Good morning, and happy Super Bowl Sunday. After today’s game, there are only 24 weeks before training camp starts… I know, right?
Here are your weekly Patriots news 02-13 and AFC East notes.
Big-time congratulations to Richard Seymour, the long-time great Patriots and Raiders DT who was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on his fourth year of eligibility. Also, congratulations to Patriots STs captain Matthew Slater who has been named the 2021 Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award Winner, after being nominated for three consecutive seasons. We’ll have more below on these selections.
Lombardi/Bricillo: The Patriots lost two offensive coaches to the Las Vegas Raiders in Mick Lombardi who is taking over Offensive Coordinator duties with the Raiders and OL coach Carmen Bricillo who is expected to take over the same position with Las Vegas. Lombardi was expected to be heavily involved in the offensive game-planning with new offensive coach Joe Judge in 2022. These are two big losses for the offense and especially the offensive coaching staff. Josh McDaniels left the OC position to take over the head coaching job with the Raiders, and already had poached Quality Control/QB Coach Bo Hardegree, now with Lombardi and Bricillo gone, and RB coach Ivan Fears expected to retire, it is a major loss on the offensive side of the ball.
Keyshawn Johnson: The former Jets’ WR isn’t a fan of Mac Jones, as he slammed the Patriots’ rookie QB on WEEI this week, and it shouldn’t come as a shock, as mocking the Patriots players or organization is a sure-fire way to get on Boston sports talk radio, as it is pretty much a prerequisite.
When Johnson was asked if Jones could lead the Patriots back to the Super Bowl, Johnson repeated the question in a mocking tone and added this: “Here’s what I will say about Mac Jones: He’s a good little piece to what New England wanted to do,” Johnson said.
“When he had to play quarterback, it didn’t work out in their favor. They protected him as much as they could and got enough out of that. And because he looks the part like the New England quarterbacks of the world — the Scott Zolak types — they think they got something. Good player, but he ain’t Josh Allen. That’s a problem for them. He ain’t Deshaun Watson. He ain’t Patrick Mahomes. He ain’t Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, Aaron Rodgers.”
Mac Jones: Jones, however, wasn’t concerned with Johnson’s comments, remember this was the same Johnson who said the Jones wasn’t pushing Cam Newton in TC last season, calling it a media creation. Jones believes that he can take the offense to the next level in 2022.
“I know I have the capability to take the offense to the next level,” Jones said on the Next Pats Podcast. “It starts with me, and I’m going to. I’m going to trust the coaches, obviously, learn from them, and work together. That’s what it comes down to. I’ve always been a guy that does exactly what the coach tells me to do, and that’s how I’ll always play the game.”
Jerod Mayo: Now that he wasn’t hired as an NFL head coach, Mayo appeared on 98.5 last week to talk about the defense and his answer to how they get better didn’t surprise anyone. Get faster and more explosive and get more playmakers on the field
“You always want to get faster, especially in today’s game. That’s at all spots, not only at linebacker or defensive line or in the backend,” Mayo said on Wednesday. “You always want to get faster, but what we covet here is just versatility and smarts, football intelligence. Those are things you definitely want to have on your team.
“Now, we have some guys who were new to the system last year which I expect going forward they’ll have a better understanding of that. Also through the draft and through free agency, we’ll definitely look to get faster, look to get more explosive, and look to put more playmakers on the field.”
I didn’t listen in to the entire interview, but did anyone ask Jerod about the nepotism that Bill shows in his hiring that the show after Zolak’s is always harping about? Asking for a friend? Anyone…? Bueller?
Daniel Snyder: The owner of the Washington Commanders, announced this week that he’d hire his own “independent investigators” to look into allegations of misconduct by him…Yes, that’s right, Snyder is going to leave no stone unturned to investigate allegations that he ran a toxic workplace and made unwanted sexual advances on Tiffani Johnston who was a cheerleader and later worked a front-office job. That bit of news was met by derision league-wide.
Even the NFL didn’t buy that one. Roger Goodell, however, while not buying Snyder’s independent investigation, made sure that the league will “protect the shield.”
