|Summer Blockbusters: Patriots 5 most impactful personnel moves between start of camp and regular season of Bill Belichick era||08.03.15 at 2:17 pm ET|
The team-building process doesn’t stop at the end of free agency; franchises are always looking to augment their roster. With that in mind, here’s a look at the five most important personnel moves the Patriots have made over the summer months during the Bill Belichick era.
Aug. 19, 2003 — Trade fourth-round pick to Chicago for nose tackle Ted Washington: The 2002 Patriots struggled to stop the run, and as the 2003 season dawned, it remained the Achilles’ heel of the defense. Enter the massive Washington, who was able to play a sizable role (pun intended) in helping craft a championship run defense. The 6-foot-5, 365-pounder shut things down up front in his lone season with the Patriots.
Aug. 2, 2009 — Sign free agent defensive end/outside linebacker Rob Ninkovich: The former backup long snapper had been released by the Saints, but the Patriots scooped him up off the street for nothing. He started as a special teamer, and quickly worked his way into the starting lineup. The 31-year-old has turned into one of the foundational elements of the New England defense — in his six years with the Patriots, he has 35.5 sacks, including three straight seasons with eight sacks or more.
Aug. 6, 2009 — Trade third- and fifth-round picks to Oakland for linebacker Derrick Burgess: The 6-foot-2, 266-pounder out of Ole Miss was acquired by the Patriots roughly a month before the start of the 2009 regular season, and came away with five sacks and a forced fumble in his one year in New England.
July 29, 2011 — Trade fifth-round pick to Washington for defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth; trade fifth- and sixth-round picks to Cincinnati for wide receiver Chad Ochocinco: While these moves weren’t particularly impactful (Haynesworth was gone before the end of the season and Ochocinco looked terrified of making a mistake every time he took the field with New England), they made the list just because they were two outsized personalities who were acquired just after the lockout ended.
Aug. 26, 2014 — Trade offensive lineman Logan Mankins to Tampa Bay for tight end Tim Wright and a fourth-round pick: The Patriots’ most surprising personnel move of the year saw the venerable guard shipped out of town in exchange for Wright, a move tight end who worked to complement starter Rob Gronkowski. While Wright didn’t have overwhelming numbers (and was cut the following offseason), he did set a new mark for dependability as a member of the New England passing attack.
|Jerod Mayo and friends explain ‘The Patriot Way’ and what it means now||01.16.13 at 4:05 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The “Patriot Way’ means different things to different people, even inside the Patriots locker room.
So while, Ravens wide receiver was boldly predicting this year’s AFC championship ‘we’ll make it different, we’re gonna win,” Tom Brady, Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo we’re humbly talking about what it’s like to be a part of a team where the individual doesn’t matter.
“I think Coach [Bill Belichick] always talks about doing your job,” Brady said. “You do your job so that everyone around you can do their job. When people trust each other, then you can play with anticipation and confidence and ultimately go out there and play aggressively. There’s no really no secret to it. It’s just coach puts a lot of pressure on us in practice every day to perform at a high level. When we don’t, we certainly hear about it. When you show up to work every day, you better have your game face on because you’ll end up on the low light film the next morning. I think the guys bring that attitude every day and over the course of a long season, it results in enough wins to get us into the playoffs, give us a chance.”
Brady pointed to past Patriots greats who helped teach him the ‘Patriot Way’.
“I think I was one of those guys that had to learn that too,” he added. “Tedy Bruschi took me aside and Willie McGinest took me aside and Lawyer Milloy took me aside. I think that’s part of the responsibility as a veteran player that you learn from these experiences and you try to convey the message to some of the younger players so they don’t have to learn the hard way. A lot of times you have to learn the hard way in life.
Wilfork echoed Brady’s old-school teachings from great Patriots of the recent past.
“I learned a long time ago with Tedy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel, Willie McGinnest, Rodney Harrison, Richard Seymour, I learned from some of the best that played around here,” Wilfork said. “The first thing that comes to your mind is that you can’t be selfish playing here. It is not about you. It is about the team and if you buy into that you will be very successful, and that is the one thing that I think this organization has had for a long time. Guys that come in here that aren’t selfish and they put the team first because it is a team sport. It definitely is a team sport. You need everybody working on the same page. If you have one or two that are not you can be in big trouble. That is the Patriot Way. We put team first and we win as a team and we lose as a team. I have won a lot of games in my career being here and I wouldn’t change it for nothing.”
The other irony Wednesday was comment from Jerod Mayo, on a day when it snowed in the morning making the rush hour commute difficult. He reminded everyone of Adalius Thomas without dropping his name. It was three years ago when Thomas, Randy Moss, Derrick Burgess and Gary Guyton were sent home for being late to an 8 a.m. meeting on the morning of a snow storm.
“The ‘Patriot Way’ to me, starts at the top with the Kraft family,” Mayo said. “Not only being a good football player, but being a good person and falling in line. If you want to be a good football team, you’ll never be stuck in rush hour traffic. You are the first one here and the last one to leave. I think guys really buy into that, guys that come from other teams, I think they follow the lead of the bulk of this team and it has worked well here.”
