|Curtis Martin on Bill Belichick: ‘I didn’t know he would be as great as he is’||02.06.16 at 2:17 pm ET|
This week at Super Bowl 50, Martin took time to reflect on his days in New England with WEEI.com and recalled the days in the late 90s when he had a chance to stay in New England but chose instead to follow Bill Parcells to the Jets after the 1997 season.
Martin’s first year was in New England in 1995, when he was selected in the third round out of Pittsburgh by Bill Parcells. The first year in New England was great for Martin, finishing as the AFC’s leading rusher with 1,487 yards and 14 touchdowns. But the team was just 6-10 under Parcells. The next season, he continued his dominance with 1,152 yards and 14 rushing touchdowns as the Patriots made it to the Super Bowl before losing to the Packers. That ’96 season, Martin met Bill Belichick, who joined Parcells’ staff as an assistant.
“I remember all the guys that he coached telling me that he was a genius,” Martin said. “He was on the other side of the ball but I always knew that Belichick was going to do something great. But I didn’t know he would be as great as he is, though.”
Martin played just one season for Pete Carroll before leaving as a restricted free agent to join Parcells. Belichick, with the likes of Antowain Smith and Corey Dillon as lead backs, led the Patriots to three Super Bowl titles while Martin was playing for the Jets in the early 2000s.
“I don’t know that it changed. I just think that it continued to evolve,” Martin said of his playing style. “I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I was so against leaving the Patriots because I was loyal to the team. I was willing to take even less money [to stay in New England]. But the fact that it was Parcells made it very appealing to me.
“I’m the type of guy who I’m going to be able to function with whatever coach because I’m a coachable guy. I just think that’s our job. That’s what we get paid to do. But Parcells, he knew how to get out of me what I don’t if any other coach would be able to get out of me.”
“That’s something that I’ve always been proud of because before I came there [the Patriots] along with the Jets were the two teams I never wanted to play for. But Bill Parcells restored some pride to the organization. I just think ever since then, the franchise has just increased from year to year.”
Martin looked at Parcells as a father figure who could get the most out of his extraordinary abilities.
|Bill Parcells on D&H: ‘I wasn’t quite open-minded enough’ during time with Patriots||11.19.14 at 10:56 am ET|
Former Patriots coach Bill Parcells joined Dale & Holley on Tuesday afternoon to discuss his new book detailing his career in the league. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
In the book, “Parcells: A Football Life,” the former coach delves into experiences he had throughout his time in the NFL. The hosts asked Parcells if it was a difficult task to reveal so much information.
Said Parcells: “Quite frankly, when you decide that you’re going to do something of this nature, you have to be willing to, I think at least, understand that they’re going to be some things that are not very favorable that are going to be said. Quite frankly, there’s some things that I’ve done in my lifetime that I wish I had the opportunity to do over again. And there are some things I didn’t do that I wish I had the opportunity to do. But that’s the way life is.”
Parcells detailed his relationship with Patriots owner Robert Kraft. At the end of Parcells’ tenure in New England, there was strain between the two, but they’ve tried to patch things up.
“It’s very difficult, particularly I think the thing that precipitated some of the things, was the first year-and-a-half or so that I was there, there was a tremendous number of different agendas with the people that were in the organization. Nobody really was on the same page. We had a general manager at the time that wasn’t qualified to be one. He had no background in football. And it was a very difficult situation. And then of course when a new owner comes in, I didn’t really know what to expect and I was a bit jaded from first-year experience. I would say I had my guard up a little bit too much and I wasn’t quite open-minded enough. But since that time, Bob and I, we had a few differences, but it’s worked out — everything’s fine. The Patriots are in great hands, and they’ve done great, great things. That’s a place that I do feel some sentiment about because it was my first pro job as an assistant coach back in 1980. They gave me the opportunity. So I’ll always be grateful for that.”
|LeGarrette Blount: ‘We feel like we’re the most physical team no matter who we play’||01.12.14 at 2:13 am ET|
FOXBORO — LeGarrette Blount isn’t going to question what’s working.
On Saturday night, he continued his red-hot running that he showed in the final five weeks of the regular season, when he rushed for nearly 600 yards and nine touchdowns in the final month.
On Saturday night, he nearly matched half that touchdown total in his first career playoff game. Blount ran it into the end zone four times, surpassing Curtis Martin‘s three touchdowns of Jan. 1997 against the Steelers, and just one shy of the NFL record set by Ricky Watters for the 49ers on Jan. 15, 1994 against the Giants.
Blount led a team effort that totaled six rushing touchdowns, with the other two coming from Stevan Ridley. The six rushing touchdowns was just one shy of the seven by the Bears against the Redskins in the 1940 NFL Championship, won by Chicago, 73-0.
‘That’s what we go into the game thinking,” Blount said. “We feel like we’re the most physical team no matter who we play, and that’s how we practice, that’s how we play, and that’s our mindset.
