|Mike Petraglia, Chris Price dish on Dante Scarnecchia, Brandon Spikes, protecting ‘Patriot Way’||04.17.14 at 5:52 pm ET|
FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia is joined by Chris Price to discuss the leadership that offensive captain Logan Mankins brings to the Patriots. Mankins defended the team against the harsh criticism of former linebacker Brandon Spikes and laughed off a prediction from Spikes that his new team, the Bills, would beat the Patriots twice in 2014. Petraglia and Price also discuss how Mankins will stabilize a veteran offensive line that lost its longtime coach, Dante Scarnecchia, to retirement.
1. He sounds optimistic about the upcoming transition period for the New England offensive line.
For the first time since shortly after the earth cooled, Dante Scarnecchia will not be coaching the Patriots offensive line. It’ll be an interesting stretch for Mankins, who will be losing the only position coach he’s known at the professional level. However, Mankins said new offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo “seems like a great guy, and I look forward to working with him.”
“It’s going to be a big change,” Mankins said when asked about moving on from Scarnecchia. “I was lucky enough to have him for nine seasons. I wish that could have continued. But he put in his time and he earned the right to retire. Last time I talked to him, he was enjoying life right now and he’s staying busy. But it will be a lot different. That’s the only o-line coach I’ve known for quite a while now, so, it’ll be a bit of a change.”
What does Mankins want out of a new coach?
“Personally, I just want a coach that’s fair, he’s going to treat everyone the same — there’s no one on a pedestal,” he said. “I think I learned to appreciate that from Dante. He was a hard coach, but he was a fair coach. We always knew he had our backs. He demanded a lot of us, but I think that’s what made a lot of us good players. That’s why he was such a successful coach and lasted so long.”
2. He’s been working a lot with fellow guard Dan Connolly this offseason.
According to Mankins, for the first time in several years, both Mankins and Connolly aren’t dealing with any sort of offseason rehab for surgery. As a result, the two have been working together in the area to ‘get after it’ for a few hours every morning. He said
“It’s been a good partnership right now,” Mankins said. “In years past, I had surgeries, he had surgeries, we had the whole lockout thing. We used to (train) a long time ago until certain things changed that, so this year was nice to get back together.
“We meet every morning at a certain time and get after it for a few hours then go home. It’s always nice to have someone to work out with, especially at your own position, that you are working on the same things,” Mankins said. “We’ve been pushing each other and it’s been working out well.”
Right now, Mankins said it’s just “the big boys throwing around weights.” That will transition to the start of the offseason program on Monday, where coaches can get involved. At that point, it’s expected that more cardio will be worked into the mix. Mankins said center Ryan Wendell has also been present since re-signing about three weeks ago, while youngsters Jordan Devey and Chris Barker have also been present.
(For what it’s worth, Mankins also sounded an optimistic note on the state of right tackle Sebastian Vollmer, who went down in October with a season ending leg injury. “He looks good right now, too. I don’t know his whole update right now, but he looks good and I know he’s working hard,” Mankins said of Vollmer. “There’s good promise there.”)
3. There’s something to be said for continuity.
If everyone returns healthy, the Patriots will have a chance to utilize the same five starting offensive linemen they had at the beginning of the 2013 season — Vollmer (right tackle), Connolly (right guard), Wendell (center), Mankins, (left guard) and Nate Solder (left tackle).
“It’s always good,” said Mankins when asked about continuity. “We know what were doing, (but) it always comes down to making the right blocks and doing a good job. We like the group we have. We like the guys in that room. They’re all hard working guys and they try very hard and they work hard. I think we could have a good season together.
