The NFL Pro Bowl teams will be announced Tuesday night. In a conference call Tuesday afternoon, Both Nick Caserio and Bill Belichick were asked about how they thought the Patriots players should and would fare in the voting.
"I think it's hard to reward every player that's here," Caserio said. "The Pro Bowl, it is what it is. It's a fan vote. It's a player vote. There are a number of things that go into it. I'd say that there are a number of players this year that have made a significant contribution to our team in some capacity.
"It's nice to be recognized league-wide, but the most important thing is the recognition they receive and the respect that they receive from the players that they are with on a day-to-day basis. I think our players . . . you can ask them what they think, but I think its nice just when you get contributions from as many players and you can within your program, and you want them to do well and be successful."
Unsurprisingly, Jerod Mayo was mentioned when talking about the league's best players. Mayo leads the NFL in tackles by a margin of 14 (169 total). The linebacker had some particularly punishing hits in New England's 34-3 win over Buffalo on Sunday.
Belichick said that, while he isn't sure how the entire field stacks up, Mayo and some of his teammates deserve the nod.
"Jerod's done a very nice job as a captain, providing a lot of plays on the field and a lot of leadership and preparation off the field,'' the coach said. "I havent seen all the players play - just the ones weve played against and Im familiar with them, but I know there are a lot of other outstanding players in the league. If I could vote for our own players, Id vote for a lot of them, but, again, the people that see them all play Well see how it all comes out. But, hes certainly done a good job for us and hes had a real good season."
Other players commended by the coaching staff on Tuesday? Tom Brady, of course. The Patriots quarterback seems to be setting records every time he takes the field this season. In Buffalo, Brady reached 319 consecutive passes attempted without an interception to surpass Bernie Kosar's previous record (309).
Caserio couldn't help but but give credit.
"Tom is probably one of the most prepared players. He prepares as hard as anybody on our team and anybody in the league. He makes good decisions with the football. I think one of the most important things as a quarterback is you want to try to make good decisions with the football. You have to make them quickly. Theyre going to be under duress.
"He wants to be perfect. He tries to be perfect on every throw," Caserio continued. "In the end, Tom is the one thats pulling the trigger and hes very diligent and very conscious taking care of the football. Quite frankly, its a remarkable achievement and its a credit to him."
Not even Brady's battle with the flu could keep the QB down in Week 15. And he wasn't the only one fighting. Aaron Hernandez, Brandon Deaderick and James Sanders also missed time for being sick.
So how does a team to get by this season?
"Its fairly common; it can go around. Weve had some of that,'' Belichick said. "What the exact diagnosis of it is and all that, I dont really have a whole lot to add as far as the symptoms and the strand of it and so forth. But our medical staff takes care of it the best they can and the players have to do as much as they can to stay healthy at this time of year."
Doling out flu shots might be the only part of team maintenance that Belichick isn't involved in.
According to defensive line coach Pepper Johnson, the Patriots boss does it all. Johnson didn't even hesitate when asked about New England's success despite not having a defensive coordinator.
"I think we have the ultimate defensive coordinator in Bill Belichick," he stated. "He will always be my coach, to me. With him just coming in and some of the things he does in our meeting rooms, and just orchestrating the meetings, with the players and the tips and all that stuff, to me it's priceless."