Next in a series of articles on the 2001 positional analysis of the New England Patriots. Today’s feature: Receivers
One must wonder what Terry Glenn thinks of this Super Bowl win by the Patriots, if anyone cares at all.
We already know his take on getting a ring. He’s not expecting one, and won’t pester the Patriots if he doesn’t. That’s awful big of him. Pretty darn contrite for someone who has shown no ability to buy into the “team first” mantra that defined the 2001 Patriots.
That total team introduction at the Super Bowl? Take the opposite of that and you have Glenn.
Right now, Glenn is a bunch of human waste and a stain on the otherwise landmark 2001 season for the Patriots. Until Glenn wakes up and realize he needs counseling, all sympathy votes for him have worn out. He does indeed need help, and people in general will feel more favorable towards him if he will simply go out and get the help he needs.
But the real sad thing is that even if Glenn were to take care of himself and purge his soul of all the demons that have been there since his tragic childhood, the Patriots really don’t need him at all. The worst thing to happen to Glenn was not the withholding of his signing bonus, still in dispute until his drug test appeal is finalized. The worst thing to happen to Glenn this year was the Patriots winning the Super Bowl without him.
No, Glenn absolutely does not deserve a ring. He deserves instead the business card of the best shrink he can afford. The fact that Glenn assumes he won’t get a ring is a stunning departure from the “me first” persona he has exuded literally since Bill Parcells left as head coach. Maybe there is hope for this lost soul after all.
The only thing going for Glenn right now is that he has exceptional talent, and is under contract to the Patriots until 2007. The Patriots at least have to pay this guy for the next 5 years.
Otherwise, this guy is a waste. He can’t keep his life in order, he has no concept of empathy or teamwork, and the fans literally hate him. During his last home game as a Patriot, he was booed by the crowd every time he touched the ball. Usually when something like that happens, it’s Ralph Sampson in the 1986 NBA Finals, and not a home teamer like Glenn.
And when you look at Troy Brown and David Patten, it just drops Glenn lower and lower on the food chain.
We are running out of great things to say about Brown. You can’t think of Brown anymore as a “third down slot receiver”. Brown is now things like “go-to guy”, “all pro”, “team MVP” and “outstanding model citizen and team player”. Brown has completed the transformation to lead wide receiver, a transformation that was forced by the ludicrous antics of Glenn.
Brown caught a Patriot record 101 passes this year, good for sixth best in the NFL. His 1,199 receiving yards was good for tenth in the league. But like Tom Brady, raw stats don’t tell the whole story.
Brown became a receiver that defenses had to pay close attention to. Brown would always draw the other team’s best cover corner, which would greatly benefit Patten on several occasions. Despite all the props that Brown is due, and despite that Brown is becoming one of the more beloved Boston sports figures in recent memory, it is because the Patriots plucked Patten from the free agent pool that Glenn was rendered totally irrelevant in 2001.
Bill Belichick and Charlie Weis didn’t open up the offense as much as they could in 2001. Primarily, it was because of Brady and not wanting to rely totally on him to win games. But in reality, the offense never really needed to. One day that they did open up, Patten enjoyed a game for the ages in NFL history.
In their Week 5 clash at Indianapolis, Patten became the first NFL player since Walter Payton to run, pass for and catch touchdowns in the same game. He ran a reverse for a 29-yard touchdown run, was on the receiving end of a Patriot record 91-yard touchdown pass from Brady, and threw a 60-yard scoring strike to Brown off of a flanker screen. Patten never regained that rarefied status again, but his steady play provided a nice compliment for Brown.
Patten’s real shining moment was in the Oakland Snow Bowl. Brown was dogged by Charles Woodson all evening long. But Patten (and Jermaine Wiggins) were open all night long, and Brady found both of them for 18 catches combined. Patten caught the critical fourth down pass in overtime, his most important catch of the year save for perhaps his touchdown in the Super Bowl.