“I look forward to seeing everyone get back and everyone getting to work together finally,” he added. “It’s always exciting, kind of like your first day back at school, I guess. You get to see everyone after the break, get to catch up with some friends you haven’t seen too much of lately, and get to work together, push each other, and see if other guys have been working as hard as you have.”
|Matt Light on D&C: ‘I didn’t honestly know if [Darrelle] Revis would be that guy’ for the Patriots||03.13.14 at 10:13 am ET|
Former Patriots offensive lineman Matt Light joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday to discuss New England’s acquisition of cornerback Darrelle Revis. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Wednesday night that the Patriots and Revis agreed to a one-year, $12 million contract.
“I did figure they’re going to find somebody in the free agency market, or they’re going to find somebody out there that’s got some experience,” Light said. “I didn’t honestly know if Revis would be that guy.
“I didn’t think Revis would say to himself, ‘Hey, I’m going to take a little bit of a hit and go play for a guy that I’ve butted heads with in the past.’ But ultimately, though, you do look at Revis as a guy who is in that point in his career where he said, ‘I want to go win it and I want a legit shot at winning it, and I know that Bill Belichick is that guy.’ He can definitely give that opportunity to him.”
During his one season in Tampa Bay, Revis had 50 tackles with two interceptions and 11 passes defended.
“When you’re running with a guy like Darrelle Revis … [he's] got a little bit of an edge to him,” Light said. “He can go out there and make plays, but not just make plays, but almost intimidate the other team. It’s only going to give a little bit of swagger to the rest of the guys that are back there with him.
“So much of that stuff is proven out throughout the week in practice, so a guy like Darrelle Revis is sitting there, he’s conversing with some of these young guys and they’re going over some strategy and he’s hearing some stuff from Bill that he maybe hasn’t tried before and he’s adding a few more tools to the box and all of those things will add up to hopefully a very confident team when they take the field.”
|Patriots position-by-position breakdown: Offensive line||02.03.14 at 1:46 pm ET|
With the Patriots done for the year, we’ve got an end of the year position-by-position breakdown of where the roster stands. We started with special teams, wide receivers, tight ends, running backs and quarterbacks. Now, it’s the offensive line.
Depth chart: T Nate Solder, G/C Dan Connolly, G/T Logan Mankins, C Ryan Wendell, T/G Marcus Cannon, T Sebastian Vollmer, G Josh Kline, G/T Will Svitek, G Chris Barker, OT Markus Zusevics. (C/G Braxton Cave, T Jordan Devey and OL R.J. Mattes are all practice squadders.)
Overview: It was an up-and-down season for the New England offensive line. On many occasions, the group was able to do an excellent job buying time for quarterback Tom Brady to deliver the ball, as well as create sizable holes for backs like LeGarrette Blount to run through over the course of the season. However, there were times — and part of this was due in part to breakdowns in other areas, as well as injury — that the line struggled to hold up. Over the course of the season, the Patriots faced some of the best defensive front sevens in the league, and while they were frequently up to the challenge, there were times where they had issues, particularly in pass protection. Some of that can be blamed on the fact that, as a group, the offense was still searching for an identity and struggling with the acclimation of so many new faces. But don’t tell that to the offensive line, a group that continued to hold itself to an almost impossibly high standard regardless of the opponent and situation.
As a group, it was clear that health was an occasional issue. Vollmer had a leg injury that limited him to eight games, while Solder missed a game because of a head injury. As a result, the Patriots had to rely on versatility and depth to get them through some of the toughest points of the season. After Solder went down late in the loss to the Dolphins in Miami, Kline stepped in at left guard and Mankins played left tackle. The same combo faced the Ravens the following week, and held up impressively in the face of the stern Baltimore pass rush.
In the end, much of the mental toughness that eventually became the calling card of the 2013 Patriots came from the offensive line, and, by extension, Mankins. Now the second most senior member of the roster in terms of time in a New England uniform (he was drafted in 2005, and while there have been guys who have been in the league longer — Andre Carter, Isaac Sopoaga — only Brady has been with the Patriots longer than Mankins), he’s the leader of the line, and one of the premier leaders in the locker room. After nine years in the league, Mankins — who was named a second-team All-Pro for the fifth time in his career in 2013 — continues to set the standard.
