Good morning, here are Sunday’s Patriots news notes and what’s happening around the division.
Mayo Was the Bridge from SB teams to the Current: With the retirement of Jerod Mayo this week, comes the end of an era. Mayo came along when the Patriots juggernaut of the early 2000s was reaching the end of the road. Linebacker Ted Johnson was already gone and Tedy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel and Willie McGinest were nearing the end of the road.
Mayo was taken with the 10th pick of the 2008 NFL Draft and immediately paid dividends. He was the Defensive Rookie of the Year and a 2-time Pro-Bowler but he was much more than that. He was the bridge that stepped in from those earlier Super Bowl teams and helped glue the defense until the time when they were able to add more pieces to form that winning Super Bowl unit of last season.
Mayo’s stats could have much higher in other places with other teams. But the Patriots asked him to stay at home and do the dirty work inside. And he did and paid the price of all those seasons with 100+ tackles as his body began to break down the last couple of years.
But he never complained and was a consummate professional, taking over as a team captain in Year 2. Bruschi called him an “old soul”, Bill Belichick raved about his work ethic and intelligence. Highly thought of by his teammates, kudos poured in this week from current and former Patriots who valued his presence both on and off the field.
While his retirement was a surprise, and he didn’t fit in the team’s plans perhaps in 2016, he will be missed.
Price Interview with T.J Moe Radio Gold: Our good friend from WEEI Chris Price is everywhere these days, in print on the station’s website, on the air with his Sunday football show and all over television as his expertise keeps finding new outlets.
But his podcast interview with former Missouri and Patriots slot receiver T.J. Moe is a must listen. Consider this one “Patriots Porn” for the football junkies. Moe spoke in detail about the NFL Combine and what he thinks of it and changes that should be made.
But the best part of the interview is when Moe talks in depth at the interview process with the Patriots as well as other teams. We’ve heard for quite some time that their method of conducting interviews was very different than other teams, and Moe brings you inside where few people have ever tread.
Moe also talks about Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and why NE wins so much…
Take a listen here: You’ll be glad you did.
What a send-off for Jared Allen, the long-time defensive end retired and rode off in the sunset with the best retirement video yet.
Coach Scar and the 2nd Year Jump: With the problems the Patriots had with their offensive line this season, it was easy and perhaps too much so to place the blame squarely on the shoulders of OL coach Dave DeGuglielmo.
While he was perhaps not reaching the players in the manner that the team hoped, the injuries and constant shuffling of players was a very difficult situation for anyone to be in. Much has already been said about his having to come in and immediately lose their toughest player, Logan Mankins but after a bad start the team turned things around and won a Super Bowl, so let’s not get too carried away with that.
But his contract wasn’t renewed and Dante Scarnecchia will be back in 2016. One obvious advantage he’ll have is that he’s scouted all of these players and knows their strengths and weaknesses better than anyone. So he should get them playing at a high level quickly.
Of course getting left tackle Nate Solder back is key for Brady’s blind side, but also the young players on the interior, guards Shaq Mason and Tre’ Jackson will be entering their second season as will center David Andrews. With Jackson and Mason making the all-important 2nd season jump in play, they should be much better in 2016. Andrews may push 3rd year center Bryan Stork for starting reps with the other perhaps backing up as a guard.
The team could use a veteran guard, perhaps the return of Ryan Wendell would ease things along. And an upgrade at right tackle, with many veteran tackles in free agency, the Pats could use an upgrade of youth and athleticism. Sebastian Vollmer has been one of the better RTs in the league. But he’s aging and has back and knee issues which aren’t good for big men. Perhaps bring in a FA (Mitchell Schwartz is frequent name linked to NE), redo Vollmer’s deal and move him to swing tackle. That would prolong his career and give the Pats an upgrade over high priced but often criticized Marcus Cannon.
This time with free agency and the draft should answer some questions along with the return of Coach Scarnecchia.
Teaser for a Guy with the “Right Stuff”: Check back with us soon for an interview with small school linebacker Larry Butler III. Butler was the 2nd ranked linebacker coming out of JUCO and although had a commitment at Tennessee, opted for Div. 2 due to a technicality.
