|Mike Lombardi on K&C: Tom Brady will ‘play under control’ in return from suspension||10.07.16 at 10:18 am ET|
NFL analyst Mike Lombardi, making his weekly appearance with Kirk & Callahan, predicted Tom Brady would have a good day Sunday in his return to the Patriots but warned against taking the Browns lightly. To hear the interview, go to the Kirk & Callahan audio on demand page.
With Brady returning from his Deflategate suspension, many are suggesting this will lead to a big day for the New England offense.
“I think he’ll play well. I really think Tommy will play good,” Lombardi said. “I don’t know if he’ll go nuts. I think he’ll just play good. I don’t think he’ll try to overextend himself and put himself in a dangerous position where he can turn the ball over. Look, the only way they lose the game is if they lose the game turning the ball over. I think he’ll be careful and he’ll play under control.”
The Browns come in at 0-4 and are starting their third quarterback, rookie Cody Kessler, following injuries to Robert Griffin III and Josh McCown in the season’s first two weeks.
“I think they’re a 45-minute team,” Lombardi said of Cleveland. “I don’t have power rankings, I break teams down [by] the amount of minutes they play really good football and then they kind of fall apart. And I think the Browns are about a 45-minute team.
“They run the ball. They have two running backs on the team that average over six yards a carry [Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson]. So they can run the football, they’re running game is really good. They’re able to make some plays offensively, [Terrelle] Pryor’s been outstanding. Cody Kessler, I think what you’ll see out of him is he’s playing his third game, he’s not a big man, he wears down, his arm strength isn’t great, he can’t really throw the ball down the field. I think this is a good game for the Patriots to prove that their defense can take a step up.
“Offensively [for the Patriots], look, they’ve played against this scheme a long time, going back to Dick LeBeau in Pittsburgh, and Brady knows it well, Josh McDaniels knows it well. They’ll move the ball on them. And I think the key is going to come down to the red zone, getting it in there.
“But this is not a game where you can take this opponent lightly, because as you said, they clearly could have beaten Miami. Washington’s defense isn’t very good, but [the Browns] moved the ball effortlessly on Washington, they just couldn’t finish drives. I think it will be a game where they’ll play hard and the Patriots are going to have to beat them.”
|Cleveland’s Terrelle Pryor thought he was going to join Patriots last year||10.01.16 at 9:26 pm ET|
Terrelle Pryor is with the Browns, but a year ago, he would have bet anything he would have been a Patriot.
The Ohio State product, who has blossomed into an offensive chess piece in Cleveland, thought he was earmarked for New England last year after a workout and visit with the Patriots..
“I really thought I was going to be a Patriot,” Pryor told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “I know Bill Belichick really liked me. I had a great workout for them and everything went really well. I really thought he was going to sign me.”
Pryor was cut by Cleveland, and was a free agent before re-signing with the Browns later in the year. He said the connection with New England didn’t happen due to concerns about a lingering hamstring injury.
The 6-foot-6, 240-pounder had 144 yards receiving, 21 yards rushing and 35 yards passing last week against the Dolphins while lining up at a variety of spots. How could he have been used by the Patriots? The possibilities boggle the mind.
Former Patriots front office staffer Mike Lombardi has lamented the fact that New England didn’t take a shot at Pryor.
“We blew it,” Lombardi recently said repeatedly on the Bill Simmons podcast. “The league often gives you a chance to be great, and if you don’t talk advantage of it, it’s your own fault and that was one of those times we didn’t take advantage of it in New England, clearly.”
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|Mike Lombardi on K&C: Patriots might be planning to play both QBs vs. Bills||09.30.16 at 10:16 am ET|
NFL analyst Mike Lombardi, making his weekly appearance with Kirk & Callahan, said the Patriots are justified in waiting to decide until shortly before game time who will start at quarterback against the Bills on Sunday. To hear the interview, go to the Kirk & Callahan audio on demand page.
Lombardi said the Patriots need to wait as long as possible to see if Jimmy Garoppolo can play through the injury to his shoulder.
“I don’t know if anybody can know that until Sunday,” Lombardi said. “I really don’t. And I don’t mean to be skirting the issue. But I think that Garoppolo is in such an iffy situation. I think Jacoby Brissett’s fine. I think whatever the rumors were about Brissett were wrong. I think Brissett’s fine, I think he can play. I think they probably tried to split reps [in practice].
“But I think the key’s going to be, it’s going to be windy on Sunday, can Garoppolo throw the ball all the way around the field, and how much pain can he tolerate. I don’t know if they’re really going to know that until Saturday — at least Saturday, or Sunday [after] another day of treatment. And if he can go, I would suspect he’ll go, but I have a feeling they’ll play both quarterbacks. … I don’t know if Jimmy’s going to be able to play for 60 minutes, and I don’t think they’ll want to risk that.”
Lombardi said this game likely will come down to New England avoiding mistakes and winning a low-scoring battle.
