|Matt Patricia, Patriots coaches can stop ‘staring at each other’ and get back to working with players||05.03.16 at 4:27 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Now the fun really begins for the Patriots’ coaching staff.
Ever since the day the Patriots lost to the Broncos in the AFC championship in Denver, Bill Belichick, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and the entire staff has been working on putting together a new roster to hit the ground running with in the spring so they get get started with on-field prep for the 2016 season.
This week, in the days immediately following the draft, the Patriots’ staff can finally move on from the first offseason phase, which has included free agency, trades, veteran workouts and the draft.
“For us, the focus is really, right now, is [this week],” Patricia said during an offseason media availability at Gillette Stadium. “[This week] is Phase 2 of the offseason program where now we’ve got the guys out on the field. We can actually go out and see the new guys that we have in, see the guys coming back from being away. That’s really kind of our focus.”
The “guys” Patricia is referencing are veterans already on the roster or newcomers like defensive ends Chris Long and Frank Kearse, nose tackle Terrance Knighton and linebackers Shea McClellin and Ramon Humber and defensive back E.J. Biggers.
“Every year is a new year for us,” Patricia said. “We have to start over every year. You take the guys that come in as veteran players, guys that have gone from first-year rookies to now second-year players, the progression that they have to make, along with free agents you’ve signed that have to now kind of incorporate along with the eventual rookies and draft picks and free agents, when we finally get those guys in. So, for us it’s just a process. Basically, just starting from scratch, starting over, getting everybody back in, starting to work the offeseason program, the running and the conditioning, the [weight] lifting, all that stuff right now.
“We’ll get into the information part of it here where we’ll start learning a little bit about the defense and what we do and things like that. It’s exciting for me, it’s exciting for us as a staff to kind of have everybody back. [Coaches] sit in rooms for a couple of months and stare at each other. When the players finally get back, that’s really what’s exciting, is when we get those guys back and now we get the opportunity to get back to football.”
|Josh McDaniels on Jimmy Garoppolo: ‘I feel comfortable that Jimmy knows what we’re doing’||05.02.16 at 6:49 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Josh McDaniels on Monday sounded like a coach who isn’t the least bit worried about the possibility of Jimmy Garoppolo starting the season as the Patriots quarterback in Arizona.
McDaniels met with quarterbacks Tom Brady and Garoppolo on Monday and went over some material as they begin the long process of working up toward a game plan for the coming season.
Of course, part of that game plan might include Garoppolo calling signals for the first four games if Brady isn’t successful again in restoring his eligibility, which was taken away by the Second Circuit Appellate Court.
“Today, it was a short period of time. I feel comfortable that Jimmy knows what we’re doing,” McDaniels said Monday. “He’s confident and I think the guys are confident in Jimmy. He’s in third year now. He has those qualities. That’s a big part of the reason why you draft a quarterback, is that they demonstrate those things in college. We expect to see those from him and Jacoby and Tommy and anybody else that would be in that room.
“Like most quarterbacks that I’ve ever had a chance to work with, the first year you never feel like you catch up. It’s in some ways overwhelming. He works his butt off. He works hard every day. He cares about football. He loves the game. He wants to be good. This is his passion. And in Year 2, it was better. We’d expect him to take another step forward this year, too. But a lot of that is up to the player. We’re going to push hard and he’s reciprocated with the same level of hard work that we saw from him when he was a rookie. I’m eager to see how he continues to improve this year.”
Garoppolo has appeared in 11 games in his career, but, except for the Bills game at the end of the 2014 season, never with the outcome in question. He attempted only four passes last season, all in the season finale at Miami, completing his only pass of the 2015 season in the game.
|Patriots release DB Rashaan Melvin, LB James Vaughters||at 6:24 pm ET|
The maneuvering on the Patriots roster continued Monday with the release of two players from the active roster.
The team announced the release of defensive back Rashaan Melvin and linebacker James Vaughters. This follows the drafting of nine college players over the weekend, including two linebackers and corner Cyrus Jones in the second round out of Alabama.
Melvin, 26, was signed by the Patriots to a future contract on Jan. 26, 2016. The 6-foot-2, 193-pounder, originally entered the NFL as a rookie free agent with Tampa Bay out of Northern Illinois on May 2, 2013. He made the Tampa Bay 53-man roster as a rookie, but did not play in any games that season. Melvin was with Tampa Bay for the first three games of the 2014 season before being released and signing with the Miami practice squad.
He was signed by Baltimore from the Miami practice squad on Nov. 8, 2014, and played in three games with two starts in the regular season and two starts in the postseason. He played in one of Baltimore’s first four games in 2015 before being released on Oct. 13, 2015, and was claimed off waivers from Baltimore and awarded to New England on Oct. 14, 2015. Melvin played in eight games with the Patriots last season and accumulated three tackles and two special teams tackles before released by the Patriots on Dec. 8, 2015. He joined the Patriots practice squad on Dec. 10, 2015, where he remained for the rest of the season.
The 22-year-old Vaughters was originally signed by the Green Bay Packers as a rookie free agent out of Stanford on May 8, 2015. The 6-foot-2, 254-pounder, spent the first month of last season on the Green Bay practice squad before being released. Vaughters signed a future contract with the Patriots on Jan. 21, 2016. He played in 54 games with 18 starts and tallied 119 total tackles and 12½ sacks during his college career.