We sat down with this impressive young man and spoke to him, his head coach and defensive coordinator. He’s a small school stud that could find himself a home being a MLB/ILB in the NFL given a shot. He unfortunately wasn’t invited to the NFL Combine but that won’t stop this guy…
Goodell’s “Value” Poor at $34 Million: We frequently talk about player’s contracts and their value in terms of what the team gets in return. Well the NFL released its income for the 2014 season and Commissioner Roger Goodell was paid $34.1 million-dollars.
The Commish’s salary included a $3.5 million salary, a $26.5 million bonus, $3.7 million in retirement benefits and $350,000 in “other” benefits. According to the New York Times, “Goodell’s bonus was calculated in part on new business deals he brought to the league the previous year, which means that his bonus in 2014 reflected broadcast contracts and other revenue secured in 2013.”
NFL owners have frequently defended the enormous salary that Goodell is paid by the owners not the fans because they claim he’s brought so much to the table in increasing the league’s revenues. Bunk…. The product on the field sells, the players sell and the NFL would increase revenue with just about anyone as the Commissioner.
An interesting factoid in this is that Goodell’s compensation is determined by a committee that consists of Arthur Blank, Jerry Richardson, the owner of the Carolina Panthers and Bob Kraft owner of the New England Patriots…
The second highest paid member of the 345 Park Avenue HQs is NFL Counsel Jeff Pash (yes that one), who is paid $7.5 million-dollars per year. Value?
East Bound and Down, AFC East Notes:
Jets Brandon Marshall on Belichick, “I Own Him”: Chalk this one up to just some off-season bravado, but it is guaranteed that it will be posted in the Patriots locker room this season. During a question and answer session on Twitter this week, Jets WR Brandon Marshall was asked if “Belichick haunted his dreams”…
Well Marshall’s answer was certainly one that didn’t mince words when he said, “I own him.”
Marshall has had good numbers against the Patriots in his career, in 10 games he’s 52 catches for 785 yards and five touchdowns, including a big 115-yard, two score game in the OT win by Gang Green in 2015. Those numbers are right around his career averages.
But lost in the message…Marshall’s teams are 3-7 against Belichick, hardly the ownership of him. Marshall is still looking for that first playoff appearance by the way, not Super Bowl, not win, ….appearance. But hey, it made for a fun day of Twitter.
Gase, the next BB has 3 Years to Turn Dolphins Around: Hyperbole wasn’t just around in NY this week, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross didn’t mince words this week, telling the media that new coach Adam Gase is the equivalent of Belichick and Bill Parcells.
“Instead of getting a retread that really hasn’t had a great track record as a head coach, I was looking for somebody that could be the next, if you will, Bill Belichick, Bill Parcells, you know, really great head coach, and I think we got one,’’ Ross said.
Ross went on to say, that Gase has three years to get Miami to the post season.
“Every year, there’s anywhere from six to eight coaches [who are fired], it’s the most objective thing in the world — everybody looks at their won-lost record,’’ Ross said. “There’s no other excuses. So every team, after three years, if we haven’t made the playoffs, we’re looking for a head coach. That’s just the way it is. The fans want it.’’
Things ought to be interesting in Miami next season.
Mario Williams on the Outs in Buffalo? There are more and more rumors that the Bills plan on releasing DE Mario Williams once the league year opens. The move will free up $12.9 million-dollars of cap space but is an intriguing one.
Reports have stated that Williams “struggled mightily” in 2015 and logged only 5 sacks after notching 14.5 in 2014 for the Bills. Sources from the Bills have quoted unnamed players stating that Williams wasn’t putting forth the effort last year.
Williams was outspoken on the Bills defensive game plans and was asked to drop into coverage a lot more than in the past under Jim Schwartz. Asked about a possible move into free agency, Williams spoke clearly that he expects 2016 to be much better.
“At the end of the day, if I’m not there, I’ll show you that I’m better than what I’ve been before. Like, that’s just a chip on my shoulder regardless of whether I am there or not, because given the opportunity I’ll get back to what I was.”
The money saved on Williams’ contract will be used to sign free agents Richie Incognito and Cordy Glenn according to GM Doug Whalley, their signings were “imperative” for the Bills this season.
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