Philbin surrounds himself with New England familiarity in Miami

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Philbin surrounds himself with New England familiarity in Miami

FOXBORO -- The Patriots travel to Miami on Sunday, but they won't be the only ones with New England ties.
Springfield, Mass. native Joe Philbin filled his coaching staff with people he worked with in the New England area before he became Miami's coach in January.
He was part of coaching staffs at Northeastern and Harvard before he jumped on an NFL staff. And from his former English professor at Worcester Academy in Mike Sherman, to coaches he worked with at Northeastern, Harvard, and even at local football camps, Philbin has surrounded himself with familiar faces, all who have connections to New England.
"When I was fortunate enough to get this job, I knew it was going to be important to hire, number one, excellent coaches, but number two, people that I could have total trust and faith in, guys that were loyal," said Philbin in a conference call on Wednesday. "That's the first and foremost thing."
So he hired his former high school teacher, Sherman, to be the Dolphins' offensive coordinator, while hiring former Holy Cross defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle to run Miami's defense.
"I'm delighted about having both of them as the coordinators," said Philbin. "Obviously they have double-digit years of experience in the National Football League. Mike's been a proven winning head coach in the National Football League. He was the head coach for six seasons and had five winning seasons, so I think he knows how to build a winner. He's a great resource to have.
"Kevin Coyle's a dedicated professional, and made a nice contribution in 11 years in Cincinnati. He's an unselfish guy and a real pro.
"So, to have both those guys on the staff, I feel very fortunate."
Out of the two coordinators though, Sherman's presence is one that looks to make the most sense. Sherman coached rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill at Texas A&M, and even though the reunion wasn't necessarily planned, their familiarity with each other has certainly helped the transition.
"I barely knew who Ryan Tannehill was between you, me, and the four walls," said Philbin.
"I think it's helped quite a bit," added Philbin. "Sherman knows how the kid thinks. He knows how the kid acts. I believe the coordinator and the quarterback have to be on the same page, and have to kind of view the game the same way, if you will. That part of the relationship has been helpful, no question."
"I definitely think it helped," said Tannehill in a conference call on Wednesday. "It definitely made my transition easier, in the fact that, I didn't have to learn a full playbook. I had the foundation of it down. And of course we have some new things and new tweaks, and we've built on it along the way. But coming in, having the foundation of it already known, I didn't have to spend the same amount of time learning the plays. I could devote more time to understanding defenses and focusing on the fundamentals and intricacies of the plays, rather than just the concepts in general."
Philbin enjoys the familiarity he has with his coaching staff, especially with those who aren't coordinators.
"Jimmy Turner, I worked with at Northeastern University, he's coaching our offensive line," said Philbin. "Lou Anarumo is coaching our secondary, I worked with him at Harvard. And I used to work the Holy Cross camp with Kevin Coyle 100 years ago. Ya, we've got quite a few guys from the New England region, no doubt about it."
Bringing those guys in, was just one way that he could return the favor to those who gave him coaching opportunities in the past, helping him get to the NFL.
"It was a great experience at both Northeastern and Harvard," said Philbin. "Barry Gallup, who's the assistant AD at Boston College, was nice enough to give me a job at Northeastern. I was unemployed after going to Ohio University. We went a glamorous 0-for-11 and I didn't have any job. I had four children, and my wife was pregnant, and Barry was good enough to give me a job, and I loved coaching every minute there. I was the offensive coordinator. Barry was excellent to work for. We had a winning season in the Yankee Conference, the first time I think they ever had one there, in '96 I want to say.
"I used to drive by Harvard every single day at work, going to Northeastern, so I cut my commute down about 10 minutes. And Harvard football head coach Tim Murphy's just done a fantastic job there, as you guys know. An excellent and program that he has there. And I really enjoyed that experience as well."

Saturday, Aug. 27: Adding toughness Habs' priority

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Saturday, Aug. 27: Adding toughness Habs' priority

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, after a busy morning celebrating my 3-year-old’s birthday at the trampoline park. Yee-ha.

*PHT writer Joey Alfieri says that adding toughness was a big offseason priority for the Montreal Canadiens.

*There’s at least one big fan of the Edmonton Oilers trade that brought defenseman Adam Larsson from the New Jersey Devils, and that fan’s name is Mark Letestu.

*Here’s everything you need to know about the Ice Guardians movie premiering this fall that takes a long, balanced look at the NHL enforcers.

*Roberto Luongo has an alibi for the robbery in Winnipeg with one suspect getting away in goalie equipment, and it’s funny as you would expect it to be.