‘We didn’t know that we [were] going to be able to dominate, but we came in, our game plan was to play tough and play physical and go out there and get a win by any means necessary, and if we weren’t able to run the ball, we always got No. 12 that’s going to put the team on his back and do great things like he’s always done in his whole career,” Blount said.
That No. 12 happens to be Tom Brady, who didn’t throw a single touchdown pass for just the fourth time in his NFL postseason career. The Patriots have won all four.
‘If you would have told me before the game, I would not have believed it at all,” Blount said.
Blount sealed the win with a 73-yard breakaway early in the fourth quarter that put the Patriots up, 36-22. He was looking at the video board while Logan Mankins raised his right hand immediately in triumph as soon as Blount broke free in the secondary.
‘I didn’t look at the big screen until I got free,” Blount said. “I looked at it to see if anybody was close to catching me, and they weren’t, and the rest is history.’
|Patriots roll Texans for an AFC championship rematch with Ravens||01.13.13 at 7:55 pm ET|
Shane Vereen tied a franchise playoff record with three touchdowns and Tom Brady threw three TD passes as the Patriots did the expected and beat the Texans, 41-28, in their AFC divisional game at Gillette Stadium. Wes Welker caught eight passes for 131 yards and Brady passed Joe Montana for most wins (17) by a quarterback in NFL playoff history. Brady, who finished 25-of-40 for 344 yards, is now 17-6 all-time in the postseason.
The win sets up the first AFC championship rematch since the Broncos and Browns in 1986-87. The Patriots will host the Ravens next Sunday evening at 6:30 at Gillette Stadium.
The three touchdowns by Vereen tied the franchise playoff record for touchdowns in a single game, held by Rob Gronkowski and Curtis Martin.
The Patriots special teams were bad from the beginning. Danieal Manning returning the opening kickoff 94 yards to the Patriots 12 yard line. But the Patriots defense held Matt Schaub and the Texans to just three yards and a 27-yard field goal from Shayne Graham.
The Patriots got the ball and went three-and-out, and lost Danny Woodhead to a left thumb injury on their first offensive play of the game. On the next drive, things got worse when the Patriots lost Rob Gronkowski when he appeared to re-injure his left forearm in trying to make a diving catch deep along the right sideline. Chandler Jones also injured his ankle in the first half and did not return.
The Patriots finally got momentum on the third drive, marching 65 yards in six plays. Vereen ran off left tackle for a 1-yard touchdown to give the Patriots a 7-3 lead late in the first. The Patriots made it 10-3 on a 37-yard field goal from Stephen Gostkowski early in the second quarter.
The Patriots appeared to gain full control of the game when they went 80 yards in seven plays for a 17-3 lead. Brady hit Vereen with an eight-yard pass to the short left for the touchdown. The key play on the drive was a Brady to Welker pass down the left sideline for 47 yards to the Houston 8. On the play, Welker caught his 59th postseason pass, passing Troy Brown for the all-time franchise lead.
Welker was huge in the first half, catching six balls for 120 yards
But the first half did not end well. On the ensuing kickoff following Vereen’s second touchdown, Manning returned it 35 yards to the Houston 38. Gostkowski committed a horse collar tackle that added 15 yards. Arian Foster later ran it in from two yards to cut the lead to 17-10. The Patriots got the ball back with 1:09 left and went three-and-out. The Texans got the ball back and managed a 55-yard field goal from Graham to cut New England’s lead to 17-13 at the half. Read the rest of this entry »
|The Hot List: Best opening acts by Patriots rookies||09.12.12 at 12:42 am ET|
The performance of rookies Chandler Jones, Dont’a Hightower and Tavon Wilson in the season-opener against the Titans on Sunday got us to thinking: What were some of the best performances by Patriots first-year players in openers? And so this edition of ‘The Hot List’ looks at the five best debuts by New England rookies.
It’s measured solely on first impressions a rookie makes in his initial game as a professional. (It has to be with the Patriots.) As a result, some of the most impressive members of the franchise, like Tom Brady (who technically became a star in his second season) and Wes Welker (who broke into the league with the Chargers and Dolphins before signing with the Patriots) are ineligible. With that understood — and with some help from our friends on Twitter — here’s a look at New England’s five favorite rookie debuts:
5. Defensive end Chandler Jones and linebacker Dont’a Hightower: Sept. 9, 2012, vs. Titans — The two rookies provided the oomph for a New England defense that carried the day in a 34-13 win over the Titans. Jones had five tackles (three solo) and a strip sack of Titans quarterback Jake Locker in the first half, his first as a pro. Hightower, who added five tackles (four solo) of his own, was the beneficiary of Jones’ forced fumble, coming away with the ball and rumbling into the end zone from six yards out for his first touchdown as a pro. (Defensive back Tavon Wilson also gets some credit for his work — he picked off one Locker pass in the end zone, and added a pair of passes defensed in the win.)
