Belichick: 'Disappointing' Eagles didn't give Kelly more time


Belichick: 'Disappointing' Eagles didn't give Kelly more time

FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick didn't hide his feelings when asked about coaching changes that are handed down across the NFL at this time of year. The Patriots coach immediately expressed how he disagreed with how one of his confidantes in the coaching ranks, Chip Kelly, was treated in Philadelphia. 

The Eagles released Kelly from his contract on Tuesday after going 6-9 through 15 games this season. Kelly went 26-21 overall in his nearly three seasons as head coach in Philly. 

"Yeah, I would say it's actually disappointing," Belichick said. "Chip Kelly to me is a really good football coach. He does a great job. I think he's done a good job with that team. It's disappointing to see, you know, Josh [McDaniels] in Denver . . . There's a lot of examples. But pretty much everybody's on a one-year contract in this league. I don't know how you build a program in one year.

"Chip's a great coach. He'll end up somewhere, and he'll do a great job there. I'd say a lot of the players that were on the Eagles that are no longer on the Eagles aren't really doing too much for anybody else, either."

This was Kelly's first season in the dual roles of both head coach and personnel chief.

Belichick handles both of those duties in New England, and he called his situation with the Patriots "the best situation in the league" on Thursday given the stability throughout the franchise. From ownership to the quarterback, things have gone unchanged since 2001.

Still, Belichick expressed disappointment at the fact that coaches he deems to be capable have had their tenures ended before they could insert their programs completely. All over the league -- not just in Philadelphia -- there are owners who expect coaches and personnel people to be able to install a program and create a winner in a very short period of time, Belichick explained. 

"It's disappointing to look at coaches like coach [Greg] Schiano or coach [Mike] Shanahan or coach Kelly or guys like that," Belichick said. "But, I mean, look, I'm not there. I'm not a part of those programs. I just know those guys are good coaches. They do a good job. I have a lot of respect for them."

Belichick was open in discussing his own career as an example of how it can take multiple years to establish a system. It wasn't until 2003, Belichick said, that he felt his entire program had been installed. 

"You have to change the culture," he said. "Normally one coach is different from the previous coach. You don't see a lot of, whoever the first coach is, the second coach is a carbon copy of the first coach, the third coach is kind of a carbon copy of the second coach. I mean, you rarely see that."

With a new coach comes a new philosophy, Belichick explained. And often with a new philosophy, a new scheme isn't far behind. 

"That means you're going to turn over a high percentage of the roster," he said, "because the players that the other coach had don't fit the new philosophy. A lot of the players are going to have to change, in part because of the philosophy, in part because of the scheme. Those role-type players, now that role's not needed in the new scheme, and a different role's needed so you need different players."

Even with an overhaul in personnel, it takes time for those adjustments to pay dividends. A few months of practices aren't enough, as far as Belichick is concerned.

"You're going to have to go through a lot of tough situations," Belichick said. "Tough games, tough losses, tough stretches in the season, whatever it happens to be. To build that up over time, it doesn't happen in training camp. I mean, look, training camp's training camp but those games don't count. Even in the early part of the season, you might have some tough games, but it's not like playing in January, playing in December. It takes some time to go through that. I don't think there's any shortcut to it.

"I mean, I know there's a lot of other people in the league who think there is. Like, they're just instant -- after two weeks all of a sudden after two weeks, everything's going to change dramatically. I'm not really a part of that. I don't buy into that."

Belichick had the benefit of winning a Super Bowl in 2001, which clearly helped his grasp on the head-coaching job in New England. But in Thursday's press conference he admitted that those bumps in the road of program development were felt when the team went 9-7 and missed the playoffs in 2002.

Then in 2003 and 2004, with his program established, the Patriots won back-to-back Super Bowls.

"We won in '01, but in '02 we had a lot of issues," Belichick said. "[In] '03, that was a good football team. [In] '04, that was a good football team. I don't think there's any doubt about '01. That wasn't the best team, but that team played the best so we won.

