FOXBORO, MA — The Patriots defense has a new leader emerging in the secondary, and it’s not Pro Bowl cornerback Ty Law. It’s another Pro Bowl player that people seem to forget about, and Lawyer Milloy is filling the leadership role exactly like head coach Pete Carroll knew he would.
In his fourth season in the NFL, Milloy is starting to make quite an impact in the secondary. Usually the impact is made on an opposing player that is unlucky enough to have the ball when Milloy comes flying in to make an earth shattering hit. People in New England are starting to notice how intense his play on the field is, and Pete Carroll says that Milloy seems to understand the defensive scheme better than ever.
“He has taken to [his leadership role] quite well,” said Carroll. “I don’t think it’s done anything other than to enhance his game, and to help him with his understanding of what’s going on on the football field. He’s worked very well with Chris [Carter] in sharing the duties back there.”
One thing that makes Milloy so effective, is his love to inflict a big hit on a player. His reputation as a big-hitter is growing, and two weeks ago, even teammate Ty Law was knocked down after Milloy accidentally leveled him when Law was attempting to make a tackle. Pete Carroll says that he couldn’t ask for a better effort from his safety.
“You can’t play any harder, and you can’t get after it any more than he does,” said Carroll. “He is at the top of the charts for effort and his willingness to hit. I think he’s more sure of himself, and he’s already a self assured kid. I think he understands our scheme better than ever and can take advantage of it. We blitz him a lot, and he’s in a lot of great positions because he can do it.”
“I haven’t had any reservations on his ability to play big. The first year I was here, I remember calling him into my office after seeing who he was and what he was about. At that time I talked to him and told him ‘someday you’re going to be one of the real leaders of this team, and it’s time to understand that.’ He’s the kind of guy you want to be one of your leaders, because he plays so hard, he loves the game, and he just won’t accept not winning.”
“My expectations for him are as high as anybody I’ve ever coached at that position. I’ve coached some pretty good guys, and some guys that I thought were top flight players, but he takes it to maybe taking it to the highest level of hitting. He’s comfortable about the way that Ronnie Lott goes about the game. I used to say that ‘nobody ever tried to hit anybody harder than Ronnie’. He wanted to hit you as hard as he could, every chance that he got, and Lawyers the same with that. That’s the game that I just really like, and I love to put the guy in the position where he can do those kinds of things.”
Lawyer is just as happy to be in that position, but says is attitude on the field is the same as it was when he arrived here.
“I’ve been doing the same thing I’ve been doing since I’ve been here,” said Milloy. “For whatever reason I think I’m highlighted a little bit more because of the injury situation. I think both myself and Ty [Law] have kind of benefited from that, but the things we do we’ve been doing since we’ve been here.”
“It’s good that people are starting to recognize me, but I’m all about winning football games.”
After the team’s release of veteran Willy Clay, who at the time many felt was the leader of the Patriots’ secondary, Milloy lashed out at the decision to reporters. The team’s reason for Clay’s release was that Carroll thought that Milloy was ready to take on the leadership role in the secondary. Now that the dust has seettled, Milloy still feels that his leadership role hasn’t changed, and says that everyone is responsible in the secondary to communicate with eachother for them to get the job done.
“My load hasn’t changed,” said Milloy. “I still make the same calls, but Chris Carter has his own calls that he need’s to make. You split he defense in half, and he has to communicate. I can’t yell to Steve Israel all the way over on the other sideline, so obviously you have to be able to communicate.”
With the bye week coming up following this week’s game against Arizona, the team is definitely looking forward to the week off. The most important thing on Milloy’s mind, is simply going into the break with a victory.
“We definitely need the break,” said Milloy. “It’s been a very long first half of the season, with training camp and the preseason. To go into the break with a win is definitely the way that you want to go. If you go in with a loss, you’ll be thinking about that loss for a week and a half, and it kind of takes away from your vacation time. We want to go into our vacation time, get away from this place, and get away from football with a smile on our face.”
One thing that Milloy is happy about, is his team’s ability to overcome injuries. Even with their linebacker situation, the team still stands at 5-2. The Patriots have been pretty injury prone during the last couple of seasons, but have still been able to make the playoffs. Other teams with injuries haven’t been as fortunate, and Milloy spoke about them.
“We’ve been injury prone during the last couple of years, but we’ve had a lot of young players getting some playing time. Unlike the Falcons or the Jets, when they lose a couple of players they go into the tank and their season is pretty much over. We’ve battled, and we’ve gotten some playing time for our younger players. I think that’s helped us out a lot.”
“We’ve had our share of injuries also, but we don’t sit there, hold our head down, and dwell on that fact. We just fill the holes up and try to go out there and get the job done.”
The Patriots defense has been getting it done, and while he won’t admit it, Milloy’s been a big reason for that.