“They’re going to manage the game,” Lombardi said. “The first thing they’re going to do is not lose the game. So they’re going to protect the ball, not turn it over. And look, they’re not playing a juggernaut, they’re not playing the greatest offense on turf, So you’ve got to look at them and say, ‘OK, look, if we keep them in the pocket, if we don’t turn the ball over, if we don’t give up a big run, the game’s going to be in the teens.’ They’re not going to score very many points. So that’s how you have to approach the game plan: ‘Look, we’re not going to give up a big play down the field. If [wide receiver] Marquise Goodwin comes on the field, everybody on the sideline, play the deep ball. You’ve got to handle that. We’ve got to handle the down-the-field throws. Keep them in the pocket, don’t let them get out of the pocket.’
“It’s the law of inversion. This is what makes [Bill] Belichick so brilliant, is he operates under the Charlie Munger law of inversion. He asks what he must eliminate before he can win. And that’s what he does. They’re going to eliminate the big play, they’re going to stop the run, they’re not going to turn the ball over, and one of my pet peeves of all time is they typically are not going to get penalties on special teams.”
Following are more highlights from the conversation. For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.
On Rex Ryan: “I think he’s a really good defensive coordinator. As a head coach I think there’s a lot to be desired.”
On which team is second best in the AFC East: “The Jets are clearly the second-best team. Their defense is good. The Jets have no depth. That’s the problem with the Jets.”
|Why Mike Lombardi remains one of Bill Belichick’s most trusted sources||09.28.16 at 5:08 pm ET|
FOXBORO — There are few people in the NFL with a background as varied and experienced as Mike Lombardi. And there are few people Bill Belichick trusts more.
So, when defensive lineman John Hughes became available this week after being released by the Browns, the Patriots head coach knew right where to go to see if he might be a good fit with the Patriots.
Hughes 27, is just the latest member of Lombardi’s Browns from 2013 that has found a spot on the Patriots. Jabaal Sheard and Dion Lewis joined the Patriots last year and both had very productive seasons until Lewis tore his ACL in November.
This year, there was the addition of linebacker Barkevious Mingo in the third week of preseason. Why such an active pipeline of talent?
“Mike has been a good source of information on a lot of levels but certainly players that he is familiar with, like guys that were on that team,” Belichick said. “I mean he gives you insight into guys that you don’t get if you’re not there.”
Lombardi and Belichick have a well-chronicled relationship that goes back to 1992, when Lombardi was promoted to Director of Player Personnel in 1992. He actually started with the Browns in 1987 but it was under Belichick (who arrived in 1991) that Lombardi’s role increased. He was responsible for all college and pro personnel decisions, managed salary cap and player personnel issues, oversaw staff of 13 college and pro scouts and handled all player contracts and advised head coach on all football matters.
That’s a lot of responsibility that earned the respect of Belichick. When Lombardi left the Browns in 1996, he moved onto the Rams and Eagles before landing with Al Davis and the Raiders in 1998. It was there where he helped Davis rebuild the Raiders into one of the forces in the AFC, reaching the AFC title game in 2000, losing to the Patriots in the ’01 Snow Bowl and falling to Tampa Bay in Super Bowl XXXVII.
He then spent the next six seasons spreading his wisdom in the media before re-joining the Browns as general manager and VP of player personnel in 2013.
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|Mike Lombardi on K&C: ‘Team won last night. Culture won last night. Chemistry won last night. That’s what won’||09.23.16 at 9:18 am ET|
NFL analyst Mike Lombardi made his weekly appearance with Kirk & Callahan on Friday morning, following the Patriots’ impressive 27-0 victory over the Texans, and defended his former boss Bill Belichick against accusations that he was pressuring Jimmy Garropolo to play in Thursday’s game. To hear the interview, go to the Kirk & Callahan audio on demand page.
Lombardi dismissed a report that Belichick was questioning Garropolo’s toughness because he was not able to play with a sprained AC joint he suffered in Sunday’s win over the Dolphins.
“Not even remotely close, OK?” said Lombardi, who was an assistant to the Patriots coaching staff last season and was an executive with the Browns alongside Belichick in the early 1990s. “First of all, I’ve known Bill since 1991, and his philosophy — as is mine — if a player’s not a hundred percent, if he’s 80 percent and you put him out there, you’re better off playing a backup.
“How can you make that statement when your whole emphasis is team? If you believe in team and you believe in the next man up, why would you ever pressure a guy? Why would you ever believe that? It goes counterintuitive to what your whole emphasis of the program is? It’s team. That’s what won last night. Team won last night. Culture won last night. Chemistry won last night. That’s what won.”
