards or sitting in a meeting and having a few ideas on a certain situation in the game plan or anything like that during the course of a week. Everything is so important; every detail is very critical at this time of year and having another football coach on your staff to help is nothing but helpful for us.”
Daboll left New England and joined the staff of head coach Eric Mangini with the Jets and served as quarterbacks coach in 2007-08.
After leaving the Jets, Daboll became the Browns offensive coordinator from 2009-10. He had the same job with the Dolphins (2011) and the Chiefs this past season.
Belichick is very familiar with him, as he served as a graduate assistant for Nick Saban at Michigan State from 1998-99.
|Has former Patriots assistant Brian Daboll already gotten the Dolphins into trouble?||03.01.11 at 4:20 pm ET|
Interesting goings on down in Miami — Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne talked to the media about new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, and sounded excited about the new direction that they plan on taking down in Miami. Daboll, a former Patriots assistant, is installing a new system with the Dolphins, one that Henne describes as “similar to what I was used to at Michigan. It’s a New England offense — New England with a little Jets in it. It’s a good offense for a quarterback.”
No shock there, as Daboll made his bones as an assistant under Bill Belichick in New England. Daboll served as the Patriots’ defensive coaching assistant from 2000 to 2001, and then was the wide receivers’ coach from 2002 until 2006. (He was one of the assistants who left with Eric Mangini, becoming the Jets’ quarterbacks coach in 2007 and 2008, and later, serving as Mangini’s offensive coordinator with the Browns in 2009 and 2010.)
However, the voluntary meetings between Henne and Daboll — get-togethers that are apparently designed to have Henne help install the offense with the other Dolphins in case of a lockout — appear to be in violation of the collective bargaining agreement, as interpreted by a recent NFL memo to each team that said players are not to meet with coaches and receive playbooks during this time in the offseason. Henne’s declaration could put Miami coach Tony Sparano in jeopardy of an NFL fine. (UPDATE: It appears that the Dolphins will not be punished, according to Jeff Darlington of the Miami Herald.)
Of course, many former New England players and executives probably aren’t surprised that something like this has happened to Daboll. When Daboll was initially hired by Miami, former Patriots fullback Heath Evans took a shot at the hiring, saying, “The Dolphins probably just got worse. … When he was in New England, he was never a guy that I would have considered the brains of the operation.” And at the NFL scouting combine over the weekend, former Patriots’ GM Scott Pioli was asked by Miami reporters what his memories of Daboll were when they were together in New England.
“I remember that [Daboll] was a part of a great deal of success there,” Pioli said, simply. Whoa.
For their part, the Dolphins are backing Daboll. This past weekend at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, GM Jeff Ireland said Daboll’s track record was what sold him on Miami.
“His history with quarterbacks, his history being a defensive coach and offensive coach. Coach Sparano and myself were really impressed with the way he put a plan together for our offensive players on the football team,” Ireland said. “I wasn’t necessarily looking at what his production was with Cleveland. I know there were some things there that were different, but we’ve got different personnel and the way he presented his play with us with our personnel was very impressive.”
In addition, quarterback Chad Pennington — who played for Daboll in New York and was in Miami the last three seasons in Miami — said Daboll was a tremendous teacher.
“A lot of the coverage knowledge that I have and understanding defenses comes from Brian,” Pennington recently told the Palm Beach Post. “The year I spent with him, I just learned so much about how defenses attack offenses and all of the nuances of coverage that I didn’t understand before.”
|Browns’ defensive coordinator Rob Ryan reflects on time with Belichick, Pats||11.05.10 at 7:44 pm ET|
He is the other Ryan, less bombastic than his twin brother but no less respected in NFL circles.
Cleveland defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, the twin brother of Jets coach Rex Ryan, will get the chance to lead the Browns’ defense against the Patriots on Sunday. Like many Cleveland coaches, Ryan’s ties to New England run deep — he was the Patriots linebackers coach from 2000 to 2003 before leaving New England to become defensive coordinator in Oakland from 2004 through 2008.
Prior to the start of last season, Ryan joined Eric Mangini’s staff in Cleveland, part of a group of former Patriots assistants — including Mangini, offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and special-teams coach Brad Seely — who have migrated to Cleveland to try and implement the New England system on the shores of Lake Erie.
In his weekly press conference with Cleveland-area reporters on Friday, Ryan recalled his early days with the Patriots where the team wasn’t yet where it wanted to be. In particular, the 2000 season wasn’t what Ryan was expecting.
“Shoot, we had a rough start when we were 5-11 out there. I was questioning it like, ‘Man, I thought this was going to be a little different,’“ Ryan recalled Friday. “Things were a little bleak there and everybody was calling for [head coach Bill] Belichick’s head and everything else like that.”
The nadir of that season was a 19-11 loss in Cleveland, a contest where the Browns’ fans jeered Belichick in his first time back in Cleveland as an opposing head coach. It dropped the Patriots to 2-8.
“I just remember that it was just an awful game. Cleveland got the better of us in about everything they did. They played better on defense, offense, special teams and according to Belichick, which I’m sure he was right, coaching,” Ryan said. ”I can remember getting off of that plane and having a meeting and we just got ripped from one side down to the next.
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|Brian Daboll and Rex Ryan talk Pats||06.19.09 at 1:12 am ET|
Here are a pair of Patriots-related stories found that I thought would be worth passing along:
The first is the transcript of a recent question and answer session with former Patriots assistant and current Cleveland offensive coordinator Brian Daboll. Daboll, who was an assistant with the Patriots from 2000 through 2006 (he was a defensive coaching assistant and wide receivers coach while in New England), talks about where he takes his offensive principles from, the challenges of being a coordinator for the first time and what he learned from working with Tom Brady.
The second is part of an interview with new Jets coach Rex Ryan that took place recently on SiriusXM Radio. Ryan, who made headlines after saying he didn’t come to the AFC East to “kiss Bill Belichick’s rings,” appeared to change his tone a bit, expressing a bit of contrition over the statement. “I certainly didn’t mean to be disrespectful, especially to [Bill] Belichick,” Ryan said. “I have a lot of respect for him. I have a lot of respect for his coaches and his football team, but my point is, we’re not afraid of any of these guys. We’re not intimidated by them and our players shouldn’t be.”
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