Schiano learns the power of Belichick

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Schiano learns the power of Belichick

Bill Belichick and Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano are good buddies, and here are a few for instances to prove it.

In the past, Belichick has spoken at Schiano's summer camp.

Last year, Schiano let Belichick's son Stephen walk on to the Rutgers football team.

Last season, during the Pats' bye week, Belichick traveled with Rutgers (on the team charter) for a game in Louisville. He reportedly sat next to Schiano on the plane and talked defense the whole way down.

In December, when Belichick was asked about having four Rutgers alums on his roster, he said: Coach Schiano, I have a good relationship with him and anytime hes told me anything, its always been 100 percent accurate. A player that hes familiar with, I would definitely want to take the opportunity to get his opinion and see what he thinks because of his experience and the amount of respect I have for him."

Last January, when Schiano left Rutgers for Tampa Bay, Belichick wasted no time offering up his approval: Obviously, hes done a great job at Rutgers. And I think hes a tremendous coach, he's done a great job with that program, and his players have been very pro ready. They may not be first-round picks or whatever, but they have enough talent to really compete in the NFL and most of them end up staying in one way or another. I think thats a credit to the preparation and the program he has built there."

There are some who believe that Belichick was integral in Schiano getting hired in the first place.

I've heard they like to refer to themselves as "Thunder buddies."

Like I said, they're good pals. But today, Schiano learned that it doesn't matter what kind of off-the-field relationship you have with Belichick, once you're a head coach in the NFL shark tank, you're no less likely to feel his bite.

What am I talking about? Well, here was the report out of Tampa Bay earlier this week (from beat guy Stephen Holder) surrounding Olympic sprinter and former Florida RB Jeff Demps:
Last points on Demps: He's now heard from every NFL team, more than he expected. Bucs definitely a front runner. Decision likely by Monday Stephen Holder (@HolderStephen) August 15, 2012
Here was the news today (courtesy of local reporter Kevin O'Donnell):

Fox 13 Sports (WTVT-Tampa) has learned that Jeff Demps will be a New England Patriot. Decision came down to NE and Bucs. Off. ann. soon. Kevin O'Donnell (@ODonnellFox13) August 17, 2012
As to why Demps ultimately went with the Pats, O'Donnell added: "Demps just felt New England is a better fit."

Of course he did.

Welcome to the NFL, Coach Schiano.

And as for Demps, here's a little of what we have to look forward to:

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Report: Patriots fill open roster spot with former Browns DL Hughes

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Report: Patriots fill open roster spot with former Browns DL Hughes

The Patriots opened a roster spot by waiving defensive tackle Anthony Johnson, but they won't be adding a quarterback to take his place. 

According to Field Yates of ESPN, the team has swapped one defensive tackle for another by adding former Browns big man John Hughes, a 6-foot-2, 320-pounder who played under former assistant to the Patriots coaching staff Mike Lombardi when Lombardi was Cleveland's general manager in 2013. 

Hughes was released last week after spending just over four years with the team that drafted him in the third round in 2012. He signed a four-year extension with the Browns last season that was worth $12.8 million. 

With the Patriots, Hughes figures to work in as part of the rotation on the interior of the defensive line along with Malcom Brown, Alan Branch and rookie third-round pick Vincent Valentine. Unlike Johnson, who was more of a penetrating pass-rusher, Hughes should factor in as more of a space-eating type. He has 5.5 career sacks in 53 games. 

Johnson is the latest in a long line of Browns who played under Lombardi to end up in New England. The two most notable Patriots who spent 2013 in Cleveland are defensive end Jabaal Sheard and running back Dion Lewis. Linebacker Barkevious Mingo, who arrived in New England in a trade this summer, was drafted by Lombardi's front office as the No. 6 overall pick in 2013.

Pats exploit 'element of unknown' with Garoppolo or Brissett at QB

Pats exploit 'element of unknown' with Garoppolo or Brissett at QB

There’s no way to spin rookie Jacoby Brissett starting a game rather than three-year NFL veteran Jimmy Garoppolo or future Hall of Famer Tom Brady as preferable.
 
But can the disadvantages be mitigated? Can the fact there is no “book” on a player be helpful?
 
“I think there’s always an element of the unknown when you’re dealing with a player or something you haven’t seen or scouted as much,” said Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels on a conference call Monday afternoon. “I don’t know if there’s an advantage there, it’s just that you don’t have as much information on a player or on some scheme that they may use, which then forces you to figure some things out as the game goes along and do some quick self-scouting as you move through the first cquarter, the first half, whatever it is, just to make sure that if it is something new you haven’t seen before, if it is a player that you haven’t played against and don’t have a lot of volume of tape on, that you have an opportunity to evaluate quickly what is going on.

"What’s happening in the game? How much of an impact is that player having? Are they trying to  do something that’s disrupting what you’re trying to do with their scheme? I think that happens a lot of weeks during the course of the year based on health and availability, new players, guys being called up, someone that just got signed and you don’t really have a lot of experience watching them play in their system. I would say that’s a common occurrence for us.”
 
With a fullback or UDFA guard pressed into duty, there’s not a helluva lot that will be altered in terms of scheme. With players like Garoppolo and Brissett, though, the Patriots' long-established offense can take on an entirely different look if different areas are emphasized.
 
For instance, jet sweep is a play the team won’t use much with Tom Brady except as a “keep ‘em honest” on the edges kind of play. With Garoppolo, quickness when he gets outside the pocket has to be respected so if he fakes that jet sweep and rolls to the outside, he’s a run-pass threat with speed and downfield accuracy. With Brissett, he’s a threat with elusiveness, size and power as a runner. Additionally, if the Patriots wanted to try the old Elway Throwback to the opposite sideline, Brissett may have more arm power than either Brady or Garoppolo.
 
McDaniels said the Patriots aren’t looking necessarily for ways to “surprise” opponents as much as they are looking for ways to accentuate players’ strengths.  
 
“We’ve got to take the guys that we get to play with, based on health and other factors, and then we consider the defense that we’re getting ready to play against, and the great players and the scheme that they use, and then we try to formulate the right plan to allow our players to go out there and play fast, play well, and do the things that suit their talents the best,” McDaniels explained. “I don’t think that our mindset has changed.

"Some of the variables have changed from one week to the next, which is always the case,  and of course, when you get a group of guys a plan and then you work so hard to get ready for Sunday or Thursday night and go out there and watch them play and execute and take care of the ball and do the things you need to do to try to win, and then they enjoy it so much, that’s really the thing that you take the most satisfaction from as a coach.”