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Patriots News 05-22, Concern or Chemistry?

Steve Balestrieri
Steve Balestrieri on Twitter
1 month ago at 5:00 am ET

Patriots News 05-22, Concern or Chemistry?Grace Hollars/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK

Good morning; here are your weekly Patriots news 05-22, and some NFL notes this week. 

Congratulations to Vince Wilfork, who was elected as the newest member of the Patriots Hall of Fame. It was richly deserved and hardly a surprise as the big man was a fan favorite throughout a dominant career with the Patriots. 

Wilfork had several great comments when speaking to the media after his election by the fans. “My goal is to be the best teammate I could be, win a championship, and win a football game, that’s it. So, now it’s full circle, now I’m done, and now I can sit back and now I can say ‘OK, I’m a Patriots Hall of Famer,” he said. 

“I was probably one of the best two-gap nose tackles that ever played the game, and I’ll put it against anyone,” Wilfork said. “I played from left to right on the defense. You don’t have any noses doing that. When you find one, you can let me know. 

“So I’ve always regarded myself as one of the best defensive tackles, the best nose tackle, that ever played the game, and people can fight me on it, people can have their opinions on it, but I’m just telling you where I stand, because I was that one guy that can go from left to right defensive end, and anywhere in the middle.

“So I was a nightmare for offenses trying to figure out where I’m going to be. And all that credit goes to Bill Belichick. That’s totally Bill trusting me enough to be able to learn those positions, and not only play those positions, but play them at a high level. He put me out there because he knew that I was capable of doing what I needed to do out there. I’m one of the best nose tackles that has ever played the game up until this point. So, like I said, we can leave it up for debate, but that’s just what it is, and until you find a nose tackle that can play the positions that I played, let me know. And we can talk.”

Belichick’s comments are posted below.

Quick Hitters For the Patriots and the NFL: 

Robert Kraft:  The Patriots owner was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Sports Business Journal in New York.

Ty Montgomery: Listed as a WR by the Patriots, the receiver, RB and STs player spoke with the media this week and had some interesting things to say. 

“I’ve had teammates come from New England, and I wanted to be a part of this,” Montgomery said, mentioning that he spoke to former Patriots WR Chris Hogan. “I wanted to be a part of a team coached by Bill Belichick.” He apparently didn’t get the memo that no one wants to come to New England to play for Belichick anymore. 

Asked what his role will be this season, Montgomery, who referred to himself at “Employee #14, gave a typical Belichick-ian response. 

“I consider myself an employee of the New England Patriots,” Montgomery said, “and whatever they ask of me is what I’m going to do. … I am employee No. 14 of the New England Patriots, and I will be doing whatever is asked of me.”

Cole Strange: The Patriots first round draft pick relayed a funny story about the first night of the NFL Draft. His brother Greg and some of his friends are pranksters, so when the phone rang during Round 1 and the caller identified himself from the Patriots, Strange thought his brother was pranking him. 

Chris Mason from MassLive.com detailed how it all played out. Greg told him that Cole was sure so he asked the caller for some proof.

“Sir, I don’t mean to be disrespectful at all, but I’ve gotta know because I’ve got some crazy friends. Is this a prank,” he asked? Then the caller put Bill Belichick got on the phone and then he knew it was real..

“As soon as I heard Bill Belichick’s voice, Cole and I both started screaming and hugging and acting crazy,” Greg said. “Probably saying a bunch of inappropriate stuff. We were so excited. To his credit, you’ve gotta love the guy, Belichick is sitting there and when we got through, the first break he had, he said, ‘Hey Cole, you’ve gotta act like you’ve been there, man.’ It was classic to us. We absolutely loved it.”

Players on IR Return to the Field: An encouraging sign last week was that many of the players who were placed on IR last year, were on the field for conditioning workouts. James White, Jonathan Jones, Raekwon McMillan, Anfernee Jennings, and Dalton Keene were all photographed on the field for conditioning work. 

White had arguably the most serious injury of any of the team a year ago, suffering a hip injury that required extensive bed rest and a long rehab process. There is no way to predict if he’ll ever be the same player.  McMillan and last year’s draft pick Cameron McGrone were recovering from ACL injuries; McMillan was having a very solid summer before being injured and moved to IR. 

