When opportunity arises, Belichick goes all out to assist his assistants

When opportunity arises, Belichick goes all out to assist his assistants

When Bob Quinn got the GM job with the Detroit Lions last January, there was one thing he believed carried the day.

Bill Belichick’s recommendation. "Above and beyond" is how Quinn termed Belichick's effort to get the Lions' search committee to see Quinn as a valuable addition.

This is the Belichick that’s rarely discussed. The one who rewards employees who dealt with merciless expectations, year-round, round-the-clock demands and drone-like existences by doing whatever he can to help them advance.

I asked Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels on a conference call Monday morning about using Belichick as a sounding board as McDaniels goes through the interview process for head coaching vacancies with the Rams, 'Niners and Jaguars.

"He's the best," said McDaniels. "He's very unselfish. He cares for us all and if there's something that we need or that we'd ask of him I’m certain that he would do it, whether it’s advice, wisdom, counsel, what have you. He's not only somebody that we take our cue from in terms of getting ready for the next opponent, but he's a mentor in a lot of different areas of our lives. And this would be no different."

Belichick is obviously an old hand at this. During his New England tenure, he’s said goodbye to advancing coaches Charlie Weis (Notre Dame), Romeo Crennel (Cleveland), Bill O’Brien (Penn State), McDaniels (Denver) and departing personnel men like Quinn, John Robinson (Titans), Scott Pioli (Kansas City), Thomas Dimitroff (Atlanta), Jason Licht (Tampa Bay) and Lionel Vital (Ravens).

The one messy departure Belichick experienced came with Eric Mangini, who took over as Jets head coach in 2006. Mangini -- like Belichick, a Wesleyan grad -- went from Cleveland Browns ballboy with Belichick to Crennel’s successor at defensive coordinator. Mangini and Belichick had an interesting relationship, almost akin to the one Belichick had with Bill Parcells. Mangini gave Belichick more pushback than other assistants and, in 2005, Belichick elevated Mangini to defensive coordinator rather than lose him to Cleveland where Crennel was considering hiring him. After the 2005 season, Mangini interviewed during the playoffs with the Jets and accepted the job while the playoffs were still ongoing. A no-no. Mangini also recruited fellow Pats coaches and players to go with him to the Jets. The cold front turned into an Ice Age after the 2007 opener between the Patriots and Jets . . . from which, of course, Spygate was spawned. 

That one instance of rancor -- while easily recalled -- is an extreme outlier. Belichick busts his ass to help guys get ahead. As long as the effort is rewarded with focus and effort through to the finish line.

"I couldn't ask for people to mentor me any better than he's done, [owner Robert Kraft has] done or [team president] Jonathan [Kraft]. They are there to offer anything they can as a resource to help the people that are working for them and I hope they know how much we appreciate that," said McDaniels.

McDaniels did acknowledge that one doesn't want to overdo it with asking for advice. Asking Belichick if he had an opinion on the public schools around San Francisco, for instance, might be pushing it.

"Yeah, you just want to be careful how much you're doing that because there's a balance," he said. "But they are always there for us and I really appreciate that. It's not an easy thing for anyone to be involved in because you're totally invested in this team and this year and that’s where I’m at now.”

The process, McDaniels said, is easily handled.

"We've been trained to switch gears and really tie our focus into the thing that's at hand," said McDaniels. "If it's a work day then we know where our focus is gonna lie. It's gonna be on the Texans this week and we're looking forward to getting ready to go."

Rules changes are in: Field-goal leap, crackback blocks banned

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Rules changes are in: Field-goal leap, crackback blocks banned

PHOENIX -- The NFL has announced which rules, bylaw and resolution proposals passed following Tuesday's vote at the Arizona Biltmore. The full list is below, but here are a couple of the noteworthy changes from a Patriots perspective . . . 

* That leap-the-line play that Jamie Collins and Shea McClellin have executed for the Patriots over the course of the last two seasons? That's been prohibited, as expected. The league did not want coaches to be responsible for putting a player in a position where he may suffer a head or neck injury. (Which is different from a player putting himself in that position with a split-second decision to leave his feet mid-play.)

* Receivers running pass routes can now be considered "defenseless." That means that even within the five-yard "chuck" area beyond the line of scrimmage, receivers will have some measure of protection. The Patriots, like many teams, have called for linebackers to disrupt the routes of shallow crossers, which can lead to monster hits on unexpecting players. Those types of collisions may now be fewer and farther between.

* Crackback blocks are now prohibited by a player who is in motion, even if the player is not more than two yards outside the tackle box at the snap. What's the Patriots connection here? It seems as though the overtime play that won Super Bowl LI -- during which Julian Edelman came in motion and "cracked" down on corner Brian Poole -- is now illegal. We'll look for clarification on this when the league holds its press conference describing the rules changes later on Tuesday.