Going forward, this group will be interesting to watch. The Patriots have a decision to make on pending free agents Wendell and Svitek, and Vollmer faces a return from a leg injury that prematurely ended his 2013 season. And then, there’s the question of how the group will react to the retirement of longtime offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, who leaves the franchise after 30-plus seasons. Stability, consistency and continuity have always been the watchwords of the New England offensive line, and as it enters a new era without Scarnecchia, the transition to new coach Dave DeGuglielmo will be something to watch in 2014.
Best moment: It’s shortsighted to measure an offensive line purely on sacks alone, but their work against the Falcons was pretty impressive — Brady wasn’t sacked in a September win in Atlanta. (The only game all season he wasn’t sacked.) The stretch drive the group was able to put together over the final three regular season games and the first playoff game, clearing the way for Blount to carry the offense on his back, particularly against the Bills, Ravens and Colts.
Worst moment: Probably the singular worst series for the New England offensive line was coming out of the half for the start of the third quarter against the Jets on Oct. 20: the first six offensive plays for the Patriots went as follows: sack/interception/four-gain gain/five-yard gain/no gain/sack. It’s tough to lay all that at the feet of the New England offensive line, but by Mankins’ own admission, it starts up front, and the line wasn’t able to get the job done. By the end of the quarter, a 21-10 lead turned into a 27-21 deficit, and ended up in an overtime loss. For more from Mankins on that breakdown, click here.
By the numbers: 1,218. The number of snaps played by Wendell this season, tied with Brady for most on the team.
Money quote: “I’ve coached a lot of tough guys. I don’t think there’s any that I would put ahead of him. Maybe some on that level, but none ahead. Anytime Logan needs help getting off the field, you feel like it’s something serious. Usually he ends up just staying out there, but for him to need assistance getting off the field was definitely a concerning moment. Then when [head athletic trainer] Jim Whelan came back and told me, as you mentioned, after the next series that Logan was back, I was a little bit surprised to hear that. He’s a tough individual, tough-minded, physically and mentally tough.” — Bill Belichick on Logan Mankins
|Retiring Patriots OL coach Dante Scarnecchia on D&C: ‘The game’s not forever’||01.24.14 at 9:59 am ET|
Dante Scarnecchia joined Dennis & Callahan on Friday to discuss his decision to retire from his position as a Patriots offensive line coach after 30 years with the team. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Scarnecchia announced his retirement on Wendesday.
“Well, I think it’s been something that I’ve considered actually over the last couple of years as you get into your 60s and, in my case, into the mid-60s — I’m three weeks away from being 66,” Scarnecchia said. “I just said OK.
“I can tell you I could keep going and I feel great and I love the game and all the rest of it. But at some point — and I’ve always told this to the offensive linemen whenever we lost a guy out of our meeting room who we all felt pretty strong about — that the game’s not forever. It’s not forever for the players and it’s not forever for the coaches.”
This past season Scarnecchia was the longest-tenured coach in the NFL after entering the league in 1982 and spending 30 of 32 seasons with New England.
“For some unbelievable and unexplainable reason, when we lost a coach out of here I was able to stay on with the coach that was coming in,” Scarnecchia said. “I don’t know how to explain that. When [Bill Parcells] came in here, I did not know Bill Parcells at all. For some reason three guys he was bringing in spoke on my behalf saying, ‘You ought to keep this guy,’ and I was fortunate to be kept on there.
“There were a couple of times where I was able to say — and it was when Parcells went to the Jets and he asked me if I would come along — I said I’ve got this daughter and she’s almost out of high school, and I can’t do that. I can’t do that,” Scarnecchia added.
|With coaching vacancies in Foxboro, these names could be in mix for Patriots||01.23.14 at 1:44 pm ET|
With the recent exodus of coaches from the Patriots staff — linebackers coach Pepper Johnson, offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia and tight ends coach George Godsey have departed — here are seven individuals could be the mix in Foxboro for either a new job with the Patriots or a promotion within the franchise.