While far from indicating that they are ready for actual full team work yet, it is a good sign that their recovery is on the right path. With full-team Organized Team Activities (OTAs) slotted for this week, it will be intriguing to see who is ready and on the field, and who is not. 

Marcus Jones: The Patriots website (Mike Dussault) had a really nice piece on the rookie player from Houston. Cited as a “natural fit” with the team, Jones finished off his college career being a consensus All-American as a senior and winning the Paul Hornung award as the most versatile player in college football.

Very excited to see what he can do this year. Speaking of this season, don’t sleep on either of the two rookie running backs. Pierre Strong has big-play ability, and Kevin Harris got healthy late last season after having back surgery. He led the SEC in rushing a couple of seasons ago.  

Patriots 4th & 2 Podcast: If you haven’t checked out our PatsFans.com podcast, “Patriots 4th & 2”, in a bit, please check it out. Derek Havens and I posted a video of the team’s schedule, the players on the offense, and who may be expected to play a bigger role. 

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.

Is There “Concern” or “Chemistry” With The Team? You Decide:

The Patriots coaching staff is being looked at more critically than the rising inflation rate these days, and the anti-Belichick (the usual suspects) crowd are ringing the alarm bells loud and continuous. 

Is there substance to the criticism or is it just more alarmist Patriots hooey that the fan base has been subjected to for more than 20 years? 

Having No Named Coordinators Isn’t The Same As Not Having One – Not having a coordinator named on offense or defense isn’t new to the Patriots or Belichick. While some of the media believes it is a slight towards them, it has nothing to do with them. 

Belichick follows the same principle he went through with Bill Parcells. When Parcells took over the Giants in 1983, Belichick ran the defense but didn’t get DC title until 1985. It was Parcells way to protect him from the NY media. And with the silly narrative about Steve Belichick and the dreaded “N” word (nepotism), the same nincompoops who continue to spread this nonsense forget that Steve worked his way up from the bottom. He was hired as a coaching assistant, one of the more thankless jobs in the NFL and did it for four years. He’s now entering his 11th as a coach.  

Tom Curran speaking to WEEI, believes otherwise. “Bill not applying them (coaching titles) is really more of kind of an agitation directed towards the media and how things are done.” Curran also characterized the offensive coaching staff as Belichick “playing a shell game with diminishing returns.” 

Josh McDaniels (who had never called plays before taking over the OC duties either) had the duties for a year before being named as the OC. And by the way, McDaniels was a defensive assistant for the Patriots before being moved in 2004 over to the offense and QBs coach. And for those fans old enough to remember (Thanks to Russ Goldman for pointing this out), when QBs coach Dick Rehbein passed away in 2001, it was Belichick who took over as the QBs coach, although he also had no experience. 

Greg Bedard was on NBC Sports Boston and said that “There is a high level of concern about what is going on with the Patriots.” He added, “I don’t want to make a huge deal out of this yet,” while allowing that it is indeed only in May but that he’s heard from past and present players are ‘alarmed’ so far with what they’ve seen from the team’s offensive coaching staff. 

On the flip side is Jeff Howe from The Athletic. Howe said earlier in the week, “New England veterans have been extremely encouraged with the team chemistry this offseason. The free-agent additions have meshed well in the locker room, and there’s been a different vibe over the past month.”

There is legitimate concern about replacing McDaniels (everyone’s favorite whipping boy for several years), and the play-calling duties that go along with it. The continuity factor with Mac Jones in his second season is also lost with McDaniels leaving. I do expect Jones to meet with Belichick every Tuesday as Tom Brady did. 

We’ll only get small glimpses of OTAs until the mandatory minicamp and then training camp will begin in late July. Then we’ll get a full look at how the offense is working…or not. 

_______________

“Vince exemplified all the things that define football greatness,” Belichick said. “Vince’s rare physical ability was obvious, but it was his professional approach to the game, his competitiveness, toughness, and dedication to the team that set him, and several of his teams, apart. Vince Wilfork is an all-time great player.”

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick on the election of Vince Wilfork into the Patriots Hall of Fame.

_______________

“So, how was your week?”

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on Stitcher and Streamyard as Russ Goldman, Derek Havens, and myself from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news and game analysis.

 


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Posted Under: 2022 Patriots Offseason
Tags: Bill Belichick James White Joe Judge Josh McDaniels Mac Jones Matt Patricia New England Patriots Patriots Patriots Coaching Staff


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