And when you take a step back and look at what fine gentlemen Brown and Patten are, it just makes you dislike Glenn even more. Patten was working in a sugar field before getting his NFL career resurrected. Brown languished at the bottom of the depth chart for a long time and was even cut during the 1994 season before being re-signed later that year. Both are devout family men, and great role models for every youth to want to aspire to. None of this really matters without football talent, but Glenn has more talent than either of these two gents, yet you would hate to see either sacrificed to get Glenn more playing time.
You look at Brown and Patten, and beam with pride. You look at Glenn, and you see a big nuisance and a team cancer. It makes the coaching job of Belichick that much more remarkable in that he was able to fend off Glenn’s shenanigans and not allow the team to become distracted because of it.
The Patriots brought in a bunch of other free agent wideouts alongside Patten. Charles Johnson made it to the Super Bowl, but Terrence Small and Bert Emanuel fell by the wayside. Unexpected help came in the form of XFL refugee Fred (“Jets Hate He”) Coleman, who made the Jets Hate He with a 46-yard reception that keyed a 17-16 comeback win by the Patriots in early December.
Oh, yeah. Bryan Cox had one catch for seven yards.
The tight end is not as central to Weis’ offense as compared to other NFL offensive coordinators. Perhaps in 2002, it will be.
Wiggins had the game of his life in the Snow Bowl, with ten clutch catches to lead the team. Blocking tight end Rod Rutledge has likely seen his last days as a Patriot, as he is an UFA and the team has no stated intent to re-sign him.
Stop it right here. Do any of you remember Jabari Holloway? Or Arther Love?
These were the two tight ends selected in last year’s draft, and both suffered season-ending injuries in training camp. Both are considered blocking tight ends, which will likely keep Wiggins on next year’s roster and jettison Rutledge. If the Patriots retain Antowain Smith, both Holloway and Love will figure prominently in the 2002 plans for the Patriots.
However, the Patriots should really try and throw more to the tight end. Wiggins may not have the ability to catch while being held like Ben Coates could. But the Oakland playoff contest showed that he can make tough catches, and in snow at that. Also, Wiggins caught the pass on the final offensive play of the 2001 season for the Patriots, a six-yard toss that set up this 48-yard field goal that everyone seems to be talking about these days.
If past form holds, Wiggins will remain the receiver and Love/Holloway the blockers. The Patriots had this kind of setup in Super Bowl XX with Lin Dawson the blocker and Derrick Ramsey the receiver (Dawson was no factor as he was severely injured on the Patriots’ first offensive play and never returned). The Patriots will not see the likes of Coates any time soon as long as Weis and Belichick call the shots, but given Brady’s lack of need to rely on the tight end like Bledsoe, it may not matter.
One other issue that involves receivers is the lack of the Patriots’ penchant to throw the deep ball. Despite Brady’s record completion to Patten at Indianapolis, the Patriots seldom throw deep, and when they do both Brady and Bledsoe invariably overthrow their targets. There is a logical explanation as to why.
As long as Glenn remains on the roster, he is the best deep threat. Bledsoe and Brady perhaps time their deep throws with Glenn on their minds instead of Brown and Patten. Despite Glenn’s lack of playing time in 2001, it still seems that Patriot quarterbacks are more into throwing deep to Glenn versus who really is out there. Brady’s overthrowing of a wide-open Patten on the Patriots’ third offensive play in the second half of Super Bowl XXXVI is a shining example.
As the team heads into 2002, and the defense of their championship, one has to wonder what Glenn’s role will be.
The team may deal him anyway, but you’ll definitely find out his long term status in Foxborough when his appeal of his drug test suspension is resolved. If the arbitrator rules for Glenn and he gets his signing bonus, and if Glenn has no further brushes with the law, don’t rule out Glenn staying. You don’t get the impression that Belichick wants Glenn to leave because of what he brings to the offense. But at some point you have to say enough is enough, and Belichick may still want to move him.
Leaving him exposed to Houston was not an option, because of his suspension. Trading him will not bring the Patriots what they expect, because of his baggage and all the years left on his contract. The Patriots don’t have to move him, and a possible motivational factor could be that if Glenn truly wants to play football, he’ll work hard if he wakes up and realizes that the only way to play is for the Patriots.
But it is nice to know that the Patriots don’t need him to win a Vince.
Next feature: offensive line