The two releases leaves the Patriots roster at 83, allowing for as many as seven undrafted rookie free agents to be added to the team, along with veteran free agents.
|Mike Petraglia, Chris Price on Dante Scarnecchia, Steve Belichick, Patriots 2016 draft||at 3:10 pm ET|
FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price break down the return of offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia and what it means to the future of the offensive line, new safeties coach Steve Belichick and his football relationship to his dad and recap the Patriots 2016 draft and what to expect from some of the higher profile selections in their upcoming rookie season.
FOXBORO — The 68-year-old Dante Scarnecchia knows full well what he’s getting back into.
The new Patriots offensive line coach returned this January after two years off and on Monday, at Gillette Stadium, he strolled down the hallway from the team offices and explained why he came out of retirement.
“After the season, maybe two weeks after the season, my wife and I were out in California doing some stuff for the University of the Pacific and got a call and asked if I would be interested in coming back. Over the next probably 8-to-10 days, we decided to come back. Basically, that’s it.
“It is a tough decision because you get pretty used to a very nice lifestyle. I like retirement. Retirement was great. It was a lot of fun. We saw things we hadn’t seen ever, took trips and spent a lot of time with our grandkids. All that was great and, to a degree, it’s very hard to give up. We talked about it, my wife and I, and decided this would be a good thing on a lot of different levels, as far as the grandkids being able to come to the games for free and just be part of it all.
“And I like coaching football. I love coaching football. I didn’t retire because I didn’t like coaching football. I retired because I got tired of the lifestyle. After two years off, I’m OK.”
Scarnecchia, who still worked out the likes of Bryan Stork and Cameron Fleming in retirement, insisted that the offensive line problems at the end of the season that cost Dave DeGuglielmo his job did not factor in his return. “None,” was Coach Scar’s one-word reply to the question.
Scarnecchia, who began his Patriots coaching career in 1982, made it very clear that if it weren’t for the unique situation of Bill Belichick, Robert Kraft and the Patriots, he’d still be enjoying retirement.
“I think the number one thing is if you decide to go back into coaching, you’re kind of at the mercy of the business, that is to say, ‘Who’s going to hire you and where do you have to go?’ So, what makes it unique is that we’re here and everything’s the same and that really makes it easy,” Honestly, I probably would not have gotten back into coaching had I had to to go somewhere else because I was going by myself. She ain’t going. OK? Let’s get that straight. And really, I can’t leave my kids and grandkids. I couldn’t do that.”
|Why Patriots chose Jacoby Brissett : ‘We were going to add a third quarterback, regardless’ of Tom Brady||04.30.16 at 8:18 am ET|
FOXBORO — The re-imposed four-game suspension of Tom Brady did not impact the Patriots decision to draft a quarterback in the third round Friday night.
The Patriots director of player personnel, Nick Caserio, insisted that the team was going to draft a quarterback regardless of what decision was reached by the Second Circuit Appellate Court. It just so happened the Patriots went with Jacoby Brissett, a teammate of the offensive lineman Joe Thuney they took earlier in the third round.
“We have two quarterbacks on our roster so we knew we were going to add a third quarterback, regardless of whatever the situation was,” Caserio said. “So, very rarely have we gone through a spring with two quarterbacks. Sometimes we’ve had three, sometimes we’ve had four. So, we knew we were going to have a third quarterback on the team regardless. That’s always an important position on your team. We felt that it was important for us to have a player that we felt comfortable with. So that’s why we picked Brissett.”
It just so happens the Patriots went with a developmental quarterback over the likes of Connor Cook, Dak Prescott or Cardale Jones, all of whom were available and still undrafted as the fourth round began Saturday. The reason the Patriots drafted Brissett might lie in his work with Charlie Weis and Bill Parcells. It was Weis who helped recruit him to Florida and played for Weis at Florida when Weis was the offensive coordinator.
“Sure, it had been a while since he played with Charlie,” Caserio said. “Charlie was involved with the recruiting process with him there at Florida. There were a lot of moving parts at the time. Then they made the coaching change, the situation just made the most sense for him to leave. I think having experience with Charlie – we all know how good of a coach Charlie is, how demanding he is and some of those types of things. Whether or not the system was the same – I think it is but it isn’t. There’s an evolution on both sides of it, so but having experience with Charlie, he could probably take hard coaching. So, that won’t be an issue.”
|Nick Caserio and the science of drafting Alabama players||at 7:59 am ET|
FOXBORO — Ohio State and Alabama, the most popular pipelines of talent supply in the NFL draft, have obvious ties back to the Patriots.
With Ohio State, it’s Bill Belichick’s long-standing friendship and allegiance to Urban Meyer, dating to Meyer’s days at the University of Florida.
With Alabama, it’s an even-longer established relationship with Nick Saban, the man Belichick helped to mold into the football coach he is today when Saban worked for him in Cleveland in the early 90s.
On Friday, the latter yielded more draft fruits that Belichick hopes can produce right away. The Patriots chose Cyrus Jones, a starting corner on Alabama’s national championship team that beat Clemson in January, over any running back that was on the board at 60. Jones will, of course, join another Alabama product on the defense in Dont’a Hightower.
“There’s a lot of different scenarios that we talk through at the time as we were working across, there were some different players who were graded equally,” said Nick Caserio, the Patriots director of player development. “I think the thing that tipped the scales in Cyrus’ favor a little bit was his overall versatility – punt return – that’s a huge component of what we do and we thought he had the ability. So, to be a punt returner and to play, we’ll see where he can actually play, in terms of corner. He played primarily on the perimeter at Alabama. We’ll look at everything and then decide what we feel makes the most sense at this time. So, that’s what we did what we did.”
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