Lombardi wasn’t surprised the Patriots stuck with rookie Jacoby Brissett at quarterback rather than signing a free agent during the week, because adding a player on such short notice would be “wasting a roster spot.” The Patriots kept things relatively simple for the third-round draft pick because, “He just doesn’t have enough reps yet. So they’ve got to manage him and they’ve got to manage the game. Those are the challenges that come across,” Lombardi said.
|Mike Lombardi on K&C: ‘I think Jimmy [Garoppolo] will rise to the occasion’ vs. Cardinals||09.09.16 at 10:51 am ET|
Fox Sports analyst and former Patriots executive Mike Lombardi, making his weekly appearance on Kirk & Callahan on Friday morning, said he expects Jimmy Garoppolo will play well Sunday night in his first career start as the Patriots open the season against the Cardinals. To hear the interview, go to the Kirk & Callahan audio on demand page.
“I think Jimmy will play an effective game,” Lombardi said. “I think the key to the game will be his ability to move around in the pocket. I think he’s going to face a lot of pressure. I think they’ll be in a lot of two-minute offense. But I think Jimmy will rise to the occasion. I think Jimmy’s a good player and I think Jimmy will play well. I think most of the supporting cast is going to have to play well with him.”
Lombardi said Rob Gronkowski’s hamstring injury could be a big problem for the Patriots, and Garoppolo in particular, for a reason other than the tight end’s production.
“Jimmy needs Gronk,” Lombardi said. “What I think people lose sight of with Gronk a little bit is Gronk’s a great indicator for the quarterback. When Gronk’s flexed away from [the line] — let’s take the Super Bowl, when Gronk lines up out there and K.J. Wright’s with him, every quarterback in the world knows it’s man-to-man. If there would have been a corner out there on him, then they know it’s zone.
“So Gronk’s a great indicator. It really helps a quarterback, especially when you’re playing against a team that does a lot of multiple things on defense. And not having Gronk out there all the time will affect it. And I think that’s certainly going to play into this game.”
Garoppolo is filling in for the suspended Tom Brady, and some have speculated Brady might be feeling some jealousy regarding the third-year pro.
“I think it’s really Tom Brady’s whole mentality is to not worry about the competition, not acknowledge the competition, but he is aware of the competition. And I think that’s how he motivates himself,” Lombardi said. “In terms of how they get along off the field, that I don’t know. But I know this: Tom, just by the way he sees Jimmy Garoppolo behave himself [he] respects him. And when he respects somebody he sees it as competition. So I think that’s clearly the case in this situation.
“I think he definitely knows that Jimmy’s played well in practice, Jimmy’s a competitive guy, Jimmy’s younger, and I think Tom wants to make sure that nobody’s going to take his job from him. That’s the essence of it. You can bring Tom back to high school, it’s the same mentality. He’s not going to give an inch.”
|Source: Patriots to acquire LB Barkevious Mingo from Browns||08.25.16 at 2:04 pm ET|
The Patriots have gone to a familiar place to increase their defensive depth on the edge.
Continuing a long-standing relationship with the Browns, the Patriots acquired former first-round pick Barkeviovs Mingo from Cleveland, a source confirms to WEEI.com.
The Patriots confirmed the trade Thursday afternoon but did not reveal what they were giving up in return. Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal reports that the Browns will receive a fifth-round pick in the 2017 draft from the Patriots.
The trade was first reported by Adam Schefter.
Mingo, a 6-foot-4, 240-pound linebacker, is a former first-round pick, selected sixth overall out of LSU in the 2013 draft by Cleveland. At LSU, he was considered one of the best edge defenders to enter the NFL in his class. Mingo had a pre-draft visit in Foxboro before then-Browns general manager and Bill Belichick confidant Mike Lombardi drafted him.
Like Dion Lewis, Mingo had bad luck in Cleveland staying healthy. In the second preseason game against the Lions in 2013, Mingo suffered a bruised lung and was hospitalized. Overall in 2013, Mingo played 15 games with 42 tackles, five sacks, and four passes defended. The next season, Mingo racked up 42 tackles and two sacks in 15 games. Last year, Mingo began the season as a starting outside linebacker but was relegated to back-up work after Week 2.
With Mingo falling down the depth chart in Cleveland, the Browns, in May, decided not to pick up the fifth year on Mingo’s contract as a first-round pick.
Still only 25, Mingo is clearly the kind of raw talent Belichick seeks out at low-risk. He also comes from two programs (LSU, Browns) that he has intimate knowledge of how a player is developed.
Mingo played for coach Les Miles at LSU. As a redshirt freshman in 2010, he started one of 13 games, recording 35 tackles and 3.5 sacks As a sophomore in 2011, Mingo was a second all-SEC selection after recording 47 tackles and eight sacks. As a junior in 2012, he played in all 13 games with 10 starts, and earned second team All-SEC honors after recording 38 tackles, 8.5 tackles for a loss, and 4.5 quarterback sacks. He also led the Tigers with 12 quarterback hurries. He was one of 10 LSU Tigers to declare early for the NFL draft in 2013.
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