Jim Schwartz — The former Lions head coach has been tight with Bill Belichick for several years. He worked with Belichick in Cleveland — the turkey sandwich story has been told and retold a million times (scroll down for the full tale) — before moving on to become a defensive coach for the Ravens and Titans. He was the head coach in Detroit from 2009 through 2013. Based on his work as a linebackers coach, he could be a candidate to take over for Johnson.
Greg Schiano — One of a handful of former college coaches Belichick cultivated a relationship with — Schiano was at Rutgers before moving to the Buccaneers, who fired him this month — Schiano reportedly is in the mix for the Browns head coaching job. If he doesn’t land with Cleveland, he could make his way to Foxboro to work on the defensive side of the ball. (One thing to remember when considering Schwartz and Schiano — Belichick has been very kind in the past to former head coaches who need a one-year, transitional job as assistants before they jump back into working as a coordinator or head coach. See Dom Capers.)
Brian Daboll — Daboll is already in the system, having returned last year to work as a vaguely defined “offensive assistant.” We know he had his fingerprints on several aspects of the offense in 2013 — for what it’s worth, during training camp, he was working extensively with the offensive line as well as Tim Tebow. (Remember him?) He wasn’t named to replace Scarnecchia as the offensive line coach but could move into Godsey’s role with the tight ends, or continue to serve as an unofficial offensive adviser.
Jerry Schlupinski — The Patriots have a track record of promoting from within, and if they go that route, Schlupisnki — a coaching assistant who joined the franchise in 2013 — could be their guy who has an expanded route in 2014. His pedigree is similar to personnel chief Nick Caserio and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels in that he made his bones at John Carroll University in Ohio — in fact, he played alongside them as a collegian. (He also worked at JCU as a coach.)
Joe Judge — Currently the assistant special teams coach, he could be another candidate to be promoted from within to take over one of the available positional vacancies. Judge has worked under special teams coach Scott O’Brien the last two seasons and has an impressive resume, having spent time as an assistant under Nick Saban at Alabama.
Patrick Graham — After spending a season as the defensive line coach, Graham could be shuffled back to the linebacker spot to take over for Johnson. (He was linebackers coach in 2011.) Then they would hire someone else to take over at defensive line. The Yale product joined the organization as a coaching assistant in 2009 and has worked as a defensive assistant as well as a linebackers and defensive line coach.
Matt Patricia — Graham’s coaching flexibility could also open up an expanded role for Patricia. It’s conceivable the Patriots could have Patricia handle a position grouping in addition to his current work as a coordinator. (They’ve done it for several seasons on the offensive side of the ball, where both Bill O’Brien and McDaniels have served the dual role of quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator.) Patricia also has experience coaching the linebackers, as he was there from 2006-10.
|Report: Josh McDaniels possibly back in play as candidate for Browns head coaching job||01.22.14 at 11:43 pm ET|
The same week the Patriots lost offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia and linebackers coach Pepper Johnson, a new report indicates that the Browns have a renewed interest in hiring New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels for their vacant head coaching job.
Tony Grossi of ESPNCleveland.com reported Wednesday night McDaniels and the Browns have had “more conversations,” and that McDaniels is “possibly back in the mix” for the position.
McDaniels acknowledged earlier this month that he was interviewed for the Cleveland opening but publicly bowed out of consideration, saying that he was going to stick with the Patriots.
“I’ll definitely be here,” McDaniels said on Jan. 14. “I think all it means is that, you know, I made the decision that this is the right time for me to be here. I’m really happy here. … I’ve said that numerous times. There’s not really much else to it. I don’t think it’s … you know, it’s a process you go through sometimes and you ultimately have to make choices based on what’s best for you and your family. That’s what I try to do.”
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
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