"But I think we saw in '02 more of probably overall where the '01 team was. It's just the '01 team played great when it had to in critical situations in big games. That's why they won. Can't take anything away from them because they deserved it because they were the best team. But that wasn't the case in '02."

Belichick went 5-11 in his first season as Patriots head coach and personnel chief in 2000, yet he was given time to build his team the way he wanted. Clearly he feels owners around the league, and particularly Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie, should be more willing to adopt a similar approach.

Not a lot of talk about Cannon this season, and that's a good thing for Patriots


Not a lot of talk about Cannon this season, and that's a good thing for Patriots

Marcus Cannon has had his run as a piñata. The Patriots offensive lineman is a frequent target when things go wrong up front and, usually, he’s deserved it.

A bit of anecdotal evidence? 

Sunday, I tweeted that every time I watched Cannon, he was making another good play.

On cue, about 10 tweets came back at me with variations of “Keep watching him!”

I asked Bill Belichick if he agreed with the layman’s assessment that Cannon’s playing well.

“I think Marcus [Cannon] has done a good job for us for quite a while,” Belichick began. “I mean he’s stepped in for Sebastian [Vollmer] and then last year when Nate [Solder] was out [and he substituted] for Nate. He has played a lot of good football for us.

“We extended our agreement with him off of his rookie contract which I think speaks to the fact that we want him on the team and we like what he’s doing and so forth and he’s continued to I’d say show with his performance [that he has] validated the confidence that we have in him.”

Cannon’s ending to 2015 – a poor performance (along with the rest of the line) against the Broncos in the AFC Championship Game was followed by a performance against the Cardinals that was marred by late-game holding calls.

But with Sebastian Vollmer injured (and still injured) it was sink or swim with Cannon which had plenty of people rolling their eyes.

But – as I said – every time I see Cannon, he’s either holding off a defensive end in pass protection, steamrolling downfield in the running game or making really athletic second-level or cut blocks in the screen game.

“Like every player, as they gain more experience they do get better,” said Belichick. “I think our offensive line’s certainly improved over the course of the year and playing with more consistency than we did last year. But there’s always room for improvement and the continuity that we’ve had there since (right guard) Shaq [Mason] has gotten in the last few weeks – we had Shaq over on the right side a little bit at the end of the season last year and then this year most all of the year except when Shaq was out for a few weeks there at the end of training camp and the start of the season – but our overall consistency and communication on the offensive line has been better because we’ve had more continuity there so that helps everybody.”

It can’t hurt that the lineman whisperer, Dante Scranecchia, has returned to coach the group. Cannon’s conditioning and physique looks better. He just appears more athletic and explosive. And he’s seemed more relaxed in the limited time the media’s in the locker room.

All off that added up equals nobody really talking about Marcus Cannon.
“Like any lineman, the less you call his name probably the better he’s doing,” said Belichick. “It’s probably a good thing when you guys don’t talk about him. Then that probably means they’re not doing something too noticeably wrong, right?”


Patriots reportedly deal Derby to Broncos for fifth-round pick


Patriots reportedly deal Derby to Broncos for fifth-round pick

The Patriots pulled off a rare deal with a rival on Tuesday. 

According to ESPN, they've sent tight end A.J. Derby to the Broncos in exchange for a fifth-round pick. 

Derby played in 33 offensive snaps over four games this season for the Patriots. A sixth-round draft choice in 2015 out of Arkansas, Derby spent most of his rookie season on injured reserve. 

One of the stars of the preseason for the Patriots, Derby caught 15 passes for 189 yards in four exhibition games. A former college quarterback for Iowa and Arkansas, Derby was named a practice player of the week by the Patriots when they were hurting for healthy signal-callers early in the season during Tom Brady's suspension.

The deal leaves the Patriots somewhat thin at the tight end position. They now have now true tight ends behind Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett. They do, however, have fullback James Develin, who meets with tight ends on a daily basis. On the practice squad, the Patriots have another fullback in Glenn Gronkowski. 

In Denver, Derby will compete with tight ends Virgil Green, Jeff Heuerman and John Phillips for time.