*CSN Washington takes a look at the New York Rangers in their season previews for the Metro Division.

*I’m not entirely sure whether this “RIP Harambe” thing is genuine or meant to be ironic by the largely millenial group that seem so enamored with it, but I think it’s just stupid. I think the same with the crying Jordan meme…also stupid.

*For something completely different: a look at how Triumph the Insult Comic Dog learned how to poop on Trump’s politics.

 

Report: Patriots sign LB Jonathan Freeny to two-year extension

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Report: Patriots sign LB Jonathan Freeny to two-year extension

The Patriots have signed linebacker and special teamer Jonathan Freeny to a two-year contract extension through 2018, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported.

Freeney, 27, was originally signed by the Patriots to a one-year free-agent deal in March 2015 after spending the first four years of his NFL career with the Miami Dolphins. He then earned a one-year extension last September and played 13 games, seven starts, with 50 tackles, one sack and a forced fumble. 

 

 

Countdown to camp: Danton Heinen

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Countdown to camp: Danton Heinen

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From now until the beginning of training camp, Bruins Insider Joe Haggerty is profiling players who will be on, or have a chance to be on, the 2016-17 Bruins. Today: Danton Heinen.

Danton Heinen exploded into a high-profile prospect for the Bruins after finishing among the NCAA’s top scoring players a couple of years ago as a freshman along with a couple of guys named Jack Eichel and Dylan Larkin. 

Since then, Heinen has continued to produce offense at the University of Denver and continued to create offense that leads to points. Now, the 21-year-old Heinen will be entering the professional arena for his first full season with the Bruins and he’ll be attempting to transition from the prospect phase to a regular gig in the NHL. That’s the challenge for a talented player who appears headed into a very good opportunity in NHL training camp.

 

What happened last year

Heinen was every bit as explosive in his second season for Denver as he was in his brilliant freshman campaign. He improved on his scoring with 20 goals and 48 points in 41 games. Then Heinen signed with the Bruins at the end of his sophomore season and played in a couple of pro games in the AHL with Providence as a tune-up for this first full pro campaign with the Bruins organization. Heinen finished with two assists and a plus-1 rating in four games with the P-Bruins and showed the coaches in Providence that he was ready to play and produce with more talented players. If Heinen surprised a little bit as a breakout freshman two years ago, his sophomore follow-up in Denver last season proved to everybody that he wasn’t a fluke.

 

Questions to be answered this season

The real question surrounding Heinen is about his ceiling as an NHL player and just how good he can become as a player with the skills and playmaking abilities to be a top-six forward. He’s proven he can dominate at the collegiate level while admittedly playing with some pretty good teammates at Denver. Heinen showed at the end of the season in Providence that the pro scene might not be much different for him. At this point, Heinen simply needs to go out and prove it against the best players in the world and show that his speed, playmaking and hockey sense are all elite in the AHL or NHL. Heinen’s biggest obstacle might be his size. He'll need to survive as a targeted skill player despite not being much more than the 6-feet, 180-pound range for a forward. It’s about average for a playmaking wing in the NHL, but the hits and attention will be at a much more intense level than anything he faced in the NCAA world.

 

What they're saying

“He’s the type of player that he can play with good players because he’s got high hockey IQ and he’s got really good skill. I think anywhere you put him, he’s smart enough to figure it out. I think you’ll notice him during training camp. It will definitely be up to him, but I think he’ll push some guys.” –Bruins assistant coach Jay Pandolfo on Heinen during last month’s development camp where Heinen soared as a performer.

 
Outlook

While Heinen still has some things he’ll need to prove before he’s a regular contributor for the Bruins, he comes into the Boston fold as an experienced player following two very good seasons at the college level. So, Heinen should be a little closer to plug-and-play for Claude Julien than some of the other young players that have come through the system in the past couple of years. Heinen will still need to flash in camp while being handed a big spot to perform with high-end veterans Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Brad Marchand potentially off playing in the World Cup of Hockey. Heinen also has a much greater chance of winning an NHL job sooner rather than later after the Bruins lost out on the Jimmy Vesey sweepstakes and still have a top-six forward opening that somebody is going to fill. Heinen and Frank Vatrano are the two biggest favorites to fill that position, which became vacant when Loui Eriksson departed for Vancouver. Whichever winger loses that battle should be also be a strong candidate for a role on the third line, as well, barring any late veteran signings by the B’s. That set of circumstances leaves a very good situation for Heinen to potentially walk into with the Black and Gold, but he'll still have to show he’s fully capable of seizing his good fortune and good timing.