For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots. WEEI 93.7FM will broadcast the AFC Championship game between the Patriots and Ravens on Sunday, January 20 at 6:30 p.m.
|Bill Belichick: No snow problem … gang’s all here||01.12.11 at 1:12 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The powerful blizzard that crippled New England on Wednesday didn’t keep the Patriots from making practice. As a matter of fact, every single player was on hand, according to coach Bill Belichick.
“They’re all here,” Belichick said. “We have some experienced Northeastern drivers here.”
Many players, coaches and staff stayed at the Renaissance Hotel next to Gillette Stadium to avoid having to commute to the Foxboro through the storm. Last year, linebackers Adalius Thomas, Gary Guyton and Derrick Burgess were late for a Wednesday morning meeting in December because of hazardous driving conditions.
The trio reported to work and was subsequently sent home for not taking the weather into consideration and being tardy.
|The Big Nickel: Don’t expect bulletin-board material from the Patriots, Tom Brady is a dork and Wednesday will be ‘snow problem’ for practice||01.11.11 at 3:19 pm ET|
FOXBORO ‘ The five most important things you need to know about the Patriots on Tuesday:
1. Alge Crumpler knew what was coming. He was just surprised it took the media until the fourth question into his press conference.
‘Here we go ‘ I thought we would get a few days before some of the banter started, but it is what it is,’ Crumpler said with a smile after he was asked about his ‘personal reaction’ to what he’d heard coming out of New York.
‘Like I said the last time we played, that team takes after their coach. We take after ours,’ he said. ‘It all boils down to what you do on the field.’
The first day of media availability with New England players was Tuesday morning, and Crumpler’s comments were echoed by his teammates. While New York has spent the last few days making bold statements about what’s going to happen, New England players made it clear on Tuesday morning they have no plans on getting into a war of words with Rex Ryan and the Jets.
‘It’s just the philosophy of our team. We’re just … we’re here to work,’ said safety Jarrad Page. ‘When it’s game time, that’s when you’ve got to come out. You can do your talking then. You either win or lose ‘ that’s the most important thing. We’ll let people talk about that instead of what we’re talking about during the week.’
‘They’re just comments,’ shrugged wide receiver Deion Branch. ‘Coach [Ryan] says and does what he does and we do what we do over here. Whatever he has to do to get his team motivated, I think that’s what he’s going to do.’
Linebackers Jerod Mayo and Tracy White say New England’s philosophy of well done is better than well said comes directly from the head coach.
‘I also don’t think you have too many guys who talk trash on this team. They let their game do their talking,’ White said. ‘I know coach preaches it to us every day, so we got used to not saying things, letting our game plan [speak] for ourselves instead of talking. You don’t need too many distractions.’
Apparently, Patriots coach Bill Belichick issued a reminder to players about potential bulletin-board material this week. His advice?
‘Just to let him handle it,’ Mayo said. ‘He does a good job of doing it.’
2. Tom Brady‘s study habits were called into question by Ryan over the last couple of weeks, who first suggested Peyton Manning studies more than he does, and then gently tweaked the Patriots quarterback on Monday after he was informed Brady was at ‘Lombardi’ on Broadway last Saturday night instead of watching the Colts-Jets game.
‘Peyton Manning would have been watching our game,’ Ryan said with a smile.
(For what it’s worth, in his interview with WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan on Monday, Brady did say he caught the second half of the game. ‘I saw the second half of the game ‘ I got home and watched the second half,’ he said. ‘You know what happens to me is I get very anxious watching those games. I was watching the second half and I was actually kind of pissed that I watched it because I didn’t go to sleep ‘til 3 in the morning. You just get riled up as I watch them, and then I start rooting for a team to win, and that’s not really what I want to be doing. I figure I’ll get enough, I’ll see the game. I’ve seen that game [on tape]. You know, it’s just something I wanted to do with my wife.)
However, in the wake of Ryan’s comments on Monday, Brady’s teammates were more than happy to talk about the quarterbacks’ study habits.
‘He said he was watching ‘Lombardi.’ I believe him. He hasn’t steered me wrong,’ said Crumpler. ‘I’m sure he’s watched every ounce of film going back to a lot of different games, as we all have.
‘I think Tom does a great job, not only in his personal preparation, but in his delivery to what he wants to get across to, not only the coaches, but to us as players,’ added Crumpler. ‘He has a real good, keen sense of what’s going on throughout the ball game and he gets his point across, whether it’s quietly or animated or whatever way you want to do it, he’s going to get his point across. And that really translates to us as players in terms of trying to be perfect in our execution on the field.’
‘Tom studies a lot,’ added Branch. ‘We get the bulk of it in the meeting rooms with just the players when we sit down to go over the things that he’s been looking at. It carries over to the practice field as well. Tom is a dork when it comes to that, so I’m going to leave that alone, but Tom is a dork in that meeting room.’