“I do not see any way that a team can do its own investigation of itself. That’s something we would do. We would do it with an outside expert.”
Rhamondre Stevenson: The Patriots’ rookie running back when asked by ESPN to reflect on his first NFL season gave a very apt two-word response; stressful and successful. Mike Reiss quoted Stevenson as saying, “It was stressful just because of the daily grind of the NFL player. But the success part was on the field, and learning how to be a pro.”
Brian Flores: The former coach’s lawsuit took a dramatic turn when Armando Salguero, Senior NFL Writer for Outkick.com reported that there is a witness to Dolphins owner Stephen Ross offering Flores money to purposely lose games in Flores’ first season.
Former Dolphins assistant and close friend of Flores, Lance Bennett was reportedly a witness which corroborates Flores’ account of the situation. And Roger Goodell and the NFL, which answered Flores’ lawsuit two hours after it was filed as “without merit” are now changing their tune.
Goodell was quoted at Super Bowl week, stating “I found all of the allegations to be very disturbing. They are very serious matters to us and we need to get to the bottom of it.
If there were violations, they won’t be tolerated.”
Patriots 4th & 2 Podcast: If you haven’t checked out our PatsFans.com podcast, “Patriots 4th & 2” in a bit, please check it out. Russ, Derek, and I discussed the team’s free agents a couple of weeks ago and the Brady retirement news. We’ll get back in the studio ASAP.
Russ Francis/Chuck Fairbanks: The former Patriot tight end and head coach both should be in the Patriots team Hall of Fame…this will be on our Sunday posts until it happens.
Along with Richard Seymour are several deserving players among them is a WR that I greatly admired in Cliff Branch, who until the list came out, I had assumed was already in Canton. He had several great years with the Raiders. But if you take a look at the numbers, former Patriot Stanley Morgan deserves enshrinement in Canton too. Morgan’s numbers were better across the board than Branch’s which I also found surprising. Take a look at their career numbers:
Branch: 501 receptions, 8685 yards, 17.3 yards per reception, and 67 touchdowns
Morgan: 557 receptions, 10,716 yards, 19.2 yards per reception, and 72 touchdowns. Morgan had 56 more receptions, 2031 more yards, and five more touchdown receptions while averaging nearly 2 yards more per reception.
This isn’t meant to imply that Branch is not worthy, he is. But Morgan is equally worthy of selection and he played on a ground and pound team that wasn’t going to air it out.
Well, I was wrong about this one, the Patriots did bring back Joe Judge but not as a Special Teams coordinator but as an “offensive assistant” which “could be” basically another coordinator without the title. And while some folks lament that we “only talk about Belichick hiring from within”, the proof is in the puddin’ as they say. But “hey Mike, long-time listener, first-time caller.”
One person who doesn’t think Judge will be calling plays is former WR Julian Edelman. Edelman sat down with Tom Curran of NBC Sports Boston and didn’t sound like he believes Judge will be calling plays.
“I don’t know if Joe Judge is calling plays,” Edelman told Curran. “But they’ll figure something out. I don’t ever bet against Bill Belichick.
However, Judge does have an offensive background. He is a former quarterback, and in his last season with the Patriots was the Special Teams coordinator as well as the Wide Receivers coach. He had options, Josh McDaniels wanted to hire him as the Raiders STs coordinator, but Judge wants to build his resume for another shot at head coaching so, coaching offense will certainly help that.
While McDaniels took a couple of seasons to get the title of OC, ditto for O’Brien and Matt Patricia as the DC, Belichick has always been patient with giving the titles out, Brian Flores never got the title as DC, but could money be an issue? The Giants are still paying Judge so, his title as an Offensive Assistant could just be a way of him double-dipping a bit.
Judge will definitely have a say in how the offense is run as will young coach Nick Calley (Tight Ends) especially with Mick Lombardi (Wide Receivers) leaving for Las Vegas (pardon the pun). It may open the door for Troy Brown to have a bigger say in the game planning and play calling. But Judge should have the lion’s share in offensive game planning and player development. It is important for the scheme to remain the same (Belichick core philosophy) but the actual play-calling duties may be split between the three coaches.