Approved 2017 Playing Rules Proposals

2a. By Philadelphia; Prohibits the “leaper” block attempt on field goal and extra point plays. (Final language will be available on NFLCommunications.com)  

8.   By Competition Committee; Makes permanent the rule that disqualifies a player who is penalized twice in one game for certain types of unsportsmanlike conduct fouls. 

9.   By Competition Committee; Changes the spot of the next snap after a touchback resulting from a free kick to the 25-yard line for one year only. 

11. By Competition Committee; Gives a receiver running a pass route defenseless player protection. 

12. By Competition Committee; Makes crackback blocks prohibited by a backfield player who is in motion, even if he is not more than two yards outside the tackle when the ball is snapped. 

13. By Competition Committee; Replaces the sideline replay monitor with a hand-held device and authorizes designated members of the Officiating department to make the final decision on replay reviews. 

14. By Competition Committee; Makes it Unsportsmanlike Conduct to commit multiple fouls during the same down designed to manipulate the game clock. 

15. By Competition Committee; Makes actions to conserve time illegal after the two-minute warning of either half.

Approved 2017 Bylaw Proposals

4.     By Competition Committee; Liberalizes rules for timing, testing, and administering physical examinations to draft-eligible players at a club’s facility for one year only. 

5.     By Competition Committee; Changes the procedures for returning a player on Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform or Reserve/Non-Football Injury or Illness to the Active List to be similar to those for returning a player that was Designated for Return.  

6.     By Competition Committee; The League office will transmit a Personnel Notice to clubs on Sundays during training camp and preseason.

Approved 2017 Resolution Proposal

G-4.     By Competition Committee: Permits a contract or non-contract non-football employee to interview with and be hired by another club during the playing season, provided the employer club has consented.

Bowles on if Revis can still compete physically: 'I don't know for sure'

Bowles on if Revis can still compete physically: 'I don't know for sure'

PHOENIX -- Todd Bowles wasn't asked if he thinks Darrelle Revis can be a All-Pro level player. He wasn't asked if Revis has it in him to be a No. 1 corner again.

The bar was much lower. 

Can Revis, who will be 32 at the start of next season, still be a serviceable player? Does he have the physical ability to be competitive?

Bowles should know. He coached Revis with the Jets each of the last two years. But his answer was far from definitive.

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"If he goes ahead and proves it, yeah he does," Bowles said during the AFC coaches breakfast on Tuesday. "But we'll see. I don't know for sure. I can't answer that. Only he can."

It's been a remarkable fall from grace for Revis, who re-signed with the Jets as a free agent after winning a Super Bowl with the Patriots. He was given $39 million fully guaranteed and went on to make the Pro Bowl in his first season back.

Last year, however, he had his worst season and was arguably among the worst full-time corners in the league. Quarterbacks completed almost two-thirds of their passes sent in his direction, and they had a rating of 104.2 when targeting the player formerly known as Revis Island.

"I love the guy. I love the player," Bowles said. "He didn't have a great year, but we didn't have a great season so he wasn't the only one. It's all about coming back and proving you can still do it every year. That can only be answered when you come back and do it."

The Jets released him earlier this offseason despite the fact that he's guaranteed $6 million by the team whether he plays in 2017 or not.

Now that Revis is looking for a job, New England has been cited by some as the most logical place for him to land. Asked about the potential of having Revis back, Patriots owner Robert Kraft told the New York Daily News on Monday that he'd be all for it.

“I would love it," Kraft said. "Speaking for myself, if he wanted to come back, he’s a great competitor, I’d welcome him if he wanted to come.”

At this point, however, a reunion seems unlikely. 

The Patriots are looking at the potential of having Stephon Gilmore, Malcolm Butler, Eric Rowe, Cyrus Jones and Jonathan Jones all on the roster at corner next season -- though there is some question as to whether or not Butler will stick. 

And if Revis is hoping to make a move to safety, he'd probably have a hard time finding playing time as part of a group that will include Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon and Patrick Chung. 

Then there's the question as to his motivation. After winning a Super Bowl, and after making as much money as he's made, with an easy $6 million more staring him in the face, will Revis be ready to re-adapt to the demands of playing in New England?

Even if he is, there could very well be physical limitations impacting Revis' effectiveness moving forward. Bowles acknowledged that for some at Revis' age who play his position, the drop-off can come quickly.

"Sometimes it can. Sometimes it can't," Bowles said. "Every story is different. You have to write your own so he has to write his."