We’re at the end of another work week, and here are the final notes as we close out the week.
Bennett Talks About the Patriots Epic Comeback – Martellus Bennett’s first and only season in New England will likely go down as the most memorable of his career, especially given that he helped the Patriots win their fifth championship.
But one of the things the now Green Bay Packer recently said he won’t forget was the atmosphere in the locker room when the Patriots found themselves trailing 21-3 after the Falcons had their way in the first half as New England struggled to get anything going offensively.
Despite their struggles, one of the things that stood out to Bennett was the fact that it was business as usual at halftime, and everyone remained focused on doing what they needed to in order to prepare to get back in the game. In an interview with INC.com, the veteran tight end talked about what it was like after they walked off the field following a forgettable half of football.
“The Super Bowl, we’re down, we’re getting our ass kicked,” Bennett said via CBS Sports. “When we came into the locker room at halftime, there was no bickering, there was no bitching, there was no complaining, there was no moaning, there was no throwing chairs.”
Bennett also said that there were no rah-rah speeches. Just an incredible amount of focus at the task at hand.
“There was none of this epic ‘We’re going to come back,’ ‘Rudy,’ ‘Remember the Titans’-type speech. There was none of that TV [expletive],” Bennett said. “When you looked around the locker room, you didn’t see anyone that was discouraged, you didn’t see doubt in anyone’s eyes, and that’s like all 53 guys. You looked around and you could see that everybody was determined to figure out what they could do to help us win.”
For Bennett, while he caught just one pass in the final half of play, it was a big reception where he caught a 25-yard gain on a 3rd-and-1 early in the fourth quarter. That play was big because it kept the chains moving as New England went on to make it a two possession game thanks to Stephen Gostkowski capping the drive with a 33-yard field goal to cut the Falcons lead to 28-12 with 9:44 to go in regulation.
It ended up being a critical possession because on the ensuing drive by Atlanta, linebacker Dont’a Hightower’s sack and forced fumble of Matt Ryan saw the Patriots recover the football at the Falcons’ 25 yard line. Five plays later, Brady found Danny Amendola for the touchdown and James White ran in the 2-point conversion, which made it an eight point game at 28-20. We all know what happened from there as the team made history after completing the comeback.
History was something Bennett said at halftime they planned on making, which only makes it that much more amazing.
“[We] put our hands up, ‘Hey, this is going to be written in the history books. Patriots on three. One, two, three, Patriots, break.’ And the rest is history,” Bennett said.
Patriots Make Several Transactions – The Patriots announced three signings on Thursday, with free agent offensive lineman James Ferentz, rookie free agent tight end Sam Cotton, and fourth-round draft choice Deatrich Wise, Jr. all agreeing to deals with the team.
The most notable name getting under contract in this mix is Wise Jr., who certainly has some high expectations as he looks to earn a role on the team. He told the Boston Herald on Thursday that he’s been studying past players and he’s looking forward to getting to work.
“We’ve just been talking football, but looking on film, watching Jamie Collins and Chandler Jones. I can see myself doing exactly what they did. Chris Long, those guys too,” Wise said Thursday at Gillette Stadium.
As for Ferentz, he’s spent the last two seasons playing for the Denver Broncos and played against New England in the AFC Championship when the Broncos beat New England to advance to Super Bowl 50.
Cotton played in 31 games during his career in Nebraska, totaling 185 yards on 17 receptions along with three touchdowns and joins a group looking to earn a roster spot in what should be a competitive tight end battle behind starters Rob Gronkowski and likely back-up Dwayne Allen.
The former Nebraska standout was spotlighted by HuskerOnline.com in an interview from last April, and he looks and sounds very similar to Gronkowski in terms of his appearance and demeanor.
Meanwhile, the team also released offensive lineman Chris Barker, who spent the last three seasons on New England’s practice squad.
McCourtys Receive Yogi Berra Museum Service Award – Devin McCourty recently received an award as he and his brother were honored in an inaugural awards dinner and ceremony in New York.
The event, which was co-hosted by former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason and Actor Robert Wuhl, was held with the intention of “saluting a remarkable group of individuals who embody the qualities that made Yogi an American treasure: respect, sportsmanship, perseverance, and excellence.”
There were several awards given out, including the Yogi Berra Museum Teammate Award , Yogi Berra Museum Humanitarian Award, Carmen Berra Award and the Yogi Berra Museum Service Award.
Devin and his brother Jason were the recipients of the latter award, with their work through their “Tackle Sickle Cell” foundation, along with their appearances and volunteer efforts within the community, earning them the recognition.
— Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) May 13, 2017
Devin expressing his gratitude for being recognized at the event.
“It was kind of shocking just because we grew up in that area. We were too young to watch Yogi, but knowing his name, the type of player he was and what he accomplished, it was kind of humbling,” Devin said via Patriots.com. “We were able to see his achievements off the field and what he did in that area. It kind of felt undeserving. With everything he accomplished it was definitely an honor to be mentioned in the same sentence as him.”
“Mutual Interest” Was There Between Jason McCourty and Patriots – There was plenty of speculation about the chance for Jason McCourty to end up in New England following his release in Tennessee and now that he’s signed with the Browns, McCourty admitted there had been some interest in having him join Devin here in New England.
“I think there was definitely mutual interest,” McCourty said of the Patriots on “Good Morning Football” Thursday via USA TODAY. “Me and Devin have never hid the fact that us playing together would be a dream come true. My mom kind of has hinted at that since we both got into the league. She knows it would be a lot easier only having to travel to one city during the season.”