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|Patriots Positional Playoff Preview: Tight ends||01.04.12 at 3:08 pm ET|
With the Patriots off this weekend and the postseason ready to begin, we’ve got the Patriots Positional Playoff Preview, a weeklong, position-by-position look at the Patriots and how they look heading into the postseason. We’ve already broken down the running backs and quarterback. Now, it’s the tight ends.
Overview: In just over a year, the Patriots’ passing game has evolved from a system that had almost no input from the tight ends into one that has become more reliant on tight ends than any other passing game in the league. The combination of Hernandez and Gronkowski represents a matchup nightmare for almost every opposing defense in the NFL — Hernandez, who has the build of a wide receiver, can be used as an in-line blocker, in the slot or split wide, while Gronkowski’s size and catch radius make him one of the best and most dependable targets in the league.
Gronkowski set numerous marks this year: his 1,327 receiving yards were a new record for most receiving yards in a season by a tight end. In addition, he finished the season with 18 overall touchdowns (17 receiving, 1 rushing). His 17 overall touchdowns passed Curtis Martin (17 overall in 1996) for the second highest single-season total in Patriots history and the most in NFL history by a tight end. In addition, he was fourth in the league in yards after catch with 668.
It’s not just their pass-catching abilities that make them unique. In the case of Gronkowski, he has become one of the better blocking tight ends in the league, and over the last month, with the New England offensive line in a state of recent reconstruction, he has been utilized more as a blocker. Going forward, the Patriots will continue to face some elite pass rushers, and so it wouldn’t be a surprised to see Gronkowski used as a blocker more often. That would put more of a burden on Hernandez to step up his game, and down the stretch, he has certainly done that.
Best Moment: Both had several incredible moments over the course of the season, but our vote goes to Gronkowski’s performance in the Dec. 11 win over the Redskins in Washington, where he rumbled for an extraordinary 160 yards on six catches, including a Bavaro-esque 49-yard catch and run where he shook a handful of Redskins’ tacklers on the way to the Washington red zone.
Worst Moment: It’s almost nitpicking, but perhaps the worst of the season came late in the first half of the win over the Jets where Hernandez bobbled a Tom Brady pass on the goal line that would have given New England a touchdown. Instead, Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie snatched it out of the air and took it back to midfield at the end of the half. As for Gronkowski, he was the second-most penalized player on the team this season with six flags against him.
By the numbers, courtesy of Nuggetpalooza: A Patriots’ tight end caught at least one pass for a gain of 20+ yards in 15 of the 16 games this season. No other team’s tight end managed such a catch in more than 12.
Money quote: ‘The skill set of both those players really allows us to be flexible. Not only are they good blockers, but they can catch the ball, too. You can run it behind them, you can play-action pass and then they’ve become pretty efficient in the passing game also, just to spread them out and be able to run them on different run combinations. They’re very good players.’ ‘ Brady on Gronkowski and Hernandez
|Some highlights from Bill Parcells’ Monday Q&A with the media||04.18.11 at 11:14 am ET|
Bill Parcells ‘ along with Drew Bledsoe and Houston Antwine, one of three finalists for the Patriots Hall of Fame ‘ held a conference call with the media Monday morning. (Fans can vote at Patriots.com.) Here are some of the highlights of his Q&A with the media:
You say this is a surprise … why is that?
“I don’t know. First of all, I really didn’t know much about this. I really didn’t know that this was in existence at the Patriots. Stacey was kind enough to call me and tell me about it, so it was a surprise in that matter of speaking. I really just wasn’t familiar that they had something like this going on.”
On the second stint in New England, what do you remember the most?
“Well, I remember going there, and in all honesty, the franchise was ‘ I don’t want to say in disarray, but it certainly was unsettled. That would be the best way to put it. The ownership was unsettled, there were not a lot of people going to the games. The management of the franchise was unsettled. It was a big undertaking. I do see a lot when Robert Kraft took over the team, that was very, a major step for stability for the franchise, and for the Patriots themselves. Of course, now it’s one of the premier franchises, top three or four in the league, no doubt. Just look what’s happened in the 15 years or 16 years from then until now. It’s gone from being a place that didn’t have very good facilities to having the best. The team wasn’t great and now it’s certainly a premier team. And Bill Belichick’s done a tremendous job there, a remarkable job. It’s a model for the teams in the league there that are striving to do what the Patriots have already done. I don’t really think I had a whole lot to do with that, but I think the one thing I would say that was helpful is that we were able to, in the course of my time there, I’ll name a few guys because I was just thinking about what i was going to say: besides the obvious in Drew Bledsoe, [Willie] McGinest, Ty Law, Lawyer Milloy, Troy Brown, [Tedy] Bruschi, Curtis Martin, Adam Vinatieri, Terry Glenn … we were able to put those players on the team to go with Ben Coates and [Bruce] Armstrong and Sam Gash and Maurice Hurst, who was a good little player, guys who were already there, and I think that was the beginning of some personnel continuity. Some of those kids have gone on to be as you know some of the great players in Patriots history. So I do take a sense of accomplishment in that because there are some real quality players there who made a significant contribution to the development of the franchise.”
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