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|Pats, Belichick prepare for ‘uncertainty’||09.06.10 at 1:37 pm ET|
FOXBORO — On the surface, it would seem mildly alarming that Bill Belichick admitted Monday that he has a lot of unanswered questions about his 2010 Patriots heading into Sunday’s opener with the Cincinnati Bengals.
That is before he followed up with the disclaimer that EVERY team in the NFL has questions heading into a season.
He was asked about a few of them on Monday as well as some questions following a weekend of roster-molding moves that saw linebacker Shawn Crable return to the Patriots on the practice squad while waving bye-bye to veteran linebacker Derrick Burgess.
“It’s a busy time,” Belichick said of preparing for Week 1. “There’s a lot of answered questions. There’s a lot of guesswork. You prepare, do the best you can and then you have to be ready to adjust on Sunday. I’m sure there’ll be some things we haven’t seen or players line up in spots that we haven’t seen them in before.
“It’s no different for us or anyone else. It’s more uncertainty than after that first regular season game when you can see how the cards are being played.”
The cards the Patriots will be playing at linebacker consist of Tully Banta-Cain, Jermaine Cunningham, Marques Murrell, Jerod Mayo and Brandon Spikes. Burgess, looking for his second year with the Patriots, was a roster casualty after missing the first week of training camp with a personal issue.
“We had to reduce our roster and we kept the players that we felt were the best players for our team going forward,” Belichick said. “That’s pretty much what it comes down to. Derrick came in and he worked hard. He got off to a late start this year, but he came in and really worked hard. We just went with different players.
Belichick made it clear that as far as Murrell and Cunningham are concerned, their versatility on special teams helped them secure a spot.
“We’ll just see how it goes for that whole group ‘ Jerod, Marques, Jermaine, Tully. I think those players all do some of the same things. They also do some different things. There are a lot of factors to take into consideration there: all three downs on defense, which can have some variety to them, and the kicking game. When you look at all four downs and the players that play at those positions, they contribute in different ways. That’s kind of the whole decision at that position: how to keep the right players, the best players, the best fit players that can help the team the most.
“Again, I think those players have different skills but they also have to do some of the same things, so it’s a combination of that kind of conversation or decision on the roster, and then also as it relates to their ability to play on special teams and contribute on special teams.
And another linebacker returned after clearing waivers over the weekend when Crable was added to the Patriots practice squad.
“We put him out there,” Belichick said. “He had to pass a physical and just normal procedures, so we’ll practice him. He really didn’t get a chance to do much here in training camp, but hopefully he’ll have an opportunity to do that on the practice squad.”
|Reports: Pats will cut Burgess, Woods||09.04.10 at 5:31 pm ET|
The Patriots will release outside linebackers Pierre Woods and Derrick Burgess, according to multiple media outlets. Burgess, 32, recorded five sacks with New England last season, while the 28-year-old Woods, who was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2006, spent the last four seasons with New England working mainly as a situational linebacker as well as on special teams. The news on both players was first reported by ESPN.
|Belichick glad to have Burgess back||08.13.10 at 5:40 pm ET|
After weeks of uncertainty, speculation, and utter confusion, the Patriots have brought back defensive end/outside linebacker Derrick Burgess from a brief attempt at retirement. Given that the Pats brought back the 32-year-old on the same day they lost another big part of their defense in Ty Warren, many are likely wondering what made Burgess change his mind.
“I think that’s between Derrick and myself,” Bill Belichick said on a conference call Friday. “It’s a personal conversation, so they changed basically when he arrived here and passed his physical and conditioning test this morning. He’ll be out on the field the next time we’re out there.”
While Warren’s injury raises a number of questions, Burgess’ return seemingly answers one. Based on training camp and just how thin the Patriots were at outside linebacker, it appeared three-year veteran Marques Murrell or second-round pick Jermaine Cunningham could be a starter at outside linebacker at the open of the season. Now that Burgess is back, there should be more of a rotation with Tully Banta-Cain retaining his own spot.
Belichick spoke rather highly of Burgess when addressing the team’s moves on Friday. The former Eagles’ third-round pick was described by Belichick as being a smart player who would benefit from a second full year in the Patriots’ 3-4 system.
“I think Derrick is a very knowledgable pass rusher,” Belichick said. “He has a good understanding of his opponents, pass-rush technique, and how to defeat blockers and how to specifically defeat individual blockers based on their strengths and weaknesses and how he matches up against them. He played primarily in a 4-3 defense in Philadelphia and Oakland the majority of his career and on our defense he played some in that position but also some as a 3-4 outside outside linebacker type. Again, that’s a little bit different compared to what he had done in the past.”
Belichick noted that from what he was able to see from Burgess in the spring, he had noticed that Burgess was beginning to look more comfortable in the 3-4.
Though he has missed all of camp thus far, his continued adjustment to the system and seeing what he may be able to contribute in his second season under Belichick will definitely be something to keep an eye on. The team finished 23rd in the league last season with with 31 sacks.