This winter has been a good time for some of the biggest names in recent Boston sports to get their legacies honored.
David Ortiz was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown and now Richard Seymour has been selected to the Class of 2022 in Canton, while Patriots captain Matthew Slater was named the 2021 Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award Winner.
Ortiz and Seymour both entered their respective teams when neither of them has won anything in a very long time, 86 years with the Red Sox and ever with the Patriots. Both of them were integral parts of three world championship teams.
Seymour was a 1st round draft pick for the Patriots out of Georgia in 2001 (6th overall), but members of the media didn’t have great opinions on the Patriot’s selection. “Seymour had just 1.5 sacks in the pass-happy SEC and at 6’6 is too tall to play DT and too slow to play DE. This genius move was followed by trading back to take LT Matt Light from Purdue who won’t help anytime soon.” Things never change…
Seymour sacrificed individual statistics by doing the dirty work which propelled the Patriots to three Super Bowl championships in his first four years. And while he didn’t possess NFL fantasy numbers, his work on the field was most important. When he was elected to the Patriots team Hall of Fame in 2020, Bill Belichick had this to say: “We would not have won three championships in four years without him,” Belichick said.
“Richard was a tremendous player. He had a tremendous skill set. He had great length. Explosive. Very quick for his size. He could do everything,” Belichick added.
Seymour was a member of the 2001, 2003, and 2004, Patriots Super Bowl winners, was named to seven Pro Bowls, as well as a member of the NFL’s Team of the 2000s, the Patriots’ Team of the 2000s, and the Patriot’s 50th Anniversary Team. Congratulations, it is well-deserved Big Sey.
Meanwhile, Slater was named as the recipient of the 2021 Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award. He was nominated for the third consecutive year and this time, he was the winner. And the league will donate a $25,000 dollar check to the charity of his choice.
“As a 10-time Pro Bowl selection and three-time Super Bowl Champion, Matthew is already recognized as the most accomplished special teams performer in NFL history,” said Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft. “He is an even better person. He is a man of tremendous faith whose character shines bright. His leadership, on and off the field, has earned him the respect and admiration of his coaches and teammates, who have voted him as their team captain for the past 11 years. In my opinion, there is no player more deserving of the Art Rooney Sportsmanship award than Matthew Slater. He is a tremendous ambassador for the New England Patriots and the National Football League.”
The Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award is voted on by the players and is given to the player “who best demonstrates the qualities of on-field sportsmanship, including fair play, respect for the game and opponents, and integrity in competition,” per the NFL.
From October 2021, Bill what made Richard Seymour a Hall of Fame player?
“Richard was a tremendous player. He had a tremendous skill set. He had great length. Explosive. Very quick for his size. He could do everything,” Belichick said.
“He started his career at the nose, which was not really his best position, but he could play it for sure, and we needed him there in ‘01. Then we moved him back to his natural position of 5 and 3-technique. He played some on the nose in passing situations, but he was really more of a defensive end than a nose tackle, but he played there because we needed him, and then after we got Ted [Washington] and [Keith] Traylor and Vince [Wilfork], then he ended up outside.”
“It was a tough matchup for the interior linemen,” Belichick said. “He could win with speed, and against some of the quicker guys, he could win with power. Smart player. Richard was very smart and had good awareness. He was a good situational player and certainly helped our linebackers a lot because he was either able to get penetration or able to draw blockers and tie up blockers that couldn’t get to the second level on some of our off-the-ball players.
“He was a very disruptive force. Good in the kicking game. Played in the punt return and had some big plays for us. Going back to ‘01, like Troy’s [Brown] punt return against Cleveland. He had a huge block on that. He was an excellent field goal blocker. He had a lot of roles. He played in a lot of different situations. We won a lot of games with him. He was a great player.”
Bill Belichick, on the induction of Seymour into the Patriots team Hall of Fame, praised him for his athleticism, intelligence, and versatility.
“So, how was your week?”
Oh yeah, the Super Bowl…who ya got? I like the Rams pass rush to ruin the day for Joe Burrow. LA 28-17
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