“I think there was definitely mutual interest, but to be honest, the Patriots are kind of set at cornerback. They have a lot of talent in that room. There really wasn’t room for me. Me and Dev talked about that and that’s just the way of the league. I’m excited about the opportunity I have in Cleveland to work with those guys.”
It would have been fun to see, but he’ll now be a Brown for at least the next two seasons after signing a 2-year, $6 million deal with Cleveland. What happens after that remains to be seen, but we’ll have to wait a bit longer for that possibility to come around again.
Cheerleader Writes About Failing to Make the Patriots Squad After Four Attempts – Scanning through the news, I came across a story that appeared in Galmour online about Wilmington native Paige Bennett, who has tried four times since 2013 to make the Patriots’ cheerleading squad and hasn’t quite been able to break through.
Bennett writes that she’s always wanted to be a cheerleader for the team and her mom actually owns a dance studio that has seen many of her alumni become cheerleaders for the club. Bennett’s attempts at making the squad began back in 2013 when she was 20, and she wrote about the challenges she’s faced despite not having been able to reach her goal of making the squad.
One of the things that’s impressive about her is the progress from the disappointment she dealt with in the beginning, to her attitude about it now after the entire experience.
“This year was my favorite by far,” wrote Bennett. “I felt more confident and more prepared than ever before. This process forces you to figure out who you are and what you bring to the table. It forces you to realize your worth and be confident in your individuality.”
“Nevertheless, my name wasn’t on the final roster after yet another journey through preliminaries, finals, and boot camp. Did I fail? Yes, yes I did. Am I okay? Better than ever. Failure means progress, and I’ve learned to embrace it.”
Bennett plans on coming back next year and making another run, and she’s just as determined as ever.
“Despite not reaching my goal—yet—I will be back next year,” wrote Bennett. “I promised myself “I’ll keep going back until it no longer makes sense.” I think I’ll know what that means if and when the times comes, but now, I’m getting ready for next year.”
Best wishes to her, as after reading about her story, she’s gone from a girl just trying to make the cheerleading squad, to a well-rounded individual who is running marathons and has a terrific attitude, so hopefully 2018 will be her year. You can follow her on Twitter at @pagebennett22.
IBelichick switched back to paper after frustrations with the tablets in 2016.
No Sideline Video For 2017 – For the second straight year, the NFL reportedly confirmed on Thursday that the use of sideline video will not be happening in 2017, with teams voting again to table the proposal.
Coaches have had access to tablets for a few years now, although one of the biggest frustrations we’ve heard have come from here in New England, with things bubbling over with Bill Belichick after he was seen slamming down his tablet back in Week 4 last season in a home loss against the Bills.
The biggest issue he had is just the fact that the performance and reliability of the technology was inconsistent, likely stemming from wireless network issues that have seemed to plague stadiums throughout the league that are still getting used to providing that type of technology in that environment.
“As you probably noticed, I’m done with the tablets,” Belichick said days after the game. “They’re just too undependable for me. I’m going to stick with pictures, which several of our other coaches do as well, because there just isn’t enough consistency in the performance of the tablets. I just can’t take it anymore.”
Belichick opted instead to go back to using still images printed out in black and white, which knowing how reliable that’s been compared to the problems they experienced with the tablet, made it more preferable.
“I’ll use the paper pictures from here on, because I have given it my best shot,” said Belichick. “I’ve tried to work through the process. But it doesn’t work for me, and that’s because there’s no consistency to it.”
Right now, what coaches have access to are still images. When it comes to video, oddly enough several coaches sound like they don’t like the idea of having video on the sideline because they feel it devalues the time and energy they put in each week installing a game plan that opposing coaches would be able to review and adjust to in real time easier if they had the technology in their hands.
“I want to get beat on the field,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera told Kevin Clark of TheRinger.com via ProFootballTalk last year. “I don’t want to get beat because someone used a tool or technology — that is not coaching at that point. I work all week, I’m preparing and kicking your ass. All of the sudden you see a piece of live video and you figure out, ‘Oh crap, that’s what he’s doing.’ And how fair is that?”
Rivera sounded a lot like Belichick in his remarks, with the Patriots head coach known for his appreciation for the history of the game and the continued changes of the league don’t seem like they sit well him. We’ve heard his thoughts as they pertain to the rule changes with kickoffs, as well as his frustrations with some of the defensive restrictions. He obviously liked the game where it was before a lot of these changes were made.
It sounds like Rivera has a similar attitude, and he prefers to coach in a more traditional fashion, and he didn’t sound excited about the direction the game might have been going back when this topic initially came up.
“Where does it end?” Rivera told Clark. “Can you get text messages or go out there with an iPhone and figure out where to go? What are we creating? I know there are millennial players, but this is still a game created 100 years ago.”
However, tablet use on the sideline for instant replay is reportedly set to happen, which will likely affect challenges for the upcoming season.
It’s an interesting topic for a game that’s obviously evolved quite a bit over the years. It’s hard not to wonder what the game will look like in 20 years after all the coaching greats have moved on, and how different it will look given all of the medical revelations that have emerged that have already sparked quite a few changes.
For now, from a technological standpoint, there at least won’t be this change for another year. But what we do know is that while the league is constantly looking for ways to improve the game, it doesn’t sound like this idea has been very well received at all and that’s likely why it doesn’t seem like we